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October 22, 1987 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-22

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4

OPINION
Thursday, October 22, 1987

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

I

1be Stdpan t
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. XCVIII, No. 31 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.

Gay

rights

group,

speaks

Watch Arias

THERE'S NO QUESTION that Presi-
dent Oscar Arias Sanchez of Costa
Rica deserves the Nobel Peace Prize
for proposing his peace plan for
Central America. The Arias peace
plan needs any support it can get
in the face of the Reagan adminis-
tration's opposition. But certain
remarks by Arias last week raise
doubts as to whether Arias himself
will still be worthy, in a few weeks,
of such public acclaim as he has re-
ceived.
After receiving the peace prize,
Arias disappointingly shifted his
position to state that the Nicaraguan
government should negotiate a
cease-fire with the Contra
"directorate."
The Reagan administration has
long insisted on this point, and until
last week Arias had refused to con-
cur. Administration officials have
publicly admitted that their strategy
is based on the expectation that the
Nicaraguan government will not
give in on this point. Reagan offi-
cials then hope to argue that
Nicaragua has not complied with
the peace plan, when they request
further funding from Congress for
the Contras.
This argument will be cynically
deceitful, since the Arias plan ex-
plicitly states that the five govern-
ments are not required to negotiate
with armed opposition groups, un-
less these groups lay down their
arms and accept amnesty.
The Nicaraguan government has
argued that since the Contras have
been organized, trained, and fi-
nanced by the United States gov-
ernment, that negotiations should be
with the Reagan administration,
which has refused to negotiate and
did not sign the Arias accord. As
Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega
put it: "When a dog bites you, you
want to talk to the owner, not the
dog." The Nicaraguans have of-
fered to negotiate with individual
Contra commanders, but not with
the Washington-controlled direc-
torate.

There is a good deal of evidence
to support the Nicaraguan govern-
ment's position. Edgar Chamorro,
former director of the Contras,
testified before the World Court that
he was chosen for that position by
the CIA. The current Contra direc-
torate was not elected by any pro-
cess in which Nicaraguans partici-
pated, and does not appear to have
any independence from its U.S.
sponsors.
It is therefore understandable that
the Nicaraguan government does
not want to grant undeserved le-
gitimacy to what is essentially a
foreign-dominated leadership. And
the Arias accords, signed by the
presidents of Honduras, Guate-
mala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and
El Salvador, do not require them to
do so.
Nicaragua is clearly complying
with the accords, especially com-
pared with its neighbors such as
Honduras or El Salvador. The
Honduran government refuses to
even establish the reconciliation
commission that the agreement pro-
vides for. And for all the talk about
so-called democracy in El Salvador,
there is no opposition press, since
the latter was bombed and assassi-
nated out of existence several years
ago.
Nicaragua does not need to be
pressured to comply with the Arias
plan, since the plan contains noth-
ing that the Nicaraguan government
hasn't already agreed to for years.
For example, they have always
promised that they would end all
press censorship if the United
States would stop funding the Con-
tras.
The real problem is with the one
party that didn't sign the accords:
the U.S. government. The Reagan
administration has been looking for
ways to avoid a peaceful settlement
for six years. It would be a tragedy
if Arias, after winning the Nobel
Peace prize, allowed himself to be
used by the forces of violence and
injustice.

By Carol Wayman, Linda
Kurtz, & Alicia Lucksted
One night last week, two male Uni-
versity students walked by one of my
friends as she chalked on the sidewalk
outside the Union: "600 lesbians and
gay men arrested in Washington today.
Civil disobedience at the Supreme
Court." "What are you doing?" one of
the men asked. She told him, and then
the woman accompanying her began to
explain that, as the culmination of three
days of demonstrations for gay civil
rights, gay rights activists gathered on
the steps of the Supreme Court Tues-
day, October 13, to protest the Court's
1986 ruling upholding Georgia's
sodomy law. "I don't understand this,"
one of the men said. "Privileges? Why
do you guys want any more fucking
privileges?" "We don't have any fucking
privileges now," my friend replied drily.
And this is true. We, as lesbians and
gay men, do not have any fucking
privileges - or rights - whether fuck-
ing is used as an epithet or as an adjec-
tive to describe sexual activity. It is,
indeed, for that very reason that almost
half a million lesbians, gay men, and
supporters marched in Washington,
D.C. on Sunday, October 11, to demand
that the government give us those rights
that are guaranteed to the citizens of the
United States by the Constitution, but
are in fact denied to us.
Half a million homosexuals! Are you
surprised? Don't be, because we com-
prise at least 10 percent of the U.S.
population - over 26 million people.
We're not as obviousas racial minori-
ties because we're everyone, everywhere:
black, Oriental, white; Catholic, Jew-
ish; teachers, students, businesswomen,
football players; mothers, fathers, chil-
dren, sisters, brothers. We are, all of us,
tired of being scorned ridiculed, beaten,
and discriminated against because we are
gay. We want our rights . We want to
be treated as human beings because
that's what we are - and that's how
you treat us, your friends and your co-
workers, until you find out we're gay.
Half a million people in Washington
demanding lesbian and gay male civil
rights. Whoopi Goldberg. Eleanor
Smeal. Jesse Jackson. Two gay Con-
gressmen from Massachusets. Your
lawyer. The waitress from the restaurant
you usually lunch at. Your friend. Hun-
dreds of thousands of us chanting,
Carol Wayman, Linda Kurtz, and Alicia
Lucksted are members of LaGROC.

