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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, May 12

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2012

Prop 8 Supporters React

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

First, we go to Andy Pugno, general counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the losing side in today’s decision:

“Today’s ruling is clearly a disappointment. The judge’s invalidation of the votes of over seven million Californians violates binding legal precedent and short-circuits the democratic process. But this is not the end of our fight to uphold the will of the people for traditional marriage, as we now begin an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“It is disturbing that the trial court, in order to strike down Prop 8, has literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill and discriminatory intent when casting their votes for Prop 8.

“But the reality is that Prop 8 was simply about restoring and strengthening the traditional definition of marriage as the unique relationship of a man and a woman, for the benefit of children, families and society.

“At trial we built a solid record to show that marriage has served as the foundation of the family and society as a whole, has universal functions and features attributable only to unions between a man and woman, has been defined in both law and language as a union between a man and a woman, and acts as the predominate relationship in which to create and support children.

“We are confident that the trial court record we built will help us ultimately prevail on appeal and reverse today’s ruling.

Newt Gingrich, who believes in the sanctity of marriage between on man and three consecutive women, warns that this should be another knock against confirming Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court:

“Judge Walker’s ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife. In every state of the union from California to Maine to Georgia, where the people have had a chance to vote they’ve affirmed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy. Today’s notorious decision also underscores the importance of the Senate vote tomorrow on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court because judges who oppose the American people are a growing threat to our society.”

Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America stomps her foot and demands that the decision be overturned immediately:

Judge Walker’s decision goes far beyond homosexual ‘marriage’ to strike at the heart of our representative democracy. Judge Walker has declared, in effect, that his opinion is supreme and ‘We the People’ are no longer free to govern ourselves. The ruling should be appealed and overturned immediately.

“Marriage is not a political toy. It is too important to treat as a means for already powerful people to gain preferred status or acceptance. Marriage between one man and one woman undergirds a stable society and cannot be replaced by any other living arrangement.

Robert George of the American Principles Project, sees this as ensuring “additional decades fo social dissension and polarization”:

Another flagrant and inexcusable exercise of ‘raw judicial power’ threatens to enflame and prolong the culture war ignited by the courts in the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade,” said Dr. Robert P. George, Founder of the American Principles Project. “In striking down California’s conjugal marriage law, Judge Walker has arrogated to himself a decision of profound social importance—the definition and meaning of marriage itself—that is left by the Constitution to the people and their elected representatives.”

“As a decision lacking any warrant in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the Constitution, it abuses and dishonors the very charter in whose name Judge Walker declares to be acting. This usurpation of democratic authority must not be permitted to stand.”

…“The claim that this case is about equal protection or discrimination is simply false,” George said. “It is about the nature of marriage as an institution that serves the interests of children—and society as a whole—by uniting men and women in a relationship whose meaning is shaped by its wonderful and, indeed, unique aptness for the begetting and rearing of children.

…“Judge Walker has abandoned his role as an impartial umpire and jumped into the competition between those who believe in marriage as the union of husband and wife and those who seek to advance still further the ideology of the sexual revolution. Were his decision to stand, it would ensure additional decades of social dissension and polarization. Pro-marriage Americans are not going to yield to sexual revolutionary ideology or to judges who abandon their impartiality to advance it. We will work as hard as we can for as long as it takes to defend the institution of marriage and to restore the principle of democratic self-government,” concluded Dr. George.

Focus On the Family’s Judicial Analyst Bruce Hasknecht (he apparently didn’t get layed off last week) warns that this could have repurcussions for the other 49 states in the union:

“Judge Walker’s ruling raises a shocking notion that a single federal judge can nullify the votes of more than 7 million California voters, binding Supreme Court precedent, and several millennia-worth of evidence that children need both a mom and a dad.

“During these legal proceedings, the millions of California residents who supported Prop 8 have been wrongfully accused of being bigots and haters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, they are concerned citizens, moms and dads who simply wanted to restore to California the long-standing understanding that marriage is between one woman and one man – a common-sense position that was taken away by the actions of another out-of-control state court in May 2008.

“Fortunately for them, who make up the majority of Californians, this disturbing decision is not the last word.

…“We do want Americans to understand the seriousness of this decision, however. If this judge’s decision is not overturned, it will most likely force all 50 states to recognize same-sex marriage. This would be a profound and fundamental change to the social and legal fabric of this country.

Tony Perkins at the Family Research COuncil anticipates that the decisionwill be upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (“the most liberal appeals court in America”), and will only make the anti-gay rhetoric “more volatile”:

“This lawsuit, should it be upheld on appeal and in the Supreme Court, would become the ‘Roe v. Wade’ of same-sex ‘marriage,’ overturning the marriage laws of 45 states. As with abortion, the Supreme Court’s involvement would only make the issue more volatile. It’s time for the far Left to stop insisting that judges redefine our most fundamental social institution and using liberal courts to obtain a political goal they cannot obtain at the ballot box.

