Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Socio-Political impact of same-sex legislation

Symposium, September 7, 2009

1. Understanding the political landscape and the issue of civil rights

2. The consequences of the legalization of same-sex unions

3. Why and how we must speak out.

I. Political landscape and the issue of civil rights

On August 24, the PDN published the results of a survey that showed that while the majority of people on Guam would not support same-sex marriage, they would support the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

How did we get here? There is no doubt about what our Church teaches on the matter:

“…all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions…” (-CDF)

And probably no other community in the United States is as predominantly Catholic as ours. Yet we have majority support for something our Church tells us we MUST oppose.

Have we simply cast off our Catholic Faith on this matter?

How we got here is a complex question. For years we have quietly embraced, or at least tolerated, contraception, cohabitation, and yes, even abortion. As you may know, Guam is the easiest place in the United States to procure two things: an abortion and a divorce. And from a quick search on the internet, it appears as though the gay lifestyle also enjoys the Hafa Adai spirit.

Indeed, the Legislative Findings and Intent of Bill 138, the same-sex civil unions bill, so much as said so, appealing as it did to "kindness" and "compassion" of the people of Guam as one of the bases for the legalization of same-sex unions.

While this is not the main point of my talk, I believe we may need to re-evaluate this so-called kindness and compassion. The acceptance of contraception has led to a multitude of ills including abortion. Cohabitation has led to one of the highest rates in the nation of unwed mothers. And the health risks of gay sex are staggeringly high.

But aside from the complex part of the question of "how we got here", there is also a very simple answer. A quick study of the route taken by gay activists in other states where same-sex unions now receive legal recognition will show a simple 2 part strategy:

1. cloak the agenda in the language of civil rights

2. keep away, at least initially, from the word "marriage"

If you've been following the stories of the two same-sex bills from the beginning, you can easily see that the same-sex advocates on Guam have done their homework and have stuck with the successful game plan of same-sex lobbies in other states. However, on Guam, a 3rd tactic has been added.

The same-sex advocates here anticipated opposition from the Catholic Church. So from the beginning they have tried to make it look like they were attempting to appease the Church knowing that the media, unwilling, or too lazy, to look at the deeper issues, would fan the flames of a war between the Church and the gay advocacy.

In so doing, the advocates have been able to isolate all opposition to their cause as only religious opposition which then makes it easy for them to discard that opposition by appeals to a false understanding of “separation of church and state” (e.g. “Who are you to impose your religion on us?”).

If you have been following the town halls, hearings, and commentary in the media, you will have seen that this is precisely what they have been doing, and as you have seen from the PDN poll, it's working.

I want to quickly discredit each of these 3 tactics in the hopes that we can force this issue into the clear light of an honest discussion. Since we do live in a democracy, we, the people, have a right to choose the kind of society we want to leave for our children, but we also have a right to the truth, without which there is no democracy.

A. Is same-sex marriage a civil right?

First, let us quickly review the difference between a natural right and a civil right. Natural rights are those “endowed by our Creator”. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are natural rights. A civil right is a right granted by civil authority by reason of citizenship. (e.g. A non-citizen has a right to life,a natural right, but does not have a right to vote, which is a civil right.)

Next, we must note that civil rights apply to persons, not corporate entities. A corporate entity in the eyes of the state is any legally recognized arrangement between two or more people, be it a business, a church, or a marriage.

While the civil rights of the individuals involved in a corporate entity are still applicable, the entity itself is not accorded civil rights since a legal entity is not a person.

Society subjects corporate entities to certain restrictions and obligations not required of individuals and at the same time grants them certain benefits and protections.

For instance, a business can deduct expenses that an individual cannot. A church can file for a tax-exempt status whereas an individual cannot. A marriage too is granted certain protections and benefits that are not available to individual persons. But why?

Simply put, the state grants certain benefits and protections to corporate entities based on the relationship of that entity to the larger community and its contribution to the public good.

