I'm angry and upset. I'm angry and upset by the lies that are being told about my brothers and sisters.

One of the consequences of being a Unitarian Universalist Minister is that I'm isolated from the mainstream in a way you aren't. I don't hear the jokes or put-downs about gays and lesbians that so many of you are exposed to at work everyday.

It's been a long time since anyone has told me that I'm going to hell because I don't hold the same beliefs as they do. Similarly, gays and lesbians aren't condemned in front of me very often. But, I certainly have heard enough condemnation coming from our nation's capitol lately. Particularly the so called defense of marriage act which the President, too eagerly in my opinion, signed.

In addition to the news reports, I hear about condemnation of gays and lesbians second and sometimes even third hand, as when my wife's friend came to her in distress after hearing day after day of negative talk about gays and lesbians. She needed someone to tell her the truth. She needed someone to give her the information she needed to put this whole volatile issue of homosexuality in proper perspective. Barbara was able to help her some and I helped, too, but, it occurred to me, that some of you more than could more likely use some help with this issue, too.

When I talk about homosexuals or gays or lesbians, what image comes to your mind? The militant activists of ACT-UP disrupting speeches Flamboyantly Effeminate men or Men dressed in leather? Women who look big and mean?

If so, it's not surprising as the only images of gays and lesbians that many want us to see are the bizarre and negative ones. They want us to remain ignorant of the vast majority of homosexuals who act like the vast majority of heterosexuals. They are attempting to demonize homosexuality. They are being purposefully deceitful. They are lying to us. They are attempting to frighten us for their own political purposes and financial gain.

You might have seen some of those negative images of gays and lesbians on the evening news or in a movie. But the gays and lesbians portrayed in those images aren't representative of the gays and lesbians I know. The people I know whose sexual orientation is homosexual act a lot like the people I know whose sexual orientation is heterosexual. That is to say, they go to work, buy homes, wash their cars, mow their lawns, visit or call their parents on holidays, and come to church. There is a sexual aspect to their lives, but as with most folks, it's not the main part of who they are. They certainly arenŐt out to molest anyone or seduce anyone.

But yet, many in the church persist in portraying all gays and lesbians as promiscuous, bizarre, and degenerate. Pat Robertson's organization put out a videotape that shows extended scenes of shockingly perverse behavior among homosexuals, then cuts to alleged experts who claim that all homosexuals are promiscuous, and that the vast majority actively practice this or that perversion.

It's true that in our country and in many others there is an absolutely degenerate gay and lesbian subculture in which multiple partners, anonymous sex, and one-night stands are the rule. It's a subculture in which drug abuse, unsafe sex, prostitution, and abusive and degrading relationships are all too common. The members of this subculture are the ones who are on camera the longest in Robertson's portrayal of a Gay Pride Parade. However, it's also true that in our country there is an absolutely degenerate heterosexual subculture in which promiscuity, prostitution, and abusive and degrading relationships are all too common. The larger truth, however, is that most homosexuals and heterosexuals don't live this way. Just as most heterosexuals are responsible and faithful in their sexual relationships so, too, most homosexuals are responsible and faithful in their sexual relationships.

Another lie is that homosexuality is a choice. There have been and still are, many so called "therapies" whose purpose is to "cure" homosexuals. Gays and lesbians have been drugged, hypnotized, lobotomized, had their reproductive organs surgically removed, shocked with electricity, and endured countless hours of group and individual psychotherapy in the pursuit of a cure. Despite all the efforts of modern medicine, however, there doesn't appear to be any way to change someone's sexual orientation. Indeed, it has been many years since homosexuality was even defined as an illness by the medical profession.

It's not that gays and lesbians are incapable of being sexual with partners of the opposite gender. It's that they don't want to. Whether we are heterosexual or homosexual, we can choose whom to be sexual with, but we can't choose whom we want to be sexual with. Think about it. When you have sexy dreams at night, who do you fantasize about? Do you imagine that you can control the content of those fantasies? I certainly don't. {tell story of Exodus}

Another lie is that the Bible tells us that homosexuality is a sin. It's true that in Genesis, Leviticus, and some of the writings of Paul, homosexuality is condemned. But so is eating pork or shellfish and collecting interest on loans. Paul proclaimed that Christians were free of the Jewish purity laws such as the prohibition on eating pork. Why would we stop with pork? As far as PaulŐs condemnation of homosexuals, New Testament scholars, however, tell us he was probably not condemning homosexuality but effeminate male prostitutes and the practice, common in the time of Paul, of cultured and respected older men using young boys for their sexual gratification. It's also important to remember that the Bible and Paul upheld the practice of slavery.

One of the pet peeves Barbara and I have about the way the weather is reported on TV is the way they use the term normal to describe the day's temperature. They frequently say, "the normal temperature for this day isÉ" Normal? Wouldn't average be a much better way to describe the temperature for a given day? The average temperature for this day isÉ.?

Some would have us believe that homosexuality is abnormal, unnatural. Well, in so far as it's a minority sexual orientation and therefore not the statistical norm, you could say it's not normal. But, it's only not normal in the same way the local weathermen and women say the temperature is not normal on any given day.

