The average wedding in America costs roughly $30,000. Egged on by countless wedding TV shows, magazines, and websites, people throw what appear to be pseudo star-studded events that aim to rival the kind of blow-out parties you only see in movies. In the end you wind up with one night of clouded memories, a ton of photos, and a group of hungover people hovering over breakfast in the hotel lobby the next day. The bills may last you months, even upwards of a year. And for what? To make your grandmother happy? Because you really liked that episode of My Fair Wedding? You can have a great, regret-free wedding without sacrificing yourself to the Wedding Idol. Here’s how.
Rod Dreher at The American Conservative has a thoughtful analysis of the state of Christianity in the United States as we plunge forward into our brave, new cultural revolution. He explains that historically, the Christian views of sex and marriage were good for the culture and improved the lives of slaves and women:
It is nearly impossible for contemporary Americans to grasp why sex was a central concern of early Christianity. Sarah Ruden, the Yale-trained classics translator, explains the culture into which Christianity appeared in her 2010 book Paul Among The People. Ruden contends that it’s profoundly ignorant to think of the Apostle Paul as a dour proto-Puritan descending upon happy-go-lucky pagan hippies, ordering them to stop having fun.
In fact, Paul’s teachings on sexual purity and marriage were adopted as liberating in the pornographic, sexually exploitive Greco-Roman culture of the time—exploitive especially of slaves and women, whose value to pagan males lay chiefly in their ability to produce children and provide sexual pleasure. Christianity, as articulated by Paul, worked a cultural revolution, restraining and channeling male eros, elevating the status of both women and of the human body, and infusing marriage—and marital sexuality—with love.
Dreher discusses the theories of 1960s sociologist Philip Rieff who said that cultures are defined by what they forbid. They impose moral demands in order to serve communal purposes. Rieff — an unbeliever — wrote that the sexual revolution signaled the imminent demise of Christianity as a “culturally determinative force” in the West.
Rieff, Dreher says, explained that “renouncing the sexual autonomy and sensuality of pagan culture was at the core of Christian culture—a culture that, crucially, did not merely renounce but redirected the erotic instinct.” He said that the West’s rapid “re-paganizing around sensuality and sexual liberation” was a sign of the end of Christianity. According to Dreher,
In the 20th century, casting off restrictive Christian ideals about sexuality became increasingly identified with health. By the 1960s, the conviction that sexual expression was healthy and good—the more of it, the better—and that sexual desire was intrinsic to one’s personal identity culminated in the sexual revolution, the animating spirit of which held that freedom and authenticity were to be found not in sexual withholding (the Christian view) but in sexual expression and assertion. That is how the modern American claims his freedom.
In contrast, Denny Burk argues in his book, What is the Meaning of Sex?, the purposes of sex according to the Bible are consummation of marriage, procreation, the expression of love, and pleasure. But even those ends are subordinate to the “ultimate end of glorifying God.” Burk says that,
“The four subordinate ends are not discreet goods but are inseparably related to one another in the covenant of marriage, which itself exists for the glory of God. The morality of any given action, therefore, must be measured by its conformity to these ends.”
Dreher says that gay marriage is the final triumph of the 1960s Sexual Revolution and the “dethroning of Christianity.” He rightly points out that gay marriage stands in opposition to a core concept of Christian anthropology. “In classical Christian teaching,” says Dreher, ”the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation.” He says that Christians lost the debate about gay marriage long before most people imagined that we could go down that road, in part, because Americans had devalued the cosmological meaning of sex and marriage in the post-’60s Sexual Revolution.
Clearly, our culture has floated quite a distance downstream from the goal of “glorifying God” in all areas of life, including sex and marriage. Today’s accepted cultural norms elevate the glory of man over the glory of God.
“The question Western Christians face now is whether or not they are going to lose Christianity altogether in this new dispensation,” says Dreher. He adds that “If the faith does not recover, the historical autopsy will conclude that gay marriage was not a cause but a symptom, the sign that revealed the patient’s terminal condition.”
By now, you may have read that a technology company head has been forced to resign on account of his support of traditional marriage. Yahoo News reports:
Mozilla Chief Executive Brendan Eich has stepped down, the company said on Thursday, after an online dating service urged a boycott of the company’s web browser because of a donation Eich made to opponents of gay marriage.
The software company came under fire for appointing Eich as CEO last month. In 2008, he gave money to oppose the legalization of gay marriage in California, a hot-button issue especially at a company that boasts about its policy of inclusiveness and diversity.
The boycott and subsequent response from Mozilla stand as examples of free association. Private entities have the right to condemn and disassociate from expression they find offensive. However, the story behind the story is how mandatory disclosure of campaign contributions like that made by Eich violates his rights, and those of countless others.
