Jesurgislac’s Journal

August 5, 2010

The turning of the tide

Three weeks ago, Miguel Angel Calefato, 65, and Jose Luis Navarro, 54, who had lived together unwed for 27 years, became the first same-sex couple to marry legally in South America, after Argentina lifted the ban on same-sex couples marrying. (BBC)

Two weeks ago, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, said “Anyone who can marry a couple currently should be able to marry same sex-couples. This is about justice for everyone. Civil partnerships have been a wonderful thing, but they are not equal; being separate isn’t being equal and the Government would be wise to move towards equality as soon as possible.” He said the argument that allowing gay marriage could threaten the institution of marriage, was “a silly idea”. “I don’t think any gay couple have ever made a married couple feel less married.” (Herald) The cause of equal marriage in the UK has been boosted by the government’s decision to consult on a change in the law. On the Monday after Miguel Angel Calefato and Jose Luis Navarro got married, the deputy LibDem leader Simon Hughes predicted that same-sex couples would have the right to civil marriage in the UK before the next General Election is due in 2014. (Pink News, with video clip)

And today in the US, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8 — the 2008 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California — in a 136-page ruling. The lawsuit against Prop 8, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, marked the first federal court challenge of a state law banning same-sex marriage. The case is expected to eventually wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. (Dallas Voice)
(more…)

March 2, 2010

Catholic Charities reminds employees that promoting homophobia more important than caring for the sick

CEO of Catholic Charities to staff: “I am writing to you to inform you of an important change to our group health care benefit plan that will take effect on March 2, 2010 due to a change in the law of the District of Columbia. It is important to note that the existing health coverage of current employees will not be affected by the change. New employees and current employees requesting revisions in benefit coverage will be affected by this change.” – Letter from Catholic Charities president and CEO to staff

Because same-sex couples will be able to get married, and because Catholic Charities are not allowed to offer health care coverage to spouses in mixed-sex marriages only, they have the choice of denying health care to all spouses who become eligible to join the plan after 2nd March – which will bar all couples in same-sex marriages, as they won’t be able to get married until after that date – or continue to offer health-care coverage to all spouses, even if that means some lurking closety gay spouse of an employee of Catholic Charities finds himself the recipient of health care that the Catholic Church believes he does not deserve.

Which are the two great precepts of Charity and the seven Corporal Works of Mercy?
1. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God hate gay people with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength’.
2. ‘Thou shalt love promote homophobia to thy neighbour as to thyself’.

1. To feed the hungry except for queers;
2. To give drink to the thirsty except for queers;
3. To clothe the naked except for queers;
4. To harbour the harbourless except for queers;
5. To care for the sick promote homophobia;
6. To visit the imprisoned except for queers;
7. To bury the dead except for queers.

This isn’t even their first-response reaction to finding out they’d have to act like they thought gay people deserved health care as much as straights do: on 17th February the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington formally announced that they believe promoting homophobia is more important than caring for children, too.

You have to wonder: how long can the Catholic Church go on promoting the idea that for Catholics homophobia is a core value which comes before everything else? Mormons got away with promoting the idea that racism is a core value for their faith for well over a century: does this mean Catholicism will be able to push homophobia as a required doctrine into the 2080s?

I hope not, but there is a positive side here: prior beliefs claimed by Catholics that corporeal works of mercy mattered led to Catholic charities becoming heavily involved in social services, with their own pro-lifer tweaks and biases helping to promote pro-life beliefs among the helpless. If the Catholic Church is now taking the position that promotion of homophobia comes before everything else, and therefore it must refuse to provide social services where it is not allowed to promote homophobia, maybe this will mean a gradual drawing away of the power of the Catholic Church to affect society negatively?

It’s ugly, though. There isn’t really an upside. The power of a strong Church determined that its followers shall promote bigotry as a core value of their faith is just… ugly.

November 4, 2009

Bigots win in Maine

It’s beginning to look like a pattern: US legislatures agree there’s no point in legally enforcing bigotry by denying marriage to same-sex couples, and pass a law repealing the ban. Then homophobic bigots force a referendum, and a majority of Americans, asked if they believe in liberty and justice for all or if they want to deny rights to a minority… go for the bigoted option.

What is it about liberty, about justice, about equality, that so many Americans loathe so much? Why do so many Americans really believe that if a majority don’t want a minority to have the same equal rights as everyone else, the majority ought to get to deny it to them?

