Is America Moving Toward Embracing or Condemning Homosexuality?

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This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, July 30, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

BOB SELLERS, GUEST HOST: At the same time the gay culture is gaining wider acceptance, the voices of protest are growing louder. On television, you have got shows like Boy Meets Boy and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Meanwhile, the pope just denounced gay marriage, and a recent poll shows that mainstream Americans are not so accepting of gay lifestyles.

Patrick Guerreiro (search) is executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans (search), a national gay political group. And that is today's big question: Is homosexuality being embraced or condemned? Sir, take it away. What do you think?

PATRICK GUERREIRO, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: Well, there has been a seismic shift in American public opinion over the last decade as individuals come out to their family members, to their co-workers. We're seeing that most Americans embrace fairness and equality. It doesn't mean that public opinion has been formalized. We need to make more progress, but great change is happening. And in the end, this country is going to embrace the fact that all of us are valued members of the American family.

SELLERS: Here's what strikes me. There's no question that we're seeing more presence of gays on television, and I just gave some examples, but at the same time that is happening, the recent poll shows that people who think homosexual sex should be legal has fallen from 60 percent to 48 percent. And that's over the past couple of months. How do you account for that?

GUERREIRO: I'm not a fan of television other than Fox, I might add, but the reality is that ever since the Supreme Court granted all Americans the fundamental right to privacy (search) including gay and lesbian Americans, there has been a historic temper tantrum coming from the radical right who have said, “The world is going to come to an end. There is going to be a spike in incest and polygamy.” Great threats, none of which will happen.

And the result is the American people who have been swamped with that message and the radical right deserves credit for yelling, and screaming and doing that. The reality is when people take a step back in the coming days, the trends towards Americans supporting fairness and equality, and being opposed to discrimination, and supporting health care benefits and inheritance rights for gay and lesbian families. That trend is going to continue as it has for the last decade. And the far right will lose its ability to raise money off of gay bashing.

SELLERS: Well, I'm not going to dispute that there are some people who are as extreme as you are describing, but I don't think those are the people we're talking about here. We have with the Supreme Court recently striking down the sodomy laws in Texas. We have possibly the first gay bishop in the Episcopal Church (search). Even as that is happening, we have support for marriage among gays for that to be legal falling from 49 percent to 40 percent. So I don't think you can accurately say that that's just those that you would call the radical right. It seems as though, correct me if I'm wrong, there are a lot of people that are confronting this, as they've seen more and more of what they would call the gay lifestyle and maybe they're not so sure they like it.

GUERREIRO: They've been swamped with negative images on television, negative statements from the far right threatening awful things. I'm the head of a gay Republican organization and after watching some of the diatribe I've heard, even I've questioned for moments what they're talking about, and whether we should be concerned. The reality is this, when the far right is talking about gay and lesbian Americans and our families… they are talking about the vice president's family. They are talking about Newt Gingrich's family. They are talking about Dick Gephardt's family. And the radical agenda that they talk about is folks like me simply wanting our relationships recognized, tax fairness under the law, the ability to visit our partners in a hospital. When most Americans hear those issues in a very clear format, in the end, American public opinion will do what it has done over the last decade, which will move very, very much in the majority for basic fairness.

SELLERS: I can't take away what your feelings and thoughts are and expectations. What I'm wondering, though, is there does seem to be reluctance for a majority of people to accept what you are describing as far as marriage and that sort of thing. Do you think that it's related to the extreme visuals that they're provided with, or do you think it's something as simple as they don't believe it based on their biblical background, or what their beliefs are religiously?

GUERREIRO: I think there are some people who have real strong religious beliefs and I respectfully disagree with them. I also think the marriage issue is a brand new one. And what gay and lesbian Americans are asking for is not that we would force any religion or religious institution to embrace our families. We simply want the government in some way, in a civil way, not a religious one, to give us some basic tax fairness and family recognition. And the far right is pressing images on television and in messages suggesting that we want to somehow usurp religious institutions. Once the American people hear the story and the facts the way they are, my belief is they will continue to move towards fairness.

SELLERS: Patrick, thank you. I'm sorry to cut you off. Got to go. Patrick Guerreiro. Thank you very much, sir.

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