NOM Co-Founder to Head Commission on Religious Freedom
July 25th, 2013
Robert George has been selected to head the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. According to a press release issued Tuesday:
Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, was elected today as Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Professor George was appointed to the Commission in 2012 by Speaker of the House John Boehner and is serving his first term as a Commissioner.
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, USCIRF’s outgoing Chair and an appointee of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, announced Professor George’s selection. “I have been honored to work alongside Professor George this past year in the struggle to guarantee religious freedom abroad for people of every faith and shade of belief. He is a true human rights champion whose compassion for victims of oppression and wisdom about international religious freedom shine through all we have accomplished this past year. Our bipartisan Commission is united in its admiration for Professor George’s skills as an advocate and leader of the international religious freedom movement. The Commission is eager to continue its work under his able leadership.”
George, who co-founded the National Organization for Marriage and is one of the key authors of the Federal Marriage Amendment and the Manhattan Declaration, was first appointed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to the commission last year. In 2009, George signed a letter which mildly criticized Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill (a.k.a. the “Kill the Gays” Bill) but tacitly approved jail terms for LGBT people. He has recently said that he would vow to defy any “man-made laws” which conflicts with his view of what he thinks God wants. AFter the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, George called on the American people to “rise up” in a “national rebellion.” George has been a part of a growing number of voices among anti-gay extremists who claim that any advance in human rights for LGBT people represents an infringement on religious freedom. He now has a powerful platform to take that message abroad.
In 2010 George published the article “What Is Marriage?” in The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, which BTB’s Rob Tisinai critiqued at length in a series of posts. You can access those critiques here.
Our Opponents’ Confessions
May 7th, 2013
Sometimes I hear a line of reasoning so bizarre that all I can do is look for the psychological issues behind it. I find this happening quite a lot with opponents of same-sex marriage, and the irony is that often their stated goal is to offer an objective justification for their beliefs, but what they deliver is so idiosyncratic, so utterly dependent on a strange and subjective inner life, that all they end up doing is proving their own irrelevance.
Look at three cases: Doug Mainwaring, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, and Robert George. Each of them says something that actually turns out to be true — true for them, true of them — but in a sad and sometimes baffling way.
Doug Mainwaring is one of NOM’s favorite homosexuals; he gives testimony against same-sex marriage. Apparently he married, had a child, left the family to be one of those hedonistic gays, and then reunited everyone under the same roof in a sexless relationship with his wife so that his offspring could be raised by Mom and Dad. And you know what? Fine. But then he writes this:
Over the last couple of years, I’ve found our decision to rebuild our family ratified time after time. One day as I turned to climb the stairs I saw my sixteen-year-old son walk past his mom as she sat reading in the living room. As he did, he paused and stooped down to kiss her and give her a hug, and then continued on. With two dads in the house, this little moment of warmth and tenderness would never have occurred. My varsity-track-and-football-playing son and I can give each other a bear hug or a pat on the back, but the kiss thing is never going to happen. To be fully formed, children need to be free to generously receive from and express affection to parents of both genders. Genderless marriages deny this fullness.
Well, one thing’s for sure. With Doug Mainwaring for his dad, that kid definitely needs a second parent in the house. Doug ought to be saying this in shame as a confession of his inadequate parenting. But it never occurs to him that many fathers — conservative, heterosexual fathers included — are quite comfortable giving their sons a kiss and a hug.
This, by the way, is another example of why we’ll win: another statement by another opponent guaranteed not to persuade, but to garner a reaction of what-planet-are-you-from?
The takeaway: When Doug Mainwaring talks about the limitations of having two fathers, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien
Former Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland made the news into two completely different, shocking but not entirely surprising ways. First, he opposed same-sex marriage in the UK, calling it grotesque, analogizing it to slavery, and declaring same-sex civil unions to be:
…harmful to the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of those involved.
And less than a year later, O’Brien was forced to resign due to a long history of making unwanted sexual advances to priests, and for having been physically involved with one of his accusers for years.
Now that O’Brien has been humbled I can look at him with pity. He was so twisted by his beliefs that any half-relationship he could could dare to attempt would inevitably be “harmful to the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of those involved.”
The takeway: When Cardinal Keith O’Brien talks about the harm done by gay relationships, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Robert George is a distinguished Princeton professor who writes terrible, almost incoherent Natural Law arguments against homosexuality, birth control, and masturbation. His goal is to show that Catholic teaching can be derived rationally.
His work is a lot like what would happen if I heard about a Ryan Gosling kissing booth: my goal would be just to get there, no matter how labored, tortuous, or ridiculous the route. It’s the same way with Robert George and the view that masturbation is wrong: The Church says it is, so that’s his destination, and it doesn’t matter labored, tortuous, or ridiculous his reasoning, as long as he gets there.
