*WARNING: The below commentary contains links to subject matter that may not be appropriate for all viewers. Some of the information contained on “The Gathering of Pastors” website may cause nausea, vomiting and/or increased blood pressure and heart attack or stroke.*
The City Manager of San Antonio, Sheryl Sculley, completed and introduced the new budget for San Antonio with an included provision to allow for financing of Domestic Partnership benefits for city employees in same-sex relationships. While providing healthcare should not be controversial, the right wing attacked. Cult leaders began organizing against the budget initiative under the title “The Gathering of Pastors“. The City Council endured countless hours of hearings, hundreds of emails and telephone calls and listened as lie after lie poured from the mouths of purportedly Christian people.
I had the pleasure of being actively involved in support of this initiative. In spite of my objections to the fact that Domestic Partnership benefits are only needed because same-sex couples are not afforded equal protections under present marriage laws, it was clear to me that no one deserved to be denied access to affordable healthcare. After all, “Why shouldst thou not take even as much pleasure in beholding a counterfeit stone, which thine eye cannot discern from a right stone?” (Thomas More)
With the assistance of an entire community of peoples, we worked tirelessly (o.k. I got pretty damn tired) to counter the arguments against the benefits package.
But The Gathering of cult leaders did not stop. They argued that domestic partnership benefits lowered the bar from marriage and allowed more people to receive benefits, which would prohibit or limit the motivation of an employee to commit to a legally binding relationship (i.e. marriage). They went on to indicate that the unwillingness of an employee to make such a commitment reveals selfishness and a weakness in morality. However, according to the Cult’s website, “Homosexual couples can never be married per definition.” Therefore their argument fails.
A “homosexual” employee of the city who is in a long term relationship is barred by law from entering into the very “legally binding relationship” to which the Gathering refers. To prohibit someone from conforming to an action, then to punish them for not having undertaken that action is the truest form of selfishness. It is for the jail keeper to do these things, not kings (and yes, that is a paraphrase of Thomas More).
On Wednesday night, September 14th, I joined other community members in council chambers for “Citizens to be Heard,” a moment when citizens may address council regarding matters before them. Many spoke in favor of domestic partnership benefits, but without surprise, the cult spoke in opposition. One of the opponents (and some day I will catch her name) was a woman who assaulted members of the Direct Action Network of San Antonio with holy water for unfurling a banner at a hate rally that read “Homophobia and Transphobia Kills.” Another man, who declared himself a minister, stood at the dais and compared domestic partnership benefits to “the morning after” pill and abortion. He then noted that the City has the moral authority to be a “no kill animal” city, but supports murdering babies. All of which were blatantly lies, but most notable his assertion that the City maintains a “no kill” status.
At the end of the meeting, this same man returned to address city council and posed this question in front of all attendees (including children):
What is more dangerous, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, riding an iron horse or riding somebody bareback?
Although the question was improper and likely rhetorical, I still fail to see the relationship between barebacking (having sex without a condom) and domestic partnership benefits. While I assume he was making reference to the risk of HIV infection (as accusations were made repeatedly that nearly all gays have AIDS), he failed to address the fact that the subculture of “barebacking” is not strictly a homosexual phenomena. In fact, the appeal and marketability of pornography depicting barebacking is prevalent in both heterosexual and homosexual pornography. See Chapter 2, “Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Bare Backing.”
One thing that became clear from the Cult commentators – they are obsessed with sex, more particularly, that gays have sex. In fact, I was very much reminded of the anti-gay cult leader in Uganda who constantly refers to gays as eating “da poo poo” of their partners.
These cult leaders often ignore the fact that sexual subcultures do not exist solely within the framework of “homosexuality.” The moral objections are misguided, misdirected and misconstrued – but even so, consensual sexual practices should not be grounds for denying healthcare benefits. If it were, no politician and fewer evangelicals would be safe.
For the record, the city passed the budget with the inclusion of domestic partnership benefits for City employees.