They hate us for our monogamy (and our ability to accessorize)

Great piece in the Chicago Sun-Times by Neil Steinberg about Chicago’s Catholic Cardinal George lamenting that his bigoted stance on everything gay may ultimately lead people to call him a bigot. (Hey, it’s a step up from “pedophile enabler,” so maybe the Catholic leadership should count its blessings.)

It got me thinking of something I read the other day about the movie, Lincoln. Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune notes that the film’s director, Steven Spielberg, changed the names of bigoted southern Senators who were defending slavery at the time.

A vote against the 13th Amendment was so presumptively ignorant, even during the Civil War era, that Spielberg rewrote the public record for the dramatic roll-call scene in his movie. “If you go through the names that we call out on the vote, you’re not going to find a lot of those names that conform to history,” he said in an interview with CBS last year. “And that was in deference to the families.”

Families that, even many generations after the fact, would be mortified to be associated in any way with the rude prejudices of their ancestors.

It was a peculiar decision on Spielberg’s part given his claims to otherwise painstaking accuracy and given that he did identify certain prominent congressional opponents of the 13th Amendment by name.

I’m surprised he didn’t rename the Nazis, Spazis, in Shindler’s List, in order to spare any ancestors’ feelings.

A few problems.  First off, I’m not a big fan of rewriting history in these historical docu-dramas.  A lot of people are going to watch these movies, and they deserve to get the facts, as best as literarily possible, rather than outright lies.  Second, unless Spielberg made up all the pseudonymous family names out of thin air – Senator Xeiglkleksle of South Carolina, for example – then some family is going to have its name mentioned in the film.  Spielberg would rather have his audiences question whether their innocent neighbor’s family was racist because he chose to associated innocent names, rather than guilty ones, with history’s most virulent racists.

torquemada catholic religious right religion

Call him “Fred.”
(Torquemada via Shutterstock.)

When does the statute of limitations on evil run out?  How many years after the Holocaust are we supposed to change the names of Nazi leaders in order to protect their ancestors?  (And tell a descendant of slaves that the Holocaust was different.  I dare you.)  But putting the Holocaust aside, since it gets people so prickly, should we protect Joe McCarthy’s ancestors by purging the history books?  And why stop there – what about those poor southern Senators who just happened to be some of the biggest bigots in American history – when is it time to change their names in the history books too?

As a gay man, one of the things that keeps me going is knowing that history will judge bigots like the Catholic and Mormon leadership, along with America’s religious right hate groups, as harshly as they judge the southern bigots who continue to defend racism to this day.  It bothers me, more than a little, that we’re supposed to forgive and forget the lessons of history, lest they make someone uncomfortable.

Here’s Steinberg in the Sun-Times taking on Cardinal George:

You worry, in your letters, not about the families you would blithely squelch, but about your own feelings, the risk that devout Catholics will be seen as “the equivalent of bigots” after gay marriage becomes completely accepted — which it certainly will.

Well, yeah, that’s the drawback of being a bigot, no matter how you gild it in theology. But worry not — look at the church’s stance on females. While society long ago let them be doctors and lawyers and, yes, even clergy, the church refuses to follow suit. Yet it lives with the anti-women stigma just fine. It’ll be no different with gays, and the church’s position will be just one more antiquated cruelty the world will tolerate. You’ll hardly notice.

It’s a great piece, do read the entire thing.

And if you feel like reading Cardinal George’s hateful screed against gay marriage, it’s here.  Steinberg already notes in his piece the weirdness of George claiming that marriage comes from nature.  But I especially like the parts of George’s letter where he recommends gays go get therapy to cure them, and this part, which is as weird as it is inscrutable:

Screen Shot 2013-01-05 at 4.30.59 PM

Yeah right.  The world is going to end because we let gay couples settle down and marry.  Funny how just a few years ago people like Cardinal George, and the Mormons, and the religious right, couldn’t stop complaining about our promiscuity – and how it was going to be the downfall of mankind.  Now it’s our desire to find monogamy. Go figure.

