Marriage Archives

Next Step: Accepting "Open Marriage"

Now that same-sex marriage has been accepted by some states, it’s no longer a draw for the evening news, so ABC News in America has decided to move on to the next big thing; open marriage. These are marriages where fidelity is more of a suggestion than anything else. It’s not polygamy, which at least formally acknowledges, in one manner or another, a lasting relationship with more than one spouse. Instead, open marriage, or polyamory, means two people are legally married while continuing to see other people.

So ABC News decided to present a generally positive quote-unquote “news” piece about those for whom commitment is something only for mentally disturbed people. The most critical thing said in the whole segment was that reporter Nick Watt thought it just wasn’t his thing, and that his wife wouldn’t like it. But the rest of the segment, including questions to a psychologist, was generally positive. Not a hint of an opposing viewpoint.

This is what passes for “news” in the 21st century; one-sided advocacy journalism. Even if Watt isn’t personally in favor of it, showing one side only, on a controversial topic, on a news show, is advocacy.

Do other news organizations do it? Yes, on both sides of the aisle. But while Fox News and the Wall Street Journal get lambasted anytime they don’t play it down the middle, so many liberal news watchers have such a blind spot when something like this airs. Conservative media bias is outrageous. Liberal media bias is…hey look, a unicorn!

The other issue, of course, is that those who said that same-sex marriage would lead to a slippery slope have been, yet again, proved absolutely on target. We aren’t falling for it, but the news media is pushing.

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    Same-sex marriage got a gentle nudge from the Supreme Court in the recent ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act. But, as much as it seems that it’ll be a state-by-state issue, a court ruling in late July suggests that same-sex marriage anywhere may mean same-sex marriage everywhere. A federal judge in Ohio ordered state officials to recognize the marriage of two men who were married in Maryland, for the purposes of listing on the death certificate of one that he was married to the other.

    Yeah, it’s just a blank on a form being filled in, but if it stands, it would be a legal precedent that could easily be built upon. So here’s the question for same-sex marriage proponents. Do you really believe this should be decided by each state, or should it be handed down from the federal government? If the former, you should be against this judge’s action. If the latter, you should be letting us all know. My guess is that if people knew that proponents are looking to force this on all states, there would be quite the backlash. And so, in the meantime, it’s not spoken of much in polite company. After all, if you think the federal government shouldn’t define marriage via DOMA, then it shouldn’t define marriage, period.

    And the people of Ohio would get to choose how to deal with this situation themselves.

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      Attorney Generals Are Not Judges

      [This is part of the script from the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!"]

      The Supreme Court said that the people of California have no standing to defend a constitutional amendment that they passed if the state won’t defend it. It’s now open season on laws that state administrations don’t like. Exhibit A.

      Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane announced Thursday afternoon she will not defend the state in a federal lawsuit filed this week challenging the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, calling the prohibition “wholly unconstitutional.”

      Who promoted her to judge? Whether or not it’s unconstitutional is not her call to make. The Attorney General represents the state and defends its laws; all of the state and all of its laws.

      If a state Attorney General refuses to defend those laws, that’s an abdication of his or her primary responsibility; their oath of office. AGs do not (or at least should not) have this prerogative. Otherwise you’ll have one set of laws when one administration is in power, and another set for another administration.

      The Supreme Court said that they’re leaving it up to the states to decide what marriage is. But are we leaving it up to the state governments or to the state’s people?

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        The Supreme Court "Proposition 8" Ruling

        The Prop 8 ruling was perhaps more troubling than even DOMA. The Supremes decided, cutting across ideological lines interestingly, that the people of California had no standing to bring their own challenge against the ruling of a judge that Prop 8, which created a state constitutional amendment defining marriage, was unconstitutional. Here’s a graphic I found that describes the problem the best.

        While I’m against true direct democracy (the ol’ “two lions and a sheep voting on dinner” analogy), the proposition feature of California law has a high enough bar to clear to get something on the ballot to safeguard that. But now the people’s will can be simply ignored, with the ruling of a single judge, and we, the people, have no standing to challenge it at the Supreme Court. Wow.

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          The Supreme Court DOMA Ruling

          In the recent spate of rulings from the Supremes were two that dealt with same-sex marriage; the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA), and California’s Proposition 8. I’ll look at Prop 8 tomorrow.

