The Truth, Mainly - 06/11/2001

Some simple-minded questions for the Governor
by Leon Satterfield

Dear Mike:

I hope I'm not presuming too much in addressing a governor so informally, but I did leaflet a precinct on your behalf when you were running for county commissioner. My memory is that we were on a first-name basis then.

I see in the newspaper that you vetoed LB215, a bill that would have kept licensed realtors from discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation. In your veto message you said you couldn't support legal recognition of people "based upon sexual choices" they make.

I've got some simple-minded questions for you, Mike.

The "sexual choices" you talk about grow out of your belief that gays and lesbians choose to be gays and lesbians? Right?

Which means you believe that gays and lesbians could have chosen to be straight? Am I still following you on this?

Here's a really simple-minded question that's always interested me: If gays and lesbians are the way they are because they choose to be, are straights the way we are because we choose to be?

And if gays could have chosen to be straight, could straights have chosen to be gay?

If your answer to all those questions is yes, Mike, then I've got another for you. It's really simple-minded. It's also indelicate. I hope you're not offended.

Here it is: When did you choose to be straight?

Still with me on this, Mike? When did you choose to be straight instead of gay? It's an important choice, so surely you remember. When did you decide?

And how did you decide? Did you just flip a coin? Did you compile lists of advantages and disadvantages?

And then what? Did you have a coming-out party to let everyone know you'd decided to be straight? Did you put a notice in the personal ads?

Neither did I.

Because, like you I'll bet, I don't remember ever making such a choice. I don't even remember knowing that I had the option of making such a choice. In my ignorance of such things, I just assumed that I was born to be straight in the same way I was born to be right-handed and eventually bald-headed.

And I'll bet it was that way with you too, Mike. I'll bet you never made the choice to be straight because you never had the option of being anything else.

I read in the papers that you're a religious man, Mike, so I'd also bet you'd assent to the notion that you and I and about 90 percent of the rest of us are straight because that's the way the Creator made us.

And here's another simple-minded but nagging question: If we're straight by Divine Intent, why don't we think gays are gay by Divine Intent?

I know. It's hard to imagine such a Cosmic Outrage. So let's skip that one.

Let's just continue to assume what most straights have always assumed, that gays have to choose to be gay but we don't have to choose to be straight. And that leads me to a 2 a.m. question that always gives me the fantods: If gays get a choice and we don't, does that mean (gulp!) that the Creator likes them better than us? You know, because they get more choices than we do?

Milton makes the argument in "Paradise Lost" that there's no virtue without Free Will. So does that mean gays are more virtuous than we are because they have more Free Will?

And if that's the case, then how do you think the Creator reacts when we repeatedly assert the opposite, that straights are morally superior to gays?

Does the Creator give out a great big Celestial Guffaw at our presumption?

Well, as you can see, Mike, I've got more simple-minded questions than simple-minded answers. It comes from being a dirty rotten secular humanist.

Uh, oh. I think I just had an epiphany. Let me check. Yes I did. Here it is:

Maybe there's another possibility. Maybe, gay or straight, we're no more responsible for our sexual orientation than we are for being left-handed or right-handed, for being bald-headed or looking like we wear rugs all the time.

Maybe our sexual orientation, straight or gay, has been thrust upon us by forces over which we have no control.

In which case, maybe it makes no legal or moral sense to penalize the minority by vetoing a bill that would have given them the same freedom to live where they want to live that the rest of us enjoy.

Maybe we should choose—on a matter in which we do have choice—a humane and decent respect for all citizens in legal good standing on this lovely moist blue ball, beginning with this little patch called Nebraska. Any thoughts on that, Mike?

Cordially yours,


P.S. I'd be pleased to leaflet another precinct for you the next time you run for county commissioner.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

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