If you’re familiar with the political climate surrounding the LGBT rights battle, you will no doubt have heard those on the Religious Right say that they only condemn homosexuality “out of love” for the person they are discriminating against. It’s a tired old trope, but it does persist. Here are six examples of such “love” that are anything but loving.
1) Proselytizing At Any Given Opportunity – You’re sat having a meal in a nice restaurant holding hands with your same-sex partner when the owner of the restaurant hands you a note that he took it upon himself to write warning you that the love you feel for your partner is soon to doom you and those around you to misery. This is reportedly what happened to Arielle and Shawnee McPhail at the String Ray Cafe in New Bern, N.C., a few weeks ago.
The letter read in part: “God said in the last days that man and wom[a]n would be lover of self, more [than] the lover of God. That man and woman would have unnatural [affection] for one another. [...] So please, look at your life. See how it hurt[s] everyone around you. And ask the Lord to open your eye[s] before it [is] to[o] late. The Love of Christ. P.S. my daughter also was gay. It destroy[ed] her life and my grandson.”
The restaurant owner, Ed McGovern, is quoted by news sources as saying that, yes, he did write the letter but he did so “out of love.”
2) Subjecting Teens to Anti-Gay, Harmful Ex-Gay Therapy – Despite the fact that ex-gay therapy is clinically unsupported and that the American Psychological Association has repeatedly stated that affirmation of being gay is an appropriate remedy for anxiety related to sexual orientation, as well as a wealth of anecdotal evidence to say that ex-gay therapy can be incredibly harmful, those on the Religious Right continue to claim that it is a loving thing to subject suspected gay kids to ex-gay therapy.
Take Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay group the Family Research Council, who in late November 2012 said that ex-gay therapy is, in fact, a “compassionate” and “nonjudgmental” way for gays and lesbians to find the “wholeness that has been eluding them in their current lifestyle,” this from a man who once called gay people “vile” and said that pedophilia is a “homosexual problem.” Can’t you feel the love?
3) Opposing LGBT-Inclusive Anti-Bullying Laws — Given the wealth of evidence that shows that anti-LGBT bullying is a prevalent and persistent problem in America’s schools, and evidence that shows by enumerating at risk groups in legislation you can better tackle this problem because schools are better able to monitor such bullying, Religious Right groups and lawmakers continue to oppose LGBT-inclusive bullying laws and even go so far as to enshrine in legislation a clause that basically allows a right to bully LGBT kids.
Focus on the Family has even created a “Day of Dialogue,” this in response to the LGBT affirming “Day of Silence,” which is essentially being used to encourage kids to speak out against homosexuality, all supposedly out of love and a desire for children to avoid getting “trapped” in “unhealthy relationships” and improper “identity.”
4) Opposing LGBT-Inclusive School Lessons — Despite the fact that history abounds with stories of same-sex loving and gender fluid people, and the fact that in modern society it is likely that children in every school know personally or know of someone who identifies as LGBT, California’s LGBT-inclusive social studies class, passed two years ago, is still being targeted by those on the Religious Right who claim the law indoctrinates kids and takes away parental rights.
Stan Wasbin, father of four and now a darling of religious conservatives, has written a three-page letter to Capistrano Unified School District officials, warning that S.B. 48, the California FAIR Education Act, will make schools into “re-education camps” that will indoctrinate kids into the “homosexual lifestyle.”
“Let’s not further burden our teachers by forcing them to teach LGBT material, a subject that so readily lends itself to propaganda and which can engender sexual confusion,” he adds. The school district has agreed to listen to Wasbin’s concerns. The patronizing idea of sexual confusion, as though gay people have been tricked into their identity by a nefarious agenda, is aggressively hostile and smacks of the “it’s only because we care” smokescreen.
5) Deciding Gay People Aren’t Fully Developed Humans — The Roman Catholic Church has been incredibly vocal of late when it comes to two topics: secularism and gay marriage, while all the while claiming that is opposition to both is because it cares about the future of humanity.
This became a little harder to believe recently when Pope Benedict XVI decided to argue that you cannot be a fully developed human if you aren’t in a heterosexual relationship. Unfortunately, it seems the celibate boys club that is the Vatican doesn’t do irony.
However, what some might have dismissed as a throwaway line in just one speech has, sadly, become a common thread throughout much of the Vatican’s opposition and has even featured in its rallying against the Italian Supreme Court’s pronouncement that gay couples can indeed raise children just as well as their straight counterparts, a self-evident yet landmark ruling.
6) Denying Science That Gender Dysphoria Exists – The Religious Right has all kinds of problems with transgender identity, primarily because it still adheres to the antiquated idea that sexuality and gender are linked in a binary paradigm, something we know is not strictly true. This kind of opposition to trans identity willfully thrives on a denial that gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition that is treatable through gender transition intervention.
This denial of the facts is supposedly to prevent trans people switching genders only to regret the change later and therefore is billed as a loving way to help trans people accept themselves, or so groups like Focus on the Family and the vehemently anti-trans Traditional Values Coalition would have you believe.
Regretting gender transition is something that has happened in a few isolated cases, but the robust and indeed lengthy evaluation period before gender transition can even begin is stringent enough that in the vast majority of cases misdiagnosis is incredibly unlikely. However, this prevailing notion that people with gender dysphoria are by virtue mentally unstable–which is not supported by medical science–continues to be used as a rationale for denying trans people access to much needed medical intervention, and indeed to prevent trans-inclusive employment discrimination protections from being enacted.
I think we can all agree, this kind of “love” we can all do without.
Image credit: Thinkstock.