California: Impact on religious liberty

rainbow altar 01It’s the sidebar for the main story of the day, of course.

And New York Times reporter Jesse McKinley does what you expect a reporter to do, in a story that runs with the oh-so-predictable headline: “Gay Couples Celebrate California Decision; Both Sides See a Fight.”

You think?

So the goal here is to have a story that quotes both sides in the other great moral-cultural-religious issue that has dominated the American political scene since the 1960s (give or take a decade). The issue, on one level, is the civil-rights status of people who live public lives as gays and lesbians. The status of bisexuality looms nearby, in a cloud of fog.

But there is another issue closely connected: What are the rights, in terms of free speech and religious liberty, of the people and voluntary associations who continue to hold traditional Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc., doctrines on the moral status of sex outside the state of marriage, as traditionally defined? I first heard these issues linked in this manner in a church-state seminar way back in 1977.

On one level, the key question is this: Is sexual orientation the same thing, legally, as race, gender, age, religion and other conditions given special protection in American law? Is it illegal to defend traditional religious views on sexuality in the public square? I need to state right up front that I am a professor in a global network of Christian Colleges and Universities, a perfect example of a voluntary association sure to be touched by this legal conflict (which is, of course, linked to doctrinal conflicts as well).

Thus, McKinley tells us:

“Today will go down as a true turning point,” said Geoff Kors, the executive director of Equality California, a gay rights advocacy group. “It really is a very powerful message that love trumps hate and hope trumps fear.”

But the battle in California is not over. Opponents of same-sex marriage said they had gathered 1.2 million signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, and effectively undo the Thursday decision. …

Robert Tyler, a lawyer with Advocates for Faith and Freedom, which argued against same-sex marriage before the California court, said opponents might seek a stay of the decision until voters could take up the issue in November. Mr. Tyler said he was especially troubled by the court’s drawing on a 1948 ruling that overturned a state ban on interracial marriages.

“Where is the court going to rationally limit marriage if it’s not a union between a male and female?” he said. “There is no evidence to establish that a homosexual lifestyle is an immutable characteristic such as race.”

That last statement is, of course, wrong. There is a stack of evidence that suggests that many people cannot change their sexual orientation, which is not the same thing — for traditional religious believers — as changing their behavior. There is also a large body of evidence that people can change their behavior and, to an imperfect degree, their emotions and orientation.

We will not be debating either side of that equation in the comment boxes on this site. However, I freely admit that there are many journalists who simply believe that there is only one side to this debate and that there is no need for accuracy and fairness in quoting the views of those you oppose in this debate.

People on the right will make that claim, concerning coverage in their own niche publications. People on the left will make that argument about coverage in mainstream newspapers, networks and wire services.

This brings me to a very important article on the religious-liberty issues linked to this news event, one that ran in a conservative publication, The Weekly Standard. This is an article that we have frequently recommended to mainstream journalists because of the fine job that Maggie Gallagher did in standing back and quoting — at length — the sometimes clashing views of activists in the gay-lesbian-bisexual legal community. If you know of articles on the left that take a similar approach to the views of scholars on the right, please let me know. Pronto.

rainbow altar 01This long chunk of the article opens with quotes from Anthony Picarello, president and general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents a wide range of religious groups.

Just how serious are the coming conflicts over religious liberty stemming from gay marriage?

“The impact will be severe and pervasive,” Picarello says flatly. “This is going to affect every aspect of church-state relations.” Recent years, he predicts, will be looked back on as a time of relative peace between church and state, one where people had the luxury of litigating cases about things like the Ten Commandments in courthouses. In times of relative peace, says Picarello, people don’t even notice that “the church is surrounded on all sides by the state; that church and state butt up against each other. The boundaries are usually peaceful, so it’s easy sometimes to forget they are there. But because marriage affects just about every area of the law, gay marriage is going to create a point of conflict at every point around the perimeter.”

For scholars, these will be interesting times: Want to know exactly where the borders of church and state are located? “Wait a few years,” Picarello laughs. The flood of litigation surrounding each point of contact will map out the territory. For religious liberty lawyers, there are boom times ahead. …

Picarello is a Harvard-trained litigator experienced in religious liberty issues. But predicting the legal consequences of as big a change as gay marriage is a job for more than one mind. So last December, the Becket Fund brought together ten religious liberty scholars of right and left to look at the question of the impact of gay marriage on the freedom of religion. Picarello summarizes: “All the scholars we got together see a problem; they all see a conflict coming. They differ on how it should be resolved and who should win, but they all see a conflict coming.”

These are not necessarily scholars who oppose gay marriage. Chai Feldblum, for example, is a Georgetown law professor who refers to herself as “part of an inner group of public-intellectual movement leaders committed to advancing LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual] equality in this country.” Marc Stern is the general counsel for the center-left American Jewish Congress. Robin Wilson of the University of Maryland law school is undecided on gay marriage. Jonathan Turley of George Washington law school has supported legalizing not only gay marriage but also polygamy.

Reading through these and the other scholars’ papers, I noticed an odd feature. Generally speaking the scholars most opposed to gay marriage were somewhat less likely than others to foresee large conflicts ahead–perhaps because they tended to find it “inconceivable,” as Doug Kmiec of Pepperdine law school put it, that “a successful analogy will be drawn in the public mind between irrational, and morally repugnant, racial discrimination and the rational, and at least morally debatable, differentiation of traditional and same-sex marriage.” That’s a key consideration. For if orientation is like race, then people who oppose gay marriage will be treated under law like bigots who opposed interracial marriage. Sure, we don’t arrest people for being racists, but the law does intervene in powerful ways to punish and discourage racial discrimination, not only by government but also by private entities. Doug Laycock, a religious liberty expert at the University of Texas law school, similarly told me we are a “long way” from equating orientation with race in the law.

By contrast, the scholars who favor gay marriage found it relatively easy to foresee looming legal pressures on faith-based organizations opposed to gay marriage, perhaps because many of these scholars live in social and intellectual circles where the shift Kmiec regards as inconceivable has already happened. They have less trouble imagining that people and groups who oppose gay marriage will soon be treated by society and the law the way we treat racists because that’s pretty close to the world in which they live now.

Read it all, and please let us know if you see similar article in the mainstream and on the political left. This is going to be a huge, huge issue for Barack Obama and Democrats in the center and on the, relatively speaking, right.

Print Friendly

About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Memphis Aggie

    Is this the same Kmiec who is a supposed Catholic and one time Republican who recently endorsed Obama? He’s not someone who’s opinion I’d seek.

  • Martha

    Well, for one thing, if Joe is legally married to Mary, this decision would seem to say that Joe can now get legally married to Jim.

    Why not? If Joe is protected from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (as is his right), and if marriage is not to be restricted to “the union of a man with a woman”, then why cannot Joe marry his beloved Jim?

    Joe cannot help being bisexual; why do you call it bigamy? After all, he doesn’t want to marry another woman!

    Yeah, the lawyers will have fun, fun, fun with this one.

  • Michael

    This is going to be a huge, huge issue for Barack Obama and Democrats in the center and on the, relatively speaking, right.

    And a huge issue for McCain, who has been all over the map on gay marriage. Does he take up the fight for social conservatives who he desperately needs but or does he fight for the middle?

