Irony and Intolerance On Campus: Case Study at UNC Wilmington

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So there was this student group at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, you see, that was hosting a campus discussion on abortion. Maybe they should have known better than to have tried. It’s a rancorous issue everywhere, with religion right at the heart of the dispute, and of course everyone knows that one side of this debate in particular is pretty hard to get along with. Its people are closed-minded. They believe what they believe, and they won’t listen to anyone else. They have a nasty association with “haters,” due to their knee-jerk rejection of people who disagree with them.

And so it was that when one of these campus groups in Wilmington invited others to participate in an evening of debate, the other group’s answer came back blazing:

[We] ask that you no longer contact us directly. As a student organization, your events are on the CAIC calendar, part of Hawk e-News, and disseminated in a variety of other ways, which is sufficient for us to be aware of them. We do not need, nor want, these invitations. If you continue to attempt to contact any of us, we will take further action.

The writers of this email reportedly added that because they do not share the other side’s beliefs on abortion and LGBT issues, they wouldn’t participate in any debates. Their message went on,

As such, we have no desire to debate them with you or your organization. We have no desire to hear from [a certain UNCW professor] who has routinely mocked us and engaged in hostile and belittling behavior towards our organizations and beliefs. We have no desire to attend any event sponsored by your organization and its narrow beliefs steeped in … bigotry and intolerance.

Intolerance on Campus

Yup, this group really stands against “narrow beliefs,” so much so that its decision-making grid for participating in debate apparently includes the requirement that the other side must agree with them. This group is so opposed to intolerance—which usually means diversity of opinion, or so I thought—that it’s asked the other group not even to contact them. But wait, no, it wasn’t just a request, it came with a threat: “We will take further action.”

This group, which really objects to “hostile and belittling behavior” towards it and its beliefs, made sure to get their point across by calling the other group’s beliefs “narrow … steeped in … bigotry and intolerance.” Nothing hostile or belittling there!

Irony on Campus

You may have noticed that this was turning ironic. It gets better.

The group that was opening up a campus conversation on abortion was Ratio Christi, the nationwide student Christian apologetics alliance of which I am currently the National Field Director. The email I’ve been quoting from came from “Each of the leaders of PRIDE, NARAL and WSSA,” who “ask that you [Ratio Christi] no longer contact us directly.” (WSSA is the Women’s and Gender Studies Student Association.) The email was obtained and made public in an article in Campus Reform. My friend Aaron Marshall, who works with Ratio Christi there in Wilmington, attests to the report’s accuracy.

The UNCW professor named in the email is Mike Adams, who is admittedly a lightning rod for controversy. He wrote his own views on this in a Townhall.com column yesterday. It would be fair—in fact an understatement—to say that Dr. Adams has done nothing to ingratiate himself with campus liberals. It would also be fair to point out that it’s hardly a one-sided matter, in fact, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found the university had (as his defense team summarized it) “illegally retaliated against Adams when it denied him a promotion in 2006 because of his conservative views.”

Not About Mike Adams

Dr. Adams is sharp and opinionated, with a cutting wit. If this were about campus liberals not wanting to debate him, I could understand their feeling that way. But that’s not what they said. They told the Christians not to contact them about any event, or “we will take further action. They said, “We have no desire to attend any event sponsored by your organization and its narrow beliefs steeped in religious bigotry and intolerance. (“Religious” was the one word I omitted from my earlier quotation.)

They said in effect, You’re intolerant, so we’re not tolerating you. You’re bigoted, so we’re not interested in being reminded of your existence.

Rethinking What Everyone “Knows” About Intolerance On Campus

I opened this article by writing,

Everyone knows that when it comes to the culture wars, one side in particular is pretty closed-minded. They know what they know, and they believe what they believe, and they won’t listen to anyone else. One side has a nasty association with “haters,” due to their knee-jerk rejection of people who disagree with them.

Maybe what everyone “knows” isn’t true. Maybe it’s completely upside down.

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106 Responses to “ Irony and Intolerance On Campus: Case Study at UNC Wilmington ”

  1. Tom –

    You’re intolerant, so we’re not tolerating you. You’re bigoted, so we’re not interested in being reminded of your existence.

    That doesn’t seem to be an entirely accurate paraphrase. I can’t find the entire original message, so it’s hard to comment, but the sections quoted don’t add up to that.

    For example, I didn’t see them contesting the right of Ratio Christi to be a student group or to publicize its events in the usual ways. It’s hard to characterize that as intolerance, either of “you”, or “being reminded of your existence”.

    What they objected to was being personally contacted – ‘interaction with’, not ‘being reminded of’. Which they are free to object to.

    Though – based on what’s been presented, at least, which as I note is incomplete – it wouldn’t seem to rise to a legally objectionable level, that of harassment. That is to say, I doubt they could get a restraining order, based on what’s been presented.

    Of course, now that they’ve directly expressed the desire not to be contacted, further contact might qualify as harassment. Maybe. IANAL, etc.

    Churlish, grumpy, prickly? Sure. Overblown? Apparently, based on the presentation of one side. It’s not quite the form of intolerance that paraphrase portrays it as, though.

  2. And by exactly how many percentage points did I miss being perfectly accurate, Ray? Your analysis was thorough but you forgot to quantify it at the end. My opinion? You’re so confident of your assessment, you ought to be able to affix a number to it, too.

    Maybe off you did, you could add your margin of error, and your opinion concerning how many percentage points I was off from the range in which interpretive freedom can operate.

    I mean, just exactly how wrong was I?

  3. In more direct language, Ray, I think you were nitpicking, and I think my assessment there is actually supportable based on the facts. But I guess you disagree. So be it.

  4. I’d paraphrase them as, “Don’t talk to us, you big meanies! We’re ignoring you! Nyaaah!” That’d capture the childishness you want to ascribe while covering the gist of what they said accurately enough.

    Nitpicking? I don’t think so. Just seemed to touch on the debater’s duty and all.

  5. While this email might be symptomatic of intolerance, closed-mindedness and perhaps even hatred, I’m not so sure that it is itself directly promoting intolerance. Ray is a champion nitpicker but I think he might be correct in this instance.

    Still, there is that vague threat in the email. While it’s seems obvious that this is intended to shut down the conversation between the two parties, I would be concerned that it doesn’t take much to cross the line and actively try to shut the other side up. My understanding from people like Scott Klusendorf is that silencing the opposition (e.g. preventing debates from happening) is a tactic that he has encountered in the past.

  6. Columnist Mark Steyn I think has something relevant to say here:

    Most Christian opponents of gay marriage oppose gay marriage; they don’t oppose the right of gays to advocate it. Yet thug groups like GLAAD increasingly oppose the right of Christians even to argue their corner. It’s quicker and more effective to silence them.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/366896/age-intolerance-mark-steyn

    Why aren’t so-called progressive secularist’s more willing to meet in open debate? Honestly it is because they don’t have any good arguments. So what do you do when you don’t have a good argument? You vilify, demonize and dehumanize your opponent.

    So much for the conceit that their position is more reasonable than anyone else’s.

  7. JAD wrote: “Why aren’t so-called progressive secularist’s more willing to meet in open debate? Honestly it is because they don’t have any good arguments.”

    Yeah, we won marriage equality in 37 states and at the federal level by telling the defendants to shut up and barring their access to the courtrooms. Cause that’s how trials work.

  8. And as for that article about Phil Robertson:

    Ok, so he was temporarily suspended for some comments he made in an interview (note that he was un-suspended a few days later, and his show continues to air). Meanwhile, in 28 states it’s legal to fire gay people – not for anything they say or do, but just for *being* gay. There are places in the south where closeted gay people live in constant fear of someone finding out, because then they’d not be able to get a job *anywhere*.

    How come y’all never talk about that?

  9. “marriage equality”

    You really have to admire how media friendly, politically correct and apparently benign this phrase is. Hey, isn’t “equality” always a good thing? Hey, isn’t everyone who opposes equality of every possible kind a bigot? Hey, what could possibly be wrong with everyone everywhere doing anything having equality. Nothing like a media friendly, politically correct and apparently benign two word phrase to summarize an issue this important and complex. I mean all of human history must certainly be wrong if they couldn’t understand something this simple.

  10. There are places in the south where closeted gay people live in constant fear of someone finding out, because then they’d not be able to get a job *anywhere*.

    Oh, the never ending victimhood of the liberal left. Everyone’s a victim. African Americans, the GLBT, drunk college girls, women, Islamic terrorists, illegal aliens. Have I missed any? I must have. Right, I forget, it’s everyone but straight white males.

  11. BillT wrote: “Oh, the never ending victimhood of the liberal left. Everyone’s a victim. African Americans, the GLBT, drunk college girls, Islamic terrorists, illegal aliens. Have I missed any? I must have.”

    Yeah, we’re blowing things totally out of proportion. Like that guy in a Texas airport back in October who, after calling someone a “San Francisco faggot”, swung a hard punch right to his eye socket, knocking him down. That dude should just take the punch and stop complaining, right???

  12. BillT: It’s not really clear what you meant. Was it that you don’t think gay people are treated badly? Was it that they are, but you don’t care? That you think it’s ok? Or that it’s not relevant? What?

  13. SF-

    Speaking of being treated badly:

    http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/8608

    This woman has done no wrong, she committed no crime, and is about to lose everything she has because of hateful, vindictive people. I hope you are as incensed about this maltreatment as you would be if she were a gay florist that was morally opposed to providing services for a “wedding” between two (straight) men (which is likely not a violation of non-discrimination laws). Unless you think florists should have to provide services for any event that is called a “wedding”. (or perhaps if the baker in Colorado that declined to create a cake inscribed with words calling homosexuality sinful were to find herself in a similar situation).

    Yes, of course gay people have been treated badly. Lots of people have been treated badly. Sure, gays have unjustly lost their jobs because of their homosexuality. Others have because they have the “wrong” views about homosexuality.

    I dont know that we need laws to specifically make it illegal to fire someone because of their views on homosexuality or identification with it. Even I am not for such laws, it does not follow that I think people should get fired.

    Which all brings me to the points I want to make. When it comes to people getting hurt, we can be tribal and only concern ourselves with those in our “tribe” so to speak or we can be opposed to injustice everywhere. Which do you prefer? When it comes to laws, one can be against people being mistreated because of their homosexuality and yet not be for “marriage equality” or workplace “anti-discrimination” laws.

  14. #10 BillT

    Yes, I agree “marriage equality” is both disingenuous and brilliant. It really means “celebrate homosexuality”. Of course, if “celebrate homosexuality” were not re-branded “marriage equality” the movement would have gotten nowhere.

  15. DR84:
    “This woman has done no wrong, she committed no crime,”

    Actually, she *is* in violation of the law. Washington is one of the states that include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination laws.