Consider why we have secret ballots. Why have labor unions and their surrogates fought so hard for card check? Knowing how someone votes enables opponents to retaliate. As Eich’s situation demonstrates, so too do the mandatory reporting requirements of campaign finance law.
This week, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that there should be no limits upon “how much money people can donate in total in one election season.” The Court properly recognized campaign contributions as expressions of free speech and exercises of free association. That recognition suggests that any limitation upon campaign finance violates individual rights.
The income tax has fostered a culture which regards how much someone makes, and how they spend it, as public business. Morally, such matters should remain private. Campaign finance law banning anonymous contributions chills speech in the same way public ballots would. When compelled to disclose campaign contributions, people cannot act freely upon their conscience. Donors must consider possible retaliation from parties who would not otherwise be privy to their beliefs or associations. Privacy emerges as a derivative of property and free association. Mandatory disclosure violates both, and thus violates privacy.
But campaign contributions affect public policy, you say. So how can they be private?
Voting affects public policy too. So when are we getting rid of secret ballots?
From the Mozilla Blog:
Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.
We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.
Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.
Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard…
…We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.
Apparently, the “wide diversity of views” doesn’t include support for traditional marriage. Eich, who helped found mozilla.org in 1988 and was appointed CEO last month, donated $1000 to California’s Prop 8 marriage ban in 2008. It should be noted until he evolved in 2012, President Obama also supported a ban on gay marriage, so Eich’s support for Prop 8 was not considered extreme, out-of-the mainstream, or bigoted by most Americans at the time he made his contribution.
Even Eich’s blog post vowing to embrace inclusiveness at Mozilla could not save his job:
You will see exemplary behavior from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products. Mozilla’s inclusive health benefits policies will not regress in any way. And I will not tolerate behavior among community members that violates our Community Participation Guidelines or (for employees) our inclusive and non-discriminatory employment policies.
One commenter on a tech blog expressed the sentiments of many in the mob screaming for Eich’s head on a pike:
When a person progresses from talking about how gays are horrible and moves to working to actively take rights away or make them second class citizens in some legal sense then it ceases to become a freedom of speech issue.
A better way to express this sentiment is to say that free speech ends where the mob says it does. If you like your free speech you can keep it as long as you agree with the Dictators of Acceptable Speech. Allegiance to LGBT rights is quickly becoming a bona fide occupational qualification. It seems we are heading to a place where those with traditional views of marriage (still nearly half of Americans) will be relegated to the proverbial jobs no one else will do.
For now, we still have a First Amendment that (at least on paper) says the government shall make no law abridging free speech, though arguably, laws requiring disclosure of political contributions has that very effect. Going forward, many will be reluctant to support unpopular causes due to a fear of retribution by the de facto Ochlocracy now dictating what constitutes acceptable viewpoints.
One significant consequence of this and other high-tech lynchings is that we now know the marketplace is willing to sacrifice innovators like tech genius Eich on the altar of political correctness. Progress is now defined as agreement with an approved orthodoxy rather than the meritocracy of real, tangible innovation, invention, and technological advancement. That should concern all of us, regardless of our views on marriage or other contentious issues.
The CNN headline screams: “VETOED: Governor says ‘no’ to anti-gay bill.”
Saying she has not heard of “one example where business owners’ religious liberties has been violated” in the state and that the bill was too broad, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial SB 1062 .
SB 1062 is that bill that would have allowed business owners to discriminate against gays and deny them service in restaurants and bakeries, right? Have you gotten the message (from virtually every news outlet and even from the NFL) that the bill was all about — and only about — Arizona’s attempt to impose some version of Jim Crow laws on homosexuals? If so, you’ve been misled. But you’re probably not alone because the bill was so widely misrepresented.
In fact, nearly a dozen religious-liberty scholars wrote a letter to Governor Brewer prior to her veto, saying that SB 1062 “has been egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics.” The group included individuals on different sides of the same-sex marriage debate and those from a variety of religious and political perspectives. All said that “many criticisms of the Arizona bill are deeply misleading.”
The letter noted that the federal government and eighteen states have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs) that require the government to have a compelling interest before burdening a person’s religious exercise. The legal scholars assert that the standard makes sense. “We should not punish people for practicing their religions unless we have a very good reason.” Arizona has had a RFRA in place for nearly fifteen years with only a handful of cases and little controversy. SB 1062 merely sought to clear up two ambiguities in the existent law:
It would provide that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and it would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion.
