Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sarah Palin's Church and GLBT issues

The Associated Press is reporting that Sarah Palin's Church is promoting Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conference that advocates for gays and lesbians to change their sexual orientation. The campaign has not commented on whether Palin supports the conference or the concept behind it.

It's the rare American who agrees 100 percent with everything his or her house of worship says or does. I despised the way people drove a wedge between the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama and I don't think we should automatically assume guilt by association with the Palins. I don't think Joe Biden is answerable for every encyclical that comes from Pope Benedict XVI.

What the press and what activists ought to focus on are policy questions that are within the purview of the federal government--Don't Ask/Don't Tell, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Matthew Shepard Act, etc. No politician and no citizen should have to give a detailed account of his or her faith tradition for the public. So what if she's advancing faith and family in her campaign? It doesn't mean we have to enable that kind of politics by attacking her on those grounds. If you believe that there are no religious tests for office in this country, then act like it and go after her on policy.

Asking Palin how she might break a tie vote in the Senate on hate crimes legislation, for example, is entirely appropriate. There is no need to pit her against her Church or explain her in terms of her Church. The tough questions about the issues must not be lost in the cheap shots. My own guess is that she either won't answer them or won't answer them in a way that affirms the basic rights of GLBT Americans.

A focus on Palin's policy positions would also help avoid the sexist and anti-Pentecostal bigotry that we're already seeing in the blogosphere. If you're trying to attack her politics as bigoted by spewing comments about her Church or through references to her hair or her family, guess what, you're a bigot and a hypocrite.

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