April 20, 2009

Fear, Loathing, and Lying

As New York and New Jersey gear up to be the next battlegrounds in "defense of marriage" I am more and more struck by the emotional edge to so much of the opposition to same-sex marriage. After the Iowa decision, I read comments from opponents filled with bitterness, people literally weeping in anguish.

The time is long past to pretend that homophobia is not the underlying issue here. Defined as "an irrational fear of homosexuality" I can't help but see the label sticks. The shoe fits so well that the sole is almost worn through. And for those who claim using this term is a discussion-stopper, let me know when the discussion has begun.

It's no use trying to have a rational discussion when people are acting irrationally. It is difficult to encourage people not to be afraid when they are acting in fear. And these two components of the homophobia complex are clearly in play in the current go-round.

One need not look far to find fear and irrationality: the rushed-to-market video ad from the National Organization for Marriage is a superb example. Don't tell me no fear is involved in the portrayal of a near-apocalyptic thunderstorm in the background, as well as in the whining complaints of the actors. Who feel the need to "defend" against something of which they have no fear?

Then there's the irrationality, the emotionality, of the responses. Of course, there is also the lying. Check out a video that unmasks the falsehoods and false witness behind NOM's bathetic ad. Why is it that supposedly upstanding citizens and self-proclaimed Christians will violate such a basic ethical and moral principle as "thou shalt not bear false witness" in their misguided defense of the institution of marriage? Why claim to be taking the moral high ground by digging in the basement? Something is afoot when people violate such basic ethical keystones of their own creed.

Which brings me to my last thoughts on this: What are they really afraid of? What marriages are in need of defense?

I think they are showing the fear so basic to human nature in the knowledge of its own weaknesses:

If this were to become acceptable I'm afraid it might become compulsory. Remember Dodgson's little girl: "I'm so glad I don't like asparagus, because if I did like it I should have to eat it, and I can't bear it."

If this were to become acceptable, I might actually be forced to face my own inner conflicts and desires, which I lack the power to control. Saint Paul would have recognized this. He also knew the power of amazing grace, to overcome his fears.

So what marriages really need defending? Perhaps the ones in which the husband or the wife are living in the closet or on the down-low, and they fear that greater toleration of what they conceal may open the doors or raise its visibility. How much of the fear is internalized homophobia? We may never know. On second thought, I think we will, some day. When the books are opened, and what is said in secret is shouted from the rooftops, it will be known. It will all be known.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

I've long been convinced that the debate is not primarily about theology, but that there is a visceral reaction to even discussions of homosexuality. Whether appealing to the Bible, natural law, or a myriad of cultural taboos, when things are stripped away, it tends to be a visceral reaction. Logic is not going to help until folks can take a breath and discuss this rationally, rather than recoiling from even the suggestion of discussion. Looking forward to reading your book!

WSJM said...

This is an excellent essay, Tobias. Thanks very much.

I've been watching our local paper (the Iowa City Press-Citizen) waiting for homophobic rants on the opinion page, to which I would respond with one of my stunningly witty letters to the editor (in essence: "If you are opposed to same-sex marriage, then don't marry someone of the same sex.") but actually the issue has been pretty quiet so far in our admittedly liberal community.

My wife and I have been married for thirty-eight years, and we are not in the least bit threatened by committed same-sex couples. On the contrary, faithful and loving relationships, whether straight or gay, are a supportive example to all the rest of us.

Phil said...

I don't think society is obligated to approve of and glorify the manner in which you, or anybody else, prefers to get it on with another human being - or two, or three of them. In fact, I think society is acting perfectly within bounds in choosing to look askance at one or another such practices. In this, I am firmly within not only the Judeo-Christian tradition, but universal human practice.

For this, I've routinely been called a bigot on the order of Bull Connor, had my intelligence belittled and/or been accused of violence up to and including murder - going on six years now.

But sure, if it makes you feel better, keep telling yourself that the "emotional edge," "bitterness," "fear and irrationality," and "lying" is a feature of your opponents. Just know that if they ever decide to award a Nobel Prize for hypocrisy, your side in all this is the corporate winner, going away.

R said...


Fear makes a terrible foundation upon which to build a house - theological, civil, logical, or otherwise.

Thanks again, Tobias, for calling this so clearly.

IT said...

Also see this oneThe common thing to these protests is not gay marriage. Gay marriage does not even enter into most of the cases quoted. Their protest is about the existence of gay people at all, their presence in the public square, and their protection under anti-discrimination laws.

They hate us. We are the last group o f people that it is socially acceptable to hate: the last group of the "other", the simple existence of which elevates "us". They desperately need something to make them feel special, different, and chosen. They can't do it with women or blacks any more. They can still excoriate "teh gay".


Erika Baker said...


I don't understand the American situation well enough, but here in Britain, it strikes me that the fearful get noisier and more viscious the more it becomes clear that they have lost the argument, that society at large has long accepted homosexuality and that the church is slowly slowly about to follow.

And I dare say that repugnant videos like the one you refer to are ultimately working in our favour, because more and more not-fearful people recognise it for what it is and are no longer swayed by the cloak of "theology".

We will never persuade the fearful, but we are increasingly persuading the middle ground.

You won't need to wait until the books are opened, the truth will be clearly obvious long long before that time.

rick allen said...

"The time is long past to pretend that homophobia is not the underlying issue here."

Toby, I think you make the common mistake to think that, because some political opposition to a particular position is irrational, all must be.

Judging by political advertising, our level of discourse is abysmal indeed. But I don't know if it's all confined one side; the ad with the Mormons bursting into the lesbian couple's house,to take the first example that comes to mind, wasn't exactly a model of calm consideration of the issues, was it?

"What are they really afraid of? What marriages are in need of defense?"

The fear, or concern, if you will, is that this proposed change in the definition of marriage will exacerbate trends that have been present now for a couple of generations, a social shift de-emphasizing marriage as a permanent framework for raising the children of the couple, and re-defining it as a social validation of the love of the couple (as long as it lasts). The concern is not its effect on a particular marriage, but on the larger picture.

For myself I'm not absolutely convinced that the expansion of the definition of marriage will have that effect, but I certainly don't think it's stupid or irrational to ask the question or be concerned about it.

"How much of the fear is internalized homophobia?" How much of the Republican platform is internalized racism? How much of the Democratic platform is internalized class hatred? Not much, I imagine, for any of these groups, at least for the mainstream. But those questions illustrate how easy it is to avoid facing the possibility that our opponents' seeing things differently from ourselves may not be entirely motivated by fear or irrationality or hatred. And our politics suffers greatly when we can't help but so characterize our opponents.

So, I hope you can at least entertain the possibility that, if I think the relationship between opposite sexes, the sole relationship which brings children into the world, is sufficiently distinct that it should continue to be regulated in a distinctive legal and social institution, I am not entirely motivated by "homophobia."

Congratulations, by the way, on the publication of your new book. Of course I think it wrong-headed from beginnging to end, but you are certainly to be commended for making the considerable effort to try to illuminate the issue in a direct and thoughtful manner.

Tim said...

> "What are they really afraid of? What marriages are in need of defense?"It might not so much be marriages (with aspects in the closet) as a sense of identity that they think needs defended.

I've just read a wonderfully radical idea in the book Nudges: why not outright privatize marriage, so that governments/authorities only offer `civil partnerships' but other organizations are free to offer marriage to whatever subset of humanity they want? That way, conservative-minded churches are free to be as bigoted as they want...
I must admit I'd never thought of it in quite such terms; it's one thing to petition the government to change the details of permitted marriage, it's totally another to see the whole one-definition-fits-all concept up for debate as well. Bring it on...

