Saturday, August 7, 2010

Religion Is Finally Moving Towards Acceptance of Gay Marriage

As I have been reporting over the past few months, many of the religious movements in the United States, and the world over, have been changing their position on gay relationships and homosexuality in general.

In some more positive news on this front, a recent Salt Lake Tribune article interviewed the head of the national Interfaith Alliance, who stated that marriage is a legal issue and should not be a religious one...

The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy says marriage is a legal issue in the United States and only government can grant a marriage license.
“Religions care about it, yes, but you can’t get married because of your religion,” Gaddy said during a presentation on religious freedom at Sunstone, an annual forum for Mormon culture and academic study in Salt Lake City.
Support of, or opposition to, gay marriage is “not a matter of whether you are a good Christian, a good Mormon, or a good Muslim,” said Gaddy, a Baptist who is also a pastor at Northminster Church in Monroe, La. “It’s a question of whether or not you’re a good American. It’s a question of whether or not you support the Constitution.”
Churches belong in the conversation — and have the right to denounce homosexuality and gay relationships — but should not be allowed to impose their sectarian positions on government.
 “Regardless of how many millions of dollars it invested in the Proposition 8 debate, the Mormon church today, after the court ruling, still has the same right to denounce gay marriage,” Gaddy said. “It has not been silenced. It will still be respected for its views, even if we disagree.”

Kudos to Rev. Gaddy. People like him are key in our struggle to win acceptance within our faith communities. We all must be like this Reverend, and fight for our acceptance by telling our stories.

The True "Anti-Gay" Nature of Focus on the Family

Though we already know how Focus on the Family feels about the whole gay marriage issue, this email that I just got on the Prop 8 ruling is - in my opinion - icing on the fundamentalist hater cake.

And to underscore how important this decision is, if not overturned by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, let me be clear--legalizing same-sex marriage will result in:

1. Your kids being taught in school that same-sex marriage is the moral equivalent of God's design for marriage and that gender does not matter
2. More kids being deprived of the best chance to have both a mom and a dad.
3.  Your tax dollars being used to subsidize benefits for married same-sex couples.

1. FOTF complains that children will be taught that same-sex marriage is the moral equivalent of God's design for marriage. This my friends is the fundamentalist ideal. Over the past few weeks I have been writing about the concept of truth and freedom for the fundamentalist, aka. they cannot have any other ideas that challenge theirs as their ideas are correct. Not only does that phrase show the true fundamentalist nature of FOTF, but it also has two hidden inferences. 1. That gay people are less than straight people - hence should not be married, and 2. That somehow we KNOW that "God designed" marriage for one man one woman. Plus it makes the blatant accusation that same-sex marriage is immoral - even though the Bible - the darling document of the fundamentalist makes no claim on this at all.

2. Kids being deprived of the best chance for a mother and father. Two things on this one. 1. Study after Study has shown that kids are not impacted negatively by same-sex parenting. and 2. Alot of kids that would be in same-sex households would be adopted - and we have orphanages overflowing in the country with kids who don't even have one parent, much less two.

3. "Your tax dollars being used to subsidize benefits for married same-sex couples" - This is the real animus. It does not matter about marriage!!! It does not matter about the word or the institution, like they have been saying all along!! Even with Civil unions or domestic partnerships, people would still have to "subsidize" benefits to same-sex couples. Focus on the Family could care less about marriage, what they instead want to do is conjure up peoples fears about the evil homosexuals. They are directly attacking a people group, there is no supposed love here, for love would end any sort of discrimination.

Judge Walker had it right, bans on gay marriage only reinforce the idea that heterosexual couples are better than same-sex couples, and that my friends is discrimination.

Christian "Freedom" is really just Democratic Slavery

Wow, it has been way to long since I have posted – aka two days, but for all my readers who diligently come back every day, I truly am sorry. Especially since I stated on Tuesday that I would be discussing this posts topic on either Wednesday or Thursday.

Today, I would like to address the concept of freedom. Many times we in our democratic society throw around this word, yet we don’t truly know what it means. Yes, I could get into the concept of positive freedom and liberties vs. negative freedom and liberty, but this post will not be about those differences. Instead, I will be discussing the difference between a Christian Fundamentalist concept of freedom and a democratic pluralistic concept of freedom. Please as always, do not think that I am disparaging Christianity as a whole, but instead rest assured that I am only critiquing an extremist interpretation of Christian Dogma – I would do the same with Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, or any other religion in the world.

