Attaining Alternate Attitudes toward Homosexuality
The task of a civilized world is not just to cease acts of terrorism but to curb and eliminate dehumanizing hate. We must expand the concept of ‘us’ until it includes every human being and the idea of ‘them’ falls into disuse as an obsolete stereotyping device. This can be achieved only [. . .] by a first-rate education and supportive culture that protects the rights of all people. (Dozier 280) One group of people to have overcome much hatred is homosexuals. Daniel Demers states that supporters of the gay rights movement do not stop often enough to take stock of how much progress gay and lesbian people have made in overcoming hatred. “[C]ontroversy serves to show and put into historical perspective the contrast between society’s current attitudes and those of a hundred years ago” (Demers 29). Demers uses historical evidence to bring light to just how far homosexuals have come in overcoming abhorrence, making reference to the London Chronicle. “So vulgar was the word ‘homosexual’ that the polite Victorian standards of the day restricted [. . .] ‘the same vice which caused the downfall of Oscar Wilde.’ Wilde was convicted under British law of ‘gross indecency’ and served a two-year sentence at hard labor” (Demers 28). The thought that someone could be criminally convicted for homosexual behavior is considered ludicrous in modern society. Although homosexuality and marriage equality have held negative stigmas in the past, modification to modern society’s viewpoint has resonated from such sources as leadership, accepting environments, and scientific knowledge.
One factor that has contributed to the shift in opinions of homosexuality is the perceptiveness of leaders. Leaders may be local, state, or national; and they may be political, religious, or educational. For example, local educational leaders are the administrators and teachers in schools. These individuals greatly contribute to the way homosexuality is viewed. Arthur Lipkin notes that teachers are key to students’ understanding and accepting diversity. When teachers use the words gay and homosexual in an accepting manner they create “the potential for a tolerant environment” among their students (56). Teachers can help change opinions on the local level; however, politicians are more apt to have an influence on the state and federal levels. Politicians like Senator Ed Murray have been instrumental in changing society’s views concerning homosexuality. “On February 13,  [. . .] Washington became the seventh state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage [. . .] through the efforts of State Senator Ed Murray of Seattle, who has tried to pass a marriage equality law during every legislative biennium since 1991” (Guy). An example of the disgust harbored for homosexuals that leaders like Murray are working to overcome comes from an interview with Cardinal Keith O’Brien uses the word ‘grotesque’ to describe the issue of same sex marriage (qtd. in Jones 11). If not for perceptive leaders in government, those who share O’Brien’s point of view would have never been overcome. Leaders provide one influential factor to changing society’s view of homosexuality.
Not only have perceptive leaders created a momentum for societal change of opinion about homosexuality, but the changes in public policy pushed by leaders have also. Over the course of the past decade, eleven countries, parts of Mexico and Brazil, as well as numerous American states have made same-sex marriage a legal option. Nelson Jones jests, “In none of those places has the sky fallen in.” Jones goes on to write, that the list is developing and remains growing because in many countries that have implemented the conciliation of civil partnership, “the...
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