Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Gr8 Divide

Here in Texas, we have never met a dead horse we did not want to beat. Why do you think we invented the Piñata? That being said, please indulge me with another stand on my Prop 8 soap box.

For those of you who are too short on memory or too long on laziness to look it up, Proposition 8 is the California ballot initiative that would write into the constitution that marriage is between "a man and a woman". Despite the fact that everyone is either a man or a woman (except for perhaps Janet Reno) this simple statement is still considered discriminatory by Proposition 8 opponents. Having beaten the discrimination horse already (although I am still keeping my eye on it) I would like to move on to another reason I support Proposition 8 and traditional marriage: impending constitutional apocalypse.

The great thing about our constitution is that it acts like a legal trump card. You can pass all the crazy, cock-a-mamy laws you want, but the constitution always wins. It is like a Rosie O'Donnell in a room full of Twinkies. Those little cream filled cakes don't stand a chance. However, with the subsequent support for homosexual marriage and, more specifically, homosexual rights, a constitutional clash is beginning to unfold. Watch out Rosie O'Donell, here comes Roseanne Barr.

Choosing a favorite constitutional amendment is no easier than choosing between my new born children. However, if I had to choose, it would be Samantha, uhh, I mean, the 1st Amendment. Why the first Amendment, you ask? Well, because it provides these great little things called freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The very same first amendment that lets you speak truth to power lets me make fun of mullets (Motto: Manhattan up the front, Nashville down the back).

However, there is this other great amendment called the 14th amendment which provides equal protection of the laws. This means laws could not be applied discriminately; regardless of race, religion, sex or vegetable preference. Heaven knows we would take down you cauliflower lovers if we could!

All of us accept the 14th amendment as valid (or at least we have since the government forced it down Alabama's throat in the 60's) and who could really find fault with it? Being of a minority religion myself, I am glad that I can where my "Joseph Smith is My Homeboy" shirt without fear of retribution. However, the gay rights movement is now pitting the 1st Amendment against the 14th. Freedom of Speech and, more specifically, freedom of Religion are now battling it out in a cage match to the death. After all, if a religion refuses to allow gay marriage among its parishioners, who wins? The right to worship how you please or the right to not be discriminated against? If legal precedent around the country is any indication, the 14th Amendment now has the 1st Amendment in a choke hold, and the gay rights movement is starting to hit it with a chair.

Don't believe me? Consider the following:

"In New York City, Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a school under Orthodox Jewish auspices, banned same-sex couples from its married dormitory. New York does not recognize same-sex marriage, but in 2001, the state's highest court ruled Yeshiva violated New York City's ban on sexual orientation discrimination. Yeshiva now allows all couples in the dorm."

"A Christian gynecologist at North Coast Women's Care Medical Group in Vista, Calif., refused to give his patient in vitro fertilization treatment because she is in a lesbian relationship, and he claimed that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. (The doctor referred the patient to his partner, who agreed to do the treatment.) The woman sued under the state's civil rights act. The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in May 2008, and legal experts believe that the woman's right to medical treatment will trump the doctor's religious beliefs. One justice suggested that the doctors take up a different line of business."

"A same-sex couple in California applied to Adoption Profiles, an Internet service in Arizona that matches adoptive parents with newborns. The couple's application was denied based on the religious beliefs of the company's owners. The couple sued in federal district court in San Francisco. The two sides settled after the adoption company said it will no longer do business in California."

"A same sex couple in Albuquerque asked a photographer, Elaine Huguenin, to shoot their commitment ceremony. The photographer declined, saying her Christian beliefs prevented her from sanctioning same-sex unions. The couple sued, and the New Mexico Human Rights Commission found the photographer guilty of discrimination. It ordered her to pay the lesbian couple's legal fees ($6,600)."

"Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of New Jersey, a Methodist organization, refused to rent its boardwalk pavilion to a lesbian couple for their civil union ceremony. The couple filed a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. The division ruled that the boardwalk property was open for public use, therefore the Methodist group could not discriminate against gay couples using it. In the interim, the state's Department of Environmental Protection revoked a portion of the association's tax benefits. The case is ongoing. "

Now, in case you are wondering what propaganda machine of the Far Right I pulled these examples from, you will be happy to know it is from a little place called National Public Radio (When Gay Rights and Religious Liberties Clash by Barbara Bradley Hagerty,, June 13, 2008)

In my religion, the sanctity of traditional marriage is not just some fringe doctrine. It is an integral part of the very purpose of our existence. The LDS church could no sooner perform a gay marriage than it could open up a virgin-sacrificing coffee shop (Motto: Come for the Latte, stay for the pagan sacrifice.)

I do not expect to see gay couples knocking on the temple door the day after Prop 8 is defeated. However, the slippery slope acceptance of gay marriage puts us on is very slippery and very slopey. How long before LDS marriages are challenged in court? If a photographer can be sued for not taking pictures of a gay wedding, how can a pastor not be sued for refusing to conduct one? If the state sees gay marriage as equally valid and worthy under the law than how can a church refuse to officiate one without violating the 14th Amendment?

The challenge against the church this will cause will not occur over night, but slowly. First, people will go after the church's 501c3 status (Accountant speak for Non-Profit) and thus remove many of the tax protections afforded the church. You will start to see law suits filed to prevent LDS youth groups and congregations from using public lands (you know, kind of like what is happening to the Boy Scouts.)

How long before speaking out against homosexuality is considered a hate crime? Will we be arrested for preaching and believing our own religion? In June 2004, a Swedish pastor was arrested and sentenced to 30 days in jail for giving a sermon that said, among other things: "All homosexuals are not pedophiles or perverts. They nevertheless open the door to forbidden areas and allow sin to take hold of the life of the mind." I think we can all agree, that is one hate filled jerk.

Now before you go too far, let me say that even I agree there is a tinge of tin-foil hat delusion to my ranting . But then again, isn't there always?

Nevertheless, it is difficult for me to see how the failure of Proposition 8 does anything to support the free exercise of religion in the state of California or any where else in this country. When Mormon Bishops start getting hauled off to jail, don't say I didn't tell you so! After all, by then that might be considered hate speech.

Now I will get off my soap box. The air up there makes me woozy. Next time, I am bringing a Sherpa.


Rachel said...

Constitutional Law 101 (well, technically its Con Law 2 at most schools, but thats irrelevant) -- The 14th Amendment makes the 1st amendment applicable to the states, whereas previously it had only applied to the federal government. Makes it pretty hard for them to conflict. Yes, i know, you read the text, they say very different things, but, although the constitution in the law of the land, its the interpretation that counts.
As to your fears - If I knock on the door of the temple and say "I want to get married here, to a man" they are going to tell me no. The same thing would happen at a Catholic church (unless i brought along a nice little catholic fiance). Now, in these situations, I'm being discriminated against based on my religion, which is subject to the strictest scrutiny possible. Discrimination against homosexuality is judged by a much lower standard, meaning that if i don't have a complaint against the mormon church for refusing to perform my marriage ceremony, a gay couple certainly does not.
Legally (and thus governmentally) marriage is basically just a contract, it has no religious element. The only connection is religious figures being given the authority to marry people (which really may violate church and state, perhaps i should work on having that taken away :) ). The government has no control over who a church does or does not marry.

The Average Joel said...

Very well put and I agree with everything you say. A strict reading of the constitution would put to rest any fears that I might have.

Unfortunately, strict reading of the constitution is not my specialty, nor is the specialty of the 9th district court. As the cases sighted in the article demonstrate, activist judges reading between constitutional lines pit one ammendment against the other.

Ask yourself this, if a government cannot control who a church does or does not marry, how can it control who a photographer does or does not photograph? How can it control who a Doctor does or does not operate on? Saying the constitution asserts religious liberty, unfortunately, does not make it so, when such assertions fall on deaf ears the minute they reach the bench.