Religious Attacks on GLBT Equality Escalating?
As next year’s elections draw closer, religious conservatives have begun amping up their message that full legal equality for GLBTs would constitute an attack on religious freedom and on the institution of marriage.
Pam’s House Blend reported in a Sept. 22 article that the Catholic Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, a powerful prelate who opposes civil marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans, sent what might be interpreted as a warning shot across the bow of President Barak Obama. Dolan sent the President a letter in which he decried the Obama Administration’s support for the Every Child Deserves A Family Act, a proposed federal law that would make anti-gay discrimination in the area of adoption and foster care illegal.
Dolan also expressed concern over the announcement earlier this year that the Obama Administration will no longer defend the anti-gay 1996 law known as the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, where the law faces numerous challenges. Two federal cases have already found portions of the law to be unconstitutional.
DOMA forbids federal level recognition of gay and lesbian families and permits states to ignore civil marriages granted to same-sex couples in other parts of the country, in defiance of the Constitution’s "full faith and credit" clause. The Obama Administration based its decision on questions of the law’s Constitutional muster.
Dolan also objected to diversity training for government employees, and referred to all of these as being apt to "escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage."
Religious conservatives who say that the Bible should shape civil law embrace the argument that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated differently and accorded more limited rights than heterosexual Americans. In many, though not all, interpretations, the Old Testament condemns same-gender sexual intimacy. However, the same book also condemns blended fabrics and the consumption of meat and milk in the same dish, putting cheeseburgers and cotton-polyester shirts at the same level of "sinfulness" as same-sex couples.
Religious conservatives also ignore the Bible’s much more frequent and far less ambiguous condemnation of heterosexual divorce.
For Dolan, the Obama Administrations attempts to bring a measure of parity to the nation’s same-sex individuals and their families constitutes an attack against the heterosexual "natural family," the Pam’s House Blend article noted, going on to quote from the letter Dolan sent to Obama.
"In sum, these recent actions undermine certain fundamental truths about the nature of the human person--the equal importance of mothers and fathers to children, and the unchangeable meaning and nature of marriage as a communion of the sexes," Dolan wrote.
"They also oppose the deeply rooted consensus among the American people in support of the authentic definition of marriage and laws that reflect it. These actions also harm the common good by imperiling the religious freedom of those who hold these truths and defend these laws."
Dolan’s letter did not address the religious freedoms of non-Catholics, non-Christians, or atheists who look to civil law to stand apart from law based on sacred texts.
However, the letter did include what Pam’s House Blend took to be a not-so-veiled threat.
"The Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by you and your Administration to strengthen marriage and the family," Dolan wrote the President. "We cannot be silent, however, when federal steps harmful to marriage, the laws defending it, and religious freedom continue apace."
"In [view] of how the Catholic Church is suspected of funding the National Organization for Marriage -- an organization attempting to stomp out marriage equality in all 50 states -- and the fact that next year is an election year, one would be dumb not to take Dolan’s words as a threat," the article asserted.
Clerics are not the only anti-gay people of faith pointing to scripture’s passages condemning same-sex commitment while narrowing the focus of moral judgment on gays and gays alone. A Catholic blogger, Massachusetts resident, and former scientist named Stacy Trasancos has made an impression of late in both the LGBT and mainstream media with postings that essentially lament the inability of decent people to leave their houses lest they be confronted by the sight of "sodomites."
After seeing a gay couple engaged in what Trasancos herself called "a mild PDA," the blogger fumed online, "The same people who say I shouldn’t impose my morality on them are imposing immorality on me and my children to the point that I literally have a hard time even leaving my home anymore to do something as simple as visit the park."
"The unspeakable acts that have damaged her delicate sensibilities shouldn’t be disseminated in a family newspaper, but heck, hide the kids and here goes," wrote columnist Dianne Williamson of Massachusetts newspaper the Worcester Telegram & Gazette on Sept. 22. "Two ’mommies’ at the local pool. Two men ’effeminately rubbing elbows.’ Two women spotted at the park, rubbing each other’s back ’in a way that was clearly not just friendly affection.’ "
Trasancos claims that she has received "death threats" and been besieged with "hate mail" ever since posting her anti-gay blog comments. One individual wrote a parody of Trasancos’ own anti-gay diatribe that railed against perfidious Christians instead of gays, referencing the pedophile priest scandal and a case of Christian parents beating one child to death and leaving another child seriously injured, and noting that taxpayer dollars are going to religious charities and parochial schools.
Trasancos replied, "I can promise you with 100% certainty that there will be no herds of Christians following each other over to find you and tell you that you are a hateful, bigoted, Catholic-o-phobe.
"Absolutely no one would even consider telling you anonymously that they hope your children are ’kidnapped, raped and murdered,’ " Transancos added. "There probably won’t even be any more emotional reaction than a shrug because we’ve heard it all before, and we realize we stand among a rich history of saints and martyrs far better than us who have suffered for the preservation of our Faith. We don’t demand that you approve of us."
Williamson noted that Trasancos’ blog postings have "sparked bemused outrage on atheist and gay blogs and criticism from celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, who mentioned the decent odds of one of Trasancos’ kids being gay, which could be proof that there really is a God."
Next: Do As They Say, Not As They Do