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Why are they constantly reducing the value of the lgbtq community and our lives to sex acts?
That's the question Alvin McEwan asked in response to Del. Bob Marshall (Republican, of course) who opposed the nomination of  Tracy Thorne-Begland to be a judge because Mr.  Thorne-Begland is gay.  Del. Marshall stated that sodomy is not a civil right, which prompted Alvin's question.
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It's important to point out that since Lawrence sodomy is a civil right - more properly, citizens have a right to be free from government interference in consensual, private sexual behavior.  Conservative thinking however denies such a right exists; does anyone doubt that many conservative lawmakers would gladly support sodomy laws if they could?  Does anyone doubt that conservative lawmakers would attempt to regular private sexual behavior if they thought they could get away with it?  Support for abstinence only education is a perfect example of the lengths conservatives will go to control private sexual conduct - they'll deny people potentially life-saving information in an attempt to keep them from doing what conservatives disapprove of them doing.

Alvin's question has a straight-forward but incomplete answer - they're bigots, plain and simple and really don't believe that the lives of gay people have inherent value or worth.

I have little doubt if Del. Bob Marshall of Virginia or Rep. Andy Gipson of Mississippi were asked they would reply that they aren't bigoted against gay folks.  No, they'd insist that they're simple acting in accord with their faith; that they are in fact very good people.  Gipson defended citing a bible passage calling for gays to be killed by saying:

"To be clear, I want the world to know that I do not, cannot, and will not apologize for the inspired truth of God's Word. It is one thing that will never 'change,'" Gipson wrote. "Anyone who knows me knows I also believe that all people are created in God's image, and that all people are loved by God, so much so that He gave us the truth of His Word which convicts us of the reality and guilt of our sin, and He gave us His Son Jesus who paid the full penalty for all our sins, by His grace through our faith in Him as we repent of our sin. John 3:16. It is this message that I preach every Sunday. I sincerely pray God will reach someone through this message."
If Gipson believes what he says he believes, he thinks gay folk should be put to death but he covers it up by pretending it's really all about obedience to God - he just believes in God's unchanging eternal word as revealed in the Bible.  Maybe he doesn't actually think gay people should be put to death.  Maybe he does.  But his real dishonesty is found in pretending it's all about some form of obedience to the bible.

Alvin commented on the HuffPo article about Gipson:

"Ugh. I hate situations like this because the lawmakers who say these ugly things end up looking "brave." To be clear, the gay community didn't start this fight with him and those who are really concerned should vote him out. And if they can't, then lessen the effect of his political career. But to the point, this man is hardly a hero. Anyone can cite the supposed Word of God in criticism of other people. What really counts is if he uses the Bible to examine his own life instead of throwing stones at others."
For many on the right, the ability to cite the Bible ends the discussion.  It eliminates the need for further thought, discussion, or exploration.  It's a way of taking the issue off the topic because it's an issue with which they are profoundly uncomfortable.  Rooted in prejudice or simple lack of knowledge, these religious conservatives look at gay people with a mixture of bewilderment, dislike and envy.  Religious conservatives approach sexual morality as if it is dangerous and powerful and must be surrounded by taboo and dominated by a personal ethic of self-control and self-denial; sex is dangerous because it is fun and you want to do fun things a lot.  To manage human sexuality, one marries and one's spouse becomes the sole acceptable outlet for one's sexual desires.  The ethic of self-control and self-denial is grounded in the notion that men always want sex with anyone and everyone.  That only through herculean efforts can they control themselves.  Imagining their own sexuality to be a ravening, out of control beast that must be tamed, they see gay people as profoundly lacking in self-control and morally weak for refusing to give in to self-denial.

