Saturday, June 11, 2011

Religious Right Cries "Victim" Once Again

     This week, David Crary wrote an article about the bullying of the Religious Right by LGBT activists, an article that find deeply disturbing, mainly because it paints those opposed to marriage equality as some innocent victims that are being accosted by the evil gays. The full text of the article can be found here, but in one sentence the article asserts that anti-marriage equality groups are feeling as though they are the ones being subjected to intolerance from LGBT groups and activists. Crary states,
To them, the gay-rights lobby has morphed into a relentless bully — pressuring companies and law firms into policy reversals, making it taboo in some circumstances to express opposition to same-sex marriage.
“They’re advocating for a lot of changes in the name of tolerance,” said Jim Campbell, an attorney with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund. “Yet ironically the tolerance is not returned, for people of faith who don’t agree with their agenda.”
       First off, sorry Mr. Campbell, but that is called the free market of ideas. It is not bullying when corporations are called out on their particular business practices or support by those who oppose such practices, for the corporation is about to make a market decision about which community it wants to keep. Does the LGBT community cry "bullying" when the American Family Association decides to boycott Home Depot or Disney? Of course not; instead we patronize those businesses because they are firm backers of our equality. Conversely, we do not support organizations such as Target or Urban Outfitters because of their anti-gay rights stances.  Its called Capitalism Mr. Campbell, not bullying.

      At the end of the article Chuck Colson, of Manhattan Declaration fame, states that,
“The gay-rights groups have shown their fangs,” wrote Chuck Colson, the Watergate figure turned born-again Christian who helped launch the Manhattan Declaration. “They want to silence, yes, destroy those who don’t agree with their agenda.”
      Oh Chuck, if only you were correct. No, we in the LGBT movement have no problem with you spewing your hateful rhetoric against our community in the privacy of your churches and homes - that is your right, and I will be the first one to defend it.  But the LGBT community does have the authority and the imperative as Americans to orchestrate our movement in such a way as to gain sympathy for our cause, just like you do yours. You may not like it, but we have the freedom, just as you have the freedom, to attempt to convince business, the public, and political leaders that equality for LGBT people is the best option. As I said, that not silencing, that is true dialogue and debate over these important issues. You just think you are being silenced because you are losing; and mainstream society is fed up with your bullshit.

      The difference between our sides though, is that though there may be the oddball LGBT individual who makes threats like those aimed at Sen. Diaz, or tells blatant untruths about our opponents; but thats not the majority of our community. Can the same be said of those on your side? I think not. For from the very top echelons of your movement, for example The Family Research Council, American Family Association, and Focus On The Family, to the tiny state and local organizations that do their bidding, we see institutional support for blatant lies against the LGBT community,something that our community is sick and tired of. So don't for a minute compare our two movements; there is really no comparison.

       Could it not be though, that when lies and the fears that Religious Right leaders have embedded within their followers about LGBT people are found out to be fabrications, that those who have been so duped react against these organizations? Could it not be that the Religious Right has brought this loss upon themselves? For lies only go so far until they are brought to light and public reaction to those lies isn't pretty... something to think about.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pittsburgh Pride Flash Mob - Awesome!!

Just taking a break with this post from LGBT news and political theory stuff. Thought I would share this because this performance made me smile, hopefully it does the same for you!!

The Case For The Constitution: Federalist Six

        In today's reading of the Federalist, we come to Federalist Six. In this paper, Alexander Hamilton analyzes the potential for war between the respective states, and how this fact gives credence to the fact that they should band together in a republic.

     To Hamilton, this potential for war between the states is real, and should be expected based upon history. Many of the nations of Europe, in close proximity of each other, have gone to war based upon both the avarice of the respective monarchs as well as the longing of individuals for human glory. Commerce, the one thing that political theorists assert keep neighboring and trading nations from going to war with one another, has not historically been enough of a deterrence to violent conflict. Hamilton outlines how many wars have been started by commercial nations - specifically addressing the examples of Carthage and Britain.  As Hamilton points out, though there may be commercial harm to a nation by going to war with another country,
"The cries of the nation and the importunities of their representatives have, upon various occasions, dragged their monarchs into war, or continued them in it, contrary to their inclinations, and, sometimes, contrary to the real interests of the state." 
       Thus, what is the only way that the American States can be sure to not repeat the wars of Europe and the ancient world? To Hamilton, the only answer is that the States must recognize their respective weaknesses, and band together to protect one another from harm. Though Commerce is not a deterrent to war; a confederation based upon the common weakness of the individual states will be. In Federalist Seven, Hamilton will extrapolate on this theory, so stay tuned.

