Archive for November 2008
Could Democracy Be Getting a Black Eye?: It would if the courts decide to overturn Proposition 8.
By Nathan A. Cherry
I am not a lawyer, and I won’t even pretend to know all there is to know about the law. But, I thought for sure I had some of the basics down. For example, if something is brought to the people for a vote, the outcome of that vote is to be the law regarding that particular issue. Am I wrong?
Apparently there are some who are not fond of the democratic process here in America and would like to ditch it altogether in favor of letting judges decide what is and is not legal. This seems to be the case out in California where the state Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments over whether or not Proposition 8, the ballot measure passed by majority vote to ban same-sex marriage, is legal or a constitutional violation of civil rights.
“The California Supreme Court accepted three lawsuits seeking to nullify Proposition 8, a voter-approved constitutional amendment that overruled the court’s decision in May that legalized gay marriage. All three cases claim the measure abridges the civil rights of a vulnerable minority group. They argue that voters alone did not have the authority to enact such a significant constitutional change.” (Click here for the full story).
Wait just a minute. Did I read that correctly? “Voters alone [do] not have the authority to enact such a significant constitutional change.” Well then who does? If I am correct, according to the very essence of democracy it is precisely the people who have the authority to enact such a change. In fact, the whole purpose for democracy is to allow the people to rule and govern themselves so that activists judges and lawmakers are kept in check and accountable.
Are you telling me that the California Supreme Court had the right and authority to overturn the previously stated and voted upon will of the people in May when they overturned a previous ban on same-sex marriage? If that is true then what is the point of the people? Why do we even vote? If everything we vote on can be overturned by any group of judges who decides they don’t’ like how we voted, what is the point?
I believe the Wall Street Journal was correct when it said:
“The great achievement of our system was to create a political order where these great moral disputes, as a matter of policy, are left to the people – with allowance for differences according to region and locale. Moral agents have a role to play, generally by shaping the larger culture in which these decisions are framed and debated. But the outcome is left to the people…” (Click here for the full story in the Wall Street Journal).
And what of other states where same-sex marriage has been legalized? What if opponents of same-sex marriage charged in with bullhorns blazing, signs waiving, and vandalism run amok demanding that the laws be overturned? Does anyone think that there would be as much public interest? Not a chance. Those people would be called every name in the book, told they were out of line and to disperse, cease and desist, or be arrested. And yet we are expected to tolerate the illegal and reprehensive behavior of those in California who are mad that they didn’t get their way.
Every one of us is entitled to our opinion, and the beautiful thing about freedom is that our opinions do not have to be the same. But if freedom and democracy are to survive then they must be respected by all parties, regardless of whether or not we agree.
It is neither free, nor democratic to demand that all people adhere to the same view regardless of how the individual views the issue. That, plain and simple, is communism. If you want a monarchy, move to a European country. If you want communism, move to other European countries or certain Asian countries. But do not demand that democracy and the freedom to vote and have that vote matter be usurped just because you don’t like the outcome of that vote.
Even one of the most supportive backers of same-sex marriage in California, Justice Joyce L. Kennard, voted not to hear the appeals and arguments for overturning Proposition 8. And while her motives and mind-set behind her decision to vote against hearing the cases is unclear at this time, according to an article in the L.A. Times (Click here for the full story), it should be a wake up call to others.
In the same story, UCLA Law Professor Brad Sears says, “It definitely isn’t a good sign,” speaking of Justice Kennard’s decision. He seems to be worried that Justice Kennard, like many others in California, is not falling in line with others by believing that proposition 8 was an “improper revision of the state constitution.”
UC Berkeley Law Professor Jesse H. Choper, guessing at what Kennard might be thinking, said, “What she seems to be saying is that she doesn’t think it is worth reviewing.”
And why would it not be worth reviewing? Could it be due to the fact that something followed every legal guideline and was determined by the people and it should be left alone now for that very reason? That would make perfect sense.
