I believe, however, that there is a huge difference between gay rights and pedophile rights: In a gay relationship both participants are consenting adults, but in a pedophile relationship the child cannot consentto participate.
In the same way that society has determined that children cannot choose to vote,or choose to drive, or choose to opt out of school, or choose to opt out ofmedical care, our society has also determined that children cannot choose tohave sex. As long as that fact remains, then a pedophile can have all the rightshe wants, but he still can't have sexual acts with children, or encouragechildren into sexual acts, because children do not have the right to participatein sex. Let's not forget that children are people with rights, too, andpedophile rights (or gay rights, for that matter) cannot give children rightsthey don't have. Trying to link gay rights with pedophile rights is nothing more than rhetoricalsubterfuge. It's a different issue altogether.
The fact is that with few exceptions, the cognitive and reasoning abilities ofchildren are far less developed than they will be when children grow intoadulthood. The reason we deprive children of so many rights is because theyphysiologically lack the ability to make informed decisions. Such abilitiesdevelop over time, but meanwhile we deprive children the right to consent topotentially harmful activities.
What about the argument that gays disproportionately abuse children? Forexample, some studies claim that as many as 17% of boys are sexually abused, butonly 2% (or even 1%) of the population is gay. Therefore, there must be a lot ofgay men abusing boys. This argument is also misleading.
Opponents of gay rights shouldn't have it both ways. Using thiskind of reasoning, I can make an otherwise heterosexual man who molests boyscount as straight for one statistic, but as gay for another. Some gay men domolest children, but this skewing tactic makes a small number of exclusively gaymen seem responsible for a disproportionately larger amount of crime.
The fact is that based on crime statistics, less than 1% of boys who weremolested were molested by the same kind of self-identified gay men we count inthe 1%-8% figure (http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html).Furthermore, since molestations by women are almost unknown, lesbians should noteven be a part of this issue. Yet the opponents of gay rights never fail toinclude them.
We should all be concerned about the sexual exploitation of children and any trend toward an increased tolerance for pedophilia, but let's not allow these concerns to be hijacked for other unrelated political ends.Mary Eberstadt, whose article Mr. Colson quotes, was pretty careful to avoid making such a mistake. Mr. Colson should have done the same.