In response to Jeff Jacoby's column "Should discrimination against homosexuals be illegal?" (op ed, Oct. 26), the US Constitution holds out a promise, not always fulfilled, of equal treatment of every individual under the law. This means that a state cannot segregate a particular group of people for different, unequal treatment. What Amendment 2 does in Colorado, what Issue 3 does in Cincinnati, and what Question 1 would do in Maine, is to preclude any local legislation or policy making - not for all of the state's citizens, but only for gay people. This type of unequal treatment is unconstitutional and un-American.
As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted at oral argument in the case challenging Colorado's Amendment 2, women's suffrage began with local ordinances requiring that women be allowed to vote. Women might not be able to vote today if there had been similar initiatives aimed at them. Similarly, if the Supreme Court had not struck down referendums that attempted to preempt local legislation protecting African-Americans from discrimination, the Civil Rights Act might never have been adopted.
The essence of American democracy is fair play. Under our system, every person is supposed to have the same chance to argue for what he or she believes in and to persuade his or her fellow citizens.
The idea that a state would have two sets of rules for lawmaking - one that applies to lesbians, gay men and bisexuals and another for nongays - is antithetical to what this country and its Constitution represent.
Gay / LesbianAdvocates & Defenders
This story ran on page 14 of the Boston Globe on 10/30.