Thursday, October 30, 2008

What about the children!?!?

To anyone who grew up in the 1960's, we remember the violent convulsions of that period in our national history. The riots after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The water canons and the dogs loosed on people fighting for equal treatment under the law and in society. The image of Governor Wallace standing at the entrance of a school, attempting to physically block an African American from entering. To anyone who lived through that period the words: "What about the children?" are a chilling through back, the last attempt by those who want to deny equal treatment under the law.

Then, it was a cynical or, ignorant attempt to create a sense of guilt in those asking for equal treatment under the law. After all, what would the prospects be for a child of mixed race? Think of the discrimination they would have to suffer. Stop being so selfish, you should sacrifice your own personal happiness "for the children." Of course, when we think back to those days now, we see through these "arguments" as simply a last refuge for bigots or, individuals so blinded by the bigotry of their day that they fail to see the inherent injustice in such claims. We know that there are many children raised by single parents, grandparents, same sex couples. We know that what is truly important is that a child be raised with love and care. The Proponents of Prop 8 know this too, but, they choose to focus on the genitalia rather than on the hearts of parents/guardians.

Today, the proponents of Proposition 8 are guilty of the same tactics employed by bigots forty years ago. Ironically, it is they themselves who continually claim that Proposition 8 is about "marriage". No where in the wording of Prop 8 are children mentioned at all. Yet, proponents have seized upon this issue in an attempt to generate fear in voters. They try to accomplish this in two ways.

First, as my own bishop wrote in his "pastoral" letter for July "they will brainwash your children". The idea here is that somehow, gay and lesbian persons 1) can change some one's orientation and, 2) that gay and lesbian persons will be able to use the public education system to accomplish this mass "conversion".

The first point is, of course, ludicrous. Psychology informs us that orientation is not "a choice." For more detailed information on this, please visit: Most of us discover our orientation at the time we go through puberty. One of the greatest fears that young gay and lesbian adolescents have at that point in their lives is that, their orientation will cause them to be rejected by the people that they love most--their family. So, most of these adolescents try to "pass" as straight, in effect to lie. This in turn, leads to self hatred which is why 33% of adolescents with same sex orientation will seriously consider suicide. The idea that an adolescent would "choose" this is a contradiction of both science and common sense.

The second point, is simply untrue. The State Superintendent of Schools has attested to this and the California Teacher's Association has endorsed voting for NO on Prop 8. Marriage is not required to be taught by the State of California. Local school boards decide what the content of Health classes will be in California. Any parent or, legal guardian can opt to remove their child from Health class if, they object to the content of the class based on either religious or, moral grounds. Proposition 8 proponents have deliberately spread inaccurate information, citing examples from Massachusetts. They know that California's laws are not the same as Massachusetts but, they're interested in winning not in the truth. They point to a primary grade field trip, where the students attended a same sex couple's wedding ceremony. They fail to mention that EVERY student at that event had to produce a signed permission slip from their parent/legal guardian to attend that ceremony. They know the law, it is merely inconvenient for them to state the full truth so, they don't.

So, why have the proponents of Prop 8 made this such an issue? Because, fear works in elections. No matter that it is irrational, no matter that it is deceptive, no matter that it is unethical. It works. Considering that Proponents of Prop 8 claim to be acting in the name of God and morality, one has to ask: How does violating one of the ten commandments of God accomplish that? How does using children as a prop to deceive people advance morality? I guess they've decided that the end justifies the means.


Jeff said...

Bravo, and thank you for focusing on the point- it's not about marriage or children, its about denying equal status to gay and lesbian citizens and any lie or distortion will do.

Anonymous said...

When I was a child growing up, hearing myself called words such as "queer", "faggot", and other now mercifully forgotten terms, one can only wonder who was concerned about the children then. My niece; a devout Fundamentalist has been married 5 times, and I wonder who is concerned about her 13 children. Let's face it (as if we didn't already know the truth), this has nothing to do with children, school, or the sanctity of marriage. If it did, it seems that the Bible belt wouldnt be where the highest rate of divorce AND child abuse take place in this country.

Birdie said...

It is the parents who are fighting this battle. Young people wonder what the fuss is all about, and the older generation has figured out for the most part that love is what counts. Parents are divided into two camps: "Don't expose my children to that" and "Please show my children what inclusiveness means." This is the battleground.

The parents I know that might be swayed are genuinely concerned and genuinely ignorant; they only know what they've heard, unless they know someone who is gay. Without that personal connection, they are inclined to either ignore the issue as irrelevant to their lives (as whites did with the black civil rights issues) or they simply don't know what to do.

Gay people have got to stand up and announce themselves. If you are in the closet, you are keeping your friends and acquaintances from seeing this as a personal problem that affects someone they care for. Give the issue a face, and suddenly it's a person and not a policy. A study shows that for a straight person to act on the behalf of the gay community—by affirming, speaking up, and voting—they need to know an average of three gay people. As difficult as it is, it's time to stand up and be counted—at least among those you know.

Unknown said...

Thank you Father Geoff...

I wanted to add a few words of my own regarding this Proposition:

I grew up in a Catholic family and believed in my heart that God loved everyone equally. As I grew older, I learned that although God may love everyone equally, the people made in his image had other thoughts about the issue. My family and the morals they taught me growing up shaped me to be who I am today. It is the reason why I want to do my part in making the world a better place for everyone.

demite said...

