Homosexuality Archives

Theology and Political Theory Applied

Bertrand de Jouvenel in Sovereignty notes has an effective, if reflexive, definition on political authority. A person has the authority to request those things which those to whom the request is directed feel is in his authority to request. In this manner, an “authoritarian” regime is one, paradoxically, which lacks authority. It must substitute force and terror and other methods because it lacks the authority to do what it commands. A master/slave relationship is unjust only if the slave rejects the authority of the master. In a monastic setting, the authority (freely granted) to the abbot by those in his care would in another setting seem more servile than much of the Slavery seen in the old south. However, because that authority is freely granted it is just. In that regard, one might regard coercion as the sign a government is going off the rails. The more coercion, the more imperfect the union.

The general principle that decides whether a government is exceeding its authority or restricting too much the liberty of its people therefore is measured by the amount of coercion required to enforce its decisions and not by an analysis outside of the culture and context of that particular action.

In St. Silouan the Athonite, St. Silouan teaches that following traditions of freedom, equality, hierarchy, and love as demonstrated by the Trinity (for example read the opening chapters of John Zizioulas Communion and Otherness and On Being and Communion), that the correct way for the authority, such as an abbot or staretz (spiritual advisor) is to give his command once, and if it is not obeyed offer no reprimand or repeat the command.

Parents however, cannot apply that rule in the same way. Children need repetition. As the saying goes, “The problem with children is that they are so darn immature!” In part this as well goes for men in society. Government lies somewhere between the monastery and the family regarding the need for repetition and the assumption of maturity of its members. Society cannot put a stop sign at an intersection and leave it up for just a week and leave it at that. We need reminding of the regulations and rules that society needs to operate smoothly. Additionally as generations pass and peoples come in and out of our society the customs and regulations must need be repeated.

The political process then is a exercise in walking the line, minimizing coercion in a way that maximizes human flourishing by locating and utilizing the authority that is generated naturally in human intercourse. From these simple observations a few general principles might be extracted:

  • Authority, as it is generated by human contact and connection, can be strongest if generated locally, that is personally.
  • Permission to do a thing is not approval. Government or its representatives can firmly condemn abortion, adultery, and so on. The point is that saying a thing is harmful to flourishing is not the same as coercing one to stop.
  • The sign of better governance is not abstract review of its principals but a review of how much coercion is required to keep it in order.

Recently, Jason Kuznicki reconsidered the same-sex marriage question, and his considerations as always are well worth considering. Like abortion, eugenics (Downs abortions for example) and euthanasia these are matters on which Christian tradition frowns. But … how does the Christian traditions and theology noted above as well as Jouvenel’s ideas on authority instruct us to order policy?

Marriage, as noted toward the end of his essay, is an institution which has grown up in community, fostering, encouraging, family to aid in the raising of the next generation (and the care the prior). In that mode, it would be permitted for a state to maintain a statement of the need to support the nuclear stable family. It is not optimal for the state to either enforce denial of same sex marriage to Boysville, New Hampshire or on the other hand to insist that it be part of the community in Evangeliste, Kansas. It is however, likely that those small communities can generate the authority to enforce policies which from an outsiders perspective are far more encompassing, but from within the community are however within the limits of freely granted authority.

Today’s easy access and dissemination of information makes coercion harder if not impossible to hide (especially in the long term). A lot of coercion present in society could be removed by granting to the local community, where authority is strongest, those things which affect the community. That community can then grant to higher structures, city, county or state, the authority to regulate relations with other communities. Likewise states to the federal level. What needs to be watched for is local communities governments resorting to undue coercion to enforce their requests especially on subsets of their community.

However that seems a easier line to walk than finding a non-coercive way of finding a federal or state level statement on marriage that  both Boysville and Evangeliste will swallow.

(Note: I’m thinking out loud here, hoping that commeters will help me solidify my thoughts with more coherence. )

Same-Sex Marriage Legalized in California

The California State Supreme Court decided yesterday that the millennia-old understanding of what marriage is, isn’t.