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks for the comments. I do think things are heading in a positive direction.

I will let Phil's comment lay where he flang it. It speaks volumes for itself, revealing in almost every phrase exactly the kind of bigotry and ignorance it seeks to deny.

Rick, you demonstrate the irrational side of the case rather than the fearful. You say I am "wrongheaded" but you have not, in all of the many comments you have posted, been able to come up with any real response that isn't a form of one fallacy or another: from begging the question to verecundiam. (On the latter, you are of course free to bind yourself to any teaching authority you choose; but that is not a logically binding argument for anyone else.) The threads are there for all to read; and I've incorporated some of the argumentation into the book.

Yet, even here you continue to repeat the reference to procreation -- when I have shown over and over again that procreation is not a prerequisite for marriage, as your church officially teaches! (There goes your verecundiam argument, if you are going to be consistent.) Mere repetition of a false premise does not make it true. The legal (and social) regulations concerning marriage are not entirely delimited or conditioned by whether they have children or not. That is a fact. Your continued insistence to the contrary is irrational. So what motivates you to continue to make irrational assertions? Only you can say.

Here you are also advancing a kind of proleptic post hoc ergo propter hoc argument -- a doubly irrational step. You demonstrate a concern (a valid one, I might add, at least as far as the effect goes) in a thesis: Approval of same-sex marriage will increase a trend towards devaluation of marriage. But then you immediately admit you are not convinced an expanded definition of marriage will have that effect. I certainly don't think it is irrational to ask such a question or to have such a concern -- but it is clearly irrational to act in the absence of an answer, especially when you express doubt the answer will be as you suspect! I'm quite sure the premise has no basis, that is, there is no evidence of a causal effect as far as I am aware. I can readily see how the introduction of widely available birth control methods in the 60s and 70s led to a flourishing of casual sex among heterosexuals, and a possible breakdown in marriages. But the idea that gay and lesbian persons committing to permanent, faithful and monogamous estates of life will have a contrary effect on heterosexuals (that is, the fidelity of G/L people will produce increased infidelity in strait people) is, I'm afraid to say, hardly evident. I would rather expect the contrary. I thus would be moved to mark such a concern as irrational until some evidence showing causality, or even an explanation of how such a causality might take place, were shown.

I have no need to look into anyone's soul, and it is not for me to judge. But I will speak concerning what I see: the opposition to same-sex marriage remains largely irrational (or at least illogical), and in some cases is manifestly based on fear and loathing, at a deeply emotional level.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Tim, I think you are correct to some extent. There is, among people, a strong need for externalized social identity; the ability to say who is Us and who is Them. I think this is a strong emotional factor in the desire to "protect" marriage.

As to privitization: I think that is essentially what we have now. A church is free to perform marriages -- with no state recognition -- if it chooses to, and the state can marry (or divorce) people apart from any church's doctrine or teaching. I'd say the Las Vegas wedding chapels are a good example of a fast-food-franchise model for marriage.

Speaking strictly of civil marriage, however -- the problem seems to be the confusion and lack of clear separation between the civil and the sacred spheres. Thus Phil can bring in irrelavant references to a "Judeo-Christian tradition" (largely imaginary) as if that religious tradition (even if it were a consistent or monolithic entity) had any relevance to the civil sector. People just don't want to accept that civil marriage is just that -- civil. It has no necessary religious significance whatsoever. Churches are free to ignore it if they choose -- just as a church chooses not to recognize the second marriage of a divorced person: in the "eyes of the church" they are not married, period. One could even take the biblical view that any divorced person who remarries is living in adultery. That would, of course, mean taking Jesus at his word, and few churches I know of are willing to take such a strong biblical stand on something that might actually concern a good portion of their membership. (Not that I'm saying they should, mind; but if there is any whiff of hypocrisy in this situation, as Phil claims, I think the odor is coming from that direction...)

KJ said...

Good discussion, Tobias.

Fear -- What a horrible mistress.

Speaking from my own experience, I believe that as we continue to create and expand faith communities that "welcome home" (Something I was told upon the occasion of my recent confirmation.) the lgbt rejected by other faith traditions, more individuals will be open about their sexuality, crumbling the rampant misconceptions about such ideas. Coming out at mid-life, having a long-standing relationship with a faith community in which I was in leadership, provided me with an opportunity to observe firsthand as those around me had their first opportunity to consider that perhaps they should not believe everything they thought about matters of human sexuality (This was what I called my "eye of the hurricane" experience. Everyone's phone ringing, except mine.).

The fervent fear being fomented, IMHO, is our detractors' attempt to "protect" their children, who they fear will choose the wily ways of the lgbt should such a "choice" seem acceptable, unaware that such thinking is "magical" and irrelevant. So afraid of this, are they, that they would prefer their children live a lie, pretending what is true, is not, as opposed to trusting the very Spirit of God within their child.

And, it is because of that Spirit of God, I have hope. If one chooses God, one has chosen life and peace, and becomes of earthly and heavenly incarnational good -- an antidote for fear.

Mike in Texas said...

Well said, Tobias.

The timing of this is a bit scary. Perhaps you have some extra connections to the universe!

New evidence in the Angie Zapata murder trial, which I think was presented just this morning, makes a fine real life example of what you're talking about.

Briefly, the defense has mounted a classic "panic" defense, this time a trans panic defense. But evidence unearthed this morning tends to blow the defense away.

The author of this report is a transexual attending the trial and covering it for Pam's House Blend.


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks KJ for the very helpful thoughts. One of the problems is that fear of spreading infection -- if what I think is wrong is deemed right by anyone, more people may do it. The begged question, of course, is that same-sex marriage is wrong.

I can well understand people wanting to "protect" their children. But the "problem" is not external --- people aren't recruited to be gay or lesbian. They simply are, and will then either act on that or not. The challenge is to find a way to act on this in moral way -- and this is what same-sex marriage is seeking to provide. Such an effort in no way diminishes or threatens an unassailable or idealistic "Marriage." On the contrary, fidelity and love are virtues that enhance and ornament the relationship.

Thanks again, and Easter joy...

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Mike for the reminder. The "panic" defense depends on the reality of homophobia for its existence. Fear kills, as does hatred. And lying -- well, that's part of the whole toxic system, revealing its true heart.

Mike in Texas said...

On the lighter side, an extremely well done parody of the NOM fearmongering advertisement.

Erika Baker said...

It can work in a different way too. When my parish learned that the previously married Sunday school teacher with 2 children was going to live with her new female partner, many suddenly encountered the reality of "those homosexuals". They had known me for years and most could not suddenly turn me into someone they didn't know and therefore fear, so they accepted me and my partner.

Of course, not all reacted like this, but instead of no phones ringing we had weeks of barely a spare evening because so many wanted to at least come round for a glass of wine once to show that we would not be ostracised.

Often, being faced with the human reality of a previously abstract situation changes hearts and minds quite comprehensively!

IT said...

Rick said,
the Mormons bursting into the lesbian couple's house,to take the first example that comes to mind, wasn't exactly a model of calm consideration of the issues, was it?Not at all, becuase there was nothing calm and considered in PropH8.

I was married in October in California and the Mormon church has attempted to do just that thing: intrude into my life, rip up my marriage license, and rip the ring off my finger. That ad perfectly expressed what this is about, the insinuation of their church into my life and relationship, which has no effect on them whatsoever. (Case in point: I am still married, and the sun still rises in CA, no one else's marriage has come to a screeching end, and the children have not all been turned into flaming homosexuals!)

