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Sunday, December 05, 2004

A Compassionate Response

Chris Bull, senior political correspondent at planetout.com, offers this strategy for reminding Christians to be -- ah -- Christian-like. It's good advice for handling those religious people who are evolved enough to civil and mature. But, I bet about half the fundamentalists in this country remain convinced they don't know or associate with anyone who is gay or lesbian (After all, most of their "leaders" go to great lengths to disown gay people from their families, ala Jerry Falwell.). They think it is their God-given right to be hateful and discriminatory.

Creating a parallel universe, which Bull says many fundamentalists have done, can only be a sign of anti-social, ignorant behavior. Waiting for a compassionate response from these types of religious people won't get gay people anywhere, will it? Standing firm, arguing loudly and exposing them as the childish hate mongers they are seems perfectly appropriate for combating them, no?

Bull seems to think that it's always going to be a battle between us and them. But when gay people appeal to other Americans, some who might be religious but are still fair-minded and compassionate, they quickly dissociate themselves from their anti-gay ilk. Who outnumbers who then?


"Misunderestimated" Evangelicals

November 30 -- ...Rather than cut and run, what we really need to do is to stay put and reach out. The Democrats spent most of the campaign trying to outnumber conservative evangelical voters. But at nearly a quarter of the electorate and growing -- the largest single voting bloc -- they simply can't be outvoted.

Instead, LGBTers must undertake a far more ambitious project, one that will be decades in the making. Since its emergence in the 1970s, the Christian right has been, in President Bush's mangled diction, "misunderestimated" both in its political clout and its commitment to the ill-defined notion of "moral values." Only by understanding this huge minority can we peel away a portion of it from the anti-gay activists who claim to speak for the whole.

This task is complicated by the lifestyles of conservative evangelicals. While gays and lesbians have assimilated, evangelicals have created their own parallel universe, based outside major metropolitan areas. These sprawling rural and exurban communities have established private Christian schools, businesses based on "biblical values" and their own media outlets that largely preclude opposing views.

The good news is that this daunting mission is already under way. Those who lead it know the religious right intimately: the gays and lesbians who grew up in fundamentalists communities. All over the country -- especially during this holiday season -- they are having wrenching conversations with family members.

Take my good friend, Paul, who had one such exchange with his sister, a Christian conservative who attends a small fundamentalist congregation in rural Massachusetts. Inspired by outrage over the state's legalization of same-sex marriage, the congregation supports the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Paul, who has been out to his family for nearly 30 years, confronted her: "I said, 'What hurts most is that were the situation reversed, and your rights as a Christian were somehow imperiled, your marriage at risk of discrimination, I would be the first to stand up for you.'"

Paul's sister had no answer to her brother's thoughtful moral challenge, and the two have not spoken since the conversation, which took place shortly before the election. But in the coming years, anti-gay evangelicals will be pressed to come up with a compassionate response. The "Christian" nature of their response will help determine the future of equality.

Read the entire article here --> http://www.planetout.com/news/feature.html?sernum=1004

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