    “and is about to lose everything she has because of hateful, vindictive people”

    You’re right. It’s just that those hateful, vindictive people happen to be the ADF. Her case is completely baseless in light of Washington’s laws, and any competent lawyer knows it. Yet the ADF apparently haven’t counseled her to accept the meager settlement she was offered; instead they’re pushing her forward again and again. Why? Surely, that’s not in her best interest. Those lawyers *know* they’re chasing a stick without a carrot.

    Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson says: “Before this case began, my office wrote to Ms. Stutzman, asking her to comply with state law. Had she agreed to no longer discriminate, my office would not have filed suit, and Ms. Stutzman would not have paid any costs, fees or penalties.” (http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?&id=32604#.VOl_z_nF-ap)

    Also, it’s worth pressing the point here that she *lost* her case, on legal grounds. You can’t just ignore a judge’s ruling as if it didn’t happen. Address it: https://www.scribd.com/doc/256209726/13-2-00871-5-Arlene-s-Flowers-Ruling

    “I hope you are as incensed about this maltreatment as you would be if she were a gay florist that was morally opposed to providing services for a “wedding” between two (straight) men (which is likely not a violation of non-discrimination laws).”

    Depending on how you look at it, that would be discrimination either on the basis of sexual orientation, or simply on the basis of sex. Both are protected by nondiscrimination laws. So this hypothetical gay florist would also be legally required to sell the flowers.

    ” Unless you think florists should have to provide services for any event that is called a “wedding”.”

    Nope, you’re misunderstanding how nondiscrimination laws work. The kind of event it is isn’t really relevant. The problem was that she refused to sell flowers for (insert any event here), because the participants in that event were gay.

    “(or perhaps if the baker in Colorado that declined to create a cake inscribed with words calling homosexuality sinful were to find herself in a similar situation).”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUWW0wHiRso

    “Yes, of course gay people have been treated badly.”

    That’s a pretty big understatement, IMO.

    “I dont know that we need laws to specifically make it illegal to fire someone because of their views on homosexuality or identification with it.”

    We do, just as we need laws to specifically make it illegal to fire someone because they’re black, or a woman. If we don’t have these laws, then there’s no recourse for such injustices, when they happen.

    “Even I am not for such laws, it does not follow that I think people should get fired.”

    Technically, no. But it does follow that you think companies should be legally allowed to fire someone for a reason unrelated to their actual job performance. Why would you think that?

    “When it comes to people getting hurt, we can be tribal and only concern ourselves with those in our “tribe” so to speak or we can be opposed to injustice everywhere. Which do you prefer?”

    I prefer the latter. I actually spend a lot of time on other issues too, such as homelessness (if you’re interested, many state and city level governments have made efforts to make homeless people less visible, which end up making it harder for homeless people to get back on their feet).

    “Yes, I agree “marriage equality” is both disingenuous and brilliant. It really means “celebrate homosexuality”. ”

    You don’t have to celebrate anything. You just have to not discriminate.

    But anyway, I’m wondering what you think about other nondiscrimination laws. Are you opposed to all of them, or just the ones that protect LGBT people?

  16. SF,

    If you really don’t get the use of victimhood by the liberal left and how they’ve used it to promote their own position and discredit their opponents you either have been hiding under a rock for the last few decades or…well I’ll leave it at that. Perhaps this will help.

  17. ScepticismFirst is being either dishonest or ignorant.

    First of all, he is not in favor of equal rights. He favors coercion to take away people’s freedom of thought, belief and conscience. Taking away someone’s rights, under the threat of punishment is not treating that person fairly, justly or equally. Equality without freedom is tyranny.

    Secondly, he is demanding for gays something nobody else has, universal affirmation. He is demanding that “society” as a whole affirm, not simply tolerate thinking and moral beliefs with which they disagree. However, hypocritically he doesn’t grant that same right to “people of faith.”

    A free, open and democratic society can exist only if it tolerates beliefs that are mutually exclusive. Forcing everyone to think the same is not equality it, in fact, destroys any possibility for any kind equality.

    I have the right to be indifferent. For example, I am indifferent to what Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses think and believe. From time to time they show up at my door wanting to talk to me about their faith. I don’t have the time or the patience to argue with them. My point is they are free to believe what they want. They are also free to advocate for their beliefs. What they do not have the right to do is to demand that I in any way affirm their beliefs.

    He apparently believes that government or society through law can by fiat can create or take away rights. Rights come from God, not man.
    Laws created by men are not moral absolutes. Making something legal doesn’t make it moral.

    Clearly SF (and other secular progressives) is motivated by an animus towards Christians and other people of faith– an animus that he clearly condemns when it’s directed towards gays. If he wants to have hatred towards others that’s his business, but that does not give him the right to act upon hatred.

    Misusing the law to discriminate against people you hate is not something he, or anyone else, has the right to do.

    If you use so-called “anti-discrimination” laws to discriminate then they’re not really anti-discrimination laws.

  18. SF,

    I’d say it’s a red herring and perfectly in keeping with my comments in #10. Or maybe I’d point out that you haven’t addressed the issues I raised in #10 or #18.

  19. SF-

    If a florist believed it morally objectionable to celebrate birthdays, and refused to create flower decorations for a gay man’s birthday, by your reasoning she would not be discriminating against the event but against him because he is a participant and is gay.

    Of course, I imagine you might say something to the effect that birthdays are necessarily celebrated by gay people. So that it is possible for a baker or florist to not want to be involved in the celebration of birthdays and not discriminate against anyone. The problem for you is that this is also true of same sex “weddings” which can also be held by people of any sexual orientation and not just gay people.

    Given your knowledge of non-discrimination laws, a man in Colorado was found in violation of said laws for not baking a rainbow colored cake for a same sex “wedding”. (http://masterpiececakes.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Masterpiece-Editorial-1.pdf

    http://www.denverpost.com/education/ci_26166540/baker-appeals-order-provide-gay-wedding-cakes)

    Another baker has refused to make a cake with inscribed with words that say homosexuality is a sin.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/01/22/this-colorado-baker-refused-to-put-an-anti-gay-message-on-cakes-now-she-is-facing-a-civil-rights-complaint/

    There is a major disclaimer with the news article here, it says that the man requested a cake that says “God hates gay”. This is completely false, the man did not request that at all. He requested two cakes that had words on them that are roughly “God Hates Sin” “Homosexuality is a sin” “God Loves Sinners”. Sadly, this is fact is all but impossible to find reported. I know this because I listened to a podcast (Generations radio) in which Bill Jack himself said what he asked for and pointed out that he deliberately did not give his side of the story and now regrets it because of what happened.

    Anyway, since you seem to be personally fine with the fate that has befallen the florist and the fate that has befallen the baker that refused to make a rainbow colored cake, what do you think should happen to the baker that refused to make a cake that said “homosexuality is a sin”? Would you be fine if she faced losing her business, home, and savings because she refused to make the cake and would not agree to make cakes just like it in the future?

  20. And SF just to add to my prior. Your question “…what you think about other nondiscrimination laws. Are you opposed to all of them, or just the ones that protect LGBT people?” makes an assumption and, of course, uses victimhood and demagoguery to enforce your point.

    First, it makes an assumption that SSM is worthy of it’s description as marriage. It’s my considered opinion and the consistent position held here in general that it doesn’t. You can change a bunch of words, laws, descriptions but it doesn’t make SSM, marriage. Thus, whatever protections that nondiscrimination laws confer upon it are equally unworthy.

    Second, you take this and, in true liberal form, try to demagogue us as people who approve of discrimination against LGBT people in general. And all this (you wouldn’t believe it if you didn’t see it) in the midst of our position that is just what this is all about. The consistent victimhood of those you support and demagoguery of any you oppose.

  21. @SkepticismFirst:

    But anyway, I’m wondering what you think about other nondiscrimination laws. Are you opposed to all of them, or just the ones that protect LGBT people?

    BillT and JAD: how would you answer the question in the last paragraph of my previous comment?

    The question was directed at BillT and JAD but I will take the liberty to also answer, and answer with a few questions, that are in the wake of JAD’s claim that you are “not in favor of equal rights”, except in a different direction. What about you? Do you discriminate against underage people having a driver’s license? Everyone knows that underage boys in farms regularly drive pickups and tractors, so do you condone said discrimination? I could be here all day listing discriminations the law makes based on things like age and sex, but since we are talking about marriage, do you discriminate against polygamy? Do you discriminate against people marrying a cat or a dog? Do you discriminate against a woman marrying the Eiffel tower? Or even himself?

    There are two hypothesis, now; either you are a rank hypocrite and a bigot, or you have principled reasons why you think the above cases do not constitute discrimination. Because discrimination is not per se unjust; what is unjust is to discriminate between X and Y in the same case, when the difference between X and Y is *irrelevant* to the analysis of the parallel cases. And this, or so I guess, is what you have in mind. The above cases do not, and would not constitute discrimination, because say in the case of the man marrying himself, the difference — a single man proposing to marry — is indeed relevant for marriage, which entails that you have some conception, however vague, of what marriage is and how it differs from other relationships that the State does not regulate (like friendship say).

    And so do we. On our conception, denying SSM marriage is not a case of unjust discrimination, but follows from the *specific* relation that marriage is and what values it embodies and are supposed to be fostered by it.

  22. JAD –

    He favors coercion to take away people’s freedom of thought, belief and conscience.

    Do you believe that laws against segregation in the 1960’s were “coercion to take away people’s freedom of thought, belief and conscience”? If so, then you’re done, I guess. I don’t think many would agree with you, but your case, such as it is, would be made.

    If, on the other hand, you don’t think that, then you have some work ahead of you. You have to make the case that the Civil Rights Act wasn’t “coercion to take away people’s freedom of thought, belief and conscience”, but adding LGBT(OMGWTFBBQ) people to the list becomes that. (And, perhaps, that SF knows this.)

    Secondly, he is demanding for gays something nobody else has, universal affirmation.

    I don’t see you making this case at all. Quotes from SF establishing this?

  23. BillT –

    Second, you take this and, in true liberal form, try to demagogue us as people who approve of discrimination against LGBT people in general.

    Actually, I did a skim of this conversation, and I haven’t seen anyone ‘conservative’ say something like, “I support laws that protect gays from employment and housing discrimination; but I don’t think same-sex ‘marriage’ is marriage at all, so laws regarding that are invalid.”

    That would be a useful distinction to make, to refute SF’s point, but I haven’t seen anyone make it.

  24. Here are a couple quotes that just about say-it-all:

    But how many on the pro-gay-marriage side care to look into the thoughts and feelings of the millions of their fellow citizens across the nation who are on the other side of this issue, whether they be black, white, or what have you? How many are willing to really peer into what their opponents feel, namely, that their arguments have been systematically dismissed, and that their votes on this issue, and on increasing numbers of others, are not allowed to count? Who cares for their dignity?