A business is granted tax exemptions because it contributes to the economy and employs people. A church is granted tax-exempt status because the state sees that it performs a social function of helping people, a function that would otherwise fall to the state and cost more money than what it costs the state to allow the tax-exemption.

The state does not grant these favors arbitrarily. It's to the states economic advantage to do so.

In the case of marriage, the state has come to see that the one man - one woman family unit is simply the most cost effective way of producing, socializing, and educating the next generation, upon which the survival of the state depends.

The state is motivated to protect and incentivize the family unit because it understands that if the family breaks down, the burden of raising the necessary next generation would fall to the state and would simply cost more money than the cost of protecting and incentivizing the traditional family unit in the first place.

But isn't marriage a civil right?

No. Marriage itself is not a civil right. What is a civil right is the right for a man and a woman to contract marriage in the eyes of the state. Again, civil rights apply to individuals, not entities.

Well, what’s to keep two people of the same sex from contracting marriage? Isn't it their civil right?

At issue here is the fact that nowhere in history do we have any precedent for this demand. Homosexuality has been a part of the human condition since the beginning, but it has always been seen by every culture and in every time as a condition that is not normative. Thus there has never been a culture that has embraced the practice since doing so would have meant an end to that particular society due simply to the sterility of the relationship.

Because there is no precedent, the same-sex lobby, in its search for validation has latched on to the issue of civil rights, much to the consternation of many Black people for whom the civil rights movement is historically and uniquely theirs.

The case most trumpeted by the same-sex lobby is the 1967 case of Loving vs. the State of Virginia in which laws against inter-racial marriage were declared unconstitutional. Same-sex proponents see this case as legal precedent for their case for same-sex marriage. Proponents like to quote the following from the Court’s opinion:

“The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man',..."

However, the second sentence does not end there. Notice the comma. The rest of the sentence reads:

“ …fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

Also, notice the quotations marks bracketing the words “basic civil rights of man”. The quotation marks are there because the Court in the Loving case is quoting another case, the 1942 case of Skinner vs. the State of Oklahoma.

The full sentence in Skinner is worth noting. It reads:

“We are dealing here with legislation which involves one of the basic civil rights of man. Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race.”

In quoting Skinner, the Loving Court acknowledges, underscores, recalls and ratifies that in the eyes of the law, Marriage and procreation are inexorably linked.


B. Keep away, at least initially from the word “marriage”

We must not be swayed by the same-sex proponents’ use of the words “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships” and their claims that by not requiring a religious ceremony, traditional marriage is not compromised.

This is a deception for two reasons:

1. A religious ceremony is not required to get legally married.

2. Both bills, but especially Bill 185 aggressively annexes all the language applicable to marriage in the Guam Code to domestic partnerships.

Section 16109 states:

Notwithstanding any provision of law, every reference in the Guam Code Annotated to "marriage," or any aspect there of, shall apply equally to "domestic partnerships," including:

(1) Every reference to "married" shall apply equally to the status of partners in a domestic partnership; and

(2) Every reference to "husband," "wife," or "spouse" shall apply equally to a partner in a domestic partnership; and

(3) Every reference to marital status, including without limitation provisions pertaining to parties and procedures for annulment, divorce, separation, or dissolution, shall apply equally and as necessary to domestic partnerships and to partners in a domestic partnership.

The use of the designations “civil unions” and “domestic partnerships” is a tactic knowingly employed by the same-sex proponents to slip the legislation past the general public.

My opponent in the debate before the Rotary Club of Guam in fact admitted that the designation “domestic partnership” would be “a little easier for the public to swallow”.

And as you have seen from the PDN poll, the strategy is working.

To summarize: Because same-sex couples, while they may be capable of loving relationships, cannot of themselves produce children which is the fundamental purpose of Marriage as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court in the aforementioned cases, there is no legal precedent or civil right to same-sex marriage.

