Monday, July 27, 2009

Medved: "Gay Marriage Activists Won't Give Up, Insist Men and Women are the Same"

Back in my college days six years ago (wow, has it been that long?!), I had the wonderful opportunity during an internship in Seattle to get to know Dr. Diane Medved, a brilliant, insightful woman for whom I have the utmost respect. If you haven't read her blog Searching for Bright Light, I highly recommend you check it out. Several of her posts have dealt with the politics and physiology behind the same-sex marriage debate, including her excellent latest post, in which she tackles many points we've discussed here (and much more eloquently, too!) With her permission, I'm happy to share it with you:

Gay Marriage Activists Won't Give Up, Insist Men and Women are the Same

I've been working on my project about marriage as the combining of male and female, and so, while enjoying some of the most perfect weather we've ever had here in Seattle, lying on a chaise my balcony and catching up on the paper, my attention went to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal of Monday, July 20: "Gay Marriage and the Constitution" by David Boies.

Boies explained why he and Ted Olson are suing the state of California to overturn Proposition 8, already confirmed by the state Supreme Court, that defines marriage in that state's constitution as one man and one woman.

Of course he takes the tack most gay marriage advocates do, trying to equate race and gender, saying it's just as wrong to deny two men marriage as it was to deny a white and a black; i.e. if people and courts now agree that all races should be interchangeable when it comes to marriage, so the two sexes should be, too.

And he pulls out that false but ubiquitous meme that it's just about freedom to marry the one you love: "The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the right to marry the person you love is so fundamental that states cannot abridge it." He supports this by citing rulings that allow "child-support scofflaws" and imprisoned felons to marry.

...But only marry one of the opposite sex. Not to marry one of the same sex. In these cases, the Supreme Court didn't re-define marriage; it just said that breaking the law isn't in itself reason to stop a conventional marriage. The punishments for the offender's crimes are unaffected; the institution of marriage remains unchanged.

Nowhere is there a "right to marry the person you love." What if you want to marry your sibling? Your parent? What if you want to marry somebody who's already legally wed to someone else? What if the person you love happens to be six years old? Or has advanced Alzheimer's and can't consent? Or wants to join you and your present spouses in polygamy? Would the court uphold your right to marry one of these people, even if you swear your love is undying and pure?

Boies dismisses so called reasons to deny gay marriage. Heteros feeling threatened by gays is unable to "withstand discussion." He thinks it's "hard to envision" straights avoiding marrying or divorcing just because gays can. He rejects that forcing gays into straight marriages would help societal stability. Or that keeping gays from marrying each other will steer them straight. Who ever argued any of this?? Only Boies, so he can shoot down these dumb straw men.

Boies then says Californians' votes should be nullified because of that tired question, "how does it hurt YOUR marriage if two gays get married?"

Aside from legally widening the marital sexual "norm" from coitus to include homosexual sodomy (with big ramifications in terms of public school education), suddenly our language and understanding get stripped of any means to describe the unique combining of male and female. And that's dandy, because gay advocates' agenda is to insist that a man and woman--or biological mother and father--together form exactly the same "marriage" as two men or two women together do. Denying biology. Denying reams of scientific literature demonstrating the superiority of married natural parents raising their children over all other permutations of parenthood.

Boies doesn't address the fact that men and women are not interchangeable--and in fact are opposites--and that marriage exists to reconcile and mesh them. There's no way to deny fundamental gender differences; the difference is--unlike race--identifiable in every cell of the body.

Instead, he insists that "sexual orientation of gays and lesbians is as much a God-given characteristic as the color of their skin or the sexual orientation of their straight brothers and sisters." There's no biological evidence of that. There are, however, many people who say they have chosen one orientation and then later, chosen another. Perhaps they are bisexual--I envision sexual proclivity as a long continuum. And while I do think there are gays who are as repulsed by the opposite sex as most straights are unattracted to their own, these people can freely live according to their orientation, and, in California, form civil unions that by law (California Family Code, Section 297-297.5) receive exactly the same rights, privileges and obligations as heterosexual marriages do.

Boies notes that California law gives domestic partners all the rights of marriage. But instead of concluding that the purpose of the two categories is to elevate and encourage California's biological families, he insists it's "to stigmatize a segment of its population that commits no offense, other than falling in love with a disapproved partner, and asks no more of the state than to be treated equally with all other citizens."

Excuse me...gays are treated exactly the same: they too can marry one of the opposite sex. Or civilly join with one of the same sex. The only difference is...maintaining distinctions. Men and men together are different from men and women together, not only in the capability to procreate, but in their "God-given characteristics" as detailed in innumerable physiological, psychological, brain and hormonal studies. Men and women marry. Men and men, or women and women may domestically partner. It's not "separate but equal;" it's separate because the two are not equal.

Boies concludes that "Gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters, our teachers and doctors..." who are due "the basic human right to marry the person they love" (as long as that person is an adult, not a close relative, not already married, not seeking to be a second or third spouse, mentally competent and willing...). He says it is overdue that "the Constitution fulfill its promise of equal protection and due process for all citizens by now eliminating the last remnant of centuries [no, millenniums!] of misguided state discrimination against gays and lesbians."