Oh, but it gets better. I then had to listen to Ken Starr argue to the SCoCal that my marriage no longer existed and that the mob vote against my perfectly legal marriage could have equally been applied to free speech, or race. Or, indeed, religion.

So, Rick, that ad which offended you expresses the important fact that we are real people under attack here, with real feelings. This isn't just a clinical detached argument about THINGS, although your side treats us that way, as though we are about nothing but sex. Which in itself is profoundly insulting.

Meanwhile I'm sitting here at my desk waiting to find out if I'm still married despite the hatred and the bigotry and the lies. Imagine sitting at your home waiting to see if the court would protect YOUR rights -- if the voters had voted that people of your faith could not marry legally, for example. If I just voted my bigotry into law and eliminated marriage for all of your faith group--how would you feel, to hear a court case that annulled your marriage against your will? Wouldn't you feel attacked? Can you begin to imagine the magnitude of this?

That my marriage might be wrested away from me in this way, is an act of profound violation. And I don't apologize in the least that the ad (which can be viewed here) offends you. It should, because it is apparently the only way to convey to you people the magnitude of the offense you have committed against me and my wife.

My legal spouse. Because for now at least, we are STILL MARRIED.

Daniel Weir said...

In addition to the irrational fear expressed in opposition to gay marriage, there is also the very rational defense of heterosexual privilege - rational, but wrong. If we extend the privilege of marriage, what other privileges will white, heterosexual males like me have to share?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks IT for citing the ad which Rick found to be less than fair and balanced. Perhaps he was unfamiliar with the fact that the Prop 8 supporters not only wanted to discontinue provision for same-sex marriage, but to nullify all such existing marriages.

Yes, the ad presents this dramatically, but it is true (to the extent that the Mormons want to nullify same-sex marriages) - that is, it is based on a fear of something some actually wanted to do, nullifying existing marriages -- while the claims in tne NOM ad are false, pure and simple. Being able to tell the difference between truth and falsehood is important, and the inability to do so is part of the irrationality in the so-called "debate." That irrationality is only made worse when it is mixed with fear: As I say, if there's no fear, why does the NOM ad portray someone saying, "I'm afraid!"?

And when added to this already toxic mix you add hatred (which is not, to be fair, always part of the mix), you have a very deadly combination.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, FrDW.

Seriously, I would welcome a logical or rational explanation for exactly why same-sex marriage constitutes a "threat" to mixed-sex marriage. So far in the broader world I've seen only question-begging ("same-sex marriage is wrong because only persons of the opposite sex can marry") or claims that churches are going to be forced to perform such marriages. I don't know what the rules are for Roman Catholic clergy, but Episcopal Church canons tell me I don't have to officiate at any marriage if I choose not to.

Brother David said...

I like the Stephen Colbert parody which ends with

Paid for by generous donations from an anonymous group that may or may not be
The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints

IT said...

Neither do the RC, for example they don't marry divorced people.

Other lies about this are taken down in my latest post at Friends of Jake.


June Butler said...

Weeping! I feel for them in their anguish, but really!

In the NOM video, when the woman said, "My freedom will be taken away," I laughed. What does she think? That she will be forced into a gay marriage.

I agree with Erika. Desperate people go to desperate lengths when they know they are losing.

wnpaul said...

Tobias Stanislas Haller said,

I don't know what the rules are for Roman Catholic clergy, but Episcopal Church canons tell me I don't have to officiate at any marriage if I choose not to.I don't think it's church canons that people are concerned about but the laws of the state.

When you have photographers penalized because they do not want to photograph a same-sex wedding, facility owners penalized because they do not want to rent their facility for a same-sex wedding, etc., it is intruding into their lives.

You may feel that this intrusion is justified, under the heading of outlawing discrimination, but please don't claim that it doesn't exist.

Personally, I am convinced that only a man and a woman can enter a valid marriage under the system of belief by which I live, and for that matter, that divorce and re-marriage are also irregular under that system of belief; but I don't assume that a secular state has to make laws in accordance with my faith.

However, the state then proceeds to make laws which I can only comply with by violating the standards of my faith, and that is where it gets problematic.

Don't know about other Christians, but I can live with the state denying tax exemption to a church which will not rent for a same-sex ceremony; there is nothing in my faith that says I am entitled to a tax exemption. But I have real problems with a law that says that a photographer cannot refuse any customer s/he wishes, for whatever reason, or anything along the same lines.

These are the situations that prompt videos like the one under discussion here.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks for the additional comments.

Wnpaul, thanks for addressing the substance of the concern. I agree that the public accommodation issue is a real concern; that is, it is not an irrational fear.

However, it has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. Rather it has to do with anti-discrimination laws. These laws generally require that a person who is offering a public service is not free to discriminate against customers on the basis of a number of protected categories. I don't know the details of the photographer's case, except that he ran foul of anti-discrimination laws. I think it is important to note that the case was heard in New Mexico, which has no provision for same-sex marriage, nor as far as I know even domestic partnership. So that was not the issue.

I realize the photographer has tried to cast this as a "religious issue" -- but religious beliefs -- in a civil society -- do not grant automatic exemption from the laws governing provision of public services. Part of living in a civil and pluralistic society means putting up with the beliefs of those with whom one disagrees. And if one is offering a public service, his or her private religious beliefs do stand the risk of being offended.

I understand how difficult this time of transition will be for many people, and that there is a rational basis for concern. But the issue is not same-sex marriage -- I believe most of the states in which the cited cases occur do not have same-sex marriage -- but the anti-discrimination law concerning public -- not religious -- services. No state will force a religious body to perform marriages on the basis of present or future law concerning same-sex marriage: that is the irrational fear. Renting a hall or pavilion, catering a reception, taking wedding pictures, providing medical service -- these are not religious, but rather public, services, and in many places discrimination is illegal.

Thank you for raising this important issue.

IT said...

Let's deal with those issues which are part of the lies that come up.

First, the photographer. One has some sympathy for the photographer, and besides, who would want a photographer who thinks you are spawn of Satan to photograph your ceremony? Not marriage,however , as there is no gay marriage in New Mexico. Still, the same law that the photographer fell foul of ensures that a photographer cannot say "I won't photograph Christian Conservatives ." or "I won't photograph blacks" It's anti-discrimination law. Your religion or race is protected as much as my sexual orientation.

Second, the case of the property in NJ. Again, NOT marriage (which was not possible in that state at that time) but a commitment ceremony. The church in question received public dollars for the maintenance and upkeep of their pavilion--on the order of hundreds of thousands in taxpayer money. In return they were supposed to provide the public access. If they take the gay public's dollars, then the gay public gets access. The solution is easy: do not accept public money. If you do not, then the public has no claim on your property. Very simple. That's why separation of church and state is so important for BOTH entitites.

A really important note on both of these cases is NEITHER INVOLVES GAY MARRIAGE. In fact they only involve anti-discrimination law. That they are cited so frequently by the anti-SSM crowd actually proves that the concern is not gay marriage, but the simple existence of gay people as a protected minority.

This goes back to my first post on this thread. It is not about gay marriage. It's about GAYS.

Brother David said...

