15 September 2012


'Attention Peter Jensen: homosexuality doesn't kill, but homophobia can' by Camille Carroll in The Conversation comments
Some people are ignorant. There are no cases, however, of ignorance being listed as the cause of death on someone’s death certificate.  On the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, Archbishop Jensen agreed with disingenuous comments made by the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace that the “lifestyle” of homosexuals kills them at a faster rate than smoking kills people who smoke. The comments were made during a debate on whether or not gay people should be afforded equal citizenship rights to marry. 
Wallace and Jensen never quite articulate what they mean by the phrase “homosexual lifestyle” although apparently they know it when they see it. When the former ACT Education Minister opened an anti-homophobia art display, Wallace characterised it as “promoting” such a lifestyle, simply because Andrew Barr is an openly gay man. By this measure, all gay and lesbian people are promoters of a homosexual lifestyle simply for living. But circular logic is not informed debate. 
 Carroll goes on to note that
Although people are multifaceted, Jensen only defines gay people in relation to their sexuality – refusing to see who they are by focusing on who they sleep with. He does not do this for heterosexuals. Would you ever think it reasonable to equate heterosexuality, with a so-called lifestyle akin to death? Imagine waking up every day and enduring this sort of bigoted drivel simply because you’re straight. It would weigh you down and combined with other forms of homophobia might contribute to reduced life expectancy. 
Despite the ignorance and insensitivity displayed by Jensen and Wallace, being gay won’t kill you. Like ignorance, “gay” has never been listed as a cause of death.
In a comment I've noted that marriage is a key aspect of citizenship and a human right. The imposition of a civil disability on the basis of ethnicity or religious affiliation would be unacceptable. Why then are we denying marriage to people on the basis of same sex affinity.

Marriage is held out by Wallace and Jensen as producing happiness, health, fidelity and other pertsonal/social goods. The rationale for denying those goods to people with a same-sex affinity is unclear. Wallace and Jensen appear to incorrectly construe 'gay' as 'promiscuous'. If marriage does indeed embody fidelity and self-discipline - and the statistics about the behaviour of married straight Australians raise questions about the Jensen vision -  there is no reason to deny gay people from that happy state.

Condemnation of same-sex affinity by people such as Jensen and the current Pope is at odds with the very substantial number of gay clergy. There is no single 'homosexual lifestyle'; the Archbishop's diocese is founded on a 'homosexual lifestyle' of faith and exemplary service by out and closeted gay men and women. Jensen should look within before denying personhood to the people whom he encounters in his office, at convocation, in schools and in churches.

We do not deny the joys, sorrows, rewards and responsibilities of marriage  to people who practice the 'wowser lifestyle', 'methodist lifestyle', 'bigot lifestyle', 'hatespeech lifestyle', 'Anglican bells & smells lifestyle' or 'Anglican weaned on a lemon lifestyle'. We do not deny marriage to those with the divorced lifestyle. There is no reason to deny marriage to gay people