I love Convos with My Two-Year-Old.
These are the continuing episodes, 6 & 7, titled The Pants.
I love Convos with My Two-Year-Old.
These are the continuing episodes, 6 & 7, titled The Pants.
My kids adore their grandmother.
The word “dote” wouldn’t be too strong to describe their attitude toward her. It’s a mutual doting. She tells me constantly how “brilliant, sweet, generous and good” they are. They, in turn, seem to not mind one bit doing the yeoman labors of making sure she takes her medicine, gets her meals and is constantly looked after.
Caring for an elderly parent is not all that difficult when the grandkids stop their rounds of work, dates and classwork to take on far more than their fair share of the tending. It amuses me no end that the first person they introduce their girls to is my mother. She always knows all about their date lives, while I am usually far behind on the information curve.
They feel so strongly about their grandmother, that when I tried to take on more of her care — in the mistaken idea that I was lifting a burden off them — they protested loud and long.
I felt much the same about my own grandmother. Grandparents are a healthy relief from the intensity of the parent-child relationship. They give a safe place for kids to spread their wings in the relatively low-key and tolerant atmosphere of adoring grandparents. I remember once my mother told me “we don’t do homework at my house,” when I asked her to make sure the boys did some sort of schoolwork that needed doing at the time. I don’t remember if my lower jaw hit the floor or not, but I do remember the amusement I felt when she said that.
I had the urge to tap her on the forehead and ask, “Mama, are you in there?”
This clearly was not the same woman who had raised me.
And, of course, that was true. She wasn’t the same woman who had raised me. At that point, I was the one on the hot seat. I was the parent with the task of shaping these babies of mine into responsible, productive adults who could earn their living and found families of their own one day.
My mother had done her time in the parental labor yard, and now she was deep into that other role of Grandparent. It was not her job to make sure they did their homework, and she wasn’t going to do it. Her job was to adore them and give them the unalloyed love and adoration that only a grandparent can.
Judging by their attitude today, when she’s a little bit dotty and a whole lot in need of unalloyed love and adoration herself, she did well.
Pope Francis spoke of this beautiful and unique contribution that grandparents make to the welfare of their grandchildren yesterday, on the feast of Joachim and Anna, who were Jesus’ grandparents. We often think of Joseph, Mary and Jesus as a totally isolated unit. But in truth, they existed within a community of relations and kinsmen, as do people in the Middle East, even today.
Scriptures mention this in the story of Jesus getting separated from Mary and Joseph when He stayed back to teach at the Temple when He was 12. There are oblique mentions of it later in His life when the Scriptures reference His mother’s relations, as well as His “brothers,” which is to say His kinsmen. Again, even today in the Middle East, people call their kinsmen, including cousins and more distant relations, “brothers.”
We don’t have specific information about how Joachim and Anna lived out their grandparent role in Jesus’ life, but since God had chosen to be born to this particular girl who was part of this particular family, I think it’s a good guess that they did it well. After all, these were the people who raised Our Lady. That’s a powerful testament to their child-rearing abilities.
Pope Francis emphasized on the flight from Rome to Rio earlier this week that the elderly are as important to the future of the Church as the young. There is a symmetry to life and this Latin American pope seems well aware of it. Traditional families, based on a mother and a father, and backed up with the loving help and support of the generation before them, are the best, most stable and healthy way to nurture and guide children from birth to adulthood.
People who grow up in this environment have learned the value of all people at various stages of life by seeing that value acted out in their own families. They’ve learned love by being loved. They acquired stability by growing up in stable homes. They’ve been supported, first by their parents and then by their grandparents who could pitch in and broaden their experiences and also fill the gaps in their experience that parents could not reach.
I had many of the most profoundly shaping conversations of my childhood with my grandmother. She had time to just sit and listen to my childish rambles that my mother and father did not. She was removed from the pressures of getting it all done and could give me her undivided attention for hours at a time. I basked and flowered in the soft sunlight of this attention.
My mother did the same thing for my kids. And now, just as I adored my grandmother, they adore her.
My youngest son drives a pick-up that sits high off the ground. When he wants to take his 88-year-old Amah out for a spin, he picks her up like she weighs no more than a potato chip and lifts her onto the seat. Then, off they go on a ramble.
