War, religion and gay rights

/ 14 November 2006

As always, James Carroll of the Boston Globe is eloquent. Here’s an excerpt, but read the whole thing:

One needn't draw a direct line from Haggard's behavior to the private morality of Catholic bishops to sense that the church's own deepening insecurity on all matters of sexuality, especially those surfaced by the still unresolved crisis of priestly sexual abuse of children, informs its exceptional opposition to gay rights.

And so in Jerusalem. The insecurities of male establishments, whose dominance over women is threatened, readily explode in contempt for any expression of gay pride. Patriarchy is at issue.

There is a deflection here, and that points to the political use of gay bashing. At the end of the Cold War, when the Pentagon defined itself as the world's largest closet by decreeing "don't ask, don't tell," the issue of gays in the military was being used to deflect attention from the military's real problem: how to maintain Cold War levels of spending, and a Cold War nuclear arsenal, without a Cold War enemy?

The real "don't ask, don't tell" was "Don't ask us about our budgets and nukes, and we won't tell you about the future wars they will enable." All of the Sturm und Drang about gays in the military deflected American attention from the real issue of the moment, and it worked. The American Cold War ethos is still with us.

The human race is undergoing a massive cultural mutation. The meaning of sexuality is being transformed as biology revolutionizes reproduction. Women are demanding equality across the globe. Men are being forced to reimagine their familial and social roles. Gays and lesbians are at the center of these changes. Their refusal to be silent and invisible is one of the era's great resources, a magnificent sign of hope.