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A 1992 Op-Ed piece from the New York Times

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Sometime ago I asked about good news stories for GLBT on the subject of religion. Well, the NY Times has re-posted today an Op-Ed piece from 1992 by the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, who died this week. The Rev. Gomes was a Baptist minister, as well as a Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard:

Homophobia and the Bible.

While I will concede that this sort of message gets drowned out too often, the age on this article shows that there has been a supportive stance amongst some theologians for quite some time. :icon_geek: We just need more people like the Rev. Peter J. Gomes.

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I remember reading this back in 1992, and listening to the speech that night by Pat Buchanan. It was after that speech that I changed my political affiliation from Republican to Democrat. Many of the points this opinion piece makes helped me to lay to rest the last bits of self-hate that a religious upbringing brought me.

The section on Sodom and Gomorrah and the failings of those cities being focused more on the treatment of the poor and the hungry won quite a few arguments for me with my father, a baptist preacher, and very baptist family members as well.

What is truly sad though is how much has remained the same since this was written in 1992. The christian conservative base still uses gays as the punching bag for all the ills of America, and they have gone so far as to rewrite parts of the bible to make sure it says homosexual=bad. In many ways there has been a great deal of progress, but it is progress that is limited and tenuous at best.

In California our State Legislature votes twice to allow same-sex marriage only to see it vetoed by the Governor. Then the Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage legal only to have the people of California vote a change into the Constitution making it illegal. Now the state's Supreme Court has held up the legal case against Prop 8 for the better part of another year while a federal appeals court waits for their answer.

In Idaho, three Supreme Court Justices that helped vote same-sex marriage into place were recalled by the people of that state. Now anti-gay jurists are being put in to replace them, threatening the status of marriage in that state. What will happen next there is anyone's guess.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been dealt a death blow by Congress and the President. The military branches are each moving forward with the steps necessary to bring about full repeal. Meanwhile conservative officers are figuring out ways around the repeal, such as kicking out a sailor found in bed with another sailor because of 'unprofessional behavior".

In Ohio, a bill that was put forward to bust unions in that state also contains a Defense of Marriage Act provision preventing recognition of out-of-state marriages. Meanwhile in other states there are efforts underway to prevent recogntion of civil unions or domestic partnerships. Other states have considered recriminalizing homosexual acts, and numerous state political parties are calling for criminalizing statutes in their states.

1992 was an important year, and while the good Reverend's words are as true today as the day they were written, it is also a sad truth that they are as largely ignored today as they were then.

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Unfortunately, all true :icon_geek:

Australia doesn't appear to have had the extremes of behaviour that the USA has had (and still has in places). There are certainly areas where gay-bashings occurs, but the religious influence on the general population appears to be a lot weaker here. Gay bashings here seem to be more motivated by a macho-culture than religious-culture. The conservation religions do, however, still have a significant influence on the population, which is why the legal process is lagging well behind public opinion here.

But I'm confident we're making progress. I believe the USA is making progress, too, but it's going to be a generational thing. The sort of entrenched beliefs we're talking about will take that long to lose their power.

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There is progress, but there is the danger of that progress being reversed.

We are, after all, the same country that put into our Constitution a Prohibition against alcohol. Sure it was eventually reversed, but not until hundreds of innocents had lost their lives in the ensuing smuggling wars, and many others went to prison or had their lives ruined.

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The US seems to be in the midst of a power struggle. The conservatives are battling the liberals and centrists for control of the minds of the citizenry. The conservatives are also battling each other. Religious groups are in on the fight, generally because there are a large number of very conservative religious organizations and also many more progressive ones, and they don't see eye to eye about much of anything.

Conservatives, to me, seem to want to turn back the clock to the 'good old days', those wonderful times in our past when blacks and women and gays were all second class citizens without any noticeable rights, when Latinos had no say in anything, when powerful religious leaders were thought to be righteous and honest and pure, when the police were thought to be unbiased and fair and honorable, when the Supreme Court was considered just and unconcerned with political factions or public opinion. We all remember those 'good old days', don't we?

I totally agree that things are improving. But we need to keep in check these conservative factions that want to turn back the clock and bring us back to the beginning of the last century. Things weren't better then. We've made tremendous progress, and that progress continues.

We do have an ace in the hole in this battle for the will of the people. The conservatives are getting older. Kids today seem to know what's right and what's wrong. They're almost unilaterally for peace, and human rights, and fairness. Just ask a teenager today. It's spiritually elevating to do so.


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The 'good old days' I recall were before antibiotics and most immunizations, and an excessive number of small children died every year before they ever had a chance to discover whether they were conservative, liberal, straight or gay.


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