Thursday, April 8, 2021

Flashback 2013: "'Repent Gay People to God, be Saved"

    Facebook disinterred this chestnut, and it seemed an apt follow-up to Wednesday's column about religion.  Ever wonder why certain issues—like gay marriage—burn brightly for a while, then vanish? Because haters hate whomever they think they can get away with hating then, denied that pleasure by the shifting sands of public opinion, fall back, and defend a new line in the sand. It's almost as if the object of their scorn doesn't matter half so much as the act itself of despising someone. Which seems to be the case.

     'To Mr. Steinberg," writes reader Robert Zuback. "Once again the Sun-Times intervenes when they shouldn't. They should remain neutral on the Gay Marriage issue. But the media like yourselves wants to go against the Catholic Church and its Bishops, who oppose Gay Marriage."
     Sometimes you find a moment of clarity where you least expect it. Such as reading Mr. Zuback's letter, which arrived in an envelope decorated with an American flag sticker and the scrawled slogan, "I prefer believers in Christ, Not sinners like the Gay People."
     "It shows their disrespect for Catholics like myself and my Church," he writes, "disrespect to the Holy Spirit as a whole, too."
     Well, no disrespect intended. Though I suppose you don't have to be gay to offer, by your very existence, what can be seen as implied disrespect. As a Jew, my entire non-baptized, non-confessed, Christ-a-nice-guy-but-no-Lord life can be—and God knows has been—seen as an insult and, believe me, I am grateful the question of my rights has been taken off the table. I can marry. I can hold a job. I can check into fancy hotels, now, which wasn't always true for my parents.
     "Gay marriage is an offense against the Bible, the word of God," writes Mr. Zuback. "This union is sinful."
     As has been stated repeatedly—the argument worn smooth, like a pebble—society happily shrugs off many grave Biblical sins.
     Why gays? Why marriage? Why this sin?
     "Marriage once again is between a man and a woman. Gay people should apologize to Christ and myself, being their neighbor."
     That is surprising. You'd think a guy would warm to the neighbors. Then again, my ancestors' neighbors in Poland, well, not to re-open old wounds but, let's say: not so nice.
     "Gay people have the right to vote, work and pay for their insurance as I do."
     Broad-minded. The right to work goes back, what, 30 years? Depending on the job. A reminder gay marriage is not a battle in a vacuum, but the latest skirmish in a long war.
     "The Gay Rights people are responsible for their acts by involving the Courts System that favor them," Mr. Zuback writes.
     Here we agree. Courts favor them—or will—because justice is on their side. There is no reason gay people shouldn't marry, except for the religious qualm he so eloquently expresses. Back in the day . . . OK, the world up to this moment . . . the church held so much sway over our government that certain key facts—i.e., being gay is an intrinsic quality that doesn't make anyone a less fit spouse or parent—were overlooked. Now they are known and, barring some unimaginable cataclysm in modern society, always will be.
     "It should have been settled by a natural vote, up or down. We the people, that's me."
     And me, don't forget. And the rest of Americans, the majority supporting gay marriage now, increasing as the years roll on. We did have an election in November, and the leaning-toward-gay-marriage-as-soon-as-it's-politically-safe-to-do-so candidate, Barack Obama, won over the ewww-back-into-the-closet-with-you candidate, Mitt Romney.
     "Gay people lack faith and wisdom. One judgment day is for all, even Gays. Hell's eternal pain, or Heaven's paradise. Repent Gay People to God, be Saved."
     And here he signs it, "Believer in Christ, Robert J. Zuback, Catholic."
     Thanks for writing, Mr. Zuback. Though you never did explain how gays marrying would detract from your life, except of course for the agony of knowing it occurs (though, I would think, if you truly believe in that Hell stuff, you wouldn't begrudge them their eyeblink of earthly happiness now, considering the eternity of superheated suffering ahead).
     While the harm to you is assumed, though not demonstrated, your religion—having its hooks into the law as it does—hurts gays in very real, factual, no-need-to-take-it-on-faith ways. In taxes and inheritance, health care and housing, not to mention plain old dignity.
     The gay marriage issue is, I clearly see now—thank you Mr. Zuback—a question of whether we live in a secular society of laws, or whether government is an arm of the church; Mr. Zuback's church, in his view, or the church of whoever happens to hold office. Those who push for the latter always assume it is their church in the driver's seat. If you don't believe that, ask them about Sharia law and watch their faces do a little confused contortion. Even though gays must be kept from marriage for the exact same reason women must wear veils—because God says so or, rather, God tells men to say He says so, or so the men say. But the funny thing about God is, we all have access to Him, in theory. Indeed, I was talking to God just yesterday, and He told me He loves gays—he certainly made enough of them. Though I'm not expecting you to immediately respect my beliefs just because I say so, Mr. Zuback, which is one of the many differences between us.
      —Originally published in the Sun-Times, April 7, 2013


  1. ""Gay marriage is an offense against the Bible, the word of God," writes Mr. Zuback. "This union is sinful."

