Saturday, June 18, 2011

So DOMA Is Now Libertarian? What?

       Yea, you read the title right. A writer over at the Washington Examiner claims that the federal governments Defense Of Marriage Act actually fosters less government intervention in individuals personal lives than a repeal of said law. Naturally, it takes some rather convoluted and illogical reasoning to get there, for only in someones mind could DOMA be a "libertarians dream come true". Let take a look at some of the best parts of the article though. The author - Stella Morabito - states, first off that,
A repeal of DOMA could well prove to be one of the biggest dominoes ever to fall in favor of bigger government.
By providing a simple formula for defining parental responsibilities and rights, DOMA serves as an effective buffer between oppressive state power and individual freedom of association.
If we don’t preserve DOMA, government easily expands into that vacuum. A new body of myriad and complex laws and regulations likely would draw government into our personal relationships, starting – but not ending -- with the core family.
         Hmmm...so the federal government not making distinctions in the validity of civil marriage contracts - and treating them all equal - is going to lead to an increase of "complex laws and regulations"? Actually Ms. Morabito, no new regulations would be needed, because the federal government would treat all marriages deemed valid by the States equal. Additionally, I would assert that the opposite of your statement is true, for DOMA introduced new federal regulations, and thus more government involvement, into a jurisdiction originally meant to be left to the States.

       Then Ms. Morabito goes into some convoluted rant about Libertarians who feel that the government should get out of the marriage business all together - cue Ron Paul. She states that,
First, marriage would become in effect a contractual agreement between any two individuals... Businesses and other types of arrangements would have every reason to take advantage of any new laws that could benefit self-interest in terms of property rights, taxes, immigration, etc...Meddlesome government regulation, further defining for us all the meaning of marriage and family, as well as the family’s obligation to the state, would be only one court case away. 
Second, after a demise of DOMA, unmarried individuals could argue easily that all state-sanctioned marriage is discriminatory and unconstitutional.  “Families” become collections of contractually related individuals—increasingly isolated from family bonds, more subject to government authority, and definitely less free.The push for same-sex marriage thus serves ultimately not as an end in itself, but as the vehicle to abolish all state-sanctioned marriage.
       Did anyone catch what she was saying there? In a nutshell, if the government gets out of the whole marriage business and leaves it up to the church and individuals, then people will be able to contract with whom they wish - an exercise of personal freedom which will lead to MORE government intrusion into private affairs. Yea, that's the conclusion she came to. After that, she takes cues from New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan about how the repeal of DOMA will make the U.S. like China and North Korea - or something like that.

I just have one response to this stupidity. She claims to be arguing from a Libertarian standpoint, yet she is basing her argument on the premise that the Government has the authority to define what is and what is not a "family", something that most Libertarians would vehemently oppose. Most Libertarians think that Government should not be able to define an institution that is both extremely personal as well as could be construed as religious...for that is not the Governments place - it is instead a decision that should be left up to the individual.  Thankfully, most of the commentators on the Washington Examiner are pointing out her argument for what it is: incoherent, illogical, and definitely NOT Libertarian.
 

If New York Senator Greg Ball Lived In 1967

      The following is a fictional representation of Senator Ball’s position on interracial marriage in 1967. In that year (before the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia), the State of Maryland legislatively repealed its anti-miscegenation law. Though I would have liked to put this fictional story in New York, that State thankfully never enacted such laws.

