Archive for the ‘LGBT Politics’ Category

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.

 

Advertisements

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.

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?

John Eastman of NOM Puts His Foot in It.

March 15, 2013

By “Chief Roberts,” Eastman is referring to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will be deliberating later this month on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Read the full story here.

NOM-Eastman-Adoption

The Ultimate Anti-Gay-Marriage Ad

March 5, 2013

Austin Ruse and Robert P. George Get Bogged Down in Anti-SSM Arguments (Again)

February 18, 2013
Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse, writing for Crisis Magazine, explains why the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold both the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8:

In a Harvard Law Review article, … [Robert] George, [Ryan] Anderson, and [Sherif] Girgis answer the question “what is marriage?” They describe two competing views; one they call “conjugal”, and the other “revisionist.” Allowing for the revisionist view “can cause corresponding social harms. It weakens the rational foundation (and hence social practice) of stabilizing marital norms on which social order depends: norms such as permanence, exclusivity, monogamy.”

George and his colleagues argue that marriage can only be “conjugal”, that is, a “comprehensive union joining spouses in body as well as in mind, it is begun by commitment and sealed by sexual intercourse. So completed in the acts by which new life is made, it is especially apt for and deepened by procreation and calls for that broad sharing uniquely fit for family life.” Such a comprehensive view of marriage is still available to sterile couples but not for homosexuals.

So here’s what Mr. Ruse would have us believe: Opposite-sex marriage (OSM), in its current incarnation in many parts of the world, is conjugal, not revisionist. And same-sex marriage (SSM), wherever it is practiced, is revisionist and not conjugal. Let’s unpack that a bit.

Here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition of “conjugal:” of or relating to the married state or to married persons and their relations. From Latin conjungere, to join, unite in marriage.

Robert P. George

Robert P. George

Ironically, it appears that Mr. George and his associates would like us to buy a revisionist definition of “conjugal,” one that appropriates the term for opposite-sex couples while denying it to same-sex ones. Do we have to remind Mr. George and Mr. Ruse that marriage between homosexual couples is a fait accompli in about a dozen countries and in as many U.S. states? In those jurisdictions, the definition of “marriage” has expanded, and with it the definition of “conjugal.” The horses are out of the barn. The gin has already gone into the tonic. Canada, France, the U.K., Argentina, Spain, and the Netherlands, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington State are highly unlikely to reverse course on this issue.

And since when is the term “revision” so negatively loaded? Editors “revise” documents with the aim of improving them, not compromising them. George claims that the revisionist view “weakens the rational foundation of stabilizing marital norms on which social order depends: norms such as permanence, exclusivity, monogamy.” Weakens? Why not “strengthens?” Do we detect a bias here? What is his basis for claiming that same-sex unions are not just as “permanent, exclusive, and monogamous” as opposite-sex ones? With divorce rates at around 50% in the U.S., heterosexuals have not set the bar very high. And what if SSMs proved to be more permanent, exclusive, and monogamous than OSMs? Would either Mr. Ruse or Mr. George renounce OSM as an institution?

But even assuming that the word has purely negative connotations, is anyone trying to “revise” or downgrade the meaning of Mr. Ruse’s marriage or Mr. George’s? An even more pertinent question is whether the marriage template that they consider normative is not itself also a revision of earlier ones. And a quick scan of the history of marriage tells us that it is. That history is so well-known by now that it doesn’t bear repeating here.

If Messrs Ruse and George are trying to lay a sturdy foundation for their argument, bubble-wrap and jello are not good choices for a material. But let’s go on.

Assuming that SSM is indeed revisionist and that revisionism is “bad” in a world resistant to change of any kind, is it fair to describe the “revisionist” understanding of marriage as “essentially an emotional union, accompanied by any consensual activity?” Reducing all the variety and richness of marriage to a single one of its elements is a gratuitous insult to same-sex married couples the world over. And the characterization is patently false, all the more so because it appends the phrase, “accompanied by any consensual activity.” “Any??” Is George suggesting that “revisionist” ideas of marriage allow ANY consensual activity whatsoever? This is the old slippery-slope scare coded into the phrase with a single three-letter word. But the U.S. Supreme Court is deliberating on SSM, not on incestuous marriage or polyandry or marriage with one’s most cherished farm animal. Hopefully, the Supremes will recognize this for the red herring that it is.

