THOMAS MCLAUGHLIN UPDATE….Here’s the latest on Thomas McLaughlin, the Little Rock teenager who was harassed by his teachers and made to read Bible verses after they discovered he was gay. The Pulaski School District has apparently decided to stonewall the case, so the ACLU is suing:

The lawsuit contends that school officials violated Thomas McLaughlin’s rights to free speech, equal protection, and privacy, and that they violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment by preaching to him and forcing him read the Bible as punishment.

….”Our demands are fairly simple. The district needs to acknowledge students’ First Amendment right to talk about their sexual orientation during non-instructional time,” said ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project staff attorney Leslie Cooper, adding, “We want the district to expunge Thomas’s disciplinary record, and we want them to say in their district policies that they won’t violate the Constitutional rights of lesbian and gay students.”

Good for them, and yet another reason why everyone should become a card carrying member of the ACLU.

By the way, this is an example of what I’m talking about when I suggest that the subject of gay rights has some possibilities as a secondary issue in a presidential campaign. Events like this, I think, show liberals in the best possible light ? protecting ordinary people against the intolerance of fundamentalist conservatives ? and might very well appeal to moderate voters while at the same time causing cracks in the Republican party. If George Bush were miraculously forced to take a stand on this, for example, what choice does he have? Side with the ACLU, in which case he really pisses off his Christian right base, or back the school district, in which case he’s exposed as a narrow-minded bigot. That sounds like a corner that it’s worth at least trying to back him into.

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