Friday, May 6, 2011

Wizard Wanted

“I love my mom, but I don’t have the right to marry her.”

That was Timothy M. Dolan who said that, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Hope he was just having a low-IQ day. It would be terrible to think of him going around this dumb seven days a week.

Seriously, folks, does being a doofus go with being a bishop?

What he’s talking about, obviously, is the fact that millions of people want to marry people of the same sex. Dolan, in line with Vatican teaching on the subject, has decided this is analogous to marrying your mother.

Didn’t he go to school? Don’t you have to have some kind of education to be a bishop? Was he behind the door when they talked about analogy, that wonderful tool for understanding, where you clarify concepts by showing how they work like other concepts?

Marrying mom is qualitatively just as obnoxious an analogy as marrying your pet – another thing same-sex marriage opponents have come up with to ridicule the idea.

The reason these analogies are so off the mark is that millions of people find people they would like to share their homes, their finances, their bodies and their fates with who happen to be of the same sex, and there are not millions of people clamoring to be able to marry Fido. Or the lady who carried them for nine months before they began slogging through this vale of tears.

There is an anology, of course. You fall in love with your high school sweetheart and the two of you can’t imagine life without each other – I fall in love with my high school sweetheart and we can’t imagine life without each other, either. The only difference is your love interest is the opposite sex from you, mine is the same sex as me. The way we intend to live out our lives together is otherwise identical. We’ll take care of each other when we are sick. We’ll work at give-and-take so that when we differ the relationship is not threatened. We’ll pay each other’s bills, rub each other’s back and feet, make the decision to pull the plug when the end comes.

My dog might pull the plug, but she wouldn’t do it intentionally. And there may be guys out there who would like to sleep with their mothers, but they don’t form civil rights organizations and raise crowds of hundreds of thousands of supporters from San Francisco to Sydney. If such a thing should ever arise in the future, we’ll have to deal with it. Nobody I know is holding their breath.

The suggestion that marrying a life partner is like marrying your mother doesn’t contribute to the discussion of how soon we can change the laws of the land to reflect a newer deeper understanding of the human condition. It attempts to derail that process through ridicule. It sneers at the possibility that two people could love each other enough to commit to each other for life.

I leave it to you to decide whether Dolan is just stupid, or whether he’s just mean. Or whether stupidity and meanness are working together here. Dolan could, if he wanted to, simply take the Vatican line and say, “It’s wrong. I’m going to use my influence to keep people from doing it.” But instead he gets mean.

There has been a sea change in America in regards to same-sex marriage. Every day that goes by more and more people are recognizing that it’s an idea whose time has come. There will be continued resistance for a time, but it’s here to stay. And everywhere it is already in place, nobody is hurt by it. The number of straight people who demonize gay people correlates with the number of straight people who don’t know gay people very well – if at all.

The need to put gay people down is lifting. Sneering Timothy Dolan is a retrograde figure without much heart. And, I suspect, without much of a brain. Millions of catholics have learned to think for themselves and come to see the hierarchy of the church does not serve them well. They are leaving the church in droves. Only 35% of Catholics go to mass now, compared to 78% back in the 1960s. Only half marry in the church.

Others seem to find the courage to stay in the church and work as best they can to change it. Keep the faith. Toss out the bigotry and the tendency to govern by fear and guilt.

And what does Dolan plan to do about this challenge? Go to Ireland and write a report for Rome on whether priests were being prepared for a “healthy, happy celibacy.” No shit. You can’t make this stuff up.

Sounds like Dolan has been to too many Wizard of Oz sing-alongs. He’s taken on most of the roles for himself. And the whole damn Conference of Bishops has been lying in the poppy field too long.


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