Two things:
First, the Methodist case involves a loss of tax exempt status for refusing to allow a civil union ceremony on the property. The group owns a beachfront property and built a pavilion. This is a beachfront shelter, not a church. The group stated in the past that the beach and pavilion are open to the public in order to receive public funds for its maintenance and repair. They also applied to the State of New Jersey for monies under the state's Green Acres Program, which encourages the use of private property for public recreation and provides a $500,000 annual property tax exemption. In their application for these funds, the group claimed that the disputed areas were open to the public. The local federal congressman says that they have taken local, state, and federal funds by representing that the property is open to the public. The group also received a 1908 ruling to be exempt from property tax because the area had been dedicated years ago by the group as a public highway.

This religious organization made claims of public access and availability for almost 100 years to receive tax exempt status and to receive government funds for upkeep and repair of their property. At one point in the past even declaring the property a public highway to receive the tax exemption. Now they wish to turn their backs on all of these statements, claims and rulings to cry about discrimination against their religious freedom. I think that they surrendered that freedom long ago, by selling their soul for a mess or porridge!

Second, this was not a new patient, the fertility clinic in California had treated this woman for a number of months with regard to infertility. For months this physician treated her as a patient and gladly took her money for the preparatory treatments for in vitro fertilization and implantation. Then, when she was ready, spiritually, mentally and bodily for this final step, the physician plays the religion card and tries to send her away.

OK so I lied, three things. You can get out of doing just about anything that you do not wish to do for someone. You can be unavailable for the dates they are available. You can be disagreeable and make them not like you. But perhaps you should not come right out and tell someone why you are discriminating against them. Because then you are begging to be sued! And then you deserve everything you have coming to you, just because you are stupid.

Anonymous said...

"That they are cited so frequently by the anti-SSM crowd actually proves that the concern is not gay marriage, but the simple existence of gay people as a protected minority."

Maybe for the first time, I find myself agreeing with IT, albeit for a different reason. The decision, mostly by judicial fiat, to treat LGBT folks as a protected class akin to race and religion is clearly the problem here. The convoluted judicial assertions creating "Same-sex marriage" are just odious examples of it. Religious freedom exists in this country because of the First Amendment. Same-sex marriage exists in this country (outside of Vermont) because of corrupt judges imposing their personal beliefs on the populace. Thus the outrage.


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

FrMichael, do you have such contempt for the courts when they agree with you? Have you any evidence for the courts being "corrupt" in the normal sense of the word? Have they been bribed? That is a weighty accusation, and I hope you have evidence to support it.

I'm not even sure it is a matter of personal beliefs being imposed. I have, over the years, known judges (and chairs of assemblies) to rule in opposition to their own beliefs when the law stood against their private opinions. I would hope any judge would do so -- in fact, to give in to ones private beliefs in such a circumstance, where the law is clearly to the other side, would in fact be corruption.

But it appears at base that it is the law you disagree with -- the law which establishes a protected category for LGBT persons. As far as I can see, the judges are finding in accordance with the law, so your charge of corruption does not stand.

Mike in Texas said...


"corrupt judges?"

I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't think much of huffery puffery without substance. Please do share the facts with us.

Surely you're not just simply namecalling because you don't agree with those learned legal minds?

Or are you?

MarkBrunson said...

If marriage is only about procreation, and everyone is entitled to a decision about the validity of marriage as it is vital to the survival of the society, then shouldn't we have a right to decide who breeds, thus who may marry whom? We'll have to support or be supported by their children, so this is of vital interest to us, and to the survival/character of our society in the future!

Talk about slippery slopes.

Anonymous said...


Though I seldom agree with your arguments here on your blog (or in your postings to the HOB/D list), they are fully thought out and well worth reading.

To my own thorough disappointment of my conservative compatriots, I believe you are correct in observing that much of the brouhaha in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality is cultural and political rather than theological. Many find the very thought of same-sex "activities" repulsive to them personally...and would continue to do so even if there were no biblical underpinnings to their convictions.

To be fair, many on your side base their convictions on their emotions...democratic notions of equality and fair play...rather than on solid biblical exegesis. And some would even be guilty of the conservative charge against them: they are trying to justify their own sin (and thus are unbiblically tolerant of the sin of others).

The fact that many conservatives are fearful and hypocritical does not, however, establish the validity of your claims. There has been a major split in the Anglican Communion over the authority of Scripture for at least 150 years...it's more than about time that it came to a head.

(Concerning Fr. Michael's comments about the "corruption" of the courts...come on, Tobias, does he have to spell it out! Conservative concerns about the activism of liberal courts is something all of us learned in our ninth-grade civics classes.)


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Mark.
Another thing commonly ignored in this "marriage for procreation" argument is that in some states of our union (and I assume other places in the world, though I've not researched it) infertility is required for certain marriages: marriage by first cousins. I address this in some detail in the book.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

On the contrary, it is because I take the authority of Scripture so highly that I am dismayed at the "conservative" need to make it seem to say much more than it does. Although you may not agree with my conclusions, I commend my book on the subject (now actually available from Church Publishing) where I address the scriptural case in rather exhaustive detail, and show the extent to which both the popular mind and the conservative scholars have twisted the plain text in the direction of a more restrictive reading than is absolutely required. In fact, I think their underlying discomfort with homosexuality (whether full-blown homophobia or not) has led them to misread the Scripture.

As to the courts, I do not equate activism with corruption. As I see it, the courts have found in accordance with the law. When a state has a law that says that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation, in provision of state services, it seems obvious the court must find as it did. If the law or constitution is changed, the court must then find in accordance with the changed law -- unless, as in the current matter in California, the court exercises its authority to find that a change in the constitution introduces a conflict with another portion of the same document. This is not activism -- it is what courts are for! What I learned in 9th-grade civics class is that "conservative" courts can be just as "active" as "liberal" ones. Why else would conservatives raise the issue of who will replace whom on SCOTUS -- if not for the desire to see a "conservative" mindset prevail, and, for example, overturn Roe v Wade. Even at that, I would not call it corruption, which implies, to me, accepting bribes or otherwise subverting justice. That is a heavy accusation.

IT said...

Activist judges eliminated anti-miscegenation laws over the will of the (majority of) people.

Activist judges integrated the south, over the will of the people.

And now we have an African-American president.

The problem with this would be....?

The role of the court is to protect the minority against the tyranny of the majority. It is foundational to our constitutional democracy and justifies the minority allowing itself to be part of it. It would appear that some people should return to 9th grade civics for a lesson.

Erika Baker said...

"it is because I take the authority of Scripture so highly that I am dismayed at the "conservative" need to make it seem to say much more than it does."

Possibly playing devil's advocate... I tend to find that both sides in any social change take the authority of Scripture very seriously, but Scripture being Scripture, they will always find something to support their particular view.

It's interesting to talk to people who have changed their minds about a particular subject. They never say that Scripture changed their minds. Rather, it's once they have come to truly see something in a new light in their hearts, that their theology tends to follow.

This is not saying that we make it all up as we go along, because we could equally say that those of conservative persuasison cling to outdated truth in the teeth of the evidence.

But it is saying that the Spirit has to change hearts first before minds - and our reading of Scripture - is changed.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks IT for the reminder of the role of the judiciary!

Erika, how true. One of the learnings of communication theory is that the "meaning" of any text resides in large part in the person reading it. This isn't really a novel postmodern idea -- people have been aware of the phenomenon for centuries. People bring their own preconceptions to the texts, and the texts are often written in contexts that may be very different from those in which they are read. The reader's context is very important, as well as their prejudices (and all of us have them). My hope is always to reach the open- not the close-minded. I've known too many people to change their views (including myself!) to give up hope, and working.

June Butler said...

