On November 1, 2012, Legatus magazine, the print publication of the conservative Catholic organization of the same name, listed five "non-negotiables" for voters about to head to the polls. Marriage equality (which the magazine labeled homosexual "marriage," smear quotes and all) was one of the five listed items, with the staff writer instructing Catholics "to avoid voting for candidates who endorse or promote policies that provide for any of these acts and to vote instead for those who promote policies in keeping with moral law." The phrase "intrinsic evil" was used seven times.
Although this organization's insistence that civil marriage equality is one of God's major unacceptables shouldn't come as a huge surprise, considering Legatus pushes the idea that homosexuality itself is a "disorder" from which one must be "cured." I'm not exaggerating when I say that. In a 2011 Legatus piece, Legate John Haas (whose family has close ties to the National Organization for Marriage, by the way) called for our "curing" in the clearest of language:
There are many reasons why people suffer from SSA disorder. Some “discover” this tendency within them. Others grow into it through pursuits of pleasure or experimentation. Some use it to punish themselves or others. Whether the disorder has some deep, unknown roots over which one has virtually no control, or whether it’s a developed disorder resulting from bad choices, it leaves an individual disposed toward activities and a lifestyle that are dangerous — physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Fortunately there is hope for those who suffer from the disorder. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality reports that significant numbers of homosexual persons have undergone treatment and had their sexual drives properly ordered. These findings are a beacon of hope to those suffering from SSA, as well as for their family and friends who desire their happiness and good health. Finally, for those who for whatever reason cannot be cured, there is a support group known as Courage to help them live safe, moral, chaste lives. Those who continue to suffer from this disorder can find true help through an orientation toward their Savior and Redeemer, “the Orient from on High,” and the life that He offers them in Himself.
Sexual ‘disorientation’ [Legatus]
Even the "ex-gay" movement doesn't typically use words like "disorder" and "cured," which should tell you something about Legatus and its agenda. This organization, which Domino's pizza founder Tom Monaghan began back in 1987 as a place for "top-ranking Catholic business leaders and their spouses," is one that pulls no punches when it comes to LGBT people. This organization not only wants LGBT people uncovered and unprotected by law, but it is one that actively works to "heal" us.
Want more proof? Well here—in May of 2012, Legatus promoted a homily that included hostile lines like the following:
I often tell my students that no one has ever died from not having sex. Plenty of people have died from having sex, but no one has ever died from not having sex. This idea that sexual expression is the only or a necessary expression of love is the underlying principle behind the argument that we should not deny happiness to two people who are in love, even two people struggling with SSA.
No one is denying them love or happiness. We are not denying love or happiness to the alcoholic by taking away his alcohol. We are not denying love or happiness to the drug addict by taking away his drugs. We are not denying love or happiness to the pedophile by keeping him away from children. In fact, we are showing true love to the sinner by denying him his disordered passions.
Second, even if we grant that people are “born that way,” it is a specious argument to conclude that it is natural and must be accepted. People are born with bad eyesight, but we do not consider that natural. We consider it a disorder that should be corrected with glasses or contacts. People are born without arms and legs, but we do not consider that natural. We consider it a disorder that should be corrected with prosthetic limbs. People are born bipolar and with A.D.D., but we do not consider that natural. We consider it a disorder that should be corrected with medicine and psychological counseling. There is even scientific research showing that alcoholism and pedophilia are genetic, that people are “born that way,” but we still consider them disorders that should be corrected.
Consider that we are all born with original sin. Yet, we recognize that it is a disorder within us and we do our best to overcome it with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, with the help of the sacraments, and the grace of God.
On Homosexuality [Legatus]
Again, even the Roman Catholic hierarchy who oppose homosexuality do not tend to equate us with pedophiles. But this is Legatus we're talking about here; this is what I've been seeing this organization say and do for years.
If you want even more, you can check out any of the many pieces in which Legate (as its members are called) Charles LiMandri works to convince members that "the homosexual agenda" is the greatest threat facing our world. You can also find one of the articles in which supporters instruct parents on how to "deal with" their gay children (hint: accepting them as they are is not the advice). Or, for a real doozy, check out the 2011 column where Legate Ed Furton claimed that homosexuality should be "repressed because it leads to such rank excesses" and that "[w]e do an injustice to our young when we suggest that homosexual unions are the moral equivalent of the heterosexual." Again, this is who this organization is and what it is all about. Miltant rejection of LGBT humanity is the order of the day.
Which leads us now to something that makes me truly sad to see. Something that I had to re-read a few times to make sure in was, in fact, true.
Here, I'm just going to rip off the Band-Aid so you can joy me in painfully discussing the issue:
Feb. 6-8 at The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla.
Yes, that's right: Beloved comedian Bob Newhart, who most recently won an Emmy for playing opposite openly gay Jim Parsons on The Big Bang Theory, is going to *headline* this organization's summit. The man so famous for his dry wit is lending his name and talents to an organization whose anti-LGBT agenda is anything but funny.
And get this: Newhart is scheduled to appear alongside such noted anti-LGBT figures as the Catholic League's Bill Donohue and Rick "man on dog" Santorum. Yeah, it's going to be that kind of a night. Why in Larry, Darryl, and my other brother Darryl's name would Mr. Newhart, legendary TV star and one of the most genuinely well-liked people to ever appear before a film camera, sign up for such a gig?!
In 2012, Kirk Cameron provoked a storm of controversy when he told Piers Morgan that marriage equality is, "detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." Hundreds told Cameron it was time to grow up. His Growing Pains co-star Tracy Gold was joined by several celebrities to condemn his words. And the National Organization for Marriage realized that they found their "non-cognitive elite" spokesperson.
Personally, I'm choosing to believe that he just doesn't know and that this booking is the result of bad advice. I'm looking at this post as an opportunity to fill in the missing details so that Mr. Newhart makes a more informed choice rather than presuming to know his intent. That's the only way I know to approach it, since I can't stand to think that this man who I admire is actually supportive of the truly shocking ideas that I showed you at the beginning of this post. As a kid who stayed up late to watch Nick at Nite reruns of multiple Newhart shows, I have to believe that this is an act of ignorance, not malice. I have to believe that he simply doesn't know.
GLAAD is reaching out to Mr. Newhart's representatives to let them know how, exactly, an appearance at this event will come across to LGBT people and allied voices. I am hoping that I am right, and Mr. Newhart doesn't want to go down that path. He can still express his Catholic faith in a way more consistent with the rest of American Catholics, by loving and supporting his LGBT friends and family. GLAAD is urging him to do the right thing.