And isn’t that the hardest part of spending years wrapping your hate in lies.  After a while your lies become awfully inconsistent, and the only thing you’re left with is hate.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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52 Responses to “They hate us for our monogamy (and our ability to accessorize)”

  1. jimstoic says:

    Isn’t celibacy ignoring “the natural complementary of man and woman in creation”?

  2. karmanot says:

    Just where do sexless, twisted, old celibate men get off claiming knowledge and authority over marriage or any other normal human biological processes? And don’t tell me Mr. God says so.

  3. karmanot says:

    Things real are not necessarily true—-go from there

  4. Skeptical Cicada says:

    If you’d wasted your entire life hiding in the priesthood because you couldn’t deal with your sexuality, you’d be pretty bitter toward young, mentally healthy gay couples who see you for the self-hating freak that you are.

  5. Skeptical Cicada says:

    It must be hard to have fled into the priesthood over one’s homosexual feelings, spent decades in loneliness and self-hatred, and then arrive at an advanced age only to realize that you’ve been a fool and have wasted your entire life. Bitter old screwed-up closet cases.

  6. hefetone says:

    Just keep on using religion as a way to push for gay marriage…meanwhile, straight men are increasingly recognizing that it just does not make sense for them to ever get married…we can give marriage over to gays and lesbians….then they can figure out how to deal with divorce law.

  7. Lisa Johnson says:

    What I don’t understand is why the Catholic Church hierarchy is so concerned about gay rights yet protect the pedophiles in their own midst. This reeks of hypocrisy to me. Before they worry about anyone else’s morals they need to clean up their own house.

  8. rmthunter says:

    Which particular “truth” are you referring to?

  9. rmthunter says:

    It’s already possible — they just remove the nucleus from an egg cell and insert two sperm or two other nuclei. I don’t know how reliable it is at this point, though.

  10. Hue-Man says:

    From December: “MONTREAL – A Montreal deacon is being accused of producing and
    distributing child pornography a day after police say they seized 2,000
    images from his home.”

    And headline from May, 2012: “Roman Catholic bishop convicted of child pornography stripped of clerical duties”

    From wiki: “On August 7, 2009, Lahey announced that the Diocese of Antigonish had reached a $15 million settlement in a class action lawsuit filed by victims of sexual abuse by diocese priests dating to 1950.” In other words, about the same time he was negotiating on behalf of the vatican a settlement of priest abuse of children, he was importing child porn into Canada!

  11. karmanot says:


  12. Butch1 says:

    They will fight us until the very last state votes FOR marriage rights. I kid you not.

  13. karmanot says:

    Right up there with cannibalism I’d say—-eating a body and drinking its blood.

  14. karmanot says:

    Until we get full Federal rights in contract, the ‘marriage’ issue is just a stir pot to keep bigots riled.

  15. karmanot says:


  16. karmanot says:

    “an act of defiance against God.” Truth is an act of defiance against god.

  17. karmanot says:

    It would certainly defray the cost of socks in seminary budgeting.

  18. karmanot says:

    It’s always about the money!

  19. karmanot says:

    All these arguments, which have cost the lives of millions in the tyrannical reign of the church and which have spread untold misery over time are based on the fantasy of a non existent tribal super bad dad. Christianity and all monotheistic nonsense are false equivalencies.

  20. Butch1 says:

    They’ve always been afraid that if we were allowed to marry we would show them up. homophobia IS a perfect word to describe these bigots. They have problems with their own failed marriages; the male soldiers have problems keeping their hands off of the female soldiers in the Armed Services so they have had to blame gays projecting their own problems on to them fearing that “the gays” would be weak and not be able to keep THEIR hands off of those poor little straight soldiers. We all found that it was nonsense. The statistics proved that it was the other way around. It has always been the straight soldiers with that problem. It has always been straight people with the marital problems. Not that we don’t have our own share of problems but at least give us our chance to screw up too. They wouldn’t allow us that chance until now as each state is finding its own way to freedom for gays. Perhaps, it will move faster if the SCOTUS rules in our favor on these two cases in June. We have had good fortune in three states with marriage being passed; lets hope it continues.

  21. karmanot says:

    ‘they’d choke in his throat.’ There was that one time in the seminary and it freaked him out for life because he enjoyed it sooooo much.