It's interesting to talk to people who have changed their minds about a particular subject.Erika, Scripture didn't change my mind. It was the people on "my side" when Gene Robinson was chosen as bishop in Rhode Island. I was mildly not in favor of giving consent at the time, I'm ashamed to say. It was folks who were against giving consent who went way too far in the direction of repeated and prurient emphasis on "what they do" who caused me to rethink my position.

Which is one way of saying that one should have a care about how one states one's case.

In these discussions of matters ecclesiastical, I'd like to see everyone leave off name-calling. That furthers no one's argument.

Erika Baker said...

I'm grateful for the name-calling if it helped to change your mind:-)

Seriously, though, the kind of contributions people make say much more about their real motives than the supposedly rational and theological arguments they voice.

And it's only by understanding people's real motives that we are in a position to evaluate their claims and their credibility.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Just to report that our favorite atheist troll wanted to post another of his irrelevant and mildly abusive comments. The big laugh for me came in his assumption we are all WASPS! Obviously he doesn't know my parish, nor most of the parishes in my part of the world, where the WASPS are in a tiny minority.

June Butler said...

I am a proud gumbo mixture of French, Spanish, Cajun, English, German, and Portuguese heritage. Take that, troll!

Anonymous said...

I admit I am pure WASP on my lovely mama's side. But then,she married my Catholic papa and I'm an atheist now....oh it's all so confusing!


Brother David said...


No matter how you mix all of that up Abuela Mimi, it still come out very white!

Anonymous said...

I'm using corrupt here not in terms of bribery but of the sense of "to make rotten; to make evil... depraved; tainted with sin..." to use the words of my handy pocket dictionary. Making law from the bench certainly fits that definition to me.

Just like California, Iowa's marriage law was quite free of bias: ANY currently unmarried male, regardless of sexual orientation, was free to marry ANY currently unmarried female, regardless of her sexual orientation, outside of prohibited degrees of consaguinity and according to age of consent. Any analogy to past anti-miscegenation laws fails on this point: the government, prior to the ruling, had no interest whatsoever in the sexual orientation of the marrying parties. Whereas in anti-miscegenation laws the race of the parties was the determining factor in prohibiting the marriage.

What the plantiffs wanted was a change of the legal definition of marriage: a legislative act. That's why I'm not outraged about Vermont's decision, though I don't approve of same-sex marriage.


MarkBrunson said...

There should be greater concern about the mindlessness of mobs! While I'm no believer in an aristocracy, I certainly don't trust the mass of my "fellow man" to necessarily make a good decision - it's unrealistic.

I'm not sure that "notions of fair play" are mere emotion. At this point, nothing has been shown that places marriage in a place unique to heterosexuals. I have no interest in marriage, but see that it is unhealthy privilege - a lack of "fair play" - to put one type of love, expressed in the same sexual constraints, above another. My emotional response, however, is that there is absolutely no reason anyone should get tax breaks or consideration for marrying or breeding or both that I don't get as an individual taking care of myself. My emotional response is that I shouldn't have to pay taxes to support schools or lunches or care programs for children I didn't birth. My logical response in both of those is that marriage provides a sound basis for creating community - a sort of social leaven - and cooperation and that children will be those making decisions around me as adults, and will, hopefully, be given a good enough education to resist listening to hysterical pundits.

Anonymous said...

As to activist consevative courts, I would be against them if I encountered them in practice. I'm much more of a strict constructionist in judicial matters than right-wing: all judges should be cautious in straying from straight application of existing laws.


Mike in Texas said...

Peshat ... If by "spell it out" you mean post some factual information, the answer is yes.

BTW, the same goes for you.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks for the additional notes. (I'm half Irish, btw.)

FrMichael, your reaction then is wholly subjective, if that's your meaning of corrupt. And your strange understanding of the discrimination laws fails to grasp what discrimination on the basis of sex/gender means. No one redefined marriage in California or Iowa. The courts recognized that restricting access to a public institution on the basis of gender/sex is as wrong as doing so on the basis of race. You disagree with the judges' reading of the law; but that doesn't make them corrupt, except in your subjective view.

Mark -- you hit a particular nail quite soundly. This is a matter of equal treatment for all relationships -- and I agree that the society has an interest not in marriage per se, but in those marriages, and other forms of relationship, which stabilize society. Thus I can understand the special tax status for religious communities, schools, churches, and so on. It is part of the social contract that all contribute to social structures from which we may not individually or directly benefit, but which build up society. Contrary to FrM's view that this is corruption, I think same-sex marriage is clearly preferable to relegating same-sex persons to the unprotected cohabitation, or strenuous additional efforts to obtain legal protections (some of which are unavailable no matter how hard they try).

Erika Baker said...

"My emotional response is that I shouldn't have to pay taxes to support schools or lunches or care programs for children I didn't birth."

My emotional response is that we should all do our bit to raise the generation that is going to pay our pensions. I also hope they'll be schooled enough to provide medical care when I'm in an old people's home, or to make sure my family can still communicate with me however long distance they may be.
I don't expect their parents to bear all that burden, especially as I intend to profit from a large chunk of their adult productivity.

Anonymous said...

Tobias (and Erika!),

Perhaps most of us do let our predispositions and presuppositions govern our interpretation of Scripture. That doesn't mean any of us should. Certain conservatives push homophobic agendas far past the biblical evidence; liberals, likewise, push their own homophilic agendas (which they then proclaim as "prophetic"). I happen to believe this is due to the Spirit of the Age and not the Holy Spirit.

I try my best NOT to do that. As a result, I have looked at a great deal of evidence pro and con in the homosexuality debate. Clearly, since it is bucking a couple thousand years of church tradition, the pro-homosexuality side has the burden of proof. I don't think it has borne that burden. Still, I'd be more than glad to look at anything you have written, Tobias.

I did grow up, more or less, with the notion that homosexuality was wrong...though I don't remember it being overtly stated. I grew up in a liberal denomination, and I remember no teaching against homosexuality. I have had nothing but positive experiences with gay friends, colleagues, and students. I am terribly concerned that our churches be welcoming to gays and lesbians; that we fight for a huge increase in spending to counteract AIDS around the globe; that we work hard to alleviate issues of drug dependency, domestic violence, depression, and suicide in our GLBT communities; and that we strive for equal access and opportunity in housing and employment. I'm sure I have some residual homophobic tendencies, but they're sure not pronounced...and I will continue to do my utmost to rid myself of them. Nonetheless, I still believe the conservatives to be basically correct in their interpretation of the relevant Scriptures. (Let me repeat, however, that they have pushed their arguments way too far on occasion.)

I am predisposed to accept women's ordination. My grandmother was a preacher. And of all the people I have met in this lifetime, she would be in the top 5 of those I most admire. Again, I have had mostly GOOD experiences with women pastors. When I go to Scripture, however, I remain unconvinced by the advocates of WO. Pure and simple, their arguments are weak, sometimes downright irrational. Emotionally, I have pushed back and have (tentatively) convinced myself that at the very least, ordination to the diaconate is alright, and possibly to a position of assistant pastor/rector. But I am well aware of my subjectivity.

I am personally (very) against capital punishment. I very much wish Scripture were, too. But it is not. At the most, I can garner that there is no NT mandate for it, and thus a democratic society can rid itself of it if it so desires.

I am personally aghast at the notion of "eternal, conscious torment" for those condemned to hell. Thankfully, there is at least some biblical evidence for annihilationism...to which I fervently cling! Again, I am excrutiatingly aware of how subjective I am allowing myself to be.

