Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Real Gay Agenda


Writer Mary Shaw has written an interesting article for the Online Journal entitled “The Real Gay Agenda.”

Here’s a brief excerpt:

. . .[E]quality is really all [gay people] want. That’s really all there is to the so-called “gay agenda.” Simple equality. No special privileges, just the same rights as everyone else.

Those who oppose same-sex marriage say that it would undermine the institution of marriage. But isn’t heterosexual infidelity already doing that?

I fail to see how legalizing same-sex marriage would have any effect on heterosexual marriages. As James Carville once said, “I was against gay marriage until I found out I didn’t have to have one.” No, anyone who feels that his own heterosexual marriage would be threatened if gays could marry obviously has some very deep issues that can’t be fixed through legislation.

This country was founded on the principle that all people – not just the heterosexual ones – are created equal. It’s time to make that principle a reality. It’s time for the homophobes of America to stop worrying about what consenting adults are doing in the privacy of their own homes. After all, time and time again we’ve seen that those who want to control what goes on in other people’s bedrooms seem to have the most to hide in their own. (Can you say “Ted Haggard”?)

To read Mary Shaw’s article “The Real Gay Agenda” in its entirety, click here.



Image 1: Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons
Image 2: Hillcrest.com. In describing this particular image, hillcrest.com notes: “February 12, 2004: San Francisco made history by granting the first ever same-sex marriage license to a prominent lesbian couple as part of a challenge to a ban on gay marriage. Longtime activists Phyllis Lyon, 79, and Del Martin, 83, who have been a couple for over 51 years, said their vows at city hall after Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered officials to wed gay couples and issue marriage licenses in an act of civil disobedience against a state law that bars same-sex marriages. Lyon and Martin stood facing each other and beamed when a city official pronounced them not husband and wife but ‘spouses for life’ . . . The high court dismayed Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon on August 12 by nullifying same-sex marriages. ‘Del is 83-years-old and I am 79,’ Lyon said. ‘After being together for more than 50 years, it is a terrible blow to have the rights and protections of marriage taken away from us. At our age, we do not have the luxury of time.’” For more information about the gay marriages in San Francisco in 2004, click here.


Recommended Off-site Link: Spouses for Life: A Wedding Album

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Good News from Minnesota
On Civil Unions and Christian Tradition
Making Sure All Families Matter
Gay Adoption: A Catholic Lawyer’s Perspective
The Gay Old Party Comes Out
What the Republican Leadership and the Catholic Hierarchy Have in Common

14 comments:

Peggy said...

Michael,

If only it were so simple as the gay community wanting the right to do in their own bedrooms what everyone else does (which you already have, by the way).

What's your definition of "homophobe"?

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Peggy,

Thanks for visiting the Wild Reed and leaving a comment.

In her article, “The Real Gay Agenda,” Mary Shaw is not saying that the only thing gay people want is “the right to do in their own bedrooms what everyone else does.” Rather, committed and loving gay couples want equal access to the many rights, responsibilities, and protections afforded to straight couples through the civil recognition of their unions (i.e., civil marriage).

As to my definition of “homophope,” I understand homophobia to mean any negative feelings, attitudes, actions, or behaviors against gay people based on the fact that the person to which such negativity is directed is known or perceived to be gay. Homophobia can also be manifested as a person’s fear of being perceived as gay.

Thanks again for visiting.

Peace,

Michael

Peggy said...

Michael,

First of all, your blog is very nice and you are a good writer. Kudos to you!

Does your definition of homophobe include the person who can respect you and be kind to you but believes that gay sex is immoral?

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Peggy,

Although many would no doubt label such a person as a homophope, I personally would not.

I think it's important to keep the lines of communication and mutual respect open, and labeling tends to not only shut down these lines by polarizing people. If I have to resort to labels, I'd rather label or name attitudes and actions, not people.

If I were in dialogue with such a person, I'd ask them why they think gay sex is immoral, and then maybe discuss and compare our different sources of understanding on this matter.