Here are some key quotes:
The body is not rightly treated as a machine for having experiences…
[I]t is contrary to reason—bad and immoral—to sacrifice one’s psychosomatic integrity, or to instrumentalize a part of oneself, for the sake of some desired experience, whether it is getting drunk, enjoying a psychedelic drug trip or having an orgasm…
In masturbation and other non-marital sex acts, by contrast, ‘one does not choose to act for a goal which fulfills oneself as a unified, bodily person. The only immediate goal is satisfaction for the conscious self; and so the body, not being part of the whole for whose sake the act is done, serves only as an extrinsic instrument.’…
[Acts like masturbation] damage personal integrity insofar as those acts effect an existential alienation of the body from the conscious self by simply using the body as an experience-inducing machine. Thus, such behavior should, for moral reasons, be avoided.
In case that’s opaque, here’s my brief (and surely inadequate) summary:
- Having an integrated mind and body is self-evidently good. Thus anything which breaks that integration is bad.
- Masturbation means the mind is treating the body like an instrument for its conscious gratification, thus alienating the body from the mind and destroying that self-evidently good gratification, making it harmful and immoral.
- This is also true of gay sex or any other sex act that doesn’t culminate with a married penis in its married vagina.
Robert George’s logic on sex is unfathomable to me. I read his words but doubt my understanding because they so completely contradict the experience of my own life. It’s like reading an intricately-reasoned argument that you shouldn’t keep elephants in your house because they’re too small to keep track of; there’s no need to dismantle the argument line by line — it’s enough to answer, “Have you seen an elephant?” Or, in George’s case, “Have you had sex?”
Sex, with someone you love, purely for emotional closeness, does not split the mind and body. It unites them. It dissolves the barriers between body, spirit, and mind.
And masturbation? Masturbation is one way the mind discovers the body. It can be something you do to clean the pipes and stop your body from yelling at you, but it can also be — for adolescents, especially — a fundamental way of exploring your entire self. Not just mind, not just body, not just emotion, but all three at once.
So all I can do is wonder at the inner life of a man who not only came up with this reasoning, but who thought it would convince others. This speculation is worth what you paid for it, but here’s my best attempt: I can imagine a man who has been taught that masturbation is wrong, sinful, wicked. It exposes weakness of mind and character. He tries to abstain, but every time he gives in he’s hit with guilt, and his conscious mind feels betrayed by his body. And that, folks, is mind-body alienation.
The takeway: When Robert George talks about the morality of sex, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Of course, when all of us talk about sex or love or family, we’re really just telling people something about ourselves. We know this. The last few generations who’ve grown to adulthood know this (most of them, anyway). The only people who don’t know this, it seems, are our opponents.
Boehner Names NOM Co-Founder Robert George to Religious Freedom Commission
March 28th, 2012
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) appointed Robert George, the National Organization for Marriage co-founder and former chairman, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The appointment is for a two-year term.
In 2009, George drafted the Manhattan Declaration, which equates same-sex marriage to polygamy and calls for “resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage.” In December of that year, George signed a letter which mildly criticized Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill (a.k.a. the “Kill the Gays” Bill) but tacitly approved jail terms for LGBT people. George also founded the American Principles Project, which, through it’s Preserve Innocence Project, declared that LGBT people and safe-school policies pose a threat to children. In 2010 George published the article “What Is Marriage?” in The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, which BTB’s Rob Tisinai critiqued at length in a series of posts. You can access those critiques from this page.
Reply to George: V. Can We Talk About “Real” Marriage?
February 15th, 2011
[This post is part of a series analyzing Robert George's widely-read article, "What is Marriage", which appeared on pages 245-286 of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. You can view all posts in the series here.]
Pages 250-252: In which Robert George works hard to establish his right to talk about real marriage.
How real is “real marriage”?
Robert George wants to show “real marriage” is a meaningful concept. He’s got a good starting point: the fact that most “revisionists” think it’s wrong to ban same-sex marriage but are fine with banning other kinds, such as marriage with a child or marriage between brother and sister
Revisionists who arrive at this conclusion must accept at least three principles.
First, marriage is not a legal construct with totally malleable contours — not “just a contract.” In other words, it’s not merely whatever our laws claim it to be — otherwise, there’d be no basis for claiming marriage law is wrong and must be changed.
Second, the state is justified in recognizing only real marriages as marriages.
Third, there is no general right to marry the person you love, if this means a right to have any type of relationship that you desire recognized as marriage.
First: Marriage isn’t just whatever we say it is.
George has a point here. I just don’t like his reasoning. He’s saying if marriage is nothing more than a set of rules created by the government, then there’s no standard for what marriage law should be. And if there’s no standard, there’s no basis for saying current law is wrong.