singing, and marching to the steps of
the Capitol to demand our rights.
We are demanding that the President
issue an order forbidding the federal
government from discriminating against
anyone on the basis of their sexual ori-
entation. We are demanding that
Congress pass the Gay Civil Rights
Bill. There is at present no federal and
very little state or local legislation pro-
tecting homosexuals from heterosexist
behavior. While Ann Arbor does have
an ordinance prohibiting discrimination
in housing or jobs on the basis of sex-
ual orientation, the Ann Arbor Human
Rights Commission has recently stated
that this ordinance has few teeth and is
currently investigating ways to
strengthen it. (HRC meetings are open
to the public and held the last Wednes-
day of each month at 4:00 P.M. on the
fourth floor of City Hall. Interested par-
ties should attend.) The University of
Michigan, because it is a government
institution, is not covered by the Ann
Arbor ordinance and offers no protection
to its gay employees or students save
through a 1984 Presidential memo
which carries no legal weight and in any
case will be moot once President
Shapiro leaves. Last year, LaGROC
(Lesbian and Gay Rights on Campus)
asked, and later demanded, that the Re-
gents include sexual orientation in the
by-law on non-discrimination, but the
Regents refused to consider the issue.
LaGROC is continuing the fight for the
by-law this year.
We lesbians and gay men are demand-
ing not only our civil rights, but also,
as the University student described
above so aptly put it, our "fucking"
rights, that is, the repeal of all laws that
make sodomy between consenting adults
a crime. Our relationships are based on
love just as much as are heterosexual
relationships. As the sexual act 'is an
expression of love between two people,
it is cruel and unreasonable to prohibit
between people who love each other.
Yet in 1986, the Supreme Court ruled
in Bowers v. Hardwick that the states
have a right to prohibit sexual relations
between persons of the same sex. Last
Tuesday, over 600 gay rights activists,
including Michael Hardwick, one of the
defendants in the case, were arrested
when they gathered on the steps of the
Supreme Court to protest this unwar-
ranted intrusion of the government into
our lives and loves.
We are demanding the right not only
to have sexual relations with our lovers,
but also to marry them. Many gay peo-
ple are involved in long-lasting, com-

mitted relationships, yet are denied the
right to socially legitimate them
through marriage. This affects them, as
committed lovers, in many ways. For
instance, if a gay person's partner is
hospitalized, and if s/he is not a mem-
ber of the partner's immediate family,
s/he can be prohibited from visiting
her/him. Gay couples are denied the
economic benefits that accrue to married
couples -- tax breaks, health benefits,
social security benefits, etc. We lesbians
and gay men pay taxes, health insur-
ance, etc., just like any heterosexual,
yet do not reap the benefits that are
rightfully ours. In order to dramatize our
demand for the right to be legally mar-
ried, several hundred gay couples gath-
ered together on Saturday, the 10th of
October, to publicly affirm their love
for and commitment to each other.
We lesbians and gay men are fed up.
Fed up with losing our jobs, our hous-
ing, and sometimes our friends and our
family when we make our emotional-
sexual preference known. We are angry.
Angry that we cannot hold the hand of
our lover as we walk down the street for
fear of being beaten or ridiculed, angry
that we cannot legalize our love through
marriage. And most of all, we are frus-
trated. Frustrated at society for not al-
lowing us to be - to be ourselves, for
an individual's sexual and emotional
identity are at the core of her or his be-
ing.
But we shall overcome. As the slogan
of the October 11 March on Wdshington
for Gay Civil Rights cries out: "For
love and for life, we're not go-
ing back."
LaGROC looks forward to publishing
more editorials in the Daily. They are
designed to be a forum for publicizing
and discussing. events important to the
gay community in Ann Arbor. We
would like to get a dialogue going con-
cerning the issues raised in these
editorials and so welcome feedback in
the form of letters to the editor or letters
to LaGROC, c/o Lesbian and Gay Male
Programs Office, Michigan Union. We
ask also that members of the commu-
nity bring to our attention any issues or
events which they think should be dis-
cussed.
LaGROC is a political action and
support group. We organized the Pantree
boycott. Our major focus of concern
now is the inclusion of sexual orienta-
tion in the non-discrimination by-law.
People interested in getting involved
should attend our meetings which are
held every Tuesday at 8:30 P.M., Rm.
3200, Michigan Union. For more info,
call Carol or Alicia at 996-2396.

