• Homosexuality •
May 17, 2005
May 13, 2005
The overturning of Nebraska’s marriage amendment at the hands of a federal judge is yet another painful reminder of why we need a Federal Marriage Amendment–now. The issue is simple. Either we will define for the judges what marriage means, or the judges will decide for us. U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon of Omaha struck down the Nebraska measure yesterday, even though the amendment to the state’s constitution went through the appropriate legal channels and was approved by a 70-percent vote. The will of the people of Nebraska was subverted by a single federal judge, whose convoluted logic defies explanation. Judge Bataillon ‘found’ that the Nebraska amendment violated the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians by preventing access to the legislative process in order to push for same-sex marriage. By that logic, the rights of any group can be seen to be violated by virtually any constitutional provision, since no legislature can safely consider a measure that is constitutionally forbidden. With reference to Section 29 of the Nebraska State Constitution (the portion that includes the marriage amendment) the judge stated: “Several members of plaintiff organizations have submitted affidavits showing that Section 29 has inhibited them from lobbying for extension of rights to gay and lesbian couples and has interfered with their ability to provide for themselves and their families.” Of course, preventing any successful move toward legalization of same-sex marriage was the whole point of the constitutional amendment in the first place. In another section of his ruling, Judge Bataillon argues that the amendment “burdens rights of intimate association.” In an extreme leap of judicial logic, the judge claimed that Section 29 would pose a legal danger to other forms of association. Look closely at this section of his ruling: “Marriage cannot be identified or defined solely by sexual, procreational or financial aspects. Many social or associational arrangements run the risk of running afoul of the broad prohibitions of Section 29. Among the threatened relationships would be those of roommates, co-tenants, foster parents, and related people who share living arrangements, expenses, custody of children, or ownership of property. Many of these associational relationships are constitutionally protected at some point along the spectrum from the most hallowed and intimate to the most trivial. Without determining where on this spectrum a potential domestic partnership, civil union or other “same-sex” relationship would fall, let it suffice to say that associations or living arrangements affected by Section 29 are closer to the end of the continuum that deserve Constitutional protection.” The associational rights of roommates would be violated by a ban on same-sex marriages? The judge’s ruling will be appealed, and this case–along with similar cases–will inevitably arrive one day at the U.S. Supreme Court. This is the first time a federal judge has struck down a state constitutional amendment intended to prevent same-sex marriage. It is not likely to be the last. Judge Bataillon has provided us with a new definition of judicial activism.
May 12, 2005
U.S. Dictrict Court Judge Joseph Bataillon struck down Nebraska’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Known as Initiative 416, the amendment passed in 2000 with 70-percent of the vote. The measure also prohibits civil unions. The judge’s decision appears to be based in an absolutely bizarre logic–that the constitutional amendment prevents homosexuals from going to the Nebraska legislature for legalization of same-sex unions and similar benefits. By defining equal protection in terms of equal access to the legislature–without regard to the right of the people to amend their state constitution–this judge apears to be following the lead of the U.S. Supreme Court in its Romer v. Evans decision. Once again, the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment has been made painfully clear. More later. For news coverage, see this story from The Associated Press.
May 9, 2005
David Brooks moved to The New York Times in 2003, taking possession of a rare opportunity to serve as a columnist for the nation’s most influential newspaper. Brooks was touted as a conservative who would help bring balance to the overwhelmingly liberal slant of the NYT editorial and commentary pages. A veteran of The Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal, Brooks had genuine conservative credentials. Beyond this, he is often a masterful writer, combining deep cultural understanding with a fine reportorial eye. His books, especially Bobos in Paradise and On Paradise Drive, are filled with keen insights and clever anecdotes, even if both suffer from a lack of final judgment. His moral analysis often suffers from the same fundamental failure–no final judgment.
May 3, 2005
Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church USA’s first openly-homsoexual bishop, recently addressed a Planned Parenthood “prayer breakfast” and national leadership conference. According to The Washington Times, Robinson told the crowd that liberals must offer a “religious defense” against conservative Christianity. “Our defense against religious people has to be a religious defense. . . . We must use people of faith to counter the faith-based arguments against us,” he said. In his article, reporter Jon Ward revealed that Robinson “took aim at traditional interpretations of the Bible.” In the bishop’s words: “We have allowed the Bible to be taken hostage, and it is being wielded by folks who would use it to hit us over the head. We have to take back those Scriptures . . . You know, those stories are our stories. I tell this to lesbian folk all the time: The story of freedom in Exodus is our story. . . . That’s my story, and they can’t have it.” So, the Exodus is his story. The biblical account of the rescue of the Children of Israel from the hands of the Eyptians becomes a narrative of homosexual liberation. How does he get to this? Look at his principle of biblical interpretation: “What an unimaginative God it would be if God only put one meaning in any verse of Scripture.” Ah, imagination. It certainly takes a great deal of imagination to get to Bishop Robinson’s interpretation of Scripture–especially those texts that so clearly condemn homosexuality as sin. Back to the issue of abortion, Robinson explains his “pro-choice” position on the Planned Parenthood Web site. When asked, “Are you pro-choice?,” Robinson answers: “Absolutely. The reason I love the Episcopal Church is that it actually trusts us to be adults. In a world where everyone tries to paint things as black or white, Episcopalians feel pretty comfortable in the gray areas. I’m sure there must be individual congregations, and certainly individuals, who are off the deep end about this issue, but for the most part, the stance that we have taken speaks to our people as a mature and adult way of dealing with this — that we protect a woman’s right to choose but also say that obviously there are very deep things involved here. So we encourage our folks to take this very private issue seriously. We urge them to talk to their priests about it and to think through all the questions they might have. And then we absolutely stand behind a woman’s right to choose. I think that’s a responsible place to be.” Finally: “Planned Parenthood is an organization that I have always admired and respected. It does such extraordinarily fine work, and I’m very happy to be associated with it.” And, Planned Parenthood is clearly happy to be associated with Bishop Robinson. Here we find true guilt by association.
