Archive for ‘GLBT’

July 11, 2011

Slamming the Family Leader Pledge

by thefulllidvmg

Gary Johnson does just that:

“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue,'” reads a statement from Johnson’s office, which is accompained by a video: 

July 11, 2011

Quote of the Day

by thefulllidvmg

“Government should not be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I have always been a strong advocate of liberty and freedom from unnecessary government intervention into our lives. The freedoms that our forefathers fought for in this country are sacred and must be preserved. The Republican Party cannot be sidetracked into discussing these morally judgmental issues — such a discussion is simply wrongheaded. We need to maintain our position as the party of efficient government management and the watchdogs of the “public’s pocket book”.

“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue’.

-Republican candidate for president Gary Johnson.

July 5, 2011

A Profile in Stupidity

by cpmy3rs

Eastern Michigan University has a problem. A former student who felt that her Christian faith prevented her from providing counseling services to a gay male student who sought them was removed from the program and subsequently sued. Although the Federal Courts which have heard the matter thus far have ruled in favor of EMU, a bipartisan team of legislators are fighting to allow future Julea Ward’s the right to discriminate against whoever they wish — without having to worry about pesky institutional sanctions — so long as counseling that individual ran contrary to a “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

Now, this concern for the moral conscience of college students is admirable. There are, however, a number of questions which it raises. The one of the most import, however, is about the role that an individual’s personal faith should be allowed to play when they are crafting legislation for the public. It is therefore worth observing the exchange that State Senator Hunter, who is black, had with reporters following the unveiling of the legislation:

Asked if a white nationalist who was an adherent of a brand of Christianity called Christian Identity would be allowed to invoke their sincerely held religious beliefs to refuse to counsel a person of color, Hunter replied, “No. That is where I draw the line.

“You pose a scenario that some one could suggest that’s like being discriminated against because of sexuality,” said Hunter. “When I believe that there is a moral value, what I believe, that is one thing. To say that, you know, that sexuality is on the same level as an issue of racism, that is a debate we need to have.”

Hunter said the Bible prohibits homosexual activity but does not support racism. Asked if under his scenario he weren’t setting universities and colleges up to be the arbitrators of which religious values were and were not valid, Hunter said, “No.”

As we can see, when individuals legislate based on their personal moral sentiments rather than on the merits of an individual issue, we obtain some rather absurd arguments based on nothing but self-interest. If the principle at stake is the right of individuals to make moral judgments about the activities of their peers based on their personal understanding of their own religion, then why isn’t our principled State Senator on the side of the bigots who are bigoted against him? Is it, perhaps, because in his own heart he shares their sentiments?

This is not to say that public policy debates should entertain the sort of laissez-faire moral relativism of which many of the secular persuasion are so frequently accused. It is rather to assert that, when making policy in the public sphere, an individual is required — for the sake of the legitimacy of the system — to make arguments which are more satisfying than “because my Bible/Qur’an/Talmud/etc told me so.” This is for a simple reason: Legislation concerns a great number of individuals who hold contrary theological beliefs. These individuals are also a part of the polity. To alienate them from its laws is to assert that, rather than governing based on the rights of citizens, the government has the right to govern based on the simple right of power alone. I can hardly think of a more unAmerican principle.

June 30, 2011

Pride and Prejudice: Reflecting on New York’s Marriage Law (Part 3)

by thefulllidvmg

I want to focus on three pragmatic issue points regarding same-sex marriage. They may span the general topic of same-sex marriage or something specific to New York.

  1. “Same-sex marriage is doing a big no no: it is redefining traditional marriage”. This message has cropped up across the anti-same sex marriage spectrum, from Pat Robertson on the 700 club to intellectuals at the NRO. You can’t redefine traditional (American, not Biblical) marriage because it has never been done before in any civilization or nation. To some, America is doomed because we have opened the Pandora box and begun to accepted (and even show love, not bigotry (why do some Christians worship on Sundays their lord of love but flamethrow the other days of the week?) for) same-sex marriage couples and their relationships.

