Gay Marriage = Religious Freedom

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Religion, Sexuality, Video

Picked this up from Doug’s site and it’s worth watching the whole thing.



And so we have the inherent problem with every single argument coming out of the religious right wing opposing gay marriage…none of them can be defended by anything other than distorted facts or personal opinions. It was the same with the anti-miscegenation laws back in the 60s.

By the way, isn’t it insane to think that we actually had laws against interracial marriage less than 50 years ago?

In any event, I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s only a matter of time before gay marriage is legal across the country. It might take another decade for it to be legal everywhere, but it’ll happen nonetheless.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 and is filed under Religion, Sexuality, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

22 Responses to “Gay Marriage = Religious Freedom”

  1. Agnostick Says:

    Damn. He knocked that one outta the park!!!!!

  2. Simon Says:

    So, let’s see: the thrust of his argument is that we shouldn’t do something almost entirely new and untried because there are only a few examples of it having been tried and going badly? The rest seems to be a soup of fogy reasoning (I know nothing about the Ocean Grove story that he pats himself on the back for debunking, apart from what’s said in this video, and by his own terms he confirms that the meat of the story is accurate: the church said the ceremony was against its beliefs, and was presented with the coercive choice to allow a ceremony that went against its beliefs or lose its tax exempt status) and the plain bizarre (what does one sentence of crystal ball-gazing dicta from the California Supreme Court have to do with anything besides the specific legal landscape in California last year?).

    Still, I agree with Justin that this is something that’s going to happen, whether it’s for the better or not.

  3. ExiledIndependent Says:

    Wait, do I get the inference correctly that you’re equating being gay with being black or another racial minority?

  4. ExiledIndependent Says:

    And if religion is a choice, and being gay is = religion, is being gay a choice? And if being gay is a choice, do we need to legally protect a behavior based on a preference? Or is being gay something that you’re born into, like being born as a member of a racial minority? Is it rooted in actions and decisions or is it rooted in DNA? Because depending on which argument you want to make, the defenses and vulnerabilities of the debate change substantially.

  5. Mike Says:

    While I agree that some of the arguments made by the opposition to gay marriage are overstated, I believe this video also overstates the irrelevance of those arguments.

    1) Gay marriage opponents argue that churches might lose tax exempt status if gay marriage is legal and they refuse to perform them. The video points out that they only lose tax exempt status on the property that is restricted from use, and then argues (perhaps rightly) that that is justified. However, by doing so he admits that the opponents are at least partially right–they could lose some of their tax exempt status.

    2) He dismisses the examples given of people being sued because they discriminated against homosexuals by saying that those cases were about discrimination law, not gay marriage. He is right, but the point of those examples is to point out that those who oppose homosexual lifestyles are already on shaky legal ground, and by legalizing gay marriage, that can only become more of a concern for opponents of gay marriage.

    I want to make clear that I am not saying that I oppose gay marriage (personally I am torn on the issue, and I feel that the best solution would be the get government out of marriage entirely, but that’s another debate). But I feel that the video overstates its case, as opponents of gay marriage do also.

  6. Mike Says:

    Since the video mentioned the LDS church’s adoption agency, and how it doesn’t take taxpayer money, I thought I’d point out that the LDS church (of which I am a member) does not participate in the “faith-based initiatives” program for the same reason. This is causing issues that frankly I am happy my church is able to avoid. So I do agree with the video that those who argue that their religious freedoms are being violated, but who are taking tax-payer money to fund their charitable efforts, are being somewhat hypocritical.

    If a charitable cause cannot be funded by the efforts of the people sitting in the pews, and instead needs to be funded by tax payers, can it really be called “faith-based?”

  7. Kevin Jackson Says:

    Mike-Since you brought up the LDS and adoption. They are also the group most interested in genealogy in the world and also the group most responsible in fighting the open records movement in adoption (through their funding of the National Council for Adoption) I’m surprised that most Mormons don’t even know this and that they also have trouble justifying the stand. Not one person that I have brought it up to even knew it. It’s another example of the weight of religion keeping rights from other citizens.

  8. Mike Says:

    Jack, I admit to being ignorant about what the open records movement is, so I’m not going to try to defend the LDS church’s supposed position. And adoption policy seems pretty far removed from the topic. I only brought up LDS adoption as it relates to funding because the video did. But if you feel the need to educate me on the LDS opposition to the open records movement, could you provide a link?

