Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Just a quick (& nonpartisan) wish for everyone reading these words, and everyone they know, (and so on, and so on, and so on) to have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a great beginning to the Christmas, Hanukkah, & Kwanzaa season. Hope you spend it with those you love and those who love you, wherever you all may be.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Utopian post-partisan alliegiance to "The One."?"

Is there anyone out there who knows, and can explain, what [this guy at his blog] is talking about?

He says,
"As readers know, many of the Obama cult shock troops are out surfing the web as PC commissars dictating demands of utopian post-partisan alliegiance to "The One."
By "many Obama cult shock troops," the author means me. By "dictating demands," one can only assume he refers to the post below, which discusses a bunch of red state folks & blue state folks who think respect for one another is more productive & generally better for this country than name-calling & silly labels that've ceased to mean anything through misplaced overuse. (See nihilist, socialist, radical, stalinist, nazi, fascist...).

It seems that [that guy] prefers to hate & demean others for not believing as he believes. The idea of Republicans & Democrats being civil to each other is foreign to him so, like a few of the others cited in the post below, he feels he must lash out, pretending to misunderstand, so he can attack those who posted to 52/48 as liberals (& traitors to the Con cause or fakes, one can only assume--Reading his diatribes--or indeed, any of the wingnut diatribes about this site--it's as though the Red voters who posted there don't exist) who want Republicans to roll over & play dead in the face of the Obama/Democratic victory.

The guy isn't stupid. He does understand the point of the site, and he has had folks explain it to him, just in case there was any point when he didn't. So why does he continue to pretend not to understand why it's there, and what all of the folks who've posted to it hope to accomplish? What does he think he'll gain from trashing the idea in several blog posts? What is so threatening to him, that he cannot allow these folks left & right who wish to get together to do so, even if he does not want any part of it?

What is it about some folks on the so-called freedom loving Right, that makes them want to control what you & I do? Why does gay marriage threaten them? Why is the idea of Red voters and Blue voters talking & getting along, rather than yelling labels & insults at each other, so scary that they must attack it?

If you don't want to do the things that others do, don't do them. No one is forcing anyone to go to or be a part of a gay marriage. If you prefer lashing out at others just for having different political views, go ahead & be as much of an ass as you feel you need to be... But if you believe in freedom, there's no reason under the sun to attack folks who are tired of all that lame partisan bullshit, & just want to get along as best we can, & perhaps try to work shit out WITHOUT calling each other names, or resorting to labels & talking points...

Join the rest of America, or stay in your tiny little online enclaves, bitchin' & moanin' about how much everyone who isn't drinkin' your flavor Kool-aid sucks... But if you choose the latter, please shut up about those who think your little bubble of like-minded, eternally angry folks is hurting the country, & wants to try it another way...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Special Comment on Gay Marriage

UPDATE, in reply to yet another misplaced Nero link: Please look ^ UP ^ (& thanks for visiting.)

Without further comment.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

52/48: It's possible, but it ain't easy...

UPDATE: Here via Professor Douglas' link? Please look up. Thank you.

Senator John McCain:
"I urge all Americans ... I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited."

President Elect Obama:
"Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too."

The offer: from52to48withlove ::

The reply, from a few of my wingnut reads: This ain’t Hell, but you can see it from here: 48 to 52 (For real joy, read the comments...)

Flopping Aces: From the Desk of a 48er to the 52’s: (Again, comments)

MidnightBlue: 48 to 52 - With All Our Love:
"To every left wing moonbat who visited my blog over the past 4 years to spit your poison and is now demanding we unite behind Obama: Go F*** yourselves.

You taught us a very important lesson over the past eight years and I intend to repay the favor."

Mike's America | Homepage | 11.10.08 - 9:16 pm | #

Wonder if that means we can expect ol' Mikey to come a-callin'? (Naah... That'd mean he'd have to leave the protective bubble of his own echo chamber... The chances of Mike ever leaving his own private America & coming out into the real world are pretty slim...)

The reply from zefrank:

"'Go f* yourself, kiss my a*, etc... I will treat you with the same respect that you have shown me'

Understood. This is the cycle that has to be broken."

It can be... We can disagree without being disagreeable about it... But it's going to take time & folks on all sides actively workin' at it.

This is the spirit around which Wingnuts & Moonbats was created. Now, I admit it hasn't always worked out that way, and some of my posts have been less than respectful of the other point of view (including this one, in some ways. I want to be feeling all kumbayah, but I can't say as I do...). But still, I know that it is possible to get along without giving in or giving up...

So, in the spirit... While I did give props to "the mission" asks: Is It possible? post a few days ago, I failed to note two more rightward leaning bloggers who showed real class, post-election.

Wordsmith, over on his blog, Sparks from the Anvil: Is it 2012 yet? :P (& x-posted at Flopping Aces. Yes, the same Flopping Aces as above.) He understood what McCain was saying, (and what zefrank is saying) & took it to heart. Kudos for him.

PatrickM, over at Sane Political Discourse: Aftermath 2008 also heard the call, and gets it. Kudos for him, too...

Neither of these guys are wimpy middle-of-the-roaders. They have ideas & ideals that are firmly on the right, and they do not intend to compromise much... Neither of them is afraid to fight back when hit, either... They can be nasty when the situation calls for it, and sometimes, they are... But they seldom if ever throw the first punch, and they don't make or take it personal, and that makes all the difference...

Maybe they'll dig the 52/48 project, or maybe they'll think it's stupid... But I have a feeling that whatever they think of it, they'll see it in the spirit in which it was offered, and not give in to the vindictiveness of their friends...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Making Him Do It - Hullabaloo

"If Obama wants to govern as liberally as the political circumstances allow, then we need to work to make sure that the political circumstances include a strong liberal base. As Roosevelt understood, politics are interlocking interests and constituencies that have to be brought to bear to achieve certain goals."

