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17 December 2011

Repudiation: Matthew Franck "Advocating Same-Sex Marriage: Consistency Is Another Victim"

In a column at Public Discourse, a religious-conservative online magazine, Mr. Franck makes eight points to conclude that marriage equality will bring about the downfall of religious freedom.  Absurd.
1. The ultimate question about the recognition of same-sex marriage is for the whole society to decide, not for judges on putatively “constitutional” grounds. It is a “constitutional” question in quite another sense—that is, it is a constitutive question, about an institution and a relationship that is pre-political, foundational of society itself, and even more basic than our constitutions or political institutions. Therefore the question should always be referred to the people themselves at the polls—and not decided by their legislators, let alone by judges.
No.  Rights should never be subject to the temperament of a majority at the polls.  This is not just my opinion.  Arguing against the constitutive approach is Wisconsin Family Voice, who oppose marriage equality:  Let’s make this very clear: Truth is not subject to nor is Truth swayed by public opinion polls.

Opponents of equality appear to be far more interested in maintaining inequality than the means by which that is done.  The argue for the ballot, as Mr. Franck does, unless it looks like they might lose at the ballot.  As it happens I agree with Wisconsin Family Voice on this narrow issue, rights should not be subject to public opinion polls or referenda.
2. In deciding the basic question, people should ask themselves, what is marriage? For it is a thing with a nature, and a purpose. Marriage has always been understood, throughout human history, as a comprehensive union of a man and a woman, grounded in their complementary natures—a couple of the kind that is capable of generating offspring, and being father and mother to them. The law of marriage has always fostered and protected this singular kind of relationship that is capable of natural parentage, and the only relationship fully capable of parentage of any kind, if “fathering” and “mothering” are understood as distinctive contributions. Were it not for the fact that the sexual union of men and women regularly produces children, marriage would not exist at all. Its existence and its character are in accord with the nature of that union.
No and no.  Marriage has not always been understood as the union of a man and a woman.  The Bible is filled with polygamists.  It is simply amazing how many opponents of marriage equality have forgotten about marriage in the Bible.  The most extreme case would be King Solomon, see 1 Kings 11:3.

While the purpose of marriage in the Bible was procreation, that has not been the modern understanding for a long time.  No state in the United States requires that a couple entering marriage be able or wanting to procreate.  That is one part of marriage and it is optional.  We have always allowed elderly couples to wed.  We allow infertile couples to wed.  There is much more to marriage than procreation.

Marriage without children is still a legal contract of the commitment of two people for each other.  It implies love and caring (although there are many historic examples of marriage to achieve peace between countries and alliances of businesses which may not have involved love at all).  Marriage is, in the words of the Supreme Court, one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.
3. Same-sex marriage advocates have so far been unable to give an answer to the question “What is marriage?” that does not result in the complete collapse of all shape and form to the institution. That is to say, if men can marry men, and women marry women, we no longer know what the institution is, or what it is for, or what its boundaries are, or who is to be ruled in and who is to be ruled out as eligible to participate in it. Polygamy is back; polyamory is in; even incestuous relations are impossible to condemn. This is not a slippery-slope argument. It is the observation of an explosion bursting a levee with a wall of water behind it.
Marriage equality does not diminish marriage, it expands and strengthens marriage.  Mr. Franck is under the false assumption that marriage is a zero-sum game, that for one to gain another must lose.  No one loses when more people are legally enabled to wed.

Marriage equality is about two people, not an arbitrary number of people.  Slippery slope arguments (that is what Mr. Franck is arguing despite his denial) were disproved in a court case in British Columbia just last month.  Same sex marriage does not open the door for polygamy, no matter how often it happened in the Bible.

Mr. Franck wants a definition of marriage.  Almost what I wrote above.  Marriage is a legal contract of the commitment of two people for each other.  A religion may, but does not need to, bless the marriage which then is also called holy matrimony.  Marriage implies love and caring (although there are many historic examples of marriage to achieve peace between countries and alliances of businesses which may not have involved love at all).  Marriage is, in the words of the Supreme Court, one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.
4. Such a change to the institution of marriage does indeed affect everyone. Our society has already done great damage to the institution of marriage thanks to easy divorce; thanks to abortion, contraception, and a widespread moral relativism about relations between the sexes; and thanks to social policies that make fatherhood optional when children come along. Marriage needs shoring up, not a “redefinition” that is actually a destruction.
Marriage equality affects those who are not in same sex marriages only in the requirement that they acknowledge the legality of marriages unlike their own.  This is separate from the problems in marriages that lead to divorce.  No opposite sex marriage would end in divorce if my partner and I wed.  That is just silly.