  • Jerry

    This is going to be a huge, huge issue for Barack Obama and Democrats in the center and on the, relatively speaking, right.

    Obama and McCain have taken exactly the same position on gay marriage – they are against it but in favor of civil unions.

    Gay Marriage – Believes it’s an issue best left up to the states. While in the Senate McCain voted “No” on a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

    http://www.ontheissues.org/2008/John_McCain_Civil_Rights.htm

    On the larger issue, as one of the articles pointed out, we’re seeing some of the issues in Massachusetts already.

  • danr

    “Obama and McCain have taken exactly the same position on gay marriage – they are against it but in favor of civil unions.”

    Right Jerry, so the question is how firmly they’ll hold to that moderate ground in the face of the pressure they’ll continue to get from the extremes of their respective parties to take a firmer stand (left or right) in the aftermath of SCOCA’s decision, and how the media will report on that pressure.

  • Dave2

    I’m just curious: how does the law handle racist religions like the Nation of Islam (or Mormonism a few decades back)? Does that shed any light on how it would handle religions that are anti-homosexuality?

    As for “people and groups who oppose gay marriage [being] treated by society… the way we treat racists” (emphasis added), that seems like a different matter entirely. That I’m totally in favor of, and I don’t see what troubling implications it has.

  • Julia

    One issue on the back burner is MBLA – the Man Boy Love Association. They claim that love between adult men and minors is perfectly normal and has existed in all civilizations throughout history. The Catholic Church has been unceasingly castigated for not recognizing that pedophiles are incurable and can’t change their feelings.

    If incurable, doesn’t that mean that a pedophile’s love of minors is innate and intractable? Also – I have seen articles describing MBLA’s claim that willing young people are being discriminated against as well as the adults who love them. Are such adults and minors merely variants in the human family like LGTBs?

    hmmm Is it the innateness and intractability of GLTBs that gives them status as protected people? Perhaps that underlying rationale needs to be thought through and refined or there is a whole can of worms being opened.

    In the US, there might be less of a church-state problem vis a vis same-sex or polygamous marriage if churches gave up their ability to perform legal marriages and we adopted what is common all throughout the rest of the world – civil marriage followed by the optional religious ceremony that has religious meaning but no civil consequences.

  • loli

    Martha – you misunderstand bisexuality, it is not the opposite of monogamy or a synonym for polyamory. Just like a heterosexual woman is free to date multiple men and eventually marry one man, a bisexual person is able to date multiple men or women and eventually marry one person of their choice. A bisexual person who wanted to marry would have found one person they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with in a monogamous relationship. The question here isn’t about the number of people allowed to marry, the question is about genders.

    When we’re bringing up the issue of allowing polygamous marriages, then you can bring up your bisexuality argument, but as of right now, that’s a non-issue.

  • http://blog.muchmorethanwords.com/?p=34 gfe

    Sometimes I wonder how many of those reporting on this story have actually read the decision. While it is accurate, as far as it goes, to say that the California court legalized gay marriage, that’s really an oversimplification. I’ve written about it here; the gist of the decision is that the only thing the court ruled unconstitutional was calling marriage and domestic partnerships by different names. It’s not enough, the court said, to grant domestic partnerships and marriages the same set of legal rights and obligations; you also have to call them marriages.

    How that fits in with questions of free speech and religious liberty, I’m not certain. I knew of one Protestant pastor who told me that he was always uneasy in performing marriages, because it was the only part of his job where he was acting as an agent of the state rather than merely as a representative of the church. If gays were allowed to marry, he said, the legal institution of marriage and the church institution of marriage would no longer be similar enough that he would be able to officiate at one. The problem, in his view, was that the church collectively sold itself out, either by turning over the responsibility of marriages to the state or by agreeing to take on the state’s role, depending on which side of the coin you want to look at.

    It’s an intereting perspective. Even among those churches that are opposed to gay marriage, there are various nuances in the approach to take. It’ll be interesting to see how much those different perspectives will be reported, or if the media will be content to listen to only the two extreme sides.

  • iskunk

    Why does legal recognition of same-sex marriage have any negative implications for religious liberties whatsoever? White supremacist churches continue to exist in this country perfectly well in the post-Civil-Rights era. They may not be widely loved, but they remain free to practice their religion as they see fit, and to proselytize to their heart’s content. We have a strong tradition of religious liberty and free speech in this country, backed by the First Amendment of the Constitution, and it’ll take a lot more than this court decision (and others that may follow it) to undo that.

  • Gerry

    It (bisexuals) most certainly is an issue. Homosexuals have always been free to marry persons of the opposite sex, like anybody else. A common argument is that homosexuals are forced to deny who they are to get married. The same is true of bisexuals, and simple same-sex pseudo-marriage does not solve the problem.

  • Martha

    loli, throughout history we have seen the examples of those who claim to love their wives in one way but love their mistresses in another.

    There have been periods when (for certain classes) it was accepted that you married for dynastic reasons and then had your lovers on the side, and as long as everything was handled according to the unwritten rules of conduct, there was no problem.

    And let’s not forget divorce – many people believe they have found the one person they wish to live with for the rest of their lives, until the marriage breaks down. They sometimes find their new soul-mate while still married.

    Suppose Joe sincerely believes he has found his life-partner in Mary. Suppose five years on, he finds Jim and feels for him every bit as much love. Currently, he would have to divorce Mary to marry Jim.

    That’s imposing the heteronormative understanding of marriage upon a case outside the neat binary divisions. If it’s perfectly feasible for Joe to be attracted to and to fall in love with both Mary or Jim, why force him to choose?

    What’s wrong with polygamy, polyandry, or other arrangements? Monogamous marriage is a purely Western construct. Other cultures have developed other models.

    Why should we be confined to one understanding of how to construct a family?

  • Jerry

    “gfe” brought up an interesting point. Perhaps the link between church and state should be broken for marriage. A minister would be free to marry based on his beliefs and the teachings of his or her church. The legally binding state contract would be done by the state. I’d also be interested in reading if this idea “has legs”.

  • http://courageman.blogspot.com CourageMan

    Comments #6 and #10 are the most instructive, not because they are the most intellectually rigorous (far from it), but because they correctly dot the i, cross the t and don’t shrink from the inevitable conclusion. This decision, once it shakes its way out, means that the Catholic Church, Mormonism and Islam (to pick the three easiest cases) will be constructed in society (and thus law, inevitably) as essentially bigoted organizations: “I don’t see [the] troubling implications” and the analogy to white supremacist churches being made immediately.

    This easy assumption is precisely why you won’t find an article in a left-wing publication as intellectually thorough as Gallagher’s. The left thinks their opponents are just bigots. And if that be the case (I actually endorse this latter part of the argument), there really is no reason to “intellectually engage” their rationalizations-dressed-up-as-arguments. It’s all a ruse to justify bigotry. And that attitude (opposition to gay marriage = bigotry) is very common in the intellectual and knowledge classes, and thus the media. And accounts for the cheerleading nature of the coverage.

  • Dave

    Tmatt:

    I will certainly keep an eye peeled for any article from the left parallel to the Gallagher piece.

