Well, we know where Mitt Romney's priorities lay, with himself. And, Mr. Jackson, let's not forget Cardinal O'Malley. He's too busy writing letters to the editors on marriage equality to focus on what's really hurting our country (and what he could do to fix it). It's sad, as Derrick puts it, that our civic and religious leaders couldn't be like South Africa's.
ALL IN THE same week, Governor Mitt Romney, the US Catholic bishops, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and the Presbyterian Church USA drove themselves nuts over homosexuality.
Here in Massachusetts, despite ample evidence that two years of same-sex marriage have not destroyed straight life in the Commonwealth, Romney is helping plan a rally tomorrow for a statewide referendum to ban it. A month ago, in one of his sky-is-falling speeches, Romney said "activist judges struck a blow to the foundation of civilization, the family." He went so far as to say, "The price of same-sex marriage is paid by the children."
In Washington, the bishops passed a bizarre set of guidelines called, "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination." In the same breath, they claim to be "welcoming" to gay and lesbian people, then tell them to be chaste and stay in the closet about their sexual orientation. The bishops remain resolute that being gay or lesbian is "disordered."
While all this nuttiness was going on here, the South African parliament this week voted 230-41 to legalize same-sex marriage. This vote came after South Africa's highest court ruled that existing marriage laws discriminated against gay and lesbian couples. The post-apartheid South African Constitution passed about a decade ago was noteworthy for being the first in the world to explicitly outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
South African Defense Minister Mosuia Lekota was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "The roots of this bill lie in many years of struggle. . . . This country cannot afford to be a prison of timeworn prejudices which have no basis in modern society. Let us bequeath to future generations a society which is more democratic and tolerant than the one that was handed down to us."
The tone of affirmation in South Africa had been set years before by the likes of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who lost a son to AIDS, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, who has repeatedly criticized homophobia in the church. "This is crazy," the retired archbishop said eight years ago.
So, come on Mitt. Don't you have better things to do? Besides, gay marriage isn't quite working for Republicans like it used to. Just ask Senator George Allen. If anything, it only hurt Allen's chances on election day as several high-ranking campaign members from Virginia, Wisconsin and elsewhere have suggested. Heck, the amendment failed to pass in Arizona!
Come on Cardinal O'Malley. Let's work on issues we supposedly agree on. The church still believes in matters of social justice and poverty, right? The church still believes that unnecessary wars are wrong, right? While I may no longer consider myself a Catholic, that doesn't mean the Church and Ryan's Take doesn't share many of the same beliefs. There's a huge health care bill in the works; there's a prescription drug benefit with donut holes the elderly can fall through. Children are being left behind every day. Yet, the Catholic Church is busy writing letters to the editor on civil marriage - which has nothing to do with the Church.
Focus on issues that matter to hundreds of millions of people. Focus on issues that are actually killing people in America. Focus on issues that are killing tens of thousands in Iraq and destroying any chance of peace. Focus on issues that a broad coalition of people, including gays, will work together on to accomplish (only then will it be successful).
The national meeting of the Catholic Church in D.C. proclaimed that the Church wanted to be "welcoming" to gays. Currently, that's no possible - not when the Church is reaching beyond the Church/State line. However, if the Church ever really wants to welcome anyone, they should do it by focusing on what we all agree with - not what will force everyone to tear each other down. As Derrick Jackson would probably hope - be a little more Desmond Tutu and a little less Mitt Romney.