Steven Taylor explains just a smidgen of the falsehood in the claim that marriage has never been redefined before. His piece is worth a full read but I will give you a paragraph or so:

“…the very fact that there were laws forbidding interracial marriage demonstrates the degree to which marriage has been a creature of legislation.  And, as I noted the other day, the involvement of government in marriage is essentially escapable.  So, at least from a legal point of view, marriage hasbeen redefined in living memory.”

Taylor delves into the story of Jacob of the Torah who had an interesting “marriage”. Indeed marriage has evolved since the days of marriages arranged by fathers, bride prices, bigamy, and sanctioned adultery.

2. “Same-sex marriage was legislated by liberal thugs, liberal tyrants, and (insert any other foaming at the mouth ad hominem, non-reality based stereotype)”. These sad canards crop up at the NRO, even to the point of comparing the New York state legislative process to fascist North Korea.
Faith in Public Life has continually brought the cut throat discussions in politics back to where they should be: to a humanized form. Ad hominem stereotypes distort and distract conversations to the point that we are no longer are talking about humans equal to us (and made in the image of God: imago deo) but “the gays”. FIPL provided a few news ads and commentary that helps with the now everpresent topic of same-sex marriage post-New York.

3. “Gays are going to sue religious organizations for discrimination”. This was an issue for the four Republican legislators in New York. Would there be enough protection for churches and organizations that may have objections to serving same-sex weddings or events so that they are not liable for discrimination? In a brief paragraph, yes, those protections are in place:

One of the most striking things about the week-long battle was how much of it hinged on the canard that worked so well for anti-marriage activists in California: If gay marriage is passed, religious organizations will be forced to marry same-sex couples, and businesses that object to homosexuality will be sued for refusing to provide their services at gay weddings. Under current law, religious leaders already can’t be compelled to sanctify a same-sex union, making this bill’s provision a politically motivated redundancy. Whether passing a same-sex marriage law without a religious exemption for businesses makes a difference is a more murky question. City and state nondiscrimination laws might have required businesses to provide their services at gay weddings—a protection the law passed yesterday supersedes. But it’s hard to imagine too many people in the wedding industry turning down money, and which gay couple would want to hire a homophobic organization anyway?

June 30, 2011

Pride and Prejudice: Reflecting on New York’s Marriage Law (Part 2)

by thefulllidvmg

Let’s first take a look at Presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s lamentation over New York (this is almost the most foaming at the mouth pro-family you can get today):

I have long opposed the redefinition and nullification of marriage, the central building block for society. Indeed, as a U.S. senator I co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act and the Federal Marriage Amendment. As a citizen, I actively campaigned against the judges in Iowa who ordered gay marriage there.  I also was one of the first to step out and encourage the leadership of the House of Representatives to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court when the president refused to do so. Unlike others in this race, I believe it is the role of the president to weigh in when states try to redefine the meaning of marriage. Marriage is defined in the federal law as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife; any state that redefines marriage is wreaking havoc not only with the definitions of the federal law and the majority of states, but, even more importantly, with the single most important and time-tested institution of every successful society.

My emphasis is made on the last sentence. There is a general lamenation that traditional marriage is fleeting. To some, passing legislation to allow people of different sexual orientations dissolves traditional marriage. But wait, same-sex marriage has been legal in some states for some time now. Why has the family been doing better, not worse, since then? David Frum gives a personal take:

I was a strong opponent of same-sex marriage. Fourteen years ago, Andrew Sullivan and I forcefully debated the issue at length online (at a time when online debate was a brand new thing).

Yet I find myself strangely untroubled by New York state’s vote to authorize same-sex marriage — a vote that probably signals that most of “blue” states will follow within the next 10 years.

I don’t think I’m alone in my reaction either. Most conservatives have reacted with calm — if not outright approval — to New York’s dramatic decision.

Why?

The short answer is that the case against same-sex marriage has been tested against reality. The case has not passed its test.

Since 1997, same-sex marriage has evolved from talk to fact.