April 30, 2005
The conviction of a lesbian minister in the United Methodist Church has been reversed by an appeals panel, The New York Times reports. The Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud was removed from the ministry after a Methodist court had found her guilty of violating the Book of Dicipline of the United Methodist Church by announcing that she was in a lesbian relationship with another woman. The Book of Discipline states that homosexuality is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus and excludes “practicing homosexuals” from the ordained ministry. Following the sad example of other liberal church courts, this panel, which voted 8-1 to reverse the conviction, ignored the clear instruction of the church. In this case, the panel declared that the denomination had never defined the phrase “practicing homosexual.” By now, all must know that a determined band of homosexual activists will not rest until homosexuality is normalized, even in the ministry. They will ignore the clear teachings of Scripture, the discipline of their churches, and the integrity of the English language. When “practicing homosexual” needs further definition, sanity has left the room. Rev. Ira Gallaway of The Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church released the following statement: “The Northeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals has refused to follow the teaching of Scripture, two-thousand years of Judeo-Christian tradition, and the clear teaching of The Book of Doctrine and Discipline of The United Methodist Church with regard to homosexual practice. Beth Stroud is a self-avowed practicing lesbian living in a relationship with another woman by her own testimony. By reversing the Clergy Court verdict, the Jurisdictional Committee has brought great harm to The United Methodist Church. Surely the Judicial Council will take a careful look at this action and reverse this decision. The Council has already ruled in 2004 that a clergy person found to be a practicing homosexual by a Church trial may not be appointed to serve as a United Methodist pastor. How tragic that a radical minority within The United Methodist Church seem determined to divide the Church.” Tragic, indeed–but the tragedy is not limited to one denomination. Furthermore, the UMC language is abundantly clear. It’s Book of Discipline reads as follows: “While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” In a footnote, the text stipulates a definition: “‘Self-avowed practicing homosexual’ is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual.”
April 21, 2005
Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Bell–a Republican–signed a bill yesterday, legalizing civil unions in her state. Marriage without the name, these civil unions will be invested with practically all the benefits and protections granted to marriage. Connecticut becomes the first state to adopt civil union legislation without being ordered to do so by a court. Gov. Bell was proud of this, saying that it “certainly bodes well for Connecticut that we didn’t have to be ordered to do this.” It bodes ill for civilization, but this governor seems unconcerned about all that. After all, she is sure to get a positive reaction from the liberal press. See coverage in The New York Times. Meanwhile, California Democrats endorsed same-sex marriage at their annual convention. See coverage at 365gay.com.
April 14, 2005
Thousands of schools all over America observed the “Day of Silence” yesterday, an event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network [GLSEN]. The program, now in its tenth year, represents an effort by gay activists to push their agenda in the schools and to argue that homosexuals, lesbians, and transgendered persons have been “silenced” in the educational curriculum.
March 17, 2005
Well, it’s happened again. On Monday, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer ruled that withholding marriage licenses from same-sex couples violates California’s constitution. His decision, which is on stay pending appeal, threatens to put the nation’s most populous state next in line for court-mandated same-sex marriage.
March 8, 2005
“Any lasting solution will require people somewhere along the line to say, ‘Yes, we were wrong’.” Those words were spoken by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams just after the Primates of the Anglican Communion (leaders of the national churches connected to the Anglican tradition) had asked the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council for at least three years.
February 25, 2005
The word out of New York City is truly ominous–a new and potentially more aggressive form of the H.I.V. virus has been reported by medical authorities. In the report issued just this month, New York City health officials revealed that they had identified what appears to be a new strain of H.I.V. in a single individual whose case, according to The New York Times, was “particularly worrisome because it merged two unusual features: resistance to nearly all anti-retroviral drugs used to treat the infection, and stunningly swift progression from infection to full-fledged AIDS.” As the officials warned, this new combination could represent a new front in the war against AIDS and a new challenge to medical authorities.
February 17, 2005
What are we to make of Abraham Lincoln? This larger-than-life figure that has cast such an enduring shadow over American history continues to defy historical analysis. The so-called “Lincoln Myth” that emerged shortly after his assassination in 1865 continues as the nation’s central memory to this day. The most interesting debate over Lincoln and his legacy has been conducted by a cadre of conservative scholars who have debated Lincoln’s real convictions on slavery and his real goal in preserving the union.