Basically, I'd try to extend to them the same degree of respect and kindness that they show me. And even if such respect and kindness were not shown, I'd like to think I could still embody such qualities in my interactions with them.

Peace,

Michael

Peggy said...

Michael,

Setting aside the moral aspects for a while, how can the gay community, in good conscience, promote a lifestyle that is so dangerous? And why would you expect the Church to do the same?

Michael J. Bayly said...

Peggy,

When people use the phrase “gay lifestyle,” I’m never sure what exactly they mean. In fact, I dislike this term and never use it to describe my life. For one thing, I don’t believe there is a single “gay lifestyle” to which all gay people conform.

My sense is that those who employ this term are reducing a person's life to their sexual activity.

Yet what if I’m a gay man but am not currently in a relationship? Does this mean that because I’m not in a relationship that involves sex I’m no longer living the “gay lifestyle?” Are heterosexuals not really heterosexuals if they’re not having sex?

I also think it’s misleading to talk about a single “gay community,” as if every gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender person is on the same page with regards, for instance, the issue of marriage. They’re not.

You talk about a “dangerous” lifestyle. Again, I’m not sure what you’re referring to. My guess is that it’s a reference to promiscuous sexual relations. Yet in reality, it’s not only gay people who engage in such behavior but straight people too.

I’m not expecting (or wanting) the Church to promote promiscuity. If I want anything from the Church in this matter it’s simply the recognition and celebration of God’s loving and transforming presence in the lives and relationships of all people – including gay people.

As I’ve noted in a number of previous posts (including here), gay people, along with heterosexual people, can and do experience sexual relationships marked by justice, wholeness, and life-giving love. I believe God is present in such relationships and that the Church is called to acknowledge this presence.

I think at the level of Church as people of God, such recognition and celebration is occurring. Of course, it’s a very different story with regards to the Church as institution. But change has always come from the grassroots. The institutional Church will inevitably change its teaching on homosexuality – though probably not in my lifetime.

I appreciate what theologian Daniel Helminiak has to say about this inevitable change: “As more and more is understood about human sexuality, a field of research barely a century old, the more surely the current Catholic teaching will have to change. When that change occurs, Church leaders may well attempt their standard maneuver and claim that ‘this is what we really always meant.’ But such a fiction can no longer stand. Our current knowledge of history is too sophisticated. Such pretense is impossible. Thus, it remains to be seen what will become of Church authority when in the postmodern world, so well informed by communications media, all the world will plainly know the facts of the matter and the Vatican will have to admit that its teaching on this point was wrong. It remains to be seen what that new era of Catholicism will look like. However, the Church did not collapse when banks started paying interest and the Church itself started taking advantage; nor did the Church collapse when slavery was finally outlawed or democracy approved or women given the vote or Galileo pardoned. Somehow the Church will survive. But this time, it seems, the Church will have to have learned a lesson and go on more openly, honestly, and wisely – less authoritatively, less autocratically.”

Peace

Michael

Peggy said...

To be clear, when I use the term "gay lifestyle" I am referring to actively engaging in sex acts with someone of the same gender.

Also, my use of "gay community", in this context, refers to those who want societal and ecclesial approval of said sex acts.

I think you're being disingenuous when you say you don't know what sort of danger I'm referring to. Although I'll agree wholeheartedly that all promiscuous sex is dangerous, anal sex is in a class all by itself.

You give credence to Daniel Helminiak because he's telling what you want to hear. How did Helminiak come to be more enlightened than the Magisterium?
If we each get to pick and choose to follow the theologian with whom we most agree, how do we know who has possession of the full Truth?

Helminiak had this to say about his transition away from the Catholic priesthood:

" Part of it was dealing with my sexuality and realizing that this can't be right--I'm supposed to repress all this?"