If people like me had been right, we should have seen the American family become radically more unstable over the subsequent decade and a half.

Instead — while American family stability has continued to deteriorate — it has deteriorated much more slowly than it did in the 1970s and 1980s before same-sex marriage was ever seriously thought of.

By the numbers, in fact, the 2000s were the least bad decade for American family stability since the fabled 1950s. And when you take a closer look at the American family, the facts have become even tougher for the anti-gay marriage position.

Mataconis sums up Frum’s point:

Indeed. We’ve lived with same-sex marriage, and more generally increasing acceptance of homosexuality, for long enough now to know that the gloom-and-doom preachers were wrong and that the world isn’t going to end just because two women, or two men, go down to City Hall and get a marriage license.

Kathryn Jean Lopez brings up a quote from George Weigel. She ends her post with no comment regarding his quote:

Marriage, as both religious and secular thinkers have acknowledged for millennia, is a social institution that is older than the state and that precedes the state. The task of a just state is to recognize and support this older, prior social institution; it is not to attempt its redefinition. To do the latter involves indulging the totalitarian temptation that lurks within all modern states: the temptation to remanufacture reality. The American civil-rights movement was a call to recognize moral reality; the call for gay marriage is a call to reinvent reality to fit an agenda of personal willfulness. The gay-marriage movement is thus not the heir of the civil-rights movement; it is the heir of Bull Connor and others who tried to impose their false idea of moral reality on others by coercive state power.

A humane society will find ample room in the law for accommodating a variety of human relationships in matters of custodial care, hospital visiting rights, and inheritance. But there is nothing humane about the long march toward the dictatorship of relativism, nor will there be anything humane about the destination of that march, should it be reached. The viciousness visited upon Archbishop Dolan and other defenders of marriage rightly understood during the weeks before the vote in Albany is yet another testimony to the totalitarian impulse that lurks beneath the gay marriage movement.

Because a same-sex marriage is not reality for some heterosexuals does not mean it is not reality for others. You gotta love the comparison of Bull Conor and the use of fire hoses (powerful enough to peel bark off of trees) on African Americans in preventing them to vote to marriage equality (legislatively achieved through many measures, not in totalitarian fashion by a dictator). As Sullivan notes, we live in a republic, not a church. I am left wondering what aspects of life are on the sacrosanct list never to be touched, altered, or changed for the sake of doing something about an ever growing group of humans

(Photo: A young boy waves a flag during the 2011 NYC LGBT Pride March on the streets of Manhattan on June 26, 2011 in New York City. Thousands of revelers had reason to celebrate since New York state legislators approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage which Governor Cuomo signed in to law on Friday June 24. By Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

June 27, 2011

Pride and Prejudice: Reflecting on New York’s Marriage Law (Part 1)

by thefulllidvmg

The passing on Friday of the New York state law allowing same-sex couples to marry (which kicks in in 30 days) was monumental. The population of the Empire State alone (19 some million people) outnumbers the five other relatively small Northeastern states (and Iowa /D.C.).

This law, and many other important events, are going to be almost magnified in importance as we approach the 2012 election. Each candidate, including the incumbent, will be asked what they think about the new law in New York, if it should or shouldn’t come down to the state legislatures deciding on such matters, and if this could possibly be a national law in the coming decade.

One of the major issues that stood out in crafting the same-sex marriage law in New York was religious protections for churches, organizations, and the like. The Right has let out some steam on this issue, comparing New York to North Korea and insisting that anti-same sex marriage is not anti-homosexuality but really pro-marriage. What has been surprising and refreshing is to see many members of the Right and Republican Party rebuke their own side and agree with passing this law. This floor speech is worth watching for it captures some of the roots of the small government / libertarian in most Republicans as well as religious protection:

Even Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has some nuanced respect for the New York law.

