(From CHRISTIANITY TODAY, March, 2013 issue)
(From CHRISTIANITY TODAY, March, 2013 issue)
TOPIC 1: Same sex marriage debate continues in Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It is a first for the US Supreme Court. On Tuesday justices heard arguments about whether same sex couples have the right to marry and whether they should be awarded the same benefits as heterosexual couples. Many people here in Kentuckiana are closely watching what is going on in Washington this week. From marches in Frankfort to opposition from family groups, the issue is as controversial as ever. “I am married why can't they get married. Marriage is for everybody. I got one of these so why can't everybody,” Erica Goldsmith is referring to her wedding ring. She was at the Marriage Equality march in Frankfort Tuesday morning.
It comes as the US Supreme Court looks at a ban on gay marriage in California known as Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act that recognizes marriage as being between a man and a woman. In Louisville couples like Mark England and Michael Handley are anxiously awaiting the high court’s decisions. They traveled to New York to get married, one of the few states were same sex marriage is legal. “We watch Washington with hope that the Supreme Court will move Kentucky forward instead of taking us backwards,” Mark England said. “I would like to see the Defense of Marriage Act go away. Where the federal benefits no matter what state we are married in would be afforded to both to Michael and I.”
Others are watching Washington closely as well for different reasons. Peter Hayes is with the American Family Coalition and opposes same sex marriage. “Why do we have to redefine the whole Christian sexual ethic to do that and what are the ramifications. We know the epidemic children out of wedlock has created for our society so we are just going further away from that God centered idea and I think it's important for us to take notice of that,” Hayes said.
In 2004, Kentucky voters passed a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. It passed by 75 percent of the voters.
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Courthearing arguments on this controversial issue?
TOPIC 2: Vandalism of gay rights activist’s car seen as hate crime
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The vandalism of a prominent Louisville gay rights activist’s car is being investigated as a hate crime. It happened late Saturday night outside a fundraiser for the Fairness Campaign and ACLU at the Muhammad Ali Center. “It is an intentional mark of hate. It implies even potentially a death threat,” Chris Hartman, Fairness Campaign, said.
A swastika in the middle of a Fairness Campaign logo, a gay rights sticker defacing Barack Obama's image and an f-word you to Obama's re-election. “It wasn’t violence against me physically but the damage of my property certainly insinuates that if I had been outside with the car, there's no telling what could have happened,” Hartman said.
At first, Chris Hartman saw that his car had been sideswiped. “The mirror is what I noticed first,” Hartman said. You can see the other vehicle's side view mirror left behind in this photo from Saturday night.
Police began investigating it as a hit and run, until they saw the swastika. “At that point the LMPD First Division officer that responded immediately began investigating the incident as a hate crime,” Hartman said.
“It's disturbing to hear that we're still having hate crimes in general in our society over the last four or five years we've investigated about 28 hate crimes,” Carolyn Miller-Cooper, Human Relations Commission, said.
Louisville's Human Relations Commission director says that's a rate three times greater than prior years. The vandalism came just hours after the governor vetoed a bill the Fairness Campaign feared would undermine gay rights. “This is yet another clear elucidation of why there need to be anti-discrimination protections for vulnerable populations as well as hate crime protections for those people too,” Hartman said. Hartman says he doesn't know if he was being targeted as director of the Fairness Campaign. Metro police are investigating but had no comment as of Monday, March 25.
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on the increase in hate crimes in the city? Do you think there needs to be more anti-discrimination protections in place?
Male-Female marriage received a vigorous defense Monday in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Manhattan Declaration, Inc., the voice of more than 500,000 Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians filed a friend of the court (Amicus) brief. The foundational document of this organization, which has gained over
half-a-million signatures, addresses religious liberty, sanctity of life and traditional marriage.
“Natural law, the nature of the human person, and common sense provide ample reason to preserve marriage as it has always been understood.” Explained John Mauck, the Chicago attorney with the firm of Mauck & Baker, who submitted the brief on behalf of the Manhattan Declaration.
