Friday, October 8, 2010
This cartoon (from today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune) reflects the enormous problem facing the Church's effort to stop the inclusion of same-sex couples within civil law marriage. Increasingly, it seems, the public perception is that discrimination = discrimination = discrimination. Expressing the vilest sentiments about gays and lesbians is simply a difference in degree from excluding gays and lesbians from the institution of marriage. Part of this dynamic stems from our society's increasing embrace of individual liberty as an organizing principle, part of it, I'm sure, stems from a deliberate strategy by some SSM advocates to obfuscate potential distinctions between public policy stances affecting gays and lesbians, and part of it, in my view, stems from SSM opponents' failure to take the lead in advocating against social practices that we can all agree bring unjustifiable harm to gays and lesbians. Along with the DVD campaign, for example, Abp. Nienstedt could have publicly and prominently expressed his concern about the tragedy of recent suicides by gay teenagers, encouraged more vigilant efforts by school officials to police bullying, etc. Of course the Church has not been silent on the humanity of gays and lesbians, and relative silence should not ever be mistaken for approval, but in this climate, I think the Church needs to be speaking out early and often about affirming and defending the dignity of gays and lesbians if the distinction between anti-SSM and anti-gay is going to have any long-term traction.