I agree whole-heartedly with three points stated in the previously referenced article in the Wall Street Journal of how usurping the will of the people is corrosive to our political system:
Ø By allowing judges to usurp the will of the people they “act as dishonest referees, imposing one set of preferences over another.”
Ø “They cheat the American people of an honest political contest.”
Ø “They inject cynicism and bitterness into America’s body politic.”
And I know what many are saying. They want to equate the issue of same-sex marriage with the civil rights movement of African Americans. And they say that if America would have been allowed to vote the blacks would still be slaves. It sounds good at first glance, but there is a fundamental difference that distances these two issues by light years in my mind.
There has never been a case of a black person changing skin color and deciding to no longer be black. Skin color does not in any way determine what is or is not a right. Therefore people of all skin colors are inherently equal simply because they are humans.
But, and I know that many do not like to hear this; there are hundreds of accounts of ex-homosexuals. I have personally heard testimony of at least one. That fact alone means that the two issues are completely non-related and cannot be compared.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, it should be easy for us all to agree on one thing. Democracy MUST be allowed to run its course. If we, as American citizens, allow judges to make decisions for us now, it will only get worse. And a monster will be born that grows too big for any of us to do anything about. And tomorrow we will all wake up in a sterile, controlled environment where judges and politicians decide everything for us. Where is the freedom in that?
I have not always agreed on the decisions of the American people in voting. But one thing is for sure, and by the grace of God will continue, I will respect the process. It is not perfect, but it is without a doubt the best we have at this time.
When we decide that people are no longer allowed to decide for themselves what laws will and will not be passed we move down a slippery slope toward a monarchy, communism, or even anarchy. And quite frankly no one wins in those systems.
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A bitter battle is brewing in the Lone Star state of Texas. Just last week the Texas State Board of Education began hearing testimony for and against its proposed standards for teaching science, according to a story in the Dallas Morning News.
The battle is regarding how evolution should be taught. Evolution supporters want language that suggests Darwin’s theory of evolution has weaknesses removed from the teaching curriculum. While opponents of evolution who support Intelligent Design, Creationism, or just fair and balanced science education say that the current guidelines have been working and should be left alone.
“College professors, science teachers and pro-evolution groups urged the board to drop a rule that requires the strengths and weaknesses of Darwin’s theory to be taught in science courses, while conservative groups aligned with a sizable bloc of board members said the rule has worked well and hasn’t forced religion into those classes as critics charge…” (Check the Texas Education Agency website for further details).
But opponents, such as the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Executive Director for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) disagree with the current standards that allow teaching “strengths and weaknesses.”
“Public school should educate, not indoctrinate. The Religious Right is exploiting Texas public schools to push a narrow viewpoint and in the process is doing a great disservice to its students, not to mention undermining the mandates of our Constitution. Let’s just hope members of the Texas school board recognize the ‘strengths and weaknesses’ language for what it is. If they don’t, they could be inviting public school districts to face some costly litigation.” (Click here for full article.)
The above sentiments by Mr. Lynn are, in my opinion, hypocritical, oxy-moronic, and well, perhaps just plain moronic. To say that teaching views other than evolution is a “narrow viewpoint” is just ridiculous. How can it be narrow to include other viable possibilities to the earth’s creation? Is it not extremely narrow to demand that only one view be taught in schools and that all other possibilities be excluded? That seems awfully narrow to me.
And don’t get me wrong here. I am not pushing for one side or the other. I am simply making the argument that what seems in the best interest of students is to present them with ALL the arguments and viewpoints and then to allow them to make their own decision. I know, the idea of letting students think for themselves and make up their own minds is scary to some, such as Mr. Lynn. Why does Mr. Lynn and so many others have such a blinding desire to make sure that every student hears only about evolution and then to accept that particular “theory”?
Could it be that Mr. Lynn and so many others are afraid that if alternative views are taught that students just might believe one of them and throw Darwin’s theory aside; as so many scientists have already done? (Click Here for a list of scientists who have accepted the Creation account of the Bible). It seems to me that if you believe something is concrete and irrefutable that there is nothing to worry about, and if you believed in said view that was concrete and irrefutable that you would not need to worry about other alternative teachings because after all the facts and evidence is examined your particular view would come out on top.
