Gay rights are human rights – and so is anti-gay rights speech

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has a fascinating column by Ari Cohn analyzing the 1985 court case that required TAMU to support the Gay Students Services group, and the recent statement from Marco Roberts, the student plaintiff, appealing for the opponents of the Indiana “religious liberty” law to respect the free speech rights of its supporters. FIRE column here, Roberts column here:

This is not about being pro or against gays. It is about the fundamental concept of the freedom of speech, the most fundamental of all political rights. […] Many of my GLBT compatriots tell me that those who oppose gay marriage are trying to “hurt us” and thus have “no right” to their views. Well I say that no one has a right to come into the public space and demand fundamental change to everyone’s laws without arguing their case and subjecting it to debate.

And the famous quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:

Aye tear her tattered ensign down
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon’s roar;–
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o’er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
Or know the conquered knee;–
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!’

Whoops, wrong Oliver Wendell Holmes. I meant

If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition. … But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.

And the last word, from Marco Roberts:

To this day I remember those fellow Aggiest who told me personally that they totally opposed what I believed, but would stand up for my right to say it—and they did. I intend to forever return the favor.

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