  9. shane Says:

    exiled makes an excellent discussion point. If we agree that being gay is a choice then it isn’t the civil rights issue the pro gay marriage side has been making it. If it isn’t a choice, why do we define it based on the action (sex) that is a choice?

  10. Kevin Says:

    Hi Mike, it’s Kevin not Jack but
    The Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints regards accurate documentation of one’s genealogy to be an essential requirement of the religion and has resulted in the largest collection of vital records information worldwide. Yet both the adoption industry and the Mormon Church has encouraged adopters to “seal the adoptee to the genealogy of the adopter,” in most cases, without knowledge of true heritage, even if hypocritical to their beliefs, and so the Mormon stronghold of Utah falsifies its adoptee’s birth record which names the adopters as the parents, and Utah will not permit an adult adoptee access to his/her true birth record.

    Bottom line is that the biggest opponent of open records in the US has been the National Council for Adoption which gets most of it’s funding from the Mormon Church. They routinely for decades have been behind the moves in states around the country to keep adoption records closed.

    Adoptees to my knowledge are the only people who have been forced to adhere to a contract to which they had no input. I doubt that you could pull that off with a convicted felon.

  11. Jeremy from NJ Says:

    Shane: As far as I know, the only people who think being gay is a choice are the religious people that are against it.

    Irregardless, DNA or choice, it doesn’t matter. There is no valid legal reason to disallow gay marriage. No one is being hurt.

    If churches find a religious reason not to permit it, that’s their business. They don’t have to marry gays. But, being American, they’ll have to deal with the lawsuits that will invariably come. That’s part of doing business in this great country.

    This is how we grow as a nation.

  12. Simon Says:

    Jeremy writes:

    There is no valid legal reason to disallow gay marriage. No one is being hurt.

    Well, Jeremy, an apt response to that point has already been written in another context:

    What really swayed the Justices in Lawrence [v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003),] was John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (1859): Government should not interfere with acts that do not harm third parties. ¶ That is an attractive moral principle. You will find me flocking with the libertarian wing of the Federalist Society. Still, it is no easier to turn British moral philosophy of the nineteenth century into constitutional law than to treat the World Court as a source of American constitutional law. Publications that postdate our Constitution are arguments to the living (which is to say, the legislative and executive branches); they cannot be treated as established law that the living may upset only by super‐majority action.

    There is no rule in the Constitution of 1787 (or the Civil War amendments) that harm to third parties is essential to constitutional legislation. That’s clear enough for the national government—think of the food and drug laws[n.13]—and even clearer for the states, which are not [limited] by the Ninth Amendment….

    n.13. … [T]he FDA may prevent administration of drugs to terminal cancer patients, even on the assumption … that the given drug is the only potential cure and that no third party will be harmed by its use. The [Supreme] Court held that drug could be kept off the market until its benefits had been demonstrated in scientific, double blind tests. Mill would have disapproved—though one could say in response that, once a useless drug is freely available, quacks are bound to prey on the gullible and may divert them from beneficial treatments. Whether we treat this as justification for sumptuary legislation, or as permitting the government to prevent the exploitation of the gullible, does not matter; in either event the Court has approved (to widespread applause) legislation that would not pass Mill’s tests. … I see no sign that the Justices who voted with the majority in Lawrence, Roper, and Atkins are prepared to reconsider the Slaughterhouse Cases,83 U.S. 36 (1872), or revive Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905), though both steps would be the logical consequence of a constitutional rule that protects private consensual conduct harmless to third parties. Sumptuary legislation has been a feature of American law (especially state law) since the founding.

    Frank Easterbrook, Foreign Sources and the American Constitution, 30 Harv. J. of L. & PP. 223, 225-6 (2006). Whether one agrees with Judge Easterbrook or not that Mill stated an “attractive moral principle,” two points he makes are unavoidably true: our Constitution certainly does not mandate Mill’s principle, and our history shows that Americans have honored mill in the breach when at all. While you can advance the proposition that legislation should require harm to third parties, Jeremy, you should think carefully through the implications of that principle, and should realize – and be candid enough to admit – that it is a radical departure from traditional American norms. Simply asserting it as ipse dixit, as though this was some universally-held truth traditionally acknowledged by American society, borders on legerdemain.

