After Sen. Rand Paul made an offensive (and unfunny) joke involving the word "gay," Tony Perkins (of the Family Research Council) criticized him: I don’t think it's something we should joke about. We are talking about individuals who feel very strongly one way or the other, and I think we should be civil, respectful, allowing all sides to have the debate. Whaaa? That doesn't sound very hate groupy!
gays and lesbians
Last week was a momentous one for gay and lesbian issues. On Sunday Vice President Biden said on NBC’s Meet the Press that he is “absolutely comfortable with the fact that men [are] marrying men, women marrying women,” and he thinks they “are entitled to … all the civil rights” of heterosexual couples. On Tuesday the electorate in North Carolina voted overwhelmingly for a constitutional amendment that proscribes same-sex marriage and civil unions, despite the fact that the state already has a law against it. Most momentous of all, President Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts on Wednesday “that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
Early this week, the same video kept popping up on my Facebook wall. It's from a press conference in Greensboro, at which North Carolina NAACP president William Barber (whom the Century profiled here) made a crucial point: "How do you feel, personally, about same-sex marriage?" is the wrong question. The right question is about equal rights under the U.S. Constitution and federal law. By midweek, my Facebook wall was overwhelmed with comments (and links) about President Obama's decision to give the right answer to the wrong question.
On Sunday night I went to hear Dan Savage speak about the It Gets Better Project. The last time I saw him was 2003, if memory serves, in front of a crowd of perhaps a hundred. At one point Savage took a break from promoting his new book Skipping Toward Gomorrah to refer his audience to the now-famous New Republic cover story "The Liberal Case for War" (against Iraq). It was a good talk, funny and engaging, and it made a striking contrast with his Sunday appearance.
About 15 years ago I was a guest at the annual meeting of the Association of Christians Teaching Sociology. In one session a professor reported on a student's project. Taking the Century as a barometer of mainline Protestantism and Christianity Today as a barometer of evangelicalism, his student compared the respective responses to the civil rights movement. The student found that the Century was very hospitable toward the movement and that CT was critical of it. (Full disclosure: At the time of this ACTS meeting, I was working for CT.) Since ACTS is comprised largely of evangelical scholars, there was some hanging of heads in the room. Evangelicals, they agreed, had been on the wrong side of history, not to speak of the wrong side of justice.
"If the bishop admits to knowing that I was gay, then she gets in trouble. The system is set up so that truth will not be told."
Martha Nussbaum's perspective cuts to the heart of our tendency to exclude others when they fail to live up to expectations about how "good people" should be.