Guest post: Catholics being irrational about homosexuality. They also dress funny.

The following is a guest post from Amanda, one of the leaders of CASH, the SSA affiliate at the University of Minnesota.

Wonka meme: "Oh, you're against gay marriage rights?  Tell me more about how their choices directly affect your life."My name is Amanda.  In the fight for equality there are firebrands and there are diplomats, and I am definitely a diplomat.  I don’t want to fight with anyone, and I have found that it is often more effective to kindly listen to all viewpoints and discuss matters rationally than to piss people off.  But this week I am going beyond my usual self.

I have been actively encouraging my friends to vote “no” on the upcoming amendment to re-define marriage between one man and one woman by posting every media I can think of to Facebook (pictures, scientific documents, videos, sarcasm, diagrams, etc.).  I recently posted this photo and finally got the first legitimate challenge to gay rights.  I am a leader in a group for teens that is primarily composed of very religious kids, and one of them, we’ll call him “Tony”, responded with this video.

Hmm…I wonder why the YouTube comments are disabled…

Naturally it made my blood boil, but I sat down and watched the whole video.  And I took notes.  Unfortunately, it looks like some of the video has been edited out and I was unable to find the original, full-length version.  Even in the edited version, though, there’s plenty to cover.  It would take a novel to rebut everything presented in the video, so I will address some of the key points.

Moderator: “Canadians who continue to believe marriage is between a man and a woman and who refuse to recognize this new genderless concept of marriage have lost their jobs, have been dragged in front of human rights commissions for hate speech, have lost their parental rights, and have been forced to implement so-called “diversity curricula” in their schools and homes aimed at eradicating such things as heteronormativity bias as well as well as being coerced to accept same-sex marriage.”

Black man holding a sign that reads "Gay is the new black."Wow, there’s a lot in that introduction.  No one can be forced to personally accept any philosophy.  But it is perfectly legal to force them to obey society’s laws and not actively persecute citizens.  Replace “homosexuality” with “blacks” or “women”, and maybe you’ll see why it is an issue to hold this attitude.  No one can force them to like or agree with homosexual marriage, but if they are actively refusing to recognize the rights of citizens and using hate crimes to keep them silent, then yes, they should be prosecuted.

The Most Rev. Terrence Pendergast brought up the following concerns: Promotion of homosexual rights can usurp parental rights.  Enforcement such as “loss of employment or embarrassment, lawsuits, and state intervention through legislation and funding.. increasingly compromise freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

Parents have every right to not put their kids in a public school system, and to discuss their own views with their children.  If you are being openly bigoted in a business context, then yes, you risk legal repercussions.  Additionally, freedom to follow one’s own religion does not mean restricting the rights of others.  If you think something is wrong, you as a private citizen can fight it.  Not as a corporation or business service.  If you don’t want gays paying for a room in your home, fine.  If you don’t want gays paying for a room in your hotel, too bad.

Similarly, homosexuality is protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964You cannot refuse to hire someone based on their sexuality.   This is nothing new. Rev. Pendergast did mention that churches are still allowed to refuse to perform marriages.  Yes. Yes they are.  So restrict marriage restriction to the church, not the public sector.  His other concern was that Quebec students, regardless of public, private, or homeschooled, are “mandated to take a course in ethics and religious culture”.  That’s Canada, not the U.S. Here, it is unconstitutional to do so.

Ake Green was worried that the nature of homosexual marriages means either a mother or father is missing.  By this logic, we should not allow single parents, widows, the elderly, or infertile couples to be parents.

Eric Rossbach and Phil Lees were both concerned with education.  Their key concerns were that homosexual marriages would force curriculum to be redefined with the new definition of marriage, and that schools are encouraging kids to disbelieve what their parents tell them.  If you are concerned that your ideals may fall apart when children are exposed to other viewpoints, then do not send them to public school.