Ask for -- & DEMAND you get -- the changes you want from the new Obama administration. Cheer where appropriate, but criticize whenever necessary. As Digby reminds us in her post,
a President does not rule by fiat and unilateral commands to a nation. He must build the political support that makes his decisions acceptable to our countrymen. [FDR] read the public opinion polls not to define who he was but to determine where the country was – and then to strategize how he could move the country to the objectives he thought had to be carried out.
Obama, like many Presidents before him, will do the same, and will need our voices to help shape the direction of this country. Being endlessly optimistic cheerleaders or mindless drones willing to accept & defend whatever our government hands us (as though our government is an entity separate & apart from us, rather than made up & empowered to act by us) will not do. We need to speak out loud & strong, constantly, in support of the ideals & values we believe in.

read more | digg story

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Is there a right to marry whomever one wishes?

UPDATE: Once again, a rousing welcome to Nero's readers. Read & reply, if you would be so kind... It's easy to make fun or spout ubsubstantiated charges like "playing fast & loose with history & constitutional law," as Nero does, but it does nothing to further anyone's argument. If you wish to make a point, please do so...

Nero at American Power, grasping onto one of the few electoral victories for his side this season, puts forth the proposition that Gay Marriage is Not a Civil Right. Is he correct?

Latching onto foolish, racist behavior by some of the folks protesting in favor of retaining the right to marry, brought on by the fact that the same blacks who turned out in record numbers to vote for Obama also voted in favor of restricting the rights of homosexuals to marry in CA, Nero first quotes a piece of an article from the LA Times: Gays, blacks divided on Proposition 8, suggesting that many black voters don't see homosexuality as being a civil rights issue in the same way that the African American struggle has been.

Nero goes on to say:

Indeed, the effort to change the language of traditional civil rights to include gay marriage has been one of the most clever yet sinister elements of the same-sex marriage movement this last few years. Yet, as Eugene F. Rivers & Kenneth D. Johnson indicate [in a 2006 Weekly Standard article, Same-Sex Marriage: Hijacking the Civil Rights Legacy], the equation of gay rights with the black freedom struggle - and the traditional civil rights agenda - is a fraud that cheapens the historic legacy for equal treatment under the law in the United States:

I'll quote & reply to what the two opinioneers from the Weekly Standard article had to say in due course, but at the outset, let me say that few on any side of this issue are suggesting that gay & lesbian people are facing the exact same struggles that blacks once did. Of course they aren't. While there has been some pretty nasty treatment of people based on their sexual orientation in various places & times over the years, there have been far fewer cases of slavery, lynchings, & other awful behavior affecting the homosexual population than affected the black population in this country.

Nero offers it in his first line above. The Weekly Standard boys put it this way:
"Whatever wrongs individuals have suffered because some Americans fail in the basic moral obligation to love the sinner, even while hating the sin, there has never been an effort to create a subordinate class subject to exploitation based on "sexual orientation.""

This is a red herring. Many groups in the US have faced discrimination or been seen as less deserving of rights over the years, including women, the Irish, Jews, Catholics, and the disabled. Some of these groups continue to face issues to one degree or another to this day, while the problems of others are substantially behind us. To my knowledge, none of these groups has faced the same degree of oppression & mistreatment as blacks, either, but most Americans agree that when people from these groups are discriminated against, it is a civil rights issue. Just because the discrimination is not as bad as it could be, or not as bad as it once was for another group, that does not mean discrimination is not taking place, and to suggest otherwise is smoke & mirrors.

Continuing, as Nero does, with Eugene F. Rivers & Kenneth D. Johnson, writing in the Weekly Standard:

"It is precisely the indiscriminate promotion of various social groups' desires and preferences [italics (the equivalent of John McCain's "dick fingers", as far as I'm concerned) as in original] as "rights" that has drained the moral authority from the civil rights industry. Let us consider the question of rights. What makes a gay activist's aspiration to overturn thousands of years of universally recognized morality and practice a "right"? Why should an institution designed for the reproduction of civil society and the rearing of children in a moral environment in which their interests are given pride of place be refashioned to accommodate relationships integrated around intrinsically non-marital sexual conduct?"

What we're looking at here is various social groups desires & preferences for having the same access to the rights & privileges of this society as anyone else, and not have them denied based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. This is not that difficult a concept.

There are many half-truths, suppositions, & bandwagoneering in this paragraph, & indeed much of what these two gentlemen write in their article. The idea of " thousands of years of universally recognized morality and practice" is called into question--by a devout Christian, in an piece discussing how best to advance Biblical morality, no less--in this article: The Biblical Source of Western Sexual Morality, by Peter J. Leithart A quick excerpt, from the beginning:

It is all too easy for Christians, when examining the moral behavior and beliefs of cultures, to impose our patterns of morality on them. As Christians, of course, we must make judgments about all cultures based on the eternal standard of Scripture; I am not advocating cultural relativism. What I am warning against, however, is the tendency to assume that past civilizations (or even contemporary civilizations) approach life and morality the same way we do. If we make that assumption, we will never be able to begin to understand their behavior. The danger of this approach is not only that we will fail to understand another culture, but that we will appeal to a nonexistent 'consensus' as the standard of moral behavior. Conservatives and many Christians make this mistake when they call for the reintroduction of "traditional values". The question must arise, Which tradition?

To suggest that marriage was or is "an institution designed for the reproduction of civil society and the rearing of children in a moral environment in which their interests are given pride of place" is a short-sighted description. Were marriage primarily designed for reproduction & child-rearing, those who could not reproduce would discouraged from marrying, and those who did not reproduce would be ostracised in society. Neither is the case.

