Saturday, February 19, 2005

Deciphering the message of the exgay movement

Now let me get this straight. According to the Gazette, Executive Director of PFOX Regina Griggs, is fine with people who are gay and are "happy living a homosexual lifestyle." No, she's more than fine with that—she actually supports that. Now in fairness to her, she doesn't claim to speak for the entire exgay movement, but apparently, this is how she feels.

Hearing that was interesting to me because from everything I've read about the "exgay" movement (read: recloseted gay movement) I never, ever had the impression that there was any acceptance whatsoever of gay people who are happy and proud being exactly as they are. But that makes sense to me—if you believe that homosexuality is an abomination to God...why would you accept or support people who are gay and have no desire or intention to try to change themselves? Now that wouldn't make sense to me. But, that's what Regina Griggs said. According to her, "All we want is children to know that change is possible."

Much of the rhetoric of exgays is taken from communities of marginalized minorities. They want to end "discrimination" against exgays. They want exgays to have equal access. They deserve "tolerance and equal treatment."

But if that's truly the focus of the exgay movement, and if Ms. Griggs truly does believe in the right to self-determination for gay people who are living in accordance with their true selves, that outlook does not extend to the greater exgay movement.

According to Florida's News-Journalonline, Exodus International, the largest exgay group in the country, is actively working with Florida4marriage to write "a ban on gay marriage into Florida's constitution." So, for Exodus, the focus is not just ministering to those who want to change, or fighting for "tolerance" for exgays, but fighting against the rights of those who are fine with who they are.

In this country, we all have the right to work for political change. Well, except for 501(c)(3)s like Exodus—but I'm not touching that one. But, I'm trying to get clear on exactly what the exgay movement is saying. Are you victims fighting for equality? (Since you refer to PFOX member Estella Salvatierra as a "civil rights" attorney.) Or are you really trying to keep other people from having the equality you yourselves say you want? Which is it? I'm confused.

Whatever. I'm giving myself a headache trying to figure out these forked-tongues.

But back to Exodus, and the reason for their involvement with Florida4marriage's attack on marriage for same-sex couples. Here's what Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International had to say:
"We know homosexual marriage isn't the only threat to marriage today, but rather one of many"

and later...

"However, the imminent threat before us is here, and therefore action is required."

So for Chambers, the big bad boogeyman threatening to destroy marriage forever, is the specter of same-sex couples who want to commit their lives to each other. But that isn't what voters in the last election thought.

The religious right loves to talk about the exit polls that showed that 22 percent of voters said the most important issue was "moral values." But I don't suspect they'll be too forthcoming about what voters really meant by "moral values."
Media pundits declared that the "moral values" meant gay marriage and abortion, and that the Religious Right had won the election.

No doubt those issues played an important role. Yet, if the specific issues in the exit poll are grouped together, "war/peace values" led with 34 percent and "economic values" received 33 percent. A post-election poll conducted by Zogby International confirmed that when a list of specific issues was asked, the results were quite different. When asked which "moral issue most influenced your vote," 42 percent chose war in Iraq, while 13 percent said abortion and 9 percent same-sex marriage. When asked to name the "most urgent moral problem in American culture," 33 percent selected "greed and materialism," 31 percent chose "poverty and economic justice," 16 percent picked abortion, and 12 percent named same-sex marriage. The "greatest threat to marriage" was identified as "infidelity" by 31 percent, "rising financial burdens" by 25 percent, and "same-sex marriage" by 22 percent.

But back to Exodus, and what their real message is.
...Chambers said the proposed amendment is not exclusionary, nor does the coalition hate gays.

"I was a homosexual, I lived among the gay community. I have many friends still there today. I know the pain of being taunted, I know what it's like to listen to those who are ignorant of the complex issues surrounding homosexual development," Chambers said. "I would never lend my name or my organization's name to something that was hateful or homophobic."

Okay, you "know the pain of being taunted", and you're just looking out for those children of God who happen to be that right?
But moments later, another speaker lambasted gays for carrying a "social evil" and attempting to "destroy marriage."

Ahh, these forked-tongues. I'm getting a headache.


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