California’s Supreme Court quashed a ban on gay marriage in a historic ruling here Thursday, effectively leaving same-sex couples in America’s most populous state free to tie the knot.

In an opinion that analysts say could have nationwide implications for the issue, the seven-member panel voted 4-3 in favor of plaintiffs who argued that restricting marriage to men and women was discriminatory.

“Limiting the designation of marriage to a union ‘between a man and a woman’ is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute,” California Chief Justice Ron George said in the written opinion.

When the debate on a state constitutional amendment defining marriage was in full swing here in Georgia, those against the measure argued that we already had a law in Georgia making same-sex marriage illegal. They said that, therefore, we didn’t need to change the constitution. But the Left in this country has decided to use the judiciary to do an end-run around when they generally can’t get past the people or their representatives, and then they complain when they’re met on that battlefield.

The California situation is a bit more convoluted. The article gives us that history.

Thursday’s ruling came after a long-running legal battle that erupted in 2000 when California voters approved a law declaring that only marriages between men and women could be legally recognized.

In February 2004, the city of San Francisco defied state law by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, arguing that existing laws were illegal because they violated equal rights legislation.

A court later halted the issuance of licenses and declared that same-sex marriages that took place during this period were void.

However, San Francisco and civil rights activists waged a legal case arguing that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples was unconstitutional and that the law should be struck down.

In 2005 the San Francisco Superior Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that there was no justification for refusing to allow marriages.

But the decision was overturned in 2006 by the California Court of Appeal, which ruled in a 2-1 decision that the state’s desire to “carry out the expressed wishes of a majority” was sufficient to preserve the existing law.

California lawmakers have also voted in favor of gay marriage but the bill was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has said that the matter is for the state’s court system to decide on.

So in summary; the people said they didn’t want same-sex marriage, their alleged “representatives” decided they did want it, the governor stopped it, tossed it to the judiciary, and the judiciary ruled successively for it, against it, and now for it again.

And they’re calling this potentially historic.

Legal analysts say Thursday’s court ruling could have wide-ranging implications for other US states, noting the California Supreme Court’s history of landmark rulings.

Sorry, but this highly politicized process doesn’t sound like any sort of resounding history.  Leon Wolf at Redstate picked out the money quote from the decision, and finds that the court didn’t really rule on constitutional grounds at all!

And, in fact, it ain’t over yet. Over a million signatures have already been collected to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November. If this gets on the ballot, given the voting history, it’s sure to pass. Expect histrionics from opponents.

And remember what this issue did in 2004 for George W. Bush. It brought voters out in droves to vote on this issue, and while there were in the booth, most pulled the lever for Bush. Could this put California in play for McCain?

[tags]California,homosexuality,same-sex marriage,California State Supreme Court,Arnold Schwarzenegger,Georgia,constitutional amendment,George W. Bush,John McCain[/tags]

Singular Sex and the Three in One

Frequent commenter in these here parts, Dan Trabue and others brought up the discussion of homosexuality and Scripture. It is said, where two or three or gathered there will be four or five opinions on theological matters and that seemed to be the case. As this conversation too often brings up lots of heat and little light, I’m going to put most of it below the fold. Read the rest of this entry

Left and Right

Two posts. First, Richard Chappell notes:

Some people judge that homosexuality is immoral, because they find it intuitively repugnant. They must also be aware that a few short decades ago people thought that interracial sex was immoral, on the same basis. This suggests that such intuitions provide a very flimsy basis for discrimination. Indeed, I find it completely baffling that homophobic conservatives fail to realize that they are the modern day equivalent of yesterday’s racist conservatives. Why are they not humbled by history? What makes them think that their disgust-based moral intuitions are any more reliable than their grandparents’ were?

