I Am no Michael Smerconish, but …
Today’s headlines on the Pentagon being set to certify that it is ready to end “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell,” remind me of a recent column written by Michael Smerconish at the Philadelphia Enquirer.
At the time I read the Smerconish column, I said to myself, “Wow, I could have written this myself—perhaps even better than Smerconish.”
Now, do not get me wrong, I am no Michael Smerconish—I can’t even spell his last name correctly without referring to his byline. But, first, allow me to briefly review what Smerconish wrote.
Pointing out how a Republican friend, Ben Haney, could have been “a real asset” to Michelle Bachmann’s campaign, Smerconish describes Ben as an upstanding young man, who was raised Catholic and comes from a great, conservative family. “I can personally attest to his character,” Smerconish says.
But, Smerconish continues, Ben is troubled by Bachmann’s signing of the so-called pro-marriage pledge at the request of the “Family Leader,” not only “the part about black kids being better off under slavery than they are today,” but also “the verbiage about sexuality being a choice.”
Smerconish reminds us of Bachmann’s 2004 remarks at the National Education Leadership Conference on the gay lifestyle: “It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It’s anything but gay.”
Then, Smerconish points out that “little issue” about Bachmann’s husband—Marcus—who, after obtaining “his Ph.D. by virtue of a correspondence course,” runs a mental-health clinic alleged to engage in attempts to “pray away the gay,” and also reminds us of Marcus’ 2010 radio interview remarks on parenting homosexual children where he says:
We have to understand: barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined. Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to go down that road. That’s what is called the sinful nature. We have a responsibility as parents and as authority figures not to encourage such thoughts and feelings from moving into the action steps. . .
Smerconish tells us that Ben, a proud Notre Dame alum, “doesn’t appreciate the reference to the devil, nor being compared to barbarians.”
Naturally, Ben would not appreciate such comments. See, Ben is a decent, upstanding young man who happens to be gay.
Now back to my seemingly arrogant comment that I could have written this piece “better” than Smerconish. Of course, there is no way I can begin to approach Smerconish’s superb eloquence, style and authority. But, perhaps I might be able to write about the challenges faced by a young, gay person with some insight and emotion.
Perhaps by “better” I mean with more sadness, pain and indignation.
You see, I have intimately known—for almost 50 years—a young man, upstanding like Ben and who, like Ben, was raised a Catholic and came from—at the time—a conservative family, hopefully a good family. I can also attest to his character.
That young man, like Ben, is gay and happens to be my beloved son.
Perhaps the reader will understand why it saddens, pains me and angers me every time so-called “family values” conservatives such as Michele and Marcus Bachmann insult and demonize my son.
Now that I think of it, I have written about my son, about why I am no longer a conservative and, ironically, about Michelle Bachmann and her own “conversion”—albeit not as well as Mr. Smerconish.
In “Bachmann’s Epiphany and My Own ‘Conversion,’” referring to how Michele Bachmann “shed her youthful Democratic roots and became a Republican,” I write why I “converted.” In part:
Perhaps it was because I came to the conclusion that “compassion,” “tolerance,” and “inclusion” are a way of life with Democrats, not just hollow quadrennial campaign slogans.
There were other reasons for my “flip-flopping.” But the most personal and compelling reason was that so many from my previous party allege that my son is immoral, a biological error, or worse. A person who does not deserve all the rights and privileges other Americans enjoy…
I fully agree with Ben’s observation that such beliefs may win Michelle Bachmann the votes for the Republican nomination, “but they all but guarantee that [she] will not win the moderate voters who continually decide presidential elections. To them and most of the nation, [her] positions are out of touch, insulting, and downright flaky.
No, I am no Michael Smerconish, but when it comes to my son I can surely try to emulate him—and thank him for setting an example to aim at.