But nothing in the amendment would say who wins in either of these cases. The person invoking RFRA would still have to prove that he had a sincere religious belief and that state or local government was imposing a substantial burden on his exercise of that religious belief. And the government, or the person on the other side of the lawsuit, could still show that compliance with the law was necessary to serve a compelling government interest. [Emphasis original]
Contrary to the widespread misreporting, this was not an “anti-gay” bill and nothing in the text of the bill would have overtly permitted businesses to deny services or “discriminate” against anyone. It merely would have made clear that individuals and businesses could raise religious liberty as a defense in certain cases. Arizona’s current RFRA, parts of which were copied verbatim from the federal law, left some ambiguity as to when that defense would be appropriate:
So, to be clear: SB1062 does not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons. It says that business people can assert a claim or defense under RFRA, in any kind of case (discrimination cases are not even mentioned, although they would be included), that they have the burden of proving a substantial burden on a sincere religious practice, that the government or the person suing them has the burden of proof on compelling government interest, and that the state courts in Arizona make the final decision.
If I approached ten random people on the street and asked them whether “relationships should be consensual,” ten out of ten would likely answer yes. I mean, what’s the alternative? People should be able to force themselves on each other? It’s a no-brainer.
Yet, if I asked the same ten people whether “a business should be able to deny service on the basis of race or sexual orientation,” seven or eight would probably answer no.
How do we reconcile that? Do we believe relationships should be governed by mutual consent, or not?
In the wake of Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s veto of S.B. 1062, a bill which by some accounts would have expanded the freedom of association in that state, we do well to consider the true nature of Jim Crow. Today, we all agree that the laws which emerged at the state and local level in the century following the Civil War mandating racial segregation clearly violated individual rights. But what about those laws made them a violation of rights? Was it the fact that they discriminated on the basis of race? Or was it the fact that they kept individuals from utilizing their judgment?
By replacing Jim Crow laws with anti-discrimination laws, all we did was change whom the state victimizes. Instead of mandating segregation, we mandated integration. We went from forcing people to abstain from relationships to forcing them to engage in them.
Who speaks for consent? Why have we never tried letting people choose whom they enter into relationships with, and whom they do not? How did we solve the offense of Jim Crow by inverting its trespass?
Arizona’s S.B. 1062 aims too narrowly, and at the wrong target. While businesses should be able to deny service to customers whose needs conflict with the owner’s religious conscience, that stands as only one example of a broader principle which must be applied universally. All relationships should be consensual. Indeed, the case for gay marriage rests upon that very notion. Rather than focus on whether a gay couple should be able to marry or whether a vendor should be able to deny them service, let’s broaden our consideration to whether individuals ought to define their own relationships in all contexts.
No one should be able to force themselves on someone else, ever, under any circumstances. Embracing that maxim and applying it to public policy would settle many of these divisive social issues.
Bethany Mandel’s article on the irony of permitted homophobia in the African-American rap community rightly highlighted the Left’s patronizing racism towards both African and Hispanic Americans. She smartly pointed out pop culture’s double standard when it comes to reacting to anti-gay statements from Christian whites versus blacks or Hispanics. But the argument needs to be pushed further, lest we fall into the Progressive Left’s divisive Minority trap.
The underlying racism of the Progressive Left is the kind of upper-class willful ignorance rooted in eugenic supremacist theory that’s currently being swept under the rug of “progressivism,” a fanciful term for 21st century Marxism. No one could possibly believe that the same people who promote marriage equality, affirmative action, and amnesty are subconsciously racist. Unless, of course, they looked at the philosophy underlying those seemingly righteous political beliefs.
One need look no further than the Grammys for proof. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, white boys with bad rapping skills being lathered up with awards by an audience righteously congratulating themselves for marrying gays on stage to the tune of Same Love. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the white messiahs saving rap from its inherent anti-gay nature with cornball lyrics referring to his beloved genre as “a culture founded from oppression.” What next? Rapping about the ironies of 40 acres and a mule with a prop carpetbag?
Our own Bethany Mandel highlights the contrast in expectations placed upon African-Americans versus most everyone else when it comes to homophobia. Asking “Where Is It Still Acceptable to Be Homophobic?,” she points to attitudes expressed in the hip-hop community, a demographic breakdown of election results from California’s infamous Proposition 8, and an anecdote which indicates other minority groups get a free pass when criticizing homosexuality.
While the case for hypocrisy rests, what struck me as more troubling was the use of the word “homophobic” in reference to voting for traditional marriage or refusing to associate with homosexuals. This word – homophobic – has rapidly become an acceptable way to describe anything less than enthusiastic acceptance of homosexuality, which leads me to wonder. What is “homophobia” anyway?
We can get all etymological about it and break the word down to its constituent parts. Obviously, “homo” references homosexuality. “Phobia” means fear. So I guess a strict interpretation would be fear of homosexuals.