So why does it seem that those who hold to the ‘theory of evolution’ are so voracious in its defense and dead set against the teaching of any other view? The only answer I can conclude is that their ‘theory’ is not quite as stable as they would like and they are afraid of all the holes that other views could possibly poke in it; views such as Intelligent Design or Creationism. (Click here for an article on Intelligent Design, or Here for an article on Creationism.)
What I find most interesting is the continued claim that views such as Intelligent Design and Creationism are “unscientific,” and “religious.” Consider for a moment:
Any belief regarding the creation and establishment of the world can, in some way, be linked to a religious viewpoint. Certainly Intelligent Design and Creationism can be linked to Christianity and other religious views. But Evolution can be linked to Atheist and Agnostic beliefs, both of which have been established, by their own proponents, as religious views.
To claim that one view of the universes origin is scientific and another is not is just plain ludicrous. One of science’s most fundamental principles is that of observation. So who exactly has observed the “evolution” of anything? Just as no one today was present at the creation of the earth. So the conclusion of the matter is that it is not fair to call one science without calling the others science, because, they are, as much as evolution is, just as scientific.
When something is called a “theory,” as evolution is, it means that it is an option, one of several. Because, if it was the only possibly explanation it would not be called a theory it would be called a fact. But the only fact here is that scientists cannot call evolution a fact, just a theory. Therefore, it cannot be said that it is concrete, perfect, and the only viable option. It is, like every theory, full of inexplicable questions and holes, far short of being called “scientific.”
I am a firm believer in Creation. Much of this has to do with my Christian background, as I am sure many others would claim. But much of it also has to do with my own study and research on the subject. For me Evolution has far too many holes in it. And in fact, in my opinion, it takes much greater faith to believe this particular theory than it does to believe that a great and mighty God created everything through His own spoken word.
Call me childish, call me ignorant, call me what you like. I will not try to indoctrinate anyone with my belief. I believe that when stacked against one another that creation will come out on top every time. The facts and evidence simply outweighs that of evolution.
But one thing is for sure. To deprive students of the scientific data available to them for any and all theories relating to the origin of the universe is truly a crime. This is, without a doubt the very essence of indoctrination. So Mr. Lynn and his pals at the AU need to stop pointing fingers at people who would like to give students a chance for a fair and balanced science education and let schools do what they were meant to do: teach.
The greatest thing any teacher can hope for his students is to teach them all the facts, teach them to think critically, and then allow them to make up their own mind. If a school tells students what to believe and what to say then they have not taught anyone anything. They have simply indoctrinated them and produced masters of rhetoric.
Further Food for Thought:
Atheist turned Christian Lee Strobel investigates Creationism from a skeptical, journalistic standpoint: Click Here.
Articles by one of the world’s foremost apologists William Lane Craig: Click here.
This past Sunday in the in the Charleston Gazette, there was an editorial published in the Perspective section by Rachel Dash titled “Anti-gay amendments violate constitutional rights.” The premise of Rachel’s piece is that Propositional 8 – and other State Constitutional Amendments defining marriage between one man and one woman – is unconstitutional. In the opening paragraph Rachel shared:
On Nov. 4, Americans in several states voted to change their state constitutions to legalize discrimination against citizens based on their sexual orientation
Same-sex couples in most states don’t have that choice because their right to marry has been violated by the unconstitutional blurring of church and state.
Rachel, and I presume countless others, are worried and frightened by these amendments because they are “patriotic Americans who cherish true democracy,” as if those who voted in favor of the constitutional amendments are not.