It has been an exciting week here at the state capitol in Annapolis. From the lifting of the ban on interracial marriage, to the issues of tax hikes, this legislative session appears to be one which will go down in the history books. With only two days left in the legislative session, Governor Agnew and Assembly are pushing the Senate to take up the interracial marriage bill and to legalize such marriages in this state. But many Senators are concerned, and the majority party has been meeting in secret session to determine whether the bill should come up for a vote.
One of these Senators, Greg Ball, Republican of Baltimore, has been an outspoken advocate for certain religious exemptions that he says must be put in the bill. Though he styles himself  an outspoken advocate for African American Rights, even saying that he took the "unpopular opinion that the integration of African Americans in the military was a good idea", he is concerned about how religious organizations who oppose the lifting of the anti-miscegenation law will be impacted.  
Specifically he is worried that,
1.       Religiously affiliated organizations – such as charities, adoption agencies, etc. – that receive state funding for their work, will lose this funding if they refuse to serve (for religious reasons) an interracial couple.
2.       That non-profit organizations will lose their tax exempt status if an interracial couple wants to rent space from a non-profit religious institution (whose non-profit status is not based upon religious reasons) and they refuse to do so.
3.       That individual businesses that may have religious reasons for not wanting to participate in an interracial wedding – such as wedding photographers or cake decorators – would be able to be sued for racial discrimination.
4.       That individuals in government, who would have to issue wedding licenses to interracial couples etc, would be fired if they refused to do so based upon their religious beliefs.
Senator Ball states that only if these issues are cleared up will he vote in favor of the bill; but critics are decrying these proposed exemptions. To them, African Americans  and religious organizations are already protected both under the states vigorous anti-discrimination law as well as the first Amendment, and that passage of the bill with these new exemptions would be one step forward but two steps back for interracial couples.
Governor Agnew has agreed to discuss Senator Balls concerns, and come to an agreement with the majority party, stating that there will most likely be a vote by Monday on the bill. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Senator Ball On Religious Exemption in Gay Marriage Bill

Senator Greg Ball today spoke with reporters about the religious exemptions that he has pushed for inclusion in the marriage equality bill. Here is a portion of his interview, thanks to Politics On The Hudson for the link.



Thought the demands of Ball might seem reasonable, I really don't see how religious organizations or churches would be forced to sanction same-sex marriage per the First Amendment. I did address some of Ball's other more insidious objections about the legislation in a post yesterday, which can be found here.

Hong Kong Government Hires "Gay Cure" Expert!!

     In a startling move, the Government of Hong Kong has decided to hire an individual who specializes in reparative therapy - the therapy which attempts to turn gay and lesbian individuals straight. The Straights Times tells us that, 


"Hong Kong has hired a prominent local psychiatrist who claims he can "re-wire" homosexuals as a trainer for its social welfare staff, sparking outrage among gay rights activists on Friday.
Critics said the move could be the world's first government-sponsored training session on gay conversion therapy, which includes prayer, cold showers and practising abstinence as a way to avoid same-sex relationships."
       I feel for all of the gay and lesbian citizens of Hong Kong, for their Government has decided that they need to be "changed" to align with a more "normal" lifestyle. And as one who has gone through this type of therapy and knows it detrimental effects, I can only pray for those lives that will be devastated by the Governments move.

      An update on this horrible decision by the Hong Kong government, including their defense of their action, can be found here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Senator Ball and the Fallacy of Religious Accommodation

       Today, New York State Senator Greg Ball came out strongly against the current version of the marriage equality legislation that is being debated in the Republican Caucus as I write this. Politics on the Hudson has a summery of his "issues" with the current religious protections within the bill.
“1.      Governor’s language does not protect church-related agencies from denial of funding by state and local government agencies to provide charitable and health services, or allow them to make hiring and benefits decisions based on religious beliefs. Most of these religious-affiliated groups are incorporated under the Not for Profit Corporation Law, not just the Religious Corporation Law and Education Law.

2.      The exemption given for church halls and facilities of benevolent orders is limited. It does not protect religious or benevolent orders from challenges to tax exempt status. (POINT: This occurred in NJ – when a Methodist Church refused use of facilities for same sex marriage). Nor would the current bill protect against local human rights/public accommodations laws. 

3.      The exemption language in the Governor’s bill does not rule out enforcement actions by regulatory agencies (POINT: Examples include denial of licenses to provide services).”
       Methinks that he contrived these "issues" of religious protection with the help of Washington and Lee Professor Robin Wilson, who yesterday sent the Senator a letter outlining how the current bill does not go far enough in regards to religious protection.  Never-mind the fact that Professor Wilson has been caught misrepresenting evidence and precedent in regards to religious exemptions in the past. But let us look at Senator Ball's concerns and see if they hold any water.

