Archive for the ‘Gay Rights’ Category

Christians vs. Gays: The Damage Done

June 30, 2013

GAY MARRIAGE OPPONENT HOLDS SIGN IN PROTEST OUTSIDE STATEHOUSE

Excerpt from “Christians v. Gays: The Damage Done,” by David Gushee. Published in Religion Dispatches, 6/26/13.

Many [conservative Christian activists] are already arguing about the great damage that will be done to marriage with today’s decisions [U.S. Supreme Court rulings of 6/26/13 on DOMA and California’s Proposition 8]. I would suggest that a more important damage to Christian witness in American culture has already been done, not by the Supreme Court but by the Christian activists; and not just today but for a generation or more. And that damage will intensify in proportion to the Christian outcry in days to come.

What has that damage been?

  • Christians (understood to mean here heterosexual activist traditionalists) have become identified with actively pursuing the denial of rights and benefits to others that they themselves enjoy. In other words, the “Gospel” has been identified with the cause of self-benefiting social discrimination against a minority group, a losing hand if ever there was one.
  • Christians, claiming to follow Jesus, have become identified as the chief enemies of gay and lesbian human beings (some of whom are also Christians), and of the moral and legal rights of lesbians and gays, whereas Jesus’ enemies tended to be people who performed exactly this kind of marginalization on the despised ones of their era.

Continue reading this article.

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I Believe

June 27, 2013
Michael Knaapen and his husband John Becker react outside the US Supreme Court in Washington DC on June 26, 2013. By Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty.

Michael Knaapen and his husband John Becker react outside the US Supreme Court in Washington DC on June 26, 2013. By Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty.

by Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish, 6/26/13

Some final thoughts after so many years of so many thoughts. Marriage is not a political act; it’s a human one. It is based on love, before it is rooted in law. Same-sex marriages have always existed because the human heart has always existed in complicated, beautiful and strange ways. But to have them recognized by the wider community, protected from vengeful relatives, preserved in times of illness and death, and elevated as a responsible, adult and equal contribution to our common good is a huge moment in human consciousness. It has happened elsewhere. But here in America, the debate was the most profound, lengthy and impassioned. This country’s democratic institutions made this a tough road but thereby also gave us the chance and time to persuade the country, which we did. I understand and respect those who in good conscience fought this tooth and nail. I am saddened by how many failed to see past elaborate, ancient codes of conduct toward the ultimate good of equal human dignity. I am reminded of the courage of a man like Evan Wolfson who had the vision and determination to change the world.

But this happened the right way – from the ground up, with argument, with lawsuits, with cultural change, with individual courage. I remember being told in the very early 1990s that America was far too bigoted a place to allow marriage equality – just as I was told in 2007 that America was far too bigoted a place to elect a black president. I believed neither proposition, perhaps because I love this country so much I knew it would eventually get there. I trusted the system. And it worked. From 1989 (when I wrote the first case for this on the cover of a national magazine) to today is less than a quarter century. Amazing, when you think of how long it took for humanity to even think about this deep wound in the human psyche.

So to those who are often tempted to write off America’s ability to perfect its union still further, to lead the world in the clarity of its moral and political discourse, and to resist the pull of fundamentalism when it conflicts with human dignity, let me just say: I believe.

Because I have seen.

 

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin (John Corvino)

April 10, 2013

Lizz Winstead to NOM: You Are Not Doctors!

March 23, 2013

NOM on AAP position on SSM

The GOP’s Looming Gay Crisis

March 22, 2013

by Andrew Sullivan, The Dish, 3/21/13

Excerpt:

How amazing that marriage equality, once wielded by Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove as their key weapon in winning Ohio and the presidency in 2004, now threatens to kill the GOP as a national brand. With every year that passes, every attack on gays is now felt by growing numbers of their own family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors. There’s a multiplier effect here. And gerry-mandering has enabled the GOP to control the House without ever having to grapple with those voters.

If I were Karl Rove, I’d be praying for Anthony Kennedy to write the gay Loving vs Virginia. It would take the issue off the political table for good, and leave them a nice juicy judicial tyranny argument instead. But a mixed verdict – say one that allows for federal recognition of civil marriages in the nine states and DC that has them, and that mandates that civil unions with all the substantive benefits of civil marriage must be called marriage – would keep the issue alive, violate no federalist principles, and leave the GOP’s fundamentalist intransigence in place – as a dead weight around their necks as they try to stay afloat.

Read the entire article here.

Legal Precedents That SCOTUS May Consider in U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry.

March 20, 2013

SCOTUS building

As promised in my last post, here is a list of several Supreme Court decisions that may have some bearing on the two cases that the Court will begin hearing next week (March 26): U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. This list is culled from Robert R. Reilly’s article (reviewed below) and from Paul McGuire’s response.

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965): Invalidated a law prohibiting the sale of contraceptives to married individuals.

Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972): Invalidated a law prohibiting the sale of contraceptives to unmarried individuals.

Boddie v. Connecticut (1971): Prohibited fee barriers to divorce—barriers that might seem desirable if the right to marry were tied to the state’s interest in responsible marital procreation.

Roe v. Wade (1973): The right to privacy encompasses a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

Carey v. Population Services International (1977): Held that it was unconstitutional to prohibit the sale of contraceptives to minors, the advertisements or displays of contraceptives, and the sale of contraceptives to adults except through a pharmacist. (Wikipedia)

Zablocki v. Redhail (1978): Residents will child support obligations may marry. (The right to marry is separate from procreation, childbirth, child rearing, and family relationships.)

Turner v. Safely (1987): Incarcerated prisoners, even those with no right to conjugal visits, may marry.

Lawrence v. Texas (2003): Overturned Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), which had declared Alabama’s law against sodomy constitutional.

Christian Looks Into the “Abyss of Nihilism” Brought to Us by Same-Sex Marriage

March 18, 2013
Typical nihilist

Typical nihilist

Carson Holloway, writing for The Witherspoon Institute’s online magazine Public Discourse (“Same-Sex Marriage and the Abyss of Nihilism,” 3/18/13), wants you to be afraid. Very afraid. (Read the article here.)

Tim Brock responds:

The title of Holloway’s article reminds me of “Pilgrim’s Progress,” except that the “Abyss of Nihilism” sounds so much more frightening than the “Slough of Despond”  or the “City of Destruction.”

Holloway tells us that even the foreboding of conservatives “does not go far enough.” They must peer into the abyss, “… a realm in which there are no longer any solid or reliable public standards of judgment…” This is scary stuff.

But same-sex couples have been living together and raising children for a very long time. In nine states, they can marry. In many of the others, they have absolutely every right (under state law) that heterosexual couples have, including the right to adopt. And the sky has not fallen. There is no sign of impending civilizational collapse.

Holloway sees SSM as a thumb in the nose toward tradition, but of course progressives see it as an honoring and an opening-up of a great tradition.

As the years go on, and as more and more same-sex couples marry and raise children, it is going to become harder and harder to claim that we are all “leaping into the abyss.” Like most false prophecies, this one will just embarrass those who propagated it.

The World Can’t Hear You on Marriage

March 18, 2013
Peter Leithart

Peter Leithart

Peter J. Leithart, writing for First Things (“The World Can’t Hear Us on Marriage,” 3/15/13), concedes that “virtually all the cultural and political momentum” is in the direction of same-sex marriage legalization. This is an impressive concession, but even more impressive is his admission that “arguments against gay marriage are theologically fraught.”

Christians and Jews who try to mount biblically or theologically based arguments will find themselves ignored or denounced by secular gatekeepers precisely because they offer biblically and theologically based arguments.

In Leithart’s view, the cause of this sad state of affairs is that the secularized public is “dull of hearing,”  and “foolish and senseless;” they “have ears but do not hear.” The Biblically literate may recall that these grim assessments are delivered by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, apparently frustrated that no one listens to them.

Our cultural drift toward marriage equality can only be reversed, Leithart believes, by a “cultural revolution.” However, he offers no suggestions as to how such a revolution might be launched and does not appear to think one is imminent.

Instead, Leithart urges his readers to continue fighting the good fight using all the usual arguments, but, he adds, “…we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking any of this readily touches the experience or intellectual habits of a majority.” He is spot-on, but then one has to ask why anyone should bother deploying the same old theological arguments, invoking tradition, natural law, sexual complementarity, sin, the creational order, and sexual dimorphism, when it has become so abundantly obvious that they don’t work, even among Catholics, 62% of whom support same-sex marriage in this country? The answer, I suppose, is that the prophet is one “crying in the wilderness;” though no one listens to him, he must nevertheless prophesy, because God has called him to do so.

Leithart believes the Spirit will eventually win people’s hearts. In the meantime, good Catholics should “aspire to form marriages and families that are living parables of the gospel.” As consolation for their failure to win over the larger public, they must remember that they are “in the good company of Isaiah and Jeremiah, of Jesus and Paul.”

I actually appreciated Mr. Leithart’s light-hearted attitude about this issue. (Why do people so often live up to their names?) He seemed to be saying, “Don’t change anything you’re doing, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t reverse the direction that things are moving. People are not listening, but you are a prophet, and people never seem to listen to prophets. It just comes with the territory. So consider yourself in good company, and meanwhile, enjoy your marriage.”

I completely agree, even with his advice to change nothing one is currently doing (I agree because what one is currently doing is not working).

I wrote him the following:

Mr. Leithart, the trouble with prophecies is that so many of them are wrong. If we turn a deaf ear to them, it is often because they are annoying, intrusive, irrelevant, incoherent, and improbable.