The other arguments here are irrelevant to the discussion of marriage equality.  If my partner and I wed there would be no abortion possible (as we are both male).  Contraception is also not an issue.  Moral relativism are Mr. Franck's code words, he does not like that society is moving beyond his bigotry.

Regarding the "make fatherhood optional" argument, Mr. Franck is, again, wrong.  Children raised by same sex parents tend to do just as well as those who are raised by opposite sex parents.
5. Some advocates of same-sex marriage are “marriage abolitionists,” who see the ultimate goal as a legal order that has no category called “marriage,” and same-sex marriage as a way station on that road. They at least know where they are going. But it is not a destination we should seek. Marriage between men and women makes families, and it is right and proper for the law to foster and protect it.
That is not what I want.  That is not what the plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger want.  This is a red herring.  Those who desire marriage equality want marriage, not the destruction of marriage.
6. A common argument in favor of same-sex marriage is that laws against it are just like the old Jim Crow laws against interracial marriage. In 1967, the Supreme Court struck down such laws, calling the right to marry a “fundamental freedom.” But those laws interfered with marriage by introducing an irrelevant ingredient—race—as though it were a necessary one. That is, those laws used state power to redefine marriage, a natural institution, for artificial purposes. Now, it is the advocates of same-sex marriage who wish to use state power to redefine marriage, to make the word mean something new and thus change its nature, by removing its central ingredient, the coming together of a man and a woman to make a family.
The arguments against marriage equality based on sexual orientation are quite similar to the arguments against marriage equality based on race.  Mildred Loving did not make many public statements.  She, at the heart of the right to wed across racial lines, had this to say in 2007:
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.
Race should be considered an irrelevant ingredient when considering marriage.  So should gender.
7. That 1967 decision of the Supreme Court was universally accepted, practically without a peep of protest, because every decent person would have been ashamed to argue that blacks and whites cannot marry. No denunciations of the decision came from any pulpits. It will not be so if same-sex marriage is nationalized by the Supreme Court. It will be Roe v. Wade all over again. Every growing, thriving, and theologically flourishing religious community in America today is part of the movement to defend the historic understanding of marriage, and they won’t be surrendering their principles. Their theologies may differ, but they share a common moral reasoning about the nature of marriage. And the defense of marriage can hardly be called an “establishment of religion” when it is agreed to by evangelical Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox Christians, and Mormons, Muslims, and Orthodox Jews alike.
No.  Just this month a Kentucky church voted to ban mixed race couples.  They have since rescinded the ban, but to say that there was no protest is denial of reality.  Many religions chose to reinterpret the passages of the Bible, such as Exodus 34:14-16, to no longer ban marriage between a black person and a white person.

Already there are many religious groups that welcome same sex couples.  Religions do not tend to be in complete agreement with each other or internally.  Mr. Franck is not welcome to speak for my religion.
8. These diverse believers also share a quite reasonable fear that in a country that has adopted same-sex marriage, their religious liberty is threatened. For believing what their traditions have always believed, they will be condemned as bigots, and subject to discriminations and pressures. Religious dissenters from the new dispensation, in many tens of millions, will be second-class citizens, and will be chased out of many professions and avenues of business if they will not abandon what their faiths teach them about marriage. Their hospitals, schools, and charitable organizations will be pressured to drop their religious scruples, and to silence their moral witness.
No.  Religious liberty is not threatened.  Today a member of the clergy is welcome to deny the rites of marriage to any couple for any reason.  The government is required to acknowledge marriages that religious institutions can deny.  If Mr. Franck continues to denigrate same sex couples when there is legal equality, he is likely to be shunned, but not demoted to second class status.  If one doesn't like the idea of same sex marriage, then one should not wed another of the same sex.  This isn't about what you believe but about what rights are granted as promised in the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Mr. Franck's conclusion is a repeat of the above and then there is additional dialogue from the conference where he presented these eight points and two more that were not included in his column.