The argument develops further by explaining God’s plan for the family and the social pathologies which emerge when the primacy of family and children is subverted. The brief sets out the natural law of the family unit, constitutional authority to establish what is best for the nation, and identifies social reasons to preserve male-female marriage. It thus shows that the historic institution of male-female families allows American children, families, and society to benefit from a firm foundation in the home and thus preserving strong future growth. The brief identifies societal circumstances around the world that have accepted homosexual marriage resulting in a decline in society function and a harsh increase in religious oppression.
The Manhattan Declaration reminds the Court of the critical role of believers in Jesus have had in America’s positive social achievement. It recounts advances because of
Christianity through history saying that, “History confirms that Christians have, precisely because of their faith: defended innocent life; tended to the sick and dying during plagues…; extirpated slavery; tended to the poor and imprisoned…; toiled in the women’s suffrage movement; led the civil rights movement; fought to end human trafficking and sexual slavery; and brought compassionate care to the AIDS sufferers in Africa.”
The brief also refutes the public relations and litigation strategy of advocates of same-sex marriage that seeks to portray Christians and other defenders of marriage as motivated by rank bigotry or irrational animus. These accusations, as explained by Mauck, are not sustainable as a matter of human experience or a fact in society.
Chicago, Jan. 28, 2013
A debate is taking place in many countries about whether or not marriage should be re-defined to include gay and lesbian couples. This short video commissioned by The Iona Institute explains why marriage should not be redefined. It explains that marriage between a man and a woman is primarily a child-centred institution aimed at giving children what they long for, namely the love of a mother and father.
The Supreme Court announced that it will hear cases dealing with the definition of marriage during its current term.
The Court will consider challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress and signed by President Clinton, and Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
After lower courts ruled against these marriage laws, the Supreme Court now has the opportunity to return authority to citizens in answering questions about marriage policy.
Every marriage policy draws lines, leaving out some types of relationships. But equality forbids arbitrary line-drawing. Determining which lines are arbitrary requires us to answer two questions:
There are many good reasons why citizens in 41 states have said over and over that marriage is between a man and a woman. Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. And as ample social science has shown, children tend to do best when reared by their mother and father.
Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits the public good.
Marriage is society’s least restrictive means to ensure the well-being of future citizens. State recognition of marriage protects children by incentivizing adults to commit permanently and exclusively to each other and their children.
While respecting everyone’s liberty, government rightly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for procreative love, childbearing, and childrearing.
In recent decades, marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view that sees marriage as primarily about emotional bonds or legal privileges. In other words, it is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs. Same-sex marriage is the culmination of this revisionism: Emotional intensity would be the only thing left to set marriage apart from other bonds.
Government should not obscure the truth about marriage by accepting that revisionist view. In redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships, government would weaken marital norms, which would further delink childbearing from marriage and hurt spouses and children—especially the most vulnerable. It would deny a mother or father to a child as a matter of policy.
The harms resulting from redefining marriage would force the state to intervene more often in family life and force the state’s welfare to grow even more. Citizens would lose more of their freedom of religion and conscience.
Today’s decision from the Supreme Court comes a week after the district court of Nevada upheld that state’s marriage amendment that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
In the coming months, the Supreme Court will consider briefs, hear oral arguments, and ultimately issue its ruling by the end of the term in June 2013. Whatever the outcome, debate on the issue of marriage will continue.
The coming months, therefore, offer an important opportunity for citizens to consider carefully what marriage is and why government should continue to recognize marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
By Christine Kim and Jennifer Marshall (article)
(For additional reading click here.)
Two peer-reviewed studies published on June 17, 2012 (go to article) in a scholarly journal cast doubt on a core assumption used to advance same-sex marriage.
A number of studies and articles have suggested that research shows no difference in outcomes between children whose parents have same-sex relationships and their peers raised by heterosexual parents. For example, the American Psychological Association (APA) stated in 2005 that “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.”