In point of fact, Marriage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "People marry for many reasons, but usually one or more of the following: legal, social, and economic stability; the formation of a family unit; procreation and the education and nurturing of children; legitimizing sexual relations; public declaration of love; or to obtain citizenship."

More from Rivers & Johnson:

One must, in the current discussion, address directly the assertion of discrimination. The claim that the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman constitutes discrimination is based on a false analogy with statutory prohibitions on interracial marriages in many states through much of the 20th century. This alleged analogy collapses when one considers that skin pigmentation is utterly irrelevant to the procreative and unitive functions of marriage. Racial differences do not interfere with the ability of sexually complementary spouses to become "one-flesh," as the Book of Genesis puts it, by sexual intercourse that fulfills the behavioral conditions of procreation. As the law of marital consummation makes clear, and always has made clear, it is this bodily union that serves as the foundation of the profound sharing of life at every level--biological, emotional, dispositional, rational, and spiritual--that marriage is. This explains not only why marriage can only be between a man and a woman, but also why marriages cannot be between more than two people--despite the desire of "polyamorists" to have their sexual preferences and practices legally recognized and blessed.

While it's fine for these two men--one the Founder and President of the Seymour Institute for Advanced Christian Studies, and a pastor of the Church of God in Christ, the nation's largest historically Black Pentecostal denomination, and the other a Senior Fellow for Social Policy and Civil Society at the same Seymour Institute for Advanced Christian Studies--to define & discuss marriage from a biblical standpoint, such views do not deserve to be the basis of US law or included in the definition of what is & is not discrimination or a violation of one's civil rights.

Unfortunately, many of the same arguments offered against gay marriage--including arguments based on the Bible & religion--were offered against interracial marriage:

Miscegenation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "In the United States, segregationists and Christian identity groups have claimed that several verses in the Bible[13], for example the story of Phinehas and the so-called 'curse of Ham', should be understood as referring to miscegenation and that these verses expressly forbid it. Most theologians read these verses as forbidding inter-religious marriage, rather than inter-racial marriage[14]."

The trial judge in the original Loving case, Leon Bazile, echoing Johann Friedrich Blumenbach's 18th-century interpretation of race, proclaimed that
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and He placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with His arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that He separated the races shows that He did not intend for the races to mix."

More: Why the Ugly Rhetoric Against Gay Marriage Is Familiar to this Historian of Miscegenation

Rivers & Johnson, continued:
Moreover, the analogy of same-sex marriage to interracial marriage disregards the whole point of those prohibitions, which was to maintain and advance a system of racial subordination and exploitation. It was to maintain a caste system in which one race was relegated to conditions of social and economic inferiority. The definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman does not establish a sexual caste system or relegate one sex to conditions of social and economic inferiority. It does, to be sure, deny the recognition as lawful "marriages" to some forms of sexual combining--including polygyny, polyandry, polyamory, and same-sex relationships. But there is nothing invidious or discriminatory about laws that decline to treat all sexual wants or proclivities as equal.

People are equal in worth and dignity, but sexual choices and lifestyles are not. That is why the law's refusal to license polygamous, polyamorous, and homosexual unions is entirely right and proper. In recognizing, favoring, and promoting traditional, monogamous marriage, the law does not violate the "rights" of people whose "lifestyle preferences" are denied the stamp of legal approval. Rather, it furthers and fosters the common good of civil society, and makes proper provision for the physical and moral protection and nurturing of children.

As I noted above, there are differences in the experiences of homosexuals & blacks, and fact that there is some difference in the motivation for discriminating against them by law (though not as much as these two suggest) is another. So what. If we are indeed discriminating by not allowing gays to enjoy the same rights & benefits of marriage as everyone else, who cares why we're doing it? If it's discrimination to do so, the motives are unimportant.

Further, to see gay coupling & marriage as nothing more than a "form of sexual combining" dismisses the myriad of other very real & necessary reasons people choose to affiliate as couples in loving relationships.

And finally, there is the nature/nurture debate. While these two Christians have seemingly decided that homosexuality is a sexual want people choose (nurture) and can change their mind about, there is plenty of evidence suggesting that one may be born to love one's own gender (nature), and theories abound on both sides, as well as combinations of the two camps, in concert. Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture. I have no theories of my own, but also don't see it as important to the debate. Whatever makes the heart want what (or who) it wants, the heart does want what it wants, and the state should not hold any more sway over one's heart than is absolutely & demonstrably necessary.

It is there that Nero leaves his friends from the Weekly Standard, and I see little in the remaining article worth discussing at this time (though there are more of the same religiously-based, right wing talking points about defending "true marriage"...) Summing up what he suggests we've learned from them, he says:

I have no illusions that such rigorous argumentation and logic will convince homosexual rights advocates that gays face no discrimination on the question of marriage rights.

But as we can see, the homosexual movement is attempting to create a right to marriage that has no basis in historical practice, and such attempts trivialize the bloody march to equality Americans have endured and overcome.

As I believe I've shown, these gentlemen's article, & Nero's quotes of it, is far from the final word on the subject of discrimination against homosexuals as concerns marriage rights, and the idea that any claim of discrimination that speaks to treatment less severe & horrendous than that faced by blacks is not a "real" civil rights violation, is just silliness, and moreover, a red herring tossed in to distract one from the issue under discussion.

This is a lesson gay activists should consider, for when 70 percent of blacks in California - the nation's most liberal, trend-setting state - oppose the demands of an extremely vocal radical minority, it's a pretty good indicator that the movement for same-sex marriage rights falls outside the bounds of both traditional law and universal morality.