No doubt I will cool down about this later on. The homophobic bigots have more money and the power to shout louder: but they are also an ageing group. Opposition to the freedom to marry is a losing game: eventually the anti-Constitutional DOMA will be overthrown, by a Supreme Court decision even if there’s never a federal legislature with the guts to affirm the US Constitution in the face of the bigots who think it doesn’t apply to queers. Eventually: there are twenty-plus countries round the world who support the legal right for same-sex couples to wed. Homophobic Christians may proclaim all they like that they know their God hates queers and the law of the land ought to enforce their God’s will, but in a functional democracy theocratic law is eventually doomed. Eventually.

But it takes so long, and the cause of bigotry leads to so much human misery as it dies.

To the bloggers who rejoice today because they hate children and want them to be forcibly removed from their parents: well, there’s nothing worse I can wish you than your corrosive hate for children and their parents will do to your own mind.

October 16, 2009

Bigots never think they’re bigots

And when a man like Keith Bardwell refuses to perform the marriage ceremony for two adults legally allowed to be married, he’ll claim it’s for the sake of the children or because these kind of relationships don’t last long.

Four decades since Loving vs Virginia, and racist scumbags still think they have the right to judge the success of a relationship by the colour of the couple’s skins. The least surprising thing about Keith Bardwell is that he believes himself not to be racist.

People who argue that same-sex couples ought to be denied marriage invariably claim not to be homophobic, too.

July 7, 2009

Bigots or sociopaths?

Two people meet, fall in love, decide to get married, decide to have children together: what could be more humanly understandable?

Christians who oppose same-sex marriage or same-sex parents or who promote anti-gay discrimination in other ways, usually come across as inhuman, because they really appear not to understand what’s so very human.

“Lesbians and gays have equal rights – they can just get married to a person of the opposite sex, just like straight people do”

What this says, unpacked, is that your Christian advocate against same-sex marriage really believes that marriage isn’t anything to do with making a lifelong committment to the one person in the world whom you have chosen to love, honour, cherish and live with to the end of both your days – marriage is just a legal emotionless contract where anyone will do so long as they’re the right gender. This isn’t just unChristian – it’s inhuman. It’s sociopathic. The notion that people are interchangable – just pieces in a game where what matters is not the individual but the gender – is something completely off from normal humanity.

The usual argument brought forward to support opposition to same-sex marriage is that a same-sex couple “can’t have children”, which actually makes it even worse: marriage has now become a means merely of producing babies which are biologically the offspring of husband and wife, and any couple who aren’t biologically capable of producing babies together ought not to be allowed to get married. In this scenario, marriage has nothing to do with parenting children together, nothing to do with children growing up sheltered and protected by a loving and committed relationship – it’s purely and solely about biological fertility.

A same-sex couple can of course have children: either by AID or by surrogacy, or by adoption or fostering, or step-children from a previous marriage. These are ways in which mixed-sex couples have children too. But legally, while there are countries in which a spouse can divorce their wife or husband for being infertile, in practice it is only these anti-gay Christians who advocate that a couple ought to separate and find other partners if they can’t have children together and still wan them.

Arguments against same-sex marriage have, to my knowledge, included strong statements that a married couple ought not to expect love or passion – that marriage isn’t anything to do with the joy that two people may take in each other. This is an argument against the idea that a same-sex couple are justified in wanting to commit their lives to each other because they love each other. When it’s argued simply and directly as that it’s fairly plain bigotry – if a lesbian or gay person wants to be married and can’t fall in love with a person of the opposite sex, well, they should just marry without love. But when – as these advocates often try to do – it’s argued as if it were a general principle, that marriage isn’t about love, passion, or joy, it’s a legal protection for engendering children – this sounds horribly as if these people have themselves no other experience of marriage. They don’t argue for love in marriage because they don’t themselves feel love for their partner, nor can they imagine that other people do.

Are these people bigots, or sociopaths? Does it matter? Are they ill from the inability to love or even to imagine love, or are they just sick haters who cannot bear the idea of two men or two women who do love each other taking marriage vows to love, to honour, and to cherish each other lifelong?

The problem expands horrifyingly when these people talk about children – not merely when they try to come up with pseudo-scientific ideas about how two men or two women can’t parent children “properly” (no study or research backs this idea, it comes directly from the Institute of It Stands To Reason, which is based at the University of What Everyone Knows) – but when they try to argue that same-sex couples ought not to have children together.