16 December 2011

Repudiation: Bigotry of Michael Brown

Michael Brown is a so-called Messianic Jew (not a real religion ... if you believe in Jesus as God, you are not Jewish) and wrote a column posted yesterday at Town Hall with many lies about homosexuality and ugly words about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
On December 6th, in a speech in Geneva marking international human rights day, Secretary of State Clinton called for all nations to embrace the goals of LGBT activism, declaring that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” and that, “It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished.”
Ms. Clinton's speech was insightful and eloquent.  If you have not listened to or read her speech, please take the time to read it now.
Unfortunately, her speech, which was hailed by gay activists worldwide, was an exercise in hypocrisy, not to mention an insult to several billion people worldwide.
No, Sec. Clinton is not the hypocrite.  Any insult is due to ongoing violation of the rights of others, not insult to who a person is.  An important paragraph from Ms. Clinton's speech before returning to Mr. Brown's objections:
Now, raising this issue, I know, is sensitive for many people and that the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs. So I come here before you with respect, understanding, and humility. Even though progress on this front is not easy, we cannot delay acting. So in that spirit, I want to talk about the difficult and important issues we must address together to reach a global consensus that recognizes the human rights of LGBT citizens everywhere.
Again, please read the entire speech if you have not.  Sec. Clinton was careful to be respectful of all people.  Mr. Brown is insulted by his own choice, not her words.
She rightly stated that, “It is [a] violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave.” But this was only the tip of the iceberg.
Mrs. Clinton had the audacity to compare religious or cultural objections to homosexual practice to “the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation,” as if the religious and moral objection to men having sex with men is somehow equivalent to the Muslim practice of honor killings or the Hindu practice of burning widows.
So, what did Ms. Clinton say in context?
It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.
The comparison is direct and germane.  If Mr. Brown objects "to men having sex with men", then he should not have sex with men.  That was not the point of Sec. Clinton's comparison.
“In each of these cases,” she said, “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.” And she said this in our name, as Americans.
The cases are drawing a parallel to violence against women, murder, and slavery.  Yes, in our now as Americans.
She stated that “opinions [on homosexuality] are still evolving”, just as opinions evolved over time with slavery, and “what was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights.”
In other words, if you have an issue with the lewd sexual displays at your city’s gay pride parade, or if you’re not comfortable with a man who dresses as a woman using the ladies bathroom, or if you don’t want to see a kid raised by two lesbians and thereby deprived of having a father, or if you believe that God made men to be with women, then you are the moral equivalent of a slave trader or a slave owner.
No, those are not other words that have the same meaning.  First, those who are transgender are not "a man who dresses as a woman".  That would be a transvestite not a transgender person.  Second, children raised by parents of the same gender tend to do as well as those raised by parents of the opposite gender.  The problem of having "to see a kid raised by two lesbians" is Mr. Brown's problem, not a problem for that kid.  Third, moral equivalency is not in belief but in action.  Mr. Brown is welcome to believe what he wants, but denying human rights is where the moral equivalency to slavery is accurate.
All this (and more) came from the lips of our Secretary of State at the same time that President Obama issued a memorandum instructing government officials to “ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender persons” around the world. (The president’s memorandum is far-reaching and should be read carefully.)
Yes.  I wrote an article praising President Obama and Secretary Clinton.
There was an immediate reaction from African leaders, and the Christian Science Monitor noted that, “The enshrinement of equal rights for homosexuals into US foreign policy activities has drawn quick ire from African nations, with one senior figure saying the notion is ‘abhorrent’ across the continent.”
As expressed by Uganda’s John Nagenda, a senior adviser to the president, “I don’t like her tone, at all. . . I’m amazed she’s not looking to her own country and lecturing them first, before she comes to say these things which she knows are very sensitive issues in so many parts of the world, not least Africa.”
Considering that being homosexual is a criminal offense in Uganda, this reaction should not be a surprise.
Of course, Mrs. Clinton stated that America still had a way to go on the issue of “gay rights,” but it is sheer arrogance to claim that the religious and moral views of several billion human beings must change. Based on what criteria?
The criteria are human rights.  It is not arrogant to call for human rights for all humans.
By all means we should champion the equal protection of all human beings, regardless of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. But that is only a small part of our government’s agenda. The greater goal is the complete normalization and even celebration of everything LGBT, with the corollary removal of all opposition, be it in word or deed.
The truth be told, the modern gay rights movement is a fruit of the radical counterculture of the 1960’s, and it is grounded not in the civil rights movement (despite persistent claims to the contrary) but in the sexual revolution, a revolution for which we are still paying the price.
If Mr. Brown is correct and the call for equality for the LGBTQ Community is derived from the sexual revolution, that does not change the fact that human rights are for all humans.  Equality is for all, not just those acceptable to Mr. Brown's religion.