Helminiak doesn't need anyone else to reduce his life to his sexual activity, as you say. He did it all by himself.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Peggy, if a gay male couple does not engage in anal sex, would you support “societal and ecclesial approval” of their relationship?

Is engagement in this and other non-(biological) procreative sex acts the sole way by which you define the “gay lifestyle”? What about straight couples who engage in these same acts? Are they half-gay?

It seems to me that your issue is primarily to do with a specific non-(biological) procreative sex act – anal sex; an act which you’re assuming only gay men engage in. Not so. Also, not only is anal sex something that some straight people engage in, but not all gay men engage in it.

Also, I wonder if it’s the “dangers” you perceive in such a sex act that’s really the issue here, or whether it’s the fact that such a sex act is non-procreative (in the biological sense) and thus against what the Magisterium teaches.

If it’s the latter, than your raising of the “dangers” of anal sex is irrelevant, as you’re actually opposed to any type of non-(biologically) procreative sex act, regardless of their dangers. Am I not correct?

Another thing: There are millions of more straight Catholics disobeying the teaching of the Magisterium with regards engagement in non-(biological) procreative sex acts than there are gay men disobeying this same teaching by their engagement in some of these same acts. The vast majority of Catholic straight couples use contraception, and I’m sure many engage in oral sex and, yes, even anal sex.

If it’s these acts that are really the issue, shouldn’t you be opposing “societal and ecclesial approval” of them, not only when they occur between gay people, but when they take place within the parameters of Christian marriage between two straight people? Should you not be seeking to deny civil and ecclesial recognition of such unions - gay or straight?

Basically, I think you’re way too fixated on “acts” rather than being simply open and trusting of “relationship.” None of us can look at two consenting adults and say for sure what “acts” they’re choosing to engage in so as to express their love.

Shouldn’t the loving relationship be the main thing here? Can’t we trust God’s spirit of love at work in the loving and committed relationships of two people – gay or straight? And if we are going to highlight and condemn one or more particular sex act, then let’s be honest enough to acknowledge that they’re ones that both gay and straight people engage in.

Now, as for your comments on Daniel Helminak: I give “credence” to him, not because he says what I want to hear, but because he’s shown himself to be open to God’s transforming love in his own life as a gay man and in the lives and relationships of other people – gay and straight.

The Magisterium has not shown itself to be open in this way. And that’s a great tragedy, as it’s resulted it an impoverished sexual theology.

As for worrying about who has possession of “the full Truth,” I believe we’re still discovering that fullness, and that we all have a piece of it within us, and thus a role to play in its ongoing revelation and articulation.

Such an understanding of the ongoing discovery of “the Truth” is certainly not new to Catholicism. In a recent post on “Authority and Fidelity,” I noted the insights of Philip Endean on the great Catholic theologian Karl Rahner and the theology that he and others helped articulate at the Second Vatican Council. It’s a theology based on the very Catholic (and ancient) understanding of God’s active presence in all human life. Such a theology, notes Endean, is open to “a permanent process of growth, interchange, and transformation.”

I also noted in this particular post that, “As comfortable as it may be to wrap ourselves in all sorts of ‘absolutes’ with regards to gender and sexuality, Endean, in reflecting on the work of Karl Rahner, nevertheless reminds us of the authentically Catholic perspective which recognizes that ‘dogmas of tradition exist not as truths complete in themselves, but rather as resources for helping us discover the ever greater glory . . . of the God whose gift of self pervades all possible experience.’”

Finally, in the quote you provided from Helminiak, I do not see him “reduc[ing] his life to his sexual activity.” Rather, he is simply acknowledging that his sexuality (in his case, his homosexuality) had been too long repressed, and that it was now time for him to acknowledge and integrate it into who he is as a whole person. That seems very healthy to me.

Note, too, that Helminiak makes no mention of specific sex acts. Again, it is you who seem to be projecting your own rather limited and act-focused understanding of human sexuality onto this particular individual’s experience.