        First, Ball takes issue with the fact that charitable organizations - lets say for example Catholic Charities (a provider of adoption services in New York State) - are not expressly protected in the legislation. Actually Senator, they are protected, just maybe not in the way that you would like them to be. Many times, these organizations fabricate stories of persecution by gay activists, when really all they are upset about is the loss of public financing of their endeavors. As I wrote here and here concerning the situation in Illinois, religious organizations will be able to provide services that are in line with their religious beliefs, they just cannot use government money to do so.  And as cited in the links, this is actually necessary. Additionally, Senator Ball should actually support this notion; for once religious organizations are granted financing by the State, the State has undue control over such organizations - a lose-lose situation for both the State and the Church.

      Second, Ball gives the example of the Ocean Grove, New Jersey controversy. He fails to mention though, that the pavilion in question was not tax exempt because it was for "religious purposes", but instead because of the State of New Jerseys Green Acres Program - a secular program that had express secular purposes and thus is subject to anti-discrimination laws. This was one of the deciding factors in the decision to revoke its tax exempt status. In fact, the church was able to keep its tax exempt status as a whole, just had to lose the tax exempt status of the "Green Acres Program". It lost its status for a program that had an expressly secular purpose, not something that had to do with religion. Thus, the fears of religious organizations losing tax exempt status because of discrimination complaints are rather unfounded.

      Third, Ball states something about regulatory services and denial of licenses. Not exactly sure what he is getting at here, but I feel that he is advocating for the ability of religious individuals to be allowed to "opt out" of providing civil marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. I take great issue with this notion, for it makes gay and lesbian couples legally inferior to their heterosexual counterparts. How so? Because it allows a unique exception to the rule, the rule being that that civil servants provide services equally to all taxpayers. Though I respect the religious views of these civil servants, why are gay and lesbian couples being differentiated from others. For example, a religious clerk might have a religious objection to a Muslim man and a Christian woman getting married, but is that justification to deny them a license?  I think that Ball would say that that reason is not acceptable, for the individuals personal belief should come second to a government service. Why then, is he potentially advocating the exact same thing - but dressed up in a different suit?

      All in all, I find that Governor Cuomo's bill fairly addresses all of the religious concerns of clergymen and churches, and that the supposed "necessary exemptions" are just more smoke and mirrors Senator Ball to deny gay and lesbian New Yorkers marriage equality.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New York State Assembly Passes Gay Marriage Bill - Now Contact Majority Leader Skelos!

      In a vote of 80-63, with American Flags and LGBT Flags proudly shown on legislators desks, the New York State Assembly has passed the marriage equality bill submitted by Governor Cuomo. There was some amazing speeches given during the debate today, and some profound words spoken by supporters of the legislation.


For example -


Assemblyman Chuck Levine stated that only "second class states have second class citizens".


Assemblywoman Glick states that "You do not put your hand upon the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible".


Openly Gay Assemblyman Bronston stated that "the burden of being gay is only made heavier by the lack of marriage equality."


And these were just a few of the statements!! A full list of the bipartisan supporters of the legislation  will be provided as soon as available.


Now the legislation only needs to be passed by the Senate, but there is concern that this will not happen, as the Republican caucus might not even bring the issue up for a vote by the body. With this in mind, I urge all of my readers to go to Majority Leader Dean Skelos Facebook page and urge him to bring the legislation to a vote!!


You can also phone his Albany office at - (518) 455-3171


Or Email - skelos@nysenate.gov

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New York Senator Roy McDonald Comes Out In Favor Of Marriage Equality Bill!

Today, New York Republican State Senator Roy McDonald has come out in favor of the marriage equality legislation proposed by Governor Cuomo. This makes him the 31st vote and second Republican in the past two days to publicly support the bill. As quoted by the Times Union


"I’m trying to do the right thing,” he said. “Rather than wait I worked with the governor…I’m not out to alienate anybody. This is driven by compassion.”
“My lifestyle is my lifestyle — I don’t want anyone telling me or my children what to do,” he said. “We’ve got 20 million people in this state…we can’t be paralyzed by social issues.”
“It’s my own evolution,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a vote on Friday.”
Friends, we are now only one vote shy of making this happen!! If you haven't already done so, call your State Senator and let them know how you feel! We need only one more Republican, which I think will be Senator Ball - as he is for the bill as long as it includes strong religious protections.  