  13. Jeremy from NJ Says:

    Simon,

    Cute, but keep your legerdemain to yourself. I wasn’t suggesting legislation requires third party harm, merely trying to head off slippery slope/marry animals arguments that might ensue. I’m at work, not as focused on this conversation as I could be.

    Any legislation disallowing gay marriage would violate the 14th amendment. And it wouldn’t be as narrow an interpretation as Lawrence.

  14. Simon Says:

    I wasn’t suggesting legislation requires third party harm

    You wrote that “[t]here is no valid legal reason to disallow gay marriage. No one is being hurt.” That is, in the absence of harm to a third party (“no one is being hurt”), there is no valid legal reason for a law (“disallow[ing] gay marriage”). That is an arguable position, and it was Mill’s – auspicious company, to be sure – but it has certainly not been the Anglo-American tradition.

    Any legislation disallowing gay marriage would violate the 14th amendment.

    Oh, so not only does it violate Mill, it actually violates the Fourteenth Amendment, too? Nevermind that marriage as a man and a woman antedates not only the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, but the United States Constitution, and indeed the United States itself, but now, out of the blue, it turns out that such restrictions were invalid all along? This is silly, and arrogant with it. It isn’t worth the time to explain why you’re wrong, because a majority of the Supreme Court is going to agree with you, at least in terms of the result. I refer you in advance to Justice Scalia’s inevitable dissent (and to his related dissent in County of Umbehr).

  15. Jeremy from NJ Says:

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear: The “no one is being hurt” was a separate argument (poorly articulated). An attempt to head off any slippery slope argument.

    Nevermind that marriage as a man and a woman antedates not only the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, but the United States Constitution, and indeed the United States itself, but now, out of the blue, it turns out that such restrictions were invalid all along?

    Where in the Constitution is marriage even mentioned? It’s not. Such restrictions (as you say) are Religion’s baby. Any attempt to leave them on the State’s doorstep should be mightily opposed – and hopefully will be. Scalia be damned.

  16. Simon Says:

    Where in the Constitution is marriage even mentioned? It’s not.

    Precisely. The Constitution says nothing at all about marriage, and so state authority to regulate marriage as they see fit therefore remains intact. (It’s the same for abortion, for example, or the “right to die.”) That’s exactly the point, although how to reconcile this newfound wisdom with your earlier claim that the Fourteenth Amendment limits state policy on the matter is something you’ll have to work on.

  17. Mike Says:

    Kevin, I apologize for getting your name wrong.

    1) From what I understand, the LDS church considers adoptive parents to be the primary heritage for genealogical purposes, so I don’t see the policy as conflicting with the desire for accurate genealogical records. My wife was adopted by her step-dad, and considers her genealogy to be that of her adopted dad.

    2) From what I understand, parents have a right to enter into contracts on behalf of their children. I’m not a legal expert but it seems to me the entire concept of adoption hinges on that precept. You might have a point, however, that once those children are adults they should not be bound by that contract.

    I’m not disagreeing with on the merits of open records policy. You obviously feel strongly about it and so I wish you well on your activism on behalf of those you feel are being wronged. However, what I’m objecting to is your allegation that the LDS church is being hypocritical on the issue as it relates to genealogical records.

  18. Jeremy from NJ Says:

    Simon,

    The states are free to regulate marriage as they see fit, as long as they do so equally. If not, they are violating section 1 of the 14th amendment.

    You seem like a knowledgeable fellow, I’m not sure why this is hard for you. Perhaps an analogy would help:

    The constitution mentions nothing about the distribution of free blueberry cobblers. If Texas initiated a program providing a free blueberry cobbler on Thursday mornings to every Texan, that would be constitutional. If Texas decided that only Jews were allowed to free cobbler – well, that’s unconstitutional. And the Federal government would have to step in and assure every Texan their 14th amendment rights.

    It’s the same thing with gay marriage. If everyone’s allowed to get married, except the gays – well, it’s the job of the Federal government to step in and call foul.

    Hope that helps.