Continuing along in my unpatriotic and democratic diatribes, I do not agree with Rachel that discrimination was legally instituted based upon one’s sexual orientation, or better yet, their sexual behavior. A person’s behavior does not determine a person’s civil rights. Civil rights are rooted within our humanity as people; rather we are white, black, men, or women. Besides, the institution of marriage is not a civil right guaranteed in our Constitution and is an institution that is limited in other areas apart from a person’s sexual behavior, such as being unmarried, being of age, and marrying beyond the bounds of close kinship (see Settling the Issue: Same-Sex Marriage IS NOT a Civil Right).
The institution of marriage is like many other actions that should be limited by law, for it affects the lives of others and is not confined to the “privacy of a person’s life.” The wellbeing of marriage determines the wellbeing of families, neighborhoods, towns, cities, states, and countries (see Marriage is Foundational for the Well-Being of Society).
Since the institution of marriage is more than a private relationship between two people and positively or negatively impacts every sphere of public life and society, then governments should not attempt to redefine its historical and natural meaning, as established by God. Instead, the government should enact policies that endorse and support it. These policies are not to be determined by a majority vote alone, but are to be rooted in the external transcendent Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.
What concerns me most about people like Rachel who adhere to the false belief that political discourse can be completely neutral and secular is their unconstitutional position of limiting free speech, particularly among those of a religious persuasion.
The first amendment that Rachel loosely alludes to throughout her piece has nothing to do with excluding religion or God from political discourse. Our Democratic Republic is one that does not discriminate against anyone within political discourse. Our government has been formed in such a way that allows for secular humanists, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, etc…, to have equal access and participation throughout the process.
So why is it considered wrong for people to vote according to their religious beliefs that are not rooted in mans self autonomy, but are grounded in an external transcendent law?
How does anyone voting according to their religious beliefs breach the first amendment, while those who adhere to secular humanism do not?
How were the spheres of governmental and church authority blurred during this time? If anything, the federal government is moving closer to breaching the separation of church and state by acting apart from the authority of God and the Constitution.
How did people who practice another religion apart from secular humanism violate the constitution by voting their convictions on amending the institution of marriage? Did not those who opposed the amendments vote according to their convictions as well? Are their convictions sufficient since they are not rooted in an external transcendent law, but in their own personal morality?
In the end, people who do not adhere to secular humanism should not be silenced or forbidden from participating in our Democratic Republic according to the dictates of their conscious as informed by their religion. And those who do should respect the outcome of fair and open elections.
Number of Religious Leaders Urging Governor Manchin to Defend Marriage More than Triples
CHARLESTON, W.V. – Just one month after the release of a poll indicating broad support among West Virginians for the addition of a marriage protection amendment to the state constitution, the number of pastors and religious leaders signing on to an open letter to Gov. Joe Manchin on the subject has more than tripled. Lawsuits that have redefined marriage and efforts to circumvent the democratic process have given pastors throughout the state cause for concern.
“Members of the religious community in West Virginia are increasingly concerned by the actions of radical judges imposing their personal agendas on the public,” said Jeremy Dys, president and general counsel of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia. “Since the election, the reactions around the country of those who favor redefining marriage have raised the level of concern about protecting religious liberties. These religious leaders hope for the opportunity to engage in the democratic process and protect marriage as 30 states before them have.”
Dys is referring to reports of vandalism, physical assaults, threats, and other acts of intimidation targeted at the religious community by homosexual activists.
The high courts in Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts have all thrown out their states’ Defense of Marriage acts. Those laws were the same type as West Virginia’s act, which remains vulnerable since the state has no constitutional amendment defining marriage. “Marriage” licenses for same-sex couples began being issued in Connecticut last week.
“Every time marriage as the union of one man and one woman goes before voters, marriage wins,” said Dys. “West Virginians want to define marriage for themselves. They do not want their government, or an agenda-driven court, imposing a law that knowingly deprives children of a mom and dad. They know a marriage amendment is the best way to achieve this protection.”
The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists, and more than 100 pastors representing thousands of West Virginia churchgoers have asked Manchin to lead efforts to amend West Virginia’s constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The letter, which has grown from 30 signatories to 105 at present, is available at www.familypolicywv.com. More detailed information is also available at the site, including the poll results demonstrating that 73% of West Virginians support a marriage protection amendment.