There are two aspects to this, one fairly trivial. Mr Chappell goes from “Some people judge … because” to “homophobic conservatives fail … equivalent of yesterdays racist conservatives”. The “some people” goes from an adjectival description that (rightly) describes a small minority, while on the other hand to my reading “homophobic conservatives” is less likely to read as an even smaller subset (those in the “some people” category of before who are also conservative) to a notion that of a notion tarring essentially all conservatives as homophobic.

In the comment trail, Brandon argues for repugnance as a basis for other issues such as incest, which Mr Chappell finds acceptable.  I offer two alternative tests:

 Consider abmnemnopaedophilia, that is hiring young children (from poor family backgrounds) so that one might apply a drug which prevents the creation of long-term memory and then “use them” for the purposes of sexual enjoyment. That is, paying a family to give up their child for a night’s “entertainment” (with material renumeration) along with the application of a drug which prevents the child from having any memory (the next day) of nights events. This, from a purely utilitarian standpoint, should have no issue. That is, no lasting or measurable harm is done, the paedophile gets his “reward”, and the family gets some much needed financial assistance. It would seem that the primary argument against is repugnance (or perhaps virtue ethics).

Consider also the following sort of slave trafficking. In this sort of traffic young orphan girls from third world cities, who have been captured by street elements and sold locally into brothels might then re-acquired into first world, say European or American brothels. In those brothels, these girls are still sexual chattel … but they get better clothes, better food, work more reasonable hours and have a substantially improved lifespan and as well, the third world nation gets an influx of captial. Again a utilitarian can offer no complaint.

I would argue that both of these situations are “intuitively repugnant.” As well, one might be able to hoist reasoned arguments why they are bad, however there also utilitarian reasons why they are “good.” However one might ask those who would support either of the two test cases, “Why are you not humbled by history?” Why do you think your utility-based moral intuitions are reliable? Perhaps instead of proving a reason to doubt “repugnance” might we find instead utility a flimsy basis for ethical decision-making.
Mr Schraub asks:

A new ad out tries to force McCain into that question pro-lifers never want to answer: if abortion should be a crime, how much time should women who have them serve?


I’ve yet to hear a coherent justification (at least, one that isn’t nakedly paternalistic — e.g., women are irrational creatures controlled by their emotions, so they can’t be punished) for why abortion can be outlawed (as murder), but the murderers should get off scot-free. I suppose if someone doesn’t think abortion is murder, but still can come up with a reason for it to barred, they could dodge out of this, but the few arguments I’ve heard on those lines are also pretty paternalistic (it’s a serious decision, and we can’t know if you’re taking it seriously enough unless you’re willing to prove it somehow to the state).

A counter question that “pro-abortion proponents” never want to answer (or offer coherent justification) for is why they are for regulation (are paternalistic?) on virtually every other phase of life/issue, e.g., gun ownership, seat belts, hay rides, retirement, school regulation, and so on …  but when it comes to killing the fetus brook no regulation or oversight at all. Paternalism per se is not a thing from which the left shirks … except in the case of abortion. The “pro-abortion” proponents also fail to offer “a coherent justification” for the notion that the pater, i.e., father, has any rights at all in this matter, which is unfortunate.
Now, the argument for regulation of abortion that I’ve made is not, I think, paternalistic (that is based on the idea that the state is wise but women are “irrational creatures”) but motivated instead by the idea that virtue is the path to happiness and that providing an environment in which virtue can flourish is one of the primary ends of the state. My argument was not singling out young women by any means, but was based on the notion that every serious ethical personal decision that affects society, i.e., marriage, divorce, abortion, and end-of-life issues might rightly be confronted by methods in the public square so that the society might be assured that the person(s) involved recognize that a serious ethical decision is being made. Men or women considering marriage often declaim they would climb any mountain or brave any raging torrent to be with their beloved. Aboriginal American cultures often had such barriers, fasting, vision-quest, or other feats to overcome which one might argue served this purpose. In modern Babylon, i.e., our culture, civil courts currently serve something of that purpose. Currently our courts have a limited set of tools, like prison, fines, and service. It seems likely if we considered the task of the courts to assign barriers to demonstrate one’s resolve, a larger set of tools might be assigned to their disposal, which could then be also used perhaps at a generically higher level, for those who don’t present their case in court.

