Saturday, June 29, 2013

Liberty v. Religion

The Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and declared that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other married couples.

The decision is a landmark win for the gay rights movement. It voids a section of the law known as DOMA, which was adopted with bipartisan support in Congress in 1996 to deny all benefits and recognition to same-sex couples.
- LA Times
And across this great land, one could hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth, from those who oppose the philosophy behind this ruling. Up front, I will admit to being a proponent of government dis-involving itself completely from the act of marriage, other than protecting the contractual rights as they would in any other case. All marriages [or whatever we would deem to label them] would be a contract entered into by two consenting adults. If those adults wished to have their contract consecrated by the clergy of their choice, then they can do so.

I've searched in vain for reasonable arguments in light of this ruling, and the best I can find are those that rightly proffer that the maze of bureaucracy is ill equipped to negotiate the byzantine path between state recognized marriages [or not] and federal recognition. A fair point.

But what we are treated to more often, is a cacophony of blather akin to the crazy guy with a sandwich board sign on the street corner, admonishing passers-by, that the world is ending. So let me back up a bit. I am a devout agnostic. I believe that there is quite possibly an intelligent creator of all that we survey; and given that I very much believe in ghosts, I am certain that our souls exist irrespective of our earthly forms. Whether or not what comes after takes the form of a biblical heaven, or we discover that we've all been residing in some sort of cosmic petri dish...I cannot say.

I also respect one's belief in a God, of the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud, etc. But I view that belief as a personal connection between an individual and that deity. So while what I continue to write may sound offensive to some, it is not my intention to be such. But it is hard to argue against the notion, I believe, that all religions [Christianity included] are a framework of man. Christianity has been categorically shown to have evolved in fundamental ways since even before the Councils of Nicaea. Man has witnessed the various debates over theological teachings in Christianity alone, and the violent repression of those who dared to practice faith in differing manners. We have witnessed the wanton borrowing of pagan holidays and rituals and the continuing addition of trappings and ritual, based on the decisions of man. So I am of the opinion that belief is supernatural, whereas religion is man-made.

The reactions to the DOMA and Prop 8 rulings, from those who oppose the outcome, is not new to anybody...but I'm genuinely interested at how a set of Americans who generally would consider themselves to be proponents of liberty and minimal government intrusion....can likewise oppose extending those same rights that they enjoy, to their fellow Americans for no other reason than they were born with a biological aberration to be disposed to the same gender, in the same way heterosexuals are disposed to the opposite. The general current is that if homosexual Americans are granted these same liberties, the marriages of the rest of us will either be cheapened or 'destroyed'. My wife and I joke that since the DOMA ruling, we may as well get divorced, if our marriage isn't supposed to mean as much to us now.

A thought provoking [for me at least] article at Religion Dispatches, speaks to how Christians could be in part, responsbile for their own predicament:
Christians have alienated gays and lesbians and their families, friends, and sympathetic allies, driving many away from the love of Jesus Christ and contributing to the secularization of American culture. They have done a great deal to create hostility to the church and closed ears to the Gospel. The saddest cases are the church’s own rejected gay and lesbian adolescents and twentysomethings. They are legion.
I'm not even terribly concerned with someone's private point of view on this issue [keenly interested, but not what I find to be anti-liberty]. I'm concerned with the public statements of political leaders who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, not a religious tome.....and a bit entertained by the 'woe is us' reaction from religious leaders. A few examples of the reactions that have me perplexed.
State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) was silenced on the House floor by a colleague, who later explained his actions: "I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God's law." Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler).
Perfectly acceptable if the two distinguished gentlemen were in a house of worship, rather than the Pennsylvania people's house. Perhaps Rep. Metcalfe is confused as to where the loyalties of his oath lie.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) accused the justices of trying to “rewrite the Constitution” and of attacking Jesus Christ himself. “The idea that Jesus Christ himself was degrading and demeaning is what they’ve come down to,” he said.

He added, “the left has every intention of turning government against the church.” He added that progressive are bent on “ramming their views down the throats of Americans.
Perhaps the good Representative has forgotten that his religious point of view has kept some of his fellow citizens from enjoying the same right, privileges and protections that he and his like-minded compatriots have enjoyed.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) claims that gay marriage always emerges “at the end of a great civilization.” He said the “'holy quintet'” of the Supreme Court has gone against the laws of nature and nature’s God, and now America will suffer the consequences."
He of course, did not provide any examples of his claim. But the theme appears to be common. Somehow, a God that we can't prove exists, will take catastrophic umbrage, not at the perceived sinner, but on the nation as a whole. And somehow, as such, in a nation of many faiths and none, we should mold our laws [and more importantly, our liberties] to comport with a religious faith...when our founding documents and the intentions behind them, quite clearly proscribe such an action of state.

