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Queer Town

L.A. Archbishop: Gays, Abortions Are Ruining American Democracy

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Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 3:30 PM
click to enlarge Archbishop Gomez fights for his right to religious freedom. - ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Associated Press
  • Archbishop Gomez fights for his right to religious freedom.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, head of the Diocese of Los Angeles (the nation's largest), thinks democracy is dead in this country.

Yeah, well, join the club. But where Gomez parts philosophies with Occupy L.A. is who to blame for all this democratic dysfunction: Instead of banksters, the archbishop points to gays and their supporters as the kink in the system. Also, the pro-choice crowd.

How does he figure?

Gomez argues in a column on FirstThings.com that, as LGBT- and birth control-friendly legislation has pushed its way through various voting bodies in America, the right to religious freedom for all has been sacrificed.

An excerpt from his call to arms:

"There is much evidence to suggest that our society no longer values the public role of religion or recognizes the importance of religious freedom as a basic right. As scholars like Harvard's Mary Ann Glendon and Michael Sandel have observed, our courts and government agencies increasingly treat the right to hold and express religious beliefs as only one of many private lifestyle options. And, they observe, this right is often 'trumped' in the face of challenges from competing rights or interests deemed to be more important."

These "competing rights or interests" being, of course, the right to love whomever you please and not be punished for it. Also, the right to say "no" to motherhood, be that through birth control or -- much more drastically -- abortion.

Gomez is convinced that the federal government recently withheld its regular grant to the U.S. bishops' Migration and Refugee Services agency because they refuse to "provide abortions, contraception and sterilizations for the women we serve." He argues the intervention is downright unconstitutional: "This not only violates the consciences of Catholic business owners, it also undermines the religious autonomy of Church employers."

Listen, man -- y'all can keep on obligatorily overpopulating the Earth, if that's what tickles your fancy. But you can't expect the taxpaying whole to keep funding your bias forever.

Bringing us to the gays.

"More recently, the push to legalize 'same-sex marriages' has posed a new set of challenges to our freedoms. Church adoption and foster-care ministries have already been forced to shut down rather than submit to government demands that they place children with same-sex couples or provide benefits for same-sex employees.

And in an ominous development, the U.S. Justice Department went on record this summer as saying that those who defend the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman are motivated by bias and prejudice.

It's an interesting argument, and one we've personally considered at length. Marriage is a religious institution -- so why should church officials be forced to perform practices they don't believe in?

But until our state is completely separated from our church, and the tradition of two humans forming an official bond finds a new venue across the board, America is technically denying same-sex couples a right enjoyed by the rest of the population. In the end, human rights trump those of a mega-religion to maintain its stronghold on society. As the civility of this country progresses without you, your only option will be to completely cut yourself off from the rest of America, like the Amish or the Mormons.

Gomez' closing argument:

"America's founders understood that our democracy depends on Americans' being moral and virtuous. They knew the best guarantee for this is a civil society in which individuals and religious institutions were free to live, act, and vote according to their values and principles. We need to help our leaders today rediscover the wisdom of America's founding. And we need to help believers once more understand the vital importance of this 'first freedom.' At stake are not just our liberties but also the future character of our democracy. "

Our forefathers? Moral and virtuous? Yeah, they believed in God, but they also believed in slavery. The right to "live, act and vote" according to one's "values and principles" must be secured for all (yes, even those oogie-boogie WeHo flamers) before we start bickering over who gets to do what on government letterhead. Sheesh.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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