C. Isolate all opposition as religious opposition….then appeal to the so called separation of church and state in order to discard the opposition.

In this, the proponents are taking advantage of the ignorance of most people about this so-called separation. In fact there is simply no such thing. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

As you can see there is no separation of Church and state as our history as a country has plainly shown. Not only was the Black civil rights movement peopled by Black Christians and led by Black religious leaders, but the abolition movement against slavery was peopled by White Christians and led by White religious leaders. To say that religion has no place in public discourse we would first have to discount such things as the abolition of slavery and the Black civil rights movement.

As a matter of fact not only are religious perspectives allowed in public discourse, they are in fact protected by the clause “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”.

II. The consequences of the legally recognizing same-sex unions.

"Gay Marriage is not simply some sort of private, self-regarding kind of thing. Legalized Gay Marriage is about forcing other people to recognize these relationships as valid, legitimate, and equal, and can potentially involve serious legal consequences to those who disagree, especially churches and schools."

Here are some examples:

  • Activism in schools both public and private
    • In 2008, a booklet titled, "Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth," was distributed to all 16,000 school districts in the country.
      • Under the guise of promoting tolerance and equality, the publication:
        • Advises schools against sexual re-orientation therapy
        • Warns educators that on-campus gay and lesbian clubs must be accepted
        • Cautions against presenting heterosexuality as normative
        • Tells students that “homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality

    • In Montgomery County, Maryland, public schools are currently required to teach that homosexuality is innate and anal sex is an alternative method of sexual expression. A recent challenge by concerned parents was refused a hearing by public school officials and will now go to court.

    • In October of 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar signed into law SB 777 which requires LBGT education for K-5 and will use public funding to influence school children against the Judeo-Christian understanding of human sexuality, marriage, and the family.

Religious freedom compromised and religious people persecuted

    • In Massachusetts in 2004: Justices of the peace who refused to preside over same-sex unions due to moral or religious objections were summarily fired.

    • In 2006, Boston Catholic Charities, which ran an adoption agency, was ordered by the state of Massachusetts to allow gays and lesbians to adopt children. In order not to be complicit in an act contrary to the Catholic Faith, the Archbishop was forced to close the agency.

    • In 2008, a Christian photographer was fined $6000 by the state of New Mexico Human Rights Commission for refusing to photograph a lesbian wedding.

    • In 2007 a Methodist Church in NJ had its tax-exempt status revoked for refusing to rent out a pavilion for a lesbian wedding.
  • Traditional community organizations (Boy Scouts) targeted
  • Polygamy and Pedophilia a natural consequence
  • Traditional marriage destroyed

III. Why we must speak out and how.

Understanding the commandment “to love”

It has been common to hear or read signs held by gay advocates during the recent town halls and public demonstrations that said “love thy neighbor” or at least appealed to the commandment to love.

We must not forget that the commandment to love thy neighbor (as thyself) is only the second commandment to love found in Mt. 22.

The first is "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Jesus goes on to say that “This is the greatest and the first commandment.” And then he adds: “The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

As we know, loving God means doing what he commands us to do and NOT to do.

Biblical directions on how to speak out

“If your brother should commit some wrong against you, go and point out his fault but keep it between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. If he does not listen, summon another, so that every case may stand on the word of two or three witnesses. If he ignores them, refer it to the Church.” - Mt. 18, 15-17

Gospel consequences of not speaking out

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father”. – Mt. 10: 32

Recommendations for speaking out in the public squareEducate yourself

  • Educate yourself
  • Write a letter to the editor
  • Write a letter to lawmakers
  • Testify at public hearings
  • Call in to radio talk shows and voice your opinion

Resources:

[Slide 26: recommended resources]

· www.johnpaulthegreatguam.com >Issues

· Facebook Causes: Esperansa

· Homosexuality and the Catholic Church: Clear Answers to Difficult Questions by Fr. John F. Harvey

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