When the Christian fundamentalist – hereby only referred to as the fundamentalist – refers to the concept of freedom I don’t believe that they refer to “freedom” as it is commonly understood; to do what you want, as long does not hurt others. That freedom, mostly found in democratic societies, is a concept developed extensively by the Utilitarian political philosopher John Stuart Mill. In what is known as the “Harm Principle”, Mill asserts that man should be able to do what he wants, as long as it does not harm others. Though this principle has been debated extensively, for what might we mean by “harm”, the general principle can and does apply in governmental policy making. For example, murder – since you are harming another person – is punishable by the government; yet smoking – since you are only harming yourself – is legal. A good political party that ascribes to Mill’s Harm Principle would actually be the libertarian party; government should not get involved in regulating something that does not affect others. If they do, they violate your personal freedom. As stated above, though this principle does not “always” hold true, the vast majority of democratic pluralistic legal systems are built upon a modified understanding of it.

Now, how does the fundamentalist define freedom? Before you read any further, I would suggest reading this post on fundamentalism and truth, as it provides the basis for my logic. To the fundamentalist, freedom is not an understanding of the “Harm Principle” or even a modified understanding of it. Instead, the fundamentalist believes within Christianity that they have found true freedom. This freedom is found, as many of you know, in “accepting” Jesus Christ as your personal savior. After having done so, because you have been “saved” from you former self, you are now “free” from said self. But, as all Christians know, the old self keeps popping up, causing you to sin. Well, in fundamentalist theology, sin is not freedom, it is bondage, so in order to not sin, you must “obey” the moral commandments contained in the Bible. I put obey in quotation marks, because fundamentalists don’t use that word, instead they claim that they “want” to abide by the moral codes and not sin, because they are showing their appreciation to Jesus for saving them. Irregardless of this fact, in order to have true “freedom” in the fundamentalist ideal, and not bondage, you must obey the admonitions and moral codes found within the Bible.

Now that I have given you a brief Bible lesson, how does this apply to the concept of freedom within a political society? It is because when a fundamentalist says freedom and liberty vs. when a democratic pluralist says those words, they mean two different things. This is why, when gay rights activist claim to want the “freedom” to marry or the liberty to order their lives as they will, choose a partner of the same sex etc. the fundamentalist claims that they are actually not being free. When a society condones something that the fundamentalist has labeled “sin”, society is actually condoning bondage and slavery. Thus, in order for society to be truly “free” and have the ultimate “freedom” it must come under the moral code of the fundamentalist. This leads to why the fundamentalist must take control of the government, and also why fundamentalist regimes are not compatable with a democratic society. For as I stated in the Truth post, when a fundamentalist is providing true “freedom” – according to their standards – all dissent is not allowed, for it would lead people back into bondage.

So in conclusion, to a democratic pluralist, freedom is abiding by the harm principle, and thus the pluralist will fight for allowing people to do what they want with their lives, even if the pluralist does not necessarily think that it is right. The fundamentalist on the other hand, sees freedom as obedience to a higher moral code and any actions that do not line up with this code are in fact bondage. Thus the fundamentalist has no problem “legislating morality” because in his mind, he is bringing true “freedom” to the world.
As always I welcome your thoughts.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Loveless Marriage Satire!!

New Law Would Ban Marriages Between People Who Don't Love Each Other

I know it takes a little long to load, but it is pretty good. I cant tell if it is making fun of the gay marriage side or not, but regardless it gave me a laugh.

Breaking News from Mexico!!

Though I will get to the Proposition 8 decision soon - sorry it was not yesterday, but I took a day trip to Toronto - I thought that this also deserved some hurrah, as it will likely be overshadowed in the U.S. because of  the Prop 8 decision. The Mexican Supreme Court Ruled that Mexico Cities legalization of gay marriage did not violate the nations Constitution. From the Associated Press...

The Mexican Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a fledgling law allowing same-sex marriages in Mexico City is constitutional, rejecting an appeal by federal prosecutors who argued that it violated the charter's guarantees to protect the family.
The justices have not yet determined the scope of their 8-2 ruling, however, saying they still need to decide whether it will impact states outside of the capital. 
Justices who voted on the majority side stressed that while Mexico's constitution enshrines protection for families, it does not define what a "family" is.
Hundreds of couples have been married so far under Mexico City's 6-month-old law, which was the first of its kind to be enacted in Latin America when it went into effect March 4.
"It does not appear to me to be unconstitutional," Justice Jose Gudino said during Thursday's session. "The concept of the family established in the constitution ... is an open concept."