          The portion of the DOMA law that was ruled against is a provision that denies benefits to legally-married gay couples. Gay couples, under federal law, will now be considered “married.” The DOMA vote was 5-4, with Justice Kennedy writing for himself and the liberals on the court. He wrote that DOMA is a violation of, “basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the federal government.” Very interestingly, he also pointed out that DOMA infringed on states’ rights to define marriage.

          Having just written about the Voting Rights Act yesterday, let me just say that that last observation is almost humorous coming from the liberal justices. The same people who said that 50-year-old data is sacrosanct in one ruling, said, in another ruling released the same day, that the definition of marriage, which has been defined for millennia, is just a states’ rights issue. The duplicity and blind partisanship is simply breathtaking.

          In one respect, I agree with the DOMA ruling, regarding the idea that the federal government doesn’t need to be in the business of defining marriage. Now, I don’t thinks states should do that either, but it sets a precedent, that marriage is decided at the ballot box. It isn’t. And besides, regarding federal involvement, it’s the states that give out marriage licenses, not DC. So from that angle, it does make sense. Sort of.

          The problem is, some states have decided to insert government into marriage like it has never been before. Glenn Reynolds, one of the most popular bloggers out there, the Instapundit, has been voicing his support for the repeal of DOMA by saying that government should get completely out of marriage. But as I have said before, when the government defines marriage, it is completely in the issue. Politics and PR will now define marriage. It didn’t need formal definition before, because it was almost universally agreed that it was one man and one woman. Cultures and religions, outside of government, defined marriage. All the state did was sanction what had already been decided. Back in episode 38, I discussed this in detail, so there’s a link in the show notes if you want to catch up on that. But basically, now that states decide what marriage is, the logical end of this is that marriage will mean what anyone wants it to mean, which means it will be meaningless. Since states were redefining an already well-defined term, it fell to the federal government to bring a little order and common sense to this chaos. I didn’t like it, but didn’t see any other good way out of it.

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            Study Shows the Sun Rose Today

            (This is one of the segments of the most recent episode of my podcast, "Consider This!")

            The NY Times recently reported on a study that, I imagine, came as a shock to most of the Times’ readership. “News organizations are far more likely to present a supportive view of same-sex marriage than an antagonistic view, according to a content study by the Pew Research Center to be released on Monday.” The Pew study also noted that the views of the public at large, contrary to the news reporting, are evenly divided.

            For conservatives, this is like a study showing that the sun rose this morning, or the Pope is actually Catholic. But this paranoia about news coverage does, in fact, prove the adage that it’s not paranoia because, if you have the unapproved viewpoint, they really are out to get you.

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              Live and Let Live?

              (This is one of the segments of the most recent episode of my podcast, "Consider This!")

              From the state of Colorado comes this news story, showing just how intolerant this country has become.

              A neo-Nazi couple is pursuing a discrimination complaint against a Colorado bakery, saying the business refused them a Swastika wedding cake to honor their ceremony, and alleging that the owners have a history of turning away white-supremacist couples.

              Would you support the bakery in their refusal? Certainly, neo-Nazis don’t agree with our civil rights laws, so based on a civil rights objection, should a bakery be allowed to refuse to make a cake glorifying the Third Reich?

              As you may have guessed, I’ve modified this news story slightly to make a point. This is really a story about a same sex couple, from Massachusetts, suing a baker in Colorado. Religious freedom is the first of the freedoms guaranteed in the first amendment, even before speech. And yet folks exercising that freedom are not given the same deference as someone who might discriminate based on something that the Constitution doesn’t specifically protect.

              Could a baker refuse to decorate a cake with text featuring the N-word, or any other word that we usually identify by its first letter? If they could, what about the customer’s freedom of speech? Does it override the baker’s freedom? I don’t believe this would even be an issue, or if it was, the ACLU might even be on the side of a baker not wanting to display a Swastika or an obscene word on their product. As it is, the ACLU is supporting the out-of-state same-sex couple, because a religious objection doesn’t make the cut.

              Nor does it for a florist from Washington, nor a photographer from New Mexico. Same-sex marriage is not a case of “live and let live”. It requires others to validate it, regardless of any objection buttressed by the Constitution.

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                Overcoming Such Unanimity

                Ben DeBono is one of the co-hosts of a podcast I listen to, "The Sci-Fi Christian".  I have the distinction of having named their alien mascot, "Theo".

                Ben is a recent convert to Catholicism, while I am a  long-time Protestant. And yet there are commonalties that people tend to ignore too often. He highlighted one of those commonalities in a recent Facebook post.

