Thursday, November 10, 2005

What's right

(Austin, Texas) Conservative church leaders, buoyed by overwhelming passage of a state amendment banning gay marriage in Texas, now ponder their next show of political strength.

The ban, which received support from pulpits across the state, rolled to an easy victory by a 3-to-1 margin Tuesday.

"If that becomes a trend, the evangelical community becomes the largest political voice not only in the state of Texas, but America," said the Rev. Ryan Rush, senior pastor of Bannockburn Baptist Church in Austin. "I think that's a positive thing because evangelical Christians stand for what's right."

If codifying discrimination into law is "what's right" -- I want to be with the guys that are wrong.
The influence of conservative christians in this country is alarming. Not because they are christians, but because any dogmatic, revealed religion operates on the premise of 'revealed truth'. Such a belief system doesn't leave room for debate, argument and reason: the very foundation of an enlightened society.
This is exactly what the founders sought to avoid when they approved the first amendment: government based on 'belief', not reason.
Even though fundamentalism is alive and well in the south, overall, the number of church-goers in this country is slowly dwindling. While that maybe unfortunate for the individual, it will be a good thing for our society.


bombsoverbaghdad said...

While I agree that the rise of the Evangelical political movement is scary, I don't think the dwindling numbers of people attending church is good for our society.

Moreover, I don't think gay marriage is good for our society. I can't picture a world in which I have to explain to my son that men are married to men. I'm fine with civil unions.

In addition, I don't see gay marriage as a "right." Gay people are gay because they have a sexual attraction to someone of the same sex. How can we attach a right simply because they happen to have a particular sexual attraction? And if I'm used to having sex with two women, why can't I marry both? (Nobody has explained this dichotomy to me.)

Democracy Lover said...

I'm with you on this one, Reign. If only there were dwindling numbers of Americans attending church, and increasing numbers of Americans committed to logic, reason and reality, this would be a much better nation. I've just started a remarkable book on this topic The End of Faith.

I also cannot see how we can possibly defend giving special legal rights to consenting adults of differing sexes who enter a committed relationship and not give those rights to others because they happen to be of the same sex. That is blatant discrimination. I think the recent Ku Klux Klan rally in Austin against "gay marriage" should signal to all Americans that our treatment of gays is just like our treatment of blacks before the civil rights movement.

We need to reflect on what the state's interest is in licensing marriage and granting married couples the legal right to be treated as a single entity for contractual purposes, etc. It may once have been the case that it promoted stability for the raising of children, but that's gone now with the high divorce rate. The only legitimate concern the state has, it seems to be, is that the parties to the contract are two adults in their right minds and with the mental capacity to understand what they are doing. That rules out marriage to farm animals and children and polygamy. (A case could be made for polygamy, of course, but I'll leave that sleeping dog lie.)

Reign of Reason said...

BoB, DL,

Thanks for the comments.

BoB, the state shouldn’t be involved in “marriage” at all. The state should only recognize civil unions: a legal status conferred to two people of sound mind who decide to enter into “the agreement” to share their lives.

The choice to spend your life with someone, raise children, etc. is about the most personal decision you can make. Why is the state sanctioning one set of decisions but not another?

If you have a particular religious faith, you should be able to get married in their church – the state should then recognize that union. There are churches that recognize gay marriage – the state should recognize them also. The bottom line is that couples should be blind in the eyes of the state (of course, a couple needs to be composed of “consenting” adults – a concept we recognize as necessary for becoming an independent individual in our society)

What is so terrible about explaining to your son that Bob loves Jim? I worry far more about explaining why Bob killed/raped/stole from/etc. Jim. Or why Jim believes that I’m going to hell for not believing what his preacher says.

Gay marriage has no effect on ‘society’. It’s like suggesting that I care whether or not the couple next door to me (with 3 children) is married or simply living together: its none of my business. There are gay couples in my neighborhood. Whether or not they are ‘married’ makes no difference to me and my life. How could it possibly do so?!

Gay marriages are not a ‘right’: however, the state has decided to give married couples hundreds of legal benefits (and obligations) under the law. To discriminate because one couple’s love involves two men (or two women) seems completely bigoted to me… and the only explanation is that it is rooted in Judeo-Christian teaching: i.e. another negative influence of religions belief on government.

DL, thanks for your points.

I would say, with regard to polygamy, that our society has codified laws/benefits for 2 individuals who have entered into a loving relationship. Such laws would have to be completely re-worked to accommodate polygamy. Frankly, because of its very nature I don’t think you could have a simple set of laws that address the situation.

For instance: If the patriarch in a polygamous relationship dies what happens to the inheritance especially if there is no Will. In a monogamous relationship there is no issue. But in a polygamous one, who gets what? Does the first wife get more? The one who bore more children? .. etc. etc. Additionally, the remaining wives are most likely NOT in a loving relationship – they were with the husband. They will most likely not want to remain together… How do you divide the assets without a pre-arranged agreement? The state would be hard pressed to address the situation.

