Friday, June 20, 2014

The coming same-sex marriage apocalypse

Thursday was not an especially good day for proponents of what sometimes is called "traditional" marriage. 

In Washington, D.C., the National Organization for Marriage's "March for Marriage" drew a sparse crowd estimated at either "a few" or "several" thousand, depending upon degree of optimism. San Francisco Roman Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (above) was the star of that dog-and-pony show, trumping such tired Republican has-beens as Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. But it was not the sort of event likely to re-invigorate a movement.

Meanwhile in Detroit, the General Assembly of the 1.8 million-member Presbyterian Church (USA) voted 371-238 to allow its pastors to officiate at same-sex marriages in states like Iowa where they're legal; and overwhelmingly (429-175) to modify the denomination's Book of Order to describe marriage as uniting "two people." The latter modification must be approved by a majority of the denomination's 172 Presbyteries (regional bodies), however, before it becomes official. 

Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ pastors have performed same-sex marriages for several years. Episcopal priests and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastors are allowed, with approval from their bishops and congregations, to officiate at gay weddings; as may both Reform and Conservative rabbis. 

Increasingly, elections, court decisions --- and public opinion --- have shifted toward marriage equality and away from positions held by "traditional" alarmists, mostly because it's become clear that there's nothing to be alarmed about, but also because defenders of "traditional marriage" can't seem to stop themselves from overstating their cases and ranting about the imagined characters, lasciviously envisioned sexual practices and hoped-for eternal hellish destinations of gay people.

One sign of defeat, and growing paranoia, among opponents of same-sex marriage (and, in fact, all rights for LGBT people) is the growing trend to portray themselves as victims. Take this Daily Beast article entitled "The Coming Gay Marriage Witch Hunt" featuring Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, one of the sponsors of Thursday's march.

Perkins and others say they're convinced that intolerant gay people --- on the edge of prevailing in the court of public opinion --- now are establishing what they call "New McCarthyism" and will move to disenfranchise, even persecute, those with whom they disagree.

That seems unlikely, but some things certainly will occur.

Homophobes increasingly are finding themselves generally categorized as haters --- as racists and anti-Semites already have been. As time passes, it seems likely that trend will accelerate. Homophobia will not go away ---neither has racism nor antisemitism --- but it will increasingly be looked upon as shameful. Some of it will dissipate; some of it will go underground.

LGBT people have gotten to be very good at monitoring what is written and said about us. It has become a challenge, and most likely will become a bigger one, to say hateful things --- and not be called out and held accountable.

We have a capitalist economy --- and it's become increasingly evident that homophobia does not return a profit. Gay-friendly industries are not necessarily altruistic, merely practical.

So yes, those who have turned homophobia into a life work or made it the foundation of their faith have a good deal to fear --- but the cause is self-inflicted, not imposed.

And of course there's always hope. Even Southern Baptists found it useful to apologize officially a couple of years ago for their racist past. While it seems unlikely that apologies from Huckabee, Santorum, Cordileone, the Family Research Council and others will be forthcoming any time soon --- you just never know. The gods work in mysterious ways sometimes.

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