Saturday, June 25, 2011

Human Rights Advocates Celebrate, Centrist Catholics Grouse about Religious Exemptions

I see that the important people, the people who set the tone for the American Catholic academy, those who hobnob with the bishops and stand in the door to determine who will and will not be permitted into the inner circles of conversations that determine the future of the church:

The important people are nattering on right now--still, still now! at the Commonweal blog site--about religious exemptions.  And the failure of the New York Times to mention them, when it covers the historic civil rights breakthrough that happened in Albany yesterday.

The important people, the people who count, the ones who set the tone for the American Catholic academy and control the conversation about the future of the Catholic church in the U.S. and the editorial policies of the centrist Catholic journals--the ones who write books about love and tolerance and social justice and human rights, but who have worked contentedly for many years within Catholic institutions that practice overt discrimination against those who are gay and lesbian: they're concerned about the right of a bakery owned by a devout right-wing evangelical to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex couple.

Or, perhaps more to the point, about the "right" of Catholic Charities to take millions in tax dollars while refusing to adhere to federal and state non-discrimination laws in its adoption policies.  Or the "right" of the Catholic universities in which many of these folks work, and with whose discriminatory policies they've long been content, to fire people solely because they're gay, or to refuse to hire them solely because they're gay and unwilling to hide or apologize for being gay.

While many people committed to social justice, the defense of human rights, and the development of a vibrant, inclusive participatory democracy that draws marginalized groups into the democratic process celebrate today, these centrist Catholics, who defend and protect those who equate being gay with frequenting bathhouses and spreading HIV, protect those who try to drive wedges between the lesbian community and the community of "rich," "selfish" white gay men who, so they claim, control the gay rights movement (since there are no Latinos or Latinas, no black men or women, no poor white folks in that movement): while these centrist Catholics say not one word of appreciation for what took place in Albany yesterday.

And while they bend over backwards to make every excuse possible for the indefensible behavior of the Archbishop of New York and his henchmen as they sought to block yesterday's vote, and collaborated with NOM in its attempt to spread vile lies and anti-gay hate.

And all they can say in response to yesterday's events is that the anti-Catholic New York Times failed to give sufficient attention to religious exemptions?

God save us from your servants.

It's time for this nonsense to stop.  I no longer intend to put up with the way in which these centrist groups pretend to invite the gay brother or sister into their pseudo-welcoming dialogue space and profess that they wish to hear his or her story, and then turn the tables on him/her, making him/her the problem.  While refusing to identify the real problem that needs to be faced in these pseudo-welcoming discourse spaces of the Catholic center: the toxic homophobic discourse akin to what one finds on the grossest right-wing anti-gay blogs--the equation of homosexuality with disease, or the equation of homosexuality with gay male disdain for women.  And while seeking to depict those who protest against such toxic discourse as unbalanced, vicious, or self-interested.

It's time for this to stop.

(And, by the way, if the centrist intellectual leaders of American Catholicism could inform themselves a bit about how bigoted, foot-dragging white Southerners processed federal mandates to stop discriminating racially in the 1960s, they'd be perhaps a little less defiantly proud of those religious exemptions they worked so hard to cram into yesterday's legislation.  We tried the same route, in the South, defending our "right" to discriminate on the basis of faith even after the federal government outlawed such discrimination.  In many cases, we even defended our "right"--many of us did so--to exclude people of color from our churches.  To safeguard the tried and true traditional faith of our fathers.

Didn't work so well for us.)

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