Monday, March 15, 2010

DC and Mississippi: making villains out of victims and victims out of villains

Two big LGBT stories during the last couple of weeks have been the canceling of the prom in a Mississippi high school and the Catholic Church's response to same-sex marriage in Washington, DC.  The two stories aren't just related because of LGBT interest.  In both stories there has been an attempt to make victims out of villains and villains out of victims.

How so?  Let's look at the Mississippi story first.  The school board in Itawamba canceled the senior prom rather than allow a lesbian student to attend with her female date.  What's being reported is that there will be no senior prom because a lesbian couple wants to attend.  In other words, if that couple would just back off, there would be a senior prom and folks would be happy.  The two young women have been set up as the villains here and the school board victims to their "demands."  In fact, the reason why the prom was canceled was because of bigotry and homophobia on the part of the school board.   The student who wants to attend with her girlfriend now has to deal with the hostility of her classmates who hold her responsible for the prom's cancellation.

Now let's look at DC.  The Catholic Church in that district has announced that it will no longer offer health benefits to new employees.  The reason?  Gay marriage.  The church argues that it had no choice.  (In fact, they could have used a law that would have exempted them from providing for same-sex couples, but that's another story.)  The church has created a situation similar to the Mississippi school board.  Everyone will suffer because of gay people.  In fact, it is homophobia and bigotry that has led to the withdrawal of benefits.

In both cases the powers that be have pitted straight folks against gay folks.  They are attempting to perpetuate anti-gay bigotry by creating a misleading paradigm: if only gay people would stop being demanding, straight people wouldn't suffer.  The paradigm, of course, is this: if only these institutions would stop their anti-gay policies and rhetoric, no one would suffer.

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