As the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week on both Hollingsworth v. Perry - the challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state - and U.S. v. Windsor - the challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which recognized marriage at the federal level as between a man and a woman – state and federal laws effecting marriage equality face their first legal confrontation with the Judicial Branch. Herein I make the constitutional case for marriage equality that respects both individual and religious liberties.
Last week, Senator Rand Paul proposed removing federal recognition of marriage - for everyone – telling Bob Costa at the National Review:
Despite having no faith of my own, I am fine with those who do. If you want to live your life according to the teachings of a holy book or religious leader, I’m fine as long as you cause me no harm. I honestly could not care less if you believe in no god or twenty, given none of those gods are telling you to hurt people. But it is a different issue entirely when you try to suggest that our laws should reflect the doctrines of your particular church.
The conservative argument against marriage equality has long been couched in talk about “harm to children” and “destroying traditional marriage”, but in reality it has always been based on a simple idea - my religion doesn’t approve of homosexuality, therefore our laws cannot condone it. As it has become more and more apparent that same-sex marriage causes no harm whatsoever, anti-equality forces have gotten more desperate.
Take this post at the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog. Ostensibly about a new marriage equality law in Illinois, the author mentions the actual law only in passing before launching in a defense of marriage buttressed only by the words of a Catholic priest (who, incidentally, had some interesting things to say when a gay pride parade was moved to pass by his church). Does this priest have any special knowledge on the subject of marriage? It doesn’t appear so. His expertise clearly lies in one thing - the teachings and doctrine of his church.
This weekend has, for my family, been a case study in the dichotomous nature of life. For my family personally, it was a joyous weekend. On Friday, I took two of my boys into town for the afternoon. We got haircuts and then I took them to do their Secret Santa shopping for Christmas (in our family, with eight children, it can quickly get very expensive for the kids to try to buy each of their siblings a gift, so we put their names in a hat and then they blindly pick out the name for whom they will be a “Secret Santa”). Later that evening, back at home, we were joined for dinner by four young missionaries who are far from home this Christmas. With my own oldest son, Elijah, on a mission in Mexico, they’ve become a sort of proxy for him until he returns.
Saturday was even more special, as we gathered with family and friends for the baptism of my daughter Mahalie. For Christians, few events in life are more meaningful or precious as baptism, as we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and promise to live like Him, knowing we’ll often fall short, even as we try each day to do better. Seeing my sweet little daughter, dressed in all white, representing purity and innocence, brought tears to my eyes. These milestones are, of course, bittersweet, since they remind us of how quickly time flies, and one day we wake up and our little babies have grown up and are living their own lives, going to college or on missions, or getting married and starting families of their own.
It is far past time to separate the conservative movement in this country from it’s fanatical marriage to religion, to once and for all put to bed the idea that all conservatives are Christian and that to be a conservative one must be a very religious person.
This is complete balderdash.
Recent surveys have put the number of nonreligious Americans at 20%, or one-fifth of the population. That’s right: one out of every five Americans does not have a religious affiliation. That’s not the same as being atheist or agnostic—we’re only 6% of the population—but it is significant. That’s because almost every argument for social conservative policies, which are a main course in the conservative policy dinner, are argued for on either religious lines or appeals to “tradition” or “Western civilization,” and those almost always come back to religion too.
What that means is that there is automatically one-fifth of the population that disagrees with you, and will always disagree with you, and will very likely always support your opponent.
Freedom shouldn’t be all that complicated. Unfortunately, it apparently is.
Far to many people feel that freedom really only means freedom for the things they like. Oh sure, the Second Amendment is sacrosanct, but the freedom to not have to hear Christianity rammed down someone’s throat? No, that’s a whole other ballgame. The fact that the First Amendment prevents the establishment of a state religion - and Christianity is a relgion - appears lost on many of these folks.
For a nation to be free, and I mean truly free, then we must tolerate things which we may find objectionable. Drug use, prostitution, alcohol consumption (and yes, there are people who still want alcohol prohibition), or whatever. It doesn’t matter, because real freedom must mean that people have the freedom to do a certain amount of bad things.
Should that mean people are free to rape, murder, rob, or anything else? Absolutely not. Those all involve violating the rights of another, and that should always be off limits. I can’t think of a living soul who argues otherwise though I’m sure such fools exist.
However, there are a lot of laws that dictate what I can and can’t do with my own body. Take, for example, laws that prevent me from consuming raw milk. Personally, I think it’s not a smart thing to do. However, I still believe I should have the right to consume it if I so choose. After all, consuming non-pastuerized milk hurts no one but myself.
Many people can see that, and agree with me. However, many of those same people will argue that drug use is a whole other ball game. After all, they say, drugs create a whole world of crime around it. That is true…but only because of prohibition. There is zero evidence that legalizing drugs would do anything but decrease the crime that surrounds drugs.