    And,

    The cause of marriage equality has unfortunately allowed itself to become closely yoked to two very corrosive trends currently at work in our liberal democracy: that of an anti-constitutional judicial supremacy that makes a mockery of democratic dignity, and that of a bullying and demonizing approach to democratic debate, enabled by certain internet dynamics, which deepens polarization and undermines first amendment rights of speech, religion, and association.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/postmodern-conservative/414132/alabama-ironies-carl-eric-scott

  25. Ray,

    Isn’t that the gist of what I said in #23.

    (“Second, you take this and….try to demagogue us as people who approve of discrimination against LGBT people in general.”)

  26. BillT –

    Isn’t that the gist of what I said in #23.

    Well, saying something like, “I disapprove of discrimination against LGBT people in general” would be a good way to refute that. Especially if it was tied into actual laws, the way SSM is.

    The bits with the bakers and florists is, well, about discrimination law. I don’t see how asking about stances on discrimination law is out of bounds. I mean, DR84 said, “I dont know that we need laws to specifically make it illegal to fire someone because of their views on homosexuality or identification with it.” Follow-up questions would seem called for there, no?

  27. To everyone: I feel like we’re just talking past each other at this point. See, what I’m interested in is the law. Yet, I have yet to see anyone who disagrees with me attempt to legally justify their views on SSM or LGBT discrimination protections – despite that the general topic of this post is that you’re all, somehow, being silenced. Well, I want the opposite of that: I want you to see the legal case against SSM, and against LGBT nondiscrimination laws. And I especially want to see the legal case in defense of this:

    “that of an anti-constitutional judicial supremacy that makes a mockery of democratic dignity”

    Specifically, why do you think it’s the case that the so-called “judicial supremacy” has made a mistake in its legal reasoning? This should include an explanation of how so many judges, coming from all political affiliations, nominated by both republican and democratic presidents, have come to the exact same conclusion – that bans on same-sex marriage violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution.

  28. I want you to see the legal case against SSM, and against LGBT nondiscrimination laws.

    You’ll find it in the case FOR marriage laws – which will, by necessity, also explain why the State is interested in these laws, which will, by necessity, tell you what kind of relationships are relevant to the law. It’s fairly obvious to me that not every form of human relationship can become a legal marriage – which means we know, generally speaking which kinds of relationships the law had in mind. Read #24 if you haven’t already. See also my latest comment, here.

  29. I may have quoted the wrong portion of your comment, SF, but I think I am addressing what your overall complaint is.

  30. Here’s something to keep in mind:

    (CNN)If you have not been following the case of Barronelle Stutzman, you should be.

    Stutzman is the Washington florist who has been sued for living out her Christian beliefs. In 2013, a long-time friend and customer came to her flower shop and asked her to provide flowers for his gay wedding. Stutzman had known this man and had done business with him for about nine years. Nevertheless, she told him that she could not participate in his wedding “because of my relationship with Jesus…”

    The court also ruled recently that both the state and the same-sex couple, who each filed lawsuits against her, may collect damages and attorneys fees not only from her business, but from Stutzman personally. That means the 70-year-old grandmother may not only lose her business, but also her home and savings because she lives her life and operates her business according to her beliefs…

    The decision against Stutzman sets a dreadful precedent against our first freedom in the Bill of Rights: religious liberty. The court says that she is free to believe what she wants, but not to practice her religious beliefs. The court has ruled that if she wants to run a business in the state of Washington, she must defy her conscience and participate in same-sex weddings. If she does not, then the full coercive power of the state — as well as civil liability — will be brought against her.

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/20/living/stutzman-florist-gay/

    This is what the SSM advocates of “equal rights” mean by equal? She caused “harm” (really?) by politely refusing to provide a service we’ll cause her harm by destroying her business and ruining her life. That’s proportionate?

    Nice move. Persecute a 70 year old grandmother because she wouldn’t compromise her religious beliefs. You really expect to get peoples sympathy with actions like that? So who are the real purveyors of hate here?

    Here’s the truth about SSM. It has never been about equal rights for anyone. It is been undermining religious beliefs and values and marginalizing people who hold them.

    What country do we live in?

  31. SF and Ray,

    I don’t think anyone here has ever made a case or argued against nondiscrimination laws of any kind. And Ray, I think you have been here long enough to know that.

    The case “against” SSM has been made on numerous posts and the comments that followed. And “against” fairly belongs in “” as the case we make is for traditional marriage not specifically against SSM. That is because the case for traditional marriage also “argues against” legalized polyamory, legalized sibling marriage, legalized parent child marriage and a possibly a few more that decorum advises against describing.

  32. BillT wrote: “I don’t think anyone here has ever made a case or argued against nondiscrimination laws of any kind. ”

    I point you to comments 15, 19, 24, and 34.

    “The case “against” SSM has been made on numerous posts and the comments that followed. ”

    Yes, but I’m asking for something more specific – a legal analysis of the laws in question (since we’re talking about a legal issue – specifically, whether these laws are constitutional). I don’t recall seeing that.

    ———-
    SteveK wrote: “You’ll find it in the case FOR marriage laws – which will, by necessity, also explain why the State is interested in these laws, which will, by necessity, tell you what kind of relationships are relevant to the law.”

    If you’re referring to the case that’s been argued for in courts, involving (for example) citing Baker v. Nelson as binding precedent, or claiming that federalism applies, well…that’s been a dismal failure. If you’re referring to some other case, please point me to it.

    ———
    JAD: That she’s a 70 year old grandmother is irrelevant. Age and familial relations don’t make one exempt from the law. You need to argue why the law is incorrect.

  33. BillT –

    I don’t think anyone here has ever made a case or argued against nondiscrimination laws of any kind.

    Indeed. But see my comment #25. It seems as though JAD is portraying them as “coercion to take away people’s freedom of thought, belief and conscience”.

    Now, me, I find Eugene Volokh’s analysis to be compelling – photographers certainly, cake decorators almost certainly, and even florists probably can claim to be engaged in artistic expression, and hence deserve greater First Amendment protection than, say, the manager of a venue. Not unlimited protection – especially when alternatives are few and far between – but some.

    So I can see room for JAD to make a case. Maybe. But he certainly hasn’t made one yet. He’s managed a lot of indignation, of course, but that’s not quite the same as a legal case.

  34. SF

    If you’re referring to some other case, please point me to it.

    I’m referring to the original legal case for establishing marriage as a worthwhile law that the State is interested in managing. What were the reasons given at that time and how was marriage defined at that time? I’m interested in testing your claim that SS couples fit into the intent of historical marriage laws.

  35. Yes, but I’m asking for something more specific – a legal analysis of the laws in question (since we’re talking about a legal issue – specifically, whether these laws are constitutional). I don’t recall seeing that.

    SF,

    This isn’t a website where legal analysis is central to its purpose and expertise. That kind of thing is available elsewhere. The Public Discourse website with the analysis of this issue by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George is the seminal work on the subject. (This linked article links the main paper as well.)

  36. SteveK:

    (from DeBoer v. Snyder, Michigan)

    “Historian Nancy Cott testified that, from the founding of the colonies
    through the early years of the republic, civil authorities regulated marriage to foster stable households, legitimate children and designate providers to care for dependents who otherwise would become wards of the state. […] Cott further attested that there is no historical precedent for prohibiting marriages that are incapable of creating biological offspring. After surveying the domestic legal history of every
    state in the country, Cott indicated that none of them have ever required a couple to possess the capacity or inclination to procreate as a prerequisite to marriage. ”

    Can same-sex couples foster stable households? Can they legitimate children? Can they care for dependents who otherwise would become wards of the state? Yes, they can. And oftentimes, they do.

  37. Thanks, BillT. The quote below is part of the legal discussion that SF wants us to have, so let’s have it. What is the response, SF?

    We also show that those who would redefine civil marriage, to eliminate sexual complementarity as an essential element, can give no principled account of why marriage should be (1) a sexual partnership as opposed to a partnership distinguished by exclusivity with respect to other activities (including non-sexual relationships, as between cohabiting adult brothers); or (2) an exclusive union of only two persons (rather than three or more in a polyamorous arrangement). Nor can they give robust reasons for making marriage (3) a legally recognized and regulated relationship in the first place (since, after all, we don’t legally recognize or closely regulate most other forms of friendships).

  38. Can same-sex couples foster stable households? Can they legitimate children? Can they care for dependents who otherwise would become wards of the state? Yes, they can. And oftentimes, they do.

    Can friends, business partners, congregations, strangers, brothers, a man and his house, a woman and her dog, etc, etc? Yes to all of them.

    I repeat. Why is the State interested in recognizing legal relationships that fit the description of literally every kind of human relationship? What is the purpose of having such a law on the books – is it to collect fees/taxes for licenses?

  39. Here is a point I made on this website a couple of years ago.

    From the STR blog:

    The whole same-sex marriage debate is all about acceptance. The gay agenda wants the government to back their lifestyle which, in essence, would grant government APPROVAL of what they are doing.

    That’s what it is all about. Approval.

    I think that is what attracts gays, who are really pawns in this whole thing. However, I think the whole SSM agenda is, in a broader sense, motivated primarily by a hostility towards traditional moral values, which have been primarily shaped by Judeo-Christian moral values. Not only that but the agenda is anti-religious, and specifically anti-Christian, which is why marriage has been chosen as a primary target. Skeptical? Ask yourself, where do most people get married?

    See also here.

  40. BillT: I’m familiar with Anderson et. al. Interestingly, they’ve filed amicus briefs in these cases; briefs which have thus far failed to convince the judges.

    SteveK: First off, it’s worth noting that friends, business partners, and strangers actually *are* allowed to legally marry each other. Do you think they shouldn’t be?

    As for a man and his house, or a woman and her dog: surely you realize that this is a non-issue, since houses and dogs don’t have the capability to even fill out the paperwork to apply for a marriage license; so even if we did allow man-house marriage, there would still not *be* any man-house marriages.

    Relatives are a fuzzier issue. In fact, some states allow marriages between first cousins (but not brothers) – but only when they can prove that they’re incapable of procreation.

    But anyway, that’s not relevant to the comment you’re responding to. All I was doing was pointing out that same-sex couples fit the original legal case that you were asking about. Do you disagree with the original legal case?

    (I’ll respond to comment 41 shortly)

  41. Response to comment 41:

    “(1) a sexual partnership as opposed to a partnership distinguished by exclusivity with respect to other activities (including non-sexual relationships, as between cohabiting adult brothers)”

    Legally, marriage *isn’t* a sexual partnership. If Ryan T. Anderson were to marry, he and his wife wouldn’t be required to engage in any sort of sexual activity, ever – and even if they went ahead and had sex with other people, they’d still be considered to be married. Do you think requirements regarding sex should be added into our laws?

    “(2) an exclusive union of only two persons (rather than three or more in a polyamorous arrangement).”

