“Resistance” is futile – or is it, Mr. Huckabee?

Guest post by Myristic Mystic:

After the SCOTUS decision which strikes down the ability of states to ban marriage between members of the same gender, Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stated:
“The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do-redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”

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KO Win for LGBT Rights in Catholic Ireland

Despite the efforts of the Irish Catholic church, the Iona Institute, the US-based National Organization of Marriage, and other conservotrad and traditionalist groups, Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by a popular vote. And what a vote it was, with 62 percent voting in favor and 38 percent voting no. This is a great victory, not just for the advancement of human rights, but for the Irish people, who after centuries of enduring some of the most dreadful clericalism imaginable, have finally stood up to the bishops.

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Why Is the Catholic Church Considered the Most Homophobic Religious Institution?

Note: Parts of this essay came from a reply I gave on the Bilgrimage blog earlier in the day. I added some more content and edited other parts for clarity.

According to a recent study, the Catholic church is the religious organization that is perceived to be the most hostile to LGBT people:

http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/2014.LGBT_REPORT.pdf (scroll down to page 3)

This is interesting, because this same study indicates that a majority of Catholics (56 percent) are in favor of same-sex marriage, but 73 percent of Catholics believe that their fellow co-religionists are against marriage equality. Even among Catholics who are regular mass-goers, the percentage who support same-sex marriage is 50 percent. Assuming these finds are correct (I have seen other studies that reach the same findings with regard to Catholic support of same-sex marriage, so I believe it is an accurate reflection of reality), what accounts for this discrepancy between support for same-sex marriage in the pews and the perception that the Catholic church is uniquely hostile to LGBT people?

I think the difference between the Catholic church and other equally homophobic evangelical groups is that the former is highly centralized, not just in terms of teaching content and governance, but in determining what message is send out. Because evangelical churches tend to be more decentralized, they can always claim that the more extreme homophobic messages are just the rantings and ravings of “some guy” and not representative of the denomination as a whole, whereas the Vatican takes great pains to ensure that all of its priests and bishops are “on message.” Despite the “People of God” rhetoric that came out as the result of Vatican II, the Catholic church is still largely seen as comprising the hierarchy with the laity just kind of “there.” Consequently, it makes no difference what the people in the pews think so long as the ordained class is more or less united in opposing LGBT rights.

The study also indicates that the Mormon church is perceived to be hostile to LGBT people, but not to the same extent as the Catholic church. I believe this stems from the fact that the Mormon church is relatively small vis a vis the Catholic church. While the Mormon church is quite powerful in a handful of western states — Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and parts of Arizona — outside of that area, Mormons are just seen as a bunch of weirdos and tend to keep a low profile. After the Prop 8 disaster in California, the Mormons aren’t likely to try and overplay their hand politically outside of their western strongholds. In comparison, there are Catholic churches almost everywhere in the US, and every region is a potential area of influence. Even if Catholics don’t vote as a bloc like they once did, it only takes a small percentage of Catholics to make a very big difference (just look at the anti-abortion movement for another example).

Lastly, the Catholic church’s opposition to birth control also makes them seem more homophobic than other groups. Condoms have been proven to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but the Catholic church is claiming that they don’t work and are immoral. This has devastating effects in poor country, where religious leaders in general have a great deal of input in public health matters and where HIV is the biggest problem. During the “plague years” of the 1980s, when HIV was always a death sentence, the Catholic church, like most conservative institutions had nothing to say about the disease, other that some members of the hierarchy who claimed that it was a punishment from God for the “homosexual lifestyle.” I know the hierarchy here in the US had blocked efforts to distribute condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS and it must be even worse in the developing world. While most new HIV/AIDS cases these days are spread through heterosexual intercourse, it still has the stigma of being a “gay disease,” which explains why the Vatican’s “no condoms even to prevent HIV/AIDS” is seen as an attack on the dignity of LGBT people in particular.

While the people of the Catholic church may not be more homophobic than the general population (at least in the US) and possibly even less so, their clerical class is probably one of the greatest sources of organized homophobia, not just in the US but in the world. The centralized nature of the Catholic church gives it a strength in the political arena that is unmatched by any other group, secular or religious (the only exception might be the House of Saud’s various Islamic front groups). Even if evangelicals are more homophobic on the grounds than Catholics, no evangelical leader has the political influence that a pope can wield, or a city-state to advocate for evangelical causes at the UN like Vatican City does. As long as the hierarchy believes that gay marriage is a social problem, the church will continue to be perceived as homophobic, no matter how progressive the laity might become.

Same-sex Marriage Comes to the Deep South

As of yesterday, same-sex marriage was officially go in Alabama; at least, in some parts of it:


As I predicted last week, the larger cities in Alabama are issuing licenses to same-sex couple, while the vast majority — 52 out of the state’s 67 counties — are refusing. It’s unclear whether the judges in the dissenting counties are trying to be obstinate on purpose or whether they’re just being cautious after Chief Justice Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore ordered Alabama judges not to give same-sex couples marriage licenses. While it’s highly unlikely that Moore actually has the authority to defy a federal order, I doubt that Alabama’s rural judges want to stick their necks out on gay marriage, even if they personally favor it, simply because most of their constituencies oppose it.

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About the Upcoming Manhattan Declaration 2.0

While same-sex marriage in all fifty states may appear to be a foregone conclusion, a group of what this article calls “a high-profile alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants” is convening to issue a new call to arms against what they consider to be a “graver threat” than divorce and cohabitation:


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Massive Resistance, the Squeakquel

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is scheduled to hear arguments on whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in April. A ruling in the affirmative would strike down the remaining same-sex marriage bans at the state level and allow LGBT people to get married in in all fifty states, even in the Deep South. Given the divided nature of the court, the outcome will be anyone’s guess, but conservatives are pre-emptively preparing for the possibility of state-sanctioned gay marriage. Culture warriors like Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are already talking about resisting any SCOTUS ruling that would legalize same-sex marriage, and it’s safe to assume that their supporters among Tea Partiers, white evangelicals, and white conservotrad Catholics are doing the same. While I expected apocalyptic rhetoric about the advent of same-sex marriage and the intent to keep on fighting even if SCOTUS rules in favor of universal gay marriage, my assumption was that conservatives would realize that continued resistance to same-sex marriage is politically unfeasible. That was until I read about this story:


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