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Discrimination Against Gays

July 17, 1994

* It must be either hopeless naivete or Machiavellian intent that motivated the July 7 editorial, "The Right to Have a Job." To suggest that the Employment Nondiscrimination Act will not lead to homosexual counting in the workplace ignores the history of civil rights enforcement in this country. For instance, Sec. 703 of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act contained this prohibition: "Nothing contained in this title shall be interpreted to require any employer . . . to grant preferential treatment to any individual or group . . . on account of an imbalance." In short, no numerical solutions.

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the courts have used numbers, almost from the beginning, to enforce this act. Every firm of any size in this country must fill out paperwork listing the demographic breakdown of the firm's work force. Imbalance in the proportions of minorities and women will trigger an EEOC investigation.

I can only surmise that The Times either is not aware of this contorted evolution, or is all too aware, hence the recommendation.

CHRISTOPHER T. WARDEN

Los Angeles

* Rep. Robert K. Dornan's letter (July 11) is a distortion of The Times' editorial position, which he characterizes as a "cheap shot" against him and others who share his opinions. In fact, The Times' position on the issue of civil rights for gays and lesbians is, I would contend, quite moderate and sensible.

Gay and lesbian people do not expect people to "glorify" their lifestyle. Nor do they want "special" treatment. All they expect is fair treatment, just as people from other minorities have a right to expect. It is probably true that special legislation to protect gays should not be necessary (after all, the Bill of Rights should protect them). However, the fact is that gay and lesbian people are discriminated against on a routine basis in every facet of life, including employment opportunities and housing.

Homophobia is one of the most insidious forms of bigotry and discrimination around because homophobics wrap themselves up in religion.

Mr. Dornan, I don't expect that this letter will cause you to change your opinion. In fact, I don't particularly care if you want to go on believing that "homosexuality . . . is inherently immoral," as long as you are willing to accept that gays and lesbians should have the right to live and work where they wish. But please, spare me from your protestations that you are not a bigot--your own words betray you!

JAMES W. CRAFT

Torrance

* Dornan writes, " . . . Using tax dollars to support what most Americans find abhorrent is idiotic, not to mention a frivolous drain on the federal budget." Does this mean he's returning his salary?

MICHAEL MODES

Los Angeles

* Re Lars-Erik Nelson's condemnation of Atty. Gen. Janet Reno's new directive to the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals, Commentary, July 10:

Are we now to shrink from doing the right thing because it gives fresh ammunition to the fundamentalists who are livid over our President's concern for gays?

Nelson's argument against this directive is that it smacks of special-interest lobbying. But to cave in to the bigotry of the radical right would amount to the same thing. Should Clinton also reverse his policy on abortion to satisfy Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Phyllis Schlafly?

Gays helped Clinton get elected and they deserve his concern exactly as Reagan and Bush pushed the agendas of the Christian extremists.

MARSHAL ALAN PHILLIPS

Los Angeles

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