Monday, August 23, 2010

Turbulence in Mexico Over Gay Rights: Mainstream Media Pit Catholics vs. Gays

Jim Burroway reports today at Box Turtle Bulletin on rising tensions in Guadalajara, Mexico, where (as I noted last week) the Catholic cardinal archbishop of the diocese Juan Sandoval Iniguez recently asked the public, "Would you want to be adopted by a pair of faggots or lesbians?"  Sandoval is furious that the Mexican Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Mexico City's gay marriage law, and has also permitted adoption of children by same-sex couples.

As Jim Burroway notes, a demonstration took place yesterday in the cathedral plaza in Guadalajara, with those supporting and those protesting the Supreme Court rulings squaring off against each other.  Conservative elements in Mexican Catholicism are seeking to depict these confrontations as a holy war in which the church is under attack by a godless secular pro-gay movement undermining the family.

And inflammatory, hateful comments like Cardinal Sandoval's only throw fuel on the flames.  As Burroway indicates, at U.S. Catholic, Brian Cones notes that "Catholic conversation about homosexuality must always keep in mind that we are talking about members of the body of Christ here"--something that comments like Sandoval's, reducing a segment of the body of Christ to the despised category of the Other ("a pair of faggots") obscure, to say the least.  (On Brian Cones' fine blog, see my recommendation in a posting yesterday.)

Brian Cones notes that the attempt to portray conflicts like the Mexican conflict over gay marriage and gay adoption as Catholics vs. the gays ignore the reality that there are many gay and lesbian members of the body of Christ, and many Catholic families stand firmly in solidarity with their gay and lesbian sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles.

As Cones also notes, results of a Public Religion Research poll published last month show a majority of Latino Catholics in California (57%) supporting gay marriage, while only 22% of Latino Protestants in the state do so.  As the poll's overview statement at the Public Religion Research website notes, "The Catholic-Protestant divide in the Latino community is evident across a wide range of public policy issues related to gay and lesbian rights."

It is entirely misleading to say that "Catholics" stand against gay rights--as the mainstream media frequently state, and are now stating in reporting on the battle between "the Catholics" and "the gays" in Mexico.

Why, I wonder?  Whose interests are the American mainstream media serving in continuing to depict "Catholics" as opponents of gay rights, when polls indicate extremely strong support for the rights of gay and lesbian persons among the Catholic populations of almost every nation in the Western world, including the U.S., despite the persistent attacks of the Catholic hierarchy on gay people and gay rights?  

In the answer to that question lie answers to other questions I keep raising on this blog--e.g., about who controls mainstream conversations, and why those conversations (including among the American Catholic intellectual elite) so frequently ignore the presence of gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the room as issues of human rights are discussed--and continue ignoring those brothers and sisters even as Catholic pastoral officials like Cardinal Sandoval utter ugly, dehumanizing slurs against these brothers and sisters.