Saturday, March 05, 2011

About That Word

Well, maybe I can't comment on that guy's wall anymore, but I can comment on things I see on it on my blog :-)

And I can comment on things I see other friends commenting on on their friends walls over here, to. Take Morgan for example.  A friend of his posted this story:
Boehner launches effort to defend gay marriage ban House Speaker John Boehner says he's launching a legal defense of the federal law against gay marriage. The Ohio Republican announced Friday that he was convening a bipartisan legal advisory group to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Mr. Freeberg pointed out that Boehner's argument: 'The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts -- not by the president unilaterally,'  is pretty sound.

But the poster responded:
My point is why is this an issue? we have much bigger problems than if people want to get married or not. i HATE the christian Right
Wait, your point is a question?  Oh, I see now.  Your point is actually at the end of your response.  Let people talk long enough and they will eventually make their point.   And of course, that's what the Gay Marriagers want.  They want you to hate, shame, and silence their opposition.  And you want applause for helping out.

Another poster piped up:
How can you be bipartisan and object to everyone having equal rights. Kind of seems a little two-faced.
Couple of points here first. One, Obama himself (a Democrat ... and lots of other Democrats say it too) said during his campaign that he thought marriage should be defined as one man, one woman.  So I can't see where Republicans saying the same thing is somehow not "bi-partisan".   The second point is -- most conservatives in office suck at framing arguments.  Here's the right argument.

If this were really about "rights" this conversation would've been over years ago. It's not about rights. It's about the word. It's about culture. Most even on the Christian right would be ok with "Civil Union" and the "rights" battle would be over.

But as I've said many, many times... this is not about rights, no matter how many times they insist that it is.  If they'd pushed for "civil union" laws, they'd have the rights they seek.  The "Christian Right" would not be pushing legislation like this if it weren't for the gay activist left pushing for a legislated re-definition of the word "marriage" as it applies to human relationships.

One might argue, as many do, that the unions are the same thing -- just two consenting adults who love each other and want to be family, so why use different words?  But they are not the same thing in much the same way that a raft is not considered a boat, but they are both watercraft.  They have different designs and they function differently.   They have some basic similarities, but they are not the same thing at all.  And if you don't think the word is important, just ask the far left's own George Lakoff (and others in his field) why it is important.  I'm sure he would be only too happy to explain.

And as I've said many times before, I do not care one whit what they want to call it.  They can call it whatever they want to call it.   But when they force it to be officially, legally referred to as "marriage",  they are using government to force their language on a population that clearly doesn't want it as they've demonstrated time and time again at the polls. Even in flippin' California - where over half the voters in a very dark blue state (so a lot of them had to be Democrats) said "no"!

So if you want to talk about rights, let's talk about rights.  If you want to talk about bipartisanship, by all means, write up a bill that people in both parties can agree on.


mkfreeberg said...

A lot of the shouting wouldn't be happening if people waited to see some honest-to-God hate before they engaged in this all-important practice of pointing it out. They're assuming a defensive posture, for the benefit of third parties they don't even know want the protection, against a boogeyman that isn't even there.

Yoda nailed this one: "What will I find in there?" "Only what you take in with you."

jeffmon said...

The government doesn't have the authority to define "marriage", so it's a little puzzling why homosexual advocates are attempting to have the government do just that. Of course, the DOMA does the same thing. Just another law that had no business being passed in the first place.

Most married people have a civil union, which is all the government has the authority to do. Why a government-recognized civil union is even necessary is beyond me, that is a topic for a different time.

Marriage is cultural. It is recognized in our culture, often even when a civil union does not exist. If another law passes that attempts to define "marriage" that includes homosexual couples (or triples!), it will have no more validity then the currently accepted definition, and I doubt the majority of our culture will recognize it.

So, it's perfectly acceptable to defend our current cultural definition of "marriage". But recognize that the DOMA is doing the same thing that the homosexual advocates are doing, just from a differing viewpoint.

philmon said...

Right you are, Jeffmon. I have made that argument many times here on these pages -- that the government has no business defining marriage at all. That the only thing it should do is to recognize it as a contract. (click on the "gay marriage" tag at the bottom of the post for more - but probably most succinctly here).

This is what it basically did long ago. But that was at a time when nobody questioned what it meant.

