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Posts for September, 2010

More, more, more amicus

Timothy Kincaid

September 24th, 2010

Three more amicus briefs were filed today in addition to those of Ed Whelan and Liberty Counsel.

The American Center for Law and Justice (Jay Sekulow) wrote:

II. MORALITY IS A LEGITIMATE BASIS FOR LEGISLATION.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558(2003), did not abolish the legitimacy of morality as a state interest. Indeed, to have done so would have been both revolutionary and destructive, as morality has long been recognized as a basis for law, and countless laws today rest upon morality. The district court therefore erred in dismissing moral considerations out of hand.

Something called The Hausvater Project, which appears to be related to the parochial schools of the conservative Lutheran Church Missouri Synod filed to support “the right of parents to determine their children’s education”. This one flummoxed me; I have no idea what they are talking about.

Parents have a fundamental right to determine their children’s education, protected under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process clause. California citizens voting in favor of Prop. 8 (“Prop. 8 Supporters”) had, and on their behalf the defendant-intervenors-appellants (“Prop. 8 Proponents”) in this case continue to have, good reason to regard Prop. 8 as a safeguard of that fundamental constitutional right. Since the safeguarding of a constitutional right properly serves the state’s interest, the district court erred in concluding that Prop. 8 serves no legitimate or compelling state interest. Moreover, parents’ fundamental right to determine their children’s education should take priority over the competing claims of plaintiffs-appellees Kristin Perry et al./same-sex couples (“Prop. 8 Opponents”) who plea for Equal Protection and Due Process rights to same-sex marriage.

It seems that they are arguing that because the Proposition 8 campaign played on the fears of parents (“I learned in class that a prince could marry another prince, and I can marry a princess!”) that therefore it is based in the constitutional right of parents to make sure that public schools condemn the things which they condemn. Or something like that.

Which is an odd argument coming from an organization of parochial schools.

The second part of their argument was that allowing gay people to marry would have a “chilling impact” on the religious freedoms of those who want to stop them. If governments actually treat gay people as full citizens and if schools refer to them as such, then it greatly reduces the impact of those who preach from pulpits that they are not.

Far from furthering a state interest, such religious organizations would be in opposition to a state interest, at least insofar as one accepts the district court’s own identifications of the state’s interest and the religious groups’ motivations. This is not small potatoes.

And if Judge Walker’s decision is left intact it would lead to “nothing short of the abolition of parochial schools and homeschooling.” And then they really go bat-poop crazy. It’s all a plan on the part of the homosexuals to destroy family and society; first they redefine marriage and then they’ll take away our children.

A tremendous burden falls now to this court as to whether those asserting the freedom to chose a spouse of the same sex can secure that socially constructed status apart from denying, with increasing tenacity, the fundamental right of a man and a woman to direct the education of the children whom nature calls their own. The social engineers of incremental strategies favoring same-sex marriage have themselves answered the question in the negative. Whatever disappointment a reversal of the district court’s decision may bring to the particular homosexual couples who originated the complaint, at least they will be liberated from serving as pawns in a larger scheme that ultimately would constrain not only their neighbors’ liberties, but also their own.

And finally we have the amicus brief of

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The California Catholic Conference
The National Association of Evangelicals
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons)
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
The Calvary Chapel Fellowship of Ministries of California
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc.
The Council of Korean Churches in Southern California
Southern California Korean Ministers Association
Holy Movement for America

Believe me, other than all being in the broad category of “Christian” and being devoted to the condemnation of gay people and bringing harm to their lives, these folks have nothing in common. It takes a powerful amount of joint purpose, in this case their religious-based animus towards gay people, to get them in the same room.

And I do find it interesting just who is not present in this joint statement. This, more than most any other document, draws the line between combatants over the religious direction of the nation.

We write separately to answer the district court’s distortion and condemnation of our beliefs as irrational and illegitimate and to defend the constitutional right of citizens and associations of faith to participate fully in the democratic process. Contrary to the aspersions cast by the decision below, our beliefs about marriage are not based on hatred or bigotry. Our support for traditional marriage has vastly more to do with a rich tapestry of affirmative teachings about marriage and family than with doctrines directed at the issue of homosexuality. To be sure, our religious beliefs hold that all sexual acts outside traditional marriage are contrary to God’s will. But our faiths also entreat us to love and embrace those who reject our beliefs, not to hate or mistreat them. Bigotry is contrary to our most basic religious convictions.

A bit ironic when you consider that the purpose of this brief is not to love and embrace those who reject their beliefs, but rather to force by law those beliefs which they cannot persuade through preaching.

Faith communities and religious organizations have a long and vibrant history of upholding marriage as the union of a man and a woman for reasons that have little or nothing to do with homosexuality. Indeed, their support for traditional marriage precedes by centuries the very notion of homosexuality as a recognized sexual orientation (see ER106), not to mention the recent movement for same-sex marriage. Many of this nation’s prominent faith traditions have rich religious narratives that describe and extol the personal, familial, and social virtues of traditional marriage while mentioning homosexuality barely, if at all.

Except, of course, that every single denomination listed decries homosexuality as sinful, rebellious, or evil. Without exception.

The gist of their argument is that it is unfair of Judge Walker to take a side in the religious culture war, that they have the right to try and vote their religious beliefs into law, and besides they loooooove the homosexual, they just want to grant special privilege to those who follow their beliefs.

Top Evangelical Leader Resigns After Voicing Support for Civil Unions

Jim Burroway

December 11th, 2008

Richard CizikRichard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, resigned today following widespread criticism from fellow evangelicals over his Dec 2. interview on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” program. Cizik drew outrage by saying that he is “shifting” on the issue of same-sex marriage, saying “I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions.”

Cizik also acknowledged that he voted for President-elect Barack Obama during the primaries, pointing out that younger evangelicals are more willing to support a pro-choice political candidate based on other issues such as health care. He also said he supported the government distributing contraceptives to bring down the number of unwanted pregnancies.

Following the interview, Lieth Anderson, president of the NEA responded to the predictable outcry by eliciting an apology from Cizik. Anderson wrote a letter to the NAE board of directors saying that Cizik had apologized for the remark and that “our NAE stand on marriage, abortion, and other biblical values is long, clear, and unchanged.” NAE executive director W.T. Bassett tried further to calm the waters with an e-mail to constitutents which quoted Cizik as backtracking:

“I categorically oppose ‘gay marriage’ and see now that my thoughts about ‘civil unions’ were misunderstood and misplaced,” Cizik said, according to the message. “I am now and always have been committed to work to pass laws that protect and foster family life, and to work against government attempts to interfere with the integrity of the family, including same-sex ‘marriage’ and civil unions.”

Meanwhile, Cizik drew further criticism from pro-LGBT advocates this past week for being a signatory to the misleading New York Times ad by the Becket Fund which falsely characterized the peaceful protests against Prop 8 as “mob violence.”

Homosexual Mob Violence?

Timothy Kincaid

December 8th, 2008

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty published a full page ad in the New York Times today decrying the “violence and intimidation being directed against the LDS or ‘Mormon’ church” by opponents of Propostion 8. Those signing the missive included:

  • Kevin “Seamus” Hasson – the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
  • Nathan Diament – Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations in America
  • Rick Cizik – National Association of Evangelicals.
  • Ronald J. Sider – Evangelicals for Social Action
  • Chuck Colson – Prison Fellowship
  • Chris Seiple – Institute for Global Engagement
  • Dr. Alveda King – civil rights activist
  • William J. Donohue – Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
  • Robert Seiple – Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
  • Douglas Laycock – University of Michigan Law School
  • Marvin Olasky – The King’s College, New York City
  • Roger Scruton – writer and philosopher
  • Armando Valladares – former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission

Although the signatories claim to “differ about a great many important things” including “the wisdom and justice of California’s Proposition 8”, I find little evidence of this assertion.