  22. billylost says:

    agree – good riddance

  23. BeccaM says:

    It’s quite abby-normal, I agree. And Nicho is right in pointing out the original justification for imposing celibacy on priests — to keep them from passing that property on to descendants through inheritance.

    I do find it amazing that one of their main arguments against marriage equality now is that same-sex couples can’t have a child biologically born of both parents, and this is somehow at the root of why these couples shouldn’t be granted civil rights protections, that it’s ‘unnatural’. Yet their entire clergy abstains from getting married and having children.

    Aside: I wonder if their heads will explode when it becomes possible through genetic science to combine the chromosomes of gay and lesbian couples, so that the resulting child is indeed biologically related to both parents…

  24. jomicur says:

    Not dead, but definitely on life support. A couple years back, Pittsburgh was named the third most religious city in the nation (after Salt Lake City and Buffalo). Last week it was revealed that attendance at Catholic church services here is down 27%, and still dropping. If the church’s numbers are dropping that badly in a religiously-inclined city like this, it’s got to be even worse elsewhere. Good.

  25. jomicur says:

    A catholic priest was recently arrested here in Pittsburgh for possession of child pornography. He had more than FIVE THOUSAND images on his computer of boys as young as 4 being sexually abused. He has admitted guilt. And his defense is (direct quote) “I didn’t know it was illegal.” This is the kind of man the Catholic church trusts to provide moral leadership. He is, need I add, still a priest.

  26. Don Chandler says:

    So celibacy is all about money. But as silas says, they promote celibacy as sacrifice. But, as Chicago’s Catholic Cardinal George conveniently forgets, celibacy is not ‘very’ common in nature…

    Boy, these Catholic Leaders are not Dunderheads are they. I think they are right to fear blowback for their many deceptions. They would rather preserve their relic organization and the mesmerizing trappings of the church than serve the truth and welfare of society through moderate change. Bureaucracies are self-serving but they self-destruct when they hold on to false premise and misconception in the face of greater truths–they got a problem with masturbation too… another phenomenon observable in nature, especially among primates. Yeah, sometimes/often it’s better to learn from to a lowly primate than to accept the misgivings of a lofty prelate.

  27. nicho says:

    Celibacy in the western church was invented when the clergy started accumulating money and property in huge amounts. Rome wanted to make sure all that went to the church and not some pesky children of the clergyman involved.

  28. silas1898 says:

    Isn’t celibacy some sort of “sacrifice” to the invisible sky entity? Thus proving one’s obedience and subservience?

    Of course, only “papal approved” sacrifices count for anything.

    This whole “God told me to tell you… bla, bla, bla” BS is the heart of the problem.

    This child-raping club should have no authority over anything.

  29. sbgypsy says:

    He must get confused, because he just has his imagination to fall back on. He has never experienced real sexual love, or he would not be able to make the arguments he’s making – they’d choke in his throat.

  30. Don Chandler says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out where celibacy fits into nature? I would say it’s abbeyNormal.

  31. olandp says:

    The names have been changed to protect the guilty. WTF? My ancestors were slave owners, they didn’t have hundreds or even dozens, but a few. I don’t say that as a brag, but just a fact. At that time it was considered just and moral, backed up by the Bible. Now it is considered the opposite. We can’t change the past, but we learn from it and move on into the future.

    As far as the religious bigots are concerned, if they don’t like being called bigots, perhaps they should stop doing and saying, at least publicly, bigoted things. Just as if they don’t like being called kid fuckers, they should stop fucking kids. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS NO MORAL AUTHORITY. NONE.

  32. Hue-Man says:

    “MONTREAL—With over 200 former students claiming they were abused by
    priests, the fight against the Congregation of Holy Cross has been
    ongoing for years. Early in the New Year, two priests will be arrested
    and charged.” From last weekend, TWO HUNDRED is not a typo.

    The constant LGBT attacks are a smoke-screen, IMHO. They obviously don’t want to talk about their enabling of child abusers. It’s important to counter their ridiculous attacks with reminders of their moral and criminal failings regarding children, Irish women who die because they can’t get access to an abortion, the millions of Africans killed by the catholic cult’s refusal to promote condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, and the millions of women who have been abused by their husbands because they have been unable to get a divorce.