    Now I'm not gay, but as the British actress Beatrice Campbell, better known to us as Mrs Patrick Campbell, in her very famous quote, said about them in the 1890s:
    "My dear, I don't care what they do, so long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses,"

    And to Mr Zuback, who totally believes in the bible, Do you eat pork & shellfish, because they are also proscribed in that book you so believe in?
    Have you smitten your neighbor to death, because he works on the sabbath?
    And did you see that interview on CBS a couple of weeks ago, where an author who studies priests, said that at least 40% of Catholic priests are gay & possible as high as 60%.
    So those priests in the Catholic church you go to all time, most of them are gay!

  2. There is an interesting Supreme Court ruling, BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA. It received very little news coverage, certainly a lot less than a goofy clerk in a goofy county in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage certificates to gay couples because it went against her religious beliefs. In the ruling Gorsuch wrote for the majority (6-3), in which he extends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to include civil rights for the LGBQT community. Look at Gorsuch's writing in pages 6 to 8, of 172 pages. Then try to make the case Gorsuch was a poor choice for the Supreme Court, if that is still your belief.

    1. Actually Bernie, I never said a word in opposition to Neil Gorsuch's nomination. I'm only responsible for what I wrote, not for what you assume I've written.

    2. Oh but I do read your columns very closely. They contain things like digs at the Federalist Society. "a grinning arch conservative whose name Donald Trump will blindly pluck off the list provided by the Federalist Society." You could have appended with the exception of Neil Gorsuch, but didn't. Gorsuch was at the top of judicial recommendations provided by the Federalist Society to Trump.
      Or "Donald Trump has nominated conservative Colorado judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, with an eye on overturning Roe v. Wade", assuming Gorsuch would deny a woman's right to choose. I know, I know some day either you or I will be proven right. Then if Roe v. Wade is overturned, feel free to mock my naivety.

    3. Nobody asked me, but I don't care if Neil Gorsuch were the reincarnation of John Marshall or Oliver Wendell Holmes; the seat he occupies was stolen, plain and simple. Every decision made by the court, as currently constituted, is tainted. Every time his name is mentioned, IMHO, the blatant con game enacted to place him on the court should be denounced.

    4. Jakash,
      Eeek! There's a nose on the floor, hopefully I can help get it reattached. It has happened before and will happen again. When the President's opposition party has the majority in the Senate, the Senate can block the President's choice. Thus the democratically controlled Senate added a new verb to the American lexicon, bork, past tense borked. Eventually President Reagan compromised and chose Anthony Kennedy, who was approved unanimously. Justice Kennedy is also a big supporter of Gay rights, and has made many, in my opinion, excellent civil liberty votes. His presence has not tainted the Supreme Court. Merrick Garland was a former prosecutor with a tendency to side with the government in his rulings. President Obama could have compromised and selected a better nominee. Now I think we can both agree Brett Kavanaugh was a poor choice. In the above case Brett wrote a wimpy dissent.

    5. Bernie,

      While I usually enjoy jokes in these comments and elsewhere, the point of your opening escapes me. I am grateful that you spared me the trouble of clicking on any links in your reply, however.

      Odd that Democrats declined to vote for the distinguished jurist who complied with the Saturday Night Massacre in 1973. Though 2 Dems did vote for Bork's Supreme Court nomination, while 6 Republicans voted against it. The overriding point being -- he got a hearing, and was voted on. Gonna take a wild guess that Garland having "a tendency to side with the government in his rulings" would be not much of a deal-breaker for the Grand Turtle of Kentucky. Does him saying "'One of my proudest moments was when I looked at Barack Obama in the eye and I said, 'Mr. President, you will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy'" indicate to you a strong inclination toward compromise?

      I'm open to being educated about other examples in your effort to both-sides McConnell's outrageous behavior, but that one's not gonna cut it.

