Women? Gays of America? Feeling like your rights are under siege by the GOP cultural warriors?
Well then, why don't you reach out to the Democratic National Committee's brand new hire, Faith outreach Director, Rev. Derrick Harkins. Harkins is "absolutely pro-life," and just says, "No, no, no," to civil recognition of same-sex marriage, but don't worry, he's not a "bomb-thrower." He's determined to show how the Democratic Party can toss your civil rights under the bus in a kinder, gentler way than the Bronze age thugs in the GOP.
Sarah Posner has a interview at Religion Dispatches magazine.
Some key excerpts:
Posner: Everyone [at the Faith and Freedom Coalition] is talking about the budget. But they’re also talking about a lot of other things. Some of the biggest applause lines come from discussing same-sex marriage or what they call traditional marriage, defunding Planned Parenthood, getting rid of what they believe is abortion funding in health care reform. Denigrating separation of church and state. All of these things. Do you think that there’s organized pushback from other faith traditions other than the religious right against those things, in addition to the budget?To recap, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Harkins: I wouldn’t characterize it as pushback. I was at a conference last week at the U.S. Conference of [Catholic] Bishops that included representatives from most of the quote traditional faith groups more so leaning in the conservative realm about the issue of same-sex marriage. And the thing that I think was impressive about that meeting was the commitment not to simply throw bombshells, not simply to say things that would garner applause, but to commit to the hard work of figuring out how, in a pluralistic society, do we espouse or we understand to be a sacred institution, and how does that get transposed against the rest of society and culture. That’s not easy. There’s no simple answer to that. I think it is a concern, it is intellectually dishonest to simply say that in 2011, we’re simply going to stand for traditional marriage. What does that mean? What does that mean with regard to same-sex couples who’ve adopted, what does that mean for same-sex couples when it comes to medical information.
Q: I think they’re probably opposed to that too.
Harkins: Right, but the reality is, it is what it is, and that clock’s not going to get turned back. I mean, you don’t unadopt a child who’s been part of a family for however many years. You don’t take away the fact that if somebody’s in the hospital, that they’re partner has a right to—you know. So my point is that is dishonest to throw out simple applause lines and to act as though that’s not a difficult question. And you’re talking to somebody who see it is as – I don’t have a pat answer to that.
Posner: So theologically you think it’s a difficult question.
Harkins: Absolutely, it’s a vexing question, absolutely. I would like to think that there’s some point of – well, not even compromise, but some place of common understanding, but that’s hard. It’s very difficult.
Posner: So you’re not a supporter of same-sex marriage yourself?
Harkins: No, no, no. But again, I’m not a bomb-thrower in terms of saying things that will get a rise out of a crowd because I just don’t think that’s, again, intellectually honest.
The issue of delivering famliy equity to LGBT families is complicated. Doubly so since Rev. Harkins opposes the only simple, fair and equitable solution: treat same-sex families exactly the same under the law as any other family.
Posner: How do you feel about what’s going on in many states, legislation to restrict access to abortion? Do you support that?
Harkins: Well, you know, it’s funny. I would say that in a state-by-state context, I’m going to really sound like I’m tilting to the right, I’m going to be respectful of each of those individual kind of dialogues, however I do think that to broadly restrict access is not helpful if that is what happens alone, if there are not alternatives that also are put in place, if there aren’t things that speak to, again, prevention of pregnancies, if there aren’t things that speak to neo-natal care, if there aren’t things that speak to pre-natal care. All of those things that need to be part of that larger conversation. What I say to somebody, would I advocate for further access to abortions? Well, no, that’s not in my wheelhouse. But I would say if you’re going to have that conversation, you better also have a conversation that speaks to the situations that apply to that would prompt a family, especially a poor family, or a woman to seek out an abortion.
Huh? "would I advocate for further access to abortions?" That wasn't the question, the question is do you oppose further restrictions on abortions? Which you used a lot of words to talk around, when a simple "yes" would reflect the Democratic party platform.
The post is updated to mention "Reverend Derrick Harkins has been a strong supporter of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s National Black Church Initiative (BCI) as a member of its Advisory Board." OK then. Seems like that would have been the go-to talking point.
What is this guy's "Faith Outreach" efforts supposed to do? I guess his job is to convert Fundamentalist Christians from Republicans to Democrats by telling them what they want to hear. Personally, I'd rather see the Democrats engaging communities of Faith on common ground (poverty? social justice?) and take on the challenge of moving the dialogue in circles of Faith in a progressive direction that supports the supposed party goals of women's choice and equality for all.
To be fair, I'm sure in America in 2011, it would have been really hard to find a qualified person who can speak the language of Faith and reconcile that with supporting a woman's choice and full civil equality for all citizens. Such a people are few and far between and clearly kooks.