But that doesn’t really fit its dominant usage in the culture. How many people are actually afraid of homosexuals in the phobic sense? It does not follow that a vote against gay marriage indicates fear of homosexuals.
The rhetorical weight lent to the word “homophobe” places it on a connotative par with the word “racist.” Yet we would not call a racist a “blackophobe” or some such. While the racist may fear the object of his racism, fear does not define racism. Irrational beliefs about racial determinism define racism. The racist judges his race superior to another, and limits his assessment of individuals to racial stereotypes.
Are we talking about something similar when we speak of homophobia? Does the homophobe judge himself a higher order of human being than the homosexual? Does the homophobe limit their assessment of homosexual individuals to cultural stereotypes?
Undoubtedly, there are those who think homosexuals of lesser value than heterosexuals, or who rush to stereotypical judgment against homosexuals. Such thought and conduct proves as irrational and distasteful as racism.
However, we should distinguish between those negative attitudes and the kind of moral sanction which seems increasingly necessary to ward off accusations of homophobia. It’s one thing to expect acceptance of homosexuals as equal in their humanity and worthy of individual consideration. It’s quite another to expect celebration or endorsement of homosexual activity.
If we accept the connotative equivalence of “racism” and “homophobia,” then we must conclude that it is not homophobic to deny sanction of gay marriage, or to disassociate with homosexuals, or to believe and teach that homosexuality is a sin. Indeed, the same free association argument which fuels the movement for gay marriage necessitates tolerance of countervailing conscience.
Failure to love my blackness does not make you a racist. Likewise, failure to love homosexuality should not make you a homophobe.
The so-called social issues continue to vex the Republican Party and the conservative movement, so I appreciate the robust and respectful discussion that we’ve had here, spurred by Roger L. Simon’s article, “How Social Conservatives are Saving Liberalism (Barely).” I don’t think anyone would disagree with his observation that the left will attempt to use the issue of same sex marriage as a “wedge to sabotage a whole lot of change at a time when it couldn’t be more necessary. It dovetails perfectly with the mythological ‘war on women,’ which we all will be sure to hear about incessantly.” The left excels at using both marriage and women’s issues to paint conservatives as evil, bigoted misogynists.
As a card-carrying social conservative and member of my county Republican Executive Committee, I understand that these are more than academic debates. It’s not overly dramatic to say that the future of the Republican Party may depend upon how we resolve these issues in the coming months and years. Bryan Preston explains the seriousness of the situation:
The fact is, telling us social cons to shut up is a recipe for demoralizing and destroying the GOP at its base. It would take the cornerstone of the Right out of the movement. Coastal libertarians are not the base of the Republican Party. They don’t man phone banks (sorry for being gender normative there), they don’t conduct block walks, they don’t even usually run for office. They can’t even build a viable movement in their own states.
Many in the Republican Party (and the conservative/libertarian movement) think that the answer is to jettison social issues — or worse, to adopt the left’s positions on them — while banishing social conservatives to dank phone bank rooms (and assuming they will continue to support the approved, well-scripted, non-ideological candidates). But Andrew McCarthy explains that Republicans cannot win elections if they lose the support of conservatives, “including those animated by social issues,” who, by the way, notes Preston, “aren’t actually pushing anything forward, at least not in the cultural arena.”
Neal Boortz, subbing for Sean Hannity on his radio show on the day after Christmas, took the opportunity to unload a heap of libertarian wrath upon social conservatives, saying that Republicans will not win another election if they continue ”screaming and yelling about abortion, about gay rights, about prayer in school.” Boortz spat the words “social conservative Republicans” into the airwaves as he railed against (some unnamed) Republicans who, apparently “obsessed” with social issues, are running around the country raging against the forces trying to take prayer out of school. Boortz seemed particularly upset with Republicans who want to peer into everyone’s bedrooms to find out who is sleeping with whom.
During the three-hour show, Boortz dragged out nearly every straw man that the left uses to waylay Republicans in elections, using a few isolated cases as the exemplars of social conservatism in the GOP.
Perhaps Boortz has missed this development, but Rick Santorum is no longer the face of the Republican Party and he’s not even the face of social conservatism. For that matter, even during the course of his presidential campaign, Santorum was not much of a social crusader. The left and their collaborators in the media are the ones who are “obsessed” with social issues, having put them on the front lines of the 2012 campaign, including their contrived War on Women. Santorum could hardly stick to name, rank, and serial number when he was relentlessly badgered about abortion, gay marriage, and contraception on the campaign trail. At least he had the decency to be intellectually honest about his views rather than taking the politically expedient route.