Same-sex couples can be prevented from adopting or fostering children together by passing legislation. (What this means for children in need of adoptive parents is simply that a gay man or a lesbian will adopt a child as if they were a single parent, and the child won’t be allowed the security of a legal relationship with their other dad or other mom.) Nothing but a strongly fascist state can prevent a lesbian from using a sperm donation to conceive, if she wants to: the only legislative options there are to prevent the child conceived from having the security of two legal parents.

All the legislation against same-sex parents being able to adopt or foster as a couple, or having their joint parenthood of a child conceived by donor acknowledged, is primarily damaging to the children of the couple. Though I’ve often asked the question, no anti-gay Christian has ever explained how they justify attacking the children of same-sex couples merely so that they can proclaim their loathing of same-sex relationships. That is, they have responded with something like “I want to protect children”, and then the argument usually circles round to some justification about how the children of same-sex couples shouldn’t exist anyway and their parents are selfish for wanting to have them, and these paired arguments – these children shouldn’t exist, and their parents are bad people, appears to justify the case for attacking the children in the minds of these anti-gay Christians.

When this argument gets expanded out – as recently, when an anti-gay Christian argued that people are just selfish if they have children just because they want children, any parent who chooses to have children because having children will bring them happiness – this sounds even more appalling for these people’s children.

You’d have to be a bit starry-eyed to believe that children are invariably a source of happiness. And I know from bitter personal experience, that the lesbian or gay child of a homophobic parent is in for a world of pain from their parent, as their parent is in for a world of self-created pain. But the pain is because of love. I know from my own personal experience: I hurt my homophobic parent enormously by being a lesbian. What I came to understand after many years was that the pain was not inflicted by me: I was not in any real sense the cause of it, nor was my coming out the cause of it. The pain suffered by my homophobic parent was caused by the awful conflict between the sure knowledge that a homosexual is an evil and depraved person whom no good person ought to associate with, and the equally sure knowledge that this lesbian daughter is a beloved source of joy. What can it be like for a homophobic parent who cannot stop loving their child, and yet cannot let go of their knowledge that being homosexual is something deeply wrong? My parent’s solution was (a) to blame anyone but me for “corrupting” me, (b) to hope I’ll grow out of it (c) to be coldly and rejectingly polite to any partners (the latter, I believe, isn’t a conscious strategy, just an unhelpful kneejerk reaction). This isn’t much of a solution, but such as it is… it’s based on love, on joy. Because if I wasn’t loved so much, I would have been absolutely cut off long ago. And I never was.

But that is human too: to love and to take joy in your children – even when they’re a source of so much pain. This may be “selfish” – in the sense that it’s all about your feelings as parent – but you can’t love someone else without being a self who loves. You can’t take joy in your children – in anyone – unless you are a self who feels joy. A sociopath may not be able to see what’s good in feeling that joy, in feeling that love – a bigot may not be able to understand how a lesbian or gay person can feel that love for their children, or – in a worse-case scenario – a bigoted parent may not be able to love their lesbian or gay child any more.

Are these people sociopaths, to so dismiss the humanity of parents who just simply want children, parents who are made happy by their children? Or bigots, who think anything attack is justified so long as it makes clear to lesbians and gays and their children that Christians believe them to be inferior and unworthy?

Does it matter? I do have a homophobic parent, but one neither bigot nor sociopath. Capable of comprehending, thanks to me – I don’t know if thanks are ever spoken, but by damn I deserve them! – thanks to me coming out, 25 years ago, capable now of recognising the humanity of lesbian and gay people who would once have got a knee-jerk rejection. There’s been a world of pain in that, but the pain was caused by the love which Renaissance Guy has repeatedly dismissed as “selfish”. Because he is sociopathic and cannot feel it and cannot understand it? Or because he is a bigot who cannot conceive that lesbians and gays are human beings like himself?

April 3, 2009

Good news for Iowa on Friday

While the Californian Supreme Court ponders the justice of allowing a majority to vote civil rights away from a minority, the Iowan Supreme Court has done the right thing:

“The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the justices said in a summary of their decision.

The court rules that gay marriage would be legal in three weeks, starting April 24. (Des Moines Registrar)

The Christians who believe that homophobia is the will of god, that God needs the help of legislators to enforce His will, and that true meaning of marriage is interfertility (not, please note, love, devotion, mutual respect, companionship, faithfulness, shared parenting, mutual and absolute support till death – none of that is “marriage” to thse hatefilled Christians) – are out in force, wanting to run another anti-marriage campaign. But, apparently,they won’t get any support from the legislature this session – and I hope that by November 2010, it will be clear to all except the nuttiest that they have already lost this argument.