She invariably comes back all aglow, telling me “that boy is the sweetest thing.”
I was setting up some work on my house yesterday. The lady who took my order was here for a while, measuring and writing down the particulars. I got calls from my kids who were at work and my mother who was at adult day care all through my discussion with this lady. I didn’t think anything about it. They call me all the time.
But as we were winding up our discussion the lady taking the order said, “Do you know how blessed you are?”
I said yes. And I do know. But it was lovely to have her remind me.
The generations, young to old, are good. The Holy Father is right: We should cherish the elderly, for they are vital to us and our well-being.
From my viewpoint, the loss of religious liberty is only subtle to those who do not want to see what is happening. In truth, it has been snowballing for quite a while.
The sign of hope is that for the first time, there is real pushback. I’m not talking about angry speechifying and partisan political demagoguery, but actual pushback in the form of court cases, marches and a public engagement in favor of religious liberty by whole groups of people who heretofore opted out of the battle.
The HHS Mandate was a watershed moment in American history in this regard. By attempting to force the Church itself to violate its own teachings in a federalized, all-fifty-states manner, the Mandate forced the war upon religious leaders who had been committed to a policy of negotiation and compromise. The Mandate pushed things past compromise and into choosing this day whom you would serve.
The administration has since backed off parts of the mandate, but the essential core of its position on religious liberty: That the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion pertains only to churches and direct church institutions, has not budged. The question that this forces on thinking people is whether or not they will support our Constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion without government interference or not.
Far too often, people allow their partisan political loyalties to make their decision in this matter for them. This is such a strong trend that I am fairly certain that if the party who was being criticized for attacking religious liberty changed from, as it is in this case, the Ds, to the (as it has been and will be again in other cases, the Rs) many people would switch their positions on the issues to follow their party.
I do not know how to get people to stop looking at the world through partisan-tinted glasses. But I know that this is essential — essential — if you want to be effective for Christ in our country’s political discussions.
One way that America is unique is that every citizen is a de facto politician. No American citizen is exempt from responsibility for the directions our government takes. Because of the great freedoms and the many powerful options to seek redress against our government that every American citizen possesses, we are all called to have opinions and engage the political world for change, at least on some level.
Our government and both political parties have become corrupted by the control of special interests and overweening government bureaucracies. I don’t know how else to say it. We, as American citizens, have a responsibility to stand back from that corruption and think for ourselves. As Christians we have an eternal responsibility to put the Gospels first in our considerations.
American Christians are citizens of two kingdoms simultaneously. We are American citizens and we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God. One of the great things about America is that is has not, up until very recently, required its citizens to chose between these two kingdoms.
America has always honored the demands of conscience of its individual citizens. Those whose faith demands it are not required to fight in our wars and no one challenges their patriotism. We have never forced anyone to undergo a religious test to hold public office in this nation.
But now, there are groups which seek to push their ideas on other people to the point of abrogating their right of personal conscience. Rather than follow the time-honored American tradition of allowing those whose faith compels them to forego certain activities to do so, they are using the law and courts to force religious people to participate in everything from abortions to gay marriages. They base this on nebulous claims to their “right” to these activities which, they say, trumps the rights of other citizens not to participate in them.
The HHS Mandate is a sinister, tyrannical abuse of government power that attempts to shear the First Amendment loose from its time-honored moorings in the rights of individual American citizens to act and live according to their faith without government penalties, intervention or discrimination. It thrusts the United States government into areas where it has never gone before and into which it should not go now.
Other laws, such as those Cardinal Wuerl mentions in this video, have been bubbling up all over the country, which, at least in their local applications, set aside First Amendment guarantees of religious liberty almost entirely in favor of other new goals of government meddling in American’s private lives and religious institutions in order to force private citizens to participate in culture war objectives such as abortion and gay marriage against their will.
I am aware that a good number of the readers of this blog comfort themselves with the fiction that all they have to do to support religious liberty is to vote Republican. I am also aware of the fact that most people don’t have my experience dealing with these issues from inside government and seeing first hand what a shallow and ultimately bogus hope that is.
