Tag Archive: Gay Marriage


Thoughts on the Rulings

I’ve spent most of my free time today reading the court opinions on DOMA and Prop 8, and since I think my last post here was about my thoughts during the hearings, here are some thoughts from the rulings.

First on DOMA, I think it is a ruling I expected and I am happy to have the end outcome be to give power back to the states.

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is affirmed.

It is so ordered”

I do want to point out however that a part of my heart also agrees with the sentiments of what Saclia closed with in his dissent:

In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution. We might have let the People decide.

But that the majority will not do. Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.”

*note: an interesting write up of Scalia’s dissent can be found here including some of the parts I don’t agree with

As for Prop 8 I believe the court made the only reasonable decision it could; that is that it could not make a decision. This ruling well and truly puts the issue back in the hands of the states, where I believe it should stay. This sets up a lengthy battle in many states to pass legislation of on one side or the other, and it still allows there to be a potential future question around full faith and credit. I do not see this as a victory for civil rights activists the way the media represents it, however as a friend pointed out it is certainly not a defeat. I can honestly say here I believe the courts acted responsibly in not creating their own legislation and in limiting their own power (despite some of Scalia’s voiced fears voiced in the dissent of the DOMA ruling).

I wish that was the message being broadcast on the “breaking news” banners on every media website. A message that this was not a full “victory” and that there is still a long road ahead, a road that may someday be made harder by this decision not easier. Still while my heart may long for the day when all people share the same legal rights despite their differences in religion, my overwhelming feeling today is that of relief. I believe these decisions were steps taken in the right direction, and perhaps most importantly it was done responsibly.

Advertisements

Supremely Frustrating

Today and tomorrow the Supreme Court is hearing cases having to do with gay marriage, and because of that it seems almost everybody has lost their minds. It seems like a large portion of the people I know are loudly clamoring that we need to show the supreme court (insert your side of this issue here) RIGHT NOW.

First off, have we forgotten that we don’t want the supreme court to care what the popular opinion is? Have we forgotten that they are supposed to be unbiased judges of the law? Have we forgotten that they must be detached in order to be what we need them to be? I believe firmly that everyone has the right to protest, march, picket, yell, scream, and express their opinion in whatever they want, but don’t mind me while I pray and hope fervently that it doesn’t make the smallest bit of a difference in what the court decides.

We will not know for months what the court’s decision is and endless speculation, vilification of the opposition and fear mongering only creates a hostile climate that drives us farther apart as a nation. The decision will not change the fact that there is a deep divide amongst the people. The opinion of those few justices may effect the practicalities of the law, but it will not end this discussion, nor will it solve this problem.

I support gay marriage as both an issue of equal rights and an issue of freedom of religion, however I will not be doing anything out of the ordinary this week because the supreme court is holding a hearing. Ask me what I believe and why and I will gladly tell you, this week or any other. I’m not saying that the rulings will be unimportant to me or that I don’t have hopes that they will go a certain way, but rather that I care more about being a calm voice for what I hope is sound reason for the long term. I believe that is the only way there will be real change.

So it may seem odd given that I am writing a blog on current events, but I HATE election season. As may be evidenced by my lack of posts over the past couple of weeks, during this time of year every 4 years I find it very difficult to not be outraged by the ever present election coverage. Since I currently live close to Washington DC and in a swing state, the never ending cacophony of election chatter has been like nails on a chalkboard. Honestly the blame game, the mud slinging, and the general effort to misinform voters in order to garner votes makes me want to scream.

This probably came to a head in church this Sunday when I came the closest I have ever come to storming out of a service. Let me preface this by saying that I acknowledge and accept that the church I currently attend is theologically more conservative than I am, and I have come to peace with that. I also believe that churches have a right to endorse a candidate publicly if they so choose as a matter of free speech. I was however unprepared for my church to plaster the message from Billy Graham on the large screens (I attend a megachurch) and ask that we all pray that the country votes for “biblical values” at all levels and for all candidates.

I grew up in a church, family and community that adored Billy Graham, and honestly I still admire the man greatly despite some theological differences; however when he posted the message I linked above in many newspapers I was exceedingly disappointed. First of all Billy Graham has been the “Pastor to Presidents” and part of what allowed this to be true was his ability to be a voice of faith beyond politics. Both of the versions of the add that have gone out have been directly endorsed and seem to usually be funded by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and while they don’t directly name a candidate, they are quite clear in their intent.

