Published in: May-June 2007 issue.


The Breeding Imperative  First it was New York’s high court, and now Washington state’s has ruled against legalizing same-sex marriage using the old argument, in effect, that marriage is for making babies. Banning same-sex marriage is okay because the state has a legitimate interest in propagating the species —the implication being that it has no interest in supporting nonprocreative relationships, whether gay or straight. Following this logic, some gay rights activists in Washington have submitted Initiative 957, which would require all heterosexual marriages to produce offspring in a fixed period —three years, to be exact, at which point couples would be required to file “proof of procreation” to the state. Failing that, a barren marriage would thereby be annulled. Call it a joke; point out that the filers need 224,800 signatures to get the referendum on the ballot; but 957 has been accepted by Washington’s Secretary of State as a petition. So it’s on to the shopping malls!

Sophisticated Lady  A staunchly Catholic politician in Italy has built a reputation out of lamenting the decline of the family and denouncing homosexuality as “unnatural.” Nothing inconsistent so far; but Paola Binetti, a government senator, also happens to be a devout member of Opus Dei and recently admitted that she wears a spiked metal chain (or cilice) around her thigh to recreate the suffering of Christ. Opus Dei, which was brought to light recently in The Da Vinci Code (the book and the movie), is widely seen as a sado-masochistic cult whose members engage in self-flagellation and other acts of humiliation. On hearing the news, gay activists in Italy collectively choked on that word “unnatural” that Binetti likes to bandy about. But if the mind was not already reeling from the irony and hypocrisy of this woman’s anti-gay crusade, we then learned that Ms. Binetti wasn’t always a politician or, for that matter, an Opus Dei devotee: her day job is that of a child psychotherapist.

Gay Atheists Need Not Apply  Suddenly we face the prospect of a white woman or a black man being nominated by a major political party for president, so survey mavens have been out asking people if they would vote for a woman or a black person for president, or a Jew, or a Hispanic —the usual suspects. These four groups all scored in the high 80’s or low 90’s, with “Black” having the highest level of acceptance at 94%. A few questions were keyed to three Republican candidates: Would you vote for someone who was a Mormon (72%), married for the third time (67%), or 72 years of age (55%)? Two final categories were “a homosexual,” which came in at 55%, and “an atheist,” in last place at 45%. So it looks like we’re in a statistical dead heat with McCain but topping atheists by a solid ten percent.

Update:  Haggard  The last BTW reported on an announcement that Reverend Ted Haggard would be in rehab to cure his homosexuality for five years, which would, it was speculated, probably drift into ten. But before the issue had hit the bookstores, it was announced by the Rev. Tim Ralph that Haggard was already out of rehab and was now “completely heterosexual,” just months after his last encounter with the studly Mike Jones, a callboy with whom he’d been having sexual relations for years. The major GLBT organizations reacted with indignant incredulity, but they didn’t have to. This time Leno and Letterman, et al., took care of things in nightly send-ups, a sport that lasted for weeks. Meanwhile, Haggard himself has dropped conveniently out of sight. Except: he appears in new a documentary made by Alexandra Pelosi (Nancy’s daughter) before the scandal broke last fall, Friends of God, in which Haggard boasts that “evangelicals have the best sex life of any other [sic] group,” and piles it on about the (daily) frequency of evangelical sex. With your wife, of course, silly! We’re just grateful to Haggard for an excuse to juxtapose the words “evangelical” and “sex.”

Of Gay Sheep and Human Eugenics  Dr. Charles Roselli, an animal sex researcher, whipped up a minor firestorm when he announced that he was studying sheep in the lab to find out why eight percent of rams seek sex exclusively with other rams rather than ewes —and all signs were pointing to prenatal factors as a leading cause. Animal rights activists were up-in-arms because it appeared many animals were being needlessly killed for what seemed frivolous research. Gay activists worried that the implications were anything but frivolous, pointing to the possibility, in the words of a London Times article, of “breeding out homosexuality in humans.” This sounded a lot like eugenics and got still more people riled up. The other Times (New York’s) chimed in with a long, thoughtful article designed to calm everyone down. Roselli was allowed to speak at length: he refuted the charge of eugenics and denied that his research had any implications for humans at all.

But soon all hell broke loose again when a nationally prominent pastor, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an article enthusing that one day Christian women will be able to test their fetuses for gayness and act accordingly: “If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin. ” It’s easy to see why many people were alarmed: that phrase “any appropriate means” just kind of rings in the skull. It’s interesting that the words following this incendiary phrase are a religious incantation and a complete non sequitur, as if he had to stop right then and there to avoid saying what was now on everyone’s mind, namely: selective abortion, genetic engineering, any means that’s appropriate. Mohler hopes there will be hormone therapy to set the fetus straight, but even that sort of intervention has always been a fundamentalist no-no; and now he’s got everyone thinking about pre-emptive abortion and eugenics. Above all, the proposal instantly overturns that most sacred of all evangelical dogmas: that homosexuality is something you “choose,” not something innate, which is why it’s a sin. Indeed Mohler concedes this point with unexpected abandon, as if to say: mea culpa, homosexuals are born that way, after all, so it really isn’t a sin to be gay, but we’ll go ahead and destroy homosexual fetuses all the same.