Judge Ware Denies Prop8 Groups Request To Vacate Judge Walkers Ruling

Excellent News!! This is a big deal, for it proves that prejudices regarding sexual orientation are slowly starting to fall in our legal system! Onward to full equality! From the LA Times.

A federal judge on Tuesday refused to invalidate last year's ruling against Proposition 8, deciding the gay jurist who overturned the same-sex marriage ban had no obligation to step aside because of a possible conflict of interest.
The decision by Chief Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco left the ruling by retired Judge Vaughn R. Walker in place. Walker’s decision remains on hold pending a separate appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Governor Cuomo Submits Marriage Equality Bill!

     Awesome news from the Governors Office!! The bill that would make marriage equality a reality has been submitted by the Governor to the State Senate.  I would also note that the religious protections that Republican Senator Ball has demanded also have made there was into the bill. From the Governors office,


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today submitted a program bill to bring marriage equality to New York state. The Marriage Equality Act permits all couples to enter into marriage in New York state, thereby removing the current barrier same-sex couples face in recognizing their relationships, protecting their families and obtaining essential benefits.
Specifically, the Act grants same-sex couples who seek to marry equal status under the law as well as hundreds of rights, benefits and protections that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex.
To ensure that the bill does not intrude into matters of religious belief, the Marriage Equality Act affirms that no member of the clergy can be compelled to solemnize any marriage. This bill grants equal access to the government-created legal institution of civil marriage while leaving the religious institution of marriage to its own separate and fully autonomous sphere. The bill also guarantees that religious institutions and benevolent organizations such as the Knights of Columbus remain free to choose who may use their facilities for marriage ceremonies and celebrations or to whom they provide religious services, consistent with their religious principles.

Anti-Marriage Equality Groups In New York Are Scared of "Gay Marriage" - And Its Ties To North Korea

       You know that something is up when your opponents are running around like chicken with their heads cut off. That is why as the hours pass, the news out of New York keeps getting better and better. Today, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms released a letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos with some pretty serious threats...threats that seem to connote fear on the part of those who are the protectors of "traditional marriage". In the letter (full text of which can be found below), Reverend Jason McGuire and Reverend Duane Motley state that,
Historically, one of the strengths of the Senate GOP has been its ability to stand together for the good of the conference. Whenever Republicans attempt to split the social and fiscal conservatives, there is a price to pay. In 2012, should same-sex “marriage” pass, the pound of flesh will come from the Republican Majority. For too long Republican leadership in New York has patronized the pro-life, pro-family voter. If Senate Republicans want this vote tomorrow, it must be earned today. The final line in the sand for the conservative-leaning Republican voter is same-sex “marriage”. Cross this line and Republican Senate candidates can expect challenges in 2012 that will not end at the September Primary.
      Oooohhh...scary. Seriously though, I find this threat of Republican destruction to be without basis. Are there any viable conservative partys other than the Republicans in New York? Yes, I know that  there is the Constitution party and the Independent Party and probably a slew of other minor parties, yet conservative voters will almost always vote for a Republican, so that the Democrats don't gain control of the legislature. Yes Republicans, you should be super scared by the social conservatives, because if you vote for gay marriage, they are going to run to a third party and by extension give their vote to a Democrat.  


       Additionally, Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan has written on his blog that legalizing same-sex marriage will make New York like China and North Korea. He states

"The stampede is on," Archibishop Timothy Dolan wrote in a blog post. "Our elected senators who have stood courageous in their refusal to capitulate on the state's presumption to redefine marriage are reporting unrelenting pressure to cave-in."
He equated the move to allow same-sex marriage to life in China or North Korea, where "government presumes daily to 'redefine' rights, relationships, values and natural law."
"Please, not here!" Dolan continued. "We cherish true freedom, not as the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought."
     I don't think that the Archbishop has realized that the Government isn't "redefining" anything...in fact the people of New York overwhelmingly want marriage equality. Though I'm not one to say that "the people want it so we should do it" as I believe that is a philosophically unsound argument, the fact that the people want it - and the government isn't "imposing it upon them" - shows that the Archbishop's statements are just the last breaths of a dying movement in the state of New York.  Hopefully marriage equality will be law by next week!