David True calls those paying attention to see that this law is not solely about saving same-sex couples from an encroaching government with its “moralistic” laws but ” it is about claiming the legal right (with the help of government) to make a huge commitment, indeed, one of the most profound and traditional commitments one can make.” True describes marriage as “an unfolding story”, one that can have “us appreciate what has come before” as well as recognize the “cultural revolution” upon us as part of the timeline.

Marriage in this view can even be compared to God. Both marriage and God are infinite spheres (the former of love and commitment, the latter of the same as well as a divine expanse of justice, judgement, and redemption). Neither can be fully grasped with words here on earth. If anything, words at times can hold these two back and muddle their true essences. In the end, participating with both provide more than words ever could.

(Pictured: The First Presbyterian Church of NYC on 5th Ave & 12th St., which was on the Pride Parade route. The congregants passed out water and hung a huge welcome banner, complete with triangles.

June 24, 2011

Push Ups in Albany

by thefulllidvmg

As the New York state legislature wait for the outcome of the same-sex marriage bill, state senators are having push up contests (with improper elbow form).

June 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

by thefulllidvmg

“Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is pretty simple. It says, ‘Raise an army.’ It says absolutely nothing about race, color, creed, sexual orientation. … Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines,” -Sgt. Maj. Michael Barrett, the top non-commissioned officer of the Marine Corps, on the repeal of DADT.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

June 22, 2011

What you should know about Jon Huntsman

by thefulllidvmg

Believe it or not, but Jon Huntsman could possibly be someone I’d vote for over Obama in 2012. Huntsman has a great track record as an executive (two-term governor of Utah),which Obama in retrospect may have needed more than he thought, and is focused on two very important things: job creation and returning civility to our public debate. First, the economy:

We must reignite the powerful job creating engine of our economy – the industry, innovation, reliability, and trailblazing genius of Americans and their enterprises — and restore confidence in our people.

We did many of these things in Utah when I was governor. We cut taxes and flattened rates. We balanced our budget. Worked to maintain our AAA bond rating. When the economic crisis hit, we were ready. And by many accounts we became the best state for business and the best managed state in America. We proved government doesn’t have to choose between fiscal responsibility and economic growth. I learned something very important as Governor. For the average American family there is nothing more important than a job.

Second, civility. When was the last time you honestly heard a Republican candidate speak like this?

I don’t think you need to run down anyone’s reputation to run for President. Of course we’ll have our disagreements. I respect my fellow Republican candidates. And I respect the President. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President; not who’s the better American.

Jonathan Chait sees the divide between Huntsman and the GOP that may hold him back from succeeding:

The posture of maximal opposition to Obama is the one single thing upon which the entire party agrees. The notion that a dissenter against that consensus might win the presidential nomination is not merely a longshot but totally absurd.

Then there is matching him, his resume, and his message up with the GOP pack:

Huntsman will continue to get a good press (hiring John Weaver, John McCain’s image-guy/strategist was a smart move) and that press won’t be enough. Nor will many people vote for Huntsman because of his foreign policy credentials: as Spencer Ackerman says, being a diplomat don’t give you much suction or juice these days. Anyway, when the C-word comes up we know that Huntsman is going to say something sensible about how America shouldn’t be too worried too soon by too much of anything that China might do. Most of the other “leading” contenders will advise Americans to press the panic button and this, I am afraid, will be more effective than anything Huntsman can say.

Huntsman also comments on the New York state bill to legalize same-sex marriage:

… Huntsman was asked specifically about the growing likelihood of a same-sex marriage bill being passed in New York. Would he seek to overrule Empire State lawmakers should he end up in the Oval Office? “I would respect the state’s decision on that,” he replied.

The answer, while brisk, nevertheless sets Huntsman apart from his fellow Republican presidential candidates. Other members of the field have offered sympathy for state sovereignty on matters of marriage. But they have usually couched that by saying they would support a federal ban on same-sex marriage as well.

(Photo: Republican Jon Huntsman speaks during a press conference to announce his bid for the presidency at Liberty State Park June 21, 2011 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Huntsman, until recently the U.S. ambassador to China under President Obama, emphasized his record as a two-term governor of Utah. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images.)

