When Sarah Jane Moore attempted to assassinate President
Gerald Ford, her aim was deflected by disabled former Marine Oliver Sipple, and
Ford’s life saved. Sipple was gay.
Under prevailing Republican bigotry and Democratic hypocrisy, he would not be
allowed to serve his country in uniform.
Faisal Shazhad’s attempted car bomb was first discovered and
the police therefore alerted by Aliou Niasse, a Muslim. Shahzad’s Muslim identity was
emphasized, but hardly anyone mentioned that the same was true for Niasse. To
do so would mess up the good guys vs bad guys narrative that most reporters
seem to prefer over actually reporting.
Mark Bingham, one of the heroic passengers who attacked the
hijackers of Flight 93, preventing them from flying the airliner into the White
House or Capital at the cost of their lives, was gay. Another, Todd Beamer, was a serious Christian. Each acted with bravery and
integrity. Where it counted, each had more in common than where they differed.
As do most people despite different faiths, sexual orientations, or races.
Unfortunately, leaders of organizations emphasizing these distinctions often maximize
their personal power by exaggerating differences between their
group and everybody else. Trusting
their leaders, the rank and file are usually all too easily manipulated.
As the Catholic hierarchy continually reminds us and recent escapades of George Rekers, an Evangelical enemy of gay people, has reinforced, such
leadership often sets far higher standards of behavior for others than they apply
to themselves. And that is putting it gently.