Hopefully, when the justices review their decision, they will extend the right of marriage equality to every state within the country. GO MEXICO!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The "Redefining" Of Gay Marriage

I was reading the other day a blog from Pastor Gregory Lee in Georgia, and it got me to thinking. What is the significance of a word and why do we as the gay community want to be able to use the word marriage? I think that when we answer this question, we will develop a greater understanding of what marriage is and why we want it. This post will not be aimed at understanding why we want marriage, but instead it will be a response to what Pastor Lee's post was about, the essence of the definition of the word. So therefore please read Pastors Lee's post on his blog.

Pastor Lee starts out with a pretty good explanation of why words and definitions of words matter, yet in his discussion he veers off course and actually bolsters the claim of those who want to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.

Before I explain why, I would like to elaborate on what I just stated on "redefining" marriage. The LGBT community has tried to claim that we are not redefining marriage, but instead are opening up marriage; we are not claiming to increase the amount of people in a marriage, only the genders. This my friends, looks to me as if we are splitting hairs. Marriage, no matter its purpose, has "historically" been one man one woman. Now. the reality of marriage - ex. womens property status, racial laws etc. -  have clouded our discussion when we talk about the definition itself. When the definition is discussed, we are not talking about the reality, we are talking about what it has been "historically" understood as over the past few centuries. Thus, by opening marriage to same gender individuals, we are "changing" or "redefining" the definition, because it has been mostly been between one man and one woman.

That being said, let us look at Pastor Lee's argument.

Pastor Lee starts his discussion with Vidalia Onions then moves onto (what I presume to be) the Mormon version of Jesus. You see, it is in this discussion that Lee trips himself (albeit unintentionally) up. Lee claims that there is one definition that is true - his definition of Jesus, as understood by mainstream Christianity - and that the Mormons are advocating a different definition. By doing so, the Mormons are able to deceive others in the community because they twist the "understood" definition of Jesus. Yet, Pastor Lee, having a correct definition, knows that their definition is false. This my friends is the contradiction. You see, Lee assumes that once marriage is "redefined" to include gay couples, that the traditional understanding of marriage will disappear. This could be farther from the truth!! Though some within society will have a redefined view of marriage, those who cling to a more traditional understanding of the Bible will stay with their traditional views. By redefining marriage in the public sphere, we are not redefining it in the private. By extending the right of civil marriage ( a redefining of the term marriage itself) we are not in any way redefining private religious traditional marriage.

Even in his defense, Pastor Lee bolsters my own argument, by using his own understanding of marriage from a Christian perspective - an understanding that, its interesting to note, many people within the U.S. don't ascribe too. He states,

When we use the term "marriage," we are referring to a God-given institution that was defined as one man and one woman whose lives, including their sexual lives, are experienced solely through that union. They leave their mothers and fathers, they cleave together, and they become one flesh.

No longer will marriage be defined through the religious communities that originally recognized it as a gift from God for men and women meant to reflect our relationship with God Himself. No longer will marriage be defined as one man and one woman living in a committed monogamous relationship for life. 

But Pastor Lee fall short here, for marriage is no longer an institution that is "defined" by the Church. The Church may have started such an institution - that itself is up for debate - but the Church eliminated its "public" defining capacity when it allowed the government to be involved with civil marriage. Pastors Lee's own argument flounders in todays society, though it might be good argument for use in the Church. The Government does not recognize that marriage is a gift from God, or that it was even defined by God; the Government cannot admit such, for to do so would make illegitimate all civil marriages not performed in the Church, for they are not "blessed" by God. 

So is Pastor Lee's argument truly viable in our society? Not really. Though I enjoyed his piece, I believe he made some significant flaws in his reasoning. Though words matter, we all are allowed to "define" it by our religious beliefs. Just like I will show in a few days when I discuss the definition of freedom, words do mean things overall, but our understanding of these meanings will differ based on what world-view we come from. 

The "Concerned" Fundamentalist

This is the type of person that I have been talking about when it comes to fundamentalism...

The statement that clinches my "fundamentalist" lable is this..."This is a battle for your future as a Society, as Americans, and for someday when you stand before the Throne."

Christian "Truth" - An Affront to a Democratic Society

Today I would like to discuss the idea of “truth” to the fundamentalist, and since we live in a majority Christian society, those fundamentalists take on the religious garb of Christianity, hence my title. What is truth to the fundamentalist, and is this perception of truth compatible with a democratic society?

