Maggie Gallagher: Sexual orientation is 'more akin to religion' than to race
My pal John Corvino has written a compelling essay for Commonweal magazine titled "Thinking Straight?" which is running with the subtitle, "Where Social Conservatives Go Wrong on Sexuality." Social conservative Maggie Gallagher responds to Corvino's piece by going wrong on sexuality:
Here’s my view: When Christians tell me that homosexuality is “socially constructed” and therefore not a “real” permanent feature of human existence, I generally respond “I know gay people exist the same way that I know that Methodists exist. I’ve met them.”
In other words, not all categories that are real are founded on fixed unchangeable essences. Sexual orientation as a concept is a way of organizing “given reality” (sexual attraction) into a communal identity, the strongest kind. It is therefore not at all like race, and but rather more akin to religion.
I never ever think of myself as a heterosexual, nonetheless my own ideas about my experience of sexuality (“we are born male and female and called to come together in love in this thing called marriage”) are core enough to my identity and my sense of what is required for communal good that I am willing to suffer rather than renounce them, if necessary. They are not positions I hold, they are part of who I am.
FULL: Maggie Gallagher
What a convenient load of hooey!
Maggie doesn't ever think of herself as heterosexual? So what? Who cares? What does that change? If she is, in fact, heterosexual (and I have no reason to
question that she is anything other than that), then she can go around identifying herself with whatever label she wants. Even if she labels her sexuality as "Bermuda in the Springtime," it doesn't change her truth.
And Maggie even seems to realize that her sexuality is "part of who I am"—she just insists on complicating things. And why? Well, secause she needs to disorder the information stream in order to justify her Catholic-motivated biases against same-sex love. The conservative Catholic view is that yes, same-sex attraction exists, but that gay people are not really a thing. Conservative Catholics refuse to accept the scientific consensus on sexual orientation, instead demanding that we are all essentially ordered toward heterosexual love and that anything that skews off that one and only "true" path is meant to be altered or, more likely, suppressed. That is essentially what Maggie is saying here, just in her typically overwrought way.
And great, it's fine for her to believe whatever she wants about what it means to be gay, so far as it goes. But just because her chosen religion has set her mind in this way, she cannot insist that we all buy into it. I don't personally believe that sexual orientation is exactly like race, just like sex is not like left-handedness is not like ethnicity is not like eye color. Each characteristic is unique with its own structure and gradation and nuance. But I do know, for a fact, that sexual orientation is not "more akin to religion" than it is to other biological realities that make up a person. Religion is 100% chosen—always, every time, in every instance, with every person. No matter how strongly convicted one may be or how deep his or her familial roots might be entwined with a particular denomination, every single man and woman on this planet makes a deliberate choice about whether or not he or she will adhere his or her life to the tenets of a particular faith. And it's a day-by-day choice, at that. At any point, people can (and do) decide to reconsider the words of their holy books; even in cultures were there might be physical limitations (if not threats) for relinquishing a particular faith view, mentally stepping away from a religion requires little more than saying, "okay, done with that."
To suggest that a person's sexual orientation is even closely related to a person's chosen religion is downright ludicrous. To be honest, it's really not worthy of serious intellectual discussion.
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