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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Op/Ed writer ashamed of fellow Christians

Pittsburgh resident Angelle Guyette lives out the faith she believes by laying out an impassioned argument against those within her Christian community who hide behind hate, intolerance and fear toward the gay community.

This lady pulls no punches. She trotted out into the cold to attend the Allegheny County Council hearing on the proposed Human Rights Commission on January 15, 2009 (adroit reference to the fact that the PG reporter didn’t talk with Christians wearing the pro-ordinance stickers) and came away with utter disappointment in the hypocrisy of her Christian comrades.

This ordinance would create a county-wide commission to educate and enforce protections based on multiple protected classes, including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

But Angelle picked up a pen and did something with those feelings. She affirmed that the Christian faith requires tolerance of all AND acknowledged the perversions that drove opponents to twist fairness issues into religious oppression.

At this County Council meeting, you could know most of them by the hatred
on their faces. The leaders of the religious opponents were the worst,
displaying physical revulsion at having to stand near people they figured were
gay. They looked like they’d have stoned Mary Magdalene, and her friends,
too.

One minister’s face contorted as he spoke, “Homosexuality is offensive
because it is a sin. People choose to commit this sin. My congregants should not
have to hire gays and condone a sinful lifestyle they find offensive.”

One of his followers spat out, “I should not have to rent to those people.
I don’t want them sinning in my properties.”

This made me recall a minister I had dated who had cheated on me when I
thought we were practicing abstinence. Nice, clean-cut looking fellow. Dirty
rat.

“I don’t want them sinning on my properties”? Wow. Them’s some pretty high standards and one has to wonder if this good Christian has other morality clauses build into his lease (or if he takes action to prevent current tenants from homosexual sinning)?

Some opponents of the anti-discrimination legislation wanted me to know
that they’re caring people, just afraid of the effect homosexuals might have on
their families.

When I was in school, I saw great damage done to a young man ostracized as
a “faggot” by his holier-than-thou Christian brethren, called unmanly by his own
father and left unprotected by his mother against all the abuse. The gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community, on the other hand, showed him
care and compassion.

Has anyone stopped to consider the effect that so much hatred and fear might have on their families? Seriously, do the children of these good Christians see their papas and mamas braving the cold to speak out for legislation/policy on the Top Ten list … killing, stealing, coveting, etc. Or policy issues related to the Beatitudes? Do they turn out en masse to support legislation to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless? Maybe, but never en masse enough to draw the attention of the Post-Gazette.

Angelle has an interesting final point.

Are we not our brothers’ keepers, bound to love and protect everyone?

How do others see you?

Catholic? Protestant? Jew? Muslim? Black? White? Brown? Do you look
“un-American”? What about Republican? Democrat?

Let’s hope they don’t assume you are gay.

Our laws should protect everyone. This is the only way to protect our own
freedoms against those who might one day turn on you, or me, or us.

Actually, there are a few points to tease out from this ending.

First, the assumption of gayness which is pretty ridiculous on the part of being able “to tell” and the part of gay being such a bad thing that even an assumption of association is considered tantamount to deep offense. This is something the ordinance addresses — protecting people who don’t conform to gender normative behavior. I’m talking about a woman who is perceived to be a lesbian because of her hair cut, her clothing style and her mannerisms. She can be fired even if she straight. There’s many a good Christian woman who might fit right into these stereotypes and should perhaps be a little mindful that the girdle of faith doesn’t make her immune to the barbs of her contemporaries.

There’s also a key point about laws protecting everyone. James Madison aka Publius argued against the negative consequences of factions in the Federalist Papers. Religious leaders are trying to set up a false dichotomy of gay rights versus religious rights, counting on the sheer number of Christian identified Americans to carry the day. But that is not what the law intends. The law says that where your personal beliefs intersect the general public, you have to give a little ground to respect the rights of others. Christian wingnuts cannot refuse to rent an apartment to Orthodox Jews no matter how abhorrent they find their faith. It is the exact same thing. If you want to enter the public sphere as a business owner, you clearly leave some of your personal rights at the front door.

No one is forcing Christian people to give up their faith or compromise their values.

Playing the Jesus card is misleading and unfortunate.

Thanks for writing, Angelle, and reminding Pittsburgh’s newspaper reading community that not all Christians use the Jesus card to impose intolerance on society. Thank you also for reminding us in a very powerful way the importance of the public word from our allies, particularly those from communities of faith.