But…no. Even if marriage were just whatever the government decrees (which I don’t believe), we could still appeal to more fundamental principles — like equal treatment under the law – to argue that marriage law must not discriminate against broad swaths of the citizenry for no good reason. So marriage can be “just a contract” and yet not have “totally malleable contours. “ It could still be possible for the law to “get marriage wrong.”
A philosophical digression (you can skip it if it’s not your bag)
George is arguing against nominalism here. Remember Plato and his notion that concepts like “horse” and “triangle” are perfect forms that exist in a higher realm that’s more real than our own? Nominalism goes to the opposite extreme. It holds that a term like human has no meaning, no reality, except as a name we use to designate all the individual humans we can think of (nominalism and name have the same linguistic root).
You know all that speculation about what makes humans human? About the essence of being human? Whether it our ability to reason, or plan, or laugh, or make tools, etc.?
Nominalists would have none of that. To them, individual human beings are real, but abstract concepts like human are not. Human is just a label, a tag with no meaning apart from those individuals. It’s just a handy collection of five letters that we use in our heads and in language to refer to all those individuals. There is no essence, no essential set of traits that make us human.
Nominalists would also say there’s no such thing as marriage — certainly no such thing as real marriage. Marriage is just an eight-letter tag that we use to describe the arrangements of all those individuals who call themselves married.
I’m with George on this. I’m not a nominalist. George and his co-authors make this case against nominalism:
Consider friendship. As with marriage, the particulars of friendship vary widely by time and place. But also like marriage, friendship is a human reality, a distinctive human good, with certain essential features independent of our social or linguistic practices. For example, it essentially involves each person’s actively willing the other’s good, for the other’s sake. And again like marriage, friendship (the human reality, not our use of the word) grounds certain moral privileges and obligations between its participants and even between the friends and others who might interact with them. So friendship, like marriage, is not just a social construct.
If we said that John and Joe, who just exploited each other, were not “real friends,” we would not just mean that a certain word did not apply to their bond, or that society failed to treat that bond as it does certain others. We would primarily mean that John and Joe were missing out on a distinctive, inherently valuable reality — a human good, for which other goods are no substitute — because of a failure to meet its inherent requirements, which are not purely socially constructed. Similarly, a relationship is not a marriage just because we speak and act as if it is, nor is a relationship not a marriage just because we fail to do so.
And they sum it up even better here:
[T]wo people who do not will each other’s good are not just missing out on a label, “friendship”; they are missing out on a human good whose specific benefit or fulfillment is not available otherwise.
I’d like to point out that this is not an objective analytical argument. It depends entirely on your own personal experience of friendship. But I find it convincing anyway.
Marriage is not just a word.
So is marriage “real” or is it just an arbitrary whatever-we-say-it-is? Read the rest of this entry »
Reply to George: IV. Parallels to Interracial Marriage
February 12th, 2011
[This post is part of a series analyzing Robert George's widely-read article, "What is Marriage", which appeared on pages 245-286 of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. You can view all posts in the series here.]
Pages 247-250: In which Robert George explains the structure of his article and makes a claim so outrageous it undermines his basic credibility.
George previews the rest of the article.
George splits his article into two parts.
- Defends the idea that that “the nature of marriage (that is, its essential features, what it fundamentally is) should settle this debate.”
- “Shows how the common good of our society crucially depends on legally enshrining the conjugal view of marriage and would be damaged by enshrining the revisionist view — thus answering the common question, ‘How would gay civil marriage affect you or your marriage?’”
- Explains why infertile opposite-sex couples can still have real marriages.
- Accounts for why the state should enact any marriage law at all.
As for Part II:
But many who accept (or at least grant) our core argument may have lingering questions about the justice or consequences of implementing it. Part II considers all of the serious concerns that are not treated earlier…
All of them? Really? It takes a certain intellectual arrogance to claim with such certainty that you’ve even identified all the serious concerns around an issue, much less dealt with them.
George wanders off track.
At this point, we might reasonably expect Robert George to start explaining his answer to What is marriage. Instead, he detours into bans on interracial vs. same-sex marriage:
Revisionists today miss this central question — what is marriage? — most obviously when they equate traditional marriage laws with laws banning interracial marriage. They argue that people cannot control their sexual orientation any more than they can control the color of their skin. In both cases, they argue, there is no rational basis for treating relationships differently, because the freedom to marry the person one loves is a fundamental right. The state discriminates against homosexuals by interfering with this basic right, thus denying them the equal protection of the laws.
But the analogy fails: antimiscegenation was about whom to allow to marry, not what marriage was essentially about; and sex, unlike race, is rationally relevant to the latter question. Because every law makes distinctions, there is nothing unjustly discriminatory in marriage law’s reliance on genuinely relevant distinctions.