I can only tell you that I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears, not once but many times, how completely craven both political parties truly are in these matters. I am not saying that many of the people in the Republican party are not wonderful, committed Christians. I am saying that when push comes to shove, they allow their party to tell them to back off, back down and shut up about everything from pro life to religious liberty. I have seen it happen.
In this respect, they aren’t all that different from the Democrats. There are devout Christians in the Democratic Party, as well. But they can’t withstand the pressure from their party.
The big difference is that Democratic party structure itself has become overtly hostile to traditional Christian morality as it applies to human sexuality, while the Republican party gives a lot of lip service to supporting it. The Rs do not attack Christian morality concerning human sexuality with legislation designed to undermine it. The Ds will and do.
But the Rs (again, I refer to the party structure, not individual Republicans) only take stands with words, or when they see a political advantage. In fact, in many instances, (I’m specifically thinking about the HHS Mandate here) the Rs take stands only with words and do not use their clout in Congress to effect change.
The point I am making, is that if you are a Republican, you should not stand for this. You need to stop buying the manipulative nonsense your party is pushing and demand they go at the HHS Mandate by making it a sticking point in their negotiations on budget issues or wherever else they can gain traction. People get what they want. If the Republicans wanted to stop this mandate rather than just use it for campaigning purposes, they could make a big difference.
On the other hand, Democrats like me are so isolated and besieged within our parties that only the most determined of us can stay the course at all. It is impossible to describe to someone on the outside the kind of pressures that Democratic lawmakers are under to compromise matters of faith concerning issues such as abortion, marriage and religious freedom.
If you are a Democrat, you need to step up to the plate and demand that your party stop attacking the pro-life, pro-religious freedom lawmakers in their midst. You also need to consider running for party offices, beginning at the precinct level, to replace some of these nuts who are running our party and get the thing back on track.
Americans do not have the luxury of sitting around and saying “what can you do?”
The truth is, any American, all Americans, can do a lot.
My father was a mechanic with an 8th grade education. I went to the worst schools in the poor part of town. I am a woman, from an era when women didn’t have the options we have today. And I have spent 18 years in elective office.
Why? Because I am an American citizen and I have Constitutionally guaranteed right to engage the larger culture about the things I believe.
The rest of you should try it. Politics can be both honorable and holy work. All you have to do is put Jesus first and let the chips fall.
I’ve read the news reports on several outlets, and I’m not exactly sure what the judge did, except that it’s clear that he stopped the government from dropping the guillotine on Hobby Lobby next month.
The draconian HHS Mandate, which is scheduled to go into effect in August, would probably, in the judge’s own words, “cut the legs from under” any “individual or corporation” who is so bold as to say “no” to it. Judge Joe Heaton ruled that Hobby Lobby is exempt from compliance with the HHS Mandate, at least until higher courts rule in the matter. He also put the case on hold until October 1 to give the Obama administration time to respond.
What does this mean?
Well, it means that the government can’t start putting Hobby Lobby out of business because it won’t pay for abortifacients for its employees, at least not next month.
It also gives the Obama administration a bloody nose. The administration originally contended that First Amendment protections of the free exercise of religion only applied to churches. Then, when it began losing in court, the administration widened that out to include direct affiliates of churches. The administration has not budged in its position that the First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion does not apply to you, me or any other individual.
I think this latest ruling puts other judges on the hot seat. Are they going to allow corporations and individuals to go down the tubes next month, or are they going to step up and grant similar stays for everyone?
One interesting fact: Judge Joe Heaton is the same judge who denied a somewhat similar request by Hobby Lobby in November 2012. His reasoning then read like Obama administration boilerplate.
What has happened to change his mind?
It may be that the reasoning of other justices who did not agree with him made him re-think the issue. It may also be that he finally wised up to the fact that the HHS Mandate is a challenge to the Constitution itself. It may also be that he came to understand what I saw when I first read about the nascent HHS Mandate months before it was promulgated: This thing has the makings of a Constitutional crisis of a magnitude not seen in this country since the Civil War.
There has been a huge overstepping of individual liberties in the culture wars lately. Whether the issue is abortion or gay marriage, those who promote these positions are not satisfied with laws that allow them to do what they want. They are pushing hard for laws that force other people to participate in doing it with them.
