Gina Freeman/the Gauntlet

The Church and homosexuality: questions from another age

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High on the list of unoriginal insults is calling someone or something "gay." It provides a catchphrase for people who really don't know what they mean to say and are too ignorant to realize the hollowness of the insult and the bigotry contained in it.

Only a couple of short weeks before Barack Obama gave his inauguration speech, filled with promises of justice and equality (he even mentioned non-believers), the Vatican was busy denouncing a UN resolution. The motion, put forth by France and backed by 54 nations, including all 27 states of the European Union, called on governments to decriminalize homosexuality.

By banding together with 85 countries and exhibiting a direct correlation with human rights violations, Pope Benedict has again demonstrated why the "I represent the inerrant word of God" card is, well, errant. Collaborators such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, which all still use death to punish homosexuals, couldn't rise above their archaic moral teachings. Of course, Benedict should have known that trying to out-extreme the Islamic clerics would only lead to hurt feelings.

The Vatican responded to the criticism, stating that by condoning the resolution, the door would be opened for nations to begin legally recognizing same-sex unions. The philosophy that homosexual acts are unnatural has risen to the fore again and mendacity can be the only excuse for the Church not admitting that more than 1,500 other species of God have been documented engaging in homosexual acts. We can forgive the writers of the Old Testament this misunderstanding of biology. After all, they also failed to ban natural substances like cocaine. What's more confusing is that Jesus never called homosexuality a sin. Nevertheless, modern day religions shall be taken at their word and criticized accordingly.

Is it too much to hope that this is the last gasp of bigotry before it is swallowed by reason? Unfortunately, it seems it is. The invocation of the Obama inauguration was given by Rick Warren, of Purpose Driven Life fame. He was also driven to visit Syria and describe it to his mega-church back home as a moderate country. He also publicly, and repeatedly, lets every non-born-again Baptist know they're going to hell.

What, then, do the Catholic Church, Islamic clericism and born-again Christians have in common? Namely, the failure to see that the freedom to pursue one's own happiness, insofar as it causes no harm to others, will be the foundation of the 21st century.

The gay movement was one of the triumphs of the 20th century, which will stand alongside women's suffrage and race equality as an important step forward, and one to be proud of. The circle will continue to expand and as more realize the injustices that are still taking place, more ground will be forged. Chiefly among them are animal rights and freedom of, and from, religion.

Misery does indeed acquaint a man (and church) with strange bedfellows. As does dogmatism, fanaticism and narrow-mindedness. It is past time that those with a mind of their own think for themselves and decide what is right.