of Craig Howell, Citizen,
"Preachers In Glass Churches Shouldnt
in support of the D.C. Criminal Code Right to Privacy Amendment
Act of 1993
January 29, 1993
Members of the Council and fellow citizens:
My name is Craig Howell. I am a native Washingtonian, currently living in the Dupont
Circle area. I have lived in the Washington area virtually all my life. I have been a gay
activist in the District for the past 20 years. Today, I am speaking for myself.
Sodomy laws are a barbarous relic of an ancient and unholy alliance between church and
state. They were originally imposed, and have been defended down to this day, on sectarian
and dogmatic grounds unrelated to any legitimate secular purpose. To adapt a phrase often
heard in connection with the Casper Weinberger case, this law rests upon the
criminalization of religious differences.
It is no accident of sloppy drafting that the Districts sodomy law, like most others that still blight our land, outlaws
private consensual sexual acts not only for homosexuals but also for unmarried
heterosexuals and even for married couples. Sodomy laws were deliberately designed that
way because they were based on a specific religious dogma that had to be enforced by the
state against everyone: namely, the dogma that all sexual acts must be procreative.
This belief is every bit as narrow, religious, and
sectarian as a belief in a triune god or a belief in the infallibility of the pope.
Indeed, for centuries the church used the state to impose every syllable of its every
creed on every citizen. But while the use of coercive power to stifle dissent on issues of
religious faith has gone out of fashion in this country (at least temporarily), the use of
government to impose sectarian viewpoints on issues of religious morality is still too
much with us.
Today and on future occasions, many priests and ministers will rant and rail against
repeal of the Districts obnoxious sodomy law. To them I say: Preachers in glass churches
shouldnt cast stones. You want to talk about your "traditional values?" Well, then, let's just look back into
history and see what your "values" have "traditionally" been.
I would remind the Catholic hierarchy and their servants, who now so glibly compare
themselves to the Abolitionists of the 19th Century, that their church was a bulwark of
opposition to abolition and emancipation right through the entire Civil War. American
slaves were not freed by the theologians of Rome but by the soldiers of Antietam,
Gettysburg, and Vicksburg. So, to the Catholic Church's apologists I say: If you could be
so wrong about slavery for 1865 years, how can you be so smug about your judgment upon
lesbians and gay men? I would remind the clergy associated with the Southern Baptists that
your branch split from northern Baptists over this same issue of slavery, which your
spiritual founding fathers praised as a gift from god. To them I say: should you not call
yourselves the Slavery Baptist Church?
I would remind these and other Protestants of the shameful
record of segregation that dominated in some congregations up until the very recent past;
I would remind them that no lynch mob in the South would be complete without the prayerful
participation from the local minister; I would remind them about the ministers who led the
fight to uphold segregation in public schools and public accommodations.
I would remind Catholics and Protestants alike that Christian anti-Semitism was
tolerated if not actively promoted until the horrors of the Holocaust exploded onto the
conscience of the world.
Racism. Anti-Semitism. Sexism. Censorship. Persecution.
These are the so-called "traditional values" whose spirit lives
ruthlessly on in todays homophobes.
The religious intolerance embedded in the District's sodomy law must be emphatically
rejected. Totalitarian theocrats are ripping the world apartthe Pat Robertsons in
Northern Ireland, the Pat Buchanans in Poland, the Lou Sheldons in India, the Jerry
Falwells in Iran, Pakistan, and the Sudan. Their power lust can not be appeased but must
The true objectives of the totalitarian theocrats are
becoming clearer with each day.
- In Poland, the Catholic Church has rammed through legislation ordering the media to show
"respect for the Christian system of values." As reported in the January 1993
issue of the fine journal Church & State, "Polish journalists say the bill
is a church-sponsored effort to squelch media criticism of growing Catholic power."
Saywouldn't that be a swell way to get rid of those pesky stories about
evangelists financial shenanigans and about priests molesting
- A report in the December 1992 issue of Right-Wing Watch published by People for
the American Way reveals that in November, Operation Rescue picketed outside a Des Moines
synagogue to urge worshipers to "leave your religion" and "go to the true
religion." Remember who else combined opposition to abortion, homophobia, and
- Church & State reports that the latest book by Christian Reconstructionist
Gary North, entitled The Dominion Covenant, openly argues that it is perfectly all
right for Christians (or at least his kind of Christians) to lie to non-Christians and to
"the representatives of a doomed, degenerate culture." Whoops! There goes
another one of those inconvenient Commandments!
- Richard John Neuhaus; former Lutheran pastor recently turned Catholic Cardinal Wannabee,
has declared that atheists should be stripped of all political rightseven as some of
his colleagues proclaim that Christians and Jews who uphold separation of church and state
are "practical atheists." So much for those nuisances of open elections and free
Just Say No to the theocrats; repeal the D.C. sodomy law now!
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