June 12, 2011

Our Subjective God

by thefulllidvmg

Paula Kirby went from being a devout Christian to an Atheist. She makes some interesting conclusions on God and how the masses have viewed the divine over the ages.

One of the things that had struck me during my Christian years was just how many different Christianities there are.  Not just the vast number of different sects and denominations (over 38,000 by one reckoning), but the huge amount of difference between individual Christians of the same sect or denomination, too.  The beliefs and attitudes of an evangelical, biblical, literalist Christian compared with a liberal Christian are so wildly different that we might almost be dealing with two completely different religions.

No matter what religion you believe in, you have to view God in a subjective lens:

Like every other Christian I have ever known, I had clear ideas about the kind of God I believed in and, on the basis of those ideas, I accepted certain bits of Christian dogma while utterly rejecting others.  Again, let me stress: this is par for the course.  In practice faith is always a pick-and-mix affair: believers emphasise those bits that sit comfortably with them, whilst mostly ignoring those bits that do not, or concocting elaborate interpretations to allow them to pretend they do not mean what they actually say.  So this was the question I faced up to in 2003: What was there to suggest that the version of Christianity I believed in was actually real? Was there any better evidence for the version I accepted than there was for the versions I did not?

The Bible could not help me. Both kinds of Christian – the ultra-conservative and the ultra-liberal – find abundant support for their views in the Bible provided they cherry-pick enough (and, of course, they do just that, filing the bits that don’t suit their case under the convenient headings of “Metaphor” or “Mystery”).

I myself tend to stray away from overemphasizing sin, heaven, and the like when I talk about God, my religious beliefs, and even when I am reading the Bible. Sure, the daily lectionary has me reading portions of the Bible that mention sin and heaven. I try to read up on the Greek and Hebrew, which usually have their original translation as vastness instead of heaven.

This has fostered some inner-thoughts as I have had several discussions with friends lately on the topic of same-sex marriage / homosexuality and how those two are seen or should be treated by the Bible and government. Plethora of verses are mentioned to denounce the two and I have up to this point said that they talk about pederastery, not what we know today as homosexuality. Re-reading these texts has me constantly asking questions. I try to focus on the context of the letters and laws in the Bible and keep them under the umbrellas of love, compassion, and justice. One other important topic that has played into that discussion is defining the role of marriage. Is it meant for pro-creation (child bearing) or as a covenant between two individuals? Attending a wedding can answer that question very clearly. Weddings usually mention nothing about sex or bearing children but forming a lasting relationship with your partner. If these marriage ceremonies are merely man-made, why then are they not changing in form and substance towards emphasizing “what the Bible says” about marriage?

I finish my reflection with this quote from Kirby:

This is why subjective experience cannot tell us anything about God.  Knowing what kind of god someone believes in tells us a great deal about that person – but nothing whatsoever about the truth or otherwise of the existence of any god at all.

Kirby is partially correct. Our experiences of God can tell some but not all of who God is. Looking back over time, we can see the many views of God and the roles the divine has played in people’s lives. They, just like ours, are merely reflections from a mirror, not the full picture.

June 1, 2011

“Government Cannot Feel”

by thefulllidvmg

That the government is out of the realm of Christian ethics and morals is generally what a few critics of my blog/ideas come to the table saying. Government, most notably American government, is not a human, not a Christian, not the church, and shouldn’t be (but still is in some conversations is) expected to uphold Christian morals, ethics, or norms of human compassion (James 1:27 can get us started). It is rather humorous and hypocritical, I find it, when the church tells the state to uphold ambiguous morals on marriage and life but to then ignore others such as caring for the poor, needy, stopping wars, providing safety nets, and condemning capital punishment.

We could continue with the fact that Jesus was killed for opposing a systematic domination of people by a rich, pious few. Keyword: killed, which has been muted over the last two centuries and replaced with “died for our sins”. This is due to many governments since Constantine taking up Christianity as their official or unofficial (mostly a majority) state religion. Once the state is one of ostensible Christian ideals, the tables turn from criticizing government injustices (government and their officials are now sacrosanct) to a domesticated path of radical religion. But I digress.

