Gore Vidal and the Sky God

The death of author and controversialist Gore Vidal last week brought an end to one of America’s most gifted and flamboyantly offensive literary voices. Eugene…

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The Case of the Lesbian Den Mother: Moral Reasoning Exposed

By now, most Americans have probably heard of the lesbian mother forced out as a den mother for the Tiger Scouts, a program for first-graders offered by the Boy Scouts of America. For a few days, the story filtered through the Internet until it broke as an Associated Press article last week.

That article by reporter John Seewer reveals that Jennifer Tyrrell had been serving as a leader in Ohio Pack 109 of the Tiger Scouts. Tyrrell was forced to leave that post when officials of the Boy Scouts learned that she was a lesbian. The Boy Scouts of America have had a clearly stated policy against homosexuals serving as adult leaders, though that policy has usually been applied to men.

As a private organization, the Boy Scouts has the legal right to exclude both gays and lesbians from membership and leadership. That right was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000, but that has not ended the controversy. Since that decision, the Boy Scouts have paid dearly for the policy, as some cities and other governments and institutions have severed support and relationships with the BSA and its local programs.

Now, the controversy is focused on Tyrrell, whose reinstatement is now demanded by gay rights organizations and some of the parents of the boys involved in the Bridgeport, Ohio troop. At least some of those parents knew that Tyrrell was a lesbian, while others did not. In any event, she has become the center of a national debate.

The Boy Scouts of America has the right to establish policies consistent with its convictions. Indeed, the group’s policy of excluding homosexuals from leadership would seem to be necessary and prudent. A consideration of recent national scandals should make that point sufficiently clear.

No one is charging Jennifer Tyrrell with any improper action or motivation in this case, but the Scouts applied their policy and the controversy is now incredibly revealing.

One parent said this: “I teach my children to judge people on their actions . . . whether you agree with their lifestyle or not.”

The only way to make sense of this is to see that this parent is trying to separate “actions” from “lifestyle” as if the lifestyle should be free from moral scrutiny. Lifestyles involve actions, but those are now to be considered beyond moral judgment.

Oddly enough, this rather bizarre form of thinking is indicative of a larger cultural pattern. Sexual relationships are off-limits for moral judgment. What is left is a far smaller sector of moral investigation. Once sexual behavior is removed from moral scrutiny, what will be declared off-limits next?

As one observer recently noted, our society is exchanging moral concern about sex for moral concern about diet. We are not sure that moral judgments should be made when it comes to sexual behaviors, but when it comes to free range chickens and excess carbohydrates, the moral categories kick in.

The Boy Scouts of America is a venerable and noble organization, and one that deserves our support. Given the kind of opposition it now faces, that support will be needed.

A June Surprise? President Obama and Same-Sex Marriage

Is President Obama about to endorse same-sex marriage? The possibility was the subject of open speculation on the front page of Sunday’s edition of The New York Times. Reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg quoted an unnamed Democratic strategist close to the White House, who said that the President’s advisers are considering the political costs, if any, of such an action.

When President Obama ran for office in 2008, he stated that he was opposed to same-sex marriage, but he ran as an ardent supporter of the homosexual community. This week, he will host a $1,250-a-plate “Gala for the Gay Community” in New York City. Stolberg also reports that the President will host a gay pride reception at the White House on June 29. The issue of same-sex marriage will inevitably be discussed, especially given the fact that the New York legislature may be poised to legalize same-sex marriage as early as this week.

Interestingly, Stolberg cites the fact that while Obama, as a candidate, ran as one opposed to same-sex marriage, “he may have been for same-sex marriage before he was against it.”

She writes: “In 1996, as a candidate for the State Senate in Illinois, Mr. Obama responded to a questionnaire from a gay newspaper. ‘I favor legalizing same-sex marriages,’ Mr. Obama wrote, ‘and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.'”

President Obama has already called and worked for the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and has instructed his Attorney General not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. Same-sex marriage seems like the logical next step, given the President’s record.

Nevertheless, an open endorsement of same-sex marriage by an incumbent President of the United States would be a very significant and troubling development. If he were to do so, President Obama would not only repudiate his former position(s), he would push this nation toward the unraveling of civilization’s most central institution — marriage.

The unnamed Democratic strategist said that President Obama “is clearly a president who is interested in making big historical changes . . . I think this issue has moved into that context for him.”

The realm of politics is as corrupted by sin as is any other dimension of creation and human culture. Here is a prime example of that fact. With this article, the White House is moving forward in gauging the political costs of such a move. The very fact that this article appeared in a Sunday edition of The New York Times indicates that the White House is well down the road of endorsing same-sex marriage. If this strategist is right, President Obama sees himself as the leader who can make “big historical changes.” Well, this one is big, indeed.

Such a move would represent nothing less than a moral revolution. Furthermore, the one who makes such a move would be nothing less than a moral revolutionary.

A Warning of Intimidations to Come

The defense of the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] got a little more complicated yesterday as the law firm that the House of Representatives had hired to defend the law withdrew from the case. As The New York Times stated bluntly, the firm dropped the case “amid pressure from gay rights groups.”

The Atlanta-based firm, King & Spalding, had agreed to take the case, and one of its lawyers, Paul D. Clement, was to lead the legal effort to defend the constitutionality of DOMA, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman in terms of federal recognition. The law also prevents any state from being forced to grant legal recognition to a same-sex marriage performed in another state.

Robert D. Hays, Jr., chairman of King & Spalding, released a statement in which he said: “In reviewing this assignment further, I determined that the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate. … Ultimately I am responsible for any mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have created.”

Clement, a former solicitor general of the United States under President George W. Bush, immediately resigned from King & Spalding and will continue to represent the House of Representatives in the case.

As The New York Times reported, Clement said: “I resign out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. … Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do. I recognized from the outset that this statute implicates very sensitive issues that prompt strong views on both sides. But having undertaken the representation, I believe there is no honorable course for me but to complete it.”

Gay rights groups hailed the law firm’s decision. Activist groups such as the Human Rights Campaign had lobbied King & Spalding to drop the case. The Weekly Standard obtained copies of emails sent by the Human Rights Campaign to supporters that read, in part: “Later that day we announced the elements of our campaign to show King & Spalding’ hypocrisy for taking on Defense of DOMA while touting their pro-gay policies – including their 95% score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. … In the meantime we also contacted many of the firm’s clients, LGBT student groups at top law schools and used social media to inform the public about K&S’s wrongheaded decision.”

The success of the group’s efforts to intimidate King & Spalding serves as a warning of things to come. This is the kind of intimidation that will be used against any organization or institution — or law firm — that takes a controversial case and opposes the agenda of the gay rights movement. Watch and be warned.

We should also take special note of the statement by Paul Clement. He defended his commitment to defend DOMA and the U.S. House of Representatives by stating, “Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do.”

So, now DOMA and the House of Representatives fall under the category of “unpopular clients” despite the fact that DOMA was passed by the overwhelming vote of both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. That statement underlines the moral revolution happening in our midst and indicates what groups like the Human Rights Campaign are certain is the direction of history. Armed with that confidence, intimidation is now the order of their day.

The Osteen Moment — Your Own Moment Will Come Soon Enough

Joel Osteen found himself forced to answer a question that every Christian — and certainly every Christian leader — will be forced to answer. When that moment comes, and come it will, those who express confidence in the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is a sin will find themselves facing the same shock and censure from the very same quarters.

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