But social conservatives have, by and large, moved on. If you look at the list of supposed presidential contenders (according to a recent Fox News poll), none are “screaming” about social issues. Leaving Christie out of this discussion because he seems to be evolving at the moment, all of the others on the list have professed, to one degree or another, support for the social conservative agenda. But which one of those potential candidates is running around the country “screaming” about them?
Instead, most social conservatives have shifted the debate to the issue of liberty. There is every reason to believe that it’s a winning strategy for Republicans to defend freedom and liberty — freedom of speech, religious liberty, the right to life. Even many on the left are beginning to reject the absurd and illiberal trajectory of what Mark Steyn has called the Bureau of Conformity Enforcement. When even liberal feminist Camille Paglia describes the fisking of a 67-year-old Christian grandfather from Louisiana as ”punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist,” we know that support for this battle for freedom of conscience is growing by the hour. Though social issues are necessarily rooted in religious and moral questions, that’s not the only way to discuss them in the public square, as many conservatives are learning.
Samuel Lamb defied the Communist Chinese. A leader in the underground Christian community, Lamb passed away earlier this month in Guangzhou, where he ran a house church for decades. Voice of the Martyrs reports:
When the Communist Party took control of China in 1949 under Mao Zedong, Christians were forced underground or forced to submit to Party control. Those that refused were interrogated, arrested, tortured, imprisoned or even killed. Samuel Lamb became one of the best known of these persecuted church leaders.
Lamb first tasted prison in 1955, when he was sentenced to serve 18 months. He was imprisoned again in 1958, this time receiving a 20-year sentence. Part of his sentence was spent serving forced labor in coal mines, where working conditions were deplorable and many prisoners died. Lamb would later talk about how God preserved his life even in the midst of such dangerous work.
For most American Christians, Lamb’s experience lays so far outside our own that it can be hard to perceive as modern. Living as we do in a land of relative religious liberty, we understand persecution only as an intellectual concept. It lurks in the depths of church history, or haunts the horizon of a distant future glimpsed through biblical prophecy. The idea of facing persecution today, in present America, seems unthinkable at first consideration. After all, we’ve spent our whole lives driving past a church on every corner, swearing oaths on copies of the Bible, and covering our hearts while swooning over the Land of the Free.
Be that as it may, as the culture makes radical shifts in the 21st century, the price of Christian confession begins to rise. If certain coalitions have their way, adherence to the Christian faith will be regulated out of public existence. Oh, the church buildings may stand, and 501(c)3s operating in the name of Christ may remain. But biblical Christianity taught without compromise will be relegated to underground enclaves like those formed under the Communist Chinese.
Crime doesn’t pay. That used to be the cliché moral of black-and-white detective stories during the Golden Age of television. Today, a sad variation has emerged. Marriage doesn’t pay.
A Voice for Men published a provocative list last month of “8 reasons straight men don’t want to get married.” A thoughtful consideration may leave married men with the distinct impression that they have been suckered. Less respect, less sex, fewer friends, less space, less freedom, and the threat of losing half your stuff all tilt the scales against tying the knot. Discounting any emotional or spiritual value to matrimony, the practical value seems to have diminished.
While fewer men seek marriage in the United States, more men are likely to end marriages in China after the advent of a new law which may leave their ex-wives homeless. The Telegraph reports:
According to the new law, residential property is no longer to be regarded as jointly owned and divided equally in the event of a divorce.
Instead, whoever paid for the apartment or house is the legal owner and gets to keep it in its entirety.
For a variety of cultural reasons, the legal owner tends to be the man. Chinese marriages typically occur only after the man has secured a home for the new couple. Wives labor under the cultural expectation that they care for both children and elder parents, which mostly precludes any direct financial contribution to the home. For wives, this means that their husbands now have less incentive to remain faithful, because the threat of divorce has lost most of its financial teeth.
Looking at the Chinese marriage crisis, we see yet another example of how the institution has been steadily redefined over decades from a sacred bond fulfilling a spiritual purpose to a legal arrangement teetering on the precipice of personal convenience.
Come August 1st, gay couples within Minnesota will be legally bound in civil matrimony. The state became the twelfth in the nation to legalize gay marriage after being among the first to reject a ballot question which would have affirmed the traditionally understood definition, a union between one man and one woman.
The debate which culminated in this dramatic shift in social policy has been enormously divisive, provoking conflict between friends, among family, and within organizations. Standing up for the traditional definition earned allegations of bigotry. Reasoned discourse proved elusive. Talking points erupted from emotion. Slogans distorted the truth. As the dust now settles in the North Star State, gay marriage manifests from concept to reality.
