If you really want to anger religious conservatives this Christmas, apparently a gay nativity scene is just the thing to do it. Such has been found by couple Andrés Vásquez and Felipe Cárdenas of Colombia who, having created a Joseph and Joseph nativity and jettisoned the Virgin Mary for double daddy time, have caused “outrage” among the country’s religious conservatives.
The country’s Catholic Church has labeled the display, in the northern city of Cartagena, as “sacrilege.”
And thousands of Colombians have taken to social networking sites to slam the pair, with many saying they show “a lack of respect to God and all Christians.”
So why have Andrés Vásquez and Felipe Cárdenas dared stir controversy so? The couple have said they wanted to provoke a debate because they “believe in Columbia” and that tolerance will win out. Was this faith misplaced? It’s hard to tell. Certainly, protestations have been loud and made louder still by news sites like the Daily Mail cribbing comments left on other reports so as to apparently, though not truthfully, show the level of “outrage” the nativity scene has caused.
That this so-called outrage is the height of overreaction barely needs to be said.
The historical inaccuracy of the nativity story is well known, from conflated census mandates to contortions surrounding the date of the child’s birth, to name but a few. Nevertheless the story does mean a lot to many Christians. Even so, this Joseph and Joseph nativity makes no claim to represent the biblical story accurately (and, one could argue, the best you can hope for there is a historically authentic retelling), and to claim offense is to suggest that religious faith is so fragile it cannot withstand to be thought of in any way different from that which the church proscribes. If that is true, it is a very sad thing indeed.
This furrow comes as Columbia considers a same-sex marriage bill that, while cheered by liberals, has attracted staunch and decidedly anti-gay reactions from several legislators.
Colombian lawmaker Marco Fidel Suarez has attacked the proposed bill, claiming it contravenes Article 42 of the constitution which defines marriage is between a man and a woman. He has said that the bill passing its first reading has “disgraced” the nation.
Conservative Senator Roberto Gerlein, has said that he finds gay sex “repulsive” and that it should be condemned–he may have misread the marriage bill, however, as there exists within it no stipulation that he must go and find himself a same-sex partner or a mandate forcing others to do the same. Some in the LGBT community reacted to the senator’s words by holding a kiss-in outside of congress.
A bill to recognize gay marriage has already been defeated six times by the Colombian Congress, and it is unclear if there is enough support to pass the legislation with this attempt, though its initial reading was promising.
The legislation, which must now pass another three readings, would grant same-sex couples the right to access marriage but would not allow them to jointly adopt. In this way Andrés Vásquez and Felipe Cárdenas’ nativity scene of two men standing over a crib looking down at their child takes on a distinctly more poignant significance of a right denied, even if this change in the law is made.