Friday, January 04, 2008

Catholic Cardinal has me seeing red

(Note: One of my goals for the blog this year is to do more to highlight queer news, and not just my own life and insights. This week has certainly given me something to start with!)
The top Catholic in England released a statement about the equality laws in England. One gem:

“Most parents do not want their children to be taught that marriage is no more than one lifestyle choice among many,” he said. “They do not want to expose their children to the risk of becoming promiscuous or indulging in drug and alcohol abuse.”
Because married people are never promiscuous or use drugs or alcohol?! I still cannot believe that in today's world people cannot move beyond the archaic stereotypes that all queer people sleep around and are pill-popping boozers. Sure, some of us will fall into those groups, but that's because of the people they are, not the fact that they aren't married or heterosexual. Marriage is not a magic bullet to cure all of society's ills. Get it through your heads, and get over it.

“It has taken us a long time to realize that if we cut down trees, use cars with highly leaded fuels and build factories with toxic emissions, we were gradually destroying the ecosystem within which we live and breathe,” he said. “Yet it is equally true that we are rapidly moving the very structures on which society is built and on which humanity depends; we are gradually destroying the ‘ecosystem’ that supports the family,” he added.
Wow. I suppose I should be happy that such an obviously conservative person admitted publicly that we've been hurting the environment. Since he's not actually a politician, I'm not. I'm also aghast that someone could compare being unmarried to being a planet-detroying carcinogen. I grew up in a married household until I was in 1st grade. My parents fought constantly, my father was controlling and abusive, and actually informed my sister and I that th divorce was our fault. Is this the "ecosystem" in which we want children to be raised?

After the divorce, my mother raised us in an essentially single-parent fashion. While not cannonically Catholic (and why should it be, since I was raised Lutheran?), my "ecosystem" taught me to be self-reliant and pro-active. It raised me to be moral, benevolent, kind, and generous. I was a straight A student, graduated #2 in my class, and finished my college coursework with a 3.592 GPA. I didn't get into fights in school, didn't do drugs or drink (until I was off to college), and was a pretty good kid, generally speaking.

Today we have blended families, divorced families, and single parents. We have test tube babies, adoption, foster parenting, and grandparent-headed-households. What harm does it do to mention this to kids? Why is it necessarily bad to ensure our schools are mentioning ALL types of families? Why can't we be honest about the way things are changing.

It doesn't harm the few remaining nuclear families that haven't (yet) gone into meltdown. It doesn't scar kids. It doesn't make them gay. It doesn't make them evil or deviant. Just ask the American Association of Social Workers, the American Pediatric Association, the AMA, either APA, and a whole host of other qualified, predominantly heterosexual professional associations or organizations. They might just know a thing or two.

The family unit does not look the same today as it did 200 years ago. You're not as likely to see grandparents or extended family members living with the family unit. This doesn't mean the family is being killed off like an endangered species in the path of a mini-mall development. It means that times change, and we're adapting to things as we go. 200 years ago, you also didn't see "press releases" from "the Church." Does that mean that it should revert back to the old ways, failing to move into today for the sake of a supposed golden yesteryear gone by?

Some parents don't want their children being taught that people with a different skin color are equal either, but it doesn't make it right. And thank goodness that somewhere along the line, someone started teaching kids that you shouldn't persecute Christians or throw them to the lions. Too bad this one doesn't want to return the favor.

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