No, it seems that it’s a very simply matter to extend current law for gay couples: the situation is completely analogous. Not to do so simply caters to a long-standing bigotry.

bombsoverbaghdad said...

You have a very limited view of the State, at least on this issue. While marriage is a religious sacrament, it is also a financial arrangement that the State recognizes and administers, through tax policy, for example.

Further, if the State can regulate the location of strip clubs, the distribution of pornographic material and other "moral" issues, certainly it can regulate relationships the majority of people consider unhealthy or even "deviant." (not my word)

RE explaining that to my kid, I think it's just setting a bad example. Homosexuality is natural, I agree. But it's EXPLODING now. I don't want my son growing up thinking it's ok to to "experiment." I simply don't want him overwhelmed with homosexuality.

I have gay neighbors too. They are men. We are cool. I feed their dogs when they go out of town, we've had dinner, and they bought me a gift when my son was born. Still, I don't really approve of what they do, and if it spread across society it would be a disaster for this society.

All of your arguments re polygamy are hallow. They could be used against gays as well. "Our government was formed under the assumption that only men and women would marry." If the patriarch dies, both women split the estate.

I grew up Christian, but I consider myself a REAL Christian, and somewhat of a Buddhist. I don't believe in violence under almost any circumstance. Jesus would never sanction violence. I believe gays and all other people need and deserve love and understanding. That does NOT mean I have to condone what they do.

Keep pitchin'. I'll keep hittin' 'em out the park.

I will be signing off the internet at 5pm West Coast time, and won't be back on until Monday.

Democracy Lover said...

BoverB has an interesting point..."Homosexuality is natural, I agree. But it's EXPLODING now." Sexuality in general has been "exploding" for several years now. Initially I suppose we could blame the free-love hippies, but now we have to be more rational.

Sexuality has "exploded" in the nation's consciousness for a couple of reasons: the availability of good contraceptive devices, and the unbridled lust for profits in the entertainment industry. It is the latter that ends up pushing unusual sexual practices (I don't consider homosexuality one of those) in our children's faces and making us parents explain things. Interestingly enough, the same religious fanatics who want to shut down all discussion of human sexuality are backing politicians who are diametrically opposed to any restrictions on corporate activity.

Marriage, from a legal point of view, is primarily a financial arrangement and there are no legitimate reasons to discriminate between parties to a financial arrangement based on their private behavior or sexual orientations.

I rather doubt that any young person will be "overwhelmed" by homosexuality any more than they are probably already overwhelmed by our society's obsession with heterosexuality. By the time they are in high school, American kids know about pretty much everything sexual and by the time they graduate, most have tried the things they are most interested in. Is that good? Probably not. Should we discriminate against one kind of sexuality because of it? No.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

BOB - since you are a Christian, I've been wondering. The Bible says that it is an abomination for a man to lay with another man, so does that mean it is okay for a woman to lay with another woman? Gays bad. Lesbians okay? :-)

There is no basis to legally discriminate against homosexuals with respect to the CIVIL institution of marriage. Gay marriage is an oxymoron (at least it is in most religions), but civil unions are a benefit of the state and, thus, should be given to everyone. And, I think that if freely consenting adults want to enter into a polygamous marriage, that should be legal too.

Isn't that the ultimate meaning of freedom?

Reign of Reason said...


Wish I had the time to address bob’s comments. Thanks II and DL…

Here are a couple points.

Homosexuality isn’t “Exploding” – Homosexuality has historically been relegated to the closet where it has done more damage to gays than being “out” could ever do to your son or society. Do you really think being around gay people makes you gay? And if he experiments, what’s the big deal – except to your ego? We’re not talking about crack here… Don’t you just want your son to find someone and be happy?

A common story from gay friends is how they suffered from terrible depression once they realized they were gay. Most gays I’ve talked to have a similar story – the feelings of being a “social outcast” weight heavily on them – at least a decade or so ago. That is a real, measurable consequence of not treating gay people as full equal members of our society: you marginalize and detrimentally effect peoples lives.

A good friend of mine, a military officer, told me he seriously thought about killing himself because he didn’t think his life would be worth living – once he realized he was gay. Is that level of self-hatred and doubt justified so you don’t have to explain to your son that sometimes a man likes another man? The homophobia is oozing out of you… and you don’t even realize it.

And yes, the state can regulate BUSINESS: strip clubs, etc. However, they are allowed to exist. Gays are not allowed the same rights you and your wife are. That is discrimination plain and simple.

You don’t have to condone or like gay people or their behavior. But they are that way and it is a free country – supposedly. As II said, what is more at the core of freedom than being able to pick your mate and live your life just like anyone else – with the same protections and freedoms that other couples enjoy.