I thought of this topic when I saw John Boehner criticized by his own flock when he came into Washington D.C. to give a commencement speech to Catholic University:

More than 75 professors at Catholic University and other prominent Catholic colleges have written a pointed letter to Mr. Boehner saying that the Republican-supported budget he shepherded through the House will hurt the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable, and that he therefore has failed to uphold basic Catholic moral teachings.

“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the church’s most ancient moral teachings,” the letter says. “From the apostles to the present, the magisterium of the church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.”

May 29, 2011

Quote of the Day

by thefulllidvmg

“In the late 1990s, a flurry of books were written about what the Bible says and what the Bible does not say about homosexuality. Outstanding Bible scholars joined the fray. There was a clear winner. The commonly held position today is that the Bible says nothing about same-sex relationships that is relevant to the modern discussion. There are many voices who are still shouting “the Bible says …” but they are seen as irrelevant to our modern discussions of same-sex marriages. They are of the same genre as the recent predictions of the end of the world.

Serious theological discussion has turned to the nature of the marriage relationship rather than the sexual orientation of those who are being bound together. In traditional Protestant wedding ceremonies, the persons presenting themselves for a blessing of their relationships are asked to make promises. They are asked to promise to have and to hold one another from that moment on, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as they both shall live. They are truly joined in marriage when they promise to be faithful in those responsibilities. There is no mention of sexual activity or childbearing. Faithfulness in the keeping of promises is the glue of Christian marriage.

A new discussion of the marriage relationship is a refreshing development. While I am glad to see the demise of legal barriers to gay marriages, and while I am glad to see the growing acceptance of our gay friends in our churches, I am most pleased to see the move to looking at the marriage relationship as an opportunity to experience both human and sacred wholeness.” –Rev. Howard Bess, writing from Wasilla, AK (where Sarah Palin is from)

Enjoy your holiday weekends, yall! Eat some hotdogs and burgers with me :)

May 27, 2011

America’s Moral Acceptance of Same-Sex Marriage

by thefulllidvmg

And this is why many fundamentalists say we are doomed as a country. Money quote:

Americans are somewhat less likely to consider gay or lesbian relations to be morally acceptable than to say they should be legal. However, the 56% who consider gay or lesbian relations morally acceptable is the highest Gallup has measured since this question was first asked in 2001.

May 24, 2011

Waning Support For Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Views

by thefulllidvmg

“We’re losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don’t know if that’s going to change with a little more age—demographers would say probably not. We’ve probably lost that,” – Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family.

In part, I am looking forward to what my generation brings to the table as it grows and progresses. I know, however, that there will be downsides to my generation and everything will not be great with this “more open” mentality.

May 24, 2011

Same-Sex Marriage: “A Choice, Not a Fate”

by thefulllidvmg

Andrew Sullivan explains like almost no one else can:

It has always seemed chilling to me that gay leftists – when pushed to say what they really believe –  want to keep gays in some sort of glorious, oppressed, marginalized position, until the majority agrees with the gay left’s view of human nature, and revolutionizes straight society as well. This will never happen (and in my view, shouldn’t).

Until then, the gay left focuses on demonizing those gays who argue for those who want to belong to their own families as equals, serve their country or commit to one another for life. In this, in my view, the gay left mirrors the Christianist right: they insist that otherness define the minority, even though most members of that minority are born and grow up in the heart of the American family, in all its variations, and of American culture, in all its permutations. No one should be marginalized for seeking otherness. But we are fighting for it to be a choice, not a fate.

He was responding to this piece:

Nobody is saying gay people have to get married—only that it should be a legal option if they want it. If you disagree with marriage, don’t get married.

This is good for the U.S. to think about because just as there are many nuances and shades in different religious groups (literal factual readers of The Bible vs. metaphorical historical readers of The Bible), there are some in the GLBT fold as well.