                Here’s a thought experiment for Christians arguing for biblical support of homosexuality and/or homosexuall [sic] marriage:

                On the subject of homosexuality theologians as diverse as the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Martin Luther and every other major pre-20th century Christian thinker stand in complete agreement. Such unanimity is all but unprecedented in the tradition. Even a doctrine as fundamental as the Trinity has greater diversity of thought than homosexuality.

                Regardless of how you view the authority of tradition, doesn’t such complete agreement deserve to be acknowledged and taken seriously? If you say yes, how can you justify the near complete lack of engagement with the tradition by those arguing for an understanding of Christianity that is pro-homosexuality? Wouldn’t such a drastic change on this issue demand a lengthy and complete engagement with the tradition?

                If you say no, how do you justify the implicit claim that your interpretive abilities are superior to 2,000 years of unanimous teaching on this issue – Protestant, Catholic and otherwise?

                Ben shows that, over the millennia, smart Christian guys from all over the spectrum, have been unified on this topic. I made a similar point 2 years ago when I noted that the Bible speak of homosexuality 100% negatively, and of marriage 100% heterosexually. I said essentially the same thing, "Ignore all of that collected wisdom at your peril."

                The religious Left has been accepting homosexuality as a "non-sin" over the past 40 years, and same-sex marriage as blessed just for the past 10 years or so. Relatively speaking, however, this is nothing compared to the unanimity of the faith for the last 2,000 years. If one is going to throw out 2 millennia of doctrine, you had better have a good argument that a) this is really what the Bible says and b) the other guys were wrong. Yelling "Equality!" is not such an argument.

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                  We Hate to Say We Told You So

                  That’s the title of John Stonestree’s article about how the folks pushing for polygamy and polyamory are making the very arguments that conservatives made for decades, right up until very recently.

                  In a scene from Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm, the mathematician skeptical about whether the park is a good idea, watches the T-Rex burst out of its enclosure and says, "I hate being right all the time."

                  Princeton Professor Robert George and other defenders of traditional marriage understand these sentiments. For years, they’ve warned that redefining marriage beyond the union of one man and one woman wouldn’t-indeed couldn’t-stop with same-sex unions. The same reasoning that extends marriage to same-sex couples would easily be applied to polygamy and polyamory also.

                  The standard response to these concerns was scoffing and accusations of fear mongering.

                  Well, the fences are down and the beast is loose.

                  He provides 3 examples of recent attempts to argue for them just within the past few months. But these arguments are not new. It’s just who is presenting them that is.

                  As Dr. George pointed out in "First Things," when Christians pointed out the logical link between same-sex marriage and polygamy, proponents of same-sex marriage rejected the connection. They insisted that "no one is arguing for the legal recognition of polygamous or polyamorous relationships as marriages!"

                  George writes in response, "That was then; this is now." The "then" he referred to was last week; the now is today.

                  George predicts that Keenan’s article "will not produce a single serious critique by a major scholar or activist from the same-sex marriage movement."

                  Now he would love to be wrong. But defenders of traditional marriage know that the enclosures that kept marriage a "monogamous and exclusive union" are being dismantled. And no one should be surprised by what emerges, least of all those doing the dismantling.

                  If George was right about what would happen, would critics also be right about the predicted results of this breakdown?  Marriage is more "for the children" than any other institution or government program that has had that label slapped on it. The best arrangement for children is to be raised by their loving and committed biological parents.

                  And yet, we are tinkering and tearing down the one thing that can best protect the next generation. The results have been predicted to be calamitous. If we were right about predicting the slippery slope this far, wouldn’t it be prudent to consider whether we’re right about the rest of the ride?

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                    The Feminist Case for Polygamy

                    The calls for polygamy, especially in the light of changing attitudes on same-sex marriage, are getting louder and more mainstream. Jillian Keenan writing at Slate.com, makes a feminist case for polygamy, as well as demonstrating the slippery slope in action.

                    The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less “correct” than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults.

                    If you don’t think that same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy, you must refute her arguments that make that link. I don’t have to refute them, because a) I don’t think the definition of marriage is plastic, and b) I do think one leads to the other. If you do think marriage should be…whatever, but don’t think it leads to polygamy, you’ve got your work cut out for you. But if you are up to the challenge, let me hear your argument.

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                      Jim Wallis "Evolves". Again.

                      Just as our President supposedly "evolved" on the issue of same-sex marriage, Rev. Jim Wallis, head of the liberal Sojourners group, has done the same thing. After saying that marriage shouldn’t be redefined, now that the culture apparently want to change it, now he’s fine with it.