The fact is, I'm neither surprised or offended that religious folks, whatever their race or denomination, opposed gay marriage in CA. As I've said previously & at length, I agree that marriage is a sacred rite, and that the laws of man have no business infringing on it. The state & the laws governing the legal uniting of two persons ought to use the term "civil union" in place of "marriage," and define it as including--but not limited to--the rites offered by the church & officiated by a religious figure.

In closing, I want to include the following bit from Mildred Loving, spoken in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision. While I understand that her opinion holds no more (or less) sway than any other lay person's, it's interesting (& gratifying) to know how a person who went through the trials & tribulations she did in her day views the current situation.

Loving v. Virginia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "On June 12, 2007, Mildred Loving issued a rare public statement prepared for delivery on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision of the US Supreme Court, which commented on same-sex marriage. The concluding paragraphs of her statement read as follows:
“Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the 'wrong kind of person' for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."

Friday, November 7, 2008

My thoughts on Homosexual Marriage

Given the uproar about Prop 8 in CA & similar propositions elsewhere, I was reminded of a conversation I had with two other bloggers at the beginning of the summer, and figured that I'd try to make it a post, here. As usual, it's a bit longwinded, but it lays out my ideas on the subject pretty well.

The original conversation took place (& is still housed) at The Griper's blog, Just a Man with his Thoughts: Homosexual Marriage. Anyway, here's what I think:

Marriage shouldn't be bound by law at all, but by the church. (It is a sacrament, after all.) I'd much rather see civil unions (any legally-based union between two people including--but not limited to--the sacrament of marriage) governed by state/federal law, and marriage itself governed by the church one attends.

I'd like to see the word "marriage" replaced by "civil union" in all federal/state law, giving every two folks who're united either by the church or by a judge the same rights and responsibilities. That allows the church to maintain the sacrament, and the government to maintain law, which is as it should be, in my opinion...

With divorce so common and families disintegrating, I don't agree that any union between two consenting adults ought to be discouraged by law, particularly since I believe that a two parent household--even a homosexual one--is more beneficial than a single parent one. While it's good to want to encourage the "best" situations for children via law, we ought to be consistent and base our decisions on what other situations encourage &/or outlaw based on the rest of that same scale. If one cannot have a traditional family situation, what's the second best situation for raising children? What's the third? Is a two parent household lead by homosexuals really less beneficial than a single parent household? And if (as I suspect) it is better for children to have two parents--even if they are two gay parents--why are we as a society not doing more to discourage divorce via law, rather than gay marriage?

Makes me wonder...

Speaking for myself, I'd prefer we not base laws on religious conviction alone. "Sin" and "illegal" is not the same thing, nor should they necessarily be. While murder is both, I wouldn't want there to be legal consequences for not honoring one's parents, or misusing the name of God, for instance. The sacred is the sacred, and that's fine. But the sacred should not bind the secular to its will.

In the same way, I do not wish to see "separate but equal" govern the legal union of two people. Yes, there are other ways to get most of the benefits of a union, and yes, anyone can write anyone else into a will. But when two people in love come before the state (or any agent of the state, which in this case includes religious celebrants) to unite themselves to one another legally, they should receive the same benefits as everyone else who does so, on that basis alone.

Marriage is a religious sacrament. To the extent that there is any question about what constitutes a marriage, one should look to his/her faith to answer it.

But as a legal matter, the religious definition and specific rites of marriage need hold no sway, though I'm fine with recognizing a religiously based union as one way of entering into a legal union. But just as I wouldn't want to enact a law stating that one can only be legally united in a place of worship, I would prefer that religious conviction not be the be the final arbiter of who may & may not enter a legally recognized union, with all of the benefits & responsibilities that entails.

I can appreciate your not wanting to tolerate anything your faith teaches is a sin. But we in America do not all share your faith, and American law should not be based on your faith, either. While I was a big fan of "blue laws," and--being in retail-- miss having that time set aside for my faith & my family, much of America rejected having laws requiring us all to keep the catholic Sabbath. Still, I'm sure many Catholics still honor it, and refrain from frequenting those businesses and institutions that choose to break God's law... ...on the Sabbath, at least. While it may be a sin to conduct business on a Sunday, laws forbidding it are all but gone and, while we don't have to like it (& can each make the choice as to whether to commit a sin by working / shopping on the Sabbath) we do have to accept that not everyone in America chooses to keep the Sabbath, and it's very unlikely that those laws enforcing it are ever coming back.

Biblical references are always tricky. Going back to the last few paragraphs, it appears that we retail folks would be in real trouble should too many Americans follow the bible too closely (Exodus 35:2 "For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.") While it's likely you may've already seen it, I include the mythical Letter to Dr. Laura (or "even though touching the skin of a dead pig is unclean, (Lev 11:6-8) may I still play football if I wear gloves?") in reply.

I disagree that tolerance calls on one to love the sin. It merely asks one to recognize that not everyone shares your faith, or it's particular view of what is/isn't sinful. You may certainly still disapprove of the sinful behavior...

To be clear... I am not saying that there should be no law regarding legal unions. In fact, I believe there should be. I would just prefer to see the word "marriage" replaced by "civil union" in every law currently on the books, and view the religious sacrament of marriage as but one path to a civil union.

That keeps the sacred institution of marriage safe from defilement by the state, and allows those who are not united by a priest in a church to obtain all of the benefits & responsibilities that come with that legal, moral, and emotional commitment.

Finally, the will of the people argument. For that, I turn to Glen Greenwald:

California's marriage ruling -- what it means and what it doesn't mean - Glenn Greenwald -

"Equally misinformed will be anyone arguing that this is some sort of an example of judges 'overriding' the democratic will of the people. The people of California, through their representatives in the State legislature, twice approved a bill to provide for the inclusion of same-sex couples in their 'marriage' laws, but both times, the bill was vetoed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said when he vetoed it that he believed 'it is up to the state Supreme Court' to decide the issue.