Several times recently I’ve found myself in discussion with some of my Republican friends about Mitt Romney and the Mormon issue. The argument presented is that Romney can’t win the general election because evangelical voters – specifically those in the South – won’t vote for him because he’s a Mormon and that somehow the red states in the South will become possible Obama victories because of Romney’s faith.
I’m not going to get into the differences between the religious beliefs of evangelical voters and Mitt Romney; that’s a conversation for a different place at a different time (with someone much smarter than me). I would, however, like to address this notion about evangelical voters and their assumed behavior at the polls.
There’s a part of this argument that is valid: the part that takes place in the primary elections. It’s fair to assume that Romney is losing votes in the primary election because of his faith. I’d even make the argument that it’s a part of the reason Rick Santorum has been doing so well lately (though why they pick the liberal Catholic over the liberal Mormon is beyond me). The difference comes when we’re talking about a general election instead of a primary election.
In the primary, Romney will take a hit on being a Mormon just like Ron Paul loses votes over his stance on foreign policy. It’s the same way Newt Gingrich will lose votes because he is (or was) a pretentious, two-timing slime ball, and Rick Santorum will lose votes because, well, because he’s Rick Santorum.
But when November comes around, if Mitt Romney’s name is on the ballot, he’ll get the vast majority – if not all – of the evangelical vote. People who insist otherwise are deceiving themselves. Here’s why:
Peter Mains is a blogger, political activist and technology consultant living and working in the Phoenix metro area. In his free time, he enjoys writing music, reading voraciously, and trying exotic food.
Rick Santorum’s comments to George Stephanopoulos about John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech to the Houston Ministerial Association are making the rounds. Apparently, the speech so unnerved Rick, that he wanted to throw up. He thinks you should be just as offended as he is, In the interview, Santorum encouraged people to look the speech up and decide for themselves. Having followed Santorum’s suggestion, I couldn’t disagree more.
The worst part is, I want to root for Rick Santorum. Recent revelations paint Kennedy as something of a moral monster. In contrast, Rick Santorum seems like a good family man. When it comes to religious matters, one might think that Santorum would come out on top. Nevertheless, JFK wipes the floor with Santorum — even from beyond the grave.
The one point where I am ambivalent in regard to Kennedy’s speech is his insistence that government not give any funding to religious institutions whatsoever. Bush’s faith-based initiatives and various voucher programs show that public funds can be redirected to religious institutions without creating a de facto established church or violating freedom of religious exercise. Nevertheless, such issues could be completely avoided if we were to reform education, healthcare and so on such that government gets out of those businesses altogether.
Christianity was founded roughly 2,000 years ago on the shores of a big lake in the Near East that still exists today – the Sea of Galilee. It has its roots in a small town that still exists today in present-day Israel – Bethlehem. Its foundation was made permanent a city of much strife for thousands of years both before and after – Jerusalem.
It started out as a small sect of Judaism that most in its day found humorous at best, blasphemous at worst. A small group of fishermen, tax collectors, whores, and other assorted scum of the earth claimed to have met the Messiah, and that he taught that to live, you must die. He claimed he was God, a claim that makes him (paraphrasing CS Lewis here) either a liar, a lunatic, or LORD.
The Messiah had already drawn large crowds during during his life, but that was nothing new for the era. “Messiah”s of various forms had been rising up for hundreds of years before this one, gaining large crowds during their lives, only to die (usually by execution) and have their names be forgotten in the annals of history.
No, two things made this Messiah different: 1) After his extremely brutal -so brutal that he was no longer recognizable as human- and extremely public -so public that people from thousands of miles away saw it first hand- execution, he was seen by thousands living and breathing, with barely a scar on his body. 2) Because of this resurrection, this Messiah continued to draw large crowds after his death.
But 2,000 years later, his followers have devolved to where many of them – perhaps even most of them – have lost sight of the true Jesus Christ of Nazareth and what he did.
Christianity has become a cult.
Televangelist Pat Robertson’s psychotic ramblings seem to often catch people off guard, so in the wake of disaster in Chile and warnings of tsunami in Hawaii, I thought I would try a pre-emptive approach.
Chile recently elected a center-right leader in the form of Sebastian Pinera. While his right of center politics may seem like Robertson should like him, Pinera says that he voted to end the Pinochet regime in a 1988 referendum. When Pinera made that fateful vote (I have a suspicion that Pat Robertson was or would have been a Pinochet supporter), was he making a deal with the devil and thus bringing on today’s disaster?
Recently, a bill came before the House of Representatives aimed at providing a 21st century version of “separate but equal” for Native Hawaiians by creating a parallel government for a portion of Hawaii’s population. It’s called the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act and is by all means a political regression into an age of ethnic separatism and segregation. Perhaps Pat Robertson would believe that the tsunami is coming as God’s wrath over the bill before the House?