The Gay Bill of Rights, a measure to outlaw discrimination against homosexuals in housing, employment, education and public accomodations, has virtually no chance of passage in Congress this year, its sponsors acknowledge, but the debate it aroused before a House subcommittee yesterday was no less impassioned.
The bill, which would grant to homosexuals civil rights protections that women, blacks and religious groups now enjoy, is sponsored by 52 House members, including D.C. Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy and Maryland Democrats Michael Barnes and Parren J. Mitchell. It is endorsed by the American Bar Association, the National Council of Churches and the American Federation of Teachers.
It has become, however, a target of groups such as the Moral Majority and the National Pro-Family Coalition, who say it would promote an unacceptable life style.
In a mass mailing last fall, the Christian Voice Moral Government Fund, based in McLean, solicited contributions to fight the bill, saying, "Thousands of innocent American children may soon be molested by sex deviates" if Congress passes it.
It would, the letter said, "force every local school to hire practicing homosexuals as teachers, coaches and counselors; force every Christian church to hire a homosexual minister or other church employe; force every family business to hire sodomites . . . . "
Such charges are preposterous, Craig Christianson, dean of Syracuse University law school, told the committee yesterday. Instead, he said, the bill would alleviate "the pain and suffering of countless homosexuals who have lost homes and jobs and yet have never proclaimed their sexuality."
However, Connaught Marshner, chairman of the National Pro-Family Coalition, said, "Mere orientation is not the issue. Overt sexual behavior is the issue . . . . What we are advocating is that our right to privacy be respected: that the homosexual life style not be flaunted in our neighborhood and shouted from the housetops. The public has a right to be protected from the promotion and glamorization of something that is by its nature antithetical to the social order."