Inappropriate Questions

 Reporter Spars with Gay Lecturer at University of San Diego,

 Draws Campus Security's Attention


Security guards were called in response to a "disturbance" at the University of San Diego's Joan Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Thursday night, February 12, 2004, after I asked a homosexual speaker there an "inappropriate question."

"Issues Centered Around Being a Gay Man of Color" was the focus of the talk given by Keith Boykin as part of the school's "Black History Month" celebrations. Event flyers said Boykin is, "most recognized for his appointment as Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton. He was the highest ranking openly gay person to be appointed to the White House. He has also written a book titled One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America." Boykin's talk was co-sponsored by the on-campus homosexual "Pride" group and the Black Student Union.

No security guards were in sight when I arrived for the 8:00 p.m. lecture through the Kroc Institute's front doors. In the foyer just outside the auditorium, "Pride" manned a table where they distributed posters and literature. Boykin led his lecture by discussing the difficulties between knowing and doing the right thing. As an example, he cited pro-abortion Catholic presidential candidate John Kerry, who "courageously, in 1996, voted against the Defense of Marriage Act which essentially defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman solely and prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages."

Boykin next told the audience about his own "coming out" process after experiencing a same-sex attraction while a second-year Harvard Law School student. Before that, said Boykin, the idea of homosexuality had never entered his mind; however, journaling and "praying about it" helped him come to terms with it.

The audience laughed as Boykin shared his first "coming out" rule: "If you tell the right people, you don't actually have to tell everybody else.... I never directly came out to my grandmother, but she found out because of that same rule about coming out. People talk, and my grandmother confronted me at my graduation ceremony from law school. Actually, she confronted my boyfriend. During the ceremony when I went up to get my degree, she had a conversation with my boyfriend, and she let him know that she did not approve of my lifestyle, and she said that the family did not approve of my lifestyle, and she insisted that he, my boyfriend, give her his telephone number so she could call his mother and talk some sense into her or something like that."

After detailing the subsequent confrontation he had with his grandmother, Boykin discussed gay marriage and the threat of the religious right who, he said, "will want to do whatever they can to distract your attention from the serious issues that are facing the country."

He went on to equate the gay rights movement with the civil rights movement; to denounce "stereotypes" which label all black people as straight and all gay people as white; to blame religion in the black community for the "homophobic" attitudes of black people; and to "challenge anybody to tell me anywhere in the Bible where Jesus even mentions homosexuality. It's not there."

During the question and answer session that followed Boykin's lecture, I took up his challenge. "There is a reference that Jesus makes, I believe it's in Luke Chapter 17:2, 'as it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.' And, of course, if you go back and do a reading of Genesis 19, you'll find out that the sin of Sodom was sodomy and not a lack of hospitality."

"But those things aside," I continued, "when it comes to marriage, as it's been traditionally understood, what we're doing is joining two people who come together to create new life and a future generation. So when we talk about gay marriage, how do we reconcile that such a union, left to its own devices, cannot produce future generations? And if there are children that are brought in from some other means, aren't you putting the child in a situation where you're creating an intentionally motherless or fatherless family? How can that be a good thing for children?"

Boykin responded, "So you have three questions. First, I fundamentally disagree with your interpretation of the Bible, because I think if you look at Ezekiel 16:49, it's pretty clear what the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is. Also, if you look at what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37, it's pretty clear he doesn't talk about homosexuality.... I've read the passages you refer to, and I can tell you that I disagree with that interpretation, first of all. In terms of the whole procreation ideal, we discussed it earlier, and I think marriage is clearly not just about procreation."

"But it is also about procreation," I responded.

Boykin replied, "It can be about procreation."

I said, "There's a unitive and a procreative aspect to marriage and I was trying to focus it on the procreative."