    I’m actually in favor of polyamorous marriage, although that’s not the issue we’re talking about here.

    “Nor can they give robust reasons for making marriage (3) a legally recognized and regulated relationship in the first place”

    Think about why you or anyone else might decide to get married. I doubt it’s simply a matter of “We’re gonna procreate. We’re gonna procreate so hard!” Rather, it’s because there are all kinds of benefits both to the individuals getting married, and to society as a whole. These include personal, interpersonal, societal, an even economic benefits. All those benefits seem like a good enough reason to me.

  42. First off, it’s worth noting that friends, business partners, and strangers actually *are* allowed to legally marry each other. Do you think they shouldn’t be?

    What do you mean by legally marry? We keep asking this question, you keep avoiding the answer. Is legal marriage the process of filling out forms and paying for a license?

    If so, are you telling me the State was interested in creating and managing a law that does nothing more than recognize people that can fill out forms and pay money for licenses that they don’t really need – that this was the INTENDED purpose of the law – or is there a purpose to marriage laws that go beyond this?

  43. Rather, it’s because there are all kinds of benefits both to the individuals getting married, and to society as a whole. These include personal, interpersonal, societal, an even economic benefits. All those benefits seem like a good enough reason to me.

    Applicants don’t need to meet any specific requirements so it seems clear to me that the exact same benefits can be established without the law. Contrast this with drivers licenses or traditional marriage licenses where people have to meet specific requirements. Your version of legal marriage doesn’t do anything. With this view of marriage I can see why many think the state should get out of the marriage business.

  44. SF,

    You continue to avoid the point that Anderson, et als and I made, “That is because the case for traditional marriage also “argues against” legalized polyamory, legalized sibling marriage, legalized parent child marriage and a possibly a few more that decorum advises against describing.” One of the biggest problems with SSM is that it isn’t redefining marriage it’s undefining marriage. You want a legal discussion? Explain why any of the above unions shouldn’t be allowed or support why they should.

    And BTW, the facts that the courts haven’t found Anderson, et als convincing doesn’t mean they haven’t made good arguments. You wanted a legal discussion so please discuss the legal issues they raise. That the courts haven’t found them convincing is neither here nor there. This isn’t a courtroom and judges make bad decision all the time (See: Scott, Dred).

  45. Do you think requirements regarding sex should be added into our laws?

    It’s there already – not the act of sex, but the biology of it. Your claim is that the law doesn’t care what the biology of the applicants are. Is that an historically accurate description of the law as it was intended and enforced?

  46. Relatives are a fuzzier issue. In fact, some states allow marriages between first cousins (but not brothers) – but only when they can prove that they’re incapable of procreation.

    This contradicts your other statements about the law being neutral on the issue of sex (“Do you think requirements regarding sex should be added into our laws?”).

    a) in all cases, sex and children aren’t a requirement in order for a relationship to be a legal marriage.

    b) in some cases, the possibility of sex and children means the relationship cannot be a legal marriage.

    Which is it, SF?

  47. SteveK,

    Applicants don’t need to meet any specific requirements so it seems clear to me that the exact same benefits can be established without the law. Contrast this with drivers licenses or traditional marriage licenses where people have to meet specific requirements. Your version of legal marriage doesn’t do anything. With this view of marriage I can see why many think the state should get out of the marriage business.

    I think it is way past time to cut the baby in half. I think church denominations, affiliations or associations, who affirm traditional marriage, have all the authority they need to licence or certify marriages on their own. (Of course, the broader the coalition, the better.) Along with licencing marriages we need to stop recognizing civil marriage.

    Of course this is something that supporter of SSM could have done all along (and did do to some degree through Unitarian and other liberal denominations.) Well, let’s let them have what they want. Maybe then they’ll leave us alone– Yeah right.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the Christian leaders we have at present are that courageous. If they had been we would never have been in this mess.

  48. @SkepticismFirst:

    I feel like we’re just talking past each other at this point. See, what I’m interested in is the law.

    Really? From #9:

    Meanwhile, in 28 states it’s legal to fire gay people – not for anything they say or do, but just for *being* gay. There are places in the south where closeted gay people live in constant fear of someone finding out, because then they’d not be able to get a job *anywhere*.

    How come y’all never talk about that?

    I note the irony of pointing out that firing “gay people” “just for *being* gay” is *legal*. From #14:

    BillT: It’s not really clear what you meant. Was it that you don’t think gay people are treated badly? Was it that they are, but you don’t care? That you think it’s ok? Or that it’s not relevant? What?

    More examples could be produced. On the one hand, SkepticismFirst plays the victim card and talks about “bigotry” and “discrimination” and “justice” and what not, when it comes to arguments, he is only interested in The Law.

    Yup, you are talking past us. I do not know who your imaginary opponent is, but it certainly is not any of us here.

  49. #46:
    “Is legal marriage the process of filling out forms and paying for a license?”

    Basically, yes. There’s more stuff involving tax code etc., but that’s what SSM advocates say that same-sex couples should be allowed to do – the same legal process that straight couples go through when they get married. I’ve said over and over that this debate is about *civil marriage*.

    “If so, are you telling me the State was interested in creating and managing a law that does nothing more than recognize people that can fill out forms and pay money for licenses that they don’t really need – that this was the INTENDED purpose of the law – or is there a purpose to marriage laws that go beyond this?”

    As far as the law is concerned, the purpose of marriage laws just *is* to give people the option to partake in the rights, responsibilities, and privileges that come with being married. It’s not just a database, and that’s not what I’m implying at all. But it’s also not some grandiose metaphysical thing. It’s a social institution, similar to businesses.

    I’m really not sure why this seems so controversial.

    #47:
    “Contrast this with drivers licenses or traditional marriage licenses where people have to meet specific requirements. Your version of legal marriage doesn’t do anything.”

    My version of legal marriage is identical to the current version, except that gay people can also be married. I’m not proposing any other changes to marriage law.

    #48:
    ” One of the biggest problems with SSM is that it isn’t redefining marriage it’s undefining marriage. You want a legal discussion? Explain why any of the above unions shouldn’t be allowed or support why they should.”

    That the case for traditional marriage also argues against other forms of marriage is an interesting feature, but ultimately not relevant. For the purposes of this discussion, I don’t really care about polygamy, incestuous marriage, or anything else like that. I’m not advocating them, so it’s not my job to defend them.

    “And BTW, the facts that the courts haven’t found Anderson, et als convincing doesn’t mean they haven’t made good arguments.”

    Not necessarily, no. But they’ve been at this for several years now. One would think that if their arguments really were that strong, they’d be more convincing; especially since judges are generally experts in matters of law. It’s similar to how you’d trust the opinion of a bunch of professional philosophers on the topic of some point about an argument for theism, rather than the opinion of some random Christian blogger who’s never taken a philosophy class in his life.

    “This isn’t a courtroom and judges make bad decision all the time (See: Scott, Dred).”

    Yes, that was a single bad decision. If there was one decision in favor of same-sex marriage, you’d have a point. But there are several dozen, including from very conservative judges and even judges who have personal reasons to rule against it. What’s the best explanation here: that they’re all for some inscrutable reason conspiring to rule wrongly, that they’re all just really incompetent, or that they’re all right about the law?

    #49:
    “It’s there already – not the act of sex, but the biology of it.”

    I’m not talking about sex as in “this person is a male”. I’m talking about sex as in “those people just had sex”. That’s nowhere to be found, as evidenced by the fact that people who won’t have sex, and even people who *can’t* have sex, are allowed to marry.

    #50:
    “This contradicts your other statements about the law being neutral on the issue of sex (“Do you think requirements regarding sex should be added into our laws?”).

    a) in all cases, sex and children aren’t a requirement in order for a relationship to be a legal marriage.

    b) in some cases, the possibility of sex and children means the relationship cannot be a legal marriage.

    Which is it, SF?”

    There’s no contradiction here. In A, I’m saying that there’s never a “you must have children” requirement. In B, I’m saying that there is sometimes a “you must not have children” requirement.

    #51:
    “I think it is way past time to cut the baby in half. I think church denominations, affiliations or associations, who affirm traditional marriage, have all the authority they need to licence or certify marriages on their own.”

    What are you gonna do when all your married Christian friends start complaining that they can’t jointly file taxes anymore? That has absolutely nothing to do with the church. Basically, what you’re advocating is to turn marriage into something legally similar to baptism, which comes with zero legal benefits. Is that *really* what you want?

    Furthermore, how are you gonna handle the doctrinal split between pro- and anti-SSM denominations? In just a few years, it’ll be as big as the catholic-protestant split, if it’s not already.

  50. #52:
    “I note the irony of pointing out that firing “gay people” “just for *being* gay” is *legal*. ”

    What irony? That’s a legal matter as well – I want “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to be included in our nondiscrimination and public accommodation laws, which would make firing people on those bases illegal. If you think that my position is “whatever is currently legal is what should be legal”, you’ve woefully misread me.

  51. If you think that my position is “whatever is currently legal is what should be legal”, you’ve woefully misread me.

    Then don’t say “See, what I’m interested in is the law” because that only serves to confuse people when you later tell them you’re not *just* interested in the law.

  52. Here is a quote from someone who supports SSM yet says that in this debate we need to be tolerant of each other. Don’t you think?

    “Folks who feel very strongly that marriage should be defined narrowly as between a man and a woman — many of them are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective… They’re coming at it because they care about families… a bunch of ’em are friends of mine. . . people who I deeply respect.”

  53. Basically, yes.

    Wrong.

    Lawmakers did not argue in legal proceedings, “Please vote for passage of this law that serves no social purpose. It only serves to recognize people in any relationship, without any specific qualifications or commitments, that are willing to voluntarily fill out a form and pay for a license so they can be recognized by our government. We call it the marriage law.”

  54. @SkepticismFirst:

    If you think that my position is “whatever is currently legal is what should be legal”, you’ve woefully misread me.

    Of course that is not your position, otherwise you would not want to *change* the law. But if you want to change the law, then you want to change it *because* of some principle other than The Law, so it follows that contrary to what you are telling us you are *NOT* solely “interested in [is] the law”. And invoking broad constitutional principles does not help you one iota, precisely because the principles are broad and their *concrete* application depend on other, non-legal principles — they depend on ethical, moral, anthropological and metaphysical considerations. The law does not interpret itself; its interpretation and application in concrete cases depends on interpretative acts, that themselves are guided by all sorts of non-legal considerations.

    And to make the point clear, let me take one of your responses to SteveK:

    Is legal marriage the process of filling out forms and paying for a license?

    Basically, yes. There’s more stuff involving tax code etc., but that’s what SSM advocates say that same-sex couples should be allowed to do – the same legal process that straight couples go through when they get married. I’ve said over and over that this debate is about *civil marriage*.