Religious fundamentalist thinking on sexuality is complicated by something else - denial of the reality of sexual orientation.  More properly, they see being straight as normal and being anything else as an illness which can be cured, which must be cured.  It's easier to believe there are no gay people than to struggle through the process of recognizing that scripture is flawed.  If God is all powerful and has condemned gay people, then He would not create gay people; therefore no one is really gay.  They're just morally weak people who give in to sexual urges the should control and deny.  The idea that the people who wrote the Bible didn't understand sexual orientation cannot be admitted because it would open the way for questioning the whole structure of their faith.  So trapped in a box where they refuse to recognize that gay people are really gay, they assume it's all about the good times of endless, commitment free sex.  Max Blumenthal described it in Republican Gomorrah:

Haggard’s rhetoric was classically anti-gay, but to have described his histrionics as hateful would be off the mark. His resentment of homosexuals was rooted more in envy than in loathing. Jeff Sharlet, a chronicler of the Christian right, noted that Haggard and many other leaders of the evangelical men’s movement viewed what they call the “homosexual lifestyle” not as a dark dungeon of sin but as “an endless succession of orgasms, interrupted only by jocular episodes of male bonhomie.”
FWIW, I don't think Del. Marshall or Rep. Gipson would actually want gay people put to death.  They want gay people to go back into the closet.  The closet is virtuous because it represents self-denial and self-control.  When these conservatives tell gay people that being gay is unnatural, perverted and sick they mean it; the just don't mean it maliciously.  That they're speaking from a place of ignorance about the reality of gay lives is undeniable.  That they could be convinced of that is equally undeniable.

Jerry Newcombe is a regular commenter on the AFA's One News Now (think of it a religious right Pravda).  In a recent post there, he wrote:

I countered that contrary to the ex-gay movement being born in the United States in the 1970s, it was born back in the first century. Paul the Apostle wrote to the Christians in the Greek city of Corinth and spoke against a host of sins, including homosexuality, but then he adds, "And that is what some of you were, but you were washed ...."

In other words, they were changed. Change is possible. Thankfully, there are thousands alive today who have been so changed. I've had the privilege of interviewing several former homosexuals and lesbians.

One of them told me: "As a homosexual, when I laid my head down at night, I had to think about all the shame I felt. I felt, even though I said I was free and was very happy about being gay, there was still a feeling of entrapment. I felt like I had committed myself to something that I really was not sure that I could handle. And because of that, it drew me into a fury of trying to prove myself. And I found that most of my friends were the same way. You had to continuously prove yourself in that lifestyle."

Newcombe approvingly cites this story yet misses the real revelation in it.  Raised to think being gay is wrong, this person he spoke with was riddle with guilt, told that his desire was wrong, that he was unnatural and sinful, this person responded as any of us would - by feeling shame.  The right instills guilt and shame, preaches being is wrong and when they're believed, they take that as proof that gay people are unhealthy, that being gay is wrong.  They then cite the damage they inflict as proof that they're right.  It must they assume really be about sex because no one is really gay and they once talked to someone who, guilted and shamed into believing they were sick and wrong, tells them they "stopped" being gay.  And if one person can "stop" being gay, then they all can.

The answer to Alvin's question is not that religious conservatives reduce the value of gay lives to a sex act, it's that they don't believe there are gay lives, that gay people exist and have real lives and loves and value.  Our relationships aren't real to them - all they can think about is sex and so that's what they think we think about.  Our lives don't have value because they think our lives aren't real.  They think sex is addictive and we're addicts.  They'd rather not know the truth.  So they tell themselves we're not really gay we're just straight people who are sick, our lives are not real and our loves are really nothing but sex.  It's easier to do that than it is to just face facts and maybe recognize that they've missed the point - gay people exist, have real loves and real lives that are every bit as valuable as their own.  At the core, that scares the heck out of them because if they thought that, then they'd have to admit that maybe, just maybe, they were bigoted against gay people.  If they are bigots, then maybe their central self conception as good people isn't accurate.  And that's what they can't face.  So that's why, Alvin McEwan, so many people on the right reduce gay lives to nothing more than a sex act.  

Cross posted atOneUtah.

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Originally posted to glendenb on Mon May 21, 2012 at 05:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by LGBT Kos Community.

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