But — no! Antimiscegenation was not about whom to allow to marry. Whites could marry; so could non-whites. Antimiscegenation was about whom one is allowed to marry. Just like bans on same-sex marriage.
According to George, race isn’t rationally relevant to what marriage is about, while sex is (actually, I don’t know whether by “sex” he means gender, or sexual activity, or both). But he still hasn’t proven that his procreative/conjugal view of marriage is the only permissible view: until he achieves his own goal of establishing what marriage is, he can’t make claims about what’s rationally relevant to it. And so once again we him sneaking his unproven conclusion into his argument.
George tries sneaking in it in again.
George continues: Read the rest of this entry »
Reply to George: III. Stop Sneaking in Your Conclusion!
February 10th, 2011
[This post is part of a series analyzing Robert George's widely-read article, "What is Marriage", which appeared on pages 245-286 of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. You can view all posts in the series here.]
Page 246: In which Robert George sets up the argument in a way we cannot accept.
George tries to sneak his conclusion into his reasoning.
Robert George opens his article by making a fundamental distinction — one that we should not let him make. He writes:
What is marriage?
Consider two competing views:
Conjugal View: Marriage is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other of the type that is naturally (inherently) fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together. The spouses seal (consummate) and renew their union by conjugal acts—acts that constitute the behavioral part of the process of reproduction, thus uniting them as a reproductive unit. Marriage is valuable in itself, but its inherent orientation to the bearing and rearing of children contributes to its distinctive structure, including norms of monogamy and fidelity. This link to the welfare of children also helps explain why marriage is important to the common good and why the state should recognize and regulate it.
Revisionist View: Marriage is the union of two people (whether of the same sex or of opposite sexes) who commit to romantically loving and caring for each other and to sharing the burdens and benefits of domestic life. It is essentially a union of hearts and minds, enhanced by whatever forms of sexual intimacy both partners find agreeable. The state should recognize and regulate marriage because it has an interest in stable romantic partnerships and in the concrete needs of spouses and any children they may choose to rear.
In the last entry, I took issue with George’s opening sentence, and now I take issue with his second: why are these views competing views? The “revisionist” view can contain and include the “conjugal” view. As he describes them, instead of being mutually exclusive:
…they look like this:
Do you see what George has done here? There’s only one way these views are “competing,” and that’s if the conjugal view is the only correct view, and anything falling outside it isn’t “real marriage.” But that’s the very thing he’s setting out to prove! In other words, he’s asking you to accept his conclusion even before he makes his argument. In fact, he’s sneaking his conclusion into the very beginning of his argument. We call that circular reasoning. Read the rest of this entry »
Reply to George: II. Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself
February 8th, 2011
Page 246 (the article’s first page): In which Robert George asks his basic question, and we consider two different ways of addressing it.
What is “What is marriage?”
Should the government recognize same-sex marriage?
Professor Robert George believes the only way to settle this is to address a broader question, What is marriage? He thinks proponents of marriage equality shy away from giving a clear answer: We appeal to equality, fairness, and non-discrimination without defining the thing we want society to be fair about. This vagueness, he claims, gives our flawed arguments an “appealing simplicity” (something you’ll find his own reasoning lacks).
George, on the other hand, thinks he begins at the beginning by asking, “What is marriage?” I don’t think he’s right. We actually have to step back further and ask, “How should we approach this question, What is marriage?” The step back is essential. Otherwise we’re letting him set the terms of engagement and dealing with him on his own turf, even if it might not be the appropriate turf at all.
To explore this we’ll visit ancient Greece and spend some time with Plato and Aristotle.
Plato went back to the basics.
Plato was the one of first great western philosophers to investigate how we know what we know. In his time, Greek civil and moral life was a mess. Earlier philosophers had gotten mired in paradox. Basic questions baffled them, like the nature of change: how can a thing change (an acorn into a tree, or a baby into a woman) and yet still be the same thing? Philosophers like Parmenides and Zeno seemed to prove change was impossible, while others, like Heraclitus, showed reality was nothing but change.
These contradictions pointed out the difficulty (perhaps the impossibility) of knowing anything about the world. Reason failed, and objective knowledge was a myth. That ruled out moral truth, too: The universe is unknowable, morality is arbitrary, and you may as well devote your life to pleasure and power.
Plato wanted to create moral individuals and a just society, so he had to develop a theory of knowledge. He had to prove concepts like truth, goodness, and honor weren’t just empty words, but real things, things we can know and talk about in a meaningful way.
Plato did this by arguing that there are two realms: the realm we live in, and a realm of higher, unseen-but-real things.
You’ve never seen a triangle.
