Cynics might say that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
But I for one am willing to take a step toward reconciliation and welcome a positive position taken recently by William Donohue, a New Yorker who heads up the right-wing Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
For the uninitiated, Donohue has for years been an arch foe of gay rights advances here in the city and nationwide, and, basing his opposition in his religion, has gone so far as to say that our culture and city have taken on a pervasive liberal bias.
Safe to say that Donohue’s views and the opinions of this page are typically at sharp odds with each other.
But this week Donohue stepped into an ugly fight brewing in Costa Mesa, California, to stand up for the right of two kindergarten boys, who have gay dads, to continue attending the local Catholic school.
It seems that parents there would like the two youngsters expelled, arguing that “the teachings of the church seem to have been abandoned.”
To their credit, the school authorities are backing the young boys, and so too is Donohue.
Mind you, his support does not come on the terms we might like:
“The innocent should not be punished for the transgressions of the guilty,” he said, before adding that Ezekiel “taught that it was wrong for children to suffer for the sins of their father. Applied in this instance, we can amend that to ‘fathers.’”
Many of you probably think I am accepting crumbs here, but I don’t see it that way.
Donohue has moral objections to homosexuality—he believes that gay lovemaking is a sin.
But he is not taking the fatal, final step forged by the misguided Costa Mesa parents. They have exacerbated a divide already fraught with moral tension by attempting to turn gay people—and now their families, too—into the Other, a critical and too often lethal stage in the dehumanization of one’s opponents. Two gay men living together are not only ineligible to have their relationship protected, their children cannot be educated.
That is the sort of road that eventually leads to ostracism, and worse, violence.
Donohue, instead, made a distinction critical to maintaining the potential for civil resolution of even the most divisive moral and ethical issues.
“There is no fundamental tension between opposing gay marriage as a matter of public policy and accepting the children of gay parents in a Catholic school,” he said.
Our community, of course, wants to educate our children and protect our relationships. We will disagree with Donohue on this issue for a long time to come, I am sure, often in very heated and potentially divisive debate.
But unwelcome as my acknowledgement might be to Donohue, he should given credit where it is due.