Jesurgislac’s Journal

November 14, 2008

When you discover you never knew someone

Fred Clark at Slacktivist writes about the Liars for Christ:

Supporters of Proposition 8 were forced to resort to Lying for Jesus — pastors will be jailed! your church will be forced to conduct gay weddings! your organist may become even more flamboyant! — because they weren’t able to articulate any honest basis for opposing this right as an equal right. The ‘vixen and I got our marriage license on the same day that George Takei and Brad Altman got theirs. The wedding of George and Brad neither picked my pocket nor broke my leg, so what possible cause would I have had to object to it? What reason would I have to deny George and Brad the same happiness that my wife and I were permitted to enjoy? Such exclusion makes no sense unless we appeal to some imagined grave consequences such as those dreamed up by the Liars for Christ.

And here again we see that basing policy on imaginary fears and imaginary grave consequences leads to different, but very real, grave consequences. When we choose to make laws based on imaginary fears, we see our own rights reduced to mere privileges. This is what always happens when we place fear on the throne.

Orson Scott Card (homophobic terrorist), following his sustained campaign for Proposition 8 and whining about how that made some people not like him any more, writes a follow-up post after Proposition 8 passed with such a narrow and expensive margin, praising some of the younger bullies in the fight:

So when our Latter-day Saint singles heeded the call of the church’s leaders to take part in the defense of marriage, they, more than any other group of Saints, were swimming upstream.

They worked hard. They took risks. And many of them paid a price that is heavy indeed.

Many of them lost dear friends — sometimes with bitter, angry recriminations from people they had once been close to.

It seems ironic that these young Mormons were open-minded enough to be friends with people whose lives were so different from their own; but their friends, in the name of tolerance, could not remain friends with Mormons who merely stood up for their faith.

If the situation had been reversed, if Prop. 8 had failed, these LDS young people would not have rejected their friends who voted to repudiate the meaning of marriage. And if they had, would they not have been condemned as bigots, for being unable to tolerate someone else voting his conscience?

When people whom you thought were friends turn out to be bigots, this is a sad and painful moment indeed: I’ve experienced it myself on a personal level after I came out, discovering that people I thought liked/respected me only did so when they thought I was heterosexual, and on a broader level, with many people across science-fiction fandom who once thought of Card as a decent enough man, I share the disappointment and anger we feel to discover, not only is he a homophobic bigot wannabe terrorist, he doesn’t even recognise bad science when it suits his own prejudices.

But he’s also a whiner. It turns out that the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints doesn’t even have the courage of their own convictions. Their First Presidency, the man they claim has a direct line to God, told them to campaign for and donate to the Yeson8 campaign. They did. It passed.

If the LDS Church had the courage of their convictions, if they truly believed that this action to remove the right to marry from Californian citizens was the right thing to do, why whine and bemoan and complain that they have been “singled out” as a key pressure group in getting it passed? Their complaints that people are pointing at the LDS and blaming them for enshrining this act of bigotry in the Californian constitution, seem to show either some decent shame for this horrible thing – or cowardice, a fear of taking responsibility for their actions. If it’s decent shame, let’s hear a public apology and acknowledgement that they were wrong: without that, I think we have to assume it’s pure cowardice. (Update: other examples of the Yes-on-8 crew lacking the courage of their convictions here and here: further examples welcomed.)

If the situation had been reversed, if Prop. 8 had failed, would the organisations who worked for No on 8 have whined and worried that they were being “singled out”? No. Because people who fight for civil rights have to be braver than that. Bullies are cowards.

These young bullies who rejected their friends, who joined the bigoted campaign their church ran against equal rights in California, who wanted God to have a spaceship and proposition 8 and probably a pony too – they were, Card says, “standing up for their faith”. They preferred loyalty to their church over loyalty to their friends, loyalty to the First Presidency over upholding the principle of freedom of religion and separation of church and state – and they rejected their friends. That their friends reacted to this rejection by these “heroes” with anger and bitterness is evidence, if Card were awake to that, of the importance of friendship in some people’s lives.

Tolerating someone while working to take away their civil rights is not friendship.

November 2, 2008

Yes to freedom of belief: no to Proposition 8

I’ve just had an interesting conversation about freedom of belief with Mark at A Deo Lumen. Mark is responding here to Thomas Sowell’s Conflict of Visions. He asked me: Don’t we all want our own preferences and convictions enshrined as the law for all to obey?

Well, yes and no. I have a whole bunch of personal preferences and convictions, which I do not especially want “all to obey” however much I think they’re good. I’m vegetarian, lesbian, atheist, etc – I do not want the government to make other people copy me!

But I do have some wider preferences and convictions that I do believe are something that should be enshrined as law: I believe in religious freedom, liberty of the mind – the right of everyone to believe – or not believe – what they choose. (I’ve just been discussing on another blog (to John at Have I Told You Lately?) why I think everyone in California who supports religious freedom ought to oppose Proposition 8, regardless of their personal views on same-sex marriage, because this is an attempt to get religious discrimination into the state constitution.)

I wrote to Mark “I don’t want ‘everybody to be an atheist’ – I want my right to be an atheist respected as much as your right to be a Christian. And I would fight for your right to practice your faith without infringing on other’s liberties, regardless of whether you felt the need to fight for mine. Because that is a conviction of mine that yes, I do think should be enshrined in law – because if it is, in countries where it is, such law maximises freedom of belief.”

I don’t believe that you can simply say “Well, I believe in freedom of belief, but my opponent believes that one religion should be imposed on all people, so we must be tolerant of each other’s beliefs”. “My opponent” in such a case is arguing for “tolerance” of their belief only because it suits their end – and their end is absolute intolerance of all beliefs but their own.

And that, I think, is the classic problem of the Sowell doctrine (which I may be misunderstanding completely, of course: I haven’t read his book): in a free society, in order to safeguard that freedom, there are some things that must not be tolerated: and any attempt to enforce religion on others by law is one of those things.

A religious blogger recently and with admirable sincerity responded to the query: “Why oppose same-sex marriage?” – “Because God says so!” I think too many people whose first instinctive response was “God says so!” have been unwilling to take the obvious next step – “Because I believe God opposes same-sex marriage is exactly why my opposition to same-sex marriage ought not to become law.”

(A couple of rather good anti-Prop8 videos follow under the cut.)
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October 6, 2008

The basics: why it’s necessary to support equal marriage

The issue of equal marriage is sometimes referred to as “same-sex marriage”, “gay marriage”, “homosexual marriage”, the right to marry, the freedom to marry, or even, if you’re quite mad, the anti-marriage or support marriage issue, because this issue has been framed by its most ardent opponents in terms of destroying marriage between mixed sex couples.

There have been times and places throughout history, all over the world, where it was lawful for two men or two women to marry: but in general, in the past, in countries and at times where marriage gives a different set of rights to a husband and to a wife, same-sex couples could only marry when one partner took on one gender role and one took on the other: two men could marry if one man were to be “the wife”, and two women if one woman were to be “the husband”.

In the 20th century, beginning in Western Europe and North America, the question of whether same-sex couples should have the same freedom to marry as mixed-sex couples, would arise after legislation made the rights of husband and wife in civil marriage equal and the same. If there is no issue about which half of the couple shall legally be “husband” and which be “wife”, if both are legally equal, then there ceases to be any legal, civil, secular reason why same-sex couples should not marry.

Where there is no legal or civil impediment against a couple marrying, an individual or a group opposing the marriage of a couple who wish to wed had better have some solid justification on their side. No such solid justification exists: no opposition to same-sex marriage can be morally justified.
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