He is not willing to argue about discrimination against polygamists or incest-philes. But he's right about one thing--this issue is about discrimination, in the positive sense--the notion of being discriminating, cognizant of distinctions. If scientifically advanced people cannot even admit obvious differences between males and females, and instead deem them interchangeable in marriage, then our society is in a sorry state, indeed.

(OK, I know I've written about this before, and I, too, am becoming weary of being forced to repeat the same arguments. But then another of these articles gets huge coverage and I just have to answer...again.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

What is America to me?

Sorry I couldn't find a more visually interesting clip of this great song, but at least give it a listen - the words are fabulous and so well express how I feel about this land of ours. It's one of my favorite songs of all times.

What is America to me?

Boy, that's a question to which you'll get as many varied responses as the number of people you ask it to, but I think that these days, the American ideal is more fractured than ever.

When I was in college, one project that all American Studies majors had to do was the American Dream project - to ask five people what the American Dream meant to them, and then to take their responses and extrapolate an essay about what the American ideal meant to them. My five interviewees were my father, my grandmother, the American Heritage professor for whom I TA'ed (Brett Latimer) and two of my peers, my good friend Laura and my colleague Mark, a Marine veteran. Granted, all five and myself share some common foundations in terms of religion and politics, so the answers I got weren't as vastly varied as they'd be if you asked any five random people on the street, but I think that at the root of it, America means an opportunity to make your dreams come true and to pursue happiness.

Sadly, that opportunity is being diminished by those who would rather see equality of results enforced, making everyone's share of the pie equal with no effort expended - a recipe for disaster that will burden the backs of the hard workers with the labor of carrying the lazy. That is not America to me, and it's not the America our Founding Fathers set out to build.

Friends, I worry for this great nation of ours. I really, really do. I find that for the most part, my generation doesn't know its history. People don't understand the principles upon which America was founded. They don't study the primary sources, the words of the Founders themselves or the books from which the Founders got their ideas. They don't even go to the secondary sources that examine those ideals and quote from them directly. No, most people rely on what they read in high school or college general ed textbooks, information that is often a tertiary source at best. These great, ennobling ideas are watered down to summaries and synopses that lose so much of the heart and soul of this nation in translation. So many nowadays focus only on the rights of citizenship - not the responsibilities that accompany it like honesty, self-sufficiency, integrity and devotion to family.

It frustrates me so much to see our nation headed toward a trainwreck while so many people kick back and focus only on seeking entertainment and luxury. That's precisely the European attitude from which our Founders sought to break away in order to preserve the American character of a people who were "industrious, frugal, and honest," as Thomas Paine said in his great treatise Common Sense. In our land was a spirit of equality and public virtue because "the people of America are a people of property; almost every man is a freeholder," he wrote. Being part of the land somehow made people grounded, working hard for their sustenance. Today we're so far removed from that (myself included - I mean, I'm from L.A. Food comes from the grocery store, not the ground!). However, I think the Spirit of America can prevail even in our modern age.

But what will it take to survive and thrive in these trying times? It will take men and women like you and me, devoted in a return to the heart and soul of this nation, to put a stake in the ground and to make an effort to educate those around us as to what this country is really about, to study and to grow, to pick up the phone and be an engaged citizenry, willing to call our representatives and tell them if we disagree with a particular policy - not to sit around whining about what a terrible idea it is or, worse yet, to sit around ignorant of what's going on in Washington. Our nation is on a rapid track to change with a president at its helm who fundamentally believes in equality of results, not of opportunity, and whose platforms run diametrically opposed to what our Founders set up America to be.

After all, it isn't like the Founders were ignorant of how some things sounded great on paper - but didn't work in reality. As Samuel Adams wrote,

The Utopian schemes of leveling (redistribution of wealth) and a community of goods (gov't ownership of commerce) are as visionary and impratical as those which vest all property in the Crown. [These ideals] are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional.

Or we can turn to Jefferson, who wrote:

If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.

Furthermore, Jefferson warned:
We shall all consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay them ourselves; and consequently within what may be deemed the period of a generation, or the life of the majority.

Please, friends, do what you can within your sphere to make a difference. Preserve this great nation of ours. Don't let it fail in the face of ignorance, laziness and self-centered pleasure-seeking. Follow yet another admonition of Jefferson's:

If a nation expects to ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.

No other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness... Preach... a crusade against ignorance; establish and improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [of misgovernment].

If we don't stand up for the ideals of freedom and prosperity, we'll be enslaved by our very own government through taxation and limited liberty. That is not America to me.

As an extension of that project I did in college seven years ago, I'd like to ask all of you:

What is America to you? How would you define your version of the American Dream?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

CA's SB 54 seeks to undermine Prop. 8 win

As if the Legislature doesn’t have enough issues to deal with given the chronic $26 billion state budget deficit, some legislators are advancing a new bill in Sacramento designed to rip a huge hole in Proposition 8 and further undercut traditional marriage in California.