That is basically a less mocking restatement of the “serious ethical decision” argument. It is one I’d argue for at a local level, so that if/when barriers would be set, they would be made at a micro-scale to be proportionate and be seen as reasonable to those setting them. However, in policy, it is one I don’t ascribe to on a national level. I’m currently of the opinion that these decision of abortion, euthenasia, divorce, marriage, and so on should all be made locally, at the village/precinct level.  At the local level, one response to deciding to forego the regulations put up in these matters is that, you must face the set consequences … or move (preferably prior to breaking the law and facing said consequences).

New "Human Rights"

Should a painter be allowed to decide what he or she paints?  Should a musician be allowed to decide what music to play or write?  Should a photographer be allowed to decide what pictures to take? 

In New Mexico, the answer to that last question is a resounding, "No."

The New Mexico Human Rights Commission ruled on Wednesday that an evangelical Christian photographer discriminated against a lesbian couple by refusing a job to photograph the couple’s same-sex commitment ceremony. Religious rights attorneys plan to appeal.

The commission ordered Elaine and Jon Huenins, owners of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, N.M., to pay the lesbian couple $6,600 in attorney fees.

"It is just a stunning disregard for the First Amendment," said Jordan Lorence, a senior legal counsel for the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the photographer couple in court.

Canada’s Human Right Commission has been, at the same time, busy accusing Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn and others of thought crimes (covered by the Shire Network News podcast here and here with many more details at FreeMarkSteyn.com), with the idea of "free speech" being considered foreign.

In fact, for an organization that is supposed to promote "human rights," the HRC’s agents seem curiously oblivious to basic aspects of constitutional law. In one famous exchange during the [Marc] Lemire case, [Dean] Steacy [HRC investigator] was asked "What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate?" — to which he replied "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value." (I guess Section 2 has been excised from his copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights.)

If a photographer doesn’t want to take pictures at a same-sex commitment ceremony, but will get fined if she doesn’t, how soon before the First Amendment become a value-less concept within our own borders?

And this is not just a general free speech issue.  From the original article:

"[Vanessa] (Willock) had requested via e-mail for Elane Photography to conduct photography for her commitment ceremony, and the owner of Elane Photography responded that she would not perform that photography session because it was a same-sex commitment ceremony," [Carrie] Moritomo [public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions] told Cybercast News Service .

No punitive monetary damages were awarded because Willock did not seek damages, Moritomo added.

Lorence said the Huenins, who are fervent evangelicals, politely declined the request because they did not want to use their art to disparage traditional heterosexual marriage. That should have been the end of the matter, he said.

"The Constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling people to promote a message they disagree with and thereby violate their conscience," Lorence said. "Christians should not be penalized for abiding by their beliefs.""

Eugene Volokh, UCLA Law School professor, constitutional scholar and contributor to the Volokh Conspiracy blog (where he’s blogged about this issue separately from the new story) is quoted, noting parallels to hypothetically requiring a freelance writer being forced to write for a pro-Scientology web site words that he does not believe in.  He also points out a bit of inconsistency.

"The law says that only when there is a ‘compelling government interest’ and applying the law is essential, only then can the government compel someone to violate their religious beliefs," Volokh said.

The fact that New Mexico does not recognize same-sex marriage makes it hard to argue that government has a compelling interest in protecting same-sex commitment, he added.

Human Rights Commissions are becoming less and less aptly named, and are instead becoming mere tools in the hands of liberal interest groups to silence dissent.  Where the legislative avenue doesn’t work, these commissions and activist judges are the Left’s next front to get their way in social law when the people are clearly against them.