I also found it quite strange that just before the ad ran the website of the organization removed Mormonism as a “cult” on their website. Let me be clear that I do not see the Church of Later Day Saints as a cult and I would have liked to have seen that particular view changed a long time ago, however doing so in this manner seems to be a form of political pandering.  If standing by your “biblical” values in choosing a candidate is so important why was this view changed to allow for one candidate to no longer be seen as a cultist, while values of “biblical” marriage, Israel and abortion are elevated to special status in the importance of preserving America’s religious integrity.

I do believe that in general there is a candidate that Evangelical Christians will find more appealing theologically, however I do not agree that it is ok to fleece over things that might make the same candidate unappealing in order to make it easier for people to sleep at night. I also find it somewhat reprehensible to insinuate that you are “anti-biblical” and leading our country down an unholy path if you have decided that there are either other factors in your vote, or other ways to interpret particular issues. While the message did not directly imply those things the people who I have heard pushing this message upon others via Facebook and now through church have insinuated that.

My faith means a great deal to me, but so does my freedom to choose how and why I vote. I believe wholeheartedly that you have to view politics and by extension the law separate from your faith. I personally will never vote solely on what candidate has a religion closest to mine. I do however grant that people have a right to vote however they choose. If abortion or gay marriage are issues that are most important to you, then you have the right to vote how your conscience dictates, just please don’t judge my faith by your standards, or expect my vote to mean the same thing that your vote does.

We have a right to be independent free thinkers, I wish elections were celebrations of that rather than the divisive force that they have turned into. Please don’t mind me while I crawl into a hole and hide until this is all over.

EDIT: After reading Mayim Bailik’s blog, her thoughts captured so well what I was thinking right now. To share a quote:

“With the election approaching, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind people that Jews (and Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and people of all religions) come in all flavors. Just because you’re religious doesn’t mean you are politically or socially conservative, and just because you’re an atheist or agnostic doesn’t mean you’re politically or socially liberal. Humans are very complicated and thank God we are.”

Thoughts on Facebook

Over the past few days Facebook has caused a lot of problems in my life. As a prior reader may recall I started this blog to be able to openly discuss my political opinions and opinions on current events out of the spotlight and constant bickering between friends of opposite political and social beliefs. Thus as a rule I tend to shy away from political comment there, and on rare occasion point people here if they want to know my opinion on something. This week however I was taught the hard way that the all powerful social beast that is Facebook can still bite you in the ass even when you aren’t tempting fate if it were.

While the specific details aren’t particularly important the situation spiraled out of control when a random comment was taken to be a political endorsement against gay rights. When a different friend pointed out that my post had not been about the political aspect that was assumed by the first commenter, they were accused of being a “bigot”.  Within a few minutes an innocent comment had turned into an all out attack. I clarified the original intent of both myself and the accused bigot, and asserted that calling someone a bigot is not called for in that situation. (I even pointed them back to my previous post about the “hate chicken” issue a few weeks back)

What frustrated and flabbergasted me most was that despite everyone else who commented on the status making it clear the original intent,  the original commenter remained steadfast that everyone involved was being hateful because of the perceived correlation between the comment and support of an organization that discriminates against gays.  In the end I lost a friend of 18 years over a status about popcorn and I find that simply astonishing.

That same day a friend of mine posted this to his status and I found it oddly appropriate:

“I love that I have so many friends who are politically engaged and aware. However, when it comes to Facebook, I appreciate much more hearing about their personal lives rather than their political beliefs… I feel that in-person people are much more inclined to be rational, civil and reasonable. There is something about this internet that prompts us to be more divisive … I do wish there was a political filter I could turn on.”

In person I know that the conversation that happened on Facebook would not have ended in the way it did because people ARE more rational in person. I have to believe that it would be harder to forget the times that both I and the accused bigot had stood by this particular friend, supported his life choices and loved him for who he was if he had to look us in the eyes. However that is not the nature of Facebook or other social media. All of the hate and prejudice that does get spewed across the internet all blends together and combined with the somewhat ironic faceless-ness of Facebook allows all of us at times to forget that real people sit behind those keyboards and smart phones.

Next time you see someone post something on Facebook that rubs you the wrong way I suggest you take a step back and evaluate the situation. At times we all need to remember that we don’t need to take our own personal axes to grind, or our own soap box pulpits into other people’s lives unless they are actively wanting and seeking that from us. People will have different thoughts and opinions and even if they choose to inappropriately share them (a personal pet peeve of mine) the world would probably be a lot more peaceful place if we just filtered the comment out and moved on with our lives.