    But I wouldn’t worry much if one isn’t found. Gallagher’s obvious conservative orientation breaks through from time to time, but most of the people she interviews outline plausible scenarios for serious collisions ahead.

    Given the number of states that presently have gay marriage bans in their constitutions, and the lack of enthusiasm at the federal level for a strict parallel between homophobia and racism, widespread clashes in the near term seem unlikely. Given the strong regard so many Americans hold for their religious freedoms expressed in the conduct of their own churches, legal pressure on churches to perform gay marriages if it’s against their doctrine also seems unlikely. But the Boston Catholic Charities’ withdrawal from adoption placements is certainly a straw in the wind.

    Everyone else: If you don’t know what I’m talking about in the foregoing paragraph, you haven’t read the Gallagher piece. You really should.

  • http://courageman.blogspot.com CourageMan

    #9 … yes, but …

    Between (1) the decision to apply “strict scrutiny” to distinctions based on “sexual orientation” (plus all the underlying assumptions of that analogy) and (2) the decision to cite the miscegenation cases as relevant … it didn’t matter what the court may have said about the narrow justiciable issue. A gay marriage right was a done deal at that point.

    And I agree with you that the even the supposed narrow part of the decision, bait-and-switch though it ultimately was, is precisely the reason for the decision’s radicalness (and in my view, its utter legal indefensibility and moralistic showboating) — it’s all about “dignity.”

  • http://courageman.blogspot.com CourageMan

    Given the number of states that presently have gay marriage bans in their constitutions

    And what makes you think those amendments will survive?

    and the lack of enthusiasm at the federal level for a strict parallel between homophobia and racism

    For now, maybe. But look at the comments I cited above (and the discussion at say, Rod Dreher’s CrunchyCon blog, not a liberal blogger). This meme is now a fact of the cultural environment. Why else would the Loving case (in the public sphere) or Perez v Sharp (in the California court decision) be relevant? Only if (1) homophobia = racism, or (2) every restriction on who can marry whom is per se invidious. Believe me … #1 is the choice the pro-gay-marriage people want to say.

    legal pressure on churches to perform gay marriages if it’s against their doctrine also seems unlikely.

    This is less than reassuring. 50 years ago, gay marriages weren’t even thought of as “unlikely.” They were a punchline for “Some Like It Hot.” And do you mean the adoption cases are straw men or the first breezy edge of the hurricane?

  • NeoWolf

    Joe cannot help being bisexual; why do you call it bigamy? After all, he doesn’t want to marry another woman!

    I’ve never understood why people assume that bisexuals automatically want to be involved with men and women at the same time. That line of reasoning is no different than saying that Joe also wants to marry Jane because he can’t loving her at the same time too! Face it, polygamy’s a separate issue. Regardless of how you feel about it.

  • NeoWolf

    hmmm Is it the innateness and intractability of GLTBs that gives them status as protected people? Perhaps that underlying rationale needs to be thought through and refined or there is a whole can of worms being opened.

    It’s not that alone. It’s the fact that the state can’t demonstrate a reason to discriminate against them. In the case of pedophilia it’s already quite established that this is doing harm regardless of the genders involved. Where as it’s hard to find evidence of harm caused by homosexual unions that doesn’t come from the most biased and unscientific of sources.

  • iskunk

    CourageMan,

    Whether or not a religious organization is seen as bigoted is irrelevant. In the U.S., it has the same claim to religious freedom as any other religious organization. Lord knows freedom would be worth little if we allowed it only to those with whom we agree.

    And no one is going to force any church to marry a couple that it considers unfit. How can anyone seriously argue this point? The law concerns itself with the civil institution of marriage. The religious side of it has been, is, and shall remain always the sole responsibility of the appropriate religious organization.

  • Dave

    CourageMan asks:

    And what makes you think those amendments will survive?

    The lack of any visible inclination on the part of the current US Supreme Court to overturn them. They might be voted out by the same process that they were voted in, popular referendum, but given opinion in those respective states that seems even less likely. The only other path I know of, a federal constitutional amendment, seems even less likely.

    For now, maybe.

    “For now” is the only time frame in which we can make intelligent statements, I’m afraid.

    legal pressure on churches to perform gay marriages if it’s against their doctrine also seems unlikely.

    This is less than reassuring.

    You neglected to transcribe my major premise: The love of Americans for their own religious freedom as exercises in their own churches. There will be irresistible pressure from below to carve out religious-freedom expressions to preserve the 501[c][3] status of churches that refuse to perform gay marriages.

    And do you mean the adoption cases are straw men or the first breezy edge of the hurricane?

    I mean it’s the harbinger of a coming storm, not necessarily of hurricane force.

    What’s amazing to me is that no Massachusetts state legislator was willing to back an exemption for the adoption position of Catholic Charities. Unwillingness in Massachusetts to push back against a state statute that had become hostile to the Catholic Church? I can only imagine that the mass of Catholic voters either haven’t heard about this yet, or are disinclined to defend their Church in the wake of the scandals. Sins of the Fathers, indeed!

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    Churches will always be able to establish their own seemingly arbitrary boundaries when it comes to marriage in a church setting.

    For example, religious discrimination is illegal in secular settings.

    However, churches can discriminate of the basis of religion and can even refuse to marry mixed-faith couples.

    There will be no legal pressure for churches to marry same-sex couples but there will be pressure from members of churches over time.

    I can imagine that churches will have some pressure in states where marriage equality exists. For example, a Methodist or Episcopal church will eventually have to deal with irate parents who will want to know why their son or daughter cannot be married in the church of their childhood.

    This denial of equal treatment will be even harder to explain when the United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, etc church down the street will marry their son or daughter.

  • Brian Walden

    iskunk says:

    The law concerns itself with the civil institution of marriage. The religious side of it has been, is, and shall remain always the sole responsibility of the appropriate religious organization.

    I’d like to see more discussion of the law’s relationship with the civil institution of marriage. Is marriage something that the law and/or the people have created and can change as they see fit? Or is marriage something that exists in and of itself which the law has come to recognize but has no right to change?

  • Michael

    And the Pope condemned gay marriage again today, but keep calling yourself Catholic, Daniel; words don’t mean anything anymore, so you’re not a heretic, you’re just trendy.

    For the Catholic Church, I agree with his condemnation. But the definition of marriage in the Catholic Church need not control the legal rights and responsibilities attached to marriage under civil law in the U.S.

    I support the Pope’s position as it relates to Catholics and to marriages performed in the Catholic church. That has little to do with what non-Catholics do in civil court houses throughout California.

  • Michael

    Oops. A friend was using my computer and the cut and paste got messed up there. Please delete that.

  • Julia

    Jerry:

    In the US we have merged the civil and religious regarding marriage. So we think of civil marriage as being indistinguishable from the church marriage. In most non-English parts of the world there is a civil ceremony with civil consequences and maybe a voluntary religious rite with only religious consequences. That might explain why Europeans are less freaked out about same-sex marriage than Americans are.

    I guess the US does what it does because it started as an over-whelmingly Protestant country connected to England. As I understand it, marriage is not a sacrament among most Protestants. So it didn’t make sense to separate the civil marriage and what was considered only a blessing of the union, especially since practially everybody was Christian.

