Friday, October 15, 2010

Catholicism and Gay Rights

I'd like to introduce you to someone in my life.

Her name is Abbie, and she is my step-sister. Our parents have been married to each other since 1997, something I've told you so much about. She is six years older than me, and while we have never been close, she IS my father's daughter and a member of my family.

She is a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a granddaughter, a stepdaughter, a stepsister. A mechanic. A dog's mama. A friend. A colleague.

She's also a lesbian.

Abbie has been with her partner for years. I would like to tell you the exact number, but to be honest, I don't know. They've been together nearly as far back as I can remember. Longer than Scott and I have been together.

They are both in their early 30s. Together, they own a home, and have a car or two, an animal or two, and a life that they've cultivated. As partners. As spouses.

Abbie lives in Iowa, a place where gay marriage is legal. It wasn't legal at the beginning of their relationship, so Abbie and her partner had a commitment ceremony to signify their decision to spend their lives together, and a while after that, Iowa began recognizing gay marriage. Abbie and her wife have two anniversaries - they day they wanted to get married (I think it was in 2008), and the day the courts allowed them to (in 2009).

Some might say that Abbie and her wife are "lucky" because they live in Iowa. Lucky that they live in a place where gay marriage is legal, and lucky to have been able to take full advantage of that right. I wonder when luck began having anything to do with civil rights. Aren't civil rights - human rights - something we deserve just for being?

There has been, rightfully, a lot of noise in the media about gay rights. The right to marry, to adopt children, and to be gay and in the military. The concept of gay rights, well, it's nothing new. People on both sides have been spouting the same arguments for years.

Though opposition is vehement, and yes loud, the gay rights movement is gaining momentum. Gay marriage is legal in five states, and growing. Though slow, progress is being made, and I believe in my gut that gay marriage will be a no brainer down the line. While I do feel the US is chugging along towards full marriage equality the Catholic Church still has a long, long way to go.

The Church believes that homosexuality is an "abomination". Those who agree argue that the Bible is against it, that God himself is against it, and how can any good Catholic go against the Bible and God, for goodness sake. I'll concede that point. Leviticus 18:22 does, indeed, say (depending upon the specific translation) that "You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination". I have a hard time with the "but the Bible says it's so!" argument, because the Bible also gives us many other "forbiddens" that good Catholics enjoy every day (not to wear fabric blends, not to wear pearl or gold jewelery, not to eat shellfish). We say "oh, but that's not the spirit of the message, that's not what God would intend for us today". That's a confusing message to send - how can we pick and choose which Biblical teachings to adhere to, and which to ignore?

The Church's stance is that gay behavior is wrong. Period. Gay people are to be loved, and prayed for, but ultimately their behavior should be curtailed, and their sexuality blunted. Since homosexuality is wrong, homosexual marriage is forbidden. Since sexuality outside marriage is wrong, and homosexuals cannot (or should not be allowed to) marry, any homosexual behavior is thus wrong.

See the circular logic here? You can't have sexuality outside of marriage, but you can't get married, so you better never have any sexuality.

Progress will not be made within the Church until the negativity, and yes fear, of homosexuality goes away. It's not contagious. It isn't scary or bad or dangerous. It's two consenting adults, choosing a life of permanent commitment.

It makes me so sad that my religion and my conscience are so far apart on this one.

"I'm a supporter of gay rights. And not a closet supporter either. From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being... by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant" - Paul Newman

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