Pastors who have not signed the open letter to Manchin may continue to add their names by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 304-982-2803.
# # #
The mask of tolerance continues to be pulled back. After a full and fair election, those wishing to redefine marriage and the family are exposing their true colors.
Last week, a small group of Christians gathered in the predominantly homosexual Castro District of San Francisco. Their mission was simply to pray and sing worship songs in public. They were quickly swarmed by a mob of hundreds. According to one report, the men in the group were groped, had unknown objects stuck down their backside, and the female participants had boiling hot coffee poured over their heads. One woman even had her Bible ripped from her hands and then returned with a solid whack across the head with it. When she fell, she was then kicked and beaten by the angry mob. Police in riot gear eventually had to escort the group from the area.
More information can be found at LifeSiteNews.com.
The escort by the police out of the area was captured on film. The youtube video of that is included below. WARNING: contains vulgar and threatening language.
A young woman’s testimony on the event can be viewed here.
An Interview on Family and Marriage: Some thoughts from the Focus on the Family Camp.
By Nathan A. Cherry
Recently I had a chance to chat by phone with Jenny Tyree, the Marriage Analyst at Focus on the Family. We specifically discussed same-sex marriage as this is the “hot button” issue in media and society at this moment.
Focus on the Family, and more specifically James Dobson, have been center stage in the media recently as the FCC announced it will induct Dr. Dobson into the radio hall of fame. Outrage from the gay and lesbian community poured due to Dr. Dobson’s strong stance against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
We hear so much in the media that seems, in my opinion biased (anyone surprised?) regarding the issue. I wanted to hear from Ms. Tyree what her research and studies on the issue had produced. So the first question I asked was what, according to her research is the main goal of the Gay and Lesbian community, specifically in regards to marriage.
Answer: “Ultimately they are seeking social approval. They talk about rights and benefits, but the status that is given to heterosexual couples and the social approval they receive is what they are seeking.”
As we discussed this further she explained that “they won’t get that social approval from many people because the gay and lesbian community is going about it the wrong way.” By this she is referring to going to activist judges and seeking the overturning of laws by side-stepping the will of the people. And the vandalizing of property, intimidation at the work place, firing of people for their views, all the things we are seeing out in California at this time.
But Ms. Tyree also acknowledged that we can all empathize with same-sex couples who are seeking this social approval because in reality “we all want approval.” Certainly from the time we are kids we seek approval at the various stages in our lives. One of the most profound events which culminate that approval is our wedding.
Next I asked Ms. Tyree what the broad implications for Christian, or an even just traditional family was if same-sex marriage were to be legalized.
Answer: “The first is children. If marriage is redefined there will be kids deprived of a mother and a father and biological parents. And the second is religious liberty. The 1st Amendment right of freedom of religion will be brought to a head with legislation giving special rights to homosexuals. This is where even liberal scholars believe that in the direct conflict of homosexual “marriage” and the expression of a religious view that opposes gay “marriage,” that religious liberties will lose. That’s when it becomes illegal to give your opinion or to share your religious views.”
I have to be honest; through medical advances such as sperm donation and artificial insemination we could presumably see an entire generation where a child’s uncle is actually his or her father. What could information like that do to a child’s psychological development?
Next I wanted to know what Focus on the Family was doing to combat media bias and cultural stigma in the gay and lesbian community that Christians are all ‘homophobic,’ or ‘gay-bashers.’ How are they reaching out and embracing homosexuals?
Answer: “The Biggest thing we do is our Love Won Out ministry, which seeks to inform friends and family as to what could have led a person to this lifestyle.”
A brief description of Love Won Out from the Focus on the Family Website:
Focus on the Family is promoting the truth that change is possible for those who experience same-sex attractions — a message routinely silenced today. We want people to know that individuals don’t have to be gay and that a homosexual identity is something that can be overcome. That’s why we’ve developed a one-day conference for those seeking answers on this often confusing and divisive issue. Whether you have a gay friend or family member, are an educator, pastor or concerned citizen — or even self-identify as gay — Love Won Out will inform, inspire and offer you hope. For more information: click here. Or, go to www.lovewonout.com.
