Democratic front-runner Howard Dean said Wednesday that his decision as governor to sign the bill legalizing civil unions for gays in Vermont was influenced by his Christian views, as he waded deeper into the growing political, religious and cultural debate over homosexuality and the Bible's view of it.
I think this may be the only way to tackle the gay-partnerships issue, by framing it in religious terms, but I see two caveats -- first, I don't know if Dean can convincingly swing it (although if anybody can accomplish the political yoga dragging faith into this will require, it's Dean), and second, he has to do it a hell of a lot better. Viz:
"The overwhelming evidence is that there is very significant, substantial genetic component to it," Dean said in an interview Wednesday. "From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people."
Can you hear me wince? That's not very impressive theological reasoning.
I've always thought that a final, definitive answer on whether nature or nurture makes you gay is one of those truths that society is better off not knowing: if it's genetic, then the bigot brigade can start selling the "homosexuality as genetic defect" theory (and god knows there have been plenty of theological justifications of that sort of thing before), but if it's related to your environment that's the opening for a three-hour spittle-flecked rant on our society of sin.
But that's all beside the point. For all that I'm your typical latte-chugging secularist, I think that if the Democrats are going to stand up to Bush on gay rights, we have to stand up on a platform of applied Christianity. Yes, Christianity specifically. I know millions of Americans practice other religions, but the people we need to reach first are Christians. This is a subject which bears a great moral charge, and must be answered with teaching of equally great moral quality -- the kind of moral quality you need a scriptural heritage for. Secular philosophy could do it, theoretically, but I can't say I'm in any particular hurry to go down to the Cleveland suburbs and give them a reading from Rawls.
Behind the link there's a poll to pigeonhole yourself into neat little sexual orientation boxes, if that's your thing.