[tags]New Mexico Human Rights Commission,free speech,Christianity,religion,homosexuality,same-sex marriage,Elaine Huenins,Jon Huenins,"Vanessa Willock,Alliance Defense Fund,Ezra Levant,Mark Steyn,Eugene Volokh[/tags]

Jason Kuznicki has responded to my reply to a post of his on marriage. Timothy Sandefur has noted that exchange, and it seems can’t have misunderstood or misconstrued what I’ve said any more than he did. I’ll start by remarking on Mr Sandefur’s disappointing remarks and then attempt to reply to Mr Kuznicki.

To recap, in Mr Kuznicki’s original piece, he had noted that the marriage, as a state recognized institution, is more about protecting the married couple against the state than the reverse. In my original piece I tried to establish that, while this is true that is compounded by the following difficulties:

  1. Marriage is an institution which has been almost universally regarded to have sacred elements. In a “separation” of church and state there are bound to be difficulties.
  2. The state has some reasons to need or defend marriage and that those reasons are not shared equally with same sex and traditional marriages.

Now, while I think the state has reasons to strengthen marriage and hold to any number of various laws regulating conduct, I don’t think the organ of government that does that should be the federal or state government. I think that our current state is in peril, in fact will not continue many more generations, because of the increased concentration of power at the highest (state and federal levels). At the very least this has enfeebled our own individual democratic “muscles”, or instincts and practices of a democratic nature are have been and are being replaced with notions which will in the near future (on a historical time-scale) destroy our polis. What is needed is both a strengthening of the state’s ability to regulate our society but that strengthening needs to be local. Decision that highly fractious and divisive which are today made and discussed at the federal level should be regulated instead at the local, village/precinct level. Each village, township, or precinct should be making for itself the decisions that vex us today, such as marriage, abortion, immigration, and so on.

My response and further thoughts on the two essays linked above can be found … below the fold. Read the rest of this entry

I understand that schools should and do determine what’s appropriate to be said during school hours, but with all the other speech and such that they do allow, this prohibition looks rather targeted.

A federal judge has rejected a claim that the Poway Unified School District violated a teenager’s First Amendment rights by pulling him out of class for wearing a T-shirt with an anti-gay slogan.

Tuesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge John Houston reaffirmed an earlier decision in which he found the school district’s policy on hate speech lawful.

Tyler Harper sued the school in 2004 after the district said he could not wear a shirt printed with a Bible verse condemning homosexuality. His younger sister, Kelsie, was named as a plaintiff after he graduated.

Via Stop the ACLU.

Nose Removed, Face Spited

And those who need blood transfusions pay the price.

San Jose State University’s decision this week to ban blood drives on the 30,000-student campus over discrimination concerns is drawing a gush of criticism from local blood banks.

Stanford Blood Center officials said they actually agree with San Jose State President Don Kassing that the federal Food and Drug Administration is wrong to prohibit blood donations from gay men.

But in a statement Friday, the center called his decision to suspend campus blood drives for that reason "a terribly misguided tactic that could have a devastating impact on the blood supply, and therefore, patients in our community."

Kassing’s stand — based on the university’s non-discrimination policy — has focused attention on a longstanding FDA rule that many say is overly restrictive. Critics, however, worry it sets a bad example that could exacerbate blood shortages if others follow his lead.

It’s one thing to stand up for your principles, and it’s certainly San Jose State’s prerogative to do this, even though I disagree with the principle.  But to shut down blood drives on campus is just entirely misguided and ignores the very real cost of this particular type of stand.

Gay rights groups on several college campuses, including Stanford’s, have held protests on the issue in recent years. At San Jose State, it was an employee’s complaint last year that prompted Kassing’s office to investigate whether the rule made blood drives discriminatory.

They decided it did, since gay men were being treated differently than other groups of people with similar risk factors.

There is no inherent "right" to give blood, but fair enough; let’s assume some sort of evil "discrimination".  Who’s paying the price?  Certainly not the blood banks.  While we’re never really awash in too much donated blood, they’ll still do their jobs as best they can.  Not the FDA.  How does this really affect them?