Ms. Tyree and Focus on the Family, as so many others, believe that homosexuality is not genetic, or something you are simply born with. Citing God as the Creator of all human beings, and homosexuality as a sinful behavior, along with the fact that there exists testimony from so many “ex-homosexuals,” Focus on the Family seeks to help those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions and their family members and friends by providing a biblical understanding of the issue and helping to connect them with local support ministries through Focus’ relationship with Exodus International.
As well, she said, that Focus on the Family tries to point out the “inadequacy of the other sides arguments.” She mentions the fact that “Dr. Dobson has never said that he hated a gay or lesbian person. The more people dig and find out what we say the more they will see how much we love people.”
In talking with Ms. Tyree I gained a sense that she truly cares for people, all people, regardless of any social or religious differences. And no doubt Focus on the Family embraces the same kind of love towards people.
We can see in the Bible where Jesus did not agree with every person He ran into. But He loved them all. He even asked for forgiveness for those who placed Him on the cross.
That kind of love has the ability to transcend any barrier and break down the walls that exist between people of opposing viewpoints. Jenny Tyree and the folks at Focus on the Family are trying very hard to break down those walls and reach out to people of all walks of life, with many and varied needs, with love.
My thanks to Ms. Tyree and the good people at Focus on the Family for their work and many years of service to thousands throughout the United States and the world.
In responding to a follow-up comment of mine, where I stated that the normalization of homosexuality and same-sex marriage will lead to the suppression of freedom, one of our readers responded, saying:
How? How will you lose your right to freedom of speech? I’m at a loss at understanding the irrational fear and anxiety of those that think they will no longer be allowed to worship any god because Adam and Steve were allowed to be married. In Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, have churches been forced to shut down simply because they object to gay marriage? Are they now forced to perform gay marriage ceremonies? Have those who spoken against gay marriage been imprisoned in gulags?
No, of course it hasn’t, and it is absolutely ridiculous to claim that religious freedom will be infringed upon should gay marriage be legal. Christians are still free to practice Christianity here in California, even though there are 18,000 same sex marriages now. Churches will still be allowed to condemn gay marriage. They will even still be allowed to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony to a gay couple. So please, stop the fear-mongering, because it has no factual or historical basis (bold mine).
Are we making these things up and being irrational about our concerns which have “no factual or historical basis?” Are we being ”absolutely ridiculous” in our claims that religious freedom and speech will be infringed upon in churches, businesses, social and non-profit organizations?
In all honestly, I wish we were!
First, I disagree that freedom of religion and speech will not be suppressed - even in the churches – by observing what is taking place internationally and what is beginning to take place nationally.
If we simply looked across the Atlantic Ocean towards Sweden, we would see that Christian Pastor(s) (see Sweden’s Shame) have been arressted for speaking against homosexuality and that their government is considering a provision to their same-sex marriage policy that would force pastors to wed gay couples (see Left Party: “Force pastors to perform gay weddings”).
As far as I know we haven’t seen similar events taking place in American churches, but we have observed similar events taking place in non-profit organizations:
In Boston, a Christian adoption agency was shut down for refusing to place orphans with homosexual couples.
In New Mexico, a Christian-owned studio was fined more than $6,000 for refusing to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony (see Standing for Marriage and Religious Liberty).
Secondly, a fact is something that corresponds with reality. Encarta Dictionary defines a “fact” as: “something that can be shown to be true, to exist, or to have happened.” Is our concerns “fictional,” having no correspondent reality to validate our claims?
If the above is not enough, let’s consider just a few other samplings of recent events which are true and have happened and point to the disdain and hatred towards religious expression.
