Independent Gay Forum Opens

July 29, 1999

WASHINGTON -- The Independent Gay Forum, a new association of writers and thinkers seeking to broaden the debate about homosexuality by giving voice to centrist, conservative and libertarian ideas, has unveiled its new website at

"This new site brings together some of the most challenging and articulate voices in gay and lesbian America -- representing viewpoints that too often go unheard or underrepresented," said Jonathan Rauch, an openly gay writer who serves as the IGF's vice president. "We think a lot of gays and lesbians who don't buy into the dogmas of either the left or the right will find a worldview they can relate to. We're trying to create a smart, safe home for them."

The site -- recently referenced in the Wall Street Journal's "Washington Wire" column (July 16) and a Slate Magazine debate on homosexuality ("Book Club," June 30) -- includes published articles by a rich variety of gay writers and thinkers. Among the subjects discussed are guns, anti-discrimination laws, marriage, religion, capitalism, books and culture. New articles are posted regularly, and the IGF offers a newsletter and can make its authors available for speeches and public engagements.

"This site is a discussion, not an orthodoxy," said Paul Varnell, a Windy City Times columnist who edits the site. "Above all, we look for essays and ideas of absolutely top quality -- the best writing and thinking out there.

"Our writers all support full legal equality and social respect for gays and lesbians, and they also embrace the American traditions of market economics, unfettered debate and limited government. Within those boundaries, though, there's a lot of disagreement. What unites us is the feeling that the old debate between gay leftists and anti-gay rightists is exhausted. We think the ideas we're exploring will be the basis for the next stage of the debate."

Among the writers and topics at

  • Stephen H. Miller shows how gay leaders' quest for race and gender "parity" -- and "parity-plus" -- elevates group identity over individual merit, with "profoundly divisive" results.
  • Richard E. Sincere, Jr., and Rob Blanchard argue that "hate-crime laws" are not only ineffective, but also distract gays from more pressing issues of equal rights.
  • Miller and Jonathan Rauch discuss how carrying concealed weapons can be part of the solution to gay-bashing -- even though, writes Miller, "The fact that gay people could possibly be on the same side of an issue as the National Rifle Association" breaks precedent.
  • Norah Vincent, exploring how lesbians may create "confining roles for themselves in the name of misguided community membership," argues that individualism and self-acceptance are the only ways to obtain truly equal rights and equal treatment.
  • Walter Olson dismantles misguided theocrats -- including "Christian Reconstructionists" who advocate death for homosexuals and pseudo-researchers whose claims about gay men's life expectancy are based on startlingly shoddy methods.
  • Paul Varnell, looking beyond this year's 30th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, notes that gay activism didn't begin with Stonewall and wouldn't have ended without it: "There was a small but rapidly growing gay movement that helped ensure the continued growth of activism in the 1970s even had Stonewall not happened."

The IGF was chartered in 1999 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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