The HHS Mandate, by directly targeting the Church itself, along with its many ministries, stepped up the fight and made it something that was impossible to ignore. The days of going along to get along ended for believers in religious liberty and freedom of conscience when President Obama signed that thing.
It’s possible Judge Heaton got his wits together and realized the magnitude of what he was dealing with. It’s also possible that Hobby Lobby’s lawyers wrote a better brief this time around.
I don’t know.
I do know that this ruling today is a good and hopeful one for all of us who hold our Constitutional liberties dear.
If you want great sex, trying marrying for love and committing yourself this person for life. It also helps if you worship the God Who made you in a Catholic Church every week.
That’s the upshot of a spate of articles floating around the internet, including this one that mentions Patheos blogger Dr Gregory Popcak. It turns out that devout Catholic husbands and wives have the most satisfying sexual relationships of any group.
Based on what we see on HBO, it would appear that the most satisfying sex must occur between people who don’t give a flip about one another. According to the media great sex is found in quickie relationships where one of person may even be paying the other to participate. Greatest sex probably occurs between groups of people or people who’ve slept with everybody in the telephone book before arriving at their latest coupling. Tossing in drugs to “heighten” the experience is also depicted as a useful way to get great sex.
Of course, that’s not real life. The hook-up culture is as empty of emotional sustenance as a steady diet of styrofoam would be of nutrition. Eat enough styrofoam and you will die physically. Engage in enough meaningless sex and you will lose the ability to connect with the people you are “sexing,” and the sex itself will become more about sweat and release than satisfaction and happiness.
This little lesson in human nature applies to just about everything in life. Is it more satisfying to eat in a crowded diner with strangers, or to spend the evening with someone you enjoy and who engages you? Is a movie more fun sitting in a theater full of strangers or alongside someone who shares your life and viewpoint and laughs and cries right along with you?
“It is not good for man to be alone,” the Lord God said after He created Adam. Adam was surrounded by all of creation, including the many creatures who populated it. But he was alone. When God made woman, Adam knew that this person was not just another creature, but “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” He recognized her as his partner; another living soul made in the image and likeness of God.
Men and women are made for one another, in the best and most beautiful way. We are not insects who reproduce in a soulless exchange of genes. We are human beings who create life out of our mutual love and self-giving. Anything less always ends up dehumanizing us.
Sex is a great gift to humankind, a gift with a purpose. We create life with it, and we also bind ourselves man to woman for life by the tenderness and trust of life-long fidelity and sharing that is true marriage. True marriage between a man and a woman is the simplest and best way to have a satisfying and productive life. Satisfying sex is not the purpose of marrying for love, for life and within the Church. It is a free gift and a natural by-product of this free commitment of two lives to one another.
It doesn’t surprise me that devout Catholic wives and husbands who are living together in the sacrament of holy matrimony are also blessed with fulfilling sex lives. What does surprise me is that anyone ever doubted it.
Proposition 8 supporters have filed a case in court claiming that the vote of the people which passed the law should stand.
From what I’ve read, I believe that what they are basically saying is that since the Supreme Court failed to rule on Proposition 8 by tossing the whole case out, that the law itself stands.
When the Supreme Court refuses to review a lower court ruling, that means that the lower court ruling is allowed to stand. I believe that the lower court ruling in question overturned Prop 8. However, the Supreme Court took the Prop 8 case under consideration, and then tossed it out by saying that the law’s defendants did not have standing.
Does that mean that the entire case was thrown out of court and has no merit? I think that is what the opponents of Prop 8 are saying in the case they have filed.
It’s an interesting argument that, at least on its face, does seem to have merit.
I have no idea where this will go. The whole thing might wind its way back to the Supreme Court again. The basic point for now is that the proponents of traditional marriage are not rolling over. That, in itself, is very good news.
Dr Gregory Popcak, who blogs at Faith On The Couch, wrote a fascinating post discussing the whys of our hook-up culture.
Babies and young children aren’t getting the love from their parents that they need. Specifically, they don’t get the cuddling, kissing and touching love they need when they’re little and so they spend their young adult lives trying to feed the resulting hunger for affection and touching through endless, mindless, destructive sexual hook-ups.