  19. Kevin Jackson Says:

    Mike–
    No problem getting my name wrong. This is the wrong place and it is too complicated. In short then, you said

    1) From what I understand, the LDS church considers adoptive parents to be the primary heritage for genealogical purposes, so I don’t see the policy as conflicting with the desire for accurate genealogical records.

    That is convenient for their position but IMO ridiculous and untenable. If I am a Chinese child and my adoptive parents are Swedish. I’m never going to be Swedish. If I’m black and my adoptive parents are white, I’m still black. Reality is what it is. I can choose to be proud of my link to Sweden through my adoptive parents but I will never be Swedish. When it comes to diseases and family history none of those things have any relationship to me or reality.

    My wife was adopted by her step-dad, and considers her genealogy to be that of her adopted dad.

    She can choose that but it is a choice not reality.

    2) …You might have a point, however, that once those children are adults they should not be bound by that contract.

    and yet they are and the one group most responsible for trying to keep it that way is the LDS. It’s like perpetually having less rights than everyone else without a say.

    You then said,
    However, what I’m objecting to is your allegation that the LDS church is being hypocritical on the issue as it relates to genealogical records.

    I just don’t see another conclusion. They have made a choice for people who never had a say. They don’t have that right.

  20. Mike Says:

    “She can choose that but it is a choice not reality.”

    It sounds like you have chosen that blood relation matters more. That is your choice and I respect that. But I don’t see how it is any more valid than somehow who chooses that their adoptive parents are their heritage. What is more important to one’s identity: birth parents or the parents that raised you? Personally, if I’m Chinese by blood but was raised in Sweden in a Swedish family, I’d consider myself more Swedish than Chinese, but that’s just me. That is a personal decision, and because you have chosen differently doesn’t give you the right to call someone else’s choice “not reality”. By the way, because of the LDS belief in temple sealing, I’m pretty sure the tendency of preferring adoptive parents heritage over birth parents existed long before any controversy over open records policy, so it is not just a “convenient” position.

    What I’m hearing from your argument is this: It is obvious that blood heritage is the only thing that matters, therefore the LDS church must believe this, and therefore is being hypocritical to oppose open records. However, the premise of your argument is wrong: the LDS church does not believe that blood heritage is the only thing (or even the most important thing) that matters. So it is not hypocritical. You are free to disagree with their position (which I am taking your word for it that they have), but don’t call it hypocritical just because you disagree with it.

    OK, so this threadjack has gone on long enough. If you’d like to continue this discussion, make a post somewhere and point me to it. Thanks.

  21. Kevin Jackson Says:

    Mike- This is a horrible place to discuss something so complicated and nuanced. You don’t understand my position at all and it’s partly because I was trying to high level overview it since this is not a great place or way to discuss this. I’m more than happy to try and clarify it off list or even give you a call if you really care. My email is [email protected] if you care, just let me know. Suffice it to say, I think birth and adoptive sides of the triangle are or can be valid. But they are what they are, I don’t change reality by choosing a term or belief. My adoptive parents genealogy and family medical history have zero relevance to my background. My adoptive history is after my genealogical history. I can choose how much value it has to me personally but it doesn’t change my background. It can’t.

    BTW, the birth adoptive forced choice is IMO bogus. It is possible to value both or not. Adoptees aren’t better or worse, neither are the other legs of the triangle. But they are a different family setup and it does complicate everything including the terminology.

  22. Dan S. Says:

    If anyone is interested, I’ve come up with some recommendations to help each side argue their case more persuasively (for a change):

    http://thecommonloon.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-not-to-argue-about-gay-marriage.html

Leave a Reply


NOTE TO COMMENTERS:


You must ALWAYS fill in the two word CAPTCHA below to submit a comment. And if this is your first time commenting on Donklephant, it will be held in a moderation queue for approval. Please don't resubmit the same comment a couple times. We'll get around to moderating it soon enough.


Also, sometimes even if you've commented before, it may still get placed in a moderation queue and/or sent to the spam folder. If it's just in moderation queue, it'll be published, but it may be deleted if it lands in the spam folder. My apologies if this happens but there are some keywords that push it into the spam folder.


One last note, we will not tolerate comments that disparage people based on age, sex, handicap, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry. We reserve the right to delete these comments and ban the people who make them from ever commenting here again.


Thanks for understanding and have a pleasurable commenting experience.


Related Posts: