Is “Pro-life and Gay” Possible?

Can someone who promotes the LGBT agenda ever truly be considered an ally of the pro-life movement? The question may be of considerable importance for Catholic voters in the upcoming elections. The Republican Party has just adopted what has been called the “most pro-life platform ever.” However, if you watched the RNC Convention, you would have noticed two conspicuous “firsts” for the self-proclaimed “party of life.” For the first time since 1984, a Republican nominee for president said not a word in his acceptance speech about protecting the unborn, but he did mention that he would protect the rights of LGBT citizens. Earlier in the convention, Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, gave a mostly pro-business and foreign policy speech, but he received the loudest applause when he gratuitously proffered: “I am proud to be gay.” He also appeared to trivialize the current debate about who belongs in a men’s or women’s restroom. One could only conclude that for many at the convention, the protection of the unborn and the promotion of the LGBT agenda must be unrelated issues. But I would argue that they are not.

The question seems to come up every year now at the annual March for Life in the nation’s capital. I recall a few years ago, a heated controversy erupted when a group of women calling themselves “Lesbians for Life” was refused permission to march with their banners. I was surprised at the outrage of many pro-life college students who were sympathetic to the group’s participation. At least among the young, the general feeling seemed to be that the group should be welcomed, since the pro-life movement ought to cultivate alliances wherever they can be found. One adjunct instructor at my institution even posted a blistering critique on her Facebook page about the “narrow-mindedness” of pro-life marchers.

There was a time, long ago, when I shared the views of my young students. But personal experiences quickly made me rethink the position. In graduate school, as a recent “revert” to the Catholic Church, I was somewhat active in the pro-life movement at the University of Kansas. Along with a few other like-minded students, we would set up a table in an area with a lot of pedestrian traffic, display a subdued pro-life sign, and hand out informational brochures to anyone who was receptive. The majority of students were polite, if unresponsive. Some would stop to argue with us, but without excessive antagonism. A few were friendly and thanked us for our efforts. Faculty members were invariably dismissive, and either smirked, frowned, or looked away.

But the homosexual students—both men and women—were a different story altogether. (Yes, it was easy to recognize who they were, even when they did not openly broadcast it, which was seldom.) The gays and lesbians were universally hostile, and since the city of Lawrence prides itself on being a sort of “Midwestern San Francisco,” this population was large, loud, and militant. They would accept brochures from us only to throw them in our faces, curse us in vile and explicit language, and sometimes spit on us, or just pelt us with whatever garbage was handy.

At first, I had been quite perplexed by the hostility coming from the homosexual community. Why, I wondered, was the pro-life cause so intensely repugnant to them? After all, they surely did not have to worry about “unplanned pregnancies,” no matter how “unrestrained” their weekends might have been. Why did they care if we encouraged heterosexual students to think about the consequences of their actions? Above all, why such hostility to the protection of the unborn? If their own belief about the inborn nature of homosexuality was true, didn’t abortion also strike at the heart of the gay community?

Of course, with maturity and growth in the Faith, I realized that I had been asking the wrong questions. Homosexuality, completely divorced from the natural ends of human sexuality, is all about self-gratification, using sex for sterile pleasure, emotional release, ephemeral affective bonding. And here we were, tying to convince heterosexual students that it is wrong for them to use their bodies for just such purposes, and that abortion is a violent, egotistical act. But this carries an implicit judgment against homosexuals behaving the same way, even if they do not have to worry about pregnancy. In short, those engaged in unashamed homosexual activity usually harbor a very natural antipathy for the sacredness of unborn life, that reminder of why we have sexuality in the first place. The very last thing most homosexuals care about is the welfare of the next generation, even the next generation of potential “gays.” If you doubt this hostility, take a good look at any pro-abortion rally. The rainbow flags of the LGBT movement almost always flutter there in abundance. This makes the existence of pro-life homosexual groups all the more puzzling.

Almost two years ago, LifeNews.com addressed the issue, conducting interviews with pro-life members of the LGBT community. This resulted in some very thoughtful and beautiful reflections about the need to protect the unborn. I don’t wish to question the sincerity of these particular individuals, nor most of those who are involved in PLAGAL, the national Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians. The editorials and postings on the website and Facebook page of PLAGAL are generally well thought-out and convincingly make the point that life begins at conception.

However, some of the documents on the PLAGAL website seethe with anger, their authors demanding to be taken as normal, ordinary members of the pro-life movement. It is impossible to avoid the impression that some gay and lesbian writers are merely using the pro-life issue to lobby for acceptance of their lifestyle. Some of the material posted is profoundly hostile to virtue and Christianity. For example, one of PLAGAL’s brochures strongly criticizes those who (it is claimed) want the pro-life movement to remain “Christian, homophobic, reactionary, anti-pagan, [and] pro-chastity.” Why wouldn’t any pro-life person be alarmed at a resurgence of paganism? When was abortion ever a problem in pagan cultures? Since the earliest days of the Church, Christians were known for their “extreme” views on the sanctity of the unborn. And can anyone seriously believe that a pro-life ethic can thrive in a promiscuous society? If chastity is not the aspirational norm, but is regarded as a hateful imposition of “reactionaries,” we will never have enough abortion clinics to eliminate the unintended consequences of recreational sex.

Still, I am willing to accept that most of the pro-life homosexuals are sincere when they express their rejection of our abortion culture. Through the grace of God, our favorite sin does not necessarily blind us to the evil of other sins, even our own. However, it certainly doesn’t help. So the question is, just how widespread is a pro-life ethic among homosexuals in general? There is strong reason to believe that such sentiments are not shared by any sizeable part of this population.

It is quite evident that PLAGAL has not had much success in spreading the pro-life message among members of its own community. There has been very little activity on the PLAGAL website since 2002, apart from some brochures being updated a few years ago. The most recent item on their “Media Releases” tab dates from 2006. Their “Speaking Engagements” tab lists nothing. Most of their essays were contributed to the site from 2002 or earlier. Their Facebook page shows very little activity for a national organization, with no posting eliciting more than two or three comments or positive reactions. The page itself has prompted only a little over 2,300 “Likes.” (By comparison, the Facebook page for “LGBTQ Nation”—a group that strongly supports pro-abortion politicians—has well over 1.1 million “Likes.”) No, much more common in the homosexual community is the staunchly pro-abortion position of John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney, gay partners and the plaintiffs in the California case for equal marriage rights decided by the California Supreme Court in 2008.

How much the LGBT agenda will affect Republican politics in the near term remains to be seen. (And I have no advice for my fellow Catholics on how or even whether to vote in November.) The Log Cabin Republicans (who support the entire LGBT program) are obviously ebullient following a party convention that acknowledged their presence as never before. We have no reason to believe that the pro-homosexual lobby will see any stop signs if Donald Trump is elected president. However, Mr. Trump has pledged to appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, and he is the first presidential candidate ever to release a list of such potential nominees prior to the election. Nevertheless, I think the new prominence of homosexuals in what has been until now a socially conservative party is highly problematic. The advancement of the LBGT agenda can only weaken families, erode a Christian ethic, and further break the link between sexuality and procreation, the foundation of all respect for life in the womb.

Timothy J. Williams

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Timothy J. Williams is Professor of French and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He graduated cum laude from the University of Kansas with a doctorate in French and holds Master’s degrees in French and Music Theory. He is the author of Desire and Persecution in Thérèse Desqueyroux and Other Selected Novels of François Mauriac (2007). In 2010, Dr. Williams retired from the Ohio National Guard with the rank of Major.

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