Sue Kerr is a social worker by day, lesbian blogger by night. You can visit her blog, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, at www.pghlesbian.com.

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2 Responses to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Op/Ed writer ashamed of fellow Christians

  1. Angelle Guyette

    August 19, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Thank you, Ms. Kerr for that wonderful post about my article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I’m straight, so I didn’t know about this page – just stumbled over it now, 3 years later while trying to figure out how I’m connected to all these other images that pop up with my name on Google.

    It’s still relevant now, though, and even more so as the full scope of human rights arrives in view of a greater awareness of LGBT2 issues around the world.

    Straight or gay, it doesn’t matter what you are — but the people you care about can be killed for who they are or what they look like they are.

    If you or people you know travel overseas, you’d better hope that you or they look “man enough” or “woman enough” not to raise the eyebrows of those whose job it is to purge their societies of homosexuals.

    Human rights are not about Gay or Straight. Being at a party on a boat can put you in line for execution –52 men in Cairo arrested on that charge.

    I have male friends from Arab countries and 2 of them have boasted that if a man approached them in such a way in their country, they would kill him. In America, it has been difficult, but they have had to learn to restrain themselves. (Poor things.)

    I understand the state rules are based on religious texts, but I simply don’t understand this business of straight men needing to beat up a man because he is gay. If I were a heterosexual man and I lived in a country where I were allowed to have more than one wife, I would be grateful to have a large gay population around — less competition!

    And this leads me to Mr. Guerry. I am quite certain that Muslims consider themselves married to all of their wives, and that the Mormons married to more than one wife consider themselves married as well.

    Look in the dictionary prior to all this ridiculous linguistical posturing, and you will find definitions of polygamy and polygyny defined as “marriage” to either more than one wife or more than one husband.

    Not everybody accepts the Bible as the standard for their faith, that’s why we have a separation between Church and State.

    Never mind the differences between the definition of a marriage vs a civil union and all the ways those definitions are used to prevent same sex couples from the same benefits they paid into, that you simply expect as a straight man.

    Marriage — as a public and spiritual union — is part of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    For every letter of the law there is a loophole. But when people are married in spirit and in truth, that bond is more than a bit of metal on a finger or a signature on a page.

    Just because you and like-minded people feel that same sex love is “sinful” does not mean my God agrees with you. Why should you have the right to keep people of faith from joining before God in Holy ceremonies of their choosing?

    I’ve had enough good Christian fiances to tell you and your faithful to work on keeping your own marriage vows pure before you go imposing that concept on the people who have shown more Christian love and kindness to me than the fornicating ministers and elders of the churches I’ve been part of.

    And all that money that is spent on debating this and lobbying it? I think your tables would be overturned by Jesus Himself if he knew. Certainly, one who preached not to try to convert those with faith but to go after the lost sheep, I see evidence that He would prefer legal battle money and lobby money to go to the poor.

    Oh, but that’s right, I forgot — the most conservative groups don’t want to take care of the poor, either.

    So much for being thy brother’s keeper.

    I’d like to see more love and less arguing. More acceptance and encouragement of commitment and fewer attacks on people for trying to remain faithful.

    I’m just weary of all this hate and I’d like to see a little more along the lines of “Love one another.”

  2. James Guerry

    March 4, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Please, you cannot legislate love or hatred. What bothers some people, Christian and non Christian alike, is that the government, you, and the “protected classess” are trying to change some of the basic laws of this land. Where does this stop? I am of Italian-German descent. Why shouldn’t I get some preferential treatment. Surely, those with the same heritage as me could be classified as a minority, therefore receiving ‘protected class’ status. How about we all just teach our children at home, not at school, and not from the judicial bench, and not from the political sphere, the difference between right and wrong. The Bible preaches tolerance but please tell me where it says we should agree on things and make laws in favor of things that are not necessarily viewed as morally sound by many people in this country. Why does the gay community want to have marraige? Is it not enough to be allowed recognition, and protection, and ability to have the same rights as married heterosexual couple without the marraige tag? Why continue to push and push, to try to change what everyone was taught to believe…that marraige is between a man and a woman. You push too much and what happens you push tolerant people away, to the point where they say ENOUGH!