Dr Popcak theorizes that little boys have historically been deprived of this cuddle time. He says that moms and dads have tended to withdraw physical affection from little boys when they reach toddlerhood in a misguided effort to toughen them up and make men out of them.
I think he’s onto something here. I can’t count the number of times someone scolded me when my two or three year old little boy ran to me for comfort over a skinned knee or whatnot. “He’s too attached to you,” they opined. “He’s got to stand on his own two feet.”
I thought they were nuts. Little children need to attach absolutely and deeply to their parents, moms in particular. They need that safe place of momma’s arms and momma’s lap to cuddle, get rocked to sleep and loved. I am not saying that fathers should withhold affection from their little boys and girls. Far from it. Babies need to be doted on by both their parents.
This makes them feel safe. It insulates them from the world and its craven values, its cruelties and its indifference. That gives them the space to grow up into the people God meant them to be when He created them.
Dr Popcak says that the reason for the hook-up culture is that little girls are now also being deprived of the cuddling and physical closeness with their parents, I think their mothers in particular, by being shipped off to daycare at young ages.There’s no surprise here. Institutions do not and can not give the kind of nurturing and bonding that young children get from their own parents.
When they reach their teens, they go searching for the cuddling they missed by engaging in repetitive hook-ups. They are searching for love in all the wrong places.
I left a great career in the legislature where I was chair of a powerful committee and flying high to stay home and raise my kids. This thrust our family into one-income poverty for years. It also loaded the whole responsibility for supporting our little clan onto my husband’s shoulders.
My husband and I both paid a price for our decision to provide 24-hour, non-stop Mommy attention to our babies. He had the enormous pressure and oftentimes misery of having to stay on a job no matter what because he was the only one bringing home the bacon. I had to give up the prestige and power of my former position. Our whole family was stripped of all the little things that money can buy.
We didn’t go hungry, but the kids wore a lot of garage sale clothes, and we used the library instead of buying books. I bought food once a month and made every meal from scratch. There was no eating out, the only movies were at the dollar movie theater and that was once in a while and we sneaked in canned drinks in my purse. (I lived in fear of my youngest blurting out in his baby voice — Mommy, make sure no one sees the Cokes in your purse!)
There is a price for putting your children first and all the things you can buy last. But there is also a pay off. That pay off is: No drugs, no promiscuity, no teen-aged rebellion, no self-destructive kids, no eye-rolling dissing of parents, and adult children who actually like their parents and come to us to talk over their problems with an absolute trust that we will be there for them and that they can tell us anything.
Parents are starving their children emotionally in order to buy them things. The payback in terms of messed up kids is enormous.
It is not absolutely necessary for mom to stay home for the kids to turn out ok. I have friends who managed to do the two-income hop step and still raise children who turned out to be loving, non-promiscuous adults who could marry and raise children of their own.
However, not one of them divorced; mom and dad stayed together. And not one of them put their kids in a daycare. And not one of them engaged in other activities when their babies were little. The ones I know also had strong support, including child care, from their extended family. They worked while family members cared for the kids, and they came home and were a tight little family that absolutely adored and doted on their child. Also, all of them were well-educated people who rode the wave of good jobs that this country used to offer. They all had positions that paid enough that they could support their families without working more than 40 hours/week.
I do not know one family on the lower income rungs who has been successful at both parents working and raising their children. I’m sure they are there, but I do not personally know of one family where this has worked out.
Jobs at the lower end of our society are hard, often humiliating, and do not pay enough to really support a family. The upshot is that when both parents work, they come home exhausted and beaten up. They are not physically capable of providing cuddling, nurturing time with their babies. They are too tired.
Also, the tsunami of divorce and family dissolution has swept over working class families with disastrous results. Live-in boyfriends and parents with revolving beds are more the norm than the exception.
Rather than create homes for their children, these bed shifters raise their kids in chaotic environments that are isolating, neglectful and oftentimes dangerous. The children have no one they can trust, since their parents are living the lives of perpetual adolescents, and maladjusted adolescents at that. They often end up abused and battered by the various live-ins.
Ironically, working class parents with their reduced options can only provide the kind of nurturing environment that kids need if they ignore the trends of the culture and get married to one another, stay married and put their kids first.