George’s panegyric to marriage (the second paragraph I cited above) would describe an SSM very well except for the part about “making new life,” which is pivotal to the Catholic concept. However, he stops short of asserting that marriage should be unavailable to those who cannot or choose not to procreate, though the Church itself requires that there be some “openness” to the possibility of procreation. George’s slight but significant pull-back from Catholic teaching on this point may be a sign of realism on his part: he knows that any argument based explicitly and overtly on Catholic doctrine will be shot down in the SCOTUS. The problem for his modified position (i.e., allowing for the possibility of non-procreative marriage) may open the door to non-procreative marriage between homosexuals, at least from the Court’s point of view. Only by keeping procreation in the equation can George argue against SSM, but in doing so, he limits his audience to fellow conservative Catholics. In other words, he is in a no-win situation.

Ruse acts as though he hasn’t understood what George just said, for he adds: “Such a comprehensive view of marriage is still available to sterile couples but not for homosexuals.” Or maybe he thought he needed to firm it up a bit. George’s reasoning doesn’t justify such a conclusion, and Ruse doesn’t explain what he means. SCOTUS would certainly want to know. Pro-SSM attorneys could drive a semi into such a gaping hole in the argument.

The rest of Ruse’s article is plagued by the same sorts of circular reasoning, red herrings, false premises, semantic slights of hand, and non sequiturs. If either Mr. Ruse or Mr. George imagines they have something to contribute to the defense of DOMA or Proposition 8, would somebody kindly inform them that they’re nowhere ready for prime time. If the SCOTUS judges are half as astute as Judge Roy Walker (whose court overturned Proposition 8), gays and lesbians have nothing to fear.

Finally, I cannot resist calling out Mr. Ruse’s operatic hyperbole at the very end of his article: “[SCOTUS] could declare  homosexual marriage the law of the land. … This would signal the end of any kind of marriage culture in the United States.” Here the beautiful but beleaguered heroine jumps off the castle wall / dies in the arms of her protector (the Church?) / swallows the poison / impales herself upon a sword / is impaled upon a sword by a gang of rampaging homosexuals hell bent on destroying not only the traditional family but Civilization As We Know It. Following the heroine’s death, opposite-sex marriage is outlawed and only homosexuals may marry. Children may only be raised by same-sex parents, who instruct them about the joys of gay sex night and day. Oh weh! What have we come to?

Crisis Magazine Writer Austin Ruse Sees Nazi Totalitarianism in Recent European Court of Human Rights Decision Regarding LGBT Rights

January 19, 2013

Jack-Boots-Marching-620x320

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse, president of C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute) has just published an incendiary article on the paleo-conservative Catholic website, Crisis Magazine. The piece, entitled “Yet More Christians Silenced in Europe … and America,” depicts Christians (by which he means paleo-conservative Catholics) as victims of a systematic oppression rivaled only by that of the Nazis against … (of course) the Catholics! At the top of the article is a photo of goose-stepping Nazi troops. Mr. Ruse, questioned about this photo, replies that modern liberals have “pronounced authoritarian tendencies.” The Crisis Editor who chose the photo adds, “I wanted to hold up a mirror to those who seek to restrict the freedoms of Christians [paleo-conservative Catholics]. We know how thick-headed these activists are. Subtle argument doesn’t work. Since the Left perceives the Nazis as rightwingers (which they were not), it would make more of an impact ON THEM…”

I have been blacklisted from the Crisis website for challenging statements like these. However, I would be pleased if others could take up the slack. You’ll find the article here.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France

Mr. Ruse’s beef is with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which earlier this week ruled that an individual’s religious beliefs do not trump the rights of an LGBT person and may not be used to discriminate against him or her. Mr. Ruse repeatedly distorts the facts in this case.

One of the two decisions that drew Mr. Ruse’s ire concerned Lillian Ladele, a civil registrar in London, who was dismissed from her job because she refused to officiate at same-sex partnership ceremonies after these were made legal in 2005. She claimed she was a victim of religious discrimination. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided that she was discriminating against LGBT persons—which is to say, they had been her victims.