Mr. Brown goes on to claim that we, the United States of America, have enough moral problems that we should not be lecturing the rest of the world on morality.  He concludes.

While our country certainly has been a force for worldwide good in many ways, when it comes to sexual morality we should be hanging our heads in shame, not lecturing others.
Mrs. Clinton’s speech was a source of national embarrassment, not pride.
No, Mr. Brown, Secretary Clinton is a great and eloquent speaker.  We should be embarrassed by those Americans who encouraged Uganda to criminalize homosexuality.  Ms. Clinton has taken the first steps in righting a terrible wrong.  Shame on Mr. Brown for suggesting otherwise.

Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.

15 December 2011

FollowUp 5: Wisconsin Republican Dirty Tricks

Wisconsin is really not happy with Governor Scott Walker.  Channel 3000 reports.
The group that is spearheading an effort to gather signatures to recall Gov. Scott Walker said on Thursday that it has collected more than 500,000 signatures so far.
The United Wisconsin coalition said Thursday that more than 507,533 signatures were collected in just 30 days. They need about 33,000 more to trigger a recall election sometime in 2012. Petitions are due Jan. 17.
The group announced it has set a new collection goal of 720,277 signatures. That's nearly 200,000 more signatures that would be needed to force a recall election, officials said.
This is big news because folks were originally uncertain if enough signatures could be gathered in just sixty days.  In half the time allotted, they are almost done.  The extra 200,000 signatures make sense because some signatures will likely be thrown as as fake or as duplicates.

Speaking of which, Governor Walker has filed a suit against the Government Accountability Board to force them to throw out those duplicate signatures.  Again from Channel 3000.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Waukesha County Circuit Court asks a judge to order that the Government Accountability Board look for and eliminate duplicative signatures, clearly fake names like Mickey Mouse and signatures with clearly illegible signatures.
The lawsuit said allowing multiple signatures is a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because it harms the rights of those not signing.
But the GAB said state law places the burden of challenging those signatures on the office holder being targeted for recall.
Board director Kevin Kennedy defended the review process, saying it has been used since the 1980s in every state and local recall effort against incumbents from both political parties.
To make doubly sure that duplicate signatures are eliminated, the Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly wants to make signing a petition twice a felony.  WISN reports.
Republican state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald wants to make it a felony for anyone to sign the same recall petition multiple times.
Fitzgerald on Thursday introduced the Recall Petition Fraud Prevention Act that would make that a crime. State law already outlaws signing a fake name to a petition or someone else's name.
Under current law, the burden for finding fraudulent signatures rests with those challenging them and not the state elections board, which reviews the petitions once submitted.
The word desperate comes to mind.  It seems that the Governor and his party are not appreciated by a lot of people in Wisconsin.  The Governor and his Republican legislature are now doing everything that they can to hold on to power.  Desperate.

If a Wisconsin citizen signs a petition in late November and then, after the holiday parties, isn't sure if he already signed and does so again in early January, that would be a felony.  Well, not this time because the law cannot be passed until the legislature is back in session, after the petitions are due.  Still, making a mistake and signing a second time would be a felony??!?

16 November 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.
30 November 2011, FollowUp 1.
4 December 2011, FollowUp 2.
11 December 2011, FollowUp 3.
14 December 2011, FollowUp 4.