                      Michael Brown, author and radio talk-show host, wrote an article for Charisma News that calls Wallis on the carpet for this change. (Emphasis his.)

                      Rev. Wallis, you told us in 2008 that “the sacrament of marriage” should not be changed and that “marriage is all through the Bible, and it’s not gender-neutral.” Now, in 2013, you want to redefine marriage and make it gender-neutral. In doing so, you have betrayed the Word of God and the people of God.

                      To be candid, sir, I’m not surprised by your theological flip-flop—just pained and distressed by it, since your name is still associated with evangelical Christianity in America and you are a prominent church leader.

                      This is not just an issue of going against what Brown (and I) believes the Bible says, but it’s yet another case of Wallis saying one thing and doing another. Brown offers up many examples.

                      In the past, you raised some valid criticisms about the “religious right” and its deep solidarity with the Republican Party, but then you joined yourself to the religious left and the Democratic Party, even campaigning for Democratic candidates. So much for taking a kingdom-of-God position that transcends partisan politics and challenges the political establishment.

                      To be sure, you have rightly challenged us to consider the poor and the oppressed, pointing to the hundreds of Scriptures that call us to “social justice.” But then you have turned around and applauded Communist dictatorships that championed oppression and tyranny.

                      When it comes to Christian integrity, you disappointed us when you received funding from pro-abortion, pro-atheism billionaire George Soros and when you allowed the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the world’s largest gay activist organization, to take out paid advertising in your Sojourners magazine, even though the HRC would love to silence all religious opposition to homosexual practice.

                      It is true that in 2008, you expressed having “mixed feelings” about the HRC ads, stating that you “probably wouldn’t do it again.” But today, the HRC celebrates your defection from biblical values, announcing in headline news, “Leading Evangelical Christian Voice Announces Support For Marriage Equality.”

                      Rev. Wallis, you have brought reproach to the name of Jesus, to the Word of God and to evangelical Christianity.

                      But the height of the hypocrisy is that Wallis seems to be making his moral decisions based on the culture, not based on Christ.

                      Worst of all, you have reversed your earlier position on what the Bible clearly says about marriage based largely on where “the country is going.”

                      What? Jim Wallis, the critic of the religious establishment; Jim Wallis, the counter-cultural revolutionary; Jim Wallis, the advocate of a Jesus who changes the world rather than conforms to it. You, sir, are now willing to redefine one of the most foundational and sacred human institutions, the institution of marriage, based on where the country is going? Isn’t that the path to spiritual and moral suicide?

                      Read the whole thing. (Hey, you’ve read most of it already.)

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                        Marriage "Equality"

                        Episode 36 of my podcast, "Consider This!", came out this morning. Here’s the (slightly edited) script for one of the segments regarding the call for "marriage equality".


                        When the Supreme Court took up two cases regarding same-sex marriage recently, Facebook lit up with red equal signs of people proclaiming their support for what they call “marriage equality”. And that’s how I’ve heard the debate framed by supporters for years, as an issue of equality. One group gets to do something that another group doesn’t. Where’s the sense of fairness, of everyone being equal under the law?

                        Well, to understand the underlying problem here, let’s take two other areas where one could demand equality. Let’s look at voting and driving. Are you for voting equality and driving equality? Should some voting or driving laws be different for different people, or not even available at all to some?

                        Let’s take a group of people I’ll call blind people. Now, should they have both voting and driving equality? I’m going to hazard a guess that you said yes to voting but no to driving. I don’t need to be a mind-reader to get that one right. But, but, equality! What about equality? Shouldn’t we really be taking to the streets and demanding the Supreme Court rule on driving equality for the blind?

                        No, of course we shouldn’t. But why equality for one thing and not another? Steven Smith, a Professor of Law at the University of San Diego, wrote an article using this example of why we treat the two situations differently.

                        That is because an ability to see is not a relevant qualification for voting, but it is a relevant qualification for driving. We know this, though, not by applying the idea of “equality,” but rather by thinking about the nature of voting and of driving. Probably there is no disagreement about these particular conclusions. But if you did happen to encounter a good-faith disagreement, you would not be saying anything helpful if you thumped the table and declared that “blind people should be treated equally.” You would only be begging the question.

                        You can’t drive if you’re blind, or under a certain age, or haven’t taken a driving test. Heck, you can’t vote if you’re a felon, or under a certain age, or mentally incompetent. So even with voting, there are inequalities. And therefore, just demanding marriage equality, without considering the nature of marriage, is useless.