Peace,

Michael

Peggy said...

You have to understand, Michael, that I firmly believe, as does the Church, that sex between two persons of the same gender is immoral. That doesn't mean there are no other forms of immoral sex. What would be the point of the Church approving of a celibate relationship between two males or females? Could they not also approve of a heterosexual couple living together as long as they remained celibate? Would the Magisterium take the time to decree that it's okay for a child molester to live with children as long as he keeps to himself? It goes without saying that where sin doesn't exist, there is no sin. The Church is not in the habit of making pronouncements about such things.

I already explained MY definition of "gay lifestyle" so we don't need to re-hash that.

Of course there are heteros who engage in anal sex but that is not their only option. How many women's sexual encounters always or predominantly result in anal sex?

I'm not talking about procreative sex. I'm talking about the chronic ailments that go along with anal sex. What about the significant decrease in life expectancy for the sexually active gay male?

Should the Church endorse alcoholism because the alcholic really enjoys his beer? On the other hand, does the Church treat the alcoholic any less than a sober person? Does the Church make life particularly difficult for homosexuals?

The difference between the (militant) gay community and the hetero community engaging in the same sex acts is that the hetero community, with the exception of a small minority of agitators, is that the heteros are not constantly looking for approval from the Church for what they do. The average hetero Catholic couple who is using artificial contraception just uses it and keeps to themselves. They may be aware that they are committing sin, they may not. But they don't show up at Mass with their birth control pill container tied around their neck and expect to receive Communion.

I'll agree that what you do in your bedroom is your business - until you make it everyone else's business, e.g. Rainbow Sash showing.

Karl Rahner is but one theologian. He doesn't (didn't)speak in an official capacity for the Church. I've heard a lot of disgruntled Catholics quote him so I don't put much stock in him. I'll even go so far as to say that many of his devotees have and continue to do great damage in the Church.

Again, you look everywhere but to the Church for your theology. If you can discount the Church's authority (Matt 16:18), what leg have you to stand on?

Re-read the Helminiak quote. He said,
"...I'm supposed to suppress all this?"

All this what? If he were talking simply about coming out of the closet but remaining celibate, who was he implying is asking him to repress that? The Church? This isn't the case. There are many openly gay priests living chaste lives. To my knowledge, they have not been burned at the stake.

The Helminiak interview goes on:

"What were those first steps away from the priesthood like?

I can remember the first time I deliberately went and had sex with someone. It was somebody I had known, who had approached me . . . and I was being sympathetic because he's telling me he's gay. I remember going to the telephone, picking it up, and saying, "If ever there was a deliberate act of the will with full knowledge," (and that's what constitutes mortal sin), "this is doing it." I dialed the phone number. I said to myself, "I've talked about it and prayed about it and read about it and studied about it. How am I ever going to figure this out if I don't do something with it?"

He was being "sympathetic"? What he calls sympathy I call giving into your sinful sexual compulsions.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Peggy,

I simply don’t agree with you or the Magisterium that homosexuality (or its expression) is an inherently “sinful sexual compulsion.”

Indeed, I find the comparing of homosexuality with child molestation and alcoholism totally lacking in credibility and deeply offensive.

Clearly, we’re not going to come to any agreement on this matter, as we both have very different views not only on homosexuality, but on revelation, authority, and “the Church.”

I do feel, however, that I must respond to your assertion that there is a “significant decrease in life expectancy” for sexually active men.

From where are you getting your information to support this type of statement?

From my research, statements such as this all stem from the work of a single “researcher” – the discredited Paul Cameron.

In November 1997, Cameron’s “findings” compelled former Education Secretary William Bennett to declare on ABC’s This Week that homosexuality “takes 30 years off your life.”

That’s quite a charge! Yet is it true?

According to Walter Olson of Slate.com, there are serious problems and flaws with Cameron’s “research.”

