Many progressives have never quite understood why the most vehement religious opponents of homosexuality view it as such a threat. [I would count myself in that number.] I myself have always assumed that it is because religious opponents are devoted to the preservation of traditional gender roles, which sustain a male/female hierarchy. But the Ted Haggard story suggests a different reason– at least for that segment of religious opponents who, like a significant proportion of the population generally, share same-sex or bisexual orientations and desires. Viewed from Ted Haggard’s perspective– a man who, despite his shame and guilt, is attracted to other men– gay marriage and the gay lifestyle really are a threat to heterosexual relationships and heterosexual marriage. That is because they are a threat to his heterosexual identity and his heterosexual marriage. He knows the Devil is always tracking him, waiting for him to slip up. That is because he conceptualizes his sexual desires as sin and as alienation from God, and not as the expressions of something that might actually become valuable to him if accepted them as part of himself.
That can’t be it, can it? I mean, some people can be tempted to stray regardless of sexual orientation. But it would seem to naive ol’ me that someone in a committed gay relationship, or straight relationship, might be just a tad less tempting than someone not in such a relationship. What am I missing here?
I am not saying that people don’t stray, even when married; that’s why the 10 Commandments have been around for SO long. I’m saying that I’d think that gay marriage, an equal legal commitment in the society, would theoretically STRENGTHEN marriage of straight couples, not threaten them. Here’s a Brief History of Marriage Meddling in the United States.
I was at a party just this past Sunday when this topic came up. What was humorous about it for me is that I was all proud of my church congregation’s position as a More Light congregation, and the woman I was talking with, if anything, thought that being More Light did not go far ENOUGH in the process of including gays, lesbians and transgendered people. She, who’s been a Presbyterian far longer and more actively than I, believe the church’s position on ordination, for instance, is equivalent to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Since 1978 it has been the policy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) not to ordain “self-affirming, practicing homosexuals.” The key here is “self-affirming”.
I was very nervous that the New Jersey Court decision about gay marriage just before the last election would “mobilize the conservative base,” and maybe it did, since 7 of 8 states voted for restrictions on gay marriage this month. Since the election, NJ conservatives are pushing proposal that would grant the rights of marriage – but not the title – to gays, siblings (!) and others involved in domestic partnerships. So, it it the TITLE of marriage that’s so scary?
But maybe Anna Quindlen is right. Writing in the November 27 Newsweek, and comparing it with the popular view of “full participation of women” 30 or 50 years ago, she states: “The reason anti-gay-marriage amendments in seven states were approved may have less to do with passionate homophobia than with a profound sense of cultural whiplash: too much, too soon. Which will someday, I’m certain, seem quaint to our children. What a difference a couple of decades can make in terms of what’s considered fair and normative!”
Bummer. My candidate, Russ Feingold, is pulling out of the race for President. Yes, he would been a long shot, but that wouldn’t be the first time I supported someone unlikely to win the nomination.