In case you thought that Obama’s comments in favor of same-sex marriage, Romney’s tepid response and recent polls were signs that American society is surging toward a consensus on basic toleration for gays and lesbians, the official position on homosexuality drafted by the Texas Republican party will give you pause:
Homosexuality ― We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.
The hilariously heavy hand with scare quotes would make even Fredric Jameson blush. But after you’re done wondering why the Texas GOP would doubt the existence of a “homosexual ‘couple’ ” or need defend the term “alternative” from nefarious applications, you might ask several more substantive questions:
1. Is the Texas GOP merely opposed to same-sex marriage, as Romney is, or does it seek to reintroduce a ban on “the practice of homosexuality”? In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that a Texas law banning homosexual sodomy was unconstitutional, reversing its 1986 decision that upheld a similar law. If Texas were to re-criminalize gay sex, the Supreme Court would first have to reverse its 2003 reversal.
2. In the holy trinity described in the second sentence (God, the Founding Fathers, and a majority of the people of Texas), which is the dispositive source of unchanging truths about the moral status of homosexuality? The first seems out of bounds, given the First Amendment prohibition on religious establishments. The second is speculative and of dubious relevance to public policy debates. The third seems to be where the money is — but the platform’s claim happens to be false: 57.6% of Texans support civil unions for gays and lesbians.
3. When has any state ever granted a “special legal entitlement” to people who engage in “homosexual behavior”? Policies legalizing same-sex marriage or allowing same-sex domestic partnerships or civil unions represent a step toward of equality for gays and lesbians, but these cannot be construed as special entitlements for certain types of “behavior.” No one has advocated a sodomy subsidy, to my knowledge.
The Texas GOP may be on the fringes of the Republican Party’s position on homosexuality, but its strain of intolerance doesn’t seem to be going anywhere — warm “Will and Grace” afterglow notwithstanding.
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