I do not at present have an established personal position on credo- vs. paedo- baptism...as I continue to read and read. Similarly, I have not made up my mind on the various eschatological options. I look intensely at Scripture, and I do let it change my mind.

If one is truly serious about the authority of Scripture, then one can fight one's presuppositions. I have no clear evidence that you are doing that, Tobias. (But then I admit I don't have much to go on.)

As for judicial activism, I admit that it has seemingly accomplished some great things, or at least made it easier for great things to be accomplished. I do not stand in opposition to Brown v. Board of Education...but I do believe that the Amendments 13, 14, and 15 were the better route to take. (In a good many senses, "Brown" merely affirmed the "equal protection clause" of the 14th Amendment and cannot be seen as true activism.) Laws against miscegenation were on their way out anyway, but I do not grieve their more hasty demise.

The problem with activism is that it cuts both ways. Few liberals like the conservative activism on display in Bush v. Gore, for example. Some of the decisions running against affirmative action have had tenuous constitutional underpinnings, as well.

Conservatives are rightly dismayed that a court can overturn the will of the people as they did in Iowa. If in the future, the majority of the people of Iowa were inclined to vote FOR maintaining gay marriage (and had even changed their constitution to protect it) but were thwarted by an activist conservative state supreme court...there would be a liberal outcry against activist judges (they might even misspeak and say "corrupt"). Judicial activism is undemocratic...no matter which side employs it...no matter how beneficial it is to society in the short run. It is possible to be both LIBERAL and a strict constructionist, you know! (Felix Frankfurter is a case in point: helped to found the ACLU but was a tireless advocate of judicial restraint.)

Obviously, there is a difference between correctly interpreting the constitution to nullify a popular law...and actually "legislating from the bench." Activism is when a judge lets his or her subjective opinion stand in the way of sound judicial reasoning. And reasonable people will debate when this actually occurs (usually because of their own strong opinions on the issues in question).

Objectively, I believe the Bush v. Gore decision WAS an example of conservative activism. (I happen to think it was beneficial to the country...not in that it gave us George W., but in that it staved off a constitutional crisis. And, of course, would have done so even if it had decided for Gore. In other words, it was beneficial for them to take the case.) Roe v. Wade, likewise, was made up out of whole cloth. Two very poorly reasoned decisions.


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thank you, Peshat. I agree with almost everything you say here. As you will see if you read my book, I take a very careful and Scriptural approach -- a "close reading" -- to address the concerns. I don't think you know me at all well in your judgment concerning my alleged "predisposition" on anything at all. I make every effort to apply the hermeneutic of suspicion to my own views first before I apply it to others.

I think the evidence shows a considerable broadening of negativity towards same-sexuality in the post-Apostolic era, and far from being monolithic thereafter, has waffled considerably. The Scriptures themselves, as I demonstrate say very little on the subject at all. And what Scripture does say has been pushed far too far. That is part of the problem I address.

Phil said...

I'm disappointed, Tobias, that you simply choose to delete comments that cut exactly against your thesis. Let me try again: from Perez Hilton to this very thread and across the universe of similar blogs, there is ample "fear, loathing and lying" from your side of the aisle - therefore, you have very little room to be criticizing others on that score. (For those who would like something more than assertion, that level of specificity is, apparently, disallowed.)

You're happy to accuse those who disagree with you of lying, when the truth is, their views are only false based on your assumptions, assumptions your opponents do not share. For example, it is false, to most people, that a desire not to, say, photograph a gay union ceremony, has anything to do with "discrimination" or "civil rights" as the terms are commonly understood. The objection is to the behavior necessarily involved, which makes it a moral issue. On this reading, this is no different than the photographer not wanting to shoot even the clean part of a man's evening with a prostitute, or a shopkeeper not wanting loud, cursing youths in her store. As I'm sure you understand this distinction, even as you fail to acknowledge it in your criticism, does that make you dishonest, as you happily label others?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

As I make clear in the text that appears immediately above the box in which comments are made, I ask that people avoid mere contradiction or assertion, and stay with the thread. Your post did not actually respond to my thesis, but merely engaged -- as you continue to do here -- in the logical fallacy tu quoque ("you're just as bad"). It does nothing to address the actual content of what I said in my post.

Contrary to your assertions here, my accusation of lying is not based on my point of view, but on objective fact. There are several false and misleading statements in the NOM advertisement.

The NJ church group is not being oppressed for their opinions on same-sex marriage. The actor says, "I'm part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we can't support same-sex marriage." This is designed to give the impression that a church is being forced to recognize same-sex marriage, and is being punished for not doing so. In fact, it is about the refusal of a church-related entity refusing to rent a public hall (not a religious building), restored in part at public cost, for a private function involving a same-sex couple. The statement in the video is objectively misleading and false.

I don't know as much about the case of the IVF doctor, but the actor claims it was an issue of "faith vs job." Not knowing the details, I won't say this is a lie -- but I wonder what faith tradition she is referring to, since IVF itself is viewed at least by some faith traditions as a moral violation. And should those faith traditions have the right to put her out of business?

The case of the photographer doesn't even appear in the video from NOM, so I don't know why it keeps cropping up.

As to whether things involve "behavior" you might just as well believe that saying "it isn't blacks I'm opposed to, it's just their sitting in my restaurant" is a defense against discrimination.

As David has pointed out, the mistake the photographer made was in saying he refused to provide a service on the basis of the gender of the couple. The law in that state, as the court found, forbids such discrimination. I understand the case is on appeal, and may yet be reversed.

Phil said...

OK, Tobias. I think there are examples here of your sympathizers appearing to get exempted from the rule, but fair enough. On the other hand, us both being Christians, you being a priest and this being, to a large extent, a Christian-themed blog, I thought my point was relevant, inasmuch as Our Lord told us, "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye." If tu quoque is OK for Him, it ought to be for us.

Taking your statements in turn, it isn't obvious to me the New Jersey church group is saying something "objectively misleading and false." We would have to know, for example, if they've been permitted, in the past, to refuse accommodation to particular groups. Additionally, they might be strongly convinced because of the particulars of their interaction with the government that the fact of same-sex marriage was the driving reason that they were raked over the coals by officials this time, when objections were not raised in the past, only to see the rationale you give used after the fact to justify the action.

On the IVF case, you now say you can't say it is being misrepresented.

On the photographer case, I've looked through the thread and see nowhere that gender as the basis of refusing the job was mentioned, by David or anyone else. I may have missed it. The objection, though, is to the gay marriage aspect of it; surely you don't deny that?

Finally, your example of blacks in a restaurant is in no way analogous to my example. It is, once again, employing an assumption that I, and, on the evidence, the majority of Americans do not accept.

I'll respond to your thesis directly: while it may be true of some (as it will be for any group), your opponents are not irrational, fearful in the hysterical way you seem to be using the word, or loathing. They think homosexual behavior is immoral and that marriage is uniquely constituted by one man and one woman; they think it will be damaging to our society to accept any contrary rule; and, being in the majority, they are angry at the possibility that the opposite will be taught to their children and used to damage their livelihoods, careers and/or social acceptability. As these are the same outcomes gays have fought for so long to avoid for their own lives, why do you disparage those with the same concerns? Or, is it just a case of, "I suffered, so good for them if they suffer, too?" If so, that sounds to me like not only loathing, but a special flavor of tu quoque of your own.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Phil, I will leave it to others to weigh what you say here. At least this is a cogent presentation of your position and not a mere reaction.