An old lady having a cross torn out of her hands and trampeled on in front of here (see Living in the Age of (In)Tolerance, Part 2)
A group of Christians were peacefully gathered together in the Castro District of San Fransico, praying and singing songs, were sexually and physically assaulted by a homosexual mob that necessitated the intervention of the San Fransico riot police (see Christian prayer group sexually and physically assaulted by a homosexual mob).
What about the disruption of church services, people being encouraged to burn down churches, the threatening and intimidating of the eldery and businesses and social organizations that promoted Propostion 8 (see Christians Under Attack: Same-Sex Marriage in California)
These are just a few samplings of “factual” events taking place in the world and right here at home. These events leave me with just one question, “Is our concerns unfounded?”
On September 24, we reported about the US DHHS’ proposed rule that would promote the freedom of conscience among physicians. If you follow that link, you can also read the comments we submitted. I know many of you submitted similar comments as well.
We are pleased to report now, that DHHS has adopted the proposed rule, despite the objections of groups like Planned Parenthood and others.
Thanks to all of you who submitted comments in support of a physician’s right of conscience. Remain vigilant. Secretary Leavitt has done a fine thing by adopting this regulation, but it appears that his incoming replacement will be former Senator Tom Daschle. Given President-elect Obama’s repeated commitments to passing the Freedom of Choice Act and expanding the death grip of Planned Parenthood, we must remain active in our stewardship of government.
The Controversy Continues: Can same-sex marriage and religious liberty co-exist?
By Nathan A. Cherry
Same-sex marriage. It is perhaps the most controversial and divisive topic in American culture at this time. It does not matter whether you are a democrat or republican, conservative or liberal, this topic is transcending party lines, denominational lines, and every other line in our society. People of different faiths find themselves on the same side of the issue. People of different political party are joining together on the issue. And the nation seems glued to the issue to see what will happen in the wake of the recent states’ passed marriage amendments, and as a result of the incoming president.
But what I want to know is whether same-sex marriage and religious liberty can coexist? Is it possible for people who seem to be at a staunch disagreement on the issue to live peaceably with one another in everyday life? That was the subject of a recent Becket Fund research project published on their website.
In the November 10th posting the Becket Fund reveals that they have surveyed over 1,000 state anti-discrimination laws “to assess how those laws would affect religious dissenters to same-sex marriage if same sex-marriage were legally recognized.”
The short results seem to have disturbing implications for religious institutions and organizations that do not support same-sex marriage.
“The study found that all 50 states prohibit gender discrimination in some way, and only 37 states have explicit religious exemptions to these provisions, many of them quite narrow. This lack of robust exemptions could become a problem if (as has happened in some instances) religious objections to same-sex marriage are treated as a kind of gender discrimination. In addition, 33 states prohibit at least some discrimination based on marital status, and only 13 of these states provide religious exemptions, some with a wide latitude of exemption, others with only narrow exemptions. Of the 20 states that prohibit sexual orientation-based discrimination, 18 provide exemption for religious objection.” (See article and results at The Becket Fund website).
So, if same-sex marriage were to be legalized, where do the rights of one group violate the rights of another? It seems we wade back into the murky waters of tolerance for one party with no tolerance for another. The proponents of same-sex marriage scream tolerance and demand equal rights and to have their “civil rights,” and yet, they do not have any intention of recognizing the religious rights of those who conscientiously object on moral grounds to same-sex marriage. This leads back to the previous question, can same-sex marriage and religious liberty co-exist?
The Becket Fund concludes that trouble would follow religious institutions in the wake of legalizing same-sex marriage:
“Based on the data, The Becket Fund concludes that if same-sex marriage is recognized by courts or legislatures, people and institutions that have conscientious objections to facilitating same-sex marriage will likely be sued under existing anti-discrimination laws – laws never intended for that purpose.”
This seems problematic to me for several reasons:
1. If these religious, and even non-religious conscientious objectors, find themselves constantly being sued and in court, this will tie them, their time, and their money up and detract from the many very worthy causes and missions they support. One thing we can all agree on is the fact that many of these institutions do very good work fighting AIDS, hunger and poverty in many places around the world. I doubt anyone wants to see those works stopped or cut in half due to avoidable lawsuits.
