Beyond Bullying: Race, Poverty and LGBT Rights

Published: March 28, 2011

One of the most pernicious but least discussed stereotypes of LGBT persons portrays them as a highly privileged population. According to the legend, the average LGBT person is white, wealthy and highly educated.

Opponents of LGBT rights frequently point to these so-called privileges in order to advocate against progress on questions of sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, during the campaign to pass an amendment to the Colorado constitution that banned the implementation of laws protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination, the group Coloradans for Family Values circulated the film "Gay Rights/Special Rights." The video depicts gays and lesbians as white, upper-class and sexually debauched. The narrator questions the need for LGBT rights measures on the grounds that gays and lesbians have not suffered discrimination to the same extent as Blacks and Latinos.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia echoed this sentiment in his dissenting opinion in the case Romer v. Evans. In Romer, the Supreme Court invalidated the Colorado constitutional amendment because it denied gays and lesbians of Equal Protection. In protest, Justice Scalia argued that "those who engage in homosexual conduct tend to reside in disproportionate numbers in certain communities. . .have high disposable income. . .[and] possess political power much greater than their numbers, both locally and statewide." Accordingly, extending them civil rights protection would amount to "special rights."

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