Category: Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by: an okie gardener
The Pew Forum has the results of polling on support for same-sex marriage in the U.S. and in Europe. Here in the U.S. the numbers have remained about the same over the last few years, 55% oppose, 37% favor. Support for Civil Unions has increased to 54%.

In Europe strongest opposition is found in Eastern Europe.
Category: Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by: an okie gardener
I attended the national meeting of my denomination as a delegate last month. I hope to have a post covering that soon. But, for now, a bit on Canada and same-sex unions.

Our Canadian delegates usually were in the lead in opposition to any support for same-sex unions. I asked one of them about this. He told me that the churches in Canada felt under pressure from their society and government to conform to a mandate accepting same-sex unions.

He referred me to this article and this article.

The Canadian courts have mandated acceptance of same-sex unions. And, while religious institutions are exempt, the pressure continues. For example,

A Christian camp in Manitoba is facing a possible human rights complaint because it refused to rent to a gay and lesbian group. A British Columbia Board of Inquiry's recent ruling that the Knights of Columbus may refuse to rent their hall for a same-sex wedding reception because it violates their "core beliefs" as a religious organization is relevant to all churches that rent their facilities. While the tribunal ruled in the Knights of Columbus's favour, they were still fined "for injury to the lesbian couple's dignity, feelings and self-respect."

Here in the U.S.
the Methodist Camp at Ocean Grove, New Jersey, faces a simliar situation. Perhaps churches and church camps in the U.S. may need to restrict public access to their facilities in order to avoid lawsuits from gays and lesbians.
Category: Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Off the wire via Breitbart:

Mass. Keeps Gay Marriage Ban From Voters


"BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts lawmakers on Thursday blocked a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage from reaching voters, a stunning victory for gay marriage advocates and a devastating blow to efforts to reverse a historic 2003 court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage."

View the full Associated Press story here.
Category: Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
In response to my post, "The Essence of the Same-Sex Marriage Debate: Valid Exception?" (review my post here), Tocqueville invited me to read and respond to Anthony Esolen's "Ten Arguments for Sanity" as posted on Mere Comments last summer. I promised that I would, and I will. In the mean time, while I am thinking and reading, here is a more accessible version of Esolen's self-described "non religious arguments based on commonsense, history and logic":

Anthony Esolen: Ten Arguments for Sanity

1. The legalization of homosexual “marriages” would enshrine the sexual revolution in law.

2. It would, in particular, enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment, with which the society has nothing to do.

Extended explanations of 1-2 here.

3. It will drive a deeper wedge between man and woman.

4. It makes a mockery of chastity.

Extended explanations of 3-4 here.

5. It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men.

6. It leaves us with no logical grounds for opposing any form of consensual intercourse among adults.

Extended explanations of 5-6 here.

7. It seals us in a culture of divorce.

8. It normalizes an abnormal behavior.

Extended explanations of 7-8 here.

9. In one crucial respect the social acceptance of homosexuality makes matters worse, not better, for the homosexual himself.

10. It spells disaster for children.

Extended explanations of 9-10 here.

On Saturday (March 31), C-SPAN2 (Book TV) presented a Gay Marriage Debate with David Blankenhorn, author of The Future of Marriage and Evan Wolfson, author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry. Pace Law School, in White Plains, NY, hosted the event.

Note: Currently C-SPAN does not have the program archive linked on its website; if that changes, I will add the link.

After watching a large portion of the exchange, here are a few observations about the larger ongoing debate concerning same-sex marriage:

Although Evan Wolfson would not agree with this, let us stipulate that procreation is at the center of marriage. Over time, the institution of marriage has consistently centered on creating strong families and facilitating the survival of the species. Specifically, marriage has proven an undeniable asset in producing, protecting, nurturing, and training the next generation of humanity. For this reason, communities have consistently promoted and protected marriage.

Two important caveats:

1. In addition to procreation, there are many other positive properties inherent in marriage. Procreation may be the most important positive element within the institution, but procreation is not the only attribute of marriage that makes a positive impact on society.