The chief signatory, Kevin “Seamus” Hasson is, on the surface, neutral. However he has on several occasions stated his opinion (and that of his organization) that marriage equality is “very expensive in terms of religious liberty”, has an impact that is “severe and pervasive”, and that he opposed the court’s actions legalizing same-sex marriage.

Some others on the list, including Alveda King, Chuck Colson, Roger Scruton, and William Donohue, represent the extreme of anti-gay activists – those who not only oppose marriage equality but any rights or freedoms granted to gay persons. Armando Valladares and Nathan Diament, while not outright haters, are on record in opposition to gay marriage as well as other rights and freedoms.

Others are lesser known and some are liberal on environmental or economic issues. Douglas Laycock advocates for the separation of religious and civil recognition. And Marvin Olasky advocates that “same-sex marriage be opposed only in ways that treat gays as still possessing human dignity”. Rick Civik supports some civil unions recognition.

But I was unable to find a single instance of anyone signing onto this list that was either directly effected by Proposition 8 or opposed to its passage. The range within the signatories is from “I oppose gay marriage” to “I really, really, really oppose gay marriage and anything else that would benefit gay people in any way.”

Now let’s examine this “mob violence and intimidation” against Mormon Churches and their members and see if it merits a full page of condemnation.

Becket and Pals listed a grand total of one objectionable event, so we’ll look at it first:

  • “Thugs sent white powder” to two Mormon churches.

It has never been determined just who sent the powder or why. That, of course, doesn’t deter those who think that gay people should quietly accept a second class status from making the baseless accusation.

The other incidences of “violence” (if you really stretch the word) through November 24th have been itemized by the Salt Lake Tribune. They consist of:

  • Disruption. A group called Bash Back! disrupted services at an Evangelical church in Lansing, Michigan.
  • Vandalism: There have been windows shot out with a bb gun, walls spray-painted, and glue poured into the locks of LDS churches. A Pentecostal church was peppered with eggs and toilet paper.
  • Minor Arson: A Book of Mormon was set on fire on a LDS church doorstep and a plastic plant lit on fire at a University. Someone tried to burn a Yes on 8 yard sign.

In addition to the items listed by the Tribune, I also know of:

Incidents of physical violence seem to have been limited to two, one on each side, and both before the election:

  • A man was hit why trying to protect Yes on 8 signs outside a church in Modesto.
  • An opponent to the proposition was attacked by a supporter and hit with a Yes on 8 sign in Torrance.

But from the language of Becket and Pals, you’d think that buildings were aflame and hospitals full from the victims of rampaging homosexual mobs terrorizing the nation:

Regrettably, some public voices have even sought to excuse the threats and disruptions simply as “demonstrations” that got out of hand. Perhaps that’s true in some cases. Far too many, however, seem never to have been demonstrations in the first place, but more nearly mobs, seeking not to persuade but to intimidate. When thugs send white powder to terrorize any place of worship, especially those of a religious minority, responsible voices need to speak clearly: Religious wars are wrong; they are also dangerous. Those who fail to condemn or seem to condone that intimidation are at fault as well. Consciously or not, they are numbing the public conscience, which endangers us all.

I condemn the behavior that is listed above. I do not, by any means, seek to justify or excuse vandalism. It is not appropriate to break someone’s protest cross even if she is seeking to insult and offend. It is absolutely not acceptable to trespass onto a church property in order to disrupt services.

But the sole instance that could even remotely be considered “nearly a mob” was the instance in the Castro. And while one incident may be “far too many”, this language is intended of obfuscate rather than clarify.

I have to conclude that this ad had nothing to do with violence against Mormons. Rather it is a way of demonizing gays and using insinuation to portray a community as violent and aggressive.

UPDATE:

Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out lists some examples of the religious bigotry spouted by some of these very signatories.