Go Iowa!

November 21, 2008

Jesus just sat down with sinners, he didn’t offer them health insurance!

In a recent dialogue with one of the homophobic Christians who support government bans on same-sex marriage, we had a surprisingly-open exchange of views… which ended, unsurprisingly, in the homophobic Christian running away vowing never, ever to return. (In fairness, I think I gave her ample excuse to do so: I should have stuck to giving her the battle-of-the-texts.)

I wrote: “In Canada – in any country where equal marriage exists – one could simply say Well, you think same-sex marriage is wrong, I think same-sex marriage is right, we can agree to disagree. Proposition 8 is an attack on two basic civil rights: Directly, on the freedom to marry; indirectly, given the motivation most of its supporters profess to impose their religious beliefs on others, on freedom of religion.”

Christian responded: “Sure, and theoretically this works. However, we have ramifications to this, which would directly impact a person’s freedom of religion- say a Christian business owner forced to provide health insurance against his religious beliefs. Is he supposed to just ‘get over it’?” (emphasis mine)

I answered: “Well, I’m a little puzzled by your assertion that the provision of health insurance could be against a Christian business owner’s belief. Can you explain how this Christian business owner would justify this belief in terms of Christianity, with specific reference to Matthew, Chapter 5, verses 39-48; (more…)

September 12, 2008

our heartbeats are a sword at their throats

Must be read:

“It is time for us to acknowledge that our love is an act of war.
It seems distasteful to say. It feels wrong. Our love, our lives, our nurtured gardens and families, we say, these are not weapons. These are not acts of violence. To us, they are not.
Nonetheless, there are those who insist breathlessly, endlessly, that they are. That our families are destroying their way of life. That our existing in public shocks and harms them. That attending school, sitting in a restaurant, having to hear at all that we exist is an affront that threatens to annihilate them. And they gather their stormclouds over and over, they teach their children, they shout from the pedestals and rooftops and radio waves that we are, by virtue of drawing breath, destroying them. That we are at war, and that our heartbeats are a sword at their throats.” – the sky is falling, 11th September 2008

Jerry Falwell, appearing on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” hosted by Pat Robertson on 13th September 2001, said of the terrorist attack on the WTC on September 11: “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’ “
Pat Robertson: “I totally concur.”
(Washington Post, 14th September 2001: Youtube recording)

August 6, 2008

You cannot invite someone halfway in

This is (I hope) going to be the last post I write about Lambeth for a while. This one is inspired by an article, written by Henry Orombi (Archbishop of Uganda), published in Friday’s Times as Lambeth was drawing to a close. You can read the whole letter for yourself at the link.

Henry Orombi in The Times: “In every case, homosexual practice is considered sinful – something that breaks our relationship with God and harms our wellbeing. It is something for which one should repent and seek forgiveness and healing, which God is ever ready to do. Not only is Scripture to be taken seriously, but it is to be obeyed, because God intends for us things far better than we could ask or imagine.” “The Church cannot heal this crisis of betrayal”, 1st August 2008

MCC Manchester about a Ugandan refugee: “Prossy had been forced into an engagement when her family discovered her relationship with the girlfriend she met at university. Both women were marched two miles naked to the police station, where they were locked up.” – Prossy Kakooza Must Stay!

Henry Orombi about Prossy Kakooza: “Simply saying that the Christian faith that we practice, which was brought from the West, by the way, taught us what biblically sexuality is. We’ve embraced that faith, we are practicing that faith, and moving away from that faith would be a contradiction to what we have inherited. First of all our communities will not accept them because they will want to let them know that if that is your orientation you can come back to life.” GAFCON, 23rd June 2008

Jesus Christ: ” ‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ – ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’ – Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most assuredly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’” – Matthew 25, 43-45
(more…)

August 4, 2008

All Are Welcome – except for queers

Gene Robinson in Glasgow: “There was an open service at Lambeth and my picture was put up at every security checkpoint so I could be recognised and ejected if I turned up. Yet one of the hymns sung was called All Are Welcome.”

Let us build a house
where love can dwell
And all can safely live,
except for queers.
A place where
saints and children tell
How hearts learn to forgive.
all but queers.

(more…)

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