      You're right about us agreeing with regard to Brett Kavanaugh, though! : )

    6. You were cutting off your nose to spite your face, which just means I'm more of a pragmatist. Anthony Kennedy is a much better Justice than Robert Bork would have been. Gorsuch is a far better justice then Garland would have been. And in an ironic twist Garland would have been more to the liking of McConnell than Gorsuch. Which means McConnell has managed to cut of his nose to spite his face, and that doesn't freak me out at all.

    7. Well, Bernie, I guess I should have been able to figure out your joke. I'm certainly familiar with the reference.

      And, I'll grant you that Gorsuch has been more of a wild card for the conservatives than they were probably counting on. But that has nothing to do with my nose or my face. Whether Gorsuch or Garland would have been better is debatable, since Gorsuch gets to do surprising things sometimes, while Garland was cheated of the opportunity, so we don't really know what he'd have done. Nobody denies that Moscow Mitch is shrewd. If Garland would have been even better for him than the guy who was "at the top of judicial recommendations provided by the Federalist Society" you'd think he'd have been happy to take him when he had the chance.

      What's not debatable is that McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat and got away with it. I won't be dissuaded from criticizing that at any opportunity.

  3. There is a simple solution to the gay marriage issue. Take the government out of it completely. Governments should no longer recognize marriages. Nobody should be able to get “married” through the government. Everyone must apply for and receive a civil union certificate from the government. And then if you want to get married, go to your place of worship and get married.

    1. Yes , BUT Would churches have the constitutional or statutory right to deny marriage vows based on a couples sexual orientation?

      After being married 4 times to 3 different women I still don't understand the appeal of the institution.

    2. Pat M,
      Your simple solution is anything but. Marriage is embedded in our laws and customs, at many levels. Most are designed to promote domestic tranquility. Things like Spousal Privilege, which prohibits the government from forcing spouses to testify against each other. As mentioned by Neil: The tax code allowing couples to file jointly, separately, or head of household, and rules regarding the joint ownership of a business or farm. The inheritance laws in the absence of a will can have have undesired consequences for unmarried couples, like assets going to relatives per stirpes against the wishes of the deceased. A sudden illness with an unconscious patient, the Medical Power of Attorney being assigned to the closest blood relative because marriage is not recognized as having legal standing. In my opinion extending these rights to same sex couples is a good thing.

    3. I don't understand the appeal either (why would you want to marry in a church that denies your right to marry and considers your lifestyle sinful?) but yes, churches can deny your right to marry in their church. Then if you don't like it, you get your church to change or you find a new church.

    4. That's the way it is in Britain & much of Western Europe.

    5. Bernie, I agree with everything you say. But all these rights, laws, and customs are actually secured by the government recognizing your marriage. My scenario says the state should get out of that business entirely. All the civil rights, customs, laws etc that married people enjoy should no longer be conferred by "marriage". You will need a civil union certificate to enjoy these privileges. And that civil certificate will be separate and distinct from any marriage you may obtain at a place or worship. So, be gone with the days when the government recognizes your marriage from your place of worship and thereby grants you a marriage license and all the rights we've come to know. In my scenario, you must get a civil union contract which is separate and distinct from the marriage. The cu contract is what secures your rights. Only places of worship should be able to designate any union as "sacred" or "ordained" by god or whatever. The state should grant the rights that follow from your civil union, not your marriage.

  4. "You never did explain how gays marrying would detract from your life."

    "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods or no gods. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." Thomas Jefferson


  5. Wondering why I don't remember this swell column, I realize it was published 2 months before the happy day that EGD arrived on the scene. I either missed it in the paper, or have forgotten. Having had similar arguments with religious folks back in the day, it strikes me that the reason that gay marriage was accepted readily by many when the tide turned during Obama's presidency was that the case really is pretty clear. It primarily required being brought out into the open, rather than being something that people were afraid to talk about. Well, that, and the fact that so many folks have gay family members, relatives and friends that they perhaps weren't really aware of in the past. I would love to hear how Mr. Zuback would respond to Clark St.'s point about gay priests.

  6. I don't understand why people like Zuback are so obsessed with gays. Why do they spend so much time thinking about something they find so abhorrent? Do they expend similar effort thinking about murderers, or thieves, or people like Ken Lay or Bernie Maddoff who destroyed lives and bilked/stole millions from people, companies who pollute our air and water? There are so many behaviors that are worse and so much more dangerous to the general public; why don't they care about that?

    1. Whoa! That didn't come out right.
      Equating gay people with murderers and theives?

      And it's likely people like mr. Zuback are closeted self loathing homosexuals


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