    Prince Charles married Camilla in a civil ceremony followed by a church blessing of sorts, because of religious impediments. Diana, though, only had the church wedding which also had civil effect. In most of formerly Catholic Europe, the civil and the religious are almost always separated. Princess Grace in Catholic Monaco first signed papers at the town hall and then had the church wedding – even though there were no religious impediments. European law is so different from us and England mainly because of the codifications of the Napoleonic Code, based on Roman law, all over the continent.

    In the really old days in England, there was a separate court known as chancery that was governed by church law and run by the Chancellor, a clergyman- it dealt with marriages, inheritances, etc. In the US we had chancery court (aka equity), without the church running it, until chancery was merged with the regular law courts within my lifetime in Illinois. We have not yet dug out from the after-effects of merging two separate legal systems.

    I asked a Catholic priest about an elderly couple (both widowed) who wanted only a church wedding with no civil effects to protect their social security benefits. Could they get married in the church without a license and the priest not report it to the government? He said no; our ministers and priests are agents of the government as regards marriage and would be considered participating in fraud. One of the civil reasons for public marriages is to give notice to the community and government that both are now legally responsible for bills incurred by the other and any children produced. The proof of marriage (or the end of a marriage) nowadays also qualifies/disqualifies you for government benefits. The priest or minister not requiring a license and not reporting the marriage would be interferring with the civil purpose of public marriage. Marriages and divorces are reported in the newspaper for the benefit of creditors, and not for the entertainment of Mrs Grundy or the bishop.

    The meaning and consequences of marriage are deeply muddled in this country. Especially since the expectation that children will follow is no longer assumed. And now we can track daddies via DNA for child support without public marriage records. All the age-old assumptions ran off the rails.

  • Dave

    Brian Walden asks:

    I’d like to see more discussion of the law’s relationship with the civil institution of marriage. Is marriage something that the law and/or the people have created and can change as they see fit? Or is marriage something that exists in and of itself which the law has come to recognize but has no right to change?

    In the narrow sense, the Loving case that wound up voiding anti-mixed-race marriage laws answers your final question in the negative. States had meddled with marriage, and the US Supreme Court meddled further in countering that.

    In the larger sense, marriage has existed and still exists in different forms. Polygamy is found in the Bible and in some cultures overseas, but is against federal law and also outlawed in every state that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. That train left the station a long time ago.

  • Dave

    iskunk wrote:

    [...N]o one is going to force any church to marry a couple that it considers unfit. How can anyone seriously argue this point?

    There is an outside chance that a church could lose its tax-exempt status, with dire consequences. That would require a series of victories for the gay-rights side that is hard to imagine given current circumstances, but the bare possibility is out there.

  • Brian Walden

    In the larger sense, marriage has existed and still exists in different forms. Polygamy is found in the Bible and in some cultures overseas, but is against federal law and also outlawed in every state that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. That train left the station a long time ago.

    I think you may be rushing past the question. Yes people and cultures have always celebrated different forms of marriage, but does that change what marriage is? The concept of human dignity has also changed from age to age and culture to culture. But the inherent dignity which every person possesses hasn’t changed, has it? Or are human dignity and marriage just things that we’ve made up?

  • iskunk

    There is an outside chance that a church could lose its tax-exempt status, with dire consequences. That would require a series of victories for the gay-rights side that is hard to imagine given current circumstances, but the bare possibility is out there.

    That’s a good point. But given that the tax code countenances discrimination by sex on the part of religious institutions (with no less than the Catholic Church relying on this, vis-a-vis the prohibition on female priests), isn’t the potential threat to religious liberty posed by sex equality much greater than that of same-sex marriage? Sex equality in civil society has been almost a century on the books, IIRC, and women comprise roughly half the general population—I believe that would become an issue long before the status of same-sex marriage or homosexuals comes into play.

    (I’m not sure I accept that tax-exempt status is part and parcel of constitutionally-guaranteed religious freedom, but that’s not a point I’ve looked into myself. FWIW, the tax code does appear to prohibit exemption if the religious organization discriminates by race, so it does appear that the white supremacist churches don’t get that.)

  • Martha

    Neowolf, why is it?

    Why shouldn’t Joe be able to marry Jane as well as remain married to Mary? If we are re-defining marriage to mean whatever shape of union we wish to contract, why shouldn’t Joe be free to marry two or more wives, or Mary two or more husbands?

    There are examples of human cultures where multiple marriage partners are part of society. If we can change our Westernized cultural understanding of marriage outside the traditional boundaries, and the objections are purely religious, then why restrict it to only two partners at a time thus privileging Judaeo-Christian ‘norms’?

    And why should poor Joe have to switch from Mary to Jim in a pre-determined cycle? If he can and is attracted to both genders, do you really think it impossible that he might not fall in love with a man and a woman at the same time, or at least after marrying one?

    Are you arguing that, if Joe marries Mary, he is therefore declaring he is no longer bisexual? That he has changed his unalterable, genetically determined, fixed sexual identity from ‘bisexual’ to ‘heterosexual’? That is restrictive, regressive, and unkind!

    Must Joe be forced to choose either strict heterosexuality or strict homosexuality, depending upon the mere chronological chance of whom he happened to marry first? If Joe meets and falls in love with Jim after marrying Mary, why should Joe be forced to divorce a woman he still has feelings for, merely to satisfy your sense of monogamy?

    (I think it is perfectly feasible for someone to love two people at the same time, whether hetero-, homo- or bisexual. I have sympathy for anyone who genuinely feels torn between wife/husband and mistress/lover. But I don’t think that sympathy translates into a duty to re-write the definition of marriage to mean ‘any kind of domestic union that two or more individuals may wish to enter into’).

    If Joe and Jim may now enter into a partnership that has all the legal protections of marriage and must now, by law, be referred to and treated as a marriage the same as Joe and Mary, then why should Joe and Jane be penalised? Just because Mary got to walk down the aisle first with Joe? What sense does that make?

  • Martha

    “I asked a Catholic priest about an elderly couple (both widowed) who wanted only a church wedding with no civil effects to protect their social security benefits.”

    That would, unfortunately, be fraud, since they would be telling the Department of Social Welfare that they were not married, not cohabiting, had the expenses of two separate domiciles, and would be claiming two individual pensions instead of a pension for one claimant plus adult dependant (which, if the U.S.A. is like Ireland, would be a proportionately smaller amount of money).

    It sounds like they wanted the church blessing so as not to be living in sin (as it used to be called) but still intended to violate another commandment (the 7th: ‘Thou shalt not steal’). Can’t do that.

  • Dave2

    CourageMan wrote:

    Comments #6 and #10 are the most instructive, not because they are the most intellectually rigorous (far from it), but because they correctly dot the i, cross the t and don’t shrink from the inevitable conclusion. This decision, once it shakes its way out, means that the Catholic Church, Mormonism and Islam (to pick the three easiest cases) will be constructed in society (and thus law, inevitably) as essentially bigoted organizations: “I don’t see [the] troubling implications” and the analogy to white supremacist churches being made immediately.

    This easy assumption is precisely why you won’t find an article in a left-wing publication as intellectually thorough as Gallagher’s. The left thinks their opponents are just bigots. And if that be the case (I actually endorse this latter part of the argument), there really is no reason to “intellectually engage” their rationalizations-dressed-up-as-arguments. It’s all a ruse to justify bigotry. And that attitude (opposition to gay marriage = bigotry) is very common in the intellectual and knowledge classes, and thus the media. And accounts for the cheerleading nature of the coverage.

