First someone with a sociology PhD refers to a social institution existing “since time immemorial.” Now an economist pronounces on the eternal destination of homosexuals. What kind of expert witness operation are they running over there in Michigan?
The economist is Douglas W. Allen, testifying in a case over the challenge to Michigan’s same-sex marriage (let’s call it homogamy) ban. Allen recently conducted a study claiming to show that children of gay and lesbian parents in Canada are less likely to succeed in school; a study that, in my expert opinion, is worthless.
The plaintiff’s lawyer asked, and Allen answered:
Q: Is it accurate that you believe the consequence of engaging in homosexual acts is a separation from God and eternal damnation? … In other words, they’re going to hell?
A: Without repentance, yes.
This is just a repetition of an exchange during Allen’s deposition for the trial:
Q: What are the consequences of the sin of engaging in homosexual acts according to your religious beliefs?
A: The consequences of those sins would be the same as the consequences of any sin which is just a separation from God.
Q: He who is separated from God is condemned according to your religious beliefs; isn’t that correct?
Q: Okay. And being condemned means what, Professor?
A: Means eternal separation from God.
Q: In other words, going to hell; isn’t that correct? [an objection about leading the witness] You started to nod your head yes. Is the answer correct?
A couple of thoughts on this. First, just thank God at how far we have come from the horror of theocratic society (however far that is). This claim by Allen was the news from the day in court. Not because gays and lesbians are actually going to burn in hell, but because someone said so in polite company. Which makes him a despicable person. If there was even the slightest shred of possibility that gays and lesbians would actually spend eternity suffering in some awful way as a result of the kind of sex they had in life, that would be so much worse than anything else at stake in this trial that the mundane legal proceedings would be pointless. What could matter more?
This brings me to the second point: People who believe this stuff are allowed to raise children? And teach it to them? Allen’s polite euphemism — “separation from God” — is the modern Evangelical way of saying “burn in hell.” Nothing could be worse. So if you are unfortunate enough to be raised by such a person, you have to either know that your father is a crazy, malicious liar (which is traumatic for a child to think about its father), or you have to actually believe this horror story of eternal suffering as a result of “any sin” not repented. Holy sh*t. And on his website Allen brags that he’s been teaching Sunday school for decades.
And we’re arguing about the grade point average of students raised by two men or two women? (Which, again, Allen’s study said nothing of value about).
This reminds me of the kerfuffle over Richard Dawkins’ claim that being indoctrinated into believing in hell was as traumatic — or more traumatic — for some Catholic children as it was to suffer “the temporary embarrassment of mild physical abuse” at the hands of priests. Although being provocative (and it was an off-the-cuff remark, the first time), I don’t believe Dawkins was minimizing sexual abuse when he said that; rather, he was calling out the severe trauma experienced by children who were raised on the literal existence of hell. There is no need to compare one trauma versus another to make either Dawkins or pedophile priests look bad — it’s enough to acknowledge that a lot of children suffer both ways. That’s important, because it means crazy hell-teachers may be harming children even when they’re not raping them (which of course they usually aren’t).
So, sure. Let’s have a whole trial about whether gay and lesbian parents are bad for children. And let’s allow someone like Allen to take the stand as an expert witness. And let’s allow any straight parent (or gay parent, for that matter) to shame their children to bed each night on tales of horror and eternal suffering. But if, after all that, we refuse to let gay and lesbian couples be married parents — that would be disappointing.