2. These are the same institutions and organizations that provide help, comfort, counseling, and support for many people right here at home in the neighborhoods and communities where we all live. They fight for parental rights, less government involvement in our lives, and more choices in areas like schools and health-care. With all this charitable work I doubt anyone would want to see such places closed.
3. With an increase in lawsuits comes an increase in laws. It seems both sides of this debate would find more restrictions and laws placed upon them; something I can’t imagine either side wants.
For these reasons I believe that we can all agree that seeing the institutions and organizations that reach out to poverty stricken families, starving kids, orphans, and war-torn countries tied up in courts with their funding cut is a bad idea for all of us. No one, regardless of political view or religious view would ever hope to see that happen.
Is it possible that we could “agree to disagree” on the issue? Is it possible to see same-sex marriage legalized and allow those with a conscientious objection to be exempt from facilitating it? If I thought that proponents of same-sex marriage would be willing to foster this “live and let live” attitude then I might be inclined to say yes. But, with what we have seen in the aftermath of the passing of Proposition 8 in California I doubt that such a compromise is possible. No, it seems that same-sex marriage champions have an “all or nothing” mentality; which may be why they got nothing in the recent election.
Some would say that the religious who are opposed to same-sex marriage are intolerant for not being willing to grant a “civil right” to others based on a religious, moral belief. But proponents of same-sex marriage seem just as intolerant for demanding that the religious violate their conscience and accept their lifestyle and “marriage.”
So what is the answer? Where do the rights of two separate, very different groups live peaceably with one another and find a civil way to co-exist? If I had that answer I would be the biggest thing on You Tube right now, and be standing in front of every legislature and supreme-court I could. But I don’t have that answer, and I am not sure anyone does.
Here is what I do know. We each should strive to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors no matter how different from us they are, and no matter where we stand on potentially divisive arguments. This is something that even the Bible tells us to do (see I Timothy 2:1-3).
How would society change if respect and dignity was extended to each person we met? Just because we disagree does not mean we have to lash out and hate the opposition. Though I personally do not agree with the homosexual lifestyle, as it is opposed to my religious views, I do however love homosexuals and want to see them live a quiet and peaceful life; the same that I wish for my own family.
Food for Further Thought:
This past weekend, gay “right’s” supporters protested the constitutional ban of same-sex marriage in cities across America (for more information see ). Knowing that these protests were planned to take place this past Saturday, I was personally interested in observing what the people participating in them would say as a means of justifying their actions.
After reading through several online articles that covered this weekend’s protests, there were three categories I believed their responses fit into:
1. A Need for Equal Rights,
2. A “Gray” Standard of Morality, and
3. A Desire for the Exclusion of Religion in Political Discussions, and
Since I have addressed “A Need for Equal Rights” and “A Desire for the Exclusion of Religion in Political Discussions” elsewhere, I will spend my time with you this morning address “A ‘Gray’ Standard of Morality” (for the posts addressing the afore mentioned categories, see Settling the Issue: Same-Sex Marriage IS NOT a Civil Right and From Tolerance to Intolerance: How the Normalization of Same-Sex Marriage and Homosexuality Will Lead to the Suppression of Freedom).
A “Gray” Standard of Morality
Ever since I began reading and researching the institution of marriage and the arguments from supporters for same-sex marriage, I have been amused and frustrated over arguments of morality. What I find amusing are the inherent contradictions that exist within their arguments in support for same-sex marriage.
For instance, they desire the right to free speech and assembly, as well as equal participation in the Democratic process. However, with the acceptance of same-sex marriage and homosexual behavior, they desire people and organizations with different opinions and beliefs to be silenced and excluded from this process and even forced to accept their behavior.
Why do people have to accept the behavior of another as justifiable? What makes them right and others wrong? This last thought leads to my frustration.
Even though advocates for same-sex marriage call “Foul” on those who disagree with them about “Legislating your morality,” why can’t they see they are doing the same?