    This is just *wrong* as wrong can be. It is the legal counterpart of what is known as Scientism; just as Scientismists take Science ™ as the only, or at least the best, method of attaining knowledge, and anything that is not within its scope is therefore not real and to be disregarded, so legalismists (my coining) take the legal reality of marriage (an undeniable fact) as the sole factor entering the analysis of the various positions. In the eyes of the law, marriage is indeed a contract, and that is the only *aspect* of marriage that matters to the law and its enforcer, the State, because that is the only aspect that could fall under the law (at least in western democratic societies). But it therefore does not follow that marriage is to be reduced to a contract, or that in discussions of marriage, of what marriage is, and how the law should or ought to reflect its reality, marriage is to be reduced to a mere contract. That is just the crudest of fallacies.

    And to state the obvious: you are not addressing judges but fellow citizens — and in my case I am not even an American, so your legal argument has zero force (and I note in passing that where I live SSM is a legal reality, but it was put in the law by the proper authority, the democratically elected authorities, not the judicial branch). Now you could try to stick to your guns and say that not only you are not interested in convincing me, but you are not even trying to convince any other American of the justice and rightness of your position, and that indeed your argument is strictly a legal one. But then what follows is that you are “arguing” in the wrong forum; you are not doing anything here since your argument is not so much as wrong, but is not even aimed at trying to convince any of us.

  55. and in my case I am not even an American, so your legal argument has zero force (and I note in passing that where I live SSM is a legal reality, but it was put in the law by the proper authority, the democratically elected authorities, not the judicial branch)

    Not being an American you are excused for being ignorant of our political system.
    It is entirely proper for the courts to rule on the constitutionality of our laws.

  56. @Hal Friederichs:

    It is entirely proper for the courts to rule on the constitutionality of our laws.

    Being illiterate and ignorant you are excused from not understanding what I said — of course it is entirely proper for the courts to rule on the constitutionality of the laws, I never said or even so much implied otherwise.

  57. G. Rodrigues, you beat me to it. Hal, you were asking for that.

    Is it possible that America is the only place in the world where courts rule on the constitutionality of laws?

  58. “but it was put in the law by the proper authority, the democratically elected authorities, not the judicial branch

    Of course you implied it is not proper for the courts to rule on this. Any competent user of English would understand that when reading the above quoted remark. I’ve kindly highlighted the relevant sections to make it easier for you to see this.

    Perhaps you didn’t mean to imply it, but the implication is in the words you actually used.

  59. The implication is not that it’s improper for the courts to rule on the constitutionality of laws.

    Thank you for your kindness.

    I will now perform the kindness for you of spelling it out. The point is not that courts should not rule on the constitutionality of laws. It is rather that the ruling that could come out of the current case could be one that would be wrong, for at least a couple of reasons that come readily to mind, not least of which being that it could arguably be the creation of law by the judicial branch, which has not been granted that power in our Constitution.

    Need I spell that out any further, or was that kind enough?

  60. Meanwhile, I’m curious what it is in the quoted and highlighted words you so caringly provided for us that should lead us to conclude what you said G. Rodrigues was implying.

    It seems to me he was talking about who makes law. You took him to task for not knowing that the courts can rule on laws.

    Do you realize that what you chided him for wasn’t what he said, even in the words you yourself quoted?

    It’s really hard not to become critical toward someone who is so sure he is right to correct others and proclaim them incompetent when he is so plainly wrong himself.

  61. @Hal Friederichs:

    Of course you implied it is not proper for the courts to rule on this.

    I am not entirely sure what you understand by “this”, but yes that *is* the implication. What the implication is not is that the “this” is the constitutionality of this or that law.

    My command of English is indeed miserable; it is the sad, dreary, barbaric English of a Hired Mercenary. But of course the problem here is not one of reading comprehension, or of the command of the English language, but of simple intellectual honesty. So my bad for calling you illiterate — I will leave for you to tease out what the implication is in this case.

  62. Continuing from #65:

    Of course if you think that SSM was put in the law when the Constitution was written, Hal, then you would have a different view on things. You would say that the Court would not be creating new law but discovering law that was already there.

    But that would be a surprise to the writers and ratifiers of the Constitution and its amendments. It would be a surprise to every judge who sat at any bench for the first 215 to 220 years of the existence of the Constitution, or for more than a century after the 14th Amendment.

    I should think it would even be a surprise to (oh, how shall I word this?) “any competent user of English.”

  63. I am not entirely sure what you understand by “this”, but yes that *is* the implication.

    So, to clarify. You recognize that it is proper for courts to review the constitutionality of current laws, but it is not proper for them to rule on the matter of gay marriage? The issue of gay marriage can only properly be dealt with through the democratically elected authorities?

  64. If I may barge in here again, I would say that what you have read into G. Rodrigues’s statement is not what he put there.

    The problem, if I may be so kind as to point it out, is in your overly-broad language of “can only be properly dealt with.” I did not see G. Rodrigues saying that the courts are unqualified to deal with legislation. Did you?

  65. Tom,
    Are you saying the Supreme Court cannot legitimately make a ruling regarding gay marriage because it is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution?

  66. Tom, G. Rodrigues’s statement specifically said that the proper authority in regard to the legality of gay marriage was the “democratically elected authorities” not the judicial branch.

    Seems clear to me that the implication is that it is not proper for the judicial branch to make gay marriage legal.

  67. Tom,
    Maybe you can explain what you meant by:

    “Of course if you think that SSM was put in the law when the Constitution was written, Hal, then you would have a different view on things.”

  68. Hal Friederichs to G. Rodrigues @ 60,

    Not being an American you are excused for being ignorant of our political system… It is entirely proper for the courts to rule on the constitutionality of our laws.

    Smug condescension? Sounds like it to me.

  69. I asked you another question, for which I’m awaiting your answer. You seem to have drawn a certain conclusion. I wonder where you got it from. My clarifying what I meant won’t answer that question.

  70. Tom –

    But that would be a surprise to the writers and ratifiers of the Constitution and its amendments. It would be a surprise to every judge who sat at any bench for the first 215 to 220 years of the existence of the Constitution, or for more than a century after the 14th Amendment.

    Well, there’s precedent for that, too. Loving v Virginia hinged critically on the 14th Amendment. But the history there is, well, muddled. The original framers of the 14th amendment explicitly stated that the 14th Amendment wouldn’t invalidate ‘anti-miscegenation’ laws. That was actually essential to getting it passed.

    I don’t see how you can find the argument you’ve given above persuasive, and also conclude that Loving v Virginia was correctly decided. You get to pick – at most – one. I’m curious to hear what your choice is.

  71. Here is the latest news about Barronelle Stutzman. She is the 70 year old State of Washington grandmother who is being sued because she won’t accept same-sex marriage. Watch the interview and ask yourself, “Is this woman an intolerant bigot? Does she deserve punishment?”

    Plain and simple, this is state sponsored persecution of religion. It is the type of thing you would expect in a totalitarian regime, not a free and open democratic society.

    Christians need to wake up!

  72. What’s the difference between a court ruling a law unconstitutional and the courts creating new law?

    What’s the constitutional precedent for redefining the word “marriage”?

    Given any sane definition of the word, there is equal protection under the law already.

    But we have plummeted into widespread cultural insanity, and you will therefore undoubtedly disagree with me on what I just said.

  73. Can someone explain to me how it’s unconstitutional to establish a law that intends to legally define a segment of the human population as legally unique, unlike other segments of the population?

    Can someone explain to me how it’s unconstitutional to establish a law that intends to give legal benefits to this legally unique segment of the human population that are not available to the other segments?

    The reason I ask is because it seems to me that there are plenty of laws on the books that do exactly this. I’m not all that knowledgeable in legal matters so maybe I’m missing a crucially important piece of the puzzle and simplifying these situations too much.

  74. SteveK:
    “Can someone explain to me how it’s unconstitutional to establish a law that intends to legally define a segment of the human population as legally unique, unlike other segments of the population?”

    Ok, so this is going to be a general explanation – don’t take it as applying only to the issue of same-sex marriage, this is just how things work in general.

    First, one of the jobs of courts is to determine whether laws outside of the U.S. constitution violate it. There’s three different ways of doing this: rational basis review, intermediate or heightened scrutiny, and strict scrutiny. These are “levels” of review. Rational basis is the easiest for a law to “pass”, and strict scrutiny is the most difficult.

    The courts decide which level to use based on the content of the law being reviewed. Laws which deal with our most important rights are reviewed with strict scrutiny – the idea here is that such a law needs a really, really good reason to be upheld. For example, a law which said that newspapers were not allowed to publish stories about the president would be reviewed under strict scrutiny, because it’s a restriction on freedom of the press.

    For a law to pass a strict scrutiny review, it has to meet three criteria: 1. it must serve a compelling government interest, 2. it must be narrowly tailored, meaning that it has no other unintended effects, and 3. it has to use the least restrictive means to accomplish the government interest.

    As an example, let’s look at the newspaper law above. It might be argued that the compelling government interest is to protect the president – if newspapers constantly published his whereabouts, then anyone who wanted to assassinate him would be able to find out where he is. Protecting the president is certainly a compelling government interest, so the law passes the first criterion.

    However, the law isn’t narrowly tailored – it has the unintended effect of newspaper censorship regarding stories about the president’s policies. It also doesn’t use the least restrictive means – a law which prohibited newspapers from publishing stories only about where the president is, rather than stories about the president in general, would accomplish the same thing, but be less restrictive. So, this hypothetical law would fail strict scrutiny, and thus be ruled unconstitutional.

    There’s also the concept of a suspect class, meaning that a law discriminates on the basis of a trait that’s 1.historically been discriminated against, 2. immutable and/or highly visible, 3. members of the group are powerless to protect themselves via the political process (i.e. they are a minority), and 4. the trait in question doesn’t prevent members of the group from contributing to society.

    Note that a group doesn’t necessarily need to meet all four criteria all the time. Currently, race, national origin, religion, and alienage (being a non-citizen) are considered suspect classes. Any laws that affect the rights of these groups are subject to strict scrutiny.

    There’s also “quasi-suspect” class. These are groups that don’t quite meet the criteria for being a suspect class, but come close. Some examples are gender and legitimacy of birth. Laws which restrict the rights of these groups are examined with intermediate scrutiny, which is exactly what it sounds like – it requires only that a law serve an important government interest in a way that is substantially related to that interest; it need not be narrowly tailored or use the least restrictive means.

    Finally, there’s rational basis review, the standard applied to laws which affect any group that’s not a suspect or quasi-suspect class. For example, a law which required lawyers to wear black suits would be subject to rational basis review, because lawyers are not a suspect or quasi-suspect class.