Yesterday the academic journal Social Science Research published a detailed methodological review of the research on which the APA bases its conclusion—a study that questions the validity of the “no difference” assertion. Conducted by a Louisiana State University family scholar, the article concludes:
[N]ot one of the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 APA Brief compares a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children with a large, random, representative sample of married parents and their children. The available data, which are drawn primarily from small convenience samples, are insufficient to support a strong generalizable claim either way. Such a statement would not be grounded in science. To make a generalizable claim, representative, large-sample studies are needed—many of them.
A large representative sample is supplied in a second new study, conducted by a University of Texas–Austin sociologist and published in the same journal. The New Family Structures Study (NFSS), under the direction of Dr. Mark Regnerus, provides the most representative picture to date of young adults whose parents had same-sex relationships. NFSS is a large, random, nationally representative sample.
In other words, because of how the sample was collected, it is representative of all young adults in this age group in the United States. Knowledge Networks, a respected research firm responsible for collecting the data, screened more than 15,000 young adults (ages 18–39) to identify nearly 3,000 participants, including 175 respondents who reported that their mothers have had a romantic same-sex relationship and 73 respondents who reported that their fathershave. This is the second-largest such sample of children whose parents had same-sex relationships, after the Census. The Census, however, provides a limited set of social welfare outcomes, while NFSS provides data on 40 outcome areas compared across seven family structures.
As Professor Paul Amato of Penn State University notes in his critique of the study, published in the same issue, “The New Family Structures Study is probably the best that we can hope for, at least in the near future.”
According to NFSS, just 1.7 percent of young adults ages 18 to 39 reported having a parent who has had a same-sex romantic relationship. The experience of long-term stability in same-sex households is rarer still. Among those who reported having a mother who had a same-sex relationship, 91 percent said they lived with their mothers when they were in the relationship. Fifty-seven percent reported living with their mother and her partner for more than four months, and 23 percent for at least three years. Among young adults whose fathers had a same-sex relationship, 42 percent said they lived with them during the relationship; 24 percent said they lived with their fathers and fathers’ partners for more than four months; and less than 2 percent for at least three years.
Only two respondents whose mothers had a same-sex relationship reported that this living arrangement lasted all 18 years of their childhood. No respondents with fathers who had a same-sex relationship reported such longevity.
The NFSS surveyed young adult respondents about their own relationship history and quality, economic and employment status, health outcomes, abuse history, educational attainment, relationship with parents, psychological and emotional well-being, substance use, and sexual behaviors and outcomes.
Compared to young adults in traditional, intact families, young adults whose mothers had a same-sex relationship tended to fare worse than their peers in intact biological families on 24 of the 40 outcomes examined. For example, they were far more likely to report being sexually victimized, to be on welfare, or to be currently unemployed.
Young adults whose fathers had a same-sex relationship showed significant differences from their peers in intact families on 19 of the outcomes. For example, they were significantly more likely to have contemplated suicide, to have a sexually transmitted infection, or to have been forced to have sex against their will.
These differences take into account the respondent’s age, race/ethnicity, gender, mother’s education, perceived family of origin’s income, whether or not the respondent was ever bullied, and the legal status of same-sex relationships in the respondent’s current state of residence. In other words, the study compared respondents who were identical on these characteristics, except for parental relationship status.
A significant improvement on the limited research to date on child outcomes and same-sex parenting, this new study marks an important development in the research. As findings based on studies using the NFSS and other large, nationally representative data on same-sex parents and their children accumulate, a more generalizable picture will begin to emerge.
At present, far too little is known about this new household form into which activist courts are pushing America—and much of what has been presented to date gives an inaccurate picture of the reality that children of same-sex parenting have experienced.
NFSS project director Dr. Mark Regnerus concludes in a piece running on Slate that “the stable, two-parent biological married model [is] the far more common and accomplished workhorse of the American household, and still—according to the data, at least—the safest place for a kid.”
Proponents of same-sex marriage have a false premise in their argument. Watch the two part video presentation to see the false premise and where it leads. The total playing time of the two parts is under twenty minutes. Appropriate and respectful comments are welcomed and will be posted. Text: Download Same Sex Marriage
By Charles C. W. Cooke under the title "The Gay Divorcee" (National Review column)
Announcing the results of his long-term “evolution” on the subject, President Obama revived the debate over same-sex marriage. In the widespread discussion, however, there is one question that’s rarely asked: How interested are homosexual couples in getting married?