However, this is the first time I mentioned the IVF case -- I didn't say it was a misrepresentation previously (I didn't say that all of the statements in the NOM ad were false) but I don't know that it is true, either. What I do know is that the courts found against the doctor, and that the case didn't involve same-sex marriage, but providing artificial insemination to a woman. (Does this person insist, as part of her faith tradition, that all of her IVF patients be married? Or that the sperm donated come from the husband?) I don't know. Does anyone else?

And what will you do when the majority of Americans come to accept same-sex marriage, which I am confident will happen within a generation?

Erika Baker said...

This is probably not the right thread to challenge Phil's comment that "Or, is it just a case of, "I suffered, so good for them if they suffer, too?.

But without wanting to get into a game of "my suffering is worse than yours", I would nevertheless like to ask Phil whether he really feels he is comparing like with like here.

To my knowledge, no-one has ever been beaten up for being heterosexual, murdered, thrown out of their families, dispised by their society and been ostracised by their church. No-one, to my knowledge, has ever been pushed to suicide for being straight.

I accept that some straights feel beleagured and afraid that the world as we know it will end tomorrow if we allow committed, stable, loving relationships between gays, and that their fears for the future are genuine.

But to call that suffering is a little bit much, no?

Erika Baker said...

Also (Tobias, don't print this if it goes too far off topic!), I find the statement that "If tu quoque is OK for Him, it ought to be for us" almost blasphemous.

When we speak in Jesus' name we do so with great care and trembling, knowing that his words are always aimed primarily at us and are not to be taken as license for us to use them against others.

What is good enough for Him is rarely ever good enough for us - particularly when it's all about condemning the perceived sins of others!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Erika, on both counts.

As to Jesus, he appears to me to be condemning the tu quoque, not endorsing it.

For my part, I am not condemning NOM or anyone else in this case, but wondering aloud why it is that their response is, it appears to me, out of proportion to the real concern or threat. They would, I think, gain more by a more measured statement than the language of "storms" and oppression. And, pardon me, Phil, but I don't see that the issue is any different than the race issue when it comes to practice: people had real concerns about property values when laws insisted that discrimination on the basis of race in provision of houseing was illegal. The concerns were real, but they came as the fruit of racism. I think the same can be said here: the concern that a child will be taught something with which one disagrees is real; but it is also the reality that same-sex marriage exists, and will become more common as time goes on. Being offended at learning about it will not really get one very far.

Part of living in a pluralistic society means recognizing that people will have freedoms to do thing with which one may disagree. And these things do have real impact on people's lives. But the impact, in and of itself, is no argument against the change. That is just "I don't like it so it ought not to be." The likes and dislikes of any majority cannot infringe the rights of a minority; and more and more entities are coming to see marriage as a fundamental human right, whether one is offended by that or not.

MarkBrunson said...

My emotional response is that we should all do our bit to raise the generation that is going to pay our pensions. I also hope they'll be schooled enough to provide medical care when I'm in an old people's home, or to make sure my family can still communicate with me however long distance they may be.
I don't expect their parents to bear all that burden, especially as I intend to profit from a large chunk of their adult productivity.
Precisely, Erika.

Though, in the US, pensions from the tax base seem increasingly unreliable.

IT said...

Re. the NJ case: the church received hundreds o thousands of taxpayer dollars to maintain the pavilion with the proviso that they give the public access. They were not given right of refusal, because they agreed by taking the dollars that the building became available to the public. It was no longer religious, once the public gave the money to it.

Gays are part of the public.

RE. the photographer: no gay marriage about it, as there IS NO GAY MARRIAGE IN NEW MEXICO. He fell afoul of state laws that prohibit businesses from discriminating.

Re. the IVF doctor: she has no problem performing IVF except on lesbians. Again, California found that under state anti-discrimination law, she is not allowed to deny gays treatment any more than she is allowed to deny blacks treatment. LIke it or not, those are the laws under which she is licensed.

NONE of these cases have anything to do with "gay marriage". They ALL have to do with protection of gays under anti-discrimination laws. That's what this is about: the religious conservatives want us to have no protections under law, and they want to be free to discrimnate. So the test is, replace "gay" with "black" or even "Christian" and see whether your view of these cases changes?

Please go here for more.

Anonymous said...

Erika, regarding your list of horrors:

"beaten up for being" heterosexual-- I know of a case while I was in the service where gays at a command made repeated passes at a straight sailor, and after he rebuffed all their advances, they tried to rape him. And several instances of minor-league gay and lesbian harassment in the service, in civilian life, and at seminary.
I haven't personally had the pleasure of some gay dude trying to beat me up, but my car wasn't so lucky when its tires were slashed during the Prop 8 campaign.

"murdered"-- what about the case of the Chicago woman who was murdered by the gay couple because they were upset by her lack of approval of their "lifestyle?" Didn't make the media outside of some of the conservative Catholic press back in the mid-90s.

"despised by their society"-- check out Miss California USA's current travails.

"ostracized by their church"-- in some of the more malevolent provinces of some Catholic Church religious orders, straights indeed face that difficulty. Never mind the fun times we conservative Catholic clergy have at local clergy association meetings we have to attend from time-to-time. My own group has a lesbian in charge who wouldn't give a RC priest the time of day.

So instead of dealing with an imagined one-sided pogram, why don't we look for the real problem: the existence of bullies who take advantage of perceived weaknesses (like age, race, sex, sexual orientations, and others) in order to infliect physical violence upon another.


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

IT, thanks for the additional resources.

FrMichael, an excellent example of tu quoque in all of its resplendence. I suppose you haven't heard of the ethical concept of proportionality? Nothing, of course, justifies any of the bad behavior you recount, but nor does it in any way address the reality of the overwhelming and disproportionate discrimination and abuse leveled at gay and lesbian persons. This is not a "one-sided" observation. There are no "sides" here.

Phil said...

Erika, no, I don’t find that blasphemous. On the other hand, if the idea bothers you so, I’ve got one for you (sorry, Tobias, here I go again): if I had a dollar for every time somebody on your side has told me that Jesus rewrote the religious rules of his day, with the clear implication that so could they, I could buy myself a pretty nice dinner. Do you care to criticize their line of argument?

As to your other point, I’m not playing a game of, “my suffering is worse than yours,” nor can I understand how you arrived at that conclusion. In fact, I used the word only to speculate on the activist mentality, not to characterize the fallout on the mainstream of the attempt to rewrite the definition of marriage.

I partially concede on the New Jersey case; partially, because the real linchpin of the case was a nonsensical “anti-discrimination” law.

On New Mexico, IT, you are making my case, not yours. If the photographer can be persecuted by the state in the absence of something called SS “marriage,” how much worse is it going to be if and when there is such an invention? And, for the record, the photographer declined to photograph what was billed as a “commitment ceremony.” We both know what that is intended to mimic. There’s no discrimination about it, unless you think Big Brother should also compel mall owners to offer space to “explicit” bookstores, or maybe that Democrat campaign consultants should be forced by the state to help get Republicans elected.

So, I guess you came close to being right, though, of course, you misrepresented the opposing position. I do want private citizens and business owners to be able to replace “gay” with “pornographer,” “polygamist,” “adulterer,” and so forth. The distinction is obvious, which is why, Tobias, I have a hard time believing you really can’t, “see that the issue is any different than the race issue.” The issue is about (again) behavior, and it always will be, no matter how many times you cry, “race.” And, I’m not offended at learning; the reality is also that crime exists, and people cheat on their spouses, and umpteen other things, and I have no problem with my kids learning about them – I’ll even do the teaching – I just want to make sure they are taught that those things are wrong.