    Two women who love each other is certainly a lot worse than any of the crimes perpetrated by the catholic leadership!

  33. rmthunter says:

    Great piece by Steinberg — right on the nose.

  34. rmthunter says:

    One tweak, which only points up the arbitrary nature of their position: indeed, being gay is a choice, but being heterosexual is not — that’s the default position. Deviating from that, then, is not only a choice, but an act of defiance against God.

    Of course, that assumes you know absolutely nothing about the basis of human sexual orientation.

  35. Houndentenor says:

    So would they prefer “bigot” or “kidf****er”?

  36. hoary_nodens says:

    The most holy sacrament of the Catholic Church is the rape of children. Imprison the leaders and liquidate the assets.

  37. cole3244 says:

    the catholic hierarchy love their boy loving priests but not so much the gay lifestyle, someday the flock might see the inconsistency in this position, or maybe not.

  38. Naja pallida says:

    That’s one thing that is very annoying about so many movies. They make its historical story the primary selling point of the film, and then cry “artistic license” when inaccuracies or blatant misrepresentations are pointed out. I remember the flailing around Braveheart when it came out, and was so ridiculously wrong in every single aspect.

    In this case, there was absolutely no reason for Spielberg to have changed the names, but he made the personal decision that the American people are still clinging to shame, after nearly 150 years, for the actions of a narrow-minded few, who ended up losing out in the end. It was a poor choice, and we can’t possibly learn from history if we continue to distort it to protect those who continuously choose to be on the wrong side of it.

  39. 2patricius2 says:

    Becca, excellent comments. Right on the mark.

  40. Phil says:

    Neil Steinberg is the only reason I read the Sun-Times (well, sometimes Sneed and Lynn Sweet). And this time, Neil hits the nail squarely on its bigoted, stupid, red mitered head.

    These celibate, unmarried old men are trying to tell the rest of us, catholic and non-catholic alike, that we must adhere to the catholic church’s dogma about marriage, as if they were any kind of experts at it or that anyone but the most devout catholics gave a rat’s ass what they think or what their church’s dogma is on the matter. And they have the audacity to try to codify it into law! Their dogma ends at the threshold of their mostly empty, many soon to be shuttered churches – right where the reality of the rest of the world begins. Idiots.

  41. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    “straight people don’t spend time fighting a desire for gay sex and romance” They don’t? Well damn. I might as well cancel my vacation to Oz. Hugh Jackman won’t be interested.

  42. mirror says:

    Whenever I read these weird “threat to straight marriage” statements I re-experience the revelation that these dudes really don’t understand that straight people don’t spend time fighting a desire for gay sex and romance. These guys are really some screwed up closet cases.

    The Speilberg thing is really quite a shock to me. Were these families in his wealthy circle of golf buddies or something?

  43. Wonderful article! I am appalled to learn that Spielberg changed the names of the racist politicians in the Lincoln movie! Talk about revisionist history! Someone (maybe this author?) should really do a piece outing/naming those racist politicians which Spielberg feels he has the right to protect from the stain of history they so deserve. I’m sure we (quite appropriately) would hear no end to it if someone made a WWII movie changing the names of top Nazis. This is no different. Please do us a favor and name names!

  44. scottrose says:

    The Holocaust is relevant in this discussion not as much because of parallels to the slave trade as because of parallels to the Catholic Church’s complicity in the Holocaust. The Vatican had a power sharing agreement with Mussolini. He gave them independent nation status. They enabled him in every way they could. He made daily lessons in Catholicism mandatory in the Italian public schools. On the one hand, Mussolini claimed that no “real” Italian men were homosexuals. On the other hand, he and the Vatican jointly reinforced all manner of demonization of homosexuals and then very actively went about getting homosexuals and lesbians deported to concentration camps. Many of the victims were deported to concentration camps north of Italy, yet there was one concentration camp in the vicinity of Trieste. The Vatican has never acknowledged its complicity in demonizing WWII-era homosexuals and getting them deported to concentration camps. At the site of the former concentration camp near Trieste is a memorial for the gay victims, but the Vatican has never acknowledged its roles in their murders. After the war, Vatican officials helped known Nazi war criminals to evade justice through the “rat lines” to South America. Many of those Vatican officials received payment from the Nazi war criminals in the form of assets stolen from Holocaust victims. No Pope has ever let outside investigators inventory the Vatican’s holdings so that assets stolen from Jewish, gay and other Holocaust victims can be returned to the survivors or the survivors descendants and/or next of kin. At the link below is the full text of the “Reichskonkordat,” the political treaty between the Vatican and Adolf Hitler. At the time this treaty was signed, the anti-Jewish racial laws were already in force in Nazi Germany:
    Here is an example of what is in the treaty:
    Article 3
    “In order to foster good relations between the Holy See and the German Reich, an apostolic nuncio will reside in the capital of the German Reich and an ambassador of the German Reich at the Holy See.”