“Marriage is recognized as a public institution, rather than a purely private one, because of its role in bringing together men and women for the reproduction of the human race and keeping them together to raise the children produced by their union. The fact that homosexuals prefer not to enter into marriages as historically defined does not give them a right to change the definition of what a ‘marriage’ is.

“Marriage as the union between one man and one woman has been the universally-recognized understanding of marriage not only since America’s founding but for millennia. To hold that the Founders created a constitutional right that none of them could even have conceived of is, quite simply, wrong.

“FRC has always fought to protect marriage in America and will continue to do so by working with our allies to appeal this dangerous decision. Even if this decision is upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals-the most liberal appeals court in America-Family Research Council is confident that we can help win this case before the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Randy Thomasson, of Save California thinks the oath of office should be updated to force judges to only issue conservative rulings:

“Natural marriage, voter rights, the Constitution, and our republic called the United States of America have all been dealt a terrible blow. Judge Walker has ignored the written words of the Constitution, which he swore to support and defend and be impartially faithful to, and has instead imposed his own homosexual agenda upon the voters, the parents, and the children of California. This is a blatantly unconstitutional ruling because marriage isn’t in the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution guarantees that state policies be by the people, not by the judges, and also supports states’ rights, thus making marriage a state jurisdiction. It is high time for the oath of office to be updated to require judicial nominees to swear to judge only according to the written words of the Constitution and the original, documented intent of its framers. As a Californian and an American, I am angry that this biased homosexual judge, in step with other judicial activists, has trampled the written Constitution, grossly misused his authority, and imposed his own agenda, which the Constitution does not allow and which both the people of California and California state authorities should by no means respect.”

Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association goes further, and calls for Judge Walker’s impeachement:

“This is a tyrannical, abusive and utterly unconstitutional display of judicial arrogance. Judge Walker has turned ‘We the People’ into ‘I the Judge.’

“It’s inexcusable for him to deprive the citizens of California of their right to govern themselves, and cavalierly trash the will of over seven million voters. This case never should even have entered his courtroom. The federal constitution nowhere establishes marriage policy, which means under the 10th Amendment that issue is reserved for the states.

“It’s also extremely problematic that Judge Walker is a practicing homosexual himself. He should have recused himself from this case, because his judgment is clearly compromised by his own sexual proclivity. The fundamental issue here is whether homosexual conduct, with all its physical and psychological risks, should be promoted and endorsed by society. That’s why the people and elected officials accountable to the people should be setting marriage policy, not a black-robed tyrant whose own lifestyle choices make it impossible to believe he could be impartial.

“His situation is no different than a judge who owns a porn studio being asked to rule on an anti-pornography statute. He’d have to recuse himself on conflict of interest grounds, and Judge Walker should have done that.

“The Constitution says judges hold office ‘during good Behavior.’ Well, this ruling is bad behavior – in fact, it’s very, very bad behavior – and we call on all members of the House of Representatives who respect the Constitution to launch impeachment proceedings against this judge.”

Richard Land demands the revival of the Federal Marriagae Amendment

“This is a grievously serious crisis in how the American people will choose to be governed. The people of our most populous state—a state broadly indicative of the nation at large demographically—voted to define marriage as being between one man and one woman, thus excluding same-sex and polygamous relationships from being defined as marriage.

“Now, an unelected federal judge has chosen to override the will of the people of California and to redefine an institution the federal government did not create and that predates the founding of America. Indeed, ‘marriage’ goes back to the Garden of Eden, where God defined His institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

“This case will clearly make its way to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court of the United States, where unfortunately, the outcome is far from certain. There are clearly four votes who will disagree with this judge—Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, and Alito. The supreme question is: Will there be a fifth? Having surveyed Justice Kennedy’s record on this issue, I have no confidence that he will uphold the will of the people of California.

“If and when the Supreme Court agrees with the lower court, then the American people will have to decide whether they will insist on continuing to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people, or whether they’re going to live under the serfdom of government by the judges, of the judges and for the judges. Our forefathers have given us a method to express our ultimate will. It’s called an amendment to the Constitution. If the Supreme Court fails to uphold the will of the people of California—if we are going to have our form of government altered by judicial fiat—then the only alternative left to us is to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

“Many senators who voted against the federal marriage amendment the last time it came up said publicly if a federal court interfered with a state’s right to determine this issue, they would then be willing to vote for a federal marriage amendment. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to vote.

Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition is losing his creativity. In fact, his statement is rather boring. I won’t bother posting it. But TVC state lobbyist Benjamin Lopez thinks this will motivate the Tea Party Movement even more:

“If folks think that the Tea Party movement is a force to be reckoned with now, wait until the silent majority of pro-family voters flex their political muscle once again. Judges beware, you will go the way of Rose Bird, stripped of their robes and kicked off the bench,” Lopez added.

Oops! Lopez’s statement appears to have been deleted, which just leaves Sheldon’s uncreative outrage.

Southern Baptists oppose health insurance for gays

Timothy Kincaid

November 30th, 2009

Richard LandIn an article in the Baptist Press about legislation to provide equal benefits to gay federal employees, prominent Southern Baptist Richard Land declares his opposition and that of his fellow Baptists.

The bill, H.R. 2517, would bestow on homosexual partners of federal employees such benefits as health insurance, retirement and disability benefits, group life insurance, and family and medical leave.

Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land criticized the proposal both before and after the committee’s vote.

“Most Southern Baptists believe that the only relationship that should be defined by its sexual nature and should have special benefits accrued to it is heterosexual marriage,” said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Nov. 25.

Land makes much of his pretense that such a bill would “discriminate” against heterosexuals who are allowed to marry but decide that they don’t wish to do so. Such appeals to irrationality reveal Land’s insincerity and smugness.

Land seems quite happy that straight employees receive greater compensation packages than gay employees. After all, these employment benefits are “special benefits” that are reserved as a reward for being heterosexual, you see.

And naturally, Land expresses absolutely no concern whatsoever about how same-sex spouses or domestic partners are to get health insurance or care during a medical emergency. Frankly, it seems that Land couldn’t care less if they suffer without any medical care at all.

As a religious ethicist (a fascinating misnomer), I’m certain that Richard Land has read the last parable of Matthew 25. I wonder what sort of mental gymnastics he has to play in order to see this as anything other than a direct condemnation of him by Christ.

Richard Land’s Ignorance-Based Argument

Timothy Kincaid

April 14th, 2009

It is embarrassing to write an opinion piece only to find out that you’ve gotten a fact wrong. If you’re lucky it’s only an incidental point and not the thesis of your argument; to discover that your entire opinion is premised on an inaccuracy is mortifying.

So Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, is probably not going to be very proud of his article in the Baptist Press entitled The poster child for marriage amends. In it he argues that every state needs to enact an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, in large part because:

With no residency requirements, the court’s opinion means at the end of April when the order goes into effect, same-sex couples will be free to travel from other states to exchange “vows” in the Iowa heartland.

This ruling turns Iowa into a destination for “same-sex marriages.” No doubt, there are weekend travel packages already being planned. Iowa will soon be the Las Vegas of “same-sex marriage” for America. And you know those folks won’t be resettling in the Hawkeye state, but will be heading back home — perhaps to your state to sue for recognition there.

Oh my, that’s certain to startle some who fear that now, starting on April 27, same-sex couples will be able go get married somewhere else and import that marriage right back to your own state. After April 27, the world will be a very different place.

Scary!!!

The problem is, of course, that this is nonsense.

First, same-sex couples can already marry elsewhere and return back home.

Connecticut has no residency requirements and in July of last year Massachusetts repealed the law that restricted same-sex marriage to residents. After September 1, Vermont also will happily accommodate out-of-state marriages.

So with all due respect to Iowans, it is extremely unlikely that Iowa will soon be the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage for America.

Second, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) currently exempts states from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. And here is where Land’s argument falls completely apart.

Your state is protected by federal law from recognizing a same-sex marriage in Iowa. Any attempt to force them to do so would be by means of a federal lawsuit, not a state lawsuit. And should the Supreme Court of the United States determine either that gay people cannot be restricted from the rights and privileges grated to heterosexuals, OR that the US Constitution’s ‘full faith and credit clause’ invalidates DOMA, it doesn’t matter how many anti-gay amendments you have cluttering up your state constitution.

Conversely, if a gay couple sues in your state for marriage rights, it will do so under your own state’s constitution. Whether they went to be married in Iowa or Canada or just to their local United Church of Christ minister, the legal argument is the same.

The only states that could even begin to be impacted by Iowa’s decision are New York, Rhode Island and perhaps Wyoming, states in which there is some legal opinion that out-of-state marriage is recognized. And the only impact is that Iowa is now added to the list of marriage venue choices.

Richard Land wants his readers to be frightened that the decision in Iowa has changed the marriage landscape because now same-sex marriages will be exported to your state.

But when it comes to the facts about the current status of same-sex marriage, Richard Land is startlingly misinformed. Or he hopes that you are.