Think about a triangle. Easy enough. But that’s surprising, because you’ve never seen a triangle — just pictures of them. The sides of a real triangle are perfectly straight line segments. Every “triangle” you’ve seen has sides that aren’t perfectly straight, that vary in thickness, that are a bit jagged if you look closely enough.
Yet you recognize a picture of triangle when you see it. That’s because in your head you have an idea of a triangle — you understand the form of a triangle. And when it comes to Plato, form doesn’t just mean shape; it goes way beyond that to mean the ultimate and perfect version of something.
So now think about a horse. Plato would say humans understand the form of a horse, too. That’s how even a child can see that two very different animals are both horses. And just as some triangles are drawn better than others, some horses are stronger or faster than others; they better fit the form of a horse.
Go up another level of abstraction and there are forms for goodness, truth, honor, justice. We may have trouble defining them, we may never encounter a perfect example, but we know them when we see them, because the forms are in our heads. But not just in our heads. Plato thought forms were real — more real, in fact, than the world we live in, because they exist in a higher realm: the Realm of Forms.
Are you kidding me?
Read the rest of this entry »
Reply to George: I. Introduction
February 7th, 2011
Over the next few weeks I’ll publish a series of posts analyzing Robert George’s article, “What is Marriage?”
Robert George authored The Manhattan Declaration and is the Founding Chairman of Maggie Gallagher’s National Organization for Marriage, but don’t let that fool you. He’s an intellectual heavyweight, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. A recent profile in the New York Times dubbed him America’s “most influential conservative Christian thinker,” and described his reputation:
Karl Rove told me he considers George a rising star on the right and a leading voice in persuading President George W. Bush to restrict embryonic stem-cell research. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told me he numbers George among the most-talked-about thinkers in conservative legal circles. And Newt Gingrich called him “an important and growing influence” on the conservative movement, especially on matters like abortion and marriage…
George has assumed his mantle as the reigning brain of the Christian right.
George published “What is Marriage” in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. It’s been hailed as “a definitive defense of the institution of traditional marriage. Just two months after its publication, it’s become the most downloaded paper of the past year at the Social Science Research Network.
The article’s over 40 pages long, and my analysis will match that easily. I’ll post it in chunks every two or three days.
Blogging is inherently presumptuous: Look at me! I wrote this! You should read it! But it feels especially presumptuous asking people to read a long, multi-part rebuttal to an academic article. I hope you’ll do it anyway, for several reasons.
- George’s article has substance. If you’re ever frustrated — or even embarrassed — by having to deal with arguments from the likes of Brian Brown and Bryan Fischer, arguments so ludicrous they fall apart on their own, then Robert George will seem like a whole new world. Even if his brain gets it entirely wrong, it’s still a powerful brain.
- George’s article may improve your own thinking about marriage equality. There’s little challenge or growth in dealing with ridiculous opponents. Wrestling with George’s arguments forced me to think more deeply about same-sex marriage and marriage in general. You might find this, too.
- George’s article will be influential. You know those talking points spouted by foes of equality? The next round of them are being harvested from George’s work. Knowing his work will arm you against them.
- I could use your help. Robert George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and I’m…not. I’d like to pull these rebuttal posts into a single downloadable file, something that would benefit from your insights and corrections to this series of posts.
So that starts tomorrow. In the meantime, you can download George’s article here if you want a head start.
More amicus, more animus
September 27th, 2010
Those who oppose civil equality simply can’t restrain themselves from supporting the Proponents of Proposition 8. Although history is going to be rather unkind to them (and we will both document and remember), there is almost a sense of desperation to the compulsion to go on record as favoring inequality, supporting supremacist attitudes and expressing dismay that their views may be held up to inspection.
Today I have a whole long list of amicus briefs to add to those who previously have come down on the side of institutionalized discrimination. You can check them all out here.
Robert P. George, Sherif Girgis, and Ryan T. Anderson – You may recall that Robert George was one of the founders of the National Organization for Marriage. His argument is that the state does indeed have interest in enforcing private moral or religious beliefs. Further, “a belief that a relationship between a man and woman is inherently better than a relationship between two men or two women” and “moral disapproval of homosexuality” are both legitimate bases for legislation. And because any position has some moral values assigned, then therefor the value of heterosexual supremacy is a perfectly fine one on which to base law. Oh, and Lawrence v. Texas only applies to criminal law.
NARTH (yes, NARTH!!) – Typical NARTHian science to argue that homosexuality is not immutable and therefore gay people should not have rights. Example “the study also found that those who report themselves as homosexuals showed variety in their sexual experiences when measured on a continuum: 65 percent of homosexual men and 84 percent of homosexual women reported having had heterosexual intercourse.” Lots of discussion of studies from decades gone by in which psychotherapy resulted in “functioning as heterosexual” and a lot of misrepresentation of the work of others (Spitzer and Jones and Yarhouse, for example.)