No, the folks who are really getting punished for this restriction (and pardon me if the regulations regarding the nation’s blood supply err on the side of caution) are those who actually need the blood.  The patients in hospitals who need it to live and who, I’m pretty sure, are quite happy not to have to worry about AIDS-tainted blood. 

These are "bleeding-heart liberals" who care more about hurt feelings over donating restrictions (and really, that’s the only harm I see here) than they do people whose lives may depend on them.  How revealing.

[tags]San Jose State University,Don Kassing,FDA,homosexuality,blood donations,AIDS[/tags]

An Educated Citizenry…

…is apparently the gay-rights crowd’s worst enemy. Via the Jawa Report we read that what is being called, vaguely, the "Citizens Bill of Rights" has provisions that are not mentioned on the ballot.

Miami voters are being asked Jan. 29 to approve a ‘Citizens’ Bill of Rights” that would, among other things, promote religious freedom, clean air and scenic beauty. It would also ban discrimination on the basis of domestic relationship status, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression — though relatively few people are aware of it. The proposed city charter change hasn’t drawn much attention. The actual ballot wording never mentions gay or transgender rights. On Monday, even some leading gay and Christian activists didn’t know anything about it.

Apparently, the gay-rights groups don’t have the guts to fight for what they want. They prefer to sneak it in under the radar.

Heddy Peña, executive director of SAVE, Miami-Dade County’s largest gay-rights group, said her organization has been sending out e-mails urging supporters to vote yes. ”We’ve been trying not to call special attention so that it becomes highly politicized,” Peña said. “You politicize it and you have a fight on your hands.”

Politicize? Sorry, more like "publicize". I think the real fear hear is the latter, not the former. Giving the issue a fair hearing and fair representation is not politicization; it’s underhanded. Knowing they can’t sell their issue on its merits, they do what they always accuse the Religious Right of doing; force it down our throats.

Floridians, you have six days to get educated.

[tags]Florida,gay rights,homosexuality,transgender,Miami,Heddy Peña[/tags]

Scouts Are Victims of the Culture War

They couldn’t win in the courts, so the Left is attacking the Boy Scouts any other way they can. Sometimes the Scouts win, but sometimes, as in this case, the Left gets cities and organizations to back out of agreements.

Prompted by opposition to the Boy Scouts’ rule disqualifying homosexuals as troop leaders, Philadelphia has forced the city’s local chapter to pay fair-market rent of $200,000 a year for its city-owned headquarters.

As WND reported in June, Philadelphia’s city council voted to renege on a 1928 ordinance allowing the Cradle of Liberty Council to have its headquarters in a building on a parcel of public land “in perpetuity” for $1 a year.

The city argues it can’t rent public property for a nominal sum to any group that discriminates.

City officials in San Francisco and Boston have made similar decisions displacing the Scouts because of the group’s behavior code.

Fairmount Park Commission president Robert N.C. Nix announced this week the Cradle of Liberty Council must pay the $200,000 rent if it wants to remain in the building after May 31.

This is not to say that cities and organizations can’t decide to do whatever they want with their property; they certainly can. But what it does show are the lengths to which the Left will go to destroy something they have a disagreement with. Not content to battle ideas (because they’d lose that battle with the public), they put pressure on the economic side of things, in hopes that they can ruin them financially.

The whole “live and let live” pathos that homosexuals allegedly just want to live by is shown to be the lie that it is; the “let live” part is apparently only supposed to apply to others, not themselves.

This also highlights the differences in conservative and liberal ways of dealing with problems. Instead of letting ideas compete, liberals wish to use the government’s heavy hand to quash anything that they disagree with. The Scouts are simply one of the more higher profile groups they have their sights on.

There is no right to belong to a private organization. There are other organizations that will take homosexual leaders. No one is being denied anything. Free association is still legal, at least for the moment. Therefore, this campaign should be opposed by anyone who still believes in a free country.

[tags]Boy Scouts of America,Philadephia,Cradle of Liberty Council,homosexuals,free association[/tags]

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