Short takes

Should gays be allowed to visit their loved ones in the hospital? The Governor of Wisconsin says no. What do you say?

By Jesse Kornbluth
Published: May 18, 2011

We went to see The Normal Heart on Broadway last night. (Tickets are 50% off at TKTS.) I had seen the original production in 1985, when we had a President so opposed to acknowledging homosexuals that he didn’t speak the name of the disease until 36,058 Americans had been diagnosed with it and 20,849 of them had died. You may imagine what it was like, then and now, to sit in a largely gay audience and watch a play about the start of the AIDS epidemic and the men who tried, with little success, to get the city and medical establishment interested in it. Buckets of tears. A standing ovation. And, this time, the consolation that we have made some progress in the last 25 years. 

But when we came home, there was the news, from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker “believes a new law that gives gay couples hospital visitation rights violates the state constitution and has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending it.” It is my mandate at HeadButler.com not to discuss politics here, but Gov. Walker’s denial of human tenderness at a moment of ultimate vulnerability has nothing to do with politics. It’s much deeper. In a word, I did not understand how this man — a churchgoer and the son of a minister — could call himself a Christian. 
 
To write the governor is to waste the effort; I’m sure all out-of-state e-emails are routinely dismissed by aides as some sort of liberal harassment. So I looked up the church he is said to attend — the Meadowbrook Church, in Wauwatosa — and saw how to contact the Senior Pastor, John Mackett.
 
This is what I wrote. Perhaps it will inspire you to do the same. (If so, I’ll love it if you’d send me a copy: HeadButlerNYC@AOL.com.)
 
Pastor Mackett –
 
The Journal Sentinel reports that Gov. Walker, who is said to worship with you, “believes a new law that gives gay couples hospital visitation rights violates the state constitution and has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending it.”
 
This does not strike me as consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Of the many Bible passages that come to mind, the most compelling for me is Matthew 25:31-46: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” A sick homosexual whose personal relationship enjoys less than equal legal status in Wisconsin — wouldn’t you agree this is someone Jesus had in mind?
 
As you’ll recall, the passage in Matthew goes on to condemn those who turned away from the least of these: “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” And Jesus condemns those people to “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” If you take the Bible seriously — and your web site tells me “the pastors’ sermons are always based upon the Bible, God’s written Word for us” — are you, Pastor Mackett, not at risk of eternal damnation if you do not speak up about issues like this?
 
I may have it wrong. It may be that Gov. Walker’s views on denying homosexuals the right to visit loved ones in the hospital are consistent with your ministry. If so, would you correct my misunderstanding?
 
Many thanks.
Jesse Kornbluth
HeadButlerNYC@AOL.com