"Gays are a threat to public health" letter fires up civil unions debate

At this writing, the second-most-viewed item on the Boulder Daily Camera website is a letter to the editor -- but not just any letter. The missive, published under the heading "Gays are a Threat to Public Health," has had an explosive impact on readers, coming at the outset of a special session inspired by a bill to legalize civil unions. But its author, Charlie Danaher, insists the opinion piece (read it below) wasn't motivated by prejudice -- a point he made in a headline the Camera replaced.

A mechanical engineer and 22-year Boulder resident who says the Camera has published as many as thirty pieces of his writing over time, Danaher notes that his self-penned headline read, "All Opposition to Gay Unions is not Bigotry." And in his view, these words effectively synopsize his message.

"I find it troubling that people are sure I'm driven by my bigotry or hatred," he says. "But we live in a world where people want to do whatever they want to do, and any cost of that philosophy people are reluctant to acknowledge."

The Camera didn't want to run Danaher's full, 700-word original, which is on view below, so he cut it down to just over 300 words and gave his okay for it to be printed as a letter. Here's one section of the Camera's version:

But I have to ask, if gay relations are promoted as healthy and normal, then why are they so dangerous? A March 2010 Center for Disease Control (CDC), press release reported that active gay men were more than 44 times more likely than non-gays to contract HIV and more than 46 times more likely to get syphilis.

If these data are true, doesn't it make sense to ask why? And if we really cared about others, instead of encouraging such risk-taking by conferring formal recognition on them, shouldn't we be alerting them to the risks?

It seems to follow then that discouraging same-sex relations would be the obvious thing to do, and failing to do so would be a huge disservice to the public.

According to Danaher, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel also published the letter, but it generated little controversy theare. The opposite was true in Boulder, though. More than 200 comments have accrued at the Camera thus far. Here's a representative sampling:

What an ignorant letter. Charles, you need to step off of the wayback machine and into this century.

Often Mr. Danaher makes logical and valid arguments. In this case, his argument is fallacious and incomplete. He completely ignores the female sex and the fact that civil unions would encourage monogomy and would therefore reduce STD transmission.


Charlie, your rant bears an uncanny resemblance to the rants of the late director of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover, regarding homosexuals.

"It certainly draws a reaction," Danaher concedes. "But I consider it not to be doing a service to people if you don't alert them to the dangers of what they're doing -- and to a large degree, I think authorities and the media have been remiss in their reporting, their advocating. And there's much scientific evidence to suggest there are risks associated with a gay lifestyle."

Page down to read the original, full-length version of Charlie Danaher's opinion piece.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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