    Rational basis is by far the easiest level of review for a law to pass, for it requires only that the law be rationally related to a government interest (it’s been referred to as “extremely deferential”). In fact, it doesn’t even require that the law was enacted with an *actual* interest in mind – rather, the defendents need only propose a hypothetical interest that the law could meet. For example, the previously mentioned newspaper law might pass rational basis review, since the interest of protecting the president is, at least hypothetically, an interest furthered by passing the law. The lawyer law, however, probably wouldn’t pass, since it would be really hard to think of any government interest furthered by requiring lawyers to wear black suits.

    ———————————————————
    So now, let’s look at how all this applies to same-sex marriage. We probably couldn’t use strict scrutiny; it’s pretty hard to get that. We might be able to use intermediate scrutiny, as some courts have done – gay people are a minority, and have historically been discriminated against. However, it turns out that laws banning same-sex marriage don’t even pass rational basis review.

    The laws under review usually say something like “only a marriage between a man and a woman are valid and recognized in this state”. To pass rational basis, the defendents need to come up with some reason (again, it doesn’t even need to be the actual reason) for enacting the law which involves some interest the government has, then show how the law is related to furthering that interest. It can’t just be *any* reason – if they said that they enacted these laws to reduce the prison population, for example, that wouldn’t work.

    In DeBoer v. Snyder, the state offered three reasons for the laws in question:
    “Largely in keeping with the justifications offered in their summary judgment motion, at trial, the state defendants asserted that the MMA serves the following legitimate state interests: (1) providing an optimal environment for child rearing; (2) proceeding with caution before
    altering the traditional definition of marriage; and (3) upholding tradition and morality.”

    I’m not going to paste several pages of the decision here, but if you’re interested in the reasons why the court rejected the state’s reasoning, even under rational basis review, see DeBoer v. Snyder, Pp. 21-26 ( http://www.freedomtomarry.org/page/-/files/pdfs/MichiganRuling.pdf )

  75. Thanks for that detailed reply, SF. I am impressed.

    Given what you said, and reading some of the decision you linked to, it seems clear to me that a judges decision regarding the constitutionality of a law is *justified* on the basis of truths that transcend time, the law and the constitution itself. You can “see” the justices trying to discover what is true about people, children, society, etc. That only works if there is truth to be discovered and doesn’t change.

    The issue of SS marriage, just like the issue of human rights, is not a legal issue – it’s a truth issue that we hope to get recorded accurately in the form of law. So while I appreciate you wanting to focus on the legal aspects of SS marriage, the law cannot tell you what is true.

  76. SteveK:
    “So while I appreciate you wanting to focus on the legal aspects of SS marriage, the law cannot tell you what is true.”

    That’s certainly true. But I think I’ve been misunderstood here when I said I’m interested in the law. What I meant was this: I’m interested in whether the laws banning same-sex marriage are constitutional or not. If they are not, then they are not even if same-sex parents are horrible at parenting, and even if gay sex is deeply immoral, and even if metaphysically, same-sex marriage is a contradiction.

    I see this as somewhat analogous to blasphemy laws. Even assuming for the sake of argument that God exists and that blasphemy is a grievous sin that sends one to hell, laws prohibiting blasphemy would still be unconstitutional – the “truths that transcend time” don’t change that.

  77. It seems to me that SSM advocates at present think that an unbridgeable legal dichotomy exists. If you pass SSM legislation, supporters of traditional marriage must surrender some of their rights.

    However, I think this is a false dichotomy that can be avoided if we craft the legislation correctly.

    The following is an example some proposed legislation that protects religious freedom no matter what revisions are made to marriage laws on the federal level.

    The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, sponsored by Representative Raul Labrador (R., Idaho) in the House (H.R. 3133) with 100 co-sponsors of both parties and sponsored by Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) in the Senate (S. 1808) with 17 co-sponsors, would prevent the federal government from taking adverse actions. And rightly so: Tolerance is essential to promoting peaceful coexistence even amid disagreement. States need similar policy protections, starting with broad, across-the-board protections provided by state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/371329/bake-us-cake-or-else-ryan-t-anderson-leslie-ford

    I remember being involved in debates about SSM five years ago or so and being reassured by SSM advocates that SSM would have no effect on those who believed in traditional marriage. Where are all those people now? Were they lying?

  78. SF #84,

    I’m interested in whether the laws banning same-sex marriage are constitutional or not.

    What is constitutional can change depending on the views held by the justices and the lawmakers. See the 1971 Windsor decision and the denied appeal. Will traditional marriage laws be constitutional in 100 years? Maybe. As I said elsewhere, we can dismantle the constitution without breaking a single law so your focus doesn’t seem as important as the focus on truth is.

  79. SF, you say you’re interested in knowing whether the laws banning same-sex marriage are constitutional or not.

    In order to determine that, the justices would first have to determine whether the law can enable same-sex marriage or not. In order to determine that, the justices would have to agree that there actually is such a thing as same-sex marriage. That’s what’s in dispute.

    But SSM proponents don’t seem to see this. They assume either that SSM has some existence somewhere. If it does, then it has it either by virtue of what marriage is: the essential nature of marriage, that is. I don’t see that being propounded by SSM proponents, however. What I see them saying instead is that marriage has no essential nature, no inherent defining properties, except for what the law says about it.

    So SSM proponents say that SSM exists because the law says it does; and if the law does not say so, then the lawshould say so. I am not sure why they think there’s some moral imperative there, because it implies there is something lacking in our legal definition of marriage; but without an essential definition of marriage, I cannot understand how there could be something lacking in the legal definition. Such a lack, after all, implies some distance between the legal definition and some proper definition of marriage; but that proper definition is exactly what SSM advocates seem not to be able to produce. They do not tell us what marriage is, and that the law fails to match up to what marriage is.

    But the law in many states says there is such a thing as SSM. Advocates conclude from SSM’s existence that there is a right to SSM, and that the courts should recognize and enforce that right. The idea, I take it, is that equal protection under the law requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry.

    But SSM is only an issue under the law if the law creates SSM. SSM does not exist without its being created by courts or legislatures.

    But can some court in California create some entity to which the entire country must afford equal protection? That’s tantamount to saying the 9th circuit can write new rights into the Constitution, just by inventing some new institution and calling it by the same name as some old institution.

    If SSM is a new institution, then that’s what’s going on. There could hardly be any expectation that the legislature of Massachusetts or the 9th Circuit in California could write new rights into our Constitution. That would be entirely illegitimate, and a failure of Constitutional protections.

    So SSM advocates have to content that SSM is actually a proper extension of the right already afforded to opposite-sex couples to marry. In order to do that rationally, they would have to show rationally that there is a certain thing that marriage is, and that SSM meets that description.

    When SSM advocates argue rationally (and successfully) that there is a certain thing that marriage is, and that SSM meets that description, then they’ll have a case for their position. But until then they’re either saying:

    1) SCOTUS should provide equal protection under the law for any law that any legislature or lower court creates, which is an odd position to hold, or
    2) SCOTUS should act as if SSM meets the essential description of marriage, and thus merits the same protection under law afforded to all marriages, even if no SSM proponent has ever provided any successful, rational, essential description of what marriage is.

  80. SF

    If they are not (constitutional), then they are not even if same-sex parents are horrible at parenting, and even if gay sex is deeply immoral, and even if metaphysically, same-sex marriage is a contradiction.

    True because the constitutionality of a law doesn’t tell us anything more than that. Laws can be declared unconstitutional and illegal and at the same time they can be good, virtuous, accurate, healthy, true, reasonable and fair.

  81. Tom:

    I have to admit, I’m continually baffled by efforts to deny the existence of same-sex marriage. I mean, come on – a majority of states have now legalized same-sex marriage. There are same-sex couples in those states who are married. Yes, I get that what you’re saying is that they’re not really married. But whatever it is that they are, that’s what I’m advocating for. Furthermore, whatever it is that they are is legally the same thing as what opposite-sex couples are (what an awkwardly worded sentence!). Perhaps for ease of conversation, we could refer to all civil marriages as civil unions, and not consider any state-issued licenses to be sufficient for marriage. Would that satisfy you?

  82. SF, the reason you’re baffled is because you didn’t follow my reasoning.

    I acknowledged that many states have passed laws creating SSM.

    Your “whatever it is that they are” is hardly grounds for equal protection under the law. The 14th Amendment was not written so that local legislatures or lower courts could create whatever-it-ises-that-may-be and hold the whole country accountable to those whatever-it-ises.

    Civil unions would satisfy me if I had some confidence that they weren’t just stepping-stones to whatever-it-ises that go by the name marriage even though people don’t know what they really is.

  83. Tom:

    Here is a picture of a legal form I’d like you to consider: http://www.scottmilnes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/marriage-license2.jpg

    I have two questions for you:

    1. What do you call it when an opposite-sex couple accurately and successfully fills out this form and turns it in to a county clerk, after which the county keeps a record of it on file, resulting in the couple enjoying myriad local and federal benefits granted by the government?

    2. What do you call it when a same-sex couple accurately and successfully fills out this form and turns it in to a county clerk, after which the county keeps a record of it on file, resulting in the couple enjoying myriad local and federal benefits granted by the government?

  84. I call it funny, since it’s not a legal document; but supposing it were: In that case it would be a shining and brilliant example of what I have already acknowledged to be the case (that some jurisdictions recognize SSM), and upon which all my questions lately have been based, and therefore either a diversionary tactic on your part, or else a strong indication that you haven’t read what I’ve been writing but you want to refute it anyway because you know what I wrote is wrong even though you don’t know what it is. Or it could be another tactic, which is to repeat your point loud and often because loud repetition is the way you think you’ll win.

    When you realize that I acknowledge the fact that certain legal bodies have pronounced the existence of SSM; and when you realize that the argument I’m making is an argument that springs forward from that fact; and when you realize that my argument is against the Supreme Court making that fact the basis for an equal-protection ruling; when you realize that I’ve actually made an argument, I haven’t just linked to a picture of a form; and when you take the points of my argument into account; then you can ask me questions about how and whether my argument makes sense.

    You’re nowhere near that point right now.

    Here’s where you can start. What is it that’s essentially and inherently true about marriage that makes it true that certain same-sex unions are instances of marriage? Do you know?

    If your answer is, “Marriage is a certain form of union that’s defined by the laws of the relevant jurisdiction,” then my follow-up questions are these:

    What is it about those jurisdictions’ laws that requires persons to think they carry any moral weight?

    and

    What is it about those jurisdictions’s creation of a new category of marriage that makes it necessary that the entire country be subject to it? Is there some reason in principle that SCOTUS must say, “You’re all subject to the laws of Iowa,” rather than, “Iowa can make its own laws if it wants, that’s Iowa’s business, but let’s keep Iowa’s nose out of the rest of the country”? Is there some reason the Court must say that my own state’s laws are wrong, because my state hasn’t created this new category of relationship and called it marriage?

    I’ve already raised those kinds of issues in different ways. This is more explicit and hopefully more obvious.

