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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lessons from Charley Waite

 Like others in my generation, I often think in movie quotes. As I've been reflecting on the President's inaugural address, one particular segment of his speech evoked a line from one of my favorite westerns, Open Range.

  In the scene, free range cattlemen Charley Waite (Kevin Costner), Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall) and Button (Diego Luna) are discussing their ominous conversation with a bully and his thugs from the nearby town, men who made it clear that they don't like "free grazers."

  Reflecting upon the encounter, Charley Waite says: "Most time, a man will tell you his bad intentions if you listen, let yourself hear."

  What segment of the President's speech evoked this quote? Tucked within his speech's soaring vision of liberal democracy's highest ideals was this line:

"Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

  Not surprisingly, this line--along with his alliterative grouping of Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall--is being hailed by gay rights activists as a bellwether moment in their crusade for the full equalization and approval of homosexuality (and other sexual expressions) in our culture.

  But like Charley Waite suggested, for those Americans who view marriage as an institution that is not ours to redefine, one that precedes government edict, reflected in natural law as the union of one man and one woman, there's a bad intention being expressed by our President, if we'll only listen and let ourselves hear.

  The truth is, the law already treats homosexual men and women equally. There's a key distinction here between identity and behavior. To see the intrinsic dignity of every human person (including the unborn, Mr. President) expresses well the American vision of the unalienable rights endowed by our Creator. But does that necessarily mean that all behaviors are equal? Equal in their contribution to the common good, to the family, to civilization?

 To lose that distinction opens Americans like me--and millions more besides--to public shaming and eventually legislative censure for our views that homoerotic behavior and expression are intrinsically and objectively disordered and contrary to the common good.

  When a President gives an inauguration speech, he must choose among many good causes the things he can talk about in a limited span of time. Among those many things, the fact that he chose the inauguration of his second term--his last term in which he'll be free to govern without fear of alienating voters--to equate the so-called same-sex marriage struggle with women's suffrage and the fight for racial equality tells us that he plans to put the full weight of his executive authority behind this task, and that anyone who disagrees should get out of the way.

   With anyone with ears to hear, it's rather chilling.

    If the Supreme Court uses its upcoming session to establish a constitutional right for marriage to be redefined, for men to marry men and women to marry women, then anyone at any level who refuses to recognize this redefinition is liable to the same treatment from our government as those who might practice Jim Crow discrimination after the Civil Rights Act.

    Some of you are thinking, "Damn right. That's how bigots like you should be treated!"  And that's why I'm worried. The President has made his bad intentions clear, and he's got Eric Holder and a growing public army behind him.


1 comment:

  1. Wow. I didn't listen to the speech, I've actually avoided everything to do with the inauguration. This is very telling and I like your explanation. Scary times are ahead for us. Scary times!