2. Because marriage benefits our community in myriad ways, we have extended the right to marry to non-procreators. We encourage men and women to marry and enjoy the advantages of marriage regardless of their capacity for reproduction. We allow infertile couples and couples past child-bearing years full rights of marriage, although we know they will not produce children.

Therefore, once we acknowledge that we regularly allow marriage outside of procreation, the key question becomes: should same-sex marriage be one of those non-procreation exceptions?

That is, the procreation test alone cannot determine the status of same-sex marriage; rather, the question of gay marriage is actually a question of equality, fairness, consistency, and the interest of the community.

On the other hand, proponents of same-sex marriage argue that prohibitions against same-sex marriage are discriminatory. In the C-SPAN debate, Mr. Wolfson advanced (again and again) a parallel between past American laws and traditions that discriminated against interracial marriage and the current proscriptions against same-sex unions.

Mr. Wolfson is right; barring same-sex couples from wedding is discrimination.

However, that is rhetorical legerdemain. Proponents are playing on our cultural tendency to "hear" all forms of discrimination as contemptible (making the facile analogy to our humiliating racial history further clouds and prejudices the discussion).

In truth, we discriminate all the time. Suspected terrorists are not allowed to board commercial jetliners. Extraordinarily tall people are not allowed to be Navy pilots. Students with certain SAT scores are not allowed admission to Harvard.

Certainly, in marriage, we discriminate as to who gets to marry. In many states, members of the same family cannot marry. States may establish an age of consent. We do not allow polygamy.

Are there compelling social reasons to discriminate against same-sex couples in granting marriage? If traditionalists are to prevail, they must bring more than procreation and/or biblical exegeses.

We have had a rich debate on this blog here (scroll down). Also, a recent reflection on marriage here.

The conversation is not merely worth having; the reality is that the debate over marriage looms large in our future as a national trial that we must confront.
Category: Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From Mirror of Justice: A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory:

"January 03, 2007

"A "Shameful Reversal of Rights"?

"Today's Boston Globe carries as its lead editorial a commentary on the Massachusett's legislature's permitting the continuation of the legal process to define constitutionally marriage as the union of one man and one woman. HERE The title of this editorial is: "A Shameful Reversal of Rights." But, is the action a true reversal of any "right"; moreover, is the action of the legislature "shameful"? The answer to each of these questions is no."

Read the entire post here.

Thanks to Tocqueville, who, at my request, recommended this recent post as an insightful analysis.
Last week, the Okie Gardener posted a detailed and thoughtful essay exploring the issue of the Church, biblical authority and same-sex marriage, "Same-Sex Practice and American Christianity." Based on his "engagement with Scripture," the Gardener argued that the Church should welcome and minister to same-sex-oriented individuals as part of the fraternity of fallen humanity--but not condone same-sex sex (and certainly not extend the sacrament of marriage to same-sex partners).

In the comments section, I agreed but added that his "excellent essay in no way change[d] my view that our scripturally based morality in re same-sex relationships should not dictate public policy.

"For example: of the Ten Commandments, only three are regularly codified as public policy. Same goes for the instructions of Christ: the word of God doesn't always translate into human law.

"I maintain, and I think you [Okie Gardener] agree, questions of public policy require an almost completely different set of assumptions and perspectives."

To which, "Tocqueville" replied:

"Farmer, your post sounds like classic Orwellian "double-think" to me.

"I firmly believe that X is true. Therefore, I am (naturally) in support of a law that rejects x, that is, a falsehood. And in supporting that law, I support radically upsetting the cake of tradition and human history. Which is to say that I don't really believe that society is "an eternal contract among the living, the dead, and the unborn." Screw the dead--they weren't nearly as sophisticated as we are. Why should we continue their benighted view of marriage? Oh, and screw the unborn for that matter, who will have to grow up (and suffer) in this permissive culture that promotes, endorses a false reality of human flourishing (which, by the way, I firmly believe is false).

"Either homosexuality is antithetical to human flourishing or it is not. If it is, as you say, then stamping it with the ancient and holy imprimatur of marriage only contributes to the further unraveling of the social and moral fabric.

