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Guest Column

A Deviate of a Different Color
By Patricia Nell Warren

In a recent issue of the Colorado Springs Gazette News, the executive chairman of Colorado for Family Values, Will Perkins, was going off on homosexuals in his usual manner. What fascinated me about Perkins' remarks was that he characterized heterosexual adultery as one of several "heterosexual deviances."

Today the nation's media shudders with controversy about homosexuals. Thanks to cultural, religious and medical prejudices, homosexuals have been labeled "deviants" since sometime in the 19th century. But gosh, I don't recall seeing any religious-right leaders being as wrathful about "deviant heterosexual adultery" as they are about "homosexual deviance". Yet the Bible condemns homosexuality and adultery with equal ire -- it demands death for both "offenses."

This is a very illuminating thing to think about. It means that the religious right are soft on heterosexual adulterous deviants.

As an American who wants to stay informed, I listen to religious-right radio, and visit some of the major RR sites online. But I never see the religious right campaigning for the death penalty for heterosexual adulterers. No signs at demonstrations reading DEATH TO ADULTERERS, though you see plenty of DEATH TO HOMOS signs around.

In California, Sen. Rob Hurtt, who is in the pocket of the RR, has said he will move to reinstate the old sodomy penalties of the state, which included -- as many will recall -- castration and lobotomy for homosexuals. Similar legislative moves are being made in other states. But gee, I never see the RR legislators or lobbyists advocating similar treatment for adulterers.

Nor do adulterous heterosexual deviants get routinely incarcerated in mental hospitals, as homosexuals have been -- complete with shock treatment, forced sexual re-programming and the gamut of "therapy." We never see RR leaders or legislators wanting to bar these awful adulterous deviants from teaching in public schools, or fair treatment in employment, benefits and housing, or holding government office.

Amidst the throes of the same-sex-marriage controversy, all heterosexual adulterous deviants have access to the rights and joys of marriage, whereas homosexuals who wouldn't dream of stepping out on their partners cannot legally marry. A few states still have adultery laws, but almost never enforce them. Under U.S. law, adulterers get to mess around with impunity, divorce and remarry again and again without a care in the world. No Jesse Helms rants in Congress to deny federal funding to any state or school district that is soft on heterosexual adulterers.

Perkins brings up the old RR terror of homosexuals endangering morale in the armed forces. As a matter of fact, our U.S. military are just as soft on heterosexual adulterous deviants. Today's U.S. military law still makes adultery a criminal offense. Yet in practice these horrible "heterosexual deviants" whose deaths are mandated by Biblical law are not deemed a threat to red-blooded military morale. There's no ridiculous "don't ask, don't tell" for adulterers -- in fact, some military men get macho points with their buddies for bragging about two-timing their wives. Men and women who routinely violate the regulations on adultery never do serious time in military prison, as did my gay friend Larry Meholick, who did five years, including some time in solitary. Nor are adulterers hounded by military interrogators, and drummed out of the service with dishonorable discharges. A flagrant adulterer can still have high security clearance, enjoy the trust of the U.S. government in war time, and every kind of social perk that is denied to uniformed "homosexual deviants."

I wonder why the religious right are so soft on adultery. Possibly it's because they'd have to kill half the country, in order to enforce this kind of "family values."

Another little problem is pastors in the religious-right movement who have committed adultery. I have listened to talk shows where pastors openly discussed their extramarital heterosexual relationships, their divorces, etc. But nobody is taking away these pastors' lives or civil rights because of their confessed deviance. Compared to the horrors that the average homosexual has to live through, including gay-bashing, these heterosexual deviant pastors get emotional support, cushy therapy programs -- in short, a slap on the wrist. Newscasts never tell us of adulterous pastors being adultery-bashed on the street by angry heterosexuals who are hell-bent on enforcing Biblical law by the vigilante method.

There are political reasons too. Lots of presently unchurched adulterous heterosexual deviants are potential church-joiners and money-givers to the religious-right cause. A Bible-style crackdown on adultery would alienate too many people who might go to the polls later this year, and vote the religious-right way. Heterosexual deviants might be the swing vote that puts an ultra-right-wing President in the White House. Whereas the RR feel they can dispense with the homosexual vote. After all, it is only (according to them) less than one percent of the population.

It seems to me that the religious right's position on heterosexual adulterous deviance is glaringly inconsistent with what the Bible teaches. The inconsistency also reveals that religious extremism has much to do with controlling other people's lives -- and little to do with the "word of God."

Perhaps if the same massive machine of hateful feeling and wrathful law were to start crushing legions of adulterous American heterosexuals like so many insects, they would wake to the danger of legislating Biblical belief into 20th century American life.


Patricia Nell Warren wrote "The Front Runner," "Harlan's Race" and other best-selling novels about gay life. She lives in Los Angeles, where she serves on the Gay & Lesbian Education Commission of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Her publisher is Wildcat Press. Visit her web page online.
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