“You’re Going To Be Left in the Dustbin of History, Buddy”

It’s no surprise that the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has exploited Mitt Romney’s hiring of openly gay Ric Grenell as a foreign policy spokesman to draw attention to himself and thunder against Romney’s betrayal of his own LDS faith and the GOP’s “social conservative base.”

But he really stepped in it today by appearing as a guest of CNN’s Kyra Phillips, who nicely trapped him into admitting Grenell’s sodomite ways didn’t keep right-wing hero John Bolton from doing a “great job” when Grenell worked for him.

But the main reason I’m posting about this is to give an attaboy to the Log Cabin Republicans’ Clarke Cooper for this riposte to Fischer near the end of the segment:

“Bryan, ya’ll gotta be careful, because you are starting to sounding like George Wallace, ‘segregation today, segregation tomorrow,’” Cooper warned. “Be careful because you’re going to be left in the dust bin of history, buddy.”

That’s probably true, given the rapidly increasing acceptance of same-sex relationships by Americans, and the generational fault lines (even among conservative evangelicals) that make it just a matter of time. But it does raise the question of exactly when and how conservative evangelical leaders are going to reverse themselves on treating homosexuality as a sinful choice that is “offensive to God,” as Fischer likes to put it.

Believers in biblical inerrancy have a tough time with this issue, because there is more biblical support for hostility to same-sex relationships than there is to the parallel belief that abortion is murder. Non-fundamentalists obviously don’t have a problem treating the homophobia expressed in certain Pauline epistles as culturally influenced dicta remote from or even in conflict with the Christian faith. And just as obviously, most fundamentalists have found ways to rationalize even starker biblical judgements against divorce and (most of all) the accumulation of wealth. But they don’t have a Pope or an officially recognized Prophet to tell them it’s okay to change their minds about the Eternal Truths of scripture, and they’ve invested far too much in identification of their faith with cultural conservatism to allow individual conscience or considerations of charity interfere with the belief they are under a divine obligation to keep up the fight against the satanic powers of modernity and “moral relativism.”

Still, Cooper is right, and officially sanctioned homophobia will eventually succumb just like de jure segregation did. When it finally dies, though, it will not only be a noisy death, but one that threatens much of the substructure of self-righteous certainty that has made the Christian Right so powerful.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.