May 24, 2011

Long Overdue For The NYT?

by thefulllidvmg

They just now brought on their first openly-gay op-ed writer. I would have thought this would have happened before now with the NYT. Anyway, good news for them!

May 24, 2011

A Thought Experiment

by cpmy3rs

I thought about attempting to explain the shift in the perception of the LGBT rights movement within the political class using a number of anecdotes, examples, and data. After a number of attempts I decided it was too much effort. Ultimately a simple thought experiment is easier.

You are an elected official. You’ve been on The Hill for the better part of a decade now and you have a loyal and dedicated staff. Among them is your Deputy Chief of Staff. He (or she) has been with you since the beginning — back when you were an off-message less-than-nothing in a crowded primary field fighting for the honor of losing to some jerk in a heavily gerrymandered district. Against all odds, you won. This staffer worked hundred hour weeks for almost no money to put you in office. Ever since then, he’s been one of your closest confidants — no matter whether the subject is political or personal, you talk about these things with your priest and wife, but for some matters you would trust this staffer’s word over theirs. One day, after a vote on a matter pertaining to LGBT rights, you notice something amiss and eventually you ask if there’s something wrong in his family.

“I’m gay,” he says dejectedly.

You regard yourself as a decent person and, while you’ve known for a long time that gay people existed, you never realized that one was in your office and in your life, helping you. You feel that you owe him an explanation of why you did what you did, but the stock answers aren’t cutting it as you go through them in your head.

What do you do?

Your initial moral inclination is to rationalize your prior beliefs. If you’ve even a minimally developed theological muscle, you ask yourself whether this person’s decent behavior toward you would excuse him of other serious crimes like murder which are also proscribed by your religion. You answer yourself no, it would not. Yet here this man is, standing and waiting for your response. You don’t honestly think of him as a murderer, and at this point you realize that you’re having a very difficult time justifying what you’ve done to civil law using civil reasons.

Obviously this is a thought experiment, and I’ve yet to hear of a case of this exact scenario happening, but it is well established that the views and preferences of staffers have an appreciable impact on those of their bosses (even if only passively.) I find it difficult to imagine that something similar does not exist here. Politicians, whatever we may think of them, are sometimes all too human (aren’t we all?) In instances like these, both in public and private life, I suspect that the discriminating party has felt guilt — or as a number of natural law scholars (most of whom would disagree with how many who engage this experiment in their personal lives end up deciding it) would call it, the faint stirrings of morality. Not merely the guilt of letting down a friend who was acting in a way thought to be immoral, but the uncertain and uneasy guilt associated with entering a state of reflective equilibrium. Regardless, I suspect that though a number of people would deny it, their moral inclinations have (over the past two decades) stirred in a rather different way than their religious ones.

May 21, 2011

A New Era in Same-Sex Marriage Opinion

by thefulllidvmg


Andrew Sullivan explains:

Democrats’ and independents’ support for legalized same-sex marriage increased this year by 13 and 10 points, respectively. Republicans’ views on the issue did not change from last year. Clear majorities of both Democrats and independents now support gay marriage, 69% and 59% respectively, contrasted with 28% support among Republicans.

To go from 41 points behind to 8 points ahead in a decade and a half must count as one of the most successful political and social campaigns in history.

Update: more details on this here.

May 18, 2011

Anti-Discrimination Quote of the Day

by thefulllidvmg

“First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say, ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.

Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin’ idiot. I would even say the same thing in college. Every college player, every pro player in any sport has probably played with a gay person. … They always try to make it like jocks discriminate against gay people. I’ve been a big proponent of gay marriage for a long time, because as a black person, I can’t be in for any form of discrimination at all,” – Sir Charles Barkley.

Barkley is all over the place but his final point is spot on.

May 14, 2011

“Is T.V. Too Gay?”

by thefulllidvmg

A discussion with Bryan Fischer (of course) since the recent Glee episode that featured two same-sex teen couples. Money quote:

As much as you all (Bryan Fischer (American Family Association and other right wing groups) want to bring 1954 back, you can’t.

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