As a resident and politically active Christian, I have taken some time since the law has changed to deconstruct the battle for marriage in our state. I stand convinced that it was lost long before anyone suggested the notion of same-sex unions.
Advocates of tradition have framed the debate over marriage as an attempt to redefine a sacred institution. What we weren’t prepared to admit is that such redefinition had already occurred. While the extent to which marriage has ever been broadly held sacred remains an open question, it was at least treated as such in times past. There were natural incentives to encourage it. The greatest of those was children. Beneath higher concepts of honor lay the simple facts that sex may result in children and children present responsibility. The proverbial shotgun wedding was a pragmatic affair, because a father properly ought to provide for his offspring and their mother.
Such incentive abated with the advent of birth control, the rejection of gender roles, and the legalization of abortion. In a matter of decades, the pragmatic reasons for entering into matrimony no longer applied. Sure, sex could still lead to children, but not necessarily. Conception could be prevented. Pregnancy could be terminated. And the state stood ready to provide when fathers would not.
Did anyone else notice that the Supreme Court just knocked down a goodly-sized portion of Bill Clinton’s legal legacy?
The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits.
The other was a technical legal ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court’s declaration that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. That outcome probably will allow state officials to order the resumption of same-sex weddings in the nation’s most populous state in about a month.
The high court said nothing about the validity of gay marriage bans in California and roughly three dozen other states.
The only part I have any real trouble with is covered in that first graf — marriage shouldn’t come with any tax, health, or government pension benefits. It simply isn’t the government’s business to lavish things on people for being married.
What’s interesting is the non-ideological split of the 5-4 vote. There aren’t many issues where the winning team consists of Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia. It’s disappointing (but not entirely surprising) not to see Clarence Thomas in there making it 6-3.
The best part is Roberts’ ringing defense of federalism regarding California’s Prop 8. He wrote, “We have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit.” Exactly right. Although I suspect Ginsburg and Kagan found themselves siding with Roberts out of a conviction favoring gay marriage, rather than a conviction that there are any real limits to what Washington may tell the states to do. It’s a good guess that’s one reason Roberts wrote the decision himself.
A SCOTUS win is a SCOTUS win, but a well-reasoned SCOTUS win is a thing of beauty and healthful to the Republic. But I’ll give my Twitter self the last word on this one.
CORRECTION: I’ll give the last word to the President instead.
image courtesy shutterstock / Syda Productions
There’s nothing like having the wind of public opinion at your back on a controversial issue. I used to, but the wind changed. Gay marriage will come to my adopted state if voters let stand the Maryland legislature’s recently passed same-sex marriage law. The gradual leftward shift on this, in Maryland and nationally, defies a prediction I made years ago. Mine is no longer the clear majority view – and it certainly never was among my fellow homosexuals. Ignoring the matter as long as possible has been my response. But time’s up. The November 6 vote is near. Having consulted my conscience, I find that my opposition remains.
It would be wimpy to tiptoe quietly to the polls. Not when the “Yes on 6” side is having so much fun mobilizing politically, financially, and even theatrically. Three local stage companies have put on plays intended to boost support for same-sex marriage in the run-up to the election. I decided that, forced to again take up this question, I could at least mobilize myself to enter the civic arena and attend some live theater.
My field trips, about which more below, prompted rumination about plays for the opposition to mount – if so inclined, which of course they’re not – that would cast an approving glow over heterosexual matrimony. Eugene O’Neill? Edward Albee? The more I thought about it, the more obvious it was that a staple of the modern theater has been husbands treating wives perfectly shabbily and vice versa. Well then, what about that old stand-by, Shakespeare, whose comedies end in nuptials? No. He only shows the first moments of marriage. For all we can say, Beatrice and Benedick, Orlando and Rosalind and the others wind up tearing into each other with all the sadistic zest of Martha and George in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Despite how they were billed in the newspaper, the three productions I saw — two in Baltimore City and one in Columbia — addressed not same-sex marriage but the past prejudices that brought down upon us the cruel contempt of our fellow citizens. Who could disagree with preachments in favor of toleration? Two out of three so preached, I should say, for “Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?”, being the “edgiest” of the lot, was a total loss. A two-man play, it arrived in 2006 as British dramatist Caryl Churchill’s way of floating her theory that the UK’s close foreign policy collaboration with the United States was rooted in an erotic attraction between Tony Blair and George W. Bush. The piece has been revised to make it less keyed to those individuals and more symbolically about the evils of capitalist-imperialist Uncle Sam. But it was still expressionism, and we were still Baltimoreans. In the Q and A after the show, audience members did not hesitate to share their bafflement.