LETTERS

Student encounters racism at

'U'

Stop passing up

AT THE Michigan football game
against Iowa last week, an ugly tra-
dition among fans resurfaced -
the passing of women up through
the stands.
Michigan football games have
many traditions - The Victors, The
Yellow and Blue, the male cheer-
leaders doing back flips counting all
the Michigan points after a score,
the marching band's block "M,"
and many others. These are all great
traditions which help create the
unique spirit of Michigan home
football games.
For those not familiar with pass-
ing up, however, it usually begins
when a group of men lift an attrac-
tive woman up over their heads and
pass her back to the fans behind
them, who, in turn pass her up to-
ward the top of the stadium with the
chants of "Over! Over!" ac-
companying and encouraging. Of-
ten, these women have reported

Canham has decreed that any people
caught instigating or continuing the
passing of another spectator will be
arrested. In addition, the field an-
nouncer often asks fans to refrain
from passing people up the stands
during the games. These measures
don't seem to affect the participants
in this activity.
Mr. Canham deserves, commen-
dation for trying to eradicate pass-
ing up, but arrest seems to be too
harsh a penalty. If more security
could be on hand at the games and
those who participate in passing
others are escorted out of the sta-
dium, the penalty would be harsh
enough. Enforcement is the best
deterrent, not the threat of arrest.
Safety and the respect of others
should be the first thoughts (after
supporting the team, of course) at
home football games. Stopping the
passing of women through the
stands will make women feel less

To the Daily:
The University of Michigan
appealed to me for one reason
only - the name. I didn't ex-
pect a large number of parties
because Michigan was labeled
as a school that did little
partying. It was also labeled as
being a "liberal" school. Per-
haps this explains my surprise
when my friends and I encoun-
tered acts of racism at the Uni-
versity.
The racist act my friends and
I encountered occurred last
winter term, 1987, and was the
subject of many demonstra-
tions that were held. I partici-
pated in several of these
marches/rallies and believed in
and supported the demands of
UCAR/BamII.
When I returned to school
this fall, I pondered the thought
"is it just going to start all
over again?" Yet I still hadn't
experienced anything racist
(here at the University) until a
friend showed me a copy of her
astronomy 112/102 exam.
Question 40 on the exam read:
Astronomers often refer to
'black body' radiation because
black bodies:
a) are easy to construct in
the laboratory.
b)are perfect radiators

several others who found it
equally offensive. I'm sure
there are several students who
felt the "joke answer" was hu-
morous - but they were
probably people whoserace
wasn't being joked about on
the exam.
The same day I read this
exam, I saw written on the
Angell hall elevator door:
NIGGER FREE U. Perhaps
the reason this hurt me so
much (outside of the obvious
reasons) is that this seems to
be consistent with the idea that

blacks aren't qualified to be
here. The only person who
makes that decision is the ad-
missions office: no students are
or; he Academic Board deciding
the fate of any/every applicant.
If you check around, you'll find
that the blacks here excelled in'
their studies, were in the honor
society, took AP classes just
like those who are screaming
that the standards are lowered. I
know I worked so that I would
be accepted here.
The fact that racism exists at
the University is generally ac-

cepted by everyone. There are
two ways to cope with it: a)
ignore it, or b) try and fight it.
Because students fought it last
year (and are still fighting this
year) we are told we're blowing
things out of proportion. Will
Rogers said that "everyone is
ignorant - only on different
subjects." What's wrong with
'trying to educate those who are
ignorant on this one?

0

-D. McCranell
October 13

4

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