Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spin Continues: NY Catholic Official Attributes Marriage Equality Victory to Money

As I noted in a series of postings following the vote for marriage equality in New York--a series about how the Catholic church has turned itself into anything but a welcoming place for its LGBT brothers and sisters at this point in history--no sooner had the vote for marriage equality in New York taken place than leading luminaries of the American Catholic intellectual center began to whisper about how the vote had been bought by rich gays.

This is continuous with a rhetorical strategy on the part of these same luminaries to depict the movement for gay rights as driven by rich white men who are disdainful of women.  What never emerges in their analysis of the movement for gay rights is the recognition that 

1) gay and lesbian people come in all stripes and flavors, and the gay community includes both rich and poor people, white ones and people of color, men and women, people from the cultural centers of the nation and people living in the hinterlands, etc.; 

2) gay and lesbian people are not someone else, but are, in fact, part of us, the invisible Catholics those at the center refuse to see right in their midst; and 

3) for an increasing number of Catholics, these toxic rhetorical strategies to identify the Catholic church with heterosexism and turn it into a gated community for heterosexuals clash with the strong human rights tradition of Catholicism, and are unChristian.

Meanwhile, the ugly strategy of claiming that the gay community bought its right to civil marriage in New York is still rolling forth in official Catholic circles.  The latest person to try this ploy: Dennis Poust, communications director for the New York Catholic Conference, who attributes the victory for marriage equality in New York to the influence of money, and who claims the Catholic church can't is at a disadvantage in defending marriage when it's having to close churches due to financial stress, and that it is prohibited from meddling in politics, in any case.

Poust makes these claims less than two years after news reports showed that the Catholic church spearheaded the crusade to snatch the right of civil marriage from gay citizens of Maine while soliciting contributions from Catholic dioceses across the U.S.--including dioceses that were closing churches and schools due to lack of funds.  And he makes these claims though it's well known that the National Organization for Marriage, which functions as a virtual arm of the USCCB in its attacks on gay people and gay rights, has a seemingly bottomless well of funding, and is closely connected to the Catholic (and Mormon) church but refuses to disclose its funding sources.*

The story of money and its use in battles over gay people and gay rights in the U.S. is far and away a story of the power and influence the religious right (including the Catholic church) has long enjoyed in blocking the rights of gay citizens, as it channels huge sums of money from unknown donors to attack gay people and gay rights.  It is far and away more of a story of the abuse of large sums of money whose sources are never disclosed to take rights away from gay people, than of gay folks buying rights.

Everyone who reads and thinks knows this.  And so one wonders why someone as highly placed as Dennis Poust chooses to skew the truth about it.  And why American Catholics at the church's intellectual center collude in these truth-evading stories.  

Perhaps the bottom line is that they do not want to admit that they have taken the wrong side in an historic struggle for human rights.  It's easier, if not morally admirable, to fabricate lies about dirty money buying rights . . . .

Take a look at the thread of initial responses to the NCR article about Poust's claims, and you'll see how strongly American Catholics now resist being told that "the" Catholic position about gay people and gay rights is one of condemnation, and how aware American Catholics are of the way in which Catholic officials have used money to mount vicious attacks on gay folks in recent years.

*For further information on the Maine battle and National Organization for Marriage, click the labels below.

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