SO WHAT'S all the fuss about inserting the two little words "sexual orientation" into the state's Code of Fair Practices? Anyone who objects surely isn't seeing the issue clearly.
The order is designed to ban discrimination against homosexuals in hiring and promoting within the ranks of state employees, but some day that language may save the jobs of straights.
So this just might be the last chance to protect the average fun-loving, bed-bouncing heterosexual men and women in state employment from discrimination by homosexuals.
Remember that entire civilizations have been dominated by homosexuals, and in those civilizations heterosexuals were considered second-class citizens. Pederasty and pedophilia ruled during the Golden Age of Pericles, considered the high point of Greek civilization, when philosophers were kings and the kings were a couple of gays named Plato and Socrates. And you can bet that Aristotle did more than teach logic to Alexander the Great. In those days little boys were sex objects.
Rome was not ruled by a bunch of tough guys who resembled Charlton Heston and Victor Mature. Rome had its share of homosexuals, and along with the pacifying influence of Christianity, they were among the reasons the Empire went to hell in a hurry.
Pompey swung both ways. Pompeii was one of the most hedonistic cultures in the glory days of the Roman Empire, but it had the misfortune of being located at the base of a volcano named Vesuvius. The city was frozen in lava, and the excavations reveal a culture that devoted equal attention to the preferences of homosexuals and heterosexuals. Its bisexual bordellos were vividly and lavishly illustrated.
The Incas, another highly civilized culture, were wiped out in part because the warriors were so consumed by homosexuality that they ignored procreation.
The Old Testament is great reading, full of fun and fury and as much excitement and violence as you'll find in any Steven Spielberg flick. It's filled with words like "smite" and "smote." Every good script has its sex scenes. The Old Testament gives us Sodom and Gomorrah, the twin cities the preachers like to cite as an example of what will probably happen to Maryland now that Gov. William Donald Schaefer has outlawed sexual discrimination in the government workplace he commands.
Finally, there's San Francisco, a contemporary urban culture increasingly influenced by homosexuals. There, the law protects heterosexuals more than homosexuals because of the strong influence of gays in every aspect of the city's life.
In San Francisco, a gay can be fired for mistreating a straight. Today it boasts 84 openly homosexual officials, ranging from appointed judges to two members of Congress to Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg, nominated by President Clinton to be assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
It's plain naive to believe that all gays are hairdressers or that all lesbians look like sumo wrestlers with cropped hair. And that might be what many opponents of gay rights fear most.
It's not that gays are really a threat or a danger to anyone except themselves. What many gay-bashers fear most is that homosexuals are no longer type-cast as limp-wristed hip-swishers and are becoming more difficult to identify. They actually dress like people who go to work as doctors, lawyers, accountants, brokers, even (for all anyone knows) journalists.
As homosexuals continue coming out of the closet and ascending in the professional and managerial world, it's becoming even more necessary to have an anti-discrimination law because of the measure of protection that it offers heterosexuals.
It's easy to imagine a gay personnel manager rejecting a job applicant or firing an employee because he or she is straight. What about a largely homosexual state agency that refuses to hire married men because they sleep with women? And think about a gay doctor who refuses to counsel straight patients at a state hospital.
Much of what happens in government is a matter of presentation as well as of perception. Bad public relations will produce bad laws. Maryland's leaders like to believe they're ahead of the curve on most issues. Yet mainly they're reacting to public demand, because most social progress originates in the streets, not in the marble corners and crannies of state capitals.
In other societies in the past, and perhaps among those in the future, it just might be heterosexuals who are discriminated against, who need the protection of a strong law.
It's about time that heterosexuals stand up, declaim their sexual likings and demand legal protection against discrimination by homosexuals.
The problem with Mr. Schaefer's new executive order is its language.
4 It should be called a "straights' rights" order.
Frank A. DeFilippo writes here every other week on Maryland politics.