    Whether you get it or not, you can at least relax on trying to prove to me that there are places in the world where same-sex marriage is recognized by law. I mean, you might as well remind me to turn on my computer before I type an answer to you. It’s about that obvious, and about that tedious to be reminded of it.

  85. Oh, and by the way: I asked you to define marriage according to certain parameters. You responded by asking me whether I thought some circumstance, which you described, might be considered an instance of marriage. How about if next time you try answering my question? Because if you have no answer, then what that demonstrates is that you have no case for considering SSM a legitimate version of what marriage really is and should be regarded by law.

    Note the distinction there. I didn’t raise any question about whether SSM is regarded a legitimate version of marriage under the laws of certain jurisdictions. That’s the painfully obvious thing you keep trying to convince me of, after I’ve acknowledged it repeatedly already.

    I asked whether SSM is a legitimate version of what marriage really is and whether it should be so regarded by law. If you can’t answer the first part without mentioning the law, then you cannot move on to discussing whether it should be so regarded by the law.

  86. Tom –

    I asked whether SSM is a legitimate version of what marriage really is and whether it should be so regarded by law.

    Hmm. I actually think you’re missing SF’s point. Let me try to illustrate the point, by asking you a similar question:

    Is a corporation a legitimate version of what a person is, and should it be so regarded by law?

  87. Yes.

    Now that I’ve answered that, let me remind you that I asked SF to answer a question, he ducked it, and now he and you are both trying to divert the matter by asking me a question.

    If SF has a point that I’m missing, and it was in his response to the questions I asked, then maybe SF could first show that he’s not missing my point by answering some portion of my question rather than reminding me of what everyone knows.

    After all, if I’m at fault for missing some point in SF’s response to my questions, it’s fair to point out that SF’s response demonstrated that he had missed my point; and therefore whatever point he made (whether I missed his point or not) was either an intentional or inadvertent red herring.

  88. The fact that the law can declare a corporation a person demonstrates that the law can declare certain things to be different than what we might intuitively think them to be.

    Was that your point?

    If so, thank you for reminding us again of the obvious.

    Now, do people think that corporations-as-persons are instances of the same kind of person that people-as-persons are?

    No.

    But SSM advocates are trying to tell us that SSM is an instance of the same thing that marriage has always been understood to be.

    Your analogy gets you nowhere, because of that crucial difference.

    Now, what is it that is essentially and inherently true of marriage that makes it true that certain same-sex unions are instances of marriage, and should be recognized as such by the law?

  89. Oh, and is anyone calling SSM a “legal fiction”? That would put an interesting twist on the matter! (See Wikipedia, which for today at least is reasonably accurate on the matter. Note the distinct differences between corporate personhood and people personhood.)

  90. Don’t let this take away from Tom’s question. I just wanted to comment and I don’t expect a reply. Re:

    In DeBoer v. Snyder, the state offered three reasons for the laws in question:

    The decision that resulted only means the law is unconstitutional on the basis of the three reasons offered. Could there be reasons such that the decision would result in the law being constitutional? I don’t see why not. The constitutionality of the law is contingent – subject to change in the future. Check back next year maybe, huh?

  91. @ G.R. and Tom,

    As G.R. noted – again forcing me to do some reading – the lines here seem more concerned with this or that final essence amid this or that final property. G.R. cogently bracketed this with Science, Scientism, and the Scientism-ist, and, then, its metaphysical twin in Law, Legalism, and the Legalism-ist.

    On the essence of a thing:

    When it comes to the maximal potential of a child’s plasticity as such relates to the fullest actualization of her emotional intelligence amid the sexes, both the final causes end-point (God paradigm) and the end-point of neurobiology there in Humanism-reductionism (no-God paradigm), we find no effective difference in what provides the child and her plasticity her greatest opportunity of fullness in a robust development of her emotional intelligence across the full, complete range of the robustly feminine to the robustly masculine. Such is found in a stable, ongoing, caring environment from day one submerged in the fully feminine amalgamated with the fully masculine – the very real some-thing actually found in the real world – which extricates the child’s maximal intelligence amid the sexes. Semantics just cannot change that – that is to say – it is what it is, as it were.

    As already noted in another thread, none of this is to say that other combinations or permutations don’t get by, often quite well – they do – but we are speaking here of the fullness of range of what just is our humanity’s capacity as it relates to childhood’s early plasticity and a robust emotional intelligence amid the sexes.

    When it comes to Person, and, also, to Marriage and, also, to, well – to just anything at all, we find ourselves asking the same question – what a thing “is” – as you Tom alluded to in your employment of seeking the essence of the thing we currently call “marriage”.

    SteveK has tracked this line as well – seeking, not definition or law or some other mix, but simply the end point of what we call the truth of the matter, the actual state of affairs. He echoes Martin Luther King Jr. on mechanism – that such is the efficient path to truth as we seek to discover such ends.

    The Theist’s problem though is not “The Negro has inherent value” on the metaphysical *work* which essentialism there performs, but rather the Naturalist’s lack of concern for such *actual* states of affairs.

    Eliminative materialism will – ultimately – bypass the Humanist/Reductionist blind axiomatic stopping point of neurobiology and bring all lines to end in fiction – fictional mathematics, fictional counterfactuals, and so on until we are – finally hallucinating the world – and then, the mind too finally succumbs to eliminative materialism as it too ends in fiction. That is why childhood plasticity as it pertains to the robust emotional intelligence amid the sexes posits the feminine/masculine submersion as that which gives the fullest actualization thereof, but, the Naturalist just waves a hand at that entire arena and disinvites such data from the table – because he is appealing to, not neurobiology as the final meaning maker (no-God humanism paradigm), and not to final causes as the final meaning maker (God paradigm), but to eliminative materialism as *the* final meaning maker.

    It is not obvious that the Naturalist cares about such ends – it’s all the as-if. Never the is. And so it seems that will be the final stopping point of all discussion – for it does not matter if the Negro *actually* has (on essentialism) that value which *is*, but only if it can be said to be *as if* the Negro thusly stands.

    Scientism is – for obvious reasons – sorely anti-intellectual. It eats itself right out a voice. G.R.’s legalism/ist finds again those anti-intellectual motions.

    Essentialism coheres on many critical fronts such as with neurobiology and with final causes and with our own current mutability. The problem for the Naturalist is his lack of concern for what really is fiction in all his ends there in his work, and we see that in this thread as they ever equivocate and hedge, and, the problem for the Christian is the very real potential to offend Grace in his work with the non-Christian. Whether we offend truth (offending – by choice – essentialism / truth in favor of final fictions) or whether we offend grace (unable to befriend, to eat and drink with, to care for, to mourn with, to rejoice with ……emoting “with” and not “at” or “to” in the love of the other in their life journey…… ) matters not, for the offense of either will – eventually – as Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. showed us – and as history keeps teaching us – bring our own such partially-true-narratives crashing down on the wrong side of history. The newly institutionalized majority of late seems to be inching into and committing all the same crimes as the former defunct majority – such cannot bring any narrative to stand the test of time.

    It seems truth and grace converge at some *actual* stopping point somewhere. As it happens, there is one particular genre on planet Earth where such epistemology just happens to cohere with such ontology. Metaphysically, we call that convergence *Christ*.

  92. @SkepticismFirst:

    But I think I’ve been misunderstood here when I said I’m interested in the law. What I meant was this: I’m interested in whether the laws banning same-sex marriage are constitutional or not. If they are not, then they are not even if same-sex parents are horrible at parenting, and even if gay sex is deeply immoral, and even if metaphysically, same-sex marriage is a contradiction.

    First, there is a difference between (1) the law explicitly banning SSM and for (2) the law to simply not recognize or make any accomodations for it. I will grant that for practical purposes, and as far as it concerns *my* position and the position of most of your interlocutors here, it is a distinction without much of a difference. But the distinction is *not* irrelevant for *your* position, because in (1) what you have to argue is that the law banning SSM is unconstitutional (or some variation thereof), and in (2) you have to argue that the law should and ought to recognize SSM as an equally valid form of marriage, a different kettle of fish.

    With this background, let us assume for the sake of argument that you were correct in your judgment about the unconstitutionality of the laws. What exactly do you suppose it follows from it? Well, if the *mere unconstitutionality* of laws — the *sole* base for your one-trick pony argument — restricting marriage to man and woman (*not* heterossexual couples; an homossexual or a lesbian are still allowed to marry, just not with someone of the same sex) entailed that the law ought to enshrine SSM marriage, then two things follow.

    (A) What you are really saying to your fellow citizens is that “Well, SSM may for all we know, be a contradiction in terms, based in a pack of lies, but you have to suck it up, because it is legal.” Since I am not an American, it is none of my business, but I hardly think your opponents would be well disposed with such smug condescension.

    (B) What you really are saying is that the law can codify and enshrine injustice, unfairness and untruth, but since it is The Law, it is all good and well. Again I am not an American, so it is not my problem, but I would say that such laws are not worth the paper they are written on. To borrow and adapt the words from someone long gone and dead, laws are made for Man, not Man for the laws.

    Wait.

    This cannot be quite right.

    We have it on your own authority from #54 that:

    If you think that my position is “whatever is currently legal is what should be legal”, you’ve woefully misread me.

    I suppose this is another case of misreading and misunderstanding on my part; but then, I think there isn’t anything to really understand in the first place, and thus there isn’t anything to mis-understand.

  93. G. Rodrigues #100
    It seems to me that if DeBoer v. Snyder (#82) was ruled unconstitutional on the basis of the 3 reasons given for the marriage law, that adding “and SS couples” to the law wouldn’t change anything about the ruling if say a triad were to file a legal complaint.

  94. @SkepticismFirst:

    And while I am in a roll, let me also address this bit:

    I see this as somewhat analogous to blasphemy laws. Even assuming for the sake of argument that God exists and that blasphemy is a grievous sin that sends one to hell, laws prohibiting blasphemy would still be unconstitutional – the “truths that transcend time” don’t change that.

    Once again this is wrong — or to be a little less my authoritative self, it is highly controversial — on two different counts, and again shows a failure to make some elementary distinctions. So the two premises of the scenario are,

    (1) God exists.

    (2) We know with certainty that God exists.

    and your claim is that Blasphemy laws would still be unconstitutional. But this is not quite correct; the *current* American constitutional regime is predicated in a series of assumptions dating to its founding history, and is closely tied to religious diversity, which of course falsifies (2). In other words, one rational response would be that the current constitutional regime would have to be altered. Under the premises of the scenario, Blasphemy would constitute an objective lie. But is there a right to promulgate lies? Certainly not in all cases, as there are defamation laws that protect people against such type of lies. But is not blasphemy a lie? Furthermore, still on the assumptions of the scenario, if we knew for certain that Blasphemy is a grievous sin that sent one to Hell, should not the law take account of such fact? After all, what sort of person, knowing that blasphemy sent one to Hell would still do it? Would not our first response be that such a person is not “right in the head”, and as such we should protect him from himself, as we already do in so many cases?