One of the things I've reiterated here is that the "right" wouldn't be passing things like DOMA if the activists weren't trying to do the same thing -- that is, get the Government to define marriage... something the government really hadn't done up to this point. It had merely pulled an existing term from the culture and used it the way everybody understood it.

I have also repeatedly argued that the right makes the wrong arguments on this subject... that the right one, as you say, is that government has no business defining it to begin with. I've even said I'd be happy if the word "marriage" was stricken from every law and replaced with a new, generic "civil union" -- leaving everybody free to call whatever they want - whatever they want.

We as a culture have so lost our way in the past 100 years WRT the Constitution and what it means that people actually do look to the government to define things for us. If the people in Congress actually recognized this (and gave a crap about it) we wouldn't have this problem.

A part of the problem is that -- and I being a kind of hyper-hybrid agnostic Christian-Sympathetic Zenastic monk type recognize the irony here -- people in general have stopped looking to God for authority and have attempted to replace God with the State (unbeknows to most of the people doing it).

Beck et. al. have it right when they recognize that when the founders said our unalienable rights do not come from Man that this point of view profoundly changed man's relationship to Government.

In our last tea party meeting I showed the fourth "Firewall" video from Bill Whittle. It was on natural law. They should show it in both houses of Congress. Preferably at the beginning of every session. It's only 10 minutes. It would be a great first step toward getting us back on track.

Severian said...

Personally, I love the gay marriage debate, and want there to be more of it. Since the left has Hollywood, the rest of the entertainment industry, the media, the universities, the grade schools, etc. the only way to beat them is to show them for what they really are.

They don't want gay "marriage" any more than they want "civil unions." All they want is for Christian conservatives to very publicly kiss the ring. Thought experiment: let's say they win the field, and Jerry Falwell publicly officiates the gay wedding of the two most flamboyant flamers in San Francisco live on national tv, with the ceremony performed in Yankee Stadium.

Anybody think for a second that the left will up and say "ok, we've proven that the right aren't a bunch of homophobic haters who hate homophobically. I guess they're not such bad sorts after all"?

Hell, they've already proven that as far as I'm concerned. Gay marriage -- the genuine article, not "civil unions"-- was legalized by judicial fiat in MA, HI, and IA. Now, if I really, truly cared* about "gay marriage," I'd be looking long and hard at everything that happened with those gay marriages, as surely they prove something about my point one way or the other....

*note that this is a bipartisan gripe, for the record -- I don't see too many of the "gay marriage will bring about the Antichrist" types talking much about those states either. If "gay marriage" was really that bad, Massachusetts would be even further beyond thunderdome and Iowa would be Hell in the Heartland. I don't think either has happened....

Whitehawk said...

Guys, I’m one of those religious right people that are said to be full of hate. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When I was younger that may have been said of me but hey, we are all young and foolish at some time.

It is incumbent on culture to define its institutions. In the case of marriage, the government has been recognizing marriage as relationship between a man and a woman for over 200 years in matters of child custody, taxes, inheritance, property rights and end of life decisions. It is necessary for the government of a people to have a working, meaningful definition of cultural institutions such as marriage. If a relationship is officially recognized by the government, the government will necessarily require all citizens to recognize that relationship as legitimate, lawful and free from discrimination.

My faith, the same faith held by the founders of this country, tells me that a sexual relationship between two men or two women is harmful, unwholesome, and causes confusion to a society (just like infidelity or premarital sex.) It should not be recognized as a wholesome relationship equal to that of a relationship between a man and a woman dedicated to each other before God for life in marriage.

May I go on record for laying out to you here exactly what will happen if we or the government allow the change of the definition of marriage OR the recognition of civil unions between same sex partners? Let’s say the government passes a law defining civil unions as any combination or number of men, women or animals formed into a “family unit”. (If it is wrong to change the definition of marriage, it is worse to change the definition of a family.) The Gay Rights crowd will beat down the doors to churches like mine that teach homosexuality is a harmful behavior. They will ask for membership, which will be denied due to their openly embracing a harmful lifestyle, and the ACLU will come in and “remodel” my faith and dismantle my church financially. Mark my words, if civil unions become legally recognized by the government the church will be forced to recognized them, allow gay Sunday school classes, and allow the practice of homosexuality to be taught from the pulpit. Don’t doubt me. The courts will salivate at the chance.