This issue is certainly not about a threat to heterosexual marriage, or about sending confusing cultural messages to children. It is entirely about equal rights under the law.

My husband and I have been happily married for more than 40 years, and neither of us would want to prevent anyone from enjoying the love, warmth, friendship and fun we share. I'm at a loss to see how full civil rights for all Americans could have anything but a positive impact on everyone's marriage and every child, since all Americans could walk a little taller if no one were left on the outside looking in.

I love the Church, but when the Church is wrong (and it has been exceedingly wrong on a number of issues in recent years), the faithful need to see that it's wrong and try to do what is right. The Bishop's "Yes on 8" letter that was distributed with our church bulletin has been shredded, and we encourage everyone who'll listen to defeat this hateful measure.

Andrew M said...

What about the parents?
Please, please don't judge the parents. Honor them. Look from their perspective. Look into their whole life and see what they have been taught

I feel so bad for my dad who struggles to do exactly what your sermon says. He loves me unconditionally and will always love me, but his Catholic faith and the doctrine puts a brick wall when it comes to accepting that one should not be together even if one is homosexual. I feel for my Dad's struggle because he knows only one doctrine since his birth 58 years ago. While we are really close, I feel that we can't talk about relationships.

Feel for him and other parents too because while my generation (early 20's) have more or less accepted homosexuality (in my life I have mostly felt positive peer feelings), my dad has to go to his peers and be constantly asked when I am going to get married, or settle down. He is put in a difficult situation to tell his peers and be that "odd parent out."

Bravo to you Fr. Geoff. I have brought this issue up to my pastor in AZ where we are fighting the same battle with Prop 102. While he told me his hands were tied because his Bishop told him to vote yes on the proposition and made him put it in the bulletin, you did the honorable duty and stood up for your beliefs, and the right true one. You are such an encouragement to gay Catholics and families everywhere.

WifeandMom said...

Very well said! I've heard many people cite those ads recently as if they're actually true. Mostly the ones I find who are believing them are the older generation who either don't want to find out the truth, or don't have internet access to research the facts. It's sad that these scare tactics might work and deny an entire group of people equal and fair treatment and rights under the law. I hope that the No on Prop 8 side wins, but I'm scared that the Yes side with their smear campaign will win and screw everyone out of basic rights.

Anonymous said...

They say it's about protecting children, and then they exploit children in their commercials against the wishes of the parents. Perhaps children should be protected FROM them rather than BY them.

Apparently the Yes on 8 campaign phone banks have been telling some gay marriage supporters that yes on prop 8 is yes on gay marriage. As in, blatantly lying.

The lengths to which these people are going is truly disgusting. They seem to believe that the ends justify the means.

Also, I look forward to seeing you speak in Fresno this Sunday!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for what you are doing and saying. In the run up to the election and voting, I can only offer up my prayers for you and everyone else, in the hope that people will be truly open to the Holy Spirit's influence.
(It is just by chance that I found out about your blog - a knitting friend of mine told me about you. So I checked out your blog, and felt compelled to write to you.)
May God bless you in all you do.

PS My name refers to the fact that I am a lover of tortoiseshell cats!

Fran said...

Oh how I hate that I have to be the one to say this, and I do speak as a loyal but critical Catholic-

"What about the children?" is a hateful question to be asked here and the last party (not you!) that should be asking about the children's safety should be the RC church. Are they kidding????

God have mercy on them, they know not what they do.

I say this as someone who is active in faith and around a lot of priests and have been for years. The majority, the vast majority are good men. The church at large is most culpable to me, failing the children and the adults, in so many ways.

As I said on Susan Russell's blog yesterday on Prop 8 post - this is when turning the other cheek and really following Jesus gets to be very hard.

manxxman said...

Fear is what has run this country for the past 8 years......ask Karl (Marx) can scare most of the people all of the time (sounds like something Lincoln would say).....

And shame on the African American church for their support of this vile proposition....

Anonymous said...

bishop steinbock meant brainwash into thinking gay marriage is ok not a mass conversion...just a clarification ...I agree with your views and as a church employee am very proud of you and will join in voting no...I do love my church and my misguided friends in it as well as my pastor and bishop though and hope your hurt and paim can find forgiveness and compassion for those who know not what they do. the ads however for prop 8 turn my stomach and I will share this with those friends....wouldn't we want them to 'teach about gay marriage in schools...especially for the children! so someday we will be confident there will never be another Matthew Shepherd...

June Butler said...

I've had an email from a Morman woman who is likely to leave the LDS over this issue and others. Sending large amounts of money from other states to defeat Prop 8 in CA is not her idea of good stewardship. You might say that this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Geoff,

I admire and applaud you for having the courage to speak the truth and stand up for your beliefs. As a 25-year-old "cradle Catholic," I was appalled to hear about the Church's reaction to your homily. It is amazing to me that so much hatred still exists in the world after decades of Civil Rights movements. Even worse is how proponents of Prop 8 disguise their bigotry as concern for the sanctity of marriage. It's almost too much to stomach.

It is unconscionable that those in a position of power to shape people’s beliefs would use their positions to inflict such hatred.

I myself am blessed to be engaged to my boyfriend of 3 years. I can only imagine what it would be like if the state prohibited me from marrying my fiance due to my eye color, shoe size, or any other arbitrary, inborn characteristic – AND if my own church ostracized me for it at the same time.

I pray that you continue to have the strength to champion your cause. I think we’re overdue for a reform.