As for hitting it out of the park, I think it was more of a swinging bunt…

bombsoverbaghdad said...

I guess I should not have said that I was a Real Christian. It would have been more accurate to say that I believe in the philosophy of Jesus and apply it to my life. I have doubts about whether any human being is or ever was the "son of God." That's a concept that can be relative.

Regarding lesbians, I am not really a fan either. Still, on "Nip Tuck," when Kimber gets down...WOW!! If they are good looking, which is rare, I'm down. :-)

Your position is more consistent than ROR's. If you are for gay unions, you have to be for polygamy in my mind.

Reign of Reason said...

Christ's philosophy is simply awesome.

As for polygamy and gay unions: again -- I don't see any relationship what so-ever. They are completely separate issues. If you want to argue for the legality of both, that's cool with me. But gay unions are completely analogous to straight ones: two people coming together to share their lives. – and hence the state shouldn’t distinguish between the two: both are addressed using current law (if only we’d let people marry the mate of their choice).

Again, if a partner in a straight or gay relationship dies, responsibility for children, the estate, etc. all falls to the remaining spouse. It is clear cut – even when no Will exists.

In a polygamous relationship, it’s not that simple: If the patriarch dies, the remaining ‘spouses’ are likely not in a mutually loving relationship and would likely not remain living together. So, does the wife with the most kids get the house? Does the first wife? Who gets what percentage of the estate? Is it based on the length of time they were ‘married’ to him? Or order? Etc. etc…. The point is the rules of inheritance are necessarily specific to the situation: that makes the legal issues surrounding polygamy very different from straight or gay unions.

As to the morality of polygamists – that’s another issue.

The ONLY reason people are against gay unions is the ‘squishy’ factor: they don’t like the idea of two guys ‘doing it’ … Well, get over it. They are doing it now as they have been for centuries… And if we claim to live in a free country, we should treat two people willing to make a commitment identically… regardless of sex.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Polygamy, gay marriage and straight marriage all involve the same questions. Why split hairs?

Civil marriage is a contract between freely consenting adults. If two men want to tie their lives together, why should the state care? If there are women who accept a polygamous marriage, why can't they do it? Mormonism and Islam both approve of it. Why should the state disagree? Civil marriage is a contract and the only role government should play is enforcing contracts, not changing their terms.

The reason we are having this debate is because somewhere along the line, the government started giving tax credits and other welfare subsidies to hetero couples and now everyone else wants in. If gov't would just mind its own business like its supposed to, this whole marriage thing would not be as big of a deal.

Reign of Reason said...


I guess I see the state's involvement in that "question" as different when it comes to polygamy. From a moral aspect, it's up to the individuals involved: I agree.

But I think it would be much harder for the state to regulate polygamy as a 'contract' given the nature of the relationships. Again, a single couple presents no ambiguity when a partner dies. But polygamy represents a fundamentally different type of relationship. Where monogamy represents 'partners', polygamy represents more of a tree structure with one individual acting as the glue to hold the group together.

From the moral standpoint, I don’t know much about polygamy’s practice, but I would guess that most people in such a relationship wish they had the “patriarch or matriarch” (as the case maybe) to themselves and view polygamy as ‘better than nothing’… Hence the likelihood of a somewhat forced relationship between co-wives or co-husbands.

Again, such a situation would be messy to handle with some general civil template.

Ok – I’ve beaten this one to death…

Free Agency Rules said...

democracy lover,

said: "I also cannot see how we can possibly defend giving special legal rights to consenting adults of differing sexes who enter a committed relationship and not give those rights to others because they happen to be of the same sex. That is blatant discrimination."

All marriages are licensed by the state. We discriminate legally and morally all the time.

A blind person cannot and morally should not drive.

There are always restrictions to any license. The key is that under the 14th Amendment we apply all laws equally, and we do with respect to marriage.

All males and all females have the same exact rights and the same exact restrictions in the marriage contract.

1. The person must be single.
2. The person must be old enough.
3. The person must be of the opposite sex.

Show me in the above how somebody who "has a peculiar like or dislike" has any restrictions.

Does it say that people who like bannanas cannot marry, no. Does it even say that guy who like guys cannot marry? No. It does not mention likes and dislikes at all!

Same rights, same restrictions for all males and all females. Maybe someday we will invent a new class of person, say a MaleFemale, but until then all males and all females follow the same exact restrictions. Therefore under the 14th Amendment, there is no discrimination based upon likes and dislikes. Anyone can like or dislike anything or anyone they wish. I can like a monkey, and I still can marry any eligable female I wish, based upon the above restrictions that apply equally to all males and females.

Think with your brain, not with your heart. Group rights are not the same as Individual rights.



Reign of Reason said...



