Friday, October 15, 2004

choices

Bob Schiefer asked the president a serious question during the last presidential debate. He asked him if he thought homosexuals chose their sexual orientation. The president replied that he did not know.

I think that is certainly a reasonable answer, particularly for someone who has never dealt with the issue personally.

Afterwards, Chris Matthews at MSNBC joked that Kerry should have followed up with "so when did you choose, Mr. President, to be straight."

The MSNBC panel laughed about this several times. And then went on to other items about the debate.

During the debate, Senator Kerry did follow-up to Schiefer's question with a reference to the Vice President's daughter, Mary. Mary has publicly identified as a lesbian. She has a life partner. Prior to her current job as the head person for the Vice President's political team, she was a liaison to the lesbian-gay community for Coors Beer.

Twice during the campaign season, the Vice President has referred to his daughter as a lesbian, once in August and once in the debate with John Edwards. Mary, like it or not, has become during this political campaign, a human face of being gay in America.

Religious allies of Bush-Cheney have said things about Mary Cheney. Religious allies of Bush-Cheney have said things about gay Americans. The Vice President and his wife don't seem to be that angry about those words.

The president this year has chosen to lead a drive to amend the U.S. Constitution to deny gay and lesbian couples equal protection under the law.

The Cheneys disagree, but their ire doesn't seem that high. They made that choice.

I disagree with Senator Kerry for his not supporting marriage rights for gay people. I understand why he does not. I do appreciate that he is willing to talk about and support legal protections for gay relationships. No other major presidential candidate till now has been willing to do so. He is against the FMA, and I am grateful for his opposition.

This morning the Today Show led off with a discussion about "the L-word." No gay person was present during that conversation as Mary Matalin, DeeDee Myer and Katie Couric talked about whether Senator Kerry was disrespectful to mention Mary Cheney.

This bothered me at first, and then I remembered something a wise gay priest once told me this past spring as people within the Episcopal Church struggled with the Church's acceptance of gay priests and bishops. He said that as they talk about it, sometimes clumsily, sometimes in very hurting ways while we are sitting next to them, that this is their problem. That they are working through their feelings and understanding.

"Let them do it," he said.

Being gay is roughly equivalent to being left-handed. It is a trait, it is inherent, it just "is." What gay people do with their sexuality, as with everything else in life, determines whether they are moral or immoral, just or unjust. And, I think, how straight people treat gay people is sign of their moral behavior, good or bad.

In Christianity, our goodness is not based on who we are, but upon the goodness and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. That he is used as a license to hurt gay folk -- the most hateful things said about us come from people who believe God hates us -- is also a choice.

4 comments:

Greg said...

I saw the Chris Matthews comment, and it made me think. You know, he's right. When did I choose to be straight? I didn't. I just am. I've had no doubt of this. So how can someone say that homosexuality is a choice?

I think what still divides gay America from straight America is the difference. Most straight Americans can't put themselves into gay shoes. Most of us can't fathom the thought of being in love with someone of our own sex, so we say to ourselves, "That must be wrong if I don't naturally feel it."

I would like to offer up the fact that most people of my generation (the younger one) do not buy into the "being gay is inherently immoral" nonsense. I think that's what it'll take, a younger generation that realizes it's wrong to discourage love of any sort.

I think the president said it best when he said, "We should be encouraging marriage, not discouraging it." Too bad he was talking about taxes.

Don said...

I am hopeful that young people will help bring about a more tolerant acceptance of gay folk. But my own experience is that there are older people who have no problem with sexual orientation, and there are young people who do.

The Republicans have made a high art of attacking gay people, or exploiting the fears of those who against us. If this backfires on them in this election, they may drop the issue. Some people think that their exploitation of the Kerry remark about Mary Cheney will help slow Kerry's momentum.

lemming said...

(hugs Don)

Mumcat said...

I was watching ABC the other morning as a panel was discussing the debate. Someone said, and I know I don't remember this precisely, "Republicans say lots of bad things about homosexuals but if a Democrat says something nice, the Republicans get upset."

I think Kerry spoke honestly and kindly in his mention of Mary Cheney. Of course, nobody did so much yelling, including Lyn Cheney, when her husband used the "F" word publicly. I guess when it comes to some Republicans, anything goes --- as long as you aren't gay or as long as you don't say something nice about them.