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Johnston: Gay Is The New Black

The consensus among Americans is that if you’re gay or lesbian you are somehow less of a human being than your heterosexual peers. The venom spewed by the likes of Fred Phelps and even Bryan Fischer would make you think that gays are the spawn of Satan and this hate speech against the gay community is generally accepted because, well, gay is the new black. But it’s not just the gay and lesbian community. Folks who hold different religious beliefs, including the members of Christ Church, are demonized because of their beliefs. We must remember that we are a country of freedom. Free to believe what you want to believe and how you want to believe it. But there is a very thin line between your freedom to believe what you want and at the same time not leading a crusade to take freedoms away from your fellow citizens/Henry Johnston, Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Full column below.

Question: Do you agree or disagree with Henry “Digger” Johnston that ‘gay is the new black’?


By Henry Johnston

I’m filing my column this week via my Blackberry from the shores of Florida’s space coast. I apologize to those of you suffering the cold and snow back on the Palouse and promise to bring warm weather with me. My visit has given me some fun adventures - Disney World, dining beachside and some necessary rest and relaxation.

But perhaps the most moving moment of this entire trip has been watching a simple rocket launch. I don’t know if it made the news up there, but Sunday night NASA launched the Delta IV rocket containing a military spy satellite.

As I stood on the beach watching the orange glow fade into the night I was reminded of the words of President John F. Kennedy:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him back safely to the earth.”

Kennedy made those remarks on May 25, 1961, to a joint session of Congress. At the time of that speech there were other events that were as important, or in some cases unimportant, to Americans as space travel.

I’m speaking of course of the huge gap in civil rights between whites and blacks.

Remembering Kennedy’s words is why watching Sunday’s rocket launch was so profound. I realized (at the time) that in just a few short days Barack Obama would be sworn in as this nation’s first African-American president. What is more amazing is that the inauguration is occurring Jan. 20, just one day after the national recognition of the work of Martin Luther King Jr.

I find Obama’s inauguration inspiring for all Americans because just under 150 years ago folks with Obama’s skin color were considered property. Our nation nearly split permanently between “slave states” and “free states.”

Even 60 years ago blacks didn’t enjoy the same civil rights granted to white Americans, including rights as simple as drinking from the same water fountain or even the right to marry a white in many states.

Now, President Barack Obama, an African American, is the leader of this great country. It took us a long time to realize that we’re equal - regardless of skin color.

It’s too bad we can’t learn from our past mistakes. Civil rights in this country have certainly come a long way since the days of Abraham Lincoln or even Dr. King.

But they have further to go.

The consensus among Americans is that if you’re gay or lesbian you are somehow less of a human being than your heterosexual peers. The venom spewed by the likes of Fred Phelps and even Bryan Fischer would make you think that gays are the spawn of Satan and this hate speech against the gay community is generally accepted because, well, gay is the new black.

But it’s not just the gay and lesbian community. Folks who hold different religious beliefs, including the members of Christ Church, are demonized because of their beliefs.

We must remember that we are a country of freedom. Free to believe what you want to believe and how you want to believe it. But there is a very thin line between your freedom to believe what you want and at the same time not leading a crusade to take freedoms away from your fellow citizens.

It took us a long time to realize this simple fact when it came to slavery in the 1860s and civil rights in the 1960s. I hope that Obama can lead this country to the new frontier of civil rights - to bring equality to all Americans regardless of, well, anything.

I think that’s certainly change worth hoping for.

Henry D. Johnston is manager of an area retail store.


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D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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