Legislature’s praise of anti-Catholic drag queen goes too far

California lawmakers’ praise of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence crosses a line. It’s time for us to draw the line on public decency, writes Asm. Devon Mathis.

There is a vast difference between  supporting Gay Marriage/Marriage Equality and supporting lewd acts.  Some members of the LGBTQ+ community have been in an uproar after several of my colleagues and I walked off the California State Assembly floor in protest of the legislature honoring anti-Catholic “drag queen” Sister Roma. 

Sadly, our actions are being misconstrued. What I believe we’re actually calling into question is what public decency ought to be, and at what point does civil society say, some activities are inappropriate for the general public. At what point have we as a civil society gone too far? 


First, let me be clear, my discontent of this week’s events is not based on my feelings regarding Gay Marriage/Marriage Equality. Gay Marriage/Marriage Equality falls under Religious Freedom, we must collectively show acceptance if we are to have a civil, pluralistic society.

This is why myself and others along with the Log Cabin Republicans have been working on our state party platform to address Marriage and Religious Freedom, to insure the Republican Party is being pluralistic and inclusive.

Do you not think some of us are taking flack for that from all sides – you bet we are. 

As I stated Monday, “Hatred and bigotry are not acceptable, if we truly want religious freedom, then respect must be mutual.”

What we’ve seen has not always been the case, from all sides. Government does not belong in our homes or our churches. As far as I’m concerned, what two consenting adults want to do behind closed doors is on them. So, for anybody to misconstrue this as a debate about whether Gay Marriage/Marriage Equality should be allowed is simply trying to stoke the fires of anger and civil unrest. 

It seems the fire comes from the part where I said, “I’d prefer y’all get a room and keep the PDA (public displays of affection) away from my kids, but let’s be respectful on both sides.” Sadly, it seems people don’t care about keeping it respectful. I’ve already received the threats and been told by some to “let it blow over.” Which is why I believe it is vital

that in order for us to have a civil society we must the conversation about common decency in our society. 

Let’s see who actually reads to the end and who just takes quotes, let’s see who still thinks I should simply shut up and cower, very plainly, “I didn’t get blown up twice in Iraq and survive 5 elections to sit silently, I do not believe we are in office to be silent. 

So, what do I mean by “the general public” or “common decency?” Simply: We have ratings for TV and movies, parental controls on smart phones and other electronics. As a civil society we recognize that some content is inappropriate for younger people to watch on the screen. Younger people who encompass a large part of the overall general public. This content is lewd, violent, and unseemly; it violates common decencyThe same principle, of course, applies to real life, or does it? Some real-world actions are inappropriate for the larger public. This isn’t to say unseemly actions should be banned. But it does mean that we can recognize Sister Roma’s pole-dance on Jesus and use of a Cross as a stripper poll as analogous to TV 17 or rated R content, corrosive to the public discourse, and undermining basic standards of morality. 

On Monday when I made the comment that two consenting adults can do whatever they want behind closed doors, I meant that I don’t care whether a couple is gay, straight, or something else; It doesn’t really matter. The status of the couple is irrelevant. I was concerned about celebrating lascivious public displays of affection –actions that we might see as rated R. I hope that most of us would agree that two individuals, regardless of binary status, with their tongues down each other’s throats, or straddling each other, should probably get a room –or at least get some privacy. 

What does it say about how we value public decency when we don’t speak up? I know there are those out there who are going to say I’m not a pillar of excellence. I’m not perfect. None of us are. I’m simply saying out loud what many of us are feeling, and sadly what too many are afraid to actually say, about this proliferation of public indecency in public life. 

Now what do I mean by public indecency?

What I’m referring to, and this again is why many of my Republican colleagues and I walked off the Assembly floor when Sister Roma was being highlighted, is the fact that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are known for acting in a manner that many sincerely religious people would consider blasphemy; a pole-dance on an effigy of Jesus is simply indecent, if not worse. 

So, this goes back to my original question: What level of decency do we call the actions of the person who was honored on the Assembly floor? They certainly aren’t G, PG, or PG 13. They were more inappropriate than that, and people of goodwill from different perspectives need to have a conversation, a civil discussion, where everyone’s feelings 

and perspectives are considered equally. We as a society need to stop being afraid of hurting each other’s feelings. We need to stop feeling that we must go into our own closets, whether they’re prayer closets, gun closets, or other closets. We must step up in maturity and have a civil discourse.

This conversation that is coming to a head is in regard to what is decent for the children of our society. What we are constantly seeing is a response to shocking social media content, it is a parental outcry and concern of what children should see. 

So, my fellow Citizens: where do we draw the line on public decency? Should it match movie ratings? Should we be having that discussion? I believe it is time. 

You know where I stand. Once it starts getting into PG-13, people need to get some privacy – regardless of sexual or gender orientation.

What truly matters is what we as a civil society are going to determine is decent for the children of our society.

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