A sign for the Horcrux collectors' club.As far as curriculum, it is constantly being revised when new scientific discoveries are made or when new interpretations of literature become available.  Worrying that curricula will have to change is not a valid reason to restrict anything.  They also claim schools will be “forced to implement Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs”.  Schools must allow equal access to student clubs that are asking to form, but the school is not required to create a club without student initiative.  Additionally, schools that do form a GSA do not force their students to be a part of it, just as they cannot force anyone to be one the dance team or participate in the Harry Potter club, so it in no way undermines students’ choices.

The take-home from all of this is that the majority of anti-homosexual marriage arguments are based on fear that allowing gays to marry will somehow make life worse for heterosexual couples.  But in countries that have already allowed for gay marriage such as Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, Spain, they’re doing fine.  Sure, with any social change there are initial issues.  When women were allowed to enter the workforce jobs for men became less available.  And when blacks were allowed to own property, neighborhoods that had been composed entirely of one-viewpoint, mono-experiential people were exposed to new ideas (the horror!)

I’d like to close with a quote from Phil Lees.  “I just wanted to protect my kids from indoctrination”.  Excellent! Good for you, Phil! Protect your kids from indoctrination! Teach them to think critically! Teach them what you think, but let them be exposed to other ideas so they can make their own decisions, not just ones force-fed them through Sunday school.  And don’t restrict the ability of people to marry just because they have similar biology to you, and that makes you uncomfortable.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Maude LL

    I can’t listen to this much bullshit. Canadian Gaypocalypse!!

    Check out the oppression decried by a man of god (whether they are true or not doesn’t even matter, it just shows the level of the “discourse”):
    A hotel not allowing gay people to rent a room because they are gay is fined (persecution against the hotel owner!)
    A rape relief centre refusing to help a trans woman because she’s trans gets fined. (persecution against religion!)
    Note: trans women are not necessarily gay. Nor are the men attracted to trans women.
    What is wrong with those people? I can’t tell if they are being genuine or not. Of course, most of them would agree that replacing “gay” or “trans” in these sentences with “black” would be completely unacceptable. But you know, I was brainwashed by the Gaylord of Gaynada.

  • JohnH

    “Parents have every right to not put their kids in a public school system”

    According to California, no they don’t. According to Germany it is criminal offense to not have ones children in the public school system such that ones children will be taken by the state and one put in jail for homeschooling.

    • Mandagator

      @JohnH, your reference to the California system is incomplete. According to the California Education Code, “[A]ll children between the ages of 6 and 18 must attend a public full-time day school UNLESS OTHERWISE EXEMPTED (emphasis mine).” These exemptions fall under two categories: private tutoring (homeschooling) for children receiving at least three hours of instruction per day 175 days per year (§48224), or children receiving private school education full-time (§48222). All California is doing is forcing children to have an education. The mode by which they receive it is up to the parents.

      As for your reference to Germany, that’s not the United States. They have a different code of laws from us, and so the flexibility of a U.S. parent to choose homeschooling for their children may not apply there.

    • Compuholic

      It is also not completely correct to say that it is a criminal offense in Germany to not put your children into a public school. It is a criminal offense to not send your child to school. But it does not matter if you send your child to a private as long as the school is officially recognized as such from the state.

      Homeschooling is not much of an issue here but I would guess that it would be okay with the law as long as the teacher has the proper credentials and classes are held regularly.

      Unfortunately the woo-peddlers have found another way to infiltrate the school system. In some private schools the credentials of the teachers are not checked very thouroughly. And especially Waldorf schools (not sure if such a thing exists in the US) are known for this.

  • Adam

    “If you are concerned that your ideals may fall apart when children are exposed to other viewpoints…”

    This generally means they have already lost before the debate has even started.

  • chris buchholz

    Canada does have a free speech problem, so there is legitimate worry that a Canadian could be prosecuted for saying something there that an American would not be prosecuted for in the US. There have been a few high profile lawsuits brought before the Canadian Human Rights Commission (not related to the global organization of the same name), these sorts of trials we can’t even imagine here in the US. It is rather funny he is worried about critizing gay people, because there is already a quite legitimate worry you could be punished for critizing Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. It just demonstrates how dangerous punishing speech is (for adults, in schools before college there is of course a need to teach kids to be respectful and to protect them from bullying). But of course the Canadian law has only been applied to pundits and journalists, not to parents telling their kids to hate their neighbors.

