AZCentral: ‘Gay’ is not an expletive

Op-Ed by Danny Ortega

Regarding “Sexual-orientation question causes stir in Latino district,” Valley & State, Tuesday):

Francisco Mendoza is totally out of touch with Arizona’s Latino community if he thinks that, in 2014, he can smear a political candidate by suggesting the candidate is gay. Latinos embrace diversity, and support for gay and lesbian people is strong in our community.

Well over half of Latinos — just like the population as a whole — support the freedom to marry for gays. Most Latinos, not strangers to prejudice, also support the passage of federal and state legislation to prevent workplace discrimination against gays. Major, nationwide Latino organizations have been boosters of both causes for years.

Fortunately, the backlash against Mendoza’s irrelevant, ignorant questioning of candidates about their sexual orientation has shown him to be an outlier, as has Mendoza’s refusal to use the word “gay” in his question because children were nearby. “Gay” is not an expletive, and gay people are not pariahs. Some people are gay, just like some people are Latino. It’s OK for children to know that.

Unfortunately, Mendoza’s political charade is a disservice to the Latino community by feeding the stereotype that Latinos are behind the times. Mendoza should not encourage discrimination; he, like most of us, should challenge it.

— Danny Ortega, Phoenix
The writer is a former chairman of the National Council of La Raza.