Evan Wolfson: The many faces of antigay prejudice

Posted on nytimes.com:

"The biggest problem with Carl Paladino’s antigay statements is not just their display of ignorance and prejudice or even, as your editorial rightly notes, their appalling timing, coming in a prepared campaign speech just days after front-page reports of a horrific hate crime in which nongay young people felt licensed to torture gay men, and just a couple of weeks after a wave of suicides by despondent young gay people feeling isolated and battered by derision and discrimination.

"Rather, the biggest problem is that government itself is the No. 1 discriminator against gay Americans through its denial of equality under the law, including the freedom to marry that Mr. Paladino attacked.

"Discrimination puts the weight of our government on the side of prejudice against gay people. It says that in the eyes of the law, gay relationships are less worthy and deserve little support and less respect. It tells nongay people (such as Tyler Clementi’s roommate and the Bronx tormentors) that it’s O.K. to look down on people who are different. It denies protection to those who most need it, and gives permission to those who fear, despise or hate.

"What parents want their child taught a sense of inferiority, or a sense of false superiority? Should the state be on the side of, indeed an engine of, discrimination and disdain? The strongest message of affirmation New York could send young people is by getting out of the discrimination business and standing up for equal protection and opportunity for all."

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