Pacific Justice Institute – The Greeks and the Romans didn’t allow gay marriage so neither should we. They started with “the Greeks and Romans were clearly not homophobic” but just couldn’t resist the impulse to put in every example of Greek or Roman condemnation that could be found and concluded “Hence, defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman reflects not only the collected wisdom of the citizens, but of the ages as well.”
The States of Indiana, Virginia, Louisiana, Michigan, Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. – More specifically, the attorneys general of these states. The argument: Walker exceeded his judicial authority; the Federal Courts have no jurisdiction over marriage. Loving was justified “to uphold the core guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment” but Perry would “recast the basic parameters of marriage.” The rest was a rerun of the Proponents’ failing arguments in court.
American College of Pediatricians – Remember this totally bogus group from the lie-ridden letter crafted by NARTH but sent under their name? They are back with the predictable “Think of the Children!! Children need a mommy and a daddy. Ignore what the real professional groups say” message.
Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence (John Eastman) – Eastman was NOM’s special pick for CA Attorney General – he lost badly in the Republican primary, 16 points below Steve Cooley, who had opposed Proposition 8. Reading this political rant (it really can’t be called a legal argument), I am relieved that this guy has no chance of representing my state in court… or at least not this year. His argument: ” The Initiative Proponents have standing to defend Proposition 8, both as Agents of the State and in their own right”.
Becket Fund for Religious Liberty – Gay equality is incompatible with religious liberty. If gay people are treated as full citizens and granted equal access to civil marriage, then those religious individuals and groups that oppose civil equality and support heterosexual supremacy might be sued for discrimination. Those people who operate “job training programs, child care, gyms and day camps” would not be able to discriminate, and if they did, they might not get taxpayer dollars with which to deny gay people access. And that’s why the voters approved Proposition 8: to support “religious liberty” to discriminate against gays. (They got $500 K from the Knights of Columbus last year)
National Legal Foundation – These folk call themselves “a Christian public interest law firm” but are best known as the legal team who defended Cincinnati’s Issue 3, which would have amended the city charter to ban any city laws and policies that would prohibit discrimination against gay Cincinnati residents in employment, housing, and other areas. They disagree with Walker’s finding of fact and argue that the Ninth Circuit should revisit and reverse them. In the Cincinnati case, the Sixth Circuit reversed a number of the lower court’s findings and NLF gloatingly says that this court should do the same. They fail to mention that the US Supreme Court reversed the decision and found that Cincinnati violated the US Constitution.
Eagle Forum (Phyllis Schlafly) – The Proponents and Imperial county have standing. And if they don’t have standing, then there’s no case and the whole thing should be thrown out entirely, including Judge Walker’s ruling.
Concerned Women of America – Gays are politically powerful, have powerful allies, significant funding, and the public is growing in support. So discrimination against gay people should not be subjected to heightened scrutiny. “As of June 1, 2009, thirty-one states and the District of Columbia had state laws regarding “hate crimes” based on sexual orientation.” (I wonder what else 31 states had?)
National Organization for Marriage (NOM – Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher) – Ah, NOM, we knew you’d participate. NOM has a number of interesting arguments. Yes, there are “children need a mommy and daddy” and “marriage is about procreation” and “you’re redefining marriage”, but they also have these fascinating (and oh-so-classy) things to share:
Men will no longer be willing to support their children: “When society simply weakens its support for the ideal that children should be cared for by both the man and the woman who made them, children end up disproportionately in the care of solo mothers. What will happen when the law and society rejects that view altogether as irrational bigotry? If the district court has its way, we will find out.”
Same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy and incest: “If, as the district court suggests, marriage were to become an essentially private, intimate, emotional relationship created by two people to enhance their own personal well-being, it is wrong, discriminatory, and counterproductive for the state to favor certain kinds of intimate relations over others. Sisters can cohabit and commit, and so can best friends in non-romantic relationships. Three people can cohabit and commit, too. Why can’t these people claim marriage as well? Once a key feature of marriage has been deconstructed, other historic features of marriage will become much harder to explain and defend, both in law and culture.”
And my very favorite: Look at Massachusetts; If you allow gay marriage then – oh noes – people will support it. “Data from Massachusetts likewise does little to alleviate concerns that same- sex marriage could lead to negative consequences. To the contrary, the data relied upon by the district court actually suggests a weakening in the marriage culture in the years immediately following the same-sex marriage ruling in Massachusetts. … In 2009, amicus curiae National Organization for Marriage commissioned a survey in Massachusetts of attitudes about marriage five years into that state’s experiment with same-sex marriage. The survey found that ―in the five years since gay marriage became a reality in Massachusetts, support for the idea that the ideal is a married mother and father dropped from 84 percent to 76 percent.”