Not allowing a blind man to drive has nothing to do with 'morals' and everything to do with the safety of others. Letting a blind man drive would directly threaten the lives and property of other citizens... That is why it is illegal.

Your analogy is completely bogus.

As is the rest of your argument.

The exact same argument could be made if you add:

4. The person must be of the same race.

Does that make a law against mixed-race marriages ok under the 14th amendment?

What your analysis says is that one group of people CANNOT marry the person they want because of an ARBITRARY rule. Who cares if it applies equally -- there's still such a thing as a law that infringes on your 'inalienable rights'.

Same-sex marriage neither harms anyone nor impacts anyone else’s life... To deny the right is to discriminate. It's very simple… the only justification my friend, is homophobia and bigotry.

Free Agency Rules said...


said: "Not allowing a blind man to drive has nothing to do with 'morals' and everything to do with the safety of others. Letting a blind man drive would directly threaten the lives and property of other citizens... That is why it is illegal."

I thought we were talking about the "state" issuing licenses with restrictions.

In that sense, they are perfectly analogous. Both are licenses, and both have restrictions.

As soon as you remove restrictions for one thing, it snowballs. It is a slippery slope, as in polygamy. And both have custody issues. Next it is what about three gays?

Group rights are not the same as individual rights. Gays are not a new sex, they are a "group", just as members of a "racing club" are a group because they like racing.

All males and all females have the same exact rights and restrictions.

Are gays guys? Yes. Does it say anything in the marriage license rules that guys that have any weird "attraction" cannot marry the same woman that a guy who likes gals? What if I am attracted to my mother and want to marry her? Or what if I am attracted to my Father and want to marry him? My sister? My Grandmother?

I think "most" gays, (and I stress MOST), are that way because men are easy. Any guy will jump in bed at the snap of a finger, while women like to be "put in the mood" with some great ritual in many cases.

I believe they are selfish because it is obvious it is all about them and not about what might happen to the children.

Dads have a special role in the upbringing of children.

Moms have a special role in the upbringing of children.

Anyone who would deprive either one to children during their formative years is really, really, really, selfish.

The single most common thread (80%) for those in prison is the fact that they didn't have a father figure in their lives.

I would be very mad if someone would say, you really didn't need your mom when you were growing up, another stern Dad, would have done just as well. Well they have no idea why little boys need their mommy when they need their mommy, and little girls need their daddy when they need their daddy.

Only people who haven't been there and done that, (raised both boys and girls), could possibly be so ignorant as to not understand those facts.

The above is my logical argument by a Christian who never once brought up his personal religious beliefs in the discussion.

I think it is the worst form of Stereotyping to say that "Christians" don't present logic, and only dogma, that is blatantly unfair as all Christians that I know NEVER say, "I don't have any reason other than Biblical reasons."

Society has always had "mores" and "norms" and they are there for a reason, and the reason is not always religious.

Your model is probably the European Model of Enlightenment. You cannot wear certain religious jewelry, is that your idea of freedom? You go to jail for saying your opinion that gays are doing something wrong morally. Is that your idea of freedom or Enlightenment?



Reign of Reason said...

Licenses are setup to protect people, property and the like. Society sets up licensing and other civil regulations because they are intended to protect people. You can’t talk about licensing in a vacuum. Why do you need a license to sell food? Why do you need a license to practice medicine? Etc. etc. … A marriage license grants additional benefits (and imbues additional responsibility) to a couple: period. There is no public safety concern, etc surrounding it. To deny it is simply prejudice.

If you want to argue the slippery slope argument fine: just realize you put yourself in the same group that tried to keep women from voting, blacks from voting and finally inter-racial marriage…

Again, please explain to me how Bob & John getting married effects you in ANY way. They are the ones that want to visit each other in the hospital… they want to automatically inherit the other’s possessions in the event of death, etc. etc.

Gays are only a group in the sense that black, Chinese or the English are a group. I know, first had… You have NO CHOICE about being a member of this group. You can decide to deny it… hide it… pretend its not there, but usually all that does is ruin you life.

As for the incest – that is just stupid: we know there are serious medical consequences related to that issue…

I take personal offense to your characterization of gay… You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. If you knew how most gay people struggle with their identify – because of the pressure to conform to ‘norms’ that society brings to bear – you’d realize how truly ignorant and harmful your statements are. I have several friends that have contemplated suicide because they felt their lives were not worth living because of their feelings…

Imagine that: people wanting to kill themselves because they felt terrible about satisfying a desire for intimacy with another consenting human being.

How screwed up is that – and it’s because of people with attitudes like yours.

Please do me a favor and stick to topics you have some knowledge of…

As far as the prison dad thing: you make the classic causality mistake: just because two things have a high correlation DOES NOT MEAN one causes the other… geez: that’s first year statistics.