Polls have found substantial support for gay marriage in California, with dramatic trends toward favoring gay marriage. While there was a referendum passed in 2000 limiting marriage only to opposite-sex couples, five years later (in 2005), California's state legislature became the first in the country to enact a same-sex marriage law without a court order compelling them to do so. Thus, even leaving aside constitutional guarantees (which, in a constitutional republic, trump public opinion), today's ruling is consistent with that state's democratic processes and public opinion, not a subversion of it."

For me, this is the basis of my beliefs on the subject: "constitutional guarantees trump public opinion in a constitutional republic. "

Glenn addressed it again in more detail a week later:

The California marriage decision and basic civics - Glenn Greenwald -

"That a law invalidated by a court is supported by a large majority is not an argument supporting the conclusion that the court's decision was wrong. Central to our system of government is the premise that there are laws that even the largest majorities are prohibited from enacting because such laws violate the constitutional rights of minorities. Thus, the percentage of people who support the law in question, and how lengthy and painstaking the process was that led to the law's enactment, is totally irrelevant in assessing the propriety of a court decision striking down that law on constitutional grounds."

"...a court striking down a law supported by large majorities is not antithetical to our system of government. Such a judicial act is central to our system of government. That's because, strictly speaking, the U.S. is not a "democracy" as much as it a "constitutional republic," precisely because constitutional guarantees trump democratic majorities. This is all just seventh-grade civics, something that the Brookings scholar and those condemning the California court's decision on similar grounds seem to have forgotten."

In response, my friend The Griper said:
"as to the idea of renaming it [marriage] for secular purposes i will only quote shakespere, "a rose by any other name is still a rose."'

But I'm suggesting that we're talking about two different "flowers" here. The terms "Marriage" and "civil union" have different meanings. I'm not suggesting calling the rose "marriage" something else, but recognizing that the rose of "matrimony" is but one kind of flower in the garden and that, while a rose has certain unique characteristics, many of the rules of botany apply to other flowers, as well.

"and all laws are based upon religious conviction of right and wrong."

You'll note that I never said otherwise. (In fact, I pointed to murder as an example of an action that is both an illegal act & a sin.) But murder isn't an illegal act because it's a sin, and that's the difference. (If it were otherwise, there would be laws against being disrespectful to mom, and almost every teenager in America would be incarcerated.)

Some sinful acts are also illegal acts, but that does not mean that every act deemed sinful by one denomination or another need be illegal.

(As an aside, we might explore whether the concepts of "right & wrong" are strictly religious convictions or, more broadly, moral ones where religion plays a part for those who believe, and not so much for those who don't, as well as the religious implications of the law against making a right on red, but we can save both for another time.)

I like the idea that meanings are contained in people, but also believe words and correct definitions must play their part, if we humans intend on finding common ground & solving common problems. (And while someone recently suggested that folks on the left are anti-semantic, the fact is, some of my best friends are meaningful.)

tolerance - OneLook Dictionary Search:

(Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, 10th Edition) - sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own b: the act of allowing something

(Webster's Revised Unabridged, 1913 Edition) - The endurance of the presence or actions of objectionable persons, or of the expression of offensive opinions; toleration.

All together there are 23 general dictionary definitions at this site (along with several medical, business, & other "special" definitions). I only chose the Websters, but if another definition suits the meaning of anyone here better, we can explore further.

Put me down as aligning myself with this one: What Is 'Tolerance'?:

"The word "tolerance" is surely imperfect, yet the English language offers no single word that embraces the broad range of skills we need to live together peacefully.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used the Greek term "agape" to describe a universal love that "discovers the neighbor in every man it meets." The various disciplines concerned with human behavior have also offered a variety of adjectives: "pro-social," "democratic," "affiliative."

In its Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, UNESCO offers a definition of tolerance that most closely matches our philosophical use of the word:

Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance is harmony in difference.

We view tolerance as a way of thinking and feeling — but most importantly, of acting — that gives us peace in our individuality, respect for those unlike us, the wisdom to discern humane values and the courage to act upon them."


Declaration of Principles on Tolerance

Here is the whole of Article 1 - Meaning of tolerance:

Article 1 - Meaning of tolerance

1.1 Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty; it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace.

1.2 Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence. Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. In no circumstance can it be used to justify infringements of these fundamental values. Tolerance is to be exercised by individuals, groups and States.

1.3 Tolerance is the responsibility that upholds human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), democracy and the rule of law. It involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism and affirms the standards set out in international human rights instruments.

1.4 Consistent with respect for human rights, the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one's convictions. It means that one is free to adhere to one's own convictions and accepts that others adhere to theirs. It means accepting the fact that human beings, naturally diverse in their appearance, situation, speech, behaviour and values, have the right to live in peace and to be as they are. It also means that one's views are not to be imposed on others.


"ok, what are the the differences in meanings?"

Griper had already answered his question in his initial post on the subject:

"and marriage performed by a civil servant of the government has always been defined as a civil union. in fact some religions don't even recognize it as a marriage but society does. and government treats them both as the same."

Marriage is a sacred rite uniting two people in love according to the traditions of the faith.

Civil union is essentially a legal contract between two people in love, governed by local, state, & federal law.

What I say is, the government has no place in determining religious tradition, nor should they be bound by any particular (or even "the vast majority of") religious traditions in this country when crafting secular law. Legally, almost ALL marriages (as I defined the terms) are civil unions, but there are plenty of civil unions that are not marriages, as defined by many churches.

