A little bit of anger wells up in me every time that I see the Human Right Campaign logo. You know the one; it’s the yellow equal sign on a blue background. If you’ve been on the road at all today, you probably saw it as a bumper sticker on more than one vehicle. For those unaware, the pleasantly named Human Rights Campaign is an organization whose stated purpose is to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Unfortunately, the reality is that they, like most groups flying the equality flag, are attempting to advance the idea that homosex must be accepted as equal to heterosex.
Now, I could not tell you authoritatively whether or not the folks at HRC or their supporters would agree with my assessment, but I am confident that virtually all of them would agree that homosex and heterosex are equivalent, with no moral or ethical differences. But the fact that the little HRC logo is representative of an effort to normalize heterosex is not, per se, what makes me upset.
I disagree with them, of course, but they upset me so because of how fundamentally irrational they are in conflating agent and action, fusing the doer with what he does. Individual persons have no disparity in intrinsic worth or dignity. The black man is, in this most fundamental sense, equal to the white man. The child is equal to the adult. The woman is equal to the man. And even the homosexual is equal to the heterosexual.
Sadly, the Catholic Church is mischaracterized a great deal in regards to the last point — equality of homosexual and heterosexual persons. So, if I may, I would like to get more basic than the “definition of marriage” argument, relevant as it is. I would like to address the failure of many to delineate between actor and action. Simply put, persons are all equal; actions are not all equal.
The Church teaches that sexual acts must not occur between persons of the same gender. (The Church, being rational and loving of science, recognizes gender according to the concrete, biological character of human DNA, and chromosome pairs.) The Church does not pay any mind to the sexual orientation of the persons engaging in sexual acts. Just as it is essentially irrelevant whether one committing murder is black or white, whether a rapist is male or female, or whether a male thief is aroused by other men, when it comes to what you do with your genitals, it is also essentially irrelevant whether you are sexually attracted to members of your gender, the opposite gender, or both.
So, there’s a difference between a gay man requesting that a Catholic baker bake him a cake to celebrate the purchase of his new house and the same gay man requesting a cake to celebrate a civil union, which is indicative of an intention to engage in homosex. Or we might think of it this way: There’s a difference between a woman asking a Jewish baker to create a cake decorated for the celebration of Hitler’s birthday and the same woman asking for a birthday cake for her son. One more: There is a difference between asking Wilco to perform a show in Indiana for the celebration of music history and asking Wilco to play a show, for the same audience, celebrating the passage of a law allowing Wilco (and any other band) to refuse to play shows celebrating actions that Wilco finds reprehensible.
That last example is actually really important, not only because it is representative of what actually happened in the wake of Indiana’s passing of their religious freedom law, but because it is demonstrative of the fact that even those on the other side of this argument desire this freedom. The difference is, as their actions have made undeniably clear, they desire this freedom for themselves only. In other words, the HRC folks, and their ilk, have actively sought to deny freedoms to people based solely upon what those people believe.
In the mind of the HRC, Wilco, et al., if you believe that homosex is evil, you should have your freedoms diminished, while if you believe that homosex is equal to heterosex, then the HRC thinks you should retain your freedom.
It’s as simple as this, the bulk of the pro-LGBT people only want equality for people who conform to what they believe. The strongest argument that Wilco and other objectors could have made for their cause would have been to do what they had previously agreed to do, despite their abhorrence of the people of Indiana and their legislative actions. That would have been intellectual consistency. But if there is one thing the “equality fighters” always lack, it’s intellectual consistency.
A minor addendum:
Consider the classes protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964: race, color, sex, national origin, and religion. Individuals have absolutely no control over four of these. Three of them are determined at conception, one at birth, and the final one is religion. Religion is the only protected class that involves choice and action. One may choose whether to be a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian, at least as an adult. And neither race, nor color, nor sex, nor national origin require any action. Religion, on the other hand, is unique for placing demands on its adherents. The first four are not responsible for the formation of consciences, but religion is. Religion might demand non-violence, or attendance at religious rites, or even public proclamation of personal faith.
Free practice of religion is the first right enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and it is the only protected class in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that involves choice and action. But those documents are not constitutive of reality, they merely recognize the truth that the free exercise of religion is of paramount importance in civilized society.
The opinions expressed by the DPS blog authors and those providing comments are theirs alone; they are not necessarily the expressions or beliefs of either the Dead Philosophers Society or Holy Apostles College & Seminary.