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The wheat from the chaff

August 15, 2016

This year, some on the American right are making the argument that gays and lesbians and other queer folk should ally with the GOP, because where the GOP merely wants to reverse Obergefell and Lawrence v. Texas and wind the clock back to the 1950s, at least it doesn’t want to hang people for sodomy, as is done in Iran. To give credit where it is due, that argument would have some validity — if Trump were running for president of Iran or some other Islamic state whose regime is more authoritarian than the GOP.

As part of American politics, it is so dumb that it is astounding that it is rolled out, even as part of Trump’s campaign.

Other than positioning the GOP to look good by contrasting it with theocratic regimes abroad, the argument is intended to smear Muslims as the bad guy. “Look what they do to gays.” It ignores the fact that Muslims have a broad range of views on gay rights and gay marriage, and that the spectrum of those views varies by nation. Here in the US, Muslims think homosexuality should be socially accepted at the same rate(38%) as evangelical protestants, and are more likely to approve gay marriage, 42% to 28% respectively. (Stats from this Pew poll.) Mormon views are more conservative. Catholic views are more liberal. Muslims in the west engage in the same kind of discussions about what their religion “really” says about homosexuality as do Christians.

Now, it is true that many Muslims oppose American values on such matters. About 60% of American Muslims, according to the poll above. So do many Christians. Instead of dividing people by religion, the good thing for an American politicians to do is stand up for the political principle involved: secular democracy that secures equal liberty for people regardless of their religious belief, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Muslims and Christians who support that principle live comfortably in a free nation such as ours. Muslims and Christians who much oppose that find America corrupt and ungodly. Trump can’t support that, because he wants the votes of conservative Christians who fall in the latter camp. His running mate is one of those. So the silly argument above suits him to a tee.

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