Wednesday, July 13, 2011

News Coverage of Marcus Bachmann's Ex-Gay Therapy Accelerates

As Timothy Beauchamp points out at Americablog Gay today, citing Andy Towle at Towleroad, seven cable television shows have now given prominent coverage to Truth Wins Out's exposé of the "ex-gay" therapy being done by Marcus Bachmann's Minnesota clinic.  Beauchamp concludes that the story is huge.

And he's right.  It's huge, in part, because the media have reported in the past that Bachmann is practicing ex-gay therapy, and he has denied this--only to be exposed now by Truth Wins Out.  But the story strikes me as big for another significant reason: even a decade ago, this kind of story would not have made national news.  Not in one news venue after another.

Our culture is passing through a turning point at which the mainstream culture is now critically aware of at least some of the injustices and cruelties visited on gay and lesbian citizens routinely for all too long now.  And we're passing through a turning point at which it matters to a growing number of people whether someone seeking high office believes in and supports the bogus (and cruel) notion of reparative therapy for gay folks.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record: as the culture turns these corners, faith communities wedded to anti-gay ideas (I include the Catholic church in this category, at least in its official sectors) will increasingly place themselves in a position of irrelevance vis-a-vis mainstream culture and one of the most significant human rights breakthroughs now occurring in mainstream culture.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan is echoing National Organization for Marriage talking points these days, as he maintains that marriage equality passed in New York because a big, lean, wealthy gay machine pushed the legislation through and bought the votes for it to pass--an astonishing claim, in light of the untold thousands of dollars the U.S. Catholic bishops have spent in recent years to block gay rights.  And the huge (and undisclosed) amounts poured into the anti-gay fight everywhere by NOM, which functions as an unofficial arm of the USCCB.

As Bridgette LaVictoire points out in the article to which I've just linked, what Dolan conspicuously overlooks is the significant support of U.S. lay Catholics for gay and lesbian rights, including the right to civil marriage, and how that support played into the decision of many New York legislators to support the marriage equality legislation.

The U.S. bishops have placed themselves on an island of outraged protest whose shores grow ever smaller these days, with their anti-gay position.  The shores of the tiny island of outraged protest that the bishops want all American Catholics to occupy along with themselves are eroding as more and more Catholics know and love someone who is gay, and want to see the pain inflicted on their gay loved ones stop.

Pretty soon, the bishops are going to be all alone on their tiny island, screaming about the decay of the world as we've known it and the threat that the gays pose to everything from bakers of Christian wedding cakes to the sanctity of every heterosexual marriage in the world.  It truly is difficult for me to understand how the leaders of a major Christian denomination, whose traditional stance towards secular culture has been one of engagement and transformation and not rejection and condemnation, could have chosen to go to this place following Vatican II.  Following Vatican II with its call for even more intentional, respectful engagement and transformation of secular culture, and less boneheaded, anti-intellectual rejection and condemnation of the kind that characterized the fortress church in its period of reaction to the modern world. . . .

The turn the Catholic church has chosen to take under the last two papacies: it's tragic, in its waste of Spirit-given opportunities for reform and for positive, dialectic response to the forces making the culture of the postmodern world.  Tragic, self-defeating, and downright evil for a religious body that has the potential to do so much good in the world, if its leaders would stop the condemnatory shouting for a moment, and listen to the voice of the Spirit within the community they're charged to lead.

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