    First, there’s no need for the “far from it” insult. If there was any rigor missing from my comment, then please supply it.

    Second, the move from society to law seems pretty crucial. Racist groups like the KKK are scorned and condemned in our society, but nevertheless there is widespread recognition of their right to express their opinions, hold rallies, etc. So, in order to understand what all the fuss is about, I’d want to see specific details concerning the legal changes that might come with a society that (in my view, quite rightly) condemns those religious organizations as bigoted.

    Third, it’s unfair to say that I am unwilling to engage the arguments against gay marriage (it’s also unfair to say I’m on “the left”). Though I think opposition to gay marriage is quite often rooted in bigotry, I’m perfectly willing to hear the other side out. I mean, it’s quite common for people’s views to be based on all sorts of nasty distorting factors, but that doesn’t mean we call off the discussion.

  • Jay

    People are too busy arguing their political/moral views to actually address the assigned question. So I will.

    The question of a religion-state conflict is not if but when. Look at gay marriage in Canada, where criticism of gay marriage has brought charges of hate speech, and the Knights of Columbus were fined for not hosting a gay wedding reception.

    The “hate speech” vs. “free speech” pendulum hasn’t swung as far in the US as in Canada, but it’s unrealistic to suggest that it couldn’t (or won’t).

  • Dave

    Brian Walden asks:

    Yes people and cultures have always celebrated different forms of marriage, but does that change what marriage is? The concept of human dignity has also changed from age to age and culture to culture. But the inherent dignity which every person possesses hasn’t changed, has it? Or are human dignity and marriage just things that we’ve made up?

    In one sense, they are just things that we’ve made up, in that you can find cultures past and present that didn’t respect them. Slavery used to be widespread, and there were practices like burning heretics or the Aztec human sacrifice ceremonies. If human dignity is an idea, it has dawned on us relatively recently, and still doesn’t fully exist in places that can flog schoolteachers for letting their pupils give a teddy-bear a religious name.

    One might say that human dignity has always existed in the abstract and we have slowly opened our eyes to it and come to embrace it. That poses the question of where it comes from, and that way lies theology, or at least philosophy. Like asking whether circles existed before mathematicians discovered/recognized them.

    Back when the monarchs who made it into the historical record were polygamous, monogamy was probably the default arrangement for peasants, so marriage can be said to have been around for a lot longer than human dignity. If narrowing that variety of formats into present law doesn’t change what marriage is, then neither does its extention to gay/lesbian couples.

    My $0.02.

  • Dave

    iskunk asks:

    [...I]sn’t the potential threat to religious liberty posed by sex equality much greater than that of same-sex marriage?

    Have you read the Gallagher article tmatt linked to? It contains a raft of possible areas of conflict in such areas as religious camps, retreats, homeless shelters, community centers with family programs and marital counseling services. Gender equality hasn’t had nearly the impact that recognition of same-sex marriage might.

    I’m not sure I accept that tax-exempt status is part and parcel of constitutionally-guaranteed religious freedom

    It’s not as normally thought of, but losing it could cost a church its existence, which is certainly true of church-related institutions such as I listed above. The possibility could, to paraphrase Gallagher, cause a church to mute its marriage theology in the face of an existential threat.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    I couldn’t help but notice that one of the so-called scholars in favor of just about every moral stance traditional Christianity, traditional Catholicism, and the Bible considers a moral abomination is employed by Georgetown University-a Jesuit Catholic institution. Unfortunately, it is just such persons the dominant media seeks out when it does in-depth analysis of some controversial issues.
    However, unremarked and uncommented on is the fact this situation shows how culture, society, or legal presasure can invade and degrade and debase religious institutions. For all the vaunted power of “The Church” any reading of Church History over the centuries will show that culture has far more effect on the Church than the Church on culture if the culture becomes avowedly anti-Christian as ours has become.

  • Stephen A.

    FYI, the comparison of traditional marriage, and those who support it, with the KKK, racist churches or bigots in general is grossly offensive, and is a wildly inaccurate analogy as well.

    The reporting I’m looking forward to seeing is on the fact that the GOP’s presumptive standard-bearer, Mr. McCain, opposes a federal marriage amendment at a time when those state laws are about to start looking very precarious indeed. And of course, no relief will be found with Mr. Obama, either, since as noted, he is likely to start moving leftward to appease his base.

    The complete and total isolation of social conservatives from the media is not a surprise. The fact that millions of schoolchildren have been brainwashed to accept gay marriage as normative is something those who study propaganda will be studying for centuries (if they’re allowed to bring it up.)

    But the real shocker is the total abandonment of the issue of defending man-woman marriage politically. Don’t forget that that inarticulate president of ours defended a federal solution to this problem for about 2 days in 2004, then let it slide. With no defenders, we cannot be surprised that the Courts are defining marriage as they please.

    I’ll leave you with a rather chilling, anti-democratic statement from San Fran. Mayor Gavin Newsom the other day: “As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation. It’s inevitable. This door’s wide open now. It’s going to happen, whether you like it or not.”

    Lovely. One really does wonder if that is aimed at churches, religious “dissenters” or others who won’t go cheerfully into this Dystopian New World.

  • William

    I’d like to see more discussion of the law’s relationship with the civil institution of marriage. Is marriage something that the law and/or the people have created and can change as they see fit? Or is marriage something that exists in and of itself which the law has come to recognize but has no right to change?

    From history, we know that the definition of civil marriage is mutable and it doesn’t exist in and of itself since it’s a type of contract.

    So, I’d like to see discussion center on “should the definition of civil marriage reflect the majority or encompass minority definitions of marriage?”

    Since my church performs marriages for gay couples, I would like the inclusive definition for civil marriage. Nonetheless, this is completely debatable.

  • Dave2

    Stephen A. wrote:

    FYI, the comparison of traditional marriage, and those who support it, with the KKK, racist churches or bigots in general is grossly offensive, and is a wildly inaccurate analogy as well.

    I don’t know why you’d be offended. I mean, surely you know that lots of people see racism and homophobia as falling under the very same category (viz., bigotry), right? And surely you understand the connection between opposition to gay marriage and homophobia, right?

    I mean, are you offended by the mere fact that people disagree with you?

  • William

    I’ll leave you with a rather chilling, anti-democratic statement from San Fran. Mayor Gavin Newsom the other day: “As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation. It’s inevitable. This door’s wide open now. It’s going to happen, whether you like it or not.”

    We usually aren’t democratic in discussions of individual rights. If we were, there would be no individual rights at all since the “tyranny of the majority” would rule.

  • iskunk

    Dave said:

    Have you read the Gallagher article tmatt linked to? It contains a raft of possible areas of conflict in such areas as religious camps, retreats, homeless shelters, community centers with family programs and marital counseling services. Gender equality hasn’t had nearly the impact that recognition of same-sex marriage might.

