QUESTION: Congress may add homosexuals to the list of groups protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which already extends to racial minorities, women, religious groups and the disabled. But some minorities object when gay groups claim they face similar discrimination. Which side is right?

BONNIE ERBE: One Joe Rogers, staff counsel to conservative Senator Hank Brown, R-Colo., writes in The Washington Times that he is sick of gay rights leaders comparing their movement with that waged by black civil rights leaders in the 1960s. He says the comparison is "intellectually bankrupt" because blacks face discrimination because of an accident of birth, while gays face it because of behavior in which they "choose" to partake. He says blacks deserve special protection against discrimination, while homosexuals do not.The argument whether homosexuality is a choice or a genetic mandate is convenient fodder for homophobes. They claim homosexuals can "control" their "perverted" behavior and "straighten" themselves out if they wish. Apparently, though, the scientific community is not quite as sanguine about this. Geneticists still cannot reach unanimity on whether homosexuality is a choice or a hereditary imperative. But that seems beside the point. Discrimination is discrimination pure and simple and it is not justified under any circumstances.

If Rogers is so upset over outside groups claiming a shared heritage with blacks, gays are not the only group making the comparison. Randall Terry, the famed former leader of Operation Rescue, and other abortion protesters, frequently compare themselves to the civil rights marchers of the 1960s. This is a comparison that does not bother Joe Rogers, because he finds the intolerant pro-life agenda politically correct, while he finds the tolerant agenda of gays politically incorrect. Rogers offers living proof that bigotry is not the sole province of whites.

BETSY HART: First, we actually don't know what Joe Rogers thinks about comparisons between the civil rights and pro-life movement because, my colleague's assertions about double standards notwithstanding, he never makes such a comparison in his piece.

But I'll be glad to enter that bailiwick and say protecting the rights of the unborn and the rights of blacks may very well be of a piece. What is not a fit comparison with the civil rights movement is the homosexual "rights" movement.

Now it may very well be true that gays cannot help their desires. But that is irrelevant. If a married, heterosexual man has a helpless "desire" for another woman, may he act on that with moral impunity?

No. A former smoker may writhe in agony over his desire for a cigarette. Do we say "go ahead, give in and puff away?"

Really, all of us struggle with resisting strong but immoral or inappropriate, desires every day. Homosexuals should be held to the same standard. They may not be able to control their feelings, but they can control their actions.

Besides, are they discriminated against in employment? Hardly. The average gay household income is $55,000 per year, way above average.

And what about the right to freedom of religion? Do we want the government forcing a Christian couple in rural Idaho, for instance, to hire open gays in their family business even though doing so would violate the couples' religious beliefs? That's anti-Christian bigotry, but apparently A-OK with my colleague.

When the smoke clears, it's obvious what's really behind this bill. It's radical groups that want to ram down our throats: "Homosexuality: U.S. government approved." Now, that's intolerance.