Here’s what Olson has to say:

“Paul Cameron, [is] a researcher well known to followers of gay controversies. Cameron, a former assistant professor at the University of Nebraska who has consulted for such gay-rights opponents as former Rep. William Dannemeyer, R-Calif., heads a group called the Family Research Institute.

“Cameron resigned under fire from the American Psychological Association and was later formally terminated from membership following complaints about his research methods. He has had run-ins with other professional groups, including the Nebraska Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association. According to Mark Pietrzyk’s exposé in the October 3, 1994, New Republic, the state of Colorado initially hired Cameron as an expert witness to defend its statute restricting gay-rights ordinances, then elected not to use his testimony after it got a closer look. His life-span figures have circulated for years in religious-right circles, but Bennett’s comments appear to represent their first real breakout into wider public discussion.

“Cameron’s method had the virtue of simplicity, at least. He and two co-authors read through back numbers of various urban gay community papers, mostly of the giveaway sort that are laden with bar ads and personals. They counted up obituaries and news stories about deaths, noted the ages of the deceased, computed the average, and published the resulting numbers as estimates of gay life expectancy.

“What do vital-statistics buffs think of this technique? Nick Eberstadt at the American Enterprise Institute sums up the reactions of several of his fellow demographers: ‘The method as you describe it is just ridiculous.’ . . .”

Other useful articles from reputable professional organizations on this issue can be found here and here.

And then there’s this letter from a group of doctors, protesting that their findings on this matter have been distorted by “homophobic groups [that appear] more interested in restricting the human rights of gays and bisexuals rather than promoting their health and well being.”

Finally, I do indeed look to the Church for my theology. I just don’t restrict “the Church” to the Magisterium. As I said previously, we’re still discovering the “fullness of Truth,” and we all have a piece of this Truth within us. Accordingly, we all have a role to play in its ongoing revelation and articulation.

Peace,

Michael

Peggy said...

Michael,

This info is from the CDC website:

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/At-A-Glance.htm

It's a start.

Michael J. Bayly said...

To read Walter Olson’s article on the “research findings” of Paul Cameron (mentioned in my previous comment), click here.

Michael J. Bayly said...

The excellent Box Turtle Bulletin website also has a number of insightful posts about Paul Cameron and the erroneous idea that gay men have shorter life spans than other people.

These posts can be found here.

Peace,

Michael

Winnipeg Catholic said...

Hi Michael,

Christopher referred me to your blog which I am just starting to peruse with intrest. I am a progressive, dissenter catholic. I am in agreement with pretty much everything you say. The only thing that worries me is the anti-heteronormative approach espoused by Christopher and many others. As you say yourself, what the gay community really wants is equality. Marriage is just a key issue in that. To me the real issue is reflected in the divisive events in Lexington Massachusetts, where gay activists seemed to foist books about two princes falling in love on very yong children as a part of diversity training. Or bishop promptly condemned the view of gay marriage as a live-and-let-live issue, but rather as part of a larger movement towards, as you state, equality.

Equality gets tricky when it seems to enter the slippery slope towards a tyranny of a minority. This seems to happen when organized public education demands that children receive diversity training.

At the end of the analysis, I've decided that I am stil for gay marraige and for reform within the church to accept and sanctify monogamous gay relationships, gay marriage, and gay creation. And I agree with Christopher and many others that grace builds upon nature, as god created it.

But I also feel that the future debate will relate to the heteronormative which many gay folks see as a big culprit in making them feel bad about themselves. I am not so sure about that. Humans are social animals and anything that makes us feel different makes us unhappy. In the end, if your left handed, bald, fat, or gay you have to come to grips with the things that make one feel marginalized. Gay marraige and a corrected article 6 in the catechism won't fix that.

Forcing diversity training on straight children will hopefull end playgound trauma, and so I support that too, but I think it should respect the heteronormative of the majority.

I would appreciate your comments on my blog, as would gay anglicans who are tired of me requesting their opinions on my catholic issues!

All the Best,

-B