The Important (Missed) Debate About Homosexuality

Some pretty high-profile individuals can say some pretty uneducated and insensitive things about other people. But when it happens, it's not a time to effectively ban such speech. Rather, it's time to talk about what misconceptions would cause that sort of speech to occur. It's also important to remember that everyone has his or her right to an opinion.

I think homosexual activity is wrong. I think it is a perversion of normal sexual behavior as much as is promiscuous heterosexual activity. But I don't think that we should treat as a pariah anyone who either has such inclinations (homo- or hetero-), or even anyone who acts on them.

When I first heard that former Utah Jazz basketball player John Amaechi is a homosexual, I thought, "So what?" I was actually kind of angry that the Deseret News made such a big deal out of what I thought was not much of a news story.

Then I heard Tim Hardaway's radio comments the other night, and I thought, was that really Tim Hardaway? He said, in part:

You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people.

First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team. Second of all, you know, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him.

I wonder if Tim Hardaway has ever known any homosexuals. He has a great deal of mis-pre-conceived notions about them. I've known a some homosexual people over the years, and probably more than I've realized, because they generally don't make it an issue. Some of them--female athletes--were good friends. But most homosexuals are like most heterosexuals--their sexuality is essentially a private thing.

So I think Hardaway's statements are inane, but he has a right be be inane if he wants to.

But then National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern did something equally inane. He banned Tim Hardaway from NBA All-Star weekend this weekend.

"It is inappropriate for him to be representing us given the disparity between his views and ours," Stern said in a statement Thursday.

Obviously Hardaway's views don't match those of the NBA. Very probably Hardaway's views don't really match those that Hardaway expressed on the radio recently. But now it's going to be a bit harder to find out.

It's important to let people express their opinions, even when the opinions are stupid. Out of controversy can come understanding, even when it's simply to respectfully disagree. But when speech is banned, as in this case by Commissioner Stern, we don't get the chance to engender the much needed respect for different opinions and people that we need.

Even if John Amaechi thinks Stern made the right choice, I don't
. The process has been short circuited. And an important debate about homosexuality has been missed.


  1. What I want to know is, who cares what Tim Hardaway thinks, and does the NBA really think anyone thinks Hardaway represents the NBA?

    I think Hardaway should have been told publicly by the team he plays for that he is expected to play with all teammates regardless of sexual orientation and if he doesn't he'll be released from his contract because he's not doing his job.

  2. Frank,

    You are a brave man for posting these sentiments publicly and permanently. I admire your courage and conviction. I have been bragging about you to my political friends all week.

    Don’t take the dearth of comments from pissed of people as concurrence. Most of us living here as non-LDS among our beloved Mormon friends recognize well the semantic gymnastics (some call apologist) required to “explain” the sometimes odd positions members are required to take.

    And we just walk away. What else can we do?

    But when the need to convince yourself and those around you of an untenable doctrine, and the effort expended to do so exceeds the investment in unqualified love, honest empathy and true understanding and when that untenable doctrine serves no particularly important purpose, are we really walking with Jesus?

    When you need to invoke characterizations of various sexual behaviors, put them together, shake them up and call them the same bad…

    When you need to invoke free speech to justify hate speech…

    When you need to admonish us to have “respect for different opinions” and one of them starts with “I hate”…

    When you call comments about homosexuality “uneducated and insensitive” and then say, “I think homosexual activity is wrong. I think it is a perversion of normal sexual behavior”…

    You are either part of an inter galactic traveling freak show — here today and gone tomorrow — or you are having a bad dream.

    Why do you let yourself be punished so? You deserve better. You are better.


  3. Cliff,

    Thanks for your contribution to the debate, your compliments, and your challenge to me.

    I hope I did not say or imply that we are required to respect the words of bigots such as Mr. Hardaway.

    Also, I consider my opinion that homosexuality is wrong an informed one, albeit based on my religious perspective. I also think individuals should be able to choose to do perverse things, so long as they do not harm others in doing so.

    But in a nutshell, here's why I say homosexuality is wrong: God made the sexual act primarily as one to further his purposes by furthering humanity and secondarily as something to cement fidelity of one person to another. Such fidelity and nurturing help ensure a healthily functioning society. When the sex act is perverted for personal aims (whether homosexually or heterosexually), society breaks down.

  4. Frank,

    You misunderstood Cliff. You obviously mean well, but your statements need to be more carefully supported. For example, you believe that homosexuality is wrong, then you claim your opinion is well-informed. Yet using the Bible to support an opinion is weak. People misuse the Bible for their own purposes. This is one of them. I'm not convinced.

    Also, homosexual relationships also serve to bond the couple. Sorry, but it's true. And not all heterosexual couples have children. Do you condemn them? Merely calling another group "perverted" is in itself a bigoted statement. If you truly believe in Christian ethics, then you will not point the finger and say what is "normal" and what is "perverted." That is not for us to judge. Most lesbians and gays are responsible citizens, many of them responsible and loving mothers and fathers, educators, judges, physicians, lawyers, etc. who do much to contribute to our society. Where is the "perverted personal aims"? I don't know many heterosexuals who marry someone for some lofty goal. It's the chemistry. If your God created the chemistry, then the chemistry between two men or two women can't be wrong or "perverted."

    Yes, I agree with Cliff. You can do better, Frank, and you deserve better. So does the world.

  5. Nancy,

    Maybe we are misunderstanding each other all around. I have a tendency only to reply to that with which I disagree. In Cliff's comment I completely agree with the importance of "unqualified love, honest empathy and true understanding", and I hope my stating my opinion that I think homosexuality is wrong does not convey that I have less than that love for homosexuals.

    I don't really base my opinion about homosexuality on the bible. I based it on my version of common sense (I mean no offense if your version of common sense is different). Take a look at Elizabeth's comment in another thread, paying attention to the 3rd paragraph.

    I think that children who have both a mother and a father tend to be better off emotionally. I think that adults who have children tend to be better off as well, including being successful in life. The reason I think homosexuality is wrong (the acts, not the inclination or the thought) is because it has a tendency to make one self-centered and not reach his or her full potential in life. I think heterosexual promiscuity is wrong for the very same reasons.

    You make an excellent point that "Most lesbians and gays are responsible citizens, many of them responsible and loving mothers and fathers, educators, judges, physicians, lawyers, etc. who do much to contribute to our society There may be a higher percentage of them who are responsible than heterosexuals in general. But it would be hard to find a higher percentage of them who are more responsible than heterosexuals who are faithful to their spouses and children.


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