Religious Accommodation and Illinois Civil Unions Law

     I wrote about Catholic Charities, and the uproar they are causing in Illinois about having to give adoption services to gay and lesbian couples under the new civil unions law, a few days ago. In my discussion with people on this issue, both online and in person, many individuals have claimed that Catholic Charities should be allowed to discriminate and receive public funding because there are other options available to same-sex couples, in the form of public adoption agencies. This view was primarily articulated by Charles Haynes at the Daily Iowan in his article "Gay Rights vs. Religious Accommodation". 

     I have two responses for this seemingly acceptable compromise. First, that does not address the issue that I brought up in my last post on this subject - that same-sex couples are not receiving equal treatment in a service that their tax money is paying for. If the state would allow this religious accommodation, it would be allowing heterosexual married couples access the whole whole proverbial pie, yet restricting same-sex couples to  only a selected portion of it. That is not the equal access or equal treatment under the law.

       Secondly, when discussing the concept of religious accommodation, it is essential that those who are asking for such accommodation are consistent in its application. For example, if Catholic Charities had regulations that they would not place children in the homes of atheists, non-Christians, inter-faith couples, or couples where one person had been divorced, I would see - though not agree - with their rational for denying same-sex couples their services. Yet do we see this consistency? Not at all, for all of the above are allowed to adopt children through Catholic Charities without Catholic Charities batting an eye when processing their application.  The lesson from this example is that when receiving public funding, organizations such as Catholic Charities, cannot pick and choose which religious doctrines that they will follow in providing services, for it could be asked by the government, "You say that you religiously feel strongly about this one thing, yet you still do it? Why then are you asking for special exemption on this other issue?". If Catholic Charities is to receive any sort of religious accommodation, it should apply its religious beliefs consistently, not with selectivity.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Catholic Charities Whine About Freedom Of Religion

      Sorry I have been incognito over the past week or so, but my LSAT was this past Monday, and blogging had to take a backseat to that. Thankfully, that test is over, so I am now back to both blogging and tweeting.

      As many of you probably know, the Catholic Church in Illinois has been having a hissy fit over the new civil unions law and its impact on their adoption agencies. As of last month, the Catholic adoption agencies were allowed to not place children with non-married homosexual couples; but, since the civil unions law went into effect on June 1st, they would have been required to not discriminate against said couples in adoption placement.  They have obviously cried foul because of their religious beliefs, and have decided to file suit in court to halt any potential lawsuits against the adoption agencies who refuse to place children in same-sex homes. If an injunction is not issued, then they have decided that they will stop providing adoption services.

       To listen to the far right media, it would seem as though the evil homosexuals were forcing the Catholic Charities to place children in same-sex households, but this is only half true. Right now, the state of Illinois provides taxpayer money to the agencies as well as has a statute that states that taxpayer funded agencies cannot discriminate on the basis of marital status.  Therefore, the real hoopla is not about whether the Catholic adoption agencies are allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples; but instead it is about whether the agencies are allowed to do so on the public dime.

      As I have stated numerous times on this blog, religious liberty is not necessarily a legitimate excuse if you do not agree with the state on something, its application only goes so far. Yes, we in America and the West in general provide large protections to religious organizations and denominations. Yet, these protections are not infinite, they are constrained by a few important details.

      In this particular case, the State of Illinois has all the right in the world to require the Catholic agencies to place children in same-sex households. Why? Because these agencies are receiving taxpayer money from state to provide these services equally. A taxpaying heterosexual couple should not get any more favorable treatment because they are heterosexual, than a taxpaying homosexual couple would get.

      If Catholic agencies wanted  to provide adoption services free from government financing, they are free to do so. Its just when you take government money, some of your rights are restricted; thats the price you pay for government help.
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