I was "united" to my wife by a judge, meaning there are religions who don't see me as being any more married than Adam & Steve or Adina & Lisa in NH. I can tolerate that, but still believe that the laws of NY give me the same rights & responsibilities to & with my wife as they would if I were married n my local Roman Catholic church.

Marriage is marriage; one of several ways to enter into a civil union with another person. But "marriage" & "civil union" are not synonymous, any more than "rose" and "flower" are.

My religious tradition--Unitarian Universalist--WILL perform a marriage ceremony for homosexuals. Our creed allows it. In this case, the couple is married in the eyes of our faith, but not civilly united according to the government.

Marriages and civil unions are different, one one can have either one without the other, in some cases.

"the right to marry is the stated goal of the homosexual community not a civil union."

This is because many (& perhaps most) local, state & federal laws are written with the word "marriage" not "civil union" in them.

But if you ask them, I'm willing to bet my last dollar that the vast majority of the homosexual community seeking the right to marry are looking for the legal rights, not the religious rites, and striking the word "marriage," & replacing it with "civil union" in the laws would suit them just fine, without hurting heterosexual unions (be they marriages like yours, or civil unions like mine) in any way.

(And for the record, I would never support anyone's effort to demand that any given church be compelled by law to marry anyone that their faith says are not a suitable couple. I suppose there are a few gay or human rights activists who might...)

"as for the rest that is what we are speaking of, state recognition, not religious recognition. and the state has already defined the union as a union of marriage."

Not for my fellow Unitarians... I've been to two homosexual weddings. According to my church and my faith, these folks are married. According to the state, they're not.

If you agree that marriage is a religious rite governed by the church rather than the state, and that my church has recognized and performed marriage ceremonies for same sex couples, than the state hasn't "recognized & defined the union as a union of marriage." That is... unless you believe that the state can dictate the terms of religious rites.

"the only reason it is defined as a civil union is the recognition of the person performing the ceremony, a civil servant rather than a minister of religion."

So all those folks who go to city hall are not really married, then... They are united in the eyes of the state, but not in the eyes of God. That's consistent with my position in saying marriage & civil union are not the same, and that the law has no place in legislating the sacred rite of marriage, and should instead legislate the legal rights involved in civil unions, and include the sacred rite of marriage as one way to become civilly (legally) united.

"and if you are right in regards to their attitude then changing the other laws will serve the same purpose without the controversy.

why change laws creating division instead of changing laws that result in unity?"

I think the primary controversy is in redefining marriage. Not only does my proposal not do that, it actually makes marriage more sacred, by only including those who are united in a ceremony of faith, rather than a secular ceremony of law.

If my ceremony by a family court judge (friend of the family), in the outdoor court of a beauteous hotel, followed by darn near the best reception anyone's ever been too (Not too gaudy, not too cheap, simple good food & live music) means I'm not married to my wife of 8 years come next September, I'm pretty sure Adam & Steve or Adina & Stephanie can be "not married" as happily as my bride & I are. (...aren't?... Whichever... You get my meaning...)

I can see where many will find in "controversial" to discover that they are not really married, but that's only because the wrong word was used in laws in the first place. The law calls my union a marriage, but calling it that doesn't make it so. My church calls a union of two souls--whatever bodies they're housed in--a marriage, but that doesn't make it a legal union.

The second controversy involves tolerating homosexuality. Perhaps those who view it as a sin or otherwise immoral don't want the government to sanction or condone it by giving homosexuality legal recognition. To the extent that's true, your solution does no better than mine because, either way, the government is recognizing homosexuality as a valid lifestyle, sanctioned by state and federal law.

If you believe I'm misstating or overlooking something here, please let me know... But the way I see it, these are the controversies...

"and i would add that changing the other laws are more beneficial because it gives the people the right to choice in those matters not government. and you are the one who is always advocating for the right of people making the choice in matters, aren't you?

in other words, my solution is beneficial to everyone not just a few as your solution would be."

I believe that we are the folks who make up our government, so it's the people making the choices & speaking about them, regardless...

But I still don't see how my suggestion benefits only a few, or why yours benefits many...

The ability to make legal provisions stipulating legal & financial arrangements is law, already (though I understand that there are places where laws need tweaking to make them better or more fair).

But because those arrangements are automatic by virtue of a legal union (called marriage), it still treats some citizens who enter into said unions (like Adam & Steve, "married" at a Unitarian Fellowship) second class citizens, because those benefits are not automatically given to them, the way they were to you and I when you got married, and I got "married." Our unions (yours a marriage by religious rites, and mine a "marriage" without those rites) are not treated equally under law.

Why should Adam & Steve have to see a lawyer to get what we get by virtue of our unions. Religiously, your union & theirs are both sanctioned by faith. While some of the specific traditions in my church are different than the ones in yours, the UU ceremony they had would be just like the one you & your wife or me & mine could've had at that church. The only difference is, at the end of our ceremonies, the state would recognize our marriages and hand over the legal goodies automatically, while Adam & Steve need to see a lawyer to get what we get by virtue of being men united with (married to) women.

If the laws on wills, medical decision-making, child custody, and the rest are sufficient, why grant these things automatically to some unions, and not others? Why shouldn't you & I have to see the lawyers to set these things up for our spouses, too? The answer, I think, is that they are not sufficient. A union is a union is a union. And every union deserves the same consideration under law.

"my post dealt with marriage as defined by the state. it had nothing to do with church or religion."

Marriage always has to do with religion, and the state has no business defining it.

"the people of the state of California expressed their will, by inititive, by enacting a law declaring that marriage was to be only between a man and woman. The Supreme Court of California defied the will of the people by declaring that law unconstitutional."

