Thursday, May 7, 2009

Of Prayers and Prejean

I'm Being Serious Now

Let's just suppose for a moment there is what was once called a "beauty pageant", which is now more politically correctly referred to as a "scholarship pageant", where beautiful young women between the ages of 18 to 25 pose in swimsuits and evening gowns, showcase their talents, and answer questions about how they would "save the world". And suppose during the questioning by the judges a contestant from North Dakota (for example) is asked the question, "What is your opinion of same sex marriage?"

And Miss North Dakota answered, "I'm in favor of it". And then she adds, "You see, I'm a lesbian".

Before you say a gay woman would never be part of a pageant like Miss USA, Miss Universe, or Miss America, do you mean to tell me that in all of the years these pageants have been operating, with the thousands of contestants who have participated at the local, state, national, or international level, that there has NEVER been a gay or bisexual contestant?

If you believe that, well come on over to my place for Sunday dinner- the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus will be here. The Tooth Fairy opted out, she's attending the nuptials of Peter Pan and Wendy.

Now think of the reaction from the usual suspects in this alternate scenario. The outcry from the far right would be the same old song and dance about homosexuality and its "dangers", and call for our fictional Miss North Dakota to be stripped of her crown.

Some gay activists and people on the left might treat our Miss North Dakota as a Rosa Parks of the Gay Rights movement- she dared to speak her mind and out herself to the world, and courageously let the chips fall where they may.

Now, before I go any further, I'll explain my stand on gay marriage. I'm a straight middle aged male who is 100% in favor of legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states. I have gay family member who has been in a committed monogamous relationship for more than twenty years. The family has been accepting- siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles. The sky has not fallen. Hellfire and brimstone hasn't popped up in their patio. Its raining as I type this- I'm pretty sure this will end, and there will not be 40 days and night of Divine Retribution.

If gay marriage is to be made legal, it must be legal in all 50 states, and in US territories. It cannot be left to the states individually. Two hundred years ago some states maintained that white men could own black men, while other states ruled such a situation was illegal. Compromise on a situation of such ethical importance is not possible- that was a direct cause of a civil war. Today, despite the rumblings of extreme right wingers talking secession, the chance of that happening is almost nil. But we are a divided people- gay marriage is a wedge issue. A situation cannot be allowed to exist where marriages from one state are not recognized in another state- that went out with Jim Crow, and must never be allowed again.

One more thing I'd like to add- I am a practicing Roman Catholic, mass each Sunday, plus the holy days. I don't believe the dogma lock, stock, and barrel- I believe that Jesus spoke in parables for a reason; that is, don't take this LITERALLY, these are metaphors meant for you to interpret.

Now, I went through this scenario in order to present the case of Ms. Carrie Prejean, currently the titleholder of Miss California, USA. You just might have heard of her recently. She seems to have set off a firestorm. In case you have been living under a rock for the past month, Ms. Prejean was asked by Miss USA judge PEREZ HILTON whether she believed that gay marriage should be legalized in all 50 states. Here's her answer.
"Well I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. You know what, in my country, in my family, I do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman."

Ms Prejean is a senior at San Diego Christian College. She is a studying to become a special education teacher, and is a volunteer in an organization that helps people with disabilities, and with the Special Olympics. Also, she works in the outreach ministry of her evangelical church, called The Rock Church.

Prejean ended as first runnerup in the Miss USA Pageant. Below, some videos of what followed.

In short, the lines were drawn. One side viewed Carrie Prejean as the most noble young woman to walk this earth since since Joan of Arc, her detractors saw her as a shallow bubble head, at best...and as the second coming of Eva Braun at the worst. Fox News and Limbaugh championed her, chiding the big bad liberals and gay activists for persecuting her. Those on the other side fingered her as an opportunist with an agenda. She became a spokeswoman for the conservative NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE. Recently it was revealed that Ms. Prejean had undergone breast implant surgery....and had once posed for semi-nude pictures. The release of these photos might be cause for Ms. Prejean to lose her crown as Miss California USA since they could constitute a breach of contract she signed regarding if she had ever posed nude or partially nude.

Having gone through this story, I'm troubled by it in several ways. I don't agree with Carrie Prejean's position against gay marriage. But to call her a "dumb bitch" and to belittle her because of her heartfelt beliefs are disturbing to me. To see bloggers and commentators ridicule her because she is a young person with a deep religious faith is as bigoted, foolish, and wrong as the yahoos who bash, taunt, and condemn those who work for gay rights. Disagree with her, by all means, but to personalize it the way some have is, to be blunt, rather disgusting.

And to take it one step further, this trashing of Ms. Prejean gives the right wingers in America more bullets in their arsenal- she's become a martyr created by some geniuses who would be hard pressed to come up with a better circular firing squad.

My shots at the left does not mean I'm siding with the right. The Christian Right have taken this story and run with it to the end zone, and chucked the ball into the fifth row. Yes, Carrie Prejean has more celebrity now that she ever would have had winning the Miss USA Pageant- and she's playing it to the hilt...with a little help from her friends- Pat Robertson, Liberty University, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, CBN, and FOX NEWS, for starters. With her alliance with the NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE Ms. Prejean has probably unwittingly set herself up as the Anita Bryant of the New Millenium.

The bottom line, this whole story has created a menu of opportunists all over the political spectrum. If there are any winners out there, I fail to see them.

In Herman Melville's classic MOBY DICK Captain Ahab pursued the white whale, the beast that took his leg. And in his pursuit he became a fanatic, a worse monster than the one that had crippled him.

A lesson to learned by some, I suppose.

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