"Even the most ardent champion of pluralism need not countenance or endorse an acknowledged falsehood that is admittedly "not God's plan" for human happiness. I for one cannot imagine standing behind a holy and righteous God on the day of judgment to account my willful and deliberate complicity and moral confusion manifest by the promotion and endorsement of giving legal sanction to an abomination. If the falsehood prevails, so be it. But it should do so without our assistance and endorsement.

"This is not even a question of where the radical change has already taken place and we simply throw our hands up because what's done is done. This is a case where you are preemptively and proactively attempting to turn the status quo upside down on its head by abandoning tradition and the wisdom of the ancients."

End Quote.

"Tocqueville" crafts a cogent and articulate critique of my position and an eloquent restatement of his argument--and worthy of a more prominent place. Also, I think it highlights our basic disagreement.

» Read More

Perhaps overlooked due to the Mideast reports is this article reporting that two women have now divorced who were plaintiffs in the Massachusetts case resulting in the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ma.

I don't want to read too much into this one instance, but, I do want to raise a few questions. I do not claim to know much about the lesbian lifestyle or culture, but I do know a little about the gay lifestyle and culture. Among gays it seems that long-term committed relationships are not that common, and, usually do not last a lifetime. My evidence is anecdotal, but consistent enough to make me wonder if same-sex unions intrinsically may have trouble lasting "till death do us part."

Yes, I know that hetersexual couples divorce also, and at disturbing rates. But, since this is a modern phenomenon, I would argue that there is nothing intrinsic in heterosexual unions that works against lasting "till death do us part."
Category: Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by: an okie gardener
I think it maybe was me who stared the extensive discussion we have had on same-sex marriage. A discussion so extensive that Farmer has had to add a new category for it. In this first post I praised a Study Guide on the issue written by the Theology Commission of the Reformed Church in America and submitted to the General Synod (national meeting) this month for approval to be sent to the churches.

We voted to refer the Study Guide back to the Commission (mostly pastors) for the purpose of incorporating more specifically Reformed theology in their reasoning. The revised document is to come before the Synod of 07. I think it is a great document as is; and will only become better through mining the richness of our own tradition.

The full-text of the Study Guide is still available on the RCA website here though you will need to scroll a few pages to find it.
Last week I criticized Charles Krauthammer in the comments section of my post, Same-Sex Marriage: What I Believe, which is not a comfortable or familiar position for me. I disputed his claim that state courts were on the verge of nationalizing "gay marriage--like quickie Nevada divorces--will have to be recognized "under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution" throughout the rest of the U.S." (in full here).

I missed his subsequent column (June 9), A Ban We Don't (Yet) Need, which clarified his position:

"[I]t turns out that the Massachusetts experiment has not been forced on other states. No courts have required other states to recognize gay marriages performed in Massachusetts. Gay activists have not pushed it, wisely calculating that it would lead to a huge backlash. Moreover, Congress's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) explicitly prevents the state-to-state export of gay marriage."

He went on to say that DOMA would need to be overturned by a federal court for state-sanctioned same-sex marriage to pose a national threat, which he (like me) sees as unlikely considering the composition of the Supreme Court at this point.

Krauthammer also pointed out the irony of removing the question from local sovereignty in order to promote popular sovereignty:

"The amendment actually ends up defeating the principle it sets out to uphold. The solution to judicial overreaching is to change the judiciary, not to undo every act of judicial arrogance with a policy-specific constitutional amendment. Where does it end? Yesterday it was school busing and abortion. Today it is flag burning and gay marriage."

Finally, I mention an obvious but important point (which Krauthammer made early on in the above essay) speaking to the question of same-sex marriage as a "divisive issue":

"As for dividing Americans, who came up with the idea of radically altering the most ancient of all social institutions in the first place? Until the past few years, every civilization known to man has defined marriage as between people of opposite sex. To charge with "divisiveness" those who would do nothing more than resist a radical overturning of that norm is a sign of either gross partisanship or serious dimwittedness."

Well done, Charles Krauthammer