    I just did–excellent article. Two things, however:

    1. Same-sex marriage per se is not so much the catalyst for these potential religious-liberty concerns as much as sexual-orientation nondiscrimination statutes. The Catholic Charities case happened when it did not because of the Goodridge case, but because of a newspaper investigation. If they were placing kids with singles, the same brouhaha could have happened earlier, with same-sex marriage having played no role in it.

    2. The religious-liberty concerns are with regard not to actual worship or assembly–the core of what the Constitution protects–but to the social-service arms of these institutions. And yes, I’ll grant that this could get messy. These service arms often deal with the lay public, and are in many cases enmeshed with the legal regime in myriad ways (e.g. state licensing for Catholic Charities’ adoption agency). The extent to which they constitute protected religious exercise is not clear, and will have to be determined one way (courts) or another (legislation).

    This is very different, however, from the views often expressed in the wake of these kinds of legal decisions. Pastors being forced to marry a gay couple is always mentioned, despite holding no water; no one talks about the more complex and substantial issue of religious charity and mission work.

    It’s not as normally thought of, but losing it could cost a church its existence, which is certainly true of church-related institutions such as I listed above. The possibility could, to paraphrase Gallagher, cause a church to mute its marriage theology in the face of an existential threat.

    That’s a fair point, noting Bob Jones University and the addition of racial nondiscrimination to the tax code. The forces arrayed against further expansion of those protected classes are much greater, however–the Catholic Church will fight that fight hard, along with others–and I can’t possibly see that sexual orientation would stand a chance of being protected before sex (which would be fought just as hard).

    (Loss of tax exemptions would be an issue with respect to churches engaging in political advocacy related to gay rights and/or same-sex marriage. I believe there have been investigations along these lines already. But that’s a different can of worms….)

  • Dave

    iskunk writes:

    Same-sex marriage per se is not so much the catalyst for these potential religious-liberty concerns as much as sexual-orientation nondiscrimination statutes. The Catholic Charities case happened when it did not because of the Goodridge case, but because of a newspaper investigation. If they were placing kids with singles, the same brouhaha could have happened earlier, with same-sex marriage having played no role in it.

    I just checked my copy (which I printed off so I wouldn’t have to manipulate a computer screen to refer to it). Catholic Charities could have avoided placements with gay couples prior to Goodridge by placing only with married couples, but that avenue is closed specifically because of Goodridge.

    Pastors being forced to marry a gay couple is always mentioned, despite holding no water

    Until reading the Gallagher article I would have agreed with you about holding no water: Read the First Amendment, slam dunk. Now that I’ve read Gallagher I can see the outside possibility of indirect coercion via 501[c][3]. But things would have to break implausibly well for the gay rights movement for this to come about.

    The forces arrayed against further expansion of those protected classes are much greater, however—the Catholic Church will fight that fight hard, along with others

    I would have thought so, but the way Boston Catholic Charities was left high and dry makes me wonder if the post-scandal Catholic Church has the muscle it once did.

    [...] and I can’t possibly see that sexual orientation would stand a chance of being protected before sex (which would be fought just as hard)

    Political feminism crested with the struggle over ERA. I’m not sure the old fight is left in the movement.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    I have been on the road all day.

    If I had been in, I would have deleted the vast majority of the comments on this post, most of which have nothing to do with the issues facing journalists trying to cover this issue, or the issues raised in the post or the story on which it was based.

    This is all headed to the Supreme Court, now. That means it looms over the White House race, big time.

  • Dave

    tmatt:

    Gallagher writes of a circle of legal experts in which oppostion to same-sex marriage is already placed on the same moral level as opposition to mix-race marriage.

    The key question is: Are MSM journalists also in that circle? If not, they will realize there are two sides to any church-state collision over this matter, and cover it accordingly. If so, they may regard the debate as over, and not be as thorough.

  • Stephen A.

    Dave2 says:

    I don’t know why you’d be offended. I mean, surely you know that lots of people see racism and homophobia as falling under the very same category (viz., bigotry), right? And surely you understand the connection between opposition to gay marriage and homophobia, right?

    I mean, are you offended by the mere fact that people disagree with you?

    Um, no, you’ve turned it right around backwards.

    My point was just the opposite: that the Left finds that anyone who disagrees with them on normalizing gay marriage MUST be a bigot. And they do it consistently.

    And no, racism and “homophobia” are not the same. Many people who oppose gay marriage don’t even oppose gay sexual behavior. There are far too many variations in belief that to lump everything one doesn’t agree with into a “homophobia” category simply is an overgeneralization. And yet, that too happens in the media, and elsewhere, consistently.

  • Stephen A.

    William wrote:

    We usually aren’t democratic in discussions of individual rights. If we were, there would be no individual rights at all since the “tyranny of the majority” would rule.

    The United States was built on majority rule. It’s actually how we govern ourselves, if you didn’t realize, which makes this little Mayor’s boastful, arrogant statement so repulsive.

    The tyranny of the minority would be far more heinous.

  • Chris

    I have come in a little later on this particular conversation…

    The issue at stake here is truly a linguistic disagreement as to the definition of marriage. Just like the designation of 1, 5, 10, or 20 dollar bills, and the distinctions between red, white, and blue.
    If marriage is redefined as a state-recognized relationship between two persons without any caveats, the language within and between cultures is confused. As it stands, “marriage” between a man and a woman is universally recognized among cultures. Some cultures to not recognize a same-sex partnership as a “marriage”, but will identify it as a union sanctioned by the state (civil union), such as in Europe.
    I think that we need to be very careful in remembering the “Chicken or egg” perspective here. The reason why there ‘seems to be’ an absence of rationale in standing against the concept of “gay marriage” is that the underlying assumption of the two positions do not have a common ground on which to communicate. Those who stand in favor of supporting inclusion of GLBTs in their concept of marriage, equate sexual orientation and behavior to innate, immutable characteristics of each human being. Those who stand for the narrow definition of marriage as between one man and one woman separate the same orientation and behavior from characteristics of being, and therefore also from gender and race. This is where the “chicken or egg” issue comes out. Do your actions, behaviors, thoughts, and desires define who you are? Or does who you are exhibit itself through the same attributes?
    The rationale that “I cannot help myself” or “I was born this way” is problematic when applying it to behavior. In order to be a woman, or a man, you do not have to act. In order to be black, white, red, yellow, brown, or any other hue, you do not have to act. In order to be “gay”, you have to act. The same applies to those who are predispositioned toward athletics, alcoholism, abuse, and behavioral ‘disorders’.
    I apologize for being longwinded, but this perception that human rational choice does not apply in the realm of behavior, cheapens humanity and opens the door to a ‘brave new world’ where our government can neither provide nor protect the freedoms we gain by birth and have learned to take for granted.

  • http://until.joe-perez.com/ joe perez

    tmatt: “Read it all, and please let us know if you see similar article in the mainstream and on the political left.”

    Yes, I remember reading that article when it came out. And commenter #42 is exactly correct. The article actually shows no evidence that there will be real conflict between religious organizations — qua the performance of their religious agency — and sexual orientation law. Nobody’s going to be forcing Catholic priests to perform same-sex marriages. What it shows is that many people are rightly worried about conflicts between the quasi-secular social service agency arms of the religious institutions and nondiscrimination law and, perhaps, same-sex marriage. The Becket Fund comes across as somewhat excitable and reactionary, but theirs is basically the right-wing vantage point anyways.