From the other side

Last week I posted about my disappointment about the Republican Platform. While I still think on many of the issues that matter to me I side with the Republicans, here are some things from the Democratic Platform that I agree with and that caught my eye as interesting. You can find the whole thing here if you would like to read it, note that the titles will jump you to a more in depth section.

“District of Columbia. Every citizen of the United States is entitled to equal citizenship rights, including the 638,000 residents of the nation’s capital who pay federal taxes without representation. The American citizens who live in Washington, D.C., like the citizens of the 50 states, should have full and equal congressional rights and the right to have the laws and budget of their local government respected without congressional interference.”

Living so close to Washington DC, this issue has become very close to my heart. One of the primary reasons I live in the suburbs rather than in the city itself is that I refuse to not have a representative with full voting rights in the legislature.

“Freedom to Marry. We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.”

I would like to point out that I really liked the phrasing of the gay marriage issue, and the freedom of churches to decide how to practice marriage being completely separate from the government.

While at heart I didn’t agree with the particulars of the plank on abortion to be fair I must admit that the Libertarian in me very much appreciated the sentiment in this phrase from it: “Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.”

I would also like to mention that these planks that I have pointed out were pretty buried within the platform. From the main page there were no main jumps to them. Rather the main jumps were about the economy, American community, and international affairs. While many of these things I don’t agree with the stance of the Democrats, or their particular solutions to the problems we are facing, I have to applaud the fact that the issues that I think the government has a right and duty to be dealing with were front and center.

Strangely I am starting to think that the party least interested in intruding upon my liberties and personal life is the Democrats at the moment. This leads me to an interesting problem; trying to determine how my vote is really going to effect my liberty. Is big government the lesser of two evils when thinking about personal liberties being stripped away? Is preserving a more conservative fiscal view along with immigration and healthcare more important than allowing the government a say in my personal life? Even if for now the government and I are on the same side, is allowing them any say at all too great a risk to take? Would my liberties really be any safer with one side or the other in power?
For now I’m not sure, hopefully I’ll figure it out by November.

Dissappointed

Disappointment: Sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill one’s hopes or expectations.

aka GOP Platform as released at National Convention

I consider myself to be a Christian and while I know that ideologically I am a Libertarian in the past I have voted Republican, last night when I read the GOP’s platform I think that might have changed.

I believe that without a doubt our founding fathers planned this country with a significant Christian influence, but I also believe that they put in significant protections for the church from the government. Now I fear that it is the government that may need protecting from members of the church.

I do not want my government to ever have a say in how I practice my religion, or any part in how I should interpret my faith. I believe that the principle of personal choice, in so far as it causes no harm to others, is one that sets our country apart in greatness.
I do believe wholeheartedly that the issue of gay marriage is closely tied to freedom of religion. I firmly believe that MY church should not be forced to anoint a gay marriage, but also that no one should stop a different church from doing so it it is within their beliefs. Therefore it really upsets me for the GOP to make it their #1 priority in the platform to enforce a religious definition upon a civic function.

I would much prefer marriage be completely left up to churches and have NO government involvement. However I do firmly believe that the government has no place defining which religion’s definition should be used.

Personally I can see no great harm in letting Bob marry David, even if I can see a religious argument against it, but that is just it, the ONLY argument I can see against it is one based in religion.

Still putting aside the fact that I don’t think it should be an issue of importance at all, at very least it is not THE MOST important issue our country faces. The economy, education, and healthcare (issues which I generally tend to side on the R side of the isle) all stand out as issues that are vastly more important than who is eligible for a marriage license.  I guess time will only tell but I’m not so sure I will support a party who doesn’t have priorities that I can support as well.

On Chicken and Marriage

I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church, and while the vast majority of the people I interacted with have left an indelibly positive impression on my life, it became quite clear to me fairly early into high school (quasi adulthood) that there were things that the church as a whole stood for that I could not reconcile to the God I knew and loved.

First and foremost on this list was the way the church as a whole addressed homosexuality. I don’t particularly want to get into the theological debate on Christianity and homosexuality at this time, but I was forced to confront my own beliefs on this matter when several people I knew and loved, and whom I knew to love God themselves, came out as gay to me. The resulting crisis of faith is something that I still struggle with today, and something that I still can’t completely explain. I know I love God, and I know that I love the wonderful gay people in my life who I believe without a doubt were brought into my life by God to bless and enrich my life. I don’t believe that loving and respecting my God and my faith are mutually exclusive from loving and respecting my friends and their lives as LGBTQ people.