  45. billylost says:

    the roman church is dead – and no one cares, except a few old women rasping out some prayers in empty churches – society will be better constituted when the last nail is driven into the coffin and religious institutions are taxed. just as with full civil rights for gay men and women, that time will arrive

  46. BeccaM says:

    Last I checked, humans were the only animals on this planet that have attached religious rituals to the act of pair-bonding, mating, and raising offspring (as well as to non-procreative pair-bonds). We’re also the only ones to have created a parallel civil institution for the licensing and registering of marriages, and further to have decided it’s fine to completely confuse the difference between religious and civil. (Especially when the latter has a governing constitution saying that the civil gov’t isn’t supposed to favor one religion over another. If Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals, etc. get to say “no same-sex marriage”, overriding the Quakers, Unitarians, Episcopals, etc., as well as the rights of atheists and agnostics and everyone to have a completely non-religious civil marriage — well, those first, more conservative religions have just been favored.)

    Centuries ago, a man was imprisoned for the heresy of saying he had concluded, with scientific evidence, that the Earth was not the center of the universe, and that it revolved around the sun. Now, today, they assert that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered is nothing more than a choice — and if you don’t choose heterosexuality (or asexuality) and gender conformity, you are offending their God. Why? Because they say so. An assertion which is contrary to the scientific evidence that both sexual orientation and gender identity are not a choice.

    Anyway, I just remember reading in history books, how these same religious authorities used to argue that because they would not allow interracial couples to marry in their churches, civil recognition should also be denied and outlawed. Because ‘mixing the races’ was also against their angry Sky God’s direct orders.

    So what happened? Did the Sky God change his mind? Or would they simply prefer us to forget that the willful embrace of reality-denying bigotry runs deep in anthropocentric hominid belief systems?

  47. LosGatosCA says:

    I think these folks are quite warm and comfortable with their hate. It’s the friend they don’t have otherwise. The list of what’s wrong with these people isn’t just limited to their personal misguided evil, their distortion of religion and their stupidity rank right up there.

    It’s too bad so many people are misled by such evil ignoramuses but unfortunately many of their followers are attending their churches to get their fair share of the hate.

  48. BeccaM says:

    Yes. Endless mulligans, but only for the bigots, is demanded.

  49. Stev84 says:

    Whatever suits them at the moment

  50. Max_1 says:

    And isn’t that the hardest part of spending years wrapping your hate in lies. After a while your lies become awfully inconsistent, and the only thing you’re left with is hate.

    Just repeating…

  51. Drew2u says:

    The biggest hurdle is to make people aware that the churches themselves can hate however they want and deny their religious ceremony to any couple they want. Like the black couple who were denied a wedding in their racist church – nobody says the church can be racist if it chooses to be – but that shouldn’t be a barrier to getting a marriage certificate by a clerk of courts.

    Whether or not they should be taxed is a different manner (albeit concurrent to the civil marriage).

    As for changing the names? fuck the movie, then; especially if it’s trying to portray and consider its self a historically accurate drama.

  52. Stojef says:

    “Human dignities and human rights are then reduced to the whims of political majorities.” Has the Cardinal forgotten about the political majorities that voted to amend their state constitutions to ban same-sex marriage? Is he saying that this was wrong or is it okay to put human rights and human dignities up to popular votes as long as he wins?

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