The second case concerned another British subject, Gary McFarlane,  a counselor providing psycho-sexual therapy to couples. He refused to work with same-sex couples and was dismissed. Like Lillian Ladele, he claimed he was a victim of religious discrimination. Again, the ECHR ruled that he had discriminated against LGBT persons, not they or his employer against him.

The Court ruled that religious freedom is no ground for exemption from the law. The principle of equality and equal treatment cannot be circumvented with a simple reference to religion.

Freedom of religion is never absolute. Sikh boys in the U.S. are not permitted to carry swords to their schools, though their religion requires them to do so. In France, Muslim girls may not wear veils in the public schools.

Mr. Ruse’s rhetoric employs all the usual tropes of scapegoating. He makes homosexuals out to be like vampires (“Has that slaked the thirst of the homosexuals?” he writes.) and implies that they are atheists (“They want Christians prostrate before them.”)

Actually, most homosexuals are neither vampires nor atheists, and many of them are devout Christians of the Catholic persuasion. The aptly-named Mr. Ruse is at the very least disingenuous in framing these Court decisions as a victory of homosexuals over Christians. That is just not the case. The decisions are simply a victory of LGBTs over discrimination.

_____________________________

UPDATE, 1/31/13: National Organization for Marriage (NOM) co-founder Robert George has submitted an amicus brief in the California Proposition 8 case about to be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. In it, he takes a position diametrically opposed to that of the European Court of Human Rights, which declared that freedom from discrimination trumps religious freedom. In his brief, George essentially claims that religious freedom should trump freedom from discrimination. Read more here.

Response to Dale O’Leary, author of “The Defense of Marriage Requires Honesty About Homosexuality,” Crisis Magazine, 12/20/12

December 20, 2012

[Read Ms. O’Leary’s article here.]

Ms. O’Leary, how ironic that your article calls for “honesty” about homosexuality but is so starkly and fundamentally dishonest in its claims. You would have us believe you are speaking as a professional, an expert, and perhaps even as a scientist: “It is long past time to educate the public and particularly the younger generation as to what we know about SSA,” you write. Who is “we?” Surely not the medical community, which has time and again denounced the reparative therapies that you advocate.

Maybe by “we,” you means the Catholic Church? But the Church doesn’t “know” anything about homosexuality. It is not in the business of research or the accumulation of scientific knowledge; it is in the business of propagating certain views of society that are often at odds with scientific knowledge.

So let’s be honest about where we’re coming from, Ms. O’Leary. This is a propaganda piece masquerading as health science, and one sure sign of this is the conspicuous absence of journal citations or even names of researchers. You refer to “numerous well-designed studies” without a hint as to their origin. You make easily disprovable claims from beginning to end, in the apparent conviction that none but the “faithful Catholic laity” for whom Crisis articles are intended will read your piece.

Identical twins don’t share the same sexual attractions? Check again. More than half of them do. There is “no evidence” of a genetic or hormonal cause? Time to read up on the literature. By “the literature,” I mean the scientific literature, not junk-science articles in Catholic magazines. You want evidence? Just ask me. I’ve got it waiting in the wings. Homosexuality is caused by “masturbation with fantasy?” I suppose masturbation also causes pimples? … and hair to grow in the palms of your hand? All this is early 20th-century Catholicism redux.

If you are interested in disease control and prevention, follow commenter “Tim’s” advice. Go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and read what they have to say about HIV.  Here’s what I found:

“The effects of homophobia, stigma and discrimination can be especially hard on adolescents and young adults. Young MSM and other sexual minorities are at increased risk of being bullied in school. They are also at risk of being rejected by their families and, as a result, are at increased risk of homelessness. A study published in 2009 compared gay, lesbian, and bisexual young adults who experienced strong rejection from their families with their peers who had more supportive families. The researchers found that those who experienced stronger rejection were:

  • 8.4 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide
  • 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression
  • 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs
  • 3.4 times more likely to have risky sex”

I hope that before you write another article about HIV, you will do some serious soul-searching about  the issue of responsibility for the HIV scourge. Blaming HIV on “troubled childhoods,” “narcissistic attitudes,” “[early] wounding,” “rebellion against the moral law,” and “[psychological] disorders” all adds up to homophobia, which is one of the three causes of HIV as identified by the CDC. If anyone needs conversion, it is you.

Doughlas Remy (The Bent Angle)

propaganda-despair