For me it all comes down to that love and respect. I have many moral and political disagreements with my friends on both side of the political spectrum as well as this particular issue, and that’s what brings me here today, that and fried chicken.

A few weeks ago it appeared as if the entire world was shocked that a company that has openly proclaimed a clear alignment with conservative Christian values, (to the point of having ALL of it’s stores closed on Sunday) openly and honestly explained that they support conservative Christian definition of heterosexual marriage. I think it is a little ridiculous that a company that is most famous for it’s chicken, and silly cow adds became the center of a political and cultural fire storm. However what I find MOST ridiculous is the firestorm itself.

I honestly felt at a loss standing in a tempest holding onto a bag of chicken, not because the company agreed or disagreed with my opinion, but because it tasted good. Major corporations spend their money supporting causes and candidates all the time. In fact if you looked in your pantry or on your credit card statement I am fairly certain you could find purchases from major corporations that spend money on something that you violently oppose without any trouble at all. It’s nothing new, it’s nothing shocking that a company run by conservative Christians would support related causes. Feel free to stop buying their product if you want, or to frequent their establishment more, but don’t mind me and the vast majority of other people as we choose to consume based on need, personal taste, and product quality. Honestly it doesn’t make us any better or worse of a person. I know my convictions don’t change depending on where I swipe my debit card and I doubt anyones do. Yet it sure felt like a few weeks ago many people seemed to think that they did.

I have friends who passionately believe that gay marriage is an essential human right and I also have friends who wholeheartedly believe that “traditional” heterosexual marriage is essential to maintaining a “moral” American culture. I’ve heard researched, reasoned and passionate arguments on both sides for the past several years of my life. I personally have very strong opinions on the matter, but honestly it isn’t the differences of opinion that shocked, frustrated and frankly down right pissed me off, it was the hate and vitriol with which they were expressed.

Many times I get on my soap box and explain that proclaiming beliefs in what the other side sees as hateful isn’t getting them anywhere and this week was a perfect example of that. I was shocked at the flames of hatred being spewed in every direction.

Perhaps it is because on this particular issue I tend to fall on the more “liberal” side my past experiences (no doubt influenced by what side I am on) has always seen the conservatives being more guilty of sensationalizing this issue to the point of vilification of the other side. Those proclaiming and thus fueling the “culture war” in my eyes have most frequently been conservative. In fact I myself have been called a bad Christian, chastised and attacked because of my particular stance. However for the past several weeks I have honestly been shocked at the level of hatred being spewed by the liberal side of this issue, “my camp” if you will.

I can not count the number of times I have heard, read or seen some status or other on Facebook proclaiming that anyone who dare consume “hate chicken” is a bigot, and in some instances a “perpetrator of human rights crimes”. For every well reasoned argument that I’ve read expressing an anti-chicken call to action, I read many more angry, mean spirited and down right insulting posts. Don’t get me wrong, I feel their frustration, I at many times feel their anger even, but I can in no way understand or support the HATE that came pouring out. That said some people that were organizing appreciation days and other vocal positions of support also frequently crossed the line, but over all the anger and frustration that I felt was at both sides for the escalation into propaganda and hatred.

Both sides of this issue claim that they are hated for their opinions, that they are standing on moral high ground being battered and eroded by the waves of ignorance from the opposition. In reality I think this week really proved to me that a great many people on both sides are in a pit flinging mud at one another as they both sink deeper into the mire. It is true that both sides of this issue can not inherently both be right, but this week to me they were both incredibly wrong.

In order to have any credibility in my eyes you have to recognize that there are intelligent people on both sides of this debate. There are people who passionately believe in their cause, who have strong reasons for their beliefs and who honestly want the best for the future generations in this country, and they are standing on both sides of this issue. Due to the nature of the debate both sides can not win, however that does not mean that we don’t all need to respect and love each other when we disagree. It’s ok to disagree, it is ok to passionately disagree, it is not ok to vilify one another. Propagating hate on either side and making people who you disagree with into villians will only lead to violence not to solving the issue or coming to terms that both sides can agree on. Let’s think about that next time that we are tempted to hyperbolize our frustrations (on either side) and ask ourselves if we are doing more harm to our cause than good.