We need your help immediately to contact legislators and the Governor to oppose Senate Bill 54, which seeks to undermine Proposition 8, and further attempts to sneak this change by the people of California through a legislative maneuver known as the “gut and amend.”

Last week, Senator Mark Leno stripped out the contents of SB 54 – dealing with health care coverage -- and inserted language that would legalize gay marriages performed in other states and nations prior to the passage of Proposition 8. This proposal is in direct conflict with California’s constitution – as amended by the passage of Proposition 8 – that provides only marriage between a man and a woman will be valid or recognized in California. Further, it goes well beyond the California Supreme Court’s decision that allowed to remain valid a limited number of same-sex marriages performed in California last summer before Proposition 8 passed.

It is simply wrong and undemocratic for liberal gay activists like Senator Mark Leno to attempt to circumvent the decision of voters and rewrite our constitution behind our backs with this sneaky “gut and amend” maneuver. That’s why we’re asking you to take action TODAY and urge the legislature, and if it gets to him, the Governor, to oppose this effort to undermine Proposition 8.

Please become an active supporter by opposing SB 54.

Senator Leno’s SB 54 is such a direct assault, and your action will make a difference.
SB 54 will be heard THURSDAY in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. While the odds of stopping the bill here are low, we think that applying pressure now will drive up more no votes on this bill, which helps increase the odds of the Governor vetoing the bill. If the bill makes it to his desk, we are ultimately looking at an effort designed to encourage Governor Schwarzenegger to veto this legislation.

But for now, the fight is in the State Assembly!

Write your state Assembly representative expressing your opposition to SB 54. Ask him or her to vote against SB 54 if it makes it to the Assembly floor.

In particular, if any of the following members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee represent your home area, please call or email them immediately to urge them to oppose SB 54. Your immediate action will send a clear message that Californians are watching and will not sit idly by while liberal legislators attempt to rip a huge hole in Proposition 8.

Assembly Member Mike Feuer (D – West LA, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood)
(310) 285-5490

Assembly Member Van Tran (R – Costa Mesa, Garden Grove)
(714) 668-2100

Assembly Member Julia Brownley (D - Calabasas, Oxnard)
818) 596-4141

Assembly Member Noreen Evans (D – Santa Rose, Napa)
707) 546-4500

Assembly Member Dave Jones (D – Sacramento)
(916) 324-4676

Assembly Member Steve Knight (R – Palmdale, Victorville)
(661) 267-7636

Assembly Member Paul Krekorian (D – Burbank)
(818) 558-3043

Assembly Member Ted Lieu (D – El Segundo)
(310) 615-3515

Assembly Member William Monning (D – Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel)
(831) 425-1503

Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R – Redding, Yuba City)
(530) 223-6300

Info courtesy

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mass. sues federal gov't over marriage definition

I knew that the marriage debate would hit a federal level soon enough, but this isn't how I expected it to come up. According to the Associated Press, it appears that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has sued the federal government today, arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act interferes with the state's ability to define and regulate marriage as it sees fit.

More from the AP story:

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boston, argues the act "constitutes an overreaching and discriminatory federal law." It says the approximately 16,000 same-sex couples who have married in Massachusetts since the state began performing gay marriages in 2004 are being unfairly denied federal benefits given to heterosexual couples.

Besides Massachusetts, five other states — Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Iowa — have legalized gay marriage. Gay marriage opponents in Maine said Wednesday that they had collected enough signatures to put the state's new law on the November ballot for a possible override.

The Massachusetts lawsuit challenges the section of the federal law that creates a federal definition of marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."

Before the law was passed, Coakley said, the federal government recognized that defining marital status was the "exclusive prerogative of the states." Now, because of the U.S. law's definition of marriage, same-sex couples are denied access to benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including federal income tax credits, employment benefits, retirement benefits, health insurance coverage and Social Security payments, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also argues that the federal law requires the state to violate the constitutional rights of its citizens by treating married heterosexual couples and married same-sex couples differently when determining eligibility for Medicaid benefits and when determining whether the spouse of a veteran can be buried in a Massachusetts veterans' cemetery.

As the article notes, Pres. Obama has said he plans to repeal DOMA. Going through the legal system is a different way to approach the issue - one that, as precedent holds, seems to be comfortable and familiar for the same-sex marriage camp. Not one state that's approved same-sex marriage has done so by the voice of the people; rather, it's been legislated from the bench or voted on by lawmakers (in spite of their constituents' views in some cases).

So, this case should be interesting to watch. What's the precedent for states suing the federal gov't? As far as I remember from college, it seems like in most state-federal cases, the court rulings tend to favor a stronger national government and diminish states' abilities to make decisions for themselves.

Personally, I love the federalism concept as established by the Founders, with states making the decisions their constituents need while the national government sticks with issues states can't, such as national defense. Alas, that view seems to be more and more the minority view. What do you think?