There has been some interesting biological differences discovered that might help us understand why one person is heterosexual while another is homosexual. But, the truth is, we really don't know. For many years, there was a widespread belief that parents were somehow to blame for the homosexuality of their children. Some of Freud's followers claimed that many homosexual men had domineering mothers and passive, emotionally absent fathers. But perhaps the father was emotionally absent because his son was 'different.' Perhaps Dad wasn't sure quite how to relate to this different son so mom stepped in to compensate. The fact is, no one knows why some of us are homosexual while most of us are heterosexual. But, since there's nothing wrong with being gay, why do we need to blame anyone? Being gay is not a tragedy anymore than being black in a racist society is a tragedy.

{Story of Mel White} quote from Mel White?

This issue of marriage troubles me especially. It troubles me because it seems to me that one of the most important functions of the religious community is to encourage couples to promise one another to be loving, monogamous, and mutually supportive of one another. The religious right condemns gays and lesbians for being promiscuous, yet when gay and lesbian couples want to publicly promise sexual fidelity and faithful love, these same people claim it's a threat to the family! I honestly don't understand how encouraging couples, whatever their sexual orientation, to make such a covenant is a threat to the family. Certainly it seems that all would agree that it's far better for anyone to be sexually monogamous within a loving long term relationship than to be sexually promiscuous without love.

Marriage is not easy. There are many pressures and forces that tempt us to not keep our promises of fidelity and lasting support. The media bombards us constantly with images that are designed to provoke a sexual response. Everywhere I turn it seems there are images of perfect bodies alluringly presented. Images that no one can compete with. Much more often than used to be the case, we struggle to raise our children without the benefits of relatives nearby. It's just difficult to stay together at times. Look at the divorce rate for couples whose union society approves and encourages! Every marriage, no matter how good, has its ups and its downs.

One of the factors that helps marriages last, though, is the public pressure to keep oneŐs promises. Marriage, by virtue of it being a public commitment, makes the couple publicly accountable.

I want all of you are married to imagine that your marriage has always been a secret. Imagine no one knows of your commitment to your spouse. Imagine that no one has any expectation that you would be particularly faithful or committed to your spouse. Now, remember all the times your marriage was frustrating, painful, and difficult. If no one knew you were married, if no one expected you to stand by your promises, indeed, if no one knew that promises had been made, donŐt you think you might have been much more likely to have just quietly left one another and found another partner?

That's how it is, though, for gay and lesbian couples, especially if they need to stay in the closet or keep their relationship a secret.

It's funny how we think less of someone who's been married and divorced five times than of someone who may have never been married, but may have had twice as many short term relationships that failed. Married heterosexuals have the benefit of a community that holds them accountable and helps them stay together. But, equally committed homosexuals, have to stay together without the benefit of a community to help keep them in check by holding them accountable. It's a big difference.

Those of you are married, imagine that your spouse were to die and your spouse' s parents, who never approved of your relationship, wouldn't let you make the arrangements for the funeral? Imagine that your spouse's share of all the property you had accumulated together were then taken by those parents. Imagine that your spouse were ill and you couldnŐt sign for a needed medical procedure. That's how it is for gay and lesbian couples. All the privileges and responsibilities married couples take for granted are denied to gay couples.

There is a lot of hatred in the world. Fear of the stranger, fear of those who are different, fear of disease and corruption. A lot of that fear and hatred has been directed at our brothers and sisters. Harassed, belittled, and condemned at least one hundred homosexuals are murdered each year. Thousands are attacked severely enough to be hospitalized. Houston police, responding to hate-crimes in a gay neighborhood, sent out male officers in civilian clothes as decoys, walking in pairs. They weren't hugging or kissing or even holding hands. They were simply walking together in a gay neighborhood. In the first week, four were attacked, two with baseball bats. A dozen people were arrested for assault.

It's better than it used to be, though. For centuries in Europe homosexuals were routinely put to death. The word "faggot" comes from what used to be a common practice: burning homosexual people alive.

But it's still plenty tough, even life-threatening. Gay and lesbian teenagers are routinely ostracized and frequently beaten by classmates. Suicide among gay teenagers is three times that of heterosexual teenagers. We should also add to the casualty count, the number of homosexual persons who, because they have bought into the negative stereotypes, hate themselves, and are more likely, as a result, to engage in such self-destructive behaviors as abuse of drugs or alcohol or practice unsafe sex.

Unlike my wife's friend, I am not distraught or confused. I am angry. I am angry because too many of us are silent when demeaning jokes are told about gays or lesbians. I am angry because Clinton so willingly signed the Defense of Marriage act. I am angry because Bob Dole refused a campaign donation from a Gay Republican organization. I am angry because too many of us are silent in the face of lies and distortions about the nature of homosexuality. The lives of too many good men and women have been lost-to violence, to suicide, to addiction, and unsafe sex. The lives of too many good men and women have been marred-by half-truths and ridicule, innuendo and hate-filled speech.

It's time for all of us to stand up and be counted. It's time for all of us to correct, cajole, and confront those who would demean and deny our brothers and sisters. It's time to speak up and expose the lies and half-truths for what they are-the cynical, calculated, and deliberate scapegoating of a whole group for the financial and political gain of another.

In Defense of (Gay) Marriage

Craig C. Roshaven Delivered October 6, 1997 at First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church 1959 Sandy Lane; Fort Worth, TX, 76112