In the Bible – a book which fundamentalist Christianity must take very very literally – it is stated in the book of 2 Timothy that all Scripture is inspired by God. Regardless of the theological problem with such a verse – as it only accounts for the Old Testament being inspired – the fundamentalist views this verse as the “proof text” that both Testaments are the Word of God. Because God cannot be fallible, according to the fundamentalist, it necessarily means that his inspired Word cannot be fallible. Thus it is the Truth, and there is no other truth than that which God has given us in the Bible.

So how does this concept of truth mesh within a democratic pluralistic society? In a simple phrase – it cannot. You see, the fundamentalist believes that God has given him the Truth. In the fundamentalist mind, the proper role of government is to uphold right (truth) and punish wrong (untruth) – (Romans 13:3). Therefore fundamentalist government must uphold the “truth” contained in Scripture. Anyone who disagrees with this “truth” is rebelling not only against the government, but because the Bible is the foundation for governmental truth, he is also disagreeing with God, and deserves to be punished by Government. (Romans 13:2; 4)

So how does this idea of complete submission to “truth” in fundamentalist government eliminate democracy? It is rather obvious. Because you are not allowed to disagree with the established “theocracy” if you will, any dissent, or want of freedom from the establishment is viewed as rebellion. The “truth” of the fundamentalist state is not allowed to be challenged, because it is from God. Is this a democracy? Is this a country where freedom of ideas and actions are permitted? Not at all. This, my friends, is what we must be vigilant to guard ourselves against. The fundamentalist Christian does not realize the end result of their thinking; therefore it is up to us to educate others on the danger of extremism in society. Tomorrow or Thursday I will be addressing the concept of Freedom within a fundamentalist Christian society so make sure to come back.

Amtrak Goes Gay!! From Rachel Maddow

Sunday, August 1, 2010

American Fascists!! The Christian Right and Its War on America - BOTW

This weeks Book of the Week (BOTW) is American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris Hedges. This book has greatly impacted my thinking, as I have personally experienced much of what the author wrote.

This book asks the question - What is Fascism, and how do we get to a Fascist state? Drawing on parallels with Mussolinis Italy and Nazi Germany, Hedges skillfully compares the current Fundamentalist Christian movement in America to the emergence of other Fascist movements in History. Fascism, according to Hedges,  is based upon the ideal of unified cultural thought. Hedges correlates the Religious Rights push for a government established on Christian principles as the start to American Fascism. He asserts that when a nation is governed by one idea, in order to protect national unity, all other ideas must be eliminated. This he says is the goal of the Fundamentalist movement; all other "truths" beside a literal reading of the Bible is false and must not be tolerated.

No only are all opposing ideas eliminated, but the "Christian government" takes on a messianic bent. For if it is a nation governed by Christian principles, then anything it does must be the will of God. Therefore, the goal of said nation is to bring the "truth" of Christian government to all the world, waging war against those who disagree and fighting the "untruths" of secularism.

This book was fascinating not only for its political ramification, but it also because it dealt with the rise of the "Evangelism" movement within fundamentalist Christianity as well as the masculine complex within the "new" form of the religion.  All in all a great read and one that I would highly recommend.

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America

Breaking News!! Minnesota Poll for Governor

In another race that I have been watching, though not blogging about, some new poll numbers came out today from the Minnesota Star Tribune. The Minnesota Governor race is both significant and has been a key race in LGBT politics over the past week with the whole Target and Best Buy donation fiasco. Though I am not going to report on that topic in this post, I am reporting because of this. All of the candidates for governor (DFL and Independent) support gay marriage, only the Republican Tom Emmer does not support it. He has been very outspoken about his opposition to marriage equality for Minnesotans. This race is important this year, because the DFL controlled legislature is very marriage equality friendly, and with a pro-marriage equality person in the governors mansion, we could possibly see a legalization of gay marriage in Minnesota within the next few years!!!

Here is the poll results from MST. As you can see, there is not one DFL candidate yet, as the primary for the party is in two weeks. The DFL candidates are Dayton, Kelliher, and Entenza.


                          Dayton   Kelliher  Entenza    Emmer    Horner
High school or less42%41%36%26%14%
Some college36%33%32%28%15%
College graduate and above40%40%40%35%11%
Household income     
Less than $30,00042%44%35%20%15%
$30,000 to $49,99945%39%38%25%19%
$50,000 to $74,99942%43%36%33%9%
$75,000 and above33%33%34%42%14%
Party identification     
7-county metro39%38%36%33%12%
Rest of state40%40%36%26%15%
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