Paul McHugh – McHugh is perhaps best known for his anti-transgender activism. But he’s joining in amicus to declare that you can’t define “homosexual” and it’s not fixed or immutable (presumably unlike race which is always and ever immediately discernible). Because while many people fit all three definitions (attractions, behavior, identity) there are exceptions. So therefore someone who is same-sex attracted, in a relationship with another person of the same sex, and who identifies as being gay should not be considered to be homosexual because, after all, there are people in the closet.
And because you can’t define “homosexual” then a woman in love with her same-sex partner ought not be able to marry her. Further, because there is no gay gene (unlike the African-American gene). It may be caused by education (I love this one): Because “It may very well be the case that on average lesbians and gay men in the United States have a higher educational level than comparable heterosexual men and women”, there therefore, “Education and socioeconomic levels have also been suggested as contributing factors to homosexuality.” Really? By whom? That has to be the worst example of correlation = causation that I’ve seen in a while.
But to understand the depth of McHugh’s basic dishonesty and lack of any sense of moral character, you have to consider ” Identical twin studies confirm that homosexual orientation is not genetically determined.”
Actually, twin studies have found that genetics contribute 35-39% for men and 18-19% for women. In other words, while it’s not fully genetically determined, McHugh is implying the opposite of what the studies have found.
Eugene Dong – No idea who this guy is but his argument is this: It’s expensive to have children so the state benefits by subsidizing and benefiting heterosexuality so as to perpetuate the human race.
American Civil Rights Union (sort of an anti-ACLU) – fundamental rights are limited to those that are deep-rooted in American history and tradition.
Catholics for the Common Good – God’s definition of marriage pre-exists any state recognition. They make the usual arguments (including quoting the Pope as an authority), but their real objection is found in their request to file the amicus: “…because the district court’s opinion enshrined a re-definition of marriage in California law that may expose this and similar organizations and persons of good will to claims of discrimination…” It’s the Maggie complaint, “If you treat gay people equally under the law, then those of us who want to treat them as inferior will be called bigots.”
And one woman, Tamara L. Cravit, wrote in to say that the Proponents do not have standing. So far she’s the only pro-plaintiff amicus brief.
Prop 8 Supporters React
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.
“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.
Manhattan Declaration Authors Criticize Aspects of Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill
December 12th, 2009
The three principle authors of the Manhattan Declaration, a conservative Christian manifesto in support of bans on abortion and marriage equality, have published a letter to the “beloved brothers and sisters of Uganda” to criticize two principle features of the Anti-Homosexuality Act that has been introduced before Parliament.
In a letter written by Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview; Dr. Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, and Dr. Timothy George, Dean and Professor of Divinity at Samford University and published on Mirror of Justice, a Catholic legal theory group blog, the three criticize the two main features of the Anti-Homosexuality Act — namely the death penalty and lifetime imprisonment provisions for those convicted of homosexuality. The authors takes great pains to make clear that they consider all aspects of homosexuality to be a sin, and they clearly don’t approve of LGBT people who do not “struggle to live chaste and holy lives.” And they do not address the larger issue of criminalization of homosexuality or the broader aspects of this particular act. Instead, they offer this weak criticism:
We are all tempted by the lure of sin, be it in the domain of sexuality or in other areas of our lives. And none of us is perfect in resisting temptation. All of us from time to time fall short of fulfilling God’s intention for us, and we therefore stand in need of the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness. Surely, no one guilty of a single act of homosexual conduct (or fornication, adultery, or other sexual offense) should spend the remainder of his life in prison as a consequence of his sin. Such harshness, such lack of mercy, is manifestly contrary to the example of our Lord and cannot be given the support of those who seek to follow Christ. In response to a proposal to punish consensual sexual crimes with such extreme penalties the Christian must surely echo the words of Jesus: “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.”
We recognize that the scourge of AIDS has been devastating to the people of Uganda. Measures must be taken to encourage faithful marital love and to discourage sexual immorality of every type. It is critical, however, that these measures be shaped in a just and Christian manner, and not in a punitive spirit. Harshness and excess must be avoided. Those who experience homosexual desire and yield to it should not be singled out for extreme measures or for revulsion. Homosexual persons, whether they struggle to live chastely or, alas, do not, are human beings. They are children of God made in His very image and likeness. They are our brothers and sisters. Christ loves them as he loves all of us. We must love them, too, even as we encourage them and all men and women—precisely because of our love for them and concern for their well-being—to avoid sexual sins and lead lives of virtue and dignity.
