Homosexuality, The Culture War, and The Summer of ’03

The summer of 2003 began with public attention focused on Iraq and the war on terror. Very quickly, the attention shifted to a very different battle–America’s ongoing culture war. Again, the issue was homosexuality, and the news was plentiful.

First came the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case Lawrence v. Texas. Rather than simply nullifying the Texas sodomy statute, the Court’s majority established a sweeping new right to homosexual behavior. The homosexual lobby gained more than it had dared hope for, and defenders of an objective sexual morality lost more than they feared. It was only the beginning.

The Massachusetts high court was poised to hand down a ruling on a constitutional “right” to homosexual marriage or equal legal partnerships. The state court delayed its ruling, presumably to bring it into alignment with the unexpectedly radical dimensions of Lawrence v. Texas. Few observers hold out any hope that the Massachusetts court will defend the normative status of heterosexual marriage.

On the media front, the television schedule was seemingly filled with homosexual characters and gay-themed programming, with networks falling over themselves to feature shows like Boy Meets Boy and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Soap operas, game shows, and prime-time programs introduced homosexual characters and story lines. If you didn’t notice, you just weren’t watching.

Then came the election of Canon Gene Robinson as the openly-homosexual bishop of New Hampshire, sending shock waves through the world-wide Anglican communion and the rest of Christendom, such as it is. Biblical authority and the church’s moral teachings were thrown away in one breathtaking act, leaving the future of the Episcopal Church very much in doubt, and the homosexual lobby very much in charge.

All this has not gone without notice. Steve Levin of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette declared the season “a remarkable summer for gays and lesbians on many fronts–social, religious and judicial.” Why? Because “homosexuality has been at the heart of debates about privacy, faith and civil rights as it never has before.” [see article] That’s an understatement.

Writing in The Advocate, the homosexual movement’s version of Newsweek, Matt Foreman of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force declared, “In just a few short weeks, the confluence of legal marriage in Canada, the Lawrence v. Texas decision abolishing sodomy laws, and the expected marriage ruling from the Massachusetts supreme court has dramatically altered the national and intercommunity debate about our lives, our families, and our legal rights.” [see Advocate article]

Gay activists are ready to claim credit for the momentum and gains. Joan M. Garry of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) claims that these advances for the homosexual cause are “the cumulative impact of a community’s advocacy and its increased visibility.” [see Metroweekly interview] Ms. Garry likes to use metaphors and similes about rocks. In her interview with Washington, D.C.’s Metroweekly, she explained that the cluster of gains this summer is “like throwing a boulder in the pond instead of just a pebble.” Later she claimed that “our community’s visibility is a rolling stone that’s gathering moss.” She will have to explain that last point [as I recall, it’s the rolling stone that gathers no moss], but her essential argument stands.

“There’s never been a time of greater promise and greater peril for our community,” warns Matt Foreman. A backlash is likely–even inevitable–concede these homosexual activists. Gilbert Herdt of the National Sexuality Resource Center at San Francisco State University foresees a period of heated controversy in the wake of the summer’s radical advances: “Rarely is the change a linear change,” he said. “There’s a couple of steps forward then a step sideways or backward.” [see Post-Gazette article] Note that Herdt predicts two steps forward for every one step backward or sideways. Time is on their side–at least for now.

Those who resist the homosexual tide must take these candid assessments from leading homosexual activists with great seriousness. These claims go far in explaining why they are winning and we are losing. They tell us about their tireless efforts to pressure the media and the entertainment industry to do their bidding. GLAAD, for example, demands that producers include positive gay characters in programming. Joan Garry brags about their “concerted efforts” in lobbying: “Hello? If you’re not pushing it, it doesn’t happen.”

They are pushing it, and that’s the point. There is no major counter-push on this momentum. Advocates of the natural family and objective sexual morality have no equivalent lobbying force–and little influence on the media and entertainment elite.

The summer of ’03 may soon be remembered as the season when America sent its moral sanity on vacation. Unless something truly remarkable and unexpected slows this momentum, this summer is the shape of the future.