30 December 2011, FollowUp 6.
13 January 2012, FollowUp 7.
17 January 2012, FollowUp 8.
25 January 2012, FollowUp 9.
2 February 2012, FollowUp 10.
9 February 2012, FollowUp 11.
12 February 2012, FollowUp 12.
18 February 2012, FollowUp 13.
22 February 2012, FollowUp 14.
6 March 2012, FollowUp 15.
12 March 2012, FollowUp 16.
16 March 2012, FollowUp 17.
30 March 2012, FollowUp 18.
31 March 2012, FollowUp 19.
3 April 2012, FollowUp 20.
4 April 2012, FollowUp 21.
11 April 2012, FollowUp 22.
14 April 2012, FollowUp 23.
17 April 2012, FollowUp 24.
21 April 2012, FollowUp 25.
29 April 2012, FollowUp 26.
2 May 2012, FollowUp 27.
6 May 2012, FollowUp 28.
10 May 2012, FollowUp 29.
13 May 2012, FollowUp 30.
23 May 2012, FollowUp 31.
24 May 2012, FollowUp 32.
30 May 2012, FollowUp 33.
2 June 2012, FollowUp 34.
4 June 2012, FollowUp 35.
5 June 2012, FollowUp 36.

Repudiation: Middle School in Lehi, Utah Outs Student to Parents

Alpine School District is defending their decision to tell a fourteen year old student's parents that the student is gay.  The Salt Lake Tribune has the side of the district spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley.
Parents were notified that their 14-year-old son is gay, she said, because the school was being "proactive" in preventing bullying. The student was not disciplined at school, she said, but his parents, who have asked that their names not be released to media, have decided to keep him home until attention surrounding the issue dies down. The student plans to return to school after winter break.
"We do include parents any time there's a potential safety issue with a student," Bromley said.
As an initial instinct, I do understand why the school district thought to involve the parents.  Bullying is a real problem and parents should be the first in line to defend their children.  The problem is that this isn't always how things work out.

In Manhattan NY, the other side of the country from Lehi UT, there is an organization called the Ali Forney Center (AFC).  The AFC helps homeless LGBTQ youth, providing limited housing and resources.
As the visibility of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people grows in our society, more and more LGBT teens are finding the courage to come out of the closet.
Tragically, as many as 25% of these teens are rejected by their families, and many end up homeless on the streets. Homeless LGBT teens are more likely than straight homeless teens to be subjected to violence on the streets, and in the homeless shelter system. They suffer from inordinate rates of mental illness, trauma, HIV infection and substance abuse.
I don't believe that any school is in a position to know whether telling the parents that their child is a homosexual will help the child or further endanger that child.  They also can't know whether giving the child time to come out on the child's schedule would be better or worse.

Allow me, please, to tell a different story.  About a decade ago I contacted a student's mother to tell her that her son was a cutter.  This was a parent who I had known for some time and I thought that I was doing the right thing.  The mother reminded me that she was a registered nurse and would know and that I was wrong.  Earlier that day I had sent the student to the bathroom to get paper towels to clean up the blood that he had dribbled on his desk while cutting himself in class.  What I didn't know was that the parents were just separated and heading for divorce.  The student spent time on the street before moving into his father's basement.  While I was not responsible for the tensions in the family, my jumping into this without being a professional counselor and without knowing the full story of what was happening at home did not help matters.

According to Salt Lake City's ABC station, the student did not want his parents to know.
“He didn’t want his parents to know,” said Rhonda Bromley of the district.
But she says it was fear by school administrators that he would be bullied that led to that decision.
A day after he was outed at the school the 14-year old text a message to his friend and it ended up on Facebook.
It read: "Well the first day, Miss Hill called me down to her office and told me that I couldn't be openly gay at my school.”
But Bromley says the teacher worried the boy would be bullied.
“There were no threats,” says Bromley.
But the text the teen claimed this: “The next day, she calls me down to the office and … tells that she is going to basically force my (sic) out of the closet, by telling my parents that I am gay, despite my protests."
“He was scared,” says Bromley. “He was reluctant but he did finally agree and he asked not to be in the room when it that conversation happened.
Scared?  Perhaps terrified would be a better word.  It took me many years to talk with my parents about my sexuality.  This boy was forced into it against his will without a say in the timing.  And the school had no way of knowing that the parents would not be among the bullies.

KCPW has what may be the conclusion of the story.
Bromley says the student at Willowcreek middle school made his sexual orientation known through a publicly displayed class assignment. She says some students reacted negatively. Administrators confronted the students, pulled the boy aside and despite his reluctance, informed his parents. She says they were supportive, but decided to keep him home for a few days.
I pray that the parents' assurances to the school are genuine.  Slowly our society is changing to where a child can be out at home without fear in more and more families.  It is a slow process of change.  There are still too many children who end up at the Ali Forney Center or, worse, not.

Repudiation: Fox News Fake Graph