I believe that it is far more important for lower income mothers to stay home with their children than it is for wealthier mothers who can get easier, more rewarding jobs that leave them with the energy to be a real mom when they get home. However, if they want their children to survive their job intact, the wealthier mothers need to forgo most other activities and really be a loving, cuddling, there mom when they go home.
I have friends and family who went the other way, and fell into all the cultural traps of putting their kids in daycare, and then ignoring them once they got home. I can tell you from watching them, once you mess up your kids, you can’t undo it later.
It is the misery that only gets more miserable as life spins forward. If you don’t want to raise your own kids right, then get ready to raise your grandkids. Make plans for crying all night about the things your teens and your adult children do to themselves and others. Spruce up your speech for the courtroom custody battles and the parole board. You’re going to need them.
With children, it’s ignore now, pay forever.
Texans have a new abortion law.
Americans have a new political reality.
The Texas legislature passed the much-ballyhooed abortion law which would require abortion doctors to have hospital privileges and abortion clinics to provide the same health and safety standards as other outpatient surgical clinics. They crossed the finish line on this bill late last night amid what can only be described as a mob assault on the Texas state capitol.
The reason I chose the words “mob assault” is that the focus of at least a good number of the citizens who came to the Texas capitol was to use mob action to shut down the legislative process. Consider, for instance, this statement issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety:
I am all in favor of citizens visiting their state capitols. I think the people of this nation should pay a lot more attention to what their lawmakers are up to than they do now. I believe that every person in this country has a right to talk to their elected officials and to petition them concerning the issues and legislation they are voting on.
We are, every single elected one of us, representatives of the people who put us here. We can’t know what the people who elected us want from us unless they tell us. Polls and things of that ilk are not a substitute for direct personal input with the people themselves.
On the other hand, when a group of people try to use mob action to shut down the legislative process, they are attacking democracy. The people who were so bent on disrupting the Texas legislature would not have needed to be there at all if they had been able to take their cause to the court of public opinion and win elections. By trying to disrupt the legislative session with mob action, they were, in effect, attempting to overturn the elections which put the legislators in that chamber to cast those votes.
If you don’t like what your legislator does with the power you gave them when you elected them, then run against them for election. If you don’t want to run, then go out and volunteer to help someone else run. Put up yard signs. Make phone calls. Hand out literature. Donate money.
That is the way to change the face of government in this country. It is a power we all have, and which we are giving away to special interests and money men when we don’t use it.
There is a new kid on the political block, and it’s a yammering, spoiled, mean-spirited little brat who wants what it wants when it wants it and doesn’t care what damage it does to this country to get it. The bad behavior of some of the protestors in Texas is paralleled by the sudden rash of elected officials, Attorneys General, in particular, who run for office, get elected, and then find that their superior morality requires them to refuse to do the job they were elected to.
We’re going to have to start arresting these people who come to state capitols and try to use mob action to shut down the legislative process. I don’t want to do that. I want people to feel free to go to their capitols and to talk to their legislators about whatever is on their minds. But we cannot allow mobs of people who cannot win an election try to overturn elections by shutting down the Democratic process by means of creating such havoc that they stop debate.
At the same time, we need to consider impeaching or at least defeating at the polls duly elected chief law enforcement officers who refuse to speak for the people in court. When an Attorney General of a state will not represent the people who elected him or her in court, they are derelict in their duty. They are using a sort of don’t-show-up-in-court-and-deliberately-lose-the-case veto power over the legislative and referendum process. They are making themselves the judge of what it is not their job to be the judge — the will and the power of the people of their state to make their own laws.
Both of these extreme behaviors — the mob actions in Texas and other states, and the newfound desire to veto legislation by not showing up in court on the part of Attorneys General — are attempts to subvert the will of the people, and to nullify the actions of a representative government.
I view both these behaviors as the natural outcome of the moral depravity of the positions some citizens are taking. It corrupts and hardens a person to support killing unborn babies. It scrambles the normal thinking processes to convince yourself of something as stupid as the idea that two men or two women are the same as a man and a woman. This is untrue on its face.
