Kirk Cameron, 8, NOH8: Hollywood Speaks on Gay Marriage

5 years ago

Actor Kirk Cameron talked to Piers Morgan on CNN this week and told him he wasn't a fan of homosexuality or of gay people getting married. Specifically: 

"I think that it's - it's - it's unnatural. I think that it's - it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." 

And what I'm going to say is that this? This is not shocking. It may be upsetting to those of us who believe that sexual orientation should not be a factor in determining who shares our home and pretty much our everything else, down to the last legal dotted line that says that in addition to your heart, the person who chooses to commit to you completely has access to all things that any other couple would have -- legal, financial, familial. She can be in a hospital room when you are sick. He can parent your shared children. You can know that you can manage your affairs and walk this strange, difficult path together in the way that any couple would.  

But it's what he believes. Just is.  Originally known for his role as as Mike Seaver and overall teen dream on the popular sitcom Growing Pains, Cameron's conversion to evangelical Christianity is the stuff of 80s nostalgia legend, and in recent years he's become a fixture on the Christian tv and movie circuit. This qualifies him, therefore, per CNN to be a sought after expert on not only his most recent project (last year it was a firefighter Christian movie, now a documentary) but also the evangelical view on cultural and social topics of the day. 

Because I know I was dying for Mike Seaver Kirk Cameron to weigh in on gay marriage, weren't you? No? Well, Piers Morgan was. And it's not just Piers. Last year, Anderson Cooper tried to goad Cameron into admitting that there was some supernatural force causing all of those birds to fall from the sky, and the fish to die in Arkansas. (Remember those?) And to his credit then, as I wrote elsewhere, Mike Seaver I MEAN KIRK CAMERON, took a fairly measured road. He didn't say it was God killing the fish and birds or anything. He pretty much said he didn't know.

But what he does know for sure is that being gay is not okay, and that no way in you-know-where should gay people get married.

Cameron spoke up yesterday on his Facebook page, with a clarification that not only included his love for all people, but an unfortunate plug for his new documentary (that could have waited, dude. Seriously.) Oh, wait, he also has gay friends: 

In some people’s eyes, my responses were not sufficiently "loving" toward those in the gay community. I can only say that it is my life's mission to love all people, and that I expressed the same views that are expressed clearly and emphatically throughout the Judeo-Christian scriptures. As a Bible believing Christian, I could not have answered any other way.

I’ve been encouraged by the support of many friends (including gay friends, incidentally) in the wake of condemnation by some political advocacy groups. In the case of one of my gay friends, we regularly talk and have healthy and respectful debate. We learn from each other, and serve others alongside one another. I thank God for all of my friends...even when they hold very different views on issues of faith and morality. I do not, however, believe that the right way to advance our views is to resort to name-calling and personal attacks, as some have done to me. 

I also believe that freedom of speech and freedom of religion go hand-in-hand in America. I should be able to express moral views on social issues--especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years--without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach "tolerance" that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square.

GLAAD had a problem with Mike Seaver's Kirk Cameron's remarks and spoke out, as is the role of an advocacy group with a crucial charge at an important time.

In this interview, Kirk Cameron sounds even more dated than his 1980s TV character,” said Herndon Graddick, Senior Director of Programs at GLAAD. “Cameron is out of step with a growing majority of Americans, particularly people of faith who believe that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be loved and accepted based on their character and not condemned because of their sexual orientation. 

Rightly said, and noted. Actors including Tracey Gold, who appeared on Growing Pains as Carole Ann Seaver, provided the counterpoint to Mike Seaver's Kirk Cameron's (I will trust that you get this now) views. Gold tweeted:

"I am a strong supporter of the #LGBT Community, and I believe in equal rights for all. #NOH8#LOVE"

Seaver dad Alan Thicke had this to tweet:

"I'm getting [Kirk Cameron] some new books. The Old Testament simply can't be expected to explain everything."

GLAAD collected comments from other celebrities, including Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kristen Chenoweth, Zach Braff, Debra Messing, and Craig Ferguson, who tweeted:

"Rush makes me ashamed to be a middleaged white man and Kirk Cameron makes me ashamed to be a failed actor. We don't all think like that NoH8"

There was a more than equal and opposite counterpoint. And what remains interesting, to me, is the fact that we listen. Because I could (and, in my case, would, in the interest of full disclosure) sit here and rip MikeSeaverKirkCameron's statements and views right up one side and down the other to super gay Sunday, but at the end I'd still be asking why. 

Why do I care? Why? Because Kirk Cameron is a certain kind of celebrity? Because he has a microphone on a talk show on a 24-hour news network? Maybe we watched Growing Pains years ago, and there is an emotional connection there, to a character and a place in time, and it's difficult to reconcile the actor -- the real person, with real life experiences and ideologies -- with a teen idol or a a character.  

And still, the fact remains that we do listen.

Also in Hollywood this weekend, about 20 celebrated actors participated in a play called 8, depicting the final testimonies in the Federal District Court trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a case filed to overturn Prop. 8, which eliminated the right to marry for gay and lesbian couples in California. These testimonies were never broadcast before. And as far as actors, we're talking Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jane Lynch, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christine Lahti, Martin Sheen -- the list just wouldn't quit. You can watch this performance on YouTube through this weekend and check this site via the American Foundation for Equal Rights for future screenings.     

Clooney, who played plaintiffs' attorney David Boies, said:

It’s important to be on the right side of history. In 20 years, I don’t want anyone to wonder where I stood. At some point people are going to look back and wonder why this was ever an issue. 

So who's correct? Mike Seaver or Doug Ross? Kirk or George? And does it matter? What is more important? To know what actors think when their characters' lines dry up, or to know where we stand, what we believe, in what we place our trust and faith and our knowledge that we are living the best we can?

If we know what we have going on, a Kirk Cameron interview on Piers Morgan on CNN makes very little bit of never-mind. But then again neither, I suppose, would Martin Sheen's impassioned final speech in 8, which you could tell by the tracks of my tears made quite an impact on me (there was nothing in my eye. It was that good.) These statements could cement and validate how we feel, sure, as any good art or artist can do. They could turn our hearts a tiny bit for the better or worse, kill the doubt, firm the foundation. But it's not the whole thing -- it's just more information.  We have to take it from there.

Contributing Editor Laurie White writes at LaurieWritesHer photos are on Flickr.

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