Constitutional Freedoms Letter

Republicans Candidates On Gay Marriage - Big Government is OK.

        Seems to me that the only principled Republicans in this field are Cain and Paul. For they were the only two who stated that the federal government should not interfere in policies of states which enact marriage equality laws. Bachmann was close, but at the end she embraced federal intrusion all the more. The Republican field astounds me...they don't like big government unless it scores they political points. Hypocrites!! And in New Hampshire of all places!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Republican Senator Alesi Comes Out In Favor Of Gay Marriage

      This just in from Politics on the Hudson...New York Senator James Alesi of Rochester has announced his support for the marriage equality bill that is slated to be introduced in the state legislature. He now is the only Republican so far to join with the Democrats in supporting this critical piece of legislation. We are almost to the 32 votes necessary for passage!! Lets just hope that Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos will bring the bill to the floor.

Sen. James Alesi, a Rochester-area Republican, said this afternoon that he would support the legalization of same-sex marriage if it comes to the Senate floor for a vote, becoming the first Senate Republican to say he would back the measure.
Alesi’s announcement came after he met behind closed doors with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and just an hour after three more Senate Democrats said they would back the measure. Advocates are not just two votes shy of having the 32 necessary for its passage in the Republican-led Senate.
“This becomes a matter of equality for people, our sons and daughters, (who) deserve the same freedom and the same equality in this great country and in the state of New York that each of every one of us enjoy in our everyday life,” Alesi proclaimed.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Breaking: The Author Of "A Gay Girl In Damascus" Is Revealed

      There has been alot of reporting, from individual blogs to the Washington Post, about whether the author of the blog, "A Gay Girl In Damascus" was actually a girl named Amina Arraf, or whether it was a hoax. Today, Tom MacMaster of Turkey has revealed that he is the author of the popular blog. He states,

I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone -- I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.

I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in thıs year of revolutions. The events there are beıng shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience.

This experience has sadly only confirmed my feelings regarding the often superficial coverage of the Middle East and the pervasiveness of new forms of liberal Orientalism.

However, I have been deeply touched by the reactions of readers.

Best,
Tom MacMaster,
Istanbul, Turkey
July 12, 2011

The sole author of all posts on this blog
     I am thankful that the truth has now come out about the blog, but it raises troubling thoughts. Did Tom help the situation of LGBT individuals in the Middle East by writing this blog? Can someone who is not in the actual situation illuminate the problems encountered by those who are?  If yes to both of these questions, is misrepresentation and deceit acceptable for the greater good? What do you all think?

The Case For The Constitution: Federalist Seven

     Today we will be looking at Federalist Seven. In this paper, Hamilton continues his analysis of the dangers of potential war between the States if they become independent countries. In Federalist Six he gave us the historical basis for this fear and in Federalist Seven he gives us three practical reasons why armed conflict between the states could actually happen.

      First, the territorial disputes that would naturally arise from separate, rather than a unified, group of States. After the War for Independence, lands which had formerly been administered by the British, and after the revolution, been claimed by many States - such as Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, and Georgia - were voluntarily ceded by these States to the Continental Congress. If the individual States became independent and the Continental Congress was dissolved, Hamilton rightly points out that the status of these lands would be ambiguous, with many states asserting that because they willingly gave them up to the Continental Congress, they should get the land they ceded back. This thinking could potentially lead to war between the States, for a significant reason that States have gone to war historically has been the acquisition of territory.

     Second, Commerce would be another reason for the states to go to war, for larger states such as New York, could demand that their smaller neighbors pay them economic tribute to do business with the State. This would lead to outrage in the populous of the tribute-paying states, and the people would demand that their government respond to this injustice, a response that could potentially lead to war.

      Third, arguments over the public debt would be a significant source of discord among a group of independent nations. The issue of the public debt was significant in the early years of the U.S. because after the War for Independence, the former colonies owed nations, such as France, large sums of money for the financing of the war. If the States split into separate nations, who would guarantee payment of these debts and how would the debt be divided? Would some States pay more than others? To Hamilton, this was a question that had the potential to morph itself into a serious issue of contention between States, for as he stated, "There is nothing men differ so readily about as the payment of money".
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