I believe this "will of the people" idea was covered quite well above. Please follow the Glenn Greenwald links found in this post, or just read what this wise soul said on the subject.:
"this assumes that the people cannot pass laws which are unconstitutional and that is false. we are a nation bound by a Constitution not the will of the people. if we were a nation bound by the will of the people there would be no need for a Constitution."
If you're looking for the original comment from whence that came, it appears here, from Griper's own keyboard.

"so, any reference to the idea of marriage being a sacrament of the church is irrelevant because my post was not comparing the two types of marriage only the one, marriage as a legal bond as defined by the state."

Well, it is your original post, but I believe the religiosity of marriage is central to any discussion on the subject, be it heterosexual marriage or the issue of homosexual marriage. In my eyes, the legal bond is incidental to marriage, and certainly cannot be used to define the term.

Aside that, it is the religiosity of the term marriage that creates much of the controversy you do seem to wish to talk about. I just don't believe you can take the religion out of a discussion of marriage & homosexuality any more than you can take religion out of a discussion of Christmas.

Blogger: User Profile: Lista:
"Actually, Repsac, marriage is both a religious rite and a legal contract and I'm not sure that it is governed by the church as much as it is by God. I really don't think that the religious side of it has to do with laws, but simply with always doing the right thing before God in love. Right or wrong, the church doesn't usually get involved in legal matters such as divorce. That's been left up to the secular courts."

I see marriage as being the religious component, and civil union as the legal component, and the fact that those writing secular laws incorrectly used the word "marriage" in those laws as the primary problem here.

In almost all churches (that is, according to the version of God worshiped in most churches), homosexuals cannot marry. Leaving my faith (& a few others, I think) aside, there is no such thing as homosexual marriage.

(That my church worships a God that allows homosexual marriage while most churches worship a God that does not, is where that tolerance thing comes in. While we each believe that the God we worship is offering "truth," while the other is offering "falsehood," we accept that different faiths believe different things, give each other some space, and hope that one day the other will come to a better (that is "our own") understanding of God.)

For the most part, I don't even believe that those fighting for "homosexual marriage" WANT marriage. They want the rights that come with the legal union. (They call what they want "marriage" for the same reason we are here; wrong word in the law.) If it were otherwise, there would be a whole lot more picketing of churches, and a whole lot less picketing of politicians. I think I once heard one gay rights activist talking about changing the rules of the church. Aside that one guy (& I'll grant that he may have a few friends), it's really all about the laws and about equal protection under those laws, and that really isn't about marriage...

The church doesn't often get involved in legal matters, & I'm not suggesting they are here, either. But the reverse is also generally true. The law doesn't often get involved in church matters... But in using a sacred term as a definition in a secular law, the law is treading in space they're not meant to inhabit, and causing all this commotion. Folks are up in arms over the redefinition of marriage, when no one is really trying to redefine marriage at all. The redefinition is of what constitutes a legal union, not a sacred one. Marriage is safe.

"The only problem with your argument, though, Repsac, is that it requires the state to "recognize these marriages", even the Homosexual ones."

That is what I believe & where I'm headed (except for changing the word "marriages" to "unions"), but if you look back, I've never actually said so thus far... Changing "marriage" to "civil union" in the law does not require a given state (or "the state") to offer civil unions to same gender couples. All it does is decouple the sacred right of marriage, as defined by God & over which the church--not the state--holds sway, from the argument. It makes the argument over same sex unions what it really is; a discussion of rights, equality, and law. The recognition of those unions, if/when there is to be any, comes later.

"Christianity does not sanction or condone Homosexuality, Repsac, and most of us would prefer that the state didn't either."

Leaving aside the issue of Christianity, I can appreciate that you feel that way... I simply disagree with you.

I wonder whom you mean by "most of us"? Most Christians? Most Americans? They (we?) are welcome to have their say, but as Griper said above, the US & state Constitutions trump even the will of the majority, sometimes... If a law goes against the Constitution, the law falls, at least until the Constitution is amended in such a way as to allow the law to stand. Protection of the minority from the will of the majority is one of the hallmarks of a constitutional republic.

"You are actually the one who said in your response to Griper "recognize our marriages and hand over the legal goodies automatically".

In doing so, I was talking about my union with my wife, and his union with his, both of which are recognized by the state as marriages under current law...

My contention was, if you & I decided to go to my church & have a double ceremony with Adam & Steve -- (I know... It's so sudden... It seems like just yesterday we were but two strangers talking on the internet, and then... 8>) -- both you & I and Adam & Steve would be before the same celebrant in the same church, hearing & speaking the same words of love & fidelity just moments apart, but at the end of that ceremony, only you & I would be legally united and afforded all the rights & privileges that entails, according to the state. It doesn't seem just, to me.

"Is "handing over legal goodies" synonymous to "recognizing a union as a marriage"?"

Only in so much as the law uses the term "marriage," currently. What I prefer is that the state recognizes a union as a union, and treats every legal union with the equality that this country prides itself on offering its citizens.

Every union is not a marriage, and I do not believe every union should be recognized as a marriage, either. That's why I object to the state using the word marriage in the law. They're muddying the waters by confounding the sacred with the secular...

In debating whether I'm married or civilly united, Griper (see just below) seems concerned because the word marriage is (incorrectly) used in law, and therefore I am married because the law says so. To me, THAT'S a redefinition of marriage more great than anything I've heard gay activists (except that one guy I mentioned earlier) suggesting. Marriage is not a legal concept, but a sacred one, and the state cannot change that by using the term in law.

"in other words, let the people decide who gets the benefits not the state. benefits are still received but the beneficiary is determined by the person who is actually handing over the benefit by some act of his own, not the state. and it does not need a lawyer to do that."

