Monday, December 24, 2012

Hope in the Air as Christmas Arrives: Gun Control and Gay rights

Two signs of hope on Christmas eve:

Last week, the Catholic Leadership Conference of Religious Women released a statement calling for a ban on assault weapons and for stricter gun control, stating: 

The killing must stop. America is losing its future. Gun regulation is an imperative. Automatic weapons created for the battlefield have no place in the hands of children or adults incapable of taking responsibility for their use.

The nuns continue to provide a credible voice for the American Catholic church, at a point in history in which the U.S. Catholic bishops have muzzled themselves by their captivity to the religious and political right, and have spectacularly eroded their moral credibility by their atrocious mishandling of the sexual abuse crisis.

And there's hope to be found, as well, for the growing support of the human rights of LGBT persons we've seen in 2012 in the American political context. Though I sometimes find Frank Bruni a bit starry-eyed in his assessment of some GOP figures, I found his tribute to his father in the New York Times this past Sunday touching. Bruni notes that his father has been on a journey towards understanding his gay son and gay folks in general, and has come far along the path towards acceptance.

There was a bridge to be crossed when his son Frank began to write openly about his identity as a gay man and about gay issues:

What he struggled most with, he admitted to me over our lunch, was his worry about what others would think of me, of him, of our family. His Italian-immigrant parents had been fanatics about the face a person presented to the world — the “bella figura,” as Italians say — and when I would write candidly about my life, as I did on occasion, he’d flinch a bit. Still does. 
But he has decided that such writing is necessary. “There’s prejudice out there, and it’s good to fight that,” he said, adding that visibility and openness are obviously integral to that battle. “I’m convinced that people who don’t accept gays just don’t really know any of them.”

Hope. When men who have invested much in supporting a political party that is stolidly anti-gay can begin to recognize that their party "is signing its own death warrant" with its continued homophobia, and can embrace their gay sons and daughters, there's hope for constructive change in the world. Who knows?--if Frank Bruni's father can journey towards respect and love for those who are gay, even Pope Benedict, who is roughly of the same generation as Bruni the elder, might do so, too.

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