Heretofore at least, the answer seems to be “not really.” Since 1997, when Hawaii became the first state in the union to allow reciprocal-beneficiary registration for same-sex couples, 19 states and the District of Columbia have granted some form of legal recognition to the relationships of same-sex couples. These variants include marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and reciprocal-beneficiary relationships; and the most recent U.S. Census data reveal that, in the last 15 years, only 150,000 same-sex couples have elected to take advantage of them — equivalent to around one in five of the self-identified same-sex couples in the United States. This number does not appear to be low because of the fact that only a few states have allowed full “marriage”; indeed, in the first four years when gay marriage was an option in trailblazing Massachusetts, there were an average of only about 3,000 per year, and that number included many who came from out of state.
This dearth of early "takers" is not peculiar to America. Research conducted in 2004 by Gunnar Anderson, a professor of demography at Sweden’s Stockholm University, seems to confirm the trend. Anderson looked at legal partnerships in both Norway and Sweden and found that in Norway, which legalized civil unions in 1993, only 1,300 homosexual couples registered in the first eight years, compared with 190,000 heterosexual marriages; in Sweden, between initial passage in 1995 and a review in 2002, 1,526 legal partnerships were registered, compared with 280,000 heterosexual marriages. In the Netherlands, gay marriage is actually declining in popularity: 2,500 gay couples married in 2001 — the year it was legalized — and that number dropped to 1,800 in 2002, 1,200 in 2004, and 1,100 in 2005. In 2009, the last year for which figures are available, less than 2 percent of marriages in the Netherlands were between same-sex couples.
Controlling for the ratio of homosexuals to heterosexuals does little to explain the enthusiasm gap. For rates to be similar, we would have to pretend that only 0.5 percent of the population of Sweden, 0.7 percent of the population of Norway, and less than 2 percent of the population of Holland is gay. In fact, the numbers tend closer to an average of 4 percent, which suggests that heterosexual couples are up to eight times more interested in registering their relationships than homosexual couples. It is, of course, possible that the estimated number of homosexuals is wrong, but, if anything, gay-rights groups tend to argue that the projected numbers are too low, and statistics show that the numbers of self-identified gay citizens are going up in every Western country.
Enthusiasm for marriage is somewhat lopsided by gender. Divorces, too. According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, two-thirds of legally recognized same-sex couples in the United States are lesbian. (Solely on the “marriage” front, in Massachusetts’s first four years, this statistic was 62 percent.) While data in the United States are clearly limited, Scandinavian countries have been at this a little longer. Denmark was the first country to introduce recognition of same-sex partnerships, coining the term “registered partnership” in 1989. Norway followed suit in 1993, and then Sweden in 1995. Again, Stockholm University’s study seems to confirm the American trend. In Norway, male same-sex marriages are 50 percent more likely to end in divorce than heterosexual marriages, and female same-sex marriages are an astonishing 167 percent more likely to be dissolved. In Sweden, the divorce risk for male-male partnerships is 50 percent higher than for heterosexual marriages, and the divorce risk for female partnerships is nearly double that for men. This should not be surprising: In the United States, women request approximately two-thirds of divorces in all forms of relationships — and have done so since the start of the 19th century — so it reasonably follows that relationships in which both partners are women are more likely to include someone who wishes to exit.
The debate over marriage does not necessarily hinge on its popularity among the eligible, and advocates of gay unions would no doubt assert that “equality” is not a numerical proposition as quickly as their opponents would aver that the very idea is a hopeless category mistake. But it is nonetheless worth noting that there is no particular groundswell — even in states and cities that have both legal gay marriage and significant numbers of homosexuals — and that, when gay couples do decide to get married, they are more likely than their straight equivalents to change their minds later.