Newsweek Essay Draws Howls of Protest

Jim Burroway

December 9th, 2008

Anti-gay activists are pulling their hair out over Lisa Miller’s essay in Newsweek, in which she lays out a religious case for same-sex marriage. She opens her essay by saying, “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.”

As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well with one particular segment of Christianity. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the Focus on the Family Board of Directors, wrote:

Many observers believe that the main obstacle to this agenda [of allowing same-sex marriage] is a resolute opposition grounded in Christian conviction. Newsweek clearly intends to reduce that opposition.”

That was one of the calmer reactions. Tony Perkins of the Family “Research” Council denounced it as “yet another attack on orthodox Christianity.” The Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association called it “one of the most biased and distorted pieces concerning homosexual marriage ever published by any major news organization.” Not surprisingly, he also is calling on his followers to inundate Newsweek with emails.

And Peter LaBarbera, not one to be outdone, called the essay a “scandalous hit piece” and an “embarrassing attempt to make a Biblical case for sodomy-based ‘marriage.'” (See why we have an award named in his honor?) And Peter’s pal, Matt Barber responded, “You know, scripture says woe to those who call evil good and good evil, and I say woe to Newsweek for even printing this drivel.”

Part of the outrage stems from the fact that anti-gay activists have tried for years to couch their opposition to same-sex marriage on sociological research to make their point — research that, as we have pointed out many times, they have distorted with amazing consistency. But by calling on science instead of the Bible, they seek to inoculate themselves from charges of trying to impose their religious views on others. “See? We’re not religious zealots. Science supports us,” they like to say. Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, repeated this line in saying, “The arguments that are used are often not biblical arguments. They are secular arguments, arguing about marriage as being a civic and a social institution, and that societies have a right to define marriage.” And Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, claimed, “We’re not trying to take the Bible and put a bill number on it and legislate it.”

But when they are talking among themselves, religious arguments are firmly at the fore, whether it’s LDS Elder M. Russell Ballard speaking of the “central doctrine of eternal marriage” or Richard Land himself explaining with an apparently straight face that what he calls the global warning “hoax” is simply due to “cycles of nature that God has allowed in the cosmos.” Neither of these positions sound very scientific to me.

But the religious face is not the public face that these religiously-motivated leaders want to present. And by having to respond to Lisa Miller’s essay, they are forced to publicly defend the religious basis for their beliefs, which annoys a few of them to no end.  Watch how Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse pivots when asked about the Newsweek essay:

“Beyond the Scriptural distortion, the article distorts the pro-marriage and pro-family movement that is solidly grounded on sociological research about family structures that contribute to the well-being of women and children.”

She then goes on to mischaracterize what “experts agree.”

But the other part of the outrage also seems clearly aimed at someone who really did intrude onto their home turf. After all, in the same-sex marriage debates, only one small group of Christians are presumed to be allowed to use the Bible — when they think nobody else is looking. Anti-gay activists behave as though the Bible is solely their possession and no one else’s — including other Christians who read the same Bible and come to different conclusions. It’s okay for anti-gay opponents to turn outside their own sphere of authority — science — to make their point. But now that Lisa Miller has taken them on in their own home turf, they’ve let loose with their persecution complex and complained that they– and by extension all of Christianity, since they presume to speak for all Christians — have been “attacked.” 

Which reminds me of a great and appropriate graphic making its way around the Internet:

Family Impact Summit “Attendance Less Than Hoped”

Jim Burroway

September 30th, 2007

The American Family Association’s OneNewsNow reports on the dismal turnout for last weekend’s “Family Impact Summit” held in Brandon, Florida. The final tally was only about half of what they had hoped to achieve:

By Friday evening, just over 100 people had registered to hear speakers that included Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land, former presidential candidate Gary Bauer and the American Family Association’s Don Wildmon.

A workshop on grass roots activism drew a handful of people — and one was a spy, an activist for Americans United for Separation of Church and State researching the opposition.

Well, there was more than just that one “spy” there. There was also Cathy James, whose calm and measured demeanor brought low the mighty during a question and answer session. And of course, there was yours truly.

Family Impact Summit

But I can vouch for the low turnout, especially during the morning and afternoon sessions. It often felt as if there were more volunteers, exhibitors and speakers milling around than actual attendees. Only during the evening hours would the audience swell to three hundred or so. On the last night of the event, the turnought might have approached four hundred to hear the much-anticipated stars of the event, Ken Blackwell and Tony Perkins. By the way, the evening events were generally free of charge to the public.

I often overheard a few speakers and volunteers grumble about the attendance during breaks and over dinner. The disappointments weren’t limited to this event either. A few complained about how difficult it was to get a decent turnout at even larger, better funded and more heavily advertised events as well.

Is this a harbinger for things to come?