- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Traditional-values groups have long warned of a “gay agenda.” Recently, a group of gay rights supporters released the real deal.

The Dallas Principles, created in May, call for the immediate enactment of full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. “No delay. No excuses.”

The principles say “separate is never equal” and “religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.” They pledge not to “leave any part of our community behind.”

Politically, “the establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a nonpartisan issue,” they say, and anyone seeking LGBT support is expected to “commit to these principles.”

The group’s goals include:

• “Dignity and equality: Every [LGBT] person has inherent dignity and worth, and has the right to live free of discrimination and harassment.”

• “Family: Every LGBT person has the right to a family without legal barriers to immigration, civil marriage or raising children.”

• “Economic opportunity: Every LGBT person has the right to economic opportunity free from discrimination in employment, public housing, accommodation, public facilities, credit and federally funded programs and activities.”

• “Education: Every LGBT child and youth has the right to an education that is affirming, inclusive and free from bullying.”

• “National security: Every LGBT person should have the opportunity to serve our country openly and equally in our military and foreign service.”

• “Crime: Every LGBT person should enjoy life protected against bias crimes.”

• “Health care: Every person should have access to affording high quality and culturally competent health care without discrimination.”

I reprint these principles because they are the distillation of an agenda 40 years in the making. June 28 marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, in which gay men and women fought off a New York City police raid and launched the gay rights movement.

The Dallas Principles are a direct challenge to Capitol Hill.

“President Obama and Congress pledged to lead America in a new direction that included civil rights” for LGBT Americans, they say. “We face a historic opportunity to obtain our full civil rights; this is the moment for change.”

Last week’s California Supreme Court ruling upholding Proposition 8 - and marriage between one man and one woman - is a galvanizing event, said Charles Merrill, a Dallas Principles author.

“We must now turn our grief and frustrations and anger” to action, said Mr. Merrill, a member of the Merrill Lynch family who legally married a man last year.

I am hoping the Dallas Principles spark public discussion. I especially welcome discourse about the ideas that religious beliefs have nothing to do with civil rights and “legal barriers” to marriage and children should be abolished.

However, I question the Dallas Principles’ demand that the media present LGBT lives “in fair, accurate and objective ways that neither include nor give credence to unsubstantiated, discriminatory claims and opinions.” That, I’m afraid, runs afoul of the First Amendment right to a free press. Too often, one man’s “truth” is another man’s “unsubstantiated, discriminatory” claim.

Case in point: You might think supporters of Love Makes a Family and Love Won Out share the same views. But one is a gay rights group and the other is a ministry for people who struggle with - or have left - the gay lifestyle. Both have stories to tell and the press must be left free to tell them.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.