    So are there similar articles in the mainstream or GLBT press? Yes, I’ve read (and even written) quite a few articles that treat the same-sex marriage and religious freedom angle extensively. Those articles are available in my two books Rising Up and Soulfully Gay and easily identifiable via the index. For online readers, I suggest the archives of IndeGayForum, where you will find numerous efforts by John Corvino, Paul Varnell, Andrew Sullivan, and Dale Carpenter among others who go over this territory. They are NOT the gay “left” by any means (nor am I), but they consider the issues thoughtfully, convincingly, and with significantly less excitability than the past president of the Beckett Fund.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com MattK

    Hmmm. If churches preach that homosexual behavior is sin but the state says it is a right, and society , in general condones it I suspect it won’t be long before churches will lose their tax exempt status. Before that happens, though, Christian universities will become inelligible for Federal Student Financial Aid. Like Bob Jones University is inelligible because of their interracial dating policy. Lets see Nina Totenberg do a story on those two issues.

  • Chris

    There is another issue that is socio-economic in nature. As mentioned by MattK, the ineligibility of private, religious organizations for federal subsidy and funding is a very imminent threat. But furthermore, to take this perspective:

    “Feldblum believes this sincerely and with passion, and clearly (as she reminds me) against the vast majority of opinion of her own community. And yet when push comes to shove, when religious liberty and sexual liberty conflict, she admits, ‘I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.’”

    …opens the field beyond gay marriage. What is “sexual liberty” and where are its boundaries? In context it would appear that Chai Feldblum is referring to public liberty as per societal norms. Realistically in our capitalist society, there is little keeping the money power from ruling the social direction of the nation beyond religious institutions. Considering that the pornography industry is in the $Billions per annum with no insignificant part sympathetic and/or supportive of the GLBT cause, what prevents this money powerhouse from isolating America’s religious heritage into oblivion?

  • Michael

    This is all headed to the Supreme Court, now. That means it looms over the White House race, big time.

    This isn’t headed to the Supreme Court for at least a decade. Since the decision was under California law and marriage is not a federal issue, there’s not much of a basis for the Supreme Court to hear the California case. Until there’s a challenge to DOMA, the justices are not going to be hearing a same-sex marriage case.

    As for the religious liberty claims, they are so abstract at this point, they also aren’t likely to find their way to the court in the next decade.

    Same-sex marriage looms over the presidential race, but is probably a bigger problem for McCain than Obama. There is definitely a story there.

  • Michael

    In the sense that every election is about the shape of the Supreme Court for the next couple of decades, then a same-sex marriage case could be important. But there are much more pressing issues facing the court that will be shaped by the next president–capital punishment, torture, presidential power, abortion. It’s important for reporters to not get too distracted by far-away battles at the detriment of present-day issues facing the Supreme Court that will be shaped by the election.

  • Jay D

    tmatt wrote:

    This is all headed to the Supreme Court, now. That means it looms over the White House race, big time.

    Actually it won’t go to the US Supreme Court. The right to gay marriage was based on the California State Constitution, not the US Constitution. The highest authority to interpret a state constitution is the state supreme court and the federal courts must defer to its rulings. The only grounds to appeal to the US Supreme Court would be to claim that the state’s ruling in some way violates a Federal constitutional right, which is not the case here.

  • Dave

    Chris wrote:

    As it stands, “marriage” between a man and a woman is universally recognized among cultures.

    This is flatly untrue. Legal polygamy still exists, even though it’s not in the West.

    Those who stand in favor of supporting inclusion of GLBTs in their concept of marriage, equate sexual orientation and behavior to innate, immutable characteristics of each human being.

    This isn’t true either. Many supporters of marriage equity, including the Unitarian Universalist Association, take that position as a matter of equity and are mute as to causes of sexual-orientation diversity.

    Michael and Jay D both disputed tmatt’s statement that this is going to the US Supreme Court. You gotta look beyond the next domino to fall. Social conservatives in California are at this moment organizing a referendum to amend the state constitution with a heteronormative defintion of marriage, overturning the recent state supreme court ruling. If they succeed and then someone with standing appeals that to the federal courts, say on grounds of equal protection of the law, it’s headed for the Big Bench.

  • William

    The rationale that “I cannot help myself” or “I was born this way” is problematic when applying it to behavior. In order to be a woman, or a man, you do not have to act. In order to be black, white, red, yellow, brown, or any other hue, you do not have to act. In order to be “gay”, you have to act. The same applies to those who are predispositioned toward athletics, alcoholism, abuse, and behavioral ‘disorders’.

    The word “gay” is ambiguously defined but I think, in most definitions, behavior is not required since it only requires attraction. How could gay virgins exist if an act is required?

  • str1977

    gfe,

    the gist of the decision is that the only thing the court ruled unconstitutional was calling marriage and domestic partnerships by different names. It’s not enough, the court said, to grant domestic partnerships and marriages the same set of legal rights and obligations; you also have to call them marriages.

    Does that mean the law could provide for an less-then-equal-institutition that is not called marriage?

    On a linguistic note: it is the two spouses that marry, not any minister.

  • str1977

    NeoWolf,

    I’ve never understood why people assume that bisexuals automatically want to be involved with men and women at the same time.

    That’s not an assumption but a possibility. Who are you to discriminate against Joe.

    It’s not that alone. It’s the fact that the state can’t demonstrate a reason to discriminate against them.

    The same reasoning destroys your case against bisexual marriage above. There is no reason to “discriminate” against them.

    But any way, this is not about “discrimination” but whether the state has any interest in accepting and furthering an institution. It is clear why it does that to traditional marriage, but what actually are the benefits of homosexual “marriage”?

    Real discrimination would be laws outlawing homosexual intercourse or same-sex cohabitation.

    hmmm Is it the innateness and intractability of GLTBs that gives them status as protected people?

    Yes, it is. The argument is that homosexual can’t help but go for a same-sex partner and therefore must be provided for with an institution.

  • str1977

    why Europeans are less freaked out about same-sex marriage than Americans are.

    Also because we do not (or to a much lesser extent) have the problem of activist judges ruling by diktat.

    And remember: how many European countries have introduced homosexual “marriage” (as opposed to civil unions or nothing)? You won’t find that many!

  • str1977

    Martha,

    I agree 100% with the reasoning you present. It all would be unfair and “discriminating” if this remained restricted to homosexual monogamy.

    However, it will not come up as a problem. Why? You write:

    Must Joe be forced to choose either strict heterosexuality or strict homosexuality, depending upon the mere chronological chance of whom he happened to marry first?

    The same groups that have pushed for the legalisation of homosexual “marriage” will not lift a finger to help a bisexual in his or her plight. There is a large current in the homosexual community that deprecates bisexuals more than heterosexuals.

  • Stephen A.

    The same groups that have pushed for the legalisation of homosexual “marriage” will not lift a finger to help a bisexual in his or her plight. There is a large current in the homosexual community that deprecates bisexuals more than heterosexuals.

    str1977 is completely correct.