A moral distinction is mandated here. We HAVE to make a moral decision. Is homosexuality a morally good, wholesome, practice that should be institutionalized into law? Are those who practice it helping themselves and society? I encourage you to do some reading before you answer this. (See the Focus on the Family web site, search homosexuality.)

I take exception to anyone who tells me I hate homosexuals. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In America it seems the only thing we don’t tolerate is saying something disapproving of what someone else gets pleasure from. It does not matter if the source of that pleasure is damaging to the ones indulging in it and those around them. When you tell someone they are hurting themselves, it is a sign that you care for them.

Without a proper understanding of God, anything that demonstrates an ability to relieve your stress, pain or suffering has the potential to become your god.

philmon said...

I agree with Whitehawk on the corrosive effects holding the two kinds of relationships equal would have on society.

My position here is, though, that when we are talking about government (especially the Federal government) -- we should be careful about what our reasoning used at that level should be. Argue about it in as a moral question and people will equate it with Catholics trying to pass a law to keep everyone from eating meat on Friday. (Not that most Catholics follow that anymore, but I digress).

One of the Things I Know on my list is that tolerance and acceptance are not the same thing. Tolerance really means that you won't do anything coercive to stop it. Acceptance means you're totally cool with it.

"Hate", by the left, has been re-defined as (well, it has been re-defined as any kindo of disapproval they disagree with) but in this case, it has been re-defined not only as non-acceptance, but with non-embrace.

Tolerance means I let you do what you want to do up to the point where it infringes on my liberty. When you start teaching my kids in public school that they must embrace behavior which I am teaching them is wrong -- you are, in fact, infringing on my liberty.

And that's back to the definition thing. Marriage isn't now, nor has it ever been -- something that is the government's to define.

And that's where I think people on the right have gone wrong by basically agreeing with the activist left that it is something that is the government's to define.

See, the government doesn't (or shouldn't) get to tell us what is good and wholesome. That is for us as individuals and groups and churches and organizations to evangelize about in the marketplace of ideas and win hearts and minds. Think of it as missionary work in your own country, if you will.

When we say that it is the government's to define, we are basically handing them a battlefield they shouldn't have by setting a precedent -- and by doing so I think they will win in the long run. That is, they will get the government to re-define it and since it was agreed that it is the government's to define -- everybody will have to swallow the ACLU lawyers and lawsuits and media pressure on religious groups.

That's why I like my solution. Marriages are Civil Unions like squares are rectangles, or like boats are watercraft. Go ahead and pull "marriage" from laws, replace it with "Civil Unions" as a category of contracts ... and let groups in society call it whatever they please without forcing their terms on others.

(continued below)

philmon said...

I have a question that should have to be answered by the activist left. What rights do homosexuals lack in our country, really?

Ministers and other officials can hold ceremonies that they can call whatever they like for them, and the first amendment protects their right to use whatever words they wish to use to describe the ceremony and their relationship. So that's not an issue.

From what I can tell, it's basically that they often aren't considered "family" for insurance purposes, hospital visitation, and inheritance laws.

Of course, the first two, especially the second, are policy issues that individual hospitals and insurance companies can change at will, and the last one can easily be taken care of by a last will and testament. None of them require the word "marriage" to be used to make them happen.

Outside of that, what rights do they not have? What rights are they fighting for?

And of course, the answer is is that they are not really (for the most part) fighting for rights, they are fighting for acceptance. And by using the government as an instrument to that end, they are fighting to use coercion to gain that acceptance.

When we are talking about civil issues such as these ... this is the angle social conservatives should take. Because we need to get back to Constitutional reasoning. Only in that battleground can they not use the government to force their vision on everyone (unless we want to go to an oligarchy or theocracy ... and the reasons for backing away from those are well documented in the Federalist Papers).

When we as individuals are talking amongst ourselves all of the other philosophical and moral reasons can and should be layed on the table for everyone's consideration in, as I say, the marketplace of ideas.

This mimics Christianity's view of God's relationship to man. He has his rules, but we are free to choose to accept or reject them as individuals, and reap the rewards or pay the consequences in the end.