The other two were staged biographies: “The Temperamentals,” about Harry Hay, founder of the earliest gay rights organization, and “Breaking the Code,” about Alan Turing, the British computer science and artificial intelligence pioneer who played a crucial role in defeating Adolf Hitler. (Turing broke the Nazis’ Enigma code.) The latter drama, which was written by Hugh Whitemore in 1986, was well-acted. It was pitiful and searing to watch a world-historical figure being humiliated by the government he served.
Over the past day, I’ve seen more than a few discussions amongst Christians that we should not have done the Chick-fil-A event on Wednesday. After they ignore, reject, or exclude the free speech element of the event — which I will copy in order to counter their arguments — they have two lines of reasoning. First, this is Dan Cathy’s personal problem and therefore not “a hill to die on.” Second, the left feels like we hate them, and we are wrong to do anything that makes them feel that way. Whether we actually hate them is not the salient point. Both seem to think along the lines of one commenter, that this is a time to “keep our heads down” and practice our faith quietly.
Keep our heads down. I don’t recall such instructions anywhere in the Bible. I recall that we are to loudly proclaim our faith, that we are to offer succor to fellow Christians persecuted for our faith, and that we are to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. As if my resolve to never keep my head down needed a boost, I received the “heads down” comment in my inbox as I walked out of my second viewing of The Dark Knight Rises, which is not exactly a modern morality tale about the “virtue” of keeping one’s head down.
A prominent Christan has been ridiculed and his company banned from certain public venues because of his Christian values. He needs our support, and we are called to give it. The left may feel hatred from our actions, but whether we actually hate is the paramount question. We are judged both by God and by criminal courts of law on our actual intent, not by someone’s perception of our intent.
Furthermore, is this not all backward?
I like gay people and — let me be frank — hate fast food. But this nonsense about Chick-Fil-A underscores the reason I’ve been hesitant to indulge my natural libertarianism and plunk outright for gay marriage.
In general, I have no problem with marriage for gays, if it comes about legislatively rather than through judicial fiat. I’ve listened carefully to the arguments of several social conservatives of good will who feel that changing the age-old definition of marriage will weaken a principle pillar of liberty. I’m not convinced — not even convinced that the possibility of such a moral hazard is a compelling reason to keep people from doing whatever they bloody well want with their private lives. As for the ideas that being gay is unnatural or a sin per se — that is, a sin whether it does any earthly harm or not — I reject them outright. Homosexuality seems as much a part of nature as left-handedness and is probably much less annoying when using scissors. And if it is somehow offensive to God, that’s His business: I am specifically instructed to judge not in such matters and tend to my own manifold offenses.
Bravo, Google. The tech giant announced a new campaign to legalize same sex marriage across the world at an LGBT conference on Saturday. Pointed out to us by Think Progress, Dot429 reports Google’s Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe announced the “Legalize Love” campaign at an LGBT Workplace Summit in London on Saturday. The initiative starts in Singapore and Poland, but will eventually expand to every country that has a Google office. The idea is to “focus on places with homophobic cultures, where anti-gay laws exist,” before expanding into more liberal countries.
Palmer-Edgecumbe explained why Singapore is a good place for the company to start their campaign. ”Singapore wants to be a global financial center and world leader and we can push them on the fact that being a global center and a world leader means you have to treat all people the same, irrespective of their sexual orientation,” he said.
In some instances, he said Google hasn’t been able to employ the best person for the job because of some countries anti-gay culture. ”We have had a number of instances where we have been trying to hire people into countries where there are these issues and have been unable to put the best person into a job in that country,” he explained.
I wonder if I actually googled where in the world the most homophobic cultures and anti-gay laws existed what it would say. First result is Wikipedia: LGBT rights by country or territory.
Singapore: “Male illegal (Penalty: up to 2 years prison sentence; no plan to repeal 377A and not enforced since 1999)”
Male homosexuality as punishable with jail time is not acceptable but at least it hasn’t been enforced in a decade. So consider that some measure of progress.
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia and much of the rest of the Muslim world:
Illegal (Penalty: death or prison/fines/whipping)
Google’s famous mantra is “Don’t be evil.”
Question: is it evil to focus people’s attention and money on fighting the minor evil of Singapore’s unenforced sodomy law while ignoring the far more significant evils of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing executions of gays, sorcerers, “dishonored” women, and Muslim apostates?
And where does Google MENA (Middle East and North Africa) fit in with this campaign?
Recommended reading: Mitchell Bard’s The Arab Lobby.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper officially, publicly came out as gay today. Most Twitter users met the news with a “big whoop” and not much surprise.
Anderson Cooper confirmed what we’ve all known for a while. Kudos to him.—
Joshua (@craftjoshua) July 02, 2012
Some, of course, questioned the timing!