I'm still not quite sure how you propose that would work, especially given this litigious society. While one can write out one's wishes regarding health care, child custody, and disposition of property after death on a piece of notebook paper, no one is obliged to follow those wishes under law, and even when lawyers are involved and the proper forms are filled out & every signature notarized, such things are frequently challenged in court by well meaning & not so well meaning family members alike.

"remember repsac, married persons receive and give benefits that not only homosexuals cannot give or receive but also any other single person cannot either. a heterosexual couple shacking up have the same problem."

Again, I'm not sure I understand your meaning... Are you wishing to make it easy for any two people (heterosexual couples living together, homosexual couples, parents/adult children, close friends) the ability to bestow on each other all the rights & privileges afforded legally united couples, or are you saying that couples united by law share a unique bond, and thus deserve special consideration as regards these rights & privileges?

Personally, I go with the latter. (I agree there ought to be another way for one person to give another each & every one of the rights afforded united couples, but not that it ought to be a simple process that one can do capriciously.)

"as for you not being married to your wife, i'm sorry, i don't buy into that. for you to convince me that you do not think you are married in every sense of the word you'd have to tell me that you are not the husband of your wife and that she is not your wife for one thing. for those identities are the exclusive property of marriage whether it be legal or in God's eyes.

the next thing you would need to do is convince me that you did not ask your wife to "marry" you and mean it in every sense of the word, that is if it was you that asked.

third you'd have to convince me that when that civil servant performed the ceremony you did not feel you actually married the girl but felt that it was only a cicil union.

thirdly when you fill out that income tax form you feel like you're lying when you mark the space "married filing jointly"

fourthly when you went down to the court house and bought that marriage licence it wasn't for the purpose of getting married. and you do not have a "Marriage certificate"

when someone asks if you are married you say no because you feel you are not married but only civilly united.

you go to your wife and tell her that you ae not married and she agrees with you without question.

I understand your difficulty, Griper, but if you really don't buy into what I'm saying, you'll have to take that up with the churches & religions you cited above, when you said.:

"and marriage performed by a civil servant of the government has always been defined as a civil union. in fact some religions don't even recognize it as a marriage but society does. and government treats them both as the same."

Marriage is a sacred rite.
Marriage is not a legal contract or obligation.
As a religious rite, marriage can only be performed according to religious tradition, and I know of no religion that allows government functionaries to perform sacred rites.
God and the church determine who can participate and who can officiate, and the law has no role to play in those decisions.

Civil union is not a religious rite.
Civil union is a legal contract / obligation.
While the law may choose to recognize unions performed by religious officials, it must do so equally if it is to do so at all.
The law determines who can participate and who can officiate, and God & the church have no role to play in those decisions.

If Lista & I go to city hall to tie the knot, we're civilly united. (Though the church may choose to recognize that as a marriage... Some do, some don't.)
If Lista & I go to her church or mine to tie the knot, we're married. (The law chooses to recognize this as a civil union, as well. But it's not obligated to do so.)

If you & I go to city hall to tie the knot, we get turned down, except in a few select places. In those places, we're civilly united. With a few exceptions, no church chooses to recognize that union as a marriage, and they are not obligated to do so.

If you & I go to my church to tie the knot, we're married. But the law chooses not to recognize that marriage as a civil union.

Sure, any of us can call any of those ceremonies and the subsequent day to day life resulting from them a marriage (or a civil union) but saying it doesn't make it so... Both marriage & civil union have specific definitions that don't change because people (including me, sometimes) use the words incorrectly or imprecisely. Marriage has come to be used as shorthand for any civil union, in the same way that Coke, Xerox, & Frigidaire represents all cola, any copier (or copies, or the act of duplicating) and all refrigerators. That's all well & good, but it doesn't mean plenty of folks who use those terms don't then take an RC out of their Maytag, and drink it while making color copies on their Brother copier.

What we or others call it isn't always what it is, and I think that should answer all of your concerns about my "marriage".

"before the controversy there was no such definition of a civil union, a marriage was a marriage regardless of who performed the ceremony and everyone recognized that when you sought and received a divorce that you were dissolving a marriage."

Change is constant... Once upon a time, folks didn't talk much about homosexuality (or racial issues, or gender equality, or child abuse, or ...) but the fact that polite society preferred not to discuss 'em never meant these issues didn't exist.

The good old days were frequently not as good as folks remember 'em...

There is still more, including my thoughts on nature/nurture with respect to homosexuality, beginning here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yes Nero, you're crazy.

Nero @ American Power sez:

"Reparations for Iraqis?

I've been writing about this all year, and radical lefties have called me crazy."

As I am the "radical leftie" you cite--& on behalf of all my "radical leftie," peeps--yes Nero, you are crazy.

We are already giving reparations to Iraqis, by rebuilding that which we (& they, & in many cases those others we invited in) broke. Every rebuilt school, house, or road is reparation paid to the Iraqi people. Most of the time, folks on your side point to these things as proof of our success in that country. Do you disagree?

Personally, I think we owe it to them, though I also question why they have a surplus while we have a deficit, and think their government ought to pay some reparations to the Iraqi people, as well.

Thanks for the link, though...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"the mission" asks: Is It possible?

Not much I can add to this great post over at Dave Miller's blog.

the mission: Is It possible?

John McCain is not going to keep us at war for 100 years. Barack Obama is not going to make the White House a den of terrorists. Sarah Palin is not going to set up her trailer at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And Joe Biden is not going to gaffe us into some apocalyptic war.

I/You/He/She/We/They might be wrong.
We'll all be reasonably ok, whatever the outcome.

Learn it.
Live it.
Love it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote early, vote often

And you can vote however you like...

More: YouTube - Full Interview with Ron Clark Kids - You can Vote However You Like