Constitutional scholar, lawyer, and professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University Robert P. George recently presented an oral argument in one of the cases considering the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which allows each state to determine for itself the definition of marriage. The text of his argument follows this note. In an unusual move, the Obama Department of Justice declined to defend DOMA, even as Obama has stated (for example, in a May 9 interview with ABC news) that he favors allowing states to decide the definition of marriage for themselves. The case in which George presented the oral argument (which was in support of a written brief he filed together with Sherif Girgis and Ryan Anderson) is Cozen O’Connor, P.C. v. Tobits, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. –ed.
A key question, perhaps the key question, this Court is being called on to address is whether the Constitution of the United States chooses between competing moral understandings of the nature, value, and social purposes of marriage, thus settling the question of how marriage is to be defined. On reflection, I believe your honor will see that it does not. Rather, the Constitution leaves the matter, as it leaves most matters of substantive law where choices between competing moral understandings must be made, for resolution in the forums of democratic deliberation and decision-making, including, in the case of federal law, the Congress of the United States.
Laws characteristically embody and reflect moral judgments. This is true of the law of contract and the law of murder, and it is no less true of the law of marriage. Laws should be made carefully so that they embody sound understandings of good and bad, right and wrong, justice and injustice; but as careful thinkers about law from Aristotle in ancient Greece to Dr. Martin Luther King in our own time have made clear, laws cannot be morally neutral, nor should we try to make them so. Efforts to mask the moral judgments embodied and expressed in our laws have no effect other than to wrap those judgments in a cloak of obscurity—creating a mere illusion of neutrality.
The historic law of marriage reaffirmed in the Defense of Marriage Act embodies the moral judgment that marriage is the conjugal union of husband and wife united in a form of relationship—a comprehensive sharing of life at every level, including the bodily-biological level—that is in principle apt for, and would naturally be fulfilled by, procreation and the rearing of children. This distinctive type of union is, and has always been understood to be, distinguishable from ordinary friendships and even from sexual-romantic domestic partnerships in its social function of binding men and women together in a way that, overall, best serves the interests of children who are born as a result of their sexual union, and serves society as a whole, which vitally depends on the marriage-based family for its stability. The conjugal conception of marriage is, to be sure, articulated in the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity as well as other faiths, but it was also articulated and defended by thinkers such as Plato and Plutarch in the ancient traditions of Greek and Roman thought with no reliance on the concept of divine revelation.
Of course, the conjugal understanding of marriage, though by far the dominant one not only in our own culture but in cultures generally, is not the only possible one. Insert a different moral understanding, and marriage could be defined, as it has been in some cultures, to accommodate polygamous partnerships and even, as some wish to define it today, to include multiple partners in polyamorous sexual unions of more than two persons.
In the case currently before your honor, the Court is being invited to replace the moral understanding at the heart of the historic conjugal conception of marriage with a competing moral understanding according to which marriage would be redefined as sexual-romantic domestic partnership—thus rendering sexual-reproductive complementarity unnecessary and irrelevant. Marriage, on the new moral understanding, would be an emotional union—a union of hearts and minds—but not a bodily union of the type made possible by the biological complementarity of husband and wife.
There are many good arguments for favoring the conjugal conception of marriage over the revisionist conception being proposed. The former moral conception can, and the latter moral conception cannot, provide an intelligible basis for the belief that marriage is, foundationally, a sexual partnership, as opposed to a partnership that could as well be integrated around any of a number of shared interests having nothing to do with sexuality. By the same token, the conjugal conception can provide an objective moral basis for norms of exclusivity, fidelity, and permanence of commitments—norms that on the revisionist conception can be affirmed, if at all, only on the basis of subjective sentiment, not moral principle.
However, this Court should not choose between the competing moral understandings on offer from supporters of the conjugal conception of marriage and the revisionist conception. This is because nothing in the Constitution settles the issue between them. It is left, rather, to the people acting on their own in referenda and initiatives in states that provide for those decision-making procedures, and through their elected representatives in the state legislatures and the Congress. It is up to the democratic process, not the courts purporting to act in the name of the Constitution, to make the moral judgment that marriage should be retained as a conjugal partnership, or to make the competing moral judgments that would redefine marriage, whether to accommodate polygamous, polyamorous, or same sex partnerships.