    Other than that, yes his article is utterly ridiculous.

  • eric

    Amanda, three questions:
    1. Did “Tony” read your response and (2) have you heard back from him? I suspect the answer to both is no. In fact I suspect he probably never watched the link he sent you; this is just a subtle form of the courtier’s response; Tony’s objective was to just throw material atyou to keep you occupied so that he didn’t hav eto actually make an argument. If I’m right, then any response by him will just consist of more links; more stuff he insists you read/watch.
    3. What do you see as the difference between a diplomat and a firebrand? Your analysis and response is so direct and on-point, its likely to be seen as firebrandy by your opponents.

  • Mandagator

    @eric, “Tony” sent me a message saying he read the post and is waiting until he has more free time to respond, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    It’s actually interesting that you should ask about firebrand vs. diplomat. As I say at the beginning of my post, I am “going beyond my usual self’” to encourage people to vote “no”. Normally, I am content to stay in the shadows and discuss matters with people on a one-to-one basis. JT had to spend a bit of time convincing me to write this post.

    That said, being a diplomat does not necessarily mean you never fight an irrational argument in public. It means you consider the social implications of your viewpoints and generally decide that the best way to get through to people is to let them display their entire argument and then engage them in respectful discourse. It’s amazing how many minds I have changed with a kind smile and the question, “have you considered perspective X?” When an argument is so irrational or hurtful that discussing it in private won’t get you anywhere, a diplomat can publicly and systematically tear down an argument by using straight, honest logic as I have done above. If you notice, I maintain a respectful tone throughout my counter, and the only thing in the piece which could be considered an attack is the title, which I did not write.

    Does that answer your question?

    • eric

      I appreciate the response, thank you. Though I suspect you might be being optimistic, since part of the issue is that atheists are being called disrepsectful and firebrandy for stuff like this. Four years ago an Illinois state senator stood up – in legislative session – and said ““[Atheism is] dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!”
      The reason I bring these up is that I think you are going to find that the most diplomatic and language-neutral explanation of your position is going to get you accused of being an obnoxious firebrand. Because, as Ms. Davis opined, to some people the mere knowledge that your position exists is dangerous and should be excluded from the public, no matter how you phrase your position
      Maybe I’m a pessimist. I certainly wish you good luck in your efforts and hope you succeed! I’d just caution you not to get too upset when you get met with angry shouting and called nasty things even at your diplomatic best. Because that’s very likely to happen.

  • Brad

    Should be “affect” on the wonka meme, not “effect.”

  • Mark Hanna

    New Zealander here. I just wanted to mention that we haven’t actually managed to legalise same-sex marriage in New Zealand yet, although a bill to do so is currently in the process and seems likely to be passed in February next year.

  • Dave B.

    Ake Green was worried that the nature of homosexual marriages means either a mother or father is missing.

    The other problem I have with this argument is that it is implicitly saying ‘All men and all women are interchangeable.’ In addition to the list of people who shouldn’t marry by this logic, what about a family where the mother works and the father stays home to raise the kids (or any other ‘non-traditional’ work/home arrangement)? Wouldn’t mommy having a career and being a positive role model also be robbing those poor children of a ‘mommy’? I just don’t get it.

  • Brad

    “If you are concerned that your ideals may fall apart when children are exposed to other viewpoints, then do not send them to public school.”

    Alternatively, have ideals which are supported by actual arguments. If a viewpoint is so fragile that it falls apart the second the believer is exposed to an opposing ideal, then that ideal is clearly not supported by the facts and is therefore not worth following.

    • Brad

      I just realised there’s another Brad on here… I shall henceforth post as Brad1990. For clarity’s sake, I’m the Brad that wrote the above post.