There is no shortage of prophets in this world, and there is no shortage of listeners. The reason that you may not recognize this is that their prophetic discourse is secular in nature. It does not use the metaphors of religion, and so it goes under your radar.

Here are three of my favorite prophets: George Monbiot (global warming), Maude Barlow (global water resources), and Paul Krugman (economics).

Opposition to same-sex marriage has so far been almost entirely based in theological notions that most people neither understand nor care about. These notions don’t stand up very well to critical scrutiny in the places that matter—the courts, the legislatures, the media, the universities. What is more, Americans are a pragmatic lot who may pay lip service to improbable theological arguments on Sunday morning, but during the rest of the week they live in a world where love, happiness, and equality are generally valued and encouraged. And nothing can trump theological arguments as decisively as one cherished family member coming out of the closet or one dear friend marrying his partner. At such times, invoking Thomas Aquinas or natural law seems harshly discordant, inappropriate, even mean-spirited. Who wants to be the evil fairy arriving at the wedding party with a curse for the lovers?

Peter Leithart wrote an earlier article (also for First Things) about this very subject, entitled, “Gay Marriage and Christian Imagination” (2/27/13). It is well worth the read, and to fully understand it, one must view the recent debate between Douglas Wilson and Andrew Sullivan around the question, “Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples Good for Society?”

An excerpt from Leithart’s article of 2/27/13:

Wilson closed the debate with a lovely sketch of the marital shape of redemptive history, from the garden to the rescue of the Bride by the divine Husband to the revelation of a bride from heaven. In order for that to carry any weight, though, people have to be convinced that social institutions should participate in and reflect some sort of cosmic order. Who believes that these days? Wilson tells a cute story, many will say, but what does it have to do with public policy?

If that’s a hard case to make, it’s even harder to make the case that homosexuals are in any way a threat to our civilization. Paul says that homosexual desire is unnatural and, more than that, that the approval of homosexuality is a symptom of advanced cultural decay. Sullivan had no time for this kind of argument: Show me data, he kept saying; show me the specific ways that gay marriage has harmed society or heterosexual marriage in particular. Given his assumptions about what might count as evidence, it’s a hard case to make. To believe Paul, we have to believe that God has standards of sexual behavior, that those standards can be known, and that He judges humans for their conformity to the standards. Who believes that these days?

Unfit and In Denial: A Church That Has Lost All Authority

March 11, 2013

by Kevin McKenna, published on Alternet, 3/3/13

Britain's Cardinal Keith O'Brian

Britain’s Cardinal Keith O’Brian

Of all the theories advanced explaining why the Catholic priesthood attracts so many young gay men, this is the most valid: it is a direct consequence of the church’s official attitude to homosexuality and the way that this has insinuated itself into the fabric of what we might call a traditional Catholic family with its roots in Ireland.

In such an upbringing homosexuality is still treated as the sum of all sins. Catholic families long ago found a way of dealing with abortion, extramarital sex and divorce, the other three horsemen of the Catholic apocalypse, whenever they occurred close to home, but not homosexuality.

The others could all be processed and interpreted as very human failings stemming from the powerful instinct of physical desire and our need for affection and love. The Christian virtues of understanding, compassion and forgiveness are built to outlast initial shock and hurt in these “acceptable” moral failings. Not so homosexuality.

For how many Catholic parents have secretly prayed that their son “does not turn out gay” or obsess about their response if the eldest boy shows no interest in football and insists on taking a shower every day and buying all his own clothes? The church’s pastoral care and guidance for its own gay community is nonexistent. Catholic gays are non-people in my church; they are “los desaparecidos” and one day many of us will be called to account for how we have treated them.

The church has nothing to say to a child reared in these circumstances and who is beginning to encounter issues with his sexual identity. And so, by a perverse irony, the Catholic priesthood becomes a viable option for him. For what better way to submerge your “problem sexuality” than by committing yourself to a life of celibacy and a lifetime of reflection on the burden that God has deemed you must bear for your redemption and his glory?

Continue reading this article.

BREAKING: American Sociological Association Files Amicus Brief Opposing Both Prop 8 and DOMA

March 5, 2013

This is really exciting news. The American Sociological Association had not joined the early amicus brief filed jointly by major medical and social welfare associations in the Hollingsorth v. Perry case (Prop 8), to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court later this month. Now, they have filed one of their own for both the Prop 8 case and U.S. v. Windsor, which concerns the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It puts the nail in the coffin of the Mark Regnerus study.

The argument, as outlined in the brief’s table of contents, is unequivocal:

Scholarly consensus is clear: Children of same-sex parents fare just as well as children of opposite-sex parents.

The research claimed to undermine the consensus either does not address same-sex parents and their children or is mischaracterized.

The Regnerus study does not support conclusions regarding the impact of being raised by same-sex parents.

The studies cited by BLAG, the Proposition 8 proponents, and their amici do not address same-sex parents and therefore do not undermine the consensus.