04 February 2007

Another LGBT post

This isn't supposed to be a blog that discusses LGBT rights, it's meant to be a blog that discusses the various little snippets of intrigue that take place in Scotland's corridors of power, the meaning behind them and the possible consequences. But reading the utter dreck written by Bishop Joseph Devine in the Sunday Herald, I'm publishing my own response. I'm not a rights campaigner. Really, I'm not. But sometimes a response is needed. Particularly this paragraph, which nearly caused me to rupture several blood vessels:

Our governments in Westminster and Holyrood have dared not whisper the terms marriage and the traditional family for fear of being branded politically incorrect by the liberal secular lobby. They have signed up to the dangerous fiction that all lifestyles are equal and that all types of family are equally good at bringing up children. It is time to challenge them to change the direction of their social policies and recognise the damage caused by their compliance with liberal secular policy advisers.

In a way, he's right about one thing. No one has mentioned 'marriage', when perhaps they should have. That is why the Scottish Executive opted to pass the political hot potato that is civil partnerships to Westminster, and why they are called 'civil partnerships' in the first place. It looks like marriage, the legal rights are akin to marriage, but oh, no, don't call it marriage because that might annoy the Church even more. Why should we be fobbed off? Why not call it marriage? That's what civil partnerships basically are, so what's wrong with telling it like it is? It was fear of a reaction from social conservatives that led to a completely new branch of legal terminology being created simply to describe the application of an existing concept (i.e. marriage) in a new way (i.e. to two people of the same gender). And why do Church leaders keep talking about the 'sanctity' of marriage, when the concept has existed at a legal State level, outwith the purview of any religion for so long?

Then there's his dangerous assertion, implicit in his attack, that certain lifestyles are unequal, and that not all types of family are equally good at bringing up children. Well, the Bishop, again, is almost right. A stable, heterosexual, two-parent family can obviously provide a good, solid background for a child. It can also be an absolute disaster. Things can go wrong in a single-parent family, but the children involved can turn out to be real stars, active pillars of the community. Things can go very well or very badly for children who are cared for by same-sex couples. The issue isn't the gender or number of the people involved: it's the individuals. If they devote the time and energy to looking after a child, then he or she will turn out fine. If their idea of parenting is to shove a bag of crisps in the child's hand and then leave them to their own devices for two hours, then you can bet that things will go wrong.

The Bishop has missed the point: liberal secular values are here to stay. There are one-parent families. There are people who prefer to involve themselves in same-sex relationships. The genie can no longer be put back in the bottle. And even if it could, how far back in time would we have to go until we arrived at a point where there was one sole religion, practiced by all, around which it would be sensible to build a legal system? A liberal, tolerant, secular society is needed for that very reason: that we can all have the freedom to take a full part in society, regardless of what faith, if any, we're a part of.

My right to take a male partner, and to adopt a child with him, does not infringe on Joseph Devine's right to practice his Catholic faith. His right to offer religious guidance to members of his Church does not infringe on my right to be a practicing homosexual. As readers know, I oppose any attempts to force the Catholic Church into a policy that they consider contrary to their beliefs. I oppose any writings by Devine in which he condemns my way of life, especially as, when I do so, I will harm no one and the other party is a consenting adult as I am.

Compare this with the clergymen in his Church who sexually assaulted young boys, and whose exploitative, destructive actions have been hushed up for decades. If the Bishop wants to oppose homosexuality, he should do so within the confines of his own Church before he rails against the outside world.


Tartan Hero said...

Well said Will! Just when you think the Catholic Church would learn, it goes and sticks up another ranting bigot. When did a 'rights' activist last get the opportunity for such a high profile opinion piece? It's sad that the Church of Scotland which purports to be the established church here, can't or won't take some leadership on this issue and show that not all faiths are as 'hung up' on homosexuality as others.

Will said...

It's times like this that blogs are important, Grant - we can publish our own responses and hope that they get read.

I think that after the row over adoption and equality, they reckon they can play the victim card. Just as the Section 28 debacle was a trojan horse for homophobia, so the bigots are using this as a standard, and it seems that Bishop Devine has opted to be their spokesman. This is what I feared would happen, but I never expected that it would happen so soon, or that the Sunday Herald would be the medium!

As for the Church of Scotland, I reckon it's ecclesiastical politics that's making them keep their trap shut: on the one hand, you have the Catholic Church preaching fire and brimstone, on the other you have the Episcopal Church ordaining gay clergymen, but tearing itself apart in the process. The C of S probbaly doesn't want to tie itself to the bigoted line being taken by the RC Church, but it might fear the schisms that are rocking the Church of England, and is probably terrified that by supporting equality actively, that acrimony might move from the Synod to the General Assembly.

Cowardice. Understandable cowardice, but cowardice nevertheless.