Finally, what I will probably do if the majority of Americans ever accept such unions is the same thing you will do when your efforts lead to legalized polygamy and a dramatic reduction in, or elimination of, the age of consent, as they are likely to do. The drinks are on me when that happens; we can have a few, commiserate and come up with some ideas together.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Phil, you really are now falling under the rubric of mere contradiction. I am sorry you do not see the parallels with race (people like the Governor of New York have no trouble understanding that this isn't about "behavior" except the "behavior" of taking part in public accommodations. Gays as well as blacks and the blind are often discriminated against on the basis not only of what they seek to do, but who they are. The "behavior" involved is having equal access to legally protected activities, on an equal basis.)

As to your comment about Jesus, I'm surprised you are unaware that this is exactly the power that Jesus committed to his Church -- the power to bind and to loose. You are speaking contrary to the Gospel.

The fact that you dismiss anti-discrimination laws so casually only goes to display the depths of your own failure to grasp the legal principle involved. It isn't about substituting "adulterer" and so forth for "gay." The fact is that the law protects gay people from discrimination. It does not protect adulterers. Clearly you think the law has gone to far, and fear it going further. This is where you "fear" comes in -- which if you recall was my original thesis.

Thus, raising the slippery slope accusations once again adds nothing to your argument, but only goes to demonstrate the accuracy of mine. You don't like what is, and you fear what might be. As I said, fear and loathing.

IT said...

Are you sure you want to give up the racial analogy? Fine. What if the photographer declined to photograph Jews, or the doctor to treat Muslims? What if it was Christians? What if he refused to phograph a bar mitzvahh party, or a baptism?

Religion is the very essence of choice with no biological justification about it. And, I think you probably have no problem with anti-discrimination laws that protect religious practice.

You have however very nicely made my point, as Tobias also notes. Your protest is nothing to do with gay marriage. It's that you don't think that gay people should be protected against discrimination. Thanks for at least admitting it. I'm sure you'll be happy to give up your protections to freedom from religious discrimination as a matter of principle, right?

Phil said...

No, Tobias, you used “fear and loathing” to infer irrationality on your opponents. On that score, you haven’t laid a glove on anything I’ve said.

I dismiss anti-discrimination laws as properly being applied to the freely chosen sexual behavior of a certain class of people – that’s right. If the law protects gay people from discrimination, it should protect adulterers as well. That would be real consistency. As it is, there is no “legal principle,” only political pressure tactics that have resulted in a behavior, which most Americans regard as immoral, being added to a list on which it doesn’t belong.

Race has nothing to do with it; it’s simply a way for you to slur those who disagree with you. Why don’t you answer these simple yes-or-no questions:

Can anybody choose to engage in homosexual behavior?

Can anybody choose to be black?

The power to bind and loose doesn’t give the Church the power to glorify behavior God regards as sinful. In any case, the topic is of dubious relevance in the case of minor Protestant sects.

As to your question, IT, I don’t place religious belief in the same category as the choice of who to have sex with, and how. Now that you have, though – well, like I inferred above, change the paperwork now to say, “Party A,” “Party B,” “Party C,” “continue as necessary.”

Fred Preuss said...

As one who couldn't even be a Cub Scout (no belief in god) and who has to listen to people on the Right drone on and on about "godless commies" and Leftists claim that "Jesus is the Liberation Theologian", I have encountered prejudice against my religious beliefs. Not nearly as dangerous as anti-black hatred but at least as pervasive as anti-gay.
Gallup took a poll and 40% of Americans couldn't see themselves voting for someone openly gay; nearly 60% said that they couldn't vote for someone who was an atheist.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Phil, you continue to demonstrate the very irrationality you appear to reject. I will try once more to break through.

Your primary confusion in relation to the race question is that you confuse racism with discrimination. Racism may be the motivation for the discrimination, and the underlying cause for protection from it, but it is not the issue. The law cannot stop racism -- but it can criminalize discrimination.

It is not the race of a person that is protected by the law, but their actions -- their behavior, or "practices" and "lifestyle choices" if you will: normal human behaviors like buying a house, eating in a restaurant, going to a shop, getting married. The law protects these actions. The real estate agent, waiter, clerk or justice of the peace may well still hate black people "for being black" -- but the anti-discrimination law doesn't protect their race, but their access to public accommodations.

Your comparison between "being black" and "engaging in homosexual behavior" is -- as you appear to realize -- mixing apples and bicycles. (Of course, the fact is that gay and lesbian persons don't get discriminated against for engaging in public sexual acts, but for "being [perceived as] gay/lesbian.") The real issue in all anti-discrimination laws is about access to public accommodations. As the law says, people in the business of providing public accommodations cannot discriminate on the basis of the various protected categories -- but it isn't the categories themselves that are being protected, but the access to accommodations.

I really hope this sinks in this time, as I am trying to be as clear as I can. And if you don't get it this time round, I'll consider the discussion closed. There really is no need for you to respond in either case.

As to religion, you are of course also free to privilege the lifestyle choice of religion -- surely a "practice" demonstrably more "chosen" than homosexual orientation. This, of course, also reveals your prejudices, in that you privilege religion over something far more intrinsic to people's lives, whether inborn or note. (One wonders how you deal with those religions that do not see homosexuality as morally wrong?)

And it being clear you think you know the mind of God, about what is sinful and what isn't -- you clearly don't grasp the significance of what Jesus said to the church. If the church does not have the power to remove certain actions from the category of things previously declared sinful then one wonders what to say about the church having exercised that power for centuries. Or are you unaware of the many changes in moral teaching concerning sin that have taken place in the "two thousand years" of church history?

Phil, your position is clear: you reject anti-discrimination laws protecting gay and lesbian persons. You do so because you think it is wrong to protect a behavior which you think is wrong.

It is because of people like you that we need such laws.

Anonymous said...

"This, of course, also reveals your prejudices, in that you privilege religion over something far more intrinsic to people's lives, whether inborn or not."

Same-sex orientation is "far more intrinsic to people's lives" than the Christian faith? I figured the majority of activist GLBT Christians believed this, but it is still shocking to read.

It is salutary to reread and recommit to the Greatest Commandment from time to time.

There is no concupiscent desire, be it sexual, arrogance, slothfulness, and the rest, that should be more central to a Christian's life than their loving relationship with the Creator and Redeemer.

BTW I think Phil understands your argument. I certainly do.


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...


I can't say you understand my argument, as it is not even clear you understand the meaning of the word intrinsic -- nor basic Christian doctrine concerning Original Sin and Baptism. The Christian Faith is not intrinsic to people -- they have to come to it. It is something to which they are, to use the old word, "elect" or "called." The chief action in coming to faith resides with God, of course; but still, God chooses whom he wills. Moreover, many people chose other religions than Christianity, or choose none at all, like Fred. Religion may be very important to those who chose it, but it is not intrinsic, or they wouldn't have to choose it!

People do not choose their sexual orientation. They do choose their religion. Mountains of evidence show that it is very difficult for people to change their sexual orientation, even when they very earnestly desire such a change. Evidence also shows that people can change their religion quite easily. Yet the state offers protection for both categories -- though you think it shouldn't for the former: that being a belief of your particular brand of religion.

As with Phil, you are free to practice your chosen religion, so long as it does not interfere with the freedoms (religious and otherwise) of others. That is part of what it means to live in a pluralistic society. But to date, you have amply revealed yourself to be one of those against whom others' freedoms require the protection of the law. Enjoy your costly victory in California while it lasts; God and the arc of history both tend towards justice.