Genuinely pro choice (as opposed to pro abortion) people have legitimate points. Much of what concerns them about the misogynistic treatment of women is well-founded. By the same token, homosexuals have legitimate claims to civil rights and protection under the law. However, the pretense that an unborn baby is not a human being, or that a homosexual union is the same as the marriage between a man and a woman, flies in the face of reality.
Laws enacted according to these fantasies are always going to cause great harm, because they are not based on the reality of the human condition. People who advocate for these positions, will, over time, harm themselves and their thinking abilities.
It saddens me, but it doesn’t surprise me, to see the destructiveness to our political fabric ratcheting up with each twist of the political dial. It is the inevitable consequence of the fantastical thinking many people use in forming their worldview.
Michigan state law allows health benefits for school employees and their spouses.
It does not allow health benefits for domestic partners.
US District Judge David Lawson struck down this law on June 28. He based his decision on the recent Supreme Court decision overturning the first half of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
State law determines what benefits public school employees will receive. These benefits are paid for out of the state coffers. One would think that this would be a state’s rights issue, determined by the state’s legal definition of what constitutes a spouse.
However, the recent Supreme Court decision has allowed the judge to overstep state definitions of marriage and require the State of Michigan to extend health care benefits to domestic partners.
According to CNA:
U.S. District Judge David Lawson’s June 28 ruling said it can “never be a legitimate purpose” to deny health benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees. He said the plaintiffs who lost benefits or had to pay for more expensive private health insurance have a “plausible claim” that the law violates the U.S. Constitution.
The 2011 law ended same-sex partner benefits for a few school districts, the counties of Ingham and Washtenaw and the cities of Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Kalamazoo, the Associated Press said.
Defenders of the law said it was passed in the spirit of a 2004 constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman. That amendment won 58 percent of the vote.
This, of course, raises other questions for Michigan, and for all states. The Supreme Court decision essentially overturned state definitions of marriage as between one man and one woman, at least for all practical purposes. The Michigan case is just one small example of how far-reaching this Supreme Court decision actually is.
It will require a change in how the states pay for things such as employee benefits and entitlements. This district court decision pushes the envelope past legal marriages and into the area of domestic partnerships. Since our laws are required to be equal in their applications, that means that it does not just apply to domestic partnerships between same-sex couples, but between virtually anyone.
I realize that is not what the judge specifically addressed in his ruling, but that is the impact of the ruling. It may take a few court cases to make the point, but if this ruling stands up under appeal, that will be its effect in the long term.
The question immediately arises: How are the states going to pay for this? The answer, I’m pretty sure, is that they can’t. Oklahoma is actually in better financial condition than many states, and we would be flummoxed trying to provide benefits for every live-in “domestic partnership.” Of course, the federal government might decide to step in with huge subsidies for these benefits, but that raises the ugly question of how they are going to pay for it.
The only financially responsible answer that provides equal protection under the law that I can see is to either change state laws to redefine marriage to include gay couples and then wait for the next big trendy change allowing polygamy, followed by benefits to cohabiting heterosexuals, OR, do away with benefits for everybody. That is the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA on the states.
I have no doubt that in the long run — and I’m talking about years, maybe a decade, but not much longer — where we will end up is doing away with benefits for everyone. It will be a simple financial imperative.
Welcome to the brave new world of marriage is whatever we say it is today.
Pope Francis is a pope of firsts. His first encyclical, which was issued today, is no exception.
Lumen Fidei, the Light of Faith, is the first encyclical in history authored by two living popes. This is because Pope Benedict XVI began the encyclical before his resignation, and Pope Francis took it up and finished it.
A pope’s first encyclical is usually taken as a harbinger of the directions he will take with his papacy, in particular the areas of the Gospel he feels called to emphasize in light of the times in which he is living. However, this encyclical, coming as it does from the minds of two popes, is more of a bridge between the two papacies.
I haven’t had time to read it yet, so I won’t try to tell you what’s in it. You can read it yourself by going here. You can also download it to any device that will allow you to download pdfs.
I’m going to print out a hard copy. When I get the time later today, I’ll sit down and read it through. I may not comment until I’ve let that digest for a while.
For now I’ll just say that the Light of Faith is the only light we can walk by in this post Christian world of ours. As for me, I have decided that means I will trust the 2,000-year-old consistent teachings of the Catholic Church to be my lamp.
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.