"Okay," Boykin responded, "the unitive aspect means uniting people, I suppose, and to the extent that two people who happen to be the same gender are united it still serves that function. It's still procreative to the extent that they can have children from previous relationships, and they can have children via artificial insemination or any other manner that's still consistent with the idea of procreation. But it completely ignores the reality that most [heterosexual] people who enter into marriage today don't have children."

"But you're still joining two different sexes," I responded, "which could produce children. And gay relationships left to themselves can never do that."

Boykin answered, "But what you're doing is you're using circular definitions, and what that means is that in the times of slavery and the times of segregation, marriage was defined based on what the law defined it as."

He went on to talk about the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia which allowed blacks and whites to marry and government's obligation to allow people of homosexual orientation to marry. He concluded, "I don't think there is even a reason for much argument about that. I think it's transparently obvious that marriage is what we make it to be."

As Boykin took additional questions from the audience, I noticed a female security guard standing at the edge of the stage. I recognized her as the same guard who threatened to evict me from a gay parenting panel I attended at the university in November, 2001 after I asked one of the homosexual panelists how she could reconcile her lifestyle with the Church's clear prohibition against homosexual acts.

When the question and answer session concluded, I started to exit the main aisle of the Joan Kroc auditorium. A young man approached me who told me he was working on a class research paper and asked if he could interview me. I declined. A few steps later, as I reached the foyer of the Kroc Institute, three more young men walked up to me. One asked if I was from San Diego News Notes. I said I was there to listen to the lecture. At the same time, I glanced outside the front doors to the water fountain area and noticed three more male security guards standing together talking. Seeing them, I exited the building through a side door.

The next day, February 13, I phoned University of San Diego's security office to ask why guards were called out. I spoke with a woman named Gayle who refused to give me her last name. When I asked her if she knew about the previous night's incident, she answered, "I kind of know," then asked me, "Did you ask a question that was inappropriate?" I told her I didn't feel my question was inappropriate, but admitted it might not be considered politically correct.

Gayle explained, "We got the call that someone was disturbing the discussion." She added, "The officers had nothing to report."

A recent check of the university's public safety web site confirms no reports related to Boykin's lecture were filed.

On March 12, I spoke with Wajma Janssen, assistant public safety director at the university, who explained that it was their policy to station guards at "controversial discussions. They're there basically to ensure the safety of the guest speakers, as well as the audience members."

Janssen continued, "It wasn't as if you were a target there. Usually, if you are to come on campus during any controversial discussions, you will find at least one or two officers that stand by just to make sure that everybody's safety is acknowledged."


BIBLE VERSES cited in this article, taken from the New American Bible:

Luke 17:2 This should actually be Luke 17:28-29 (Let us forgive the author for not recalling the exact verse number.) "It was much the same in the days of Lot: they ate and drank, they bought and sold, they built and planted. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained down from heaven and destroyed them all."

Genesis 19: Too long to quote the chapter in its entirety. The pertinent verse is Verse 5: "They called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out that we may have intimacies with them.' "

See also Genesis 18:20-21: "Then the Lord said, 'The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see if their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.' "  Following these verses, Abraham bargains with God to spare the innocent who will be destroyed along with the guilty. God finally agrees that if there are ten innocent people, He will not destroy the cities. But God does destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, sparing only Lot and his family. The cities had not even ten innocent people in them! God destroyed them because their sin was grave, their crimes abominable, not because they were complacent and unwelcoming.

Ezekiel 16:49:"And look at the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were proud, sated with food, complacent in their prosperity, and they gave no help to the poor and needy." NOT QUOTED by the speaker, however, was the next verse, Ezekiel 16: 50: "Rather, they became haughty and committed abominable crimes in my presence; then, as you have seen, I removed them." Thus, the charge that the sin of Sodom was 'inhospitality' cannot be supported by Scripture.

Matthew 22:37 : "Jesus said to him: 'You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind.' " 



This article originally appeared in the San Diego News Notes.

Allyson Smith is a member of the Catholic Media Coalition.