As this letter only addresses two aspects of the proposed legislation, the authors’ position on any imprisonment of LGBT people remains vague. In a statement issued by Saddleback pastor Rick Warren this week, he was unequivocal: ““I oppose the criminalization of homosexuality. The freedom to make moral choices is endowed by God.” In an earlier letter by Exodus International addressed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the authors say, “we believe that deprivation of life and liberty is not an appropriate or helpful response to this issue.” Colson, George and George do not take a position on criminalization of homosexuality. In 2003, Robert George argued in favor of criminalizing homosexuality as author of an amicus brief on behalf of the Family Research Counsel and Focus On the Family supporting Texas’ anti-sodomy law in Lawrence v. Texas.
The letter doesn’t offer any advice except that “harshness and excess must be avoided.” Beyond that, the authors appear to tacitly approve of jail terms for LGBT people by their silence. They are also silent on the other heinous aspects of the Anti-Homosexuality Act:
- Expand the definitions for homosexual acts, making conviction easier.
- Criminalize “attempted homosexuality” with imprisonment of seven years.
- Criminalize all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years.
- Criminalize the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
- Add a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
- Penalize landlords and hotel owners with five to seven years imprisonment for renting to LGBT people.
- Add an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
- Void all international treaties, agreements and human rights obligations which conflict with this bill.
Colson, George Awarded Presidential Citizenship Medal
December 12th, 2008
President George Bush awarded Presidential Citizenship Medals yesterday to twenty-four recipients, among them Charles Colson and Robert George.
Charles Colson is the famous Watergate co-conspirator who once hatched a plan to firebomb the Brookings Institution. He served time in prison for his connection with Watergate, and has since then become a darling of the religious right.
In the process he has emerged as a staunch anti-gay activist. He has mischaracterized the proposed Federal Hate Crimes legislation as “thought crimes” while skewing FBI statistics. Even though the proposed hate crime legislation only touches on criminal activity (and we’ve reprinted the text of the bill many times so you can see it for yourself rather than take our word for it), Colson lied about what the law would do:
If this dangerous law passes, pastors who preach sermons giving the biblical view of homosexuality could be prosecuted. Christian businessmen who refuse to print pro-gay literature could be prosecuted. Groups like Exodus International, which offer therapy to those with unwanted same-sex attraction, could be shut down. In classic 1984 fashion, peaceful speech will be redefined as a violent attack worthy of punishment.
Which, of course, is nonsense. Religion and race are already protected by existing Federal hate crimes law, and yet Nazis, the Klan, skinheads and other hate groups still have their freedom to protest, march and spew their vile hatred — all because no law can rescind the First Amendment.
But if it’s not hate crime Laws which threaten “persecution of the Church,” Colson has another looming threat: same-sex marriage:
It is all about equal rights, the gay “marriage” lobby keeps telling us. We just want the right to marry, like everyone else. That is what they are telling us. But that is not what they mean. If same-sex “marriage” becomes the law of the land, we can expect massive persecution of the Church.
…The coming persecution of Christians is one more reason why we need to get involved with efforts to pass laws at the state and federal level defining marriage as a legal relationship between one man and one woman.
Colson is also a staunch advocate on behalf of Lisa Miller, of the Miller-Jenkins custody dispute. Miller, who is essentially violating the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act by refusing to adhere to the custody agreement worked out between herself and her former partner, Janet Jenkins, when the state of Vermont dissolved their civil union. The Supreme Court recently declined to hear the case — for the fifth time.
But it’s not just us gays he’s concerned about. He also wants the world to know that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints aren’t Christians. During the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Colson reminded his fellow Evangelicals that “Mormons are not Christians, despite the hype”:
“Mormonism either affirms historic Christianity, or it doesn’t. Since it doesn’t, it can’t call itself Christianity –- a fact that all the good will and public relations in Utah can’t change.”
And he reiterated that point again on his radio program in 2005, saying, “While Mormons share some beliefs with Christians, they are not Christians.” “I respect Mormons and work with them,” he added,” but we can’t gloss over our fundamental differences.”
Another Presidential Citizenship Medal honoree is Robert George, of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is the architect of the Princeton Principles against same-sex marriage. When he spoke at the Voter Values Summit in 2006, he warned the crowd that the “forces arrayed against the conjugal conception of marriage are very powerful … And they will strike hard.”
In 2000, George denounced “Just the Facts,” a booklet sent to teachers to educate them on issues surrounding homosexuality. George complained that the booklet didn’t include the usual faked-up “science” often promulgated by anti-gay extremists equating the so-called “gay lifestyle” with promiscuity:
If it’s ‘Just the Facts,’” he said of the booklet, “…why are we not told about how people who enter the gay lifestyle, or others who are sexually promiscuous, expose themselves to disease and disillusionment?”