                        And so what, then, is that nature of marriage? That’s the next logical question, and something I will be taking up in a subsequent episode. Until then, I have another link in the show notes to a rather lengthy paper by the Heritage Foundation on what marriage is, why it matters, and the consequences of redefining it. I’ll be pulling points from it for when I tackle this subject later on. You may want to take a look at it and perhaps write or call with your thoughts to be included in the episode.

                        But this foundation of the issue of equality needs to be laid first. Suffice to say, for now, that just spouting “Equality” with your fashionable, red equal sign doesn’t really mean much. It’s not an argument. It’s not a reason. It’s just a slogan.


                        If you want to let me know what you think, call 267-CALL-CT-0 (267-225-5280) for the feedback line, or e-mail considerthis@ctpodcasting.com.

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                          Mr Obama Goes to Chick-Fil-A

                          So, did Mr Obama use the Colorado shooting to set the stage for policy changes:

                          Every day, in fact, every day and a half, the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater. For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, here in New Orleans. For every Tucson or Aurora, there’s daily heartbreak over young Americans shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland.

                          Hmm. Which policy? Restrict guns or reinforce traditional marriage? Which is more likely a root cause, restrictions on guns or broken families and single/absent parents? The latter is more likely the cause, the former the more likely policy in mind.

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                            Friday Link Wrap-up

                            Yeah, haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been working on another side project that may or may not pan out. We’ll see. In the meantime, it’s time to play some catch-up on the wrap-up.

                            No, I don’t believe Obama was born in Kenya, but he certainly let that image get out years ago, and only recently stopped that. As late as 2004, even the Associated Press was referring to "Kenyan-born" Barack Obama. Laugh all you want at the birthers, but they at least had this sort of thing to back them up (for a while).

                            The Family Research Council has a count of the number of states that have legislated against same-sex marriage. Depending on how you choose what kind of legislation (law, constitutional amendment, etc.), the number changes, but here’s the biggie. "Number of states which currently (May 2012) grant marriage licenses only for unions of one man and one woman:   44" Remember that when you see polls about what people supposedly think about it.

                            And don’t try to press Martin Luther King into service to that particular cause. He followed his religion in this regard.

                            “The Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel.” Their words.

                            Civility Watch: "Union Leader Takes Bat to Pinata Depicting Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.)"

                            Michael J. Fox realizes that stem cells, as good as they are, were never some magic cure-all.

                            Advances in the war:

                            A record-low 41 percent now identify themselves as “pro-choice,” down from 47 percent last July and 1 percentage point down from the previous record low of 42 percent, set in May 2009. As recently as 2006, 51 percent of Americans described themselves as “pro-choice.”

                            And speaking of the war, the actual, physical war on women by Planned Parenthood gets exposed by hidden camera videos. Predictably, the media yawns.

                            Further, "Congressional Black Caucus Upset By Pro-Life Black Americans". Those tolerant folks.

                            The Washington Post took 20 years to realize that Dan Quayle’s argument against the TV show Murphy Brown was right. It took Candace Bergen 10 years herself. And of course some of us knew that from the beginning.

                            And finally, oh, that liberal media.

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                              Marriage: A Short Defense

                              Alasadair MacIntyre in his book Whose Justice Whose Rationality demonstrates using ancient political divisions to illustrate how, when meta-ethical differences between groups arise conversation between those groups is difficult. Well, perhaps “difficult” is putting it mildly. We see this today as it unfolds in conversations between those in different sides of the political aisle. Highly paid commenter Boonton on this blog noted recently that the only good arguments concerning SSM are on the pro-SSM side, there are no arguments and only avoidance of the same seen from the right. My response was that the left side of the aisle perceives it this way because they insist on a “small playground”, only debating this issue in the context of their particular meta-ethical context and refusing to step outside. And yes, by analogy, if you assume flat 2-dimensional Euclidean geometry there is no good way to dispute that the the interior angle of a triangle sum to pi. But all geometries are not 2-d Euclidean, in fact the world we live is not. So what follows will be an attempt to bridge that divide, to give a glimpse to the left the basics of the marriage debate as seen from the right. Be warned however, in crossing this bridge there are always hermenuetical difficulties, when speaking across meta-ethical and foundational divisions the same words can be viewed from different context and what is said can easily be misunderstood. That is to say, bear with me … and this gets a little longer than the usual essay … so the rest is below the fold…

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