People were offended by one thing, though; he came out in a Daily Beast article penned by Andrew “Uterine Forensic Expert” Sullivan. Why, Anderson, why?
So, Anderson Cooper just came out on Andrew Sullivan’s blog?—
Seth (@srosenb) July 02, 2012
Anderson Cooper explains why he chose to publicly come out now.
You would think so if you watched Suze Orman’s show last week where she discussed gay marriage and the four financial advantages of being married. On her show, she mentioned that married people have all kinds of advantages in terms of health insurance, pensions, social security, and estate taxes. She says that you can leave your spouse 100% of your assets tax-free, get higher social security benefits if your spouse dies, and pension plans at corporations often let you leave money to your spouse. Employers often insure a spouse and not a life partner. Okay, fair enough but maybe that just says more about how our tax structure and employee benefits are set than about marriage. For example, your kids get screwed if you leave them your money too as part of your estate by high estate taxes. Why not change the estate law to make this more fair? But this post is about the other side that Orman did not touch on: What are the financial disadvantages of being married?
There are many. First, what about the marriage penalty? Two high earners who are married pay more than if they were single. Is this fair? Not in my book. Another disadvantage of being married is that spouses are often responsible for the other’s debt. If your spouse racks up a great deal of debt and bails on it, that can become your problem, depending on the state you live in. According to Nolo.com:
In community property states, most debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage are owed by the “community” (the couple), even if only one spouse signed the paperwork for a debt. The key here is during the marriage.
And what if you don’t want to leave your retirement account to your spouse? According to Nolo.com “your spouse–or former spouse–may have a legal claim to your retirement account, so proceed with caution.”
Finally, if you get divorced, you may end up giving most of your assets away, even if you earned them. And then, of course, there are the non-financial restrictions on you when married, especially if male. You often need your wife’s permission to get a vasectomy. Even your own body is no longer your own once you become wedded to a woman.
Can you name some more financial disadvantages of marriage that I missed?
It’s the dream of every pastor. This past week a sermon video went viral. Only for Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, his dream may become a nightmare. And the negative reaction has the rare feature of coming from both the Right and the Left in the worlds of politics and religion.
On May 13th, Worley responded from his pulpit to President Obama’s support of gay marriage. His words, which were filmed by the church, later appeared on the church’s website (though later taken down). Within the week an “anti-hate” group picked up the sermon and posted it on YouTube, where it’s racked up over 500,000 views.
Here is a glimpse of part of Worley’s message:
I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn’t get it past the Congress. Build a great big, large fence – 50 or a 100 miles long – and put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals, and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. Feed them. And you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce. … I’m gonna preach the hell out of all of ‘em. … God have mercy. It makes me pukin’ sick.
This pastor will now forever be known for these words. And the church will be remembered for the sounds of “amen” and laughter at the pastor’s words. And those who claim Christianity and support traditional marriage are in danger of being put in the same camp as these words of hate.
When a non-Catholic, churchgoing friend sent me this video the message said: You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate this ad, peaking my interest.
As a person of faith here is my interpretation of the “ad” and its underlying message.
The use of fire — a biblical symbol of God’s awesome power – is a demonstration by the Almighty of His intent to destroy or conversely to show His approval of man’s behavior.
In this video God’s people, i.e. the Catholic Church (but really all believers), must triumph over the anti-biblical social policies of the Obama administration (that are ultimately more important to fix than our nation’s economic problems in the eyes of God). But this important victory will only occur if HIS people rise up and vote Obama out of office. Otherwise our nation will be consumed by the fires of hell.
The video with over 1.3 million views is starting to go viral which means its strong message and imaging will be up for much political, social and religious interpretation.
As usual, I expect the comments of PJ Media readers to be among the most insightful.
Kotaku repots: Beat Takeshi Compares Gay Marriage To Bestiality.
One of Japans best known creators and comedians, Beat Takeshi, is catching heat for remarks he made about gay marriage.When shown footage of people celebrating President Obamas recent gay marriage remarks, Takeshi quipped, “Obama supports gay marriage. You would support a marriage to an animal eventually, then.” Um…Takeshi is, first and foremost, a comedian, and this might have been a very poor attempt at humor—though, its certainly not clear this was a joke. I dont think it was. Sure, hes not breaking any law, and hes clearly giving his off hand opinion, which hes entitled to. Some in Japan, however, found his remarks rather disappointing.
Jay-Z says he STRONGLY believes gay people deserve the right to get married … claiming discriminating against a gay person is the same as discriminating against a black person. Jay — arguably the most powerful person in hip hop — discussed the issue with CNN … saying President Obamas decision to come out in support of gay marriage was “the right thing to do.”