I won't even bother with the wild rantings of various religious leaders and pundits, because quite frankly, their offensive and insulting to the tenets of our Republic [and this post is probably long and ranting enough].

So how do some political leaders come to the notion that we should restrict the individual and collective liberties of our fellow Americans based on their personal belief system? One can quite easily make a biblical case against homosexuality and the exercising of liberty by that demographic set. But the defendants in the SCOTUS case were asked to provide evidence of direct and tangible injury to their litigants, to anybody, by allowing gays to exercies these same liberties that they enjoy themselves.

They did not....because they could not.

That won't stop these politicians from using your tax dollars to continue to push laws [and a proposed Federal Amendment!] to fight against the individual liberty of your fellow citizens, over an issue that does not harm or have any tangible effect on fellow citizens.

Limited government indeed.


  1. Do you believe in drawing a line anywhere or is it anything goes no matter what as long as it doesn't harm you...What is your definition of tangible effect yours might be totally different than mine so who's do we use... I don't believe the government should be able to force anything on anyone that's where I stand...They create the problem and then want us to bicker on the effects of the problem and want them to provide a solution at the expense of others...

    1. That's a fair question. Unless there would need to be an exception for public safety or national security, then what doesn't harm you or I, steal from you or I, or restrict the liberties of you or I [respective of the previous]...should not be regulated or licensed by the State.

      The metric of tangible seems fairly concise. The defendants in the DOMA case were required to prove tangible injury by allowed gays the same right, benefits and privileges of the rest of the citizenry. They could not, because there is no tangible injury. Feeling sad about it doesn't meet that metric.

      I agree that the State shouldn't force an injurious paradigm on it's citizens...that's why I applaud the DOMA ruling.

  2. The thing is the state is forcing an injurious paradigm as its picking my pocket for them to have the same benefits as a married couple through a Goverment Problem( taxation)... This is why I have a problem with it...If we had a flat tax or even better no tax then as long as they were not bothering me I would say if you can find someone to marry you more power to them...

    1. Again a fair point, but one that falls flat for me. At it's core, the point is still segregating State benefits based solely on one's biological, sexual orientation. A basis that would disappear if these same people were born heterosexual.

      I would cut programs and entitlements so drastically that Grover Norquist would blanch....but not on the basis of unequal fundamental liberties for American citizens.

    2. So if I wanted to marry my sister, mom, or maybe my pet goat then I should be able to get the same benefits right...Or maybe a 13 or 14 old you are just drawing a line that's different than mine so who to say your line is better than mine or anyone's else for that matter...Or maybe your saying you don't have a line at all and anything goes....My line is based off of the natural way of things..Any species that would go the way of homosexual would die out in a hurry...

    3. You can do better than this, can't you?

      So you don't see a difference between consenting adults...and animals or children? For you to imply that these two sets of relationships are on the same be logical, you would have to be calling for the criminalization of homosexuality.

      You are also presuming that an extension of civil liberties to homosexuals who already exist, in some way leads to a contagion of homosexuality that would doom our species. The mere fact that homosexuals have existed since the dawn of man, refutes this theory.

      Since birth defects are unnatural, how would you treat those born with them? Would you criminalize their existence?

    4. Did I say they were on the same plane...I said where do we draw the line...Child molester have been around since the dawn of time also..So has incest..Did I say anything about making them a criminal...So your saying homosexuals are a birth defect...I'm saying once you start down allowing something that isn't natural become normal then what's the next step down your willing to do...What age does a child become an adult some of the things you might think are wrong come from the same principles that think homosexuality is wrong...Once again your just drawing the line a little lower than mine...I say we agree to disagree and go on about our business I will give you the last word since it is your blog:-)

  3. I don't see Christianity the way that you do. But, hey, as a Christian, I'm biased.

    I've been thinking a lot about marriage and legal evolution of the institution.

    I don't know how things are in other states. But here in Virginia, when I got married back in 1972, the minister said, "I've signed the marriage certificate. But you really aren't legally married until that certificate is filed with the state of Virginia. If it gets lost in the mail, you'll need to have a civil ceremony at a justice of the peace.

    So, perhaps the best solution to this marriage conundrum is this: Marry in the church in the eyes of God if a couple wishes to do so. But also have a marriage "ceremony" conducted by a magistrate.

    Churches should not be forced to perform marriage ceremonies if those churches believe that same-sex relationships are a sin.

    Individuals and families should be able to do as they wish to do as far as accepting same-sex marriages within their own circles.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

    1. To be fair, I'm a devout agnostic, so my assessment of Christianity is likely to differ from that of a practicing Christian. I hope it was respectful, while trying to state my point.

      I'm with you 100%. This is a non-intrusive and respectful approach that all parties should be able to get behind.


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