    Leaving aside the apparent hypocrisy of the gay “rights” movement refusing to fight for the rights of bisexuals, the fact that a powerful, well-funded interest group isn’t behind the effort to legalize plural marriage is irrelevant, isn’t it? All it would really take is one recourse to the court system to establish yet another “new” form of marriage, and I’ve not seen one article noting the rather revolutionary nature of this CA ruling and the more far reaching one in Massachusetts.

    The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court stated pretty clearly in its decision in 2003 that marriage will henceforth be available to ALL people who CHOOSE to marry, saying, in part:

    “The right to marry is not a privilege conferred by the State, but a fundamental right that is protected against unwarranted State interference.” and “the right to marry means little if it does not include the right to marry the person of one’s choice.”

    Likewise, the California ruling noted repeatedly that marriage was meant to be the right to “establish, with the person of one’s choice, an officially recognized and sanctioned family.” (p. 18, 52, 54, 59, 60, 69 and elsewhere)

    If a man’s choice is to marry a man AND a woman, who are the courts to say they may not, given these precedents?

    Of course the Mass. ruling included such weak legal arguments as the fact that gays are “our neighbors” and that ending man-woman-only marriages were to be overthrown for this wonderful legal precedent: “We should do so because it is the right thing to do.”

    Since a gay couple’s emotional plea was apparently the ‘reasoning’ behind the ruling, wouldn’t a court equally be swayed by a poor, discriminated-against triple seeking plural marriage?

    It was legal reasoning like that eviscerated traditional Western marriage as we knew it for about 3,000 years. We just don’t realize that, sadly, this old fashioned concept is dead yet – or at least on life support.

    I’m curious to know if anyone has ever seen an analysis of the Mass. court ruling – or the recent court ruling in Calif. – in the media that looks at it for its ramifications for plural marriage and the rights of bisexuals.

  • Stephen A.

    For those who may question whether there’s a religious angle for stories about the California decision on gay marriage, all they need to do is peruse the ruling and see who provided written arguments to the court to topple Prop 22, and ring them up for comment as to why they thought this was a good idea.

    Attorneys for the Respondent include:
    Chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, Pacific Central West Council of the Union for
    Reform Judaism, Pacific Southwest Council of the Union for Reform Judaism, Pacific Southwest District
    Chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, Progressive Christians Uniting, Progressive
    Jewish Alliance-California, Reconciling Ministries Clergy of the California-Nevada Conference of the
    United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry-California, United Church of Christ-
    Southern California/Nevada Conference, All Saints Episcopal Church, All Saints Independent Catholic
    Parish, All Saints Metropolitan Community Church, Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits, Berkeley
    Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Chalice Unitarian
    Universalist Congregation, Christ the Shepherd Lutheran Church, Church of the Brethren of San Diego,
    College Avenue Congregational Church United Church of Christ, Community Church of Atascadero
    United Church of Christ, Community Presbyterian Church, Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist
    Fellowship, UCC Community Church of Atascadero, Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim,
    Congregation Kol Ami, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, Congregation Shir Hadash, Conejo Valley Unitarian
    Universalist Fellowship Faith in Action Committee, Diamond Bar United Church of Christ, Dolores Street
    Baptist Church, Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church, First Christian Church of San Jose Disciples of
    Christ, First Congregational Church, First Congregational United Church of Christ, First Mennonite Church
    of San Francisco, First Presbyterian Church, First Unitarian Church of Oakland, (I’ve cut about half this list for the sake of space.)

    Full ruling: http://media.npr.org/documents/2008/may/ca_supreme_ct.pdf

    Those on the Left of the religious and political spectrum may also want to make hay over the fact that a certain Kenneth W. Starr (yeah, that one) was an attorney for the appelant, i.e. the state, along with Jay Sekulow and a handful of churches. But they were clearly outgunned, as usual.

  • Dave

    Stephen A. and str1977:

    Bisexuals certainly benefit from the marriage-equity rulings of the California and Massachusetts courts. The no longer need to arbitrarily ignore half of their potential marriage partners if they want to get married.

    Despite conservative efforts to conflate them, polyamorous marriage (whether including bisexuals or not) is a separate issue. The “gay marriage” movement wants to extend the existing hetero institution to everyone, period.

    On the practical level, you don’t have millions of people living in triads, tetrads or what-have-you like you have people already living in same-sex couples. So the pressure for polyamorous marriage isn’t there in the same way.

    Btw there are lots of BGLTs who are not pursuing marriage. They think being BGLT is fundamentally different and that adapted hetero institutions are not appropriate. It’s a big world out there. Big and scary, if such things scare you.

  • Darel

    Let us take a trip down memory lane. In the 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, Justice O’Connor supported the majority decision to overturn the sodomy laws of the state of Texas. In her concurring opinion, she stated

    That this law as applied to private, consensual conduct is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause does not mean that other laws distinguishing between heterosexuals and homosexuals would similarly fail under rational basis review. Texas cannot assert any legitimate state interest here, such as national security or preserving the traditional institution of marriage.

    Of course, this claim of Justice O’Connor is precisely what the Supreme Court of California has explicitly rejected.

    Justice Scalia, in his dissenting opinion in the Lawrence case, stated

    Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions.

    Of course, he was exactly right.

    What does this have to do with religion? Dave2 at comment #6 captures the ramifications. The pro-homosexual left will try — with the force of law — to define traditional religion as “bigotry” or worse. If they are successful, religion will become as socially marginal in the US as it has become in Europe and most of Canada. If they are unsuccessful, there will be open war between the secular and religious camps. The position of the small but socially influential religious left should be quite interesting in such times.

  • Chris

    Dave and William…

    First of all, I am honored that you responded directly to my points. Dave, the fact that polygamy is recognized in many cultures does not negate the fact that it still represents a relationship between a man and a woman, albeit, multiple men to one woman, or multiple women to one man. William, the concept of “gay virgin” is in the same light as one who has never tasted alcohol. It assumes that ‘gay’ is accepted and implies that a ‘virgin’ is inexperienced, innocent, or undefiled, which is the traditional understanding of “virgin”. Notice that men are not typically referred to as “virgin” in archaic discussion. Furthermore, if your attraction, without action, defines your sexual orientation then this entire argument is mute. The law and arbitrator thereof does not have the ability, nor the capacity, to address unbirthed thoughts. If there is no spoken word, or action, there is nothing to address.

    Also, a specific distinction: “private acts between consenting adults” and “state recognition of same sex unions” or ‘gay marriage’ are not equitable. “Marriage”, regardless of what variety you accept, is a “public declaration”. Hence the “…we are gathered here today to witness…” and the “…if there be any person who has reason why these two should not be joined…”

    This decision in California says, in essence, that the law of California has witnessed and condoned the joining of, pick a same-sex couple. Read deeper…if you refuse to recognize the “marriage” between them, you stand against the law of the state of California. There is much to be wary of in that precedent.

    BTW…the list of churches in defense of ‘gay marriage’ are on the most liberal side of the Judeo-Christian spectra bordering on moral relativism, just to keep perspective.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    DAVE:

    Give me the numbers. I’ll spike ‘em.

    I was on the highway when this thread went totally out of control.

  • Dave

    ##64 & 66. (#65 was a response to Dave2, my error)

  • Pingback: California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban - Page 6 - Volconvo Debate Forums

  • Pingback: California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban - Page 6 - Volconvo Debate Forums


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X