Irreconcilable Differences? Intellectual Stalemate in the Gay Rights Debate

Irreconcilable Differences? Intellectual Stalemate in the Gay Rights Debate

Irreconcilable Differences? Intellectual Stalemate in the Gay Rights Debate

Irreconcilable Differences? Intellectual Stalemate in the Gay Rights Debate

Synopsis

In recent years, pro-gay and anti-gay rights activists have engaged in a struggle to sway an undecided public in their favor through the use of ideologically charged rhetoric. Caramagno contends, however, that the debate is stalemated precisely because each side stereotypes and pathologizes the other's perspective, thereby becoming "perfect enemies" divided on every issue and with such intensity that consensus seems nearly impossible. Providing a panoramic view of both perspectives, this unique book traces the contested issues to fundamental conceptual differences within the field of religious, scientific, and political studies.

Excerpt

What has happened to the “debate” in “the gay rights debate”? Why does each side resort to moral condemnations and demonizing stereotypes instead of extended, useful dialog? The disputants have become “perfect enemies” (Gallagher and Bull 3), divided on every issue with such intensity that consensus—or even detente—seems impossible. The issue of sexual orientation is so interwoven with American notions of self, society, and God that many people can imagine no other resolution than abdication by one side or the other. The debate is important because it intersects with such a large field of related issues: the tensions between religious dogma and secular pluralism, the rival authorities of science and religion, the rights of minorities and majorities, and the diverse meanings and practices of sexual relationships. But it also risks becoming a futile spectacle that hardens opposition further because fundamental conflicts in how the disputants think about spirituality, human behavior, and freedom have so complicated conceptions of sexual diversity that resolving the latter may require comprehensive resolutions of the former.

For many Americans, listening to the debate is “like being deluged with competing theories of advanced physics without first having mastered basic math” (Gallagher and Bull 3). This textbook does not pursue a narrow or partisan thesis but is intended to give students an introductory view of the basic math of pro-gay and anti-gay rights perspectives. It does not pander to the “already converted” or demonize any group; nor is it reductionistic. No single profile for homosexuals exists that can encompass the diverse

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