    I could add more arguments to shore up my case, but the fact is that this is not even important or relevant, because the analogy is simply misguided. There are no Blasphemy laws, because while laws are temporary arrangements to foster the common good, not everything that is immoral should be punishable by law — there are various reasons for this, from mere widespread disagreement as to the moral facts, to the observation that punishing such acts is more detrimental to the common good than beneficial. But to say that no one should be punishable by law for blasphemy, is not thereby to say that the law should make provisions to encourage blasphemy, to celebrate it and normalize it, which is what you want to make the analogy stick, and which is why the analogy fails.

  95. Tom – BTW, I’m Ray, not SF. I’m commenting on your discussing with him – kibitzing, perhaps even – but I don’t feel obligated to answer questions you’ve posted to him. (Especially when I’ve got a question for you outstanding.)

    Now, do people think that corporations-as-persons are instances of the same kind of person that people-as-persons are?

    No, I imagine not. But they are the same in the the way they interface with the law, in most respects.

    But SSM advocates are trying to tell us that SSM is an instance of the same thing that marriage has always been understood to be.

    You see, the thing is, people have rather different metaphysics about marriage. As you know, there are religious denominations that are happy to solemnize same-sex marriage. (At first blush at least, I’d think a strong advocate of religious liberty would want to protect them.)

    Plenty of people have been making a strong distinction between metaphysical marriage – however understood – and how marriage is implemented in law. There certainly are strong distinctions between corporate persons and human people, but the way ‘person’ is construed as law covers both similarly.

    Of course, as I’ve pointed out numerous times previously, there are strong distinctions between religious marriage and legal marriage, too. I know of no religion that has an equivalent of ‘common-law marriage’, for one. And – as I’ve repeatedly noted before – there’s this tiny Christian denomination called “Roman Catholicism”. They don’t allow divorce. If a member of their denomination gets a civil divorce, the Catholic Church doesn’t consider them divorced; in their theological eyes, they remain married, and if they get a civil marriage to someone else, it’s just a legal fiction – they are still married to their original spouse so long as they both shall live. You might also have heard of the Orthodox Jewish ‘get’.

    From what I gather, you disagree with the Catholics in some respects, and with Orthodox Jews in others. And I think you’d probably object if the law took only the metaphysical views of a particular denomination into account.

    Now, what is it that is essentially and inherently true of marriage that makes it true that certain same-sex unions are instances of marriage, and should be recognized as such by the law?

    Well, the law – at least in the U.S. – never pretended to address any spiritual aspects of marriage. It was intended to address property and inheritance and raising children and other material things. Since then it’s gotten tangled up with medical care, insurance, legal testimony, taxes, and so forth.

    Me, personally – I agree with C. S. Lewis that the distinction between religious marriage and legal marriage should be “quite sharp”. Given the fact that it is impossible for all citizens to agree on the spiritual aspects of marriage, it’s important for the law to restrict itself to the material.

    If I had my druthers, there’d be only civil unions from a legal perspective, and ‘marriage’ would be province of the churches. But the ‘defenders of marriage’ made it quite clear that civil unions were unacceptable; about two-thirds of the state-level ‘defense of marriage’ amendments outlawed civil unions, too.

    Same-sex couples face all the same material issues that opposite-sex couples do – property, inheritance, medical care, insurance, legal testimony, taxes, etc. Many also face raising children, which is something that would seem to invite legal government support. So, from the legitimate legal purposes that legal marriage has come to implement, same-sex couples would seem to be just as suited as opposite-sex ones. I’d prefer civil unions, but the ‘defenders of marriage’ have chosen an all-or-nothing approach, and I think ‘nothing’ is much too low.

    Oh, and is anyone calling SSM a “legal fiction”?

    Well, Google found about 20,000 as of today.

    That’s okay. It took about 6 seconds to find a Catholic attorney who calls divorce a legal fiction.

  96. In the interest of keeping things consolidated, I’ll be commenting only in Tom’s new post and not here. If there’s some really important point in these comments you think I need to address, direct my attention to it over there.

  97. Jad:

    Why aren’t so-called progressive secularist’s more willing to meet in open debate? Honestly it is because they don’t have any good arguments. So what do you do when you don’t have a good argument? You vilify, demonize and dehumanize your opponent.

    I implore you to read the words of yours quoted above… re-read most of your posts on this blog… re-read the words above… re-read your posts on this blog… continue until it clicks.

  98. It is very true that broad generalizations are for the most part unhelpful.

    Other sorts of statements which are not helpful, and which probably rise the level of disruptive / counterproductive are statements nuanced with such things as, say, conflation amid A and B, and, say, stereotypes of C based on D, and stereotyping in general, and, say, equivocating on terms of nuance or on definitions. And so on.

    Two examples of late:

    Someone implied that on average the general majority of the push to shape the thing we call “marriage” into a more amorphous and indistinct entity amid human-human interfaces has been, historically as it were, by various folks who are on average somewhat averse to this or that or these religion(s). Someone else stated that, “…..The systems we’ve existed under for quite a long time now……. have produced societies that execute gay people for… being gay….” Each of these statements may or may not be helpful, accurate, or whatever. The footprint left upon one’s mind by the first statement leaves on wondering about a mathematical summation and secondary motives, and the inferred footprint left upon one’s mind on reading the second is that, well, the thing we’ve been existing under now for some time has for some time now been confronting the homosexual with capital punishment.

    Of course, each could be unpacked and nuanced, clarified and defined, and so on. I really can’t condemn or approve either of these statements simply because we really don’t have enough information and so – on the principle of charity – the former may be referencing mathematical studies while the later may be referencing another (foreign) nation-state’s metaphysical pillars.

    Another example of that which rises to the level of counterproductive language as housed in either conflation, equivocation, or simple ignorance is found in the stereotyping of this or that X as “based on scripture”. For example, when Scripture tells us that liars or adulterers will not be found – finally – in God, I discover that though I lie both to myself, to God, and to others in all sorts of ways, daily, and though my eye may follow some woman far too long (and that *is* adultery per Christ), that I am yet found in God, that I am, even still, found in God. So too with whatever slice of my/our nature this or that cherry-picked-verse which this or that accuser of God’s all-sufficiency happens to throw at any of us. The accuser’s methodology there in various “cherry-picking” of various verses – upon unpacking – amounts to the afore mentioned conflation, or equivocation, or mere ignorance of scripture’s meta-narrative, and so, quite naturally then, such sloppy methodology will find this or that slice of our humanity forever failing to out-power His Sacrifice and therefore just fails to account for the whole-show that just is the meta-narrative of the God paradigm, at least as such is found in Scripture’s A through Z, that is, in Christ.

    When we ask of, say, Person, or of Personhood, or when we posit that the Negro possesses Value which transcends mere appetite, we are in these questions asking along the means and ends of what metaphysics terms the business of essentialism (among a few other means/ends). For example, in the arena of the thing we call Marriage, we ask the same sort of questions for all the same reasons: What is it? Is it, say, akin to Pastor Martin Luther King Jr.’s appeal to metaphysical ends of form, of essence, or, is it something which for this or that reason just falls short of such means, such ends? Is it concrete and solid? Amorphous and fluid? That is to say – to borrow from another – what is it about marriage as described by this or that person that explains why this or that group of people should license it, or regulate it, or, what is it that differentiates it from the love of a parent and a child, or two siblings, or four best friends deeply committed to one another’s life journey, or, what principled reason is there for limiting it to two people, or three, or, what is it about asking questions like this about the Negro, or about Personhood, or about Marriage, or about just any some-thing at all, that causes various people to charge mankind’s effort to extricate such essential ends with the motive of hate as they (those questions about the Negro, about Personhood, about Marriage, and so on) seek and inquire about what this or that particular something “is”?

    When Christians foisted the Negro into the arena of inherent worth entire nations tasted of a particular instantiation within time, within physicality, as such questions of metaphysical essentialism carried mankind further towards the actual state of affairs. Of course, dialogue suffered endlessly as many sought to just cut off dialogue. When Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. carried on those essential means and ends he lost his life as that particular instantiation motioned within time, within physicality. Metaphysical essentialism asks of all things the most obvious, the most elementary of questions, as it asks, very simply, “What, exactly, is this particular something?”

    The best part is that all sides involved can and ought to ask these questions, of everything, all the time, and, that we are in a climate where all sides can ask such of the other, in all directions, and then, each can show one another their work, that is to say, their ontological stopping point – that is to say – their reasoning . And best of all: no one has to agree. It is a peculiar sort of nuance that arises, of course, when, in such an open climate as we enjoy here, this or that people-group simply do not show their particular body of work, their reasoning to the very ends of this or that metaphysical stopping point. The stopping point, that is, of reasoning. We’ve seen such timidity of late on the question of marriage in various threads around here – some more willing than others to go the distance there in reasoning’s regress. Nothing and no one is immune here. The Christian suffers error too. Because reality is what it is and not something else. “What is the Negro?” “But why?” “What is love?” “Where does love’s regress stop, metaphysically speaking?” “Why did Christians have to fight Christians on the question of the Negro?” “Which Christian was right? But why? Can you show your work?” “Which Christian was wrong? But why? Can you show your work?” “Why won’t this or that people-group show their work on this or that topic?” And so on. All good questions. It’s a good thing to ask questions. It’s a good thing to be encouraged to ask questions. Question-asking is a good thing, such that the cutting-off-of question-asking is a bad thing. Why? Well, that is another topic. Sort of.

    For the most part, it’s all very tedious, and emotional, and difficult to remain introspective. On whatever topic may arise – not just this thread’s topic – we seek, strive, press – again it’s difficult – to use caution in our own interior navigations of our own tendencies both towards and away from grace towards all, and, just the same, in our own tendencies both towards and away from truth towards all. We cannot offend grace and think our narrative will – ultimately – flourish. Nor can we offend truth and think our narrative will – ultimately – flourish. Such crimes have been found wanting upon the world stage – over and over again. At times history finds a nadir, at other times history finds our final ends rising – bit by bit – inside of the stuff of time and physicality – towards His unquenchable instantiation. On such navigations amid grace and truth I’ve proven to be an inept sailor. Fortunately though, He is Himself the Ocean – that is to say – He holds all things. We are, perhaps, not on the side of any Majority/Minority in any ipso facto sense, but rather we are on the side of Grace in all directions – towards all – full stop – and in the same sense – we are on the side of Truth in all directions – towards all – full stop. Grace and Truth as an *actual* singularity. Should there be such a some-thing, such a full-stop which just is full of Grace, which just is full of Truth, well then, we would ask of that something the very same question we ask of all things, “What, or Who, exactly, is that?”

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