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    March 20, 2007

    Defend us or defend us not?

    Posted by: Chris

    In my column for gay newspapers this week, I had a chance to look back with a bit of perspective on the controversy over Marine General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, justifying the ban on military service by out gays because "homosexual acts" are "immoral."

    Pacepoll Like most gay people, I sharply criticized the general for injecting his own personal moral view into a public policy debate. And yet, like most gay people, I was also critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama for not injecting their moral views on homosexuality.

    That double-standard — that moral views about homosexuality ought to be heard in politics but only from our friends — probably explains why exactly half of you voted in my online poll that, "Yes, politicians should defend the morality of gay Americans," and the other half voted, "No, the personal view of politicians about the morality of homosexuality ought to be irrelevant."

    I had originally voted "yes," and wrote as much. In my column, I reconsidered that stance:

    Perhaps we all fell too easily into the trap set by Pace's remarks, expecting politicians to defend our morality instead of our equal treatment under the law. If we truly believe in the separation of church and state, and that personal moral views have no place in politics, then we shouldn't demand that gay-friendly politicians pronounce us "moral" any more than we accept it when conservatives like Pace call us immoral.

    We know more than enough about most politicians and even most religious leaders not to put too much stake in their moral approval anyway. Let's not get distracted from the real equality issues at the heart of the movement.

    It's controversies like this one that remind me why "separation of church and state" never really commands the full support of most Americans in practice as much as it does in principle. Because deep down, we want our political leaders to share our moral outlook on the important social issues of the day, even if we say it's only the policy position that ought to be important.



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    1. Scott on Mar 21, 2007 9:53:34 AM:

      The issue I have over the whole debate is this: it's premised on a silly question. Is homosexuality moral or immoral?

      Ask yourself this: Is it moral to be white? How about black?

      Just as we should reel from the staggering absurdity of that question, so too should we see the absurdity of the "is gay moral?" postulation.

      I don't know about you, but I had just as much a choice in being white as I did in being gay. And just as I should be (to borrow a phrase) judged by the content of my character not by the color of my skin, so too should I be judged in regards to other aspects of my makeup, including my sexuality.

      We should reject absurd questions like "is homosexuality moral" for it has no meaning. No matter which side of gay street you walk, their are champs and chumps. It's not about who we're attracted to, it's how we treat them that matters, the promises we keep (or break) and the respect and dignity we afford each other in our relationships that really counts. The plumbing is immaterial.

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