When it comes to same-sex marriage, the Civil Rights Act cannot trump the First Amendment *UPDATED*

Gay-flowerI find irritating gay marriage supporters’ reliance on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to justify their contention that religious individuals cannot opt out of actively participating in gay marriage ceremonies.  They contend that the Act mandates that (1) a Christian baker, who welcomes gays seeking all other baked goods, must bake a gay-themed wedding cake; (2) a Christian photographer, who would happily take pictures of a gay birthday party, must photograph a gay wedding; (3) a Muslim florist, who would be delighted to sell bouquets to a gay couple, must bedeck a church with flower arrangements for a gay wedding; and (4) an orthodox Jew who owns a small hotel, and who doesn’t quibble at all when same-sex couples check into a room where they have privacy, must host a gay wedding in his reception hall.

I contend that these activists are dead wrong about the scope of the Civil Rights Act.  While, the Civil Rights Act s a virtuous law, it cannot trump the First Amendment.  I’ve made a handy-dandy chart outlining why I believe this to be the case (click on image to enlarge):

Bill of Rights versus Civil Rights Act 1

My usual disclaimer about my views regarding same-sex unions:  It is not semantic quibbling to say that I support civil unions but do not support same-sex marriage. While a religious organization can perform a marriage, it cannot perform a civil union. Civil unions are solely the state’s provenance. Leaving civil unions to the state and marriage to religion perfectly preserves the separation of church and state. (And as always, irony abounds here, because it is the Left that routinely sets up a hullabaloo about even the most minute intersection between church and state.)

If I had my way, I would remove marriage from the government’s vocabulary and make all unions — whether they are heterosexual or same-sex relationships — “civil unions.” States can then promote whatever unions they deem most beneficial for individuals, for children, and for society as a whole, while religious individuals and institutions need not worry that they will be targeted because they hew to the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman (or women).

People running the entire gamut of the gender-orientation spectrum — as recently defined by Facebook — manifestly believe that it’s important to get the state’s imprimatur on their relationships.  (This makes sense, since most of them are Left-leaning statists, who worship at the Big Government shrine.)  Civil unions joining together various sexual identity configurations (opposite sex, same sex, etc.) would give every American equal access to the benefits and burdens (economic, legal, and social) of a state-sanctioned relationship.  What civil unions would not do is force a direct confrontation between church and state.

The recent Obamacare abortion kerfuffle should warn people that a Progressive government won’t have second thoughts about forcing such a confrontation.  In 2008, when California had its Prop. 8 gay marriage referendum, I first raised my concern that gay marriage would result in a head-on collision between church and state.  A Progressive scoffed at this, telling me that, even though abortions are legal, the government has never gone toe-to-toe with the Catholic Church.  He was taken aback, and had no response, when I pointed out that the Catholic Church doesn’t provide, or withhold, abortions; it simply speaks against them doctrinally.  The Church does, however, marry people, and that leaves open the possibility that a gay couple will sue the church for refusing to perform a marriage service.

Mine was a good argument then, and it’s a better argument now.  With Obamacare, our Progressive-run federal government is forcing religious institutions and organizations be actively complicit in abortion by mandating that they fund abortifacients (and birth control) through “health” insurance.  (It’s “health” insurance, of course, only if the very act of becoming pregnant is a disease — which is funny when you think about it, because feminists in the 1960s and 1970s were outraged at a male patriarchy that treated pregnant women as if they were fragile and sick.)

I welcome your comments regarding this post.

UPDATE:  A lawyer I know commented that the Commerce Clause gives the federal government the power to legislate any type of commerce related activities.  (Sounds like a familiar argument, right?)  My response was a simple one:  The Commerce Clause represents a power that the People granted to the federal government.  The First Amendment represents an right inherent in each individual that the federal government (in theory) may not touch.  It seems to me that, especially when a law is narrowly drawn, the First Amendment, which states the People’s inherent rights, must trump the Commerce Clause, which merely reflects a power the People granted the government under contract.

 

Wednesday afternoon quick hits (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s raining!!!  In California, that’s cause for celebration.  Rain in Marin doesn’t mean it’s raining elsewhere, but it certainly matters to use Marin-ites — we have our own reservoir system, so we’re wholly dependent on local rainfall.  Ironically, the rain is slowing down our major yard renovation, and we have to get that renovation down before April 1, when rationing kicks in (and rationing will happen unless we get enormous amounts of rain).  Sigh.  To ever silver lining, there seems to be a cloud.

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Since I’m on the subject of weather, here’s a two-fer about the grand hoax that is climate change. The first, from American Thinker, provides compelling evidence that every single carbon centered computer model about the climate has proven to be wrong. Not just sort of wrong, mind you, but absolutely, completely, super-duper wrong. Climate theorists are now blaming volcanoes for the warming failure, but they’ll blame anything, won’t they? If you have a non-falsifiable doctrine, you can always blame external forces for your doctrine’s inevitable failure.

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I’ve also got three great articles about Israel. The first looks as all the wonderful things going on in Israel despite the world’s efforts to squash that tiny, brilliant nation. The second looks at the grotesque hypocrisy that sees gay rights advocates champion Palestinians at the expense of Israel. The third looks as the fact that Israel stands poised to save Syrians, the rest of the Middle East, and perhaps the whole world, from the unfathomable danger of a nuclear Syria.

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Traditionally in America, a state attorney general is sworn to uphold the laws of the state. After all, if the AG doesn’t do that, what’s his purpose? He’s there to represent and ensure the stability, reliability, and credibility of the law.  If he doesn’t carry out that task, he just becomes another functionary in a banana republic. And that banana republic status is precisely what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dreams of, for he has instructed state AG’s to ignore any law that supports traditional marriage.

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I’ve written here frequently about the lunacy that is the modern American college or university. This is a subject that exercises me a great deal because I have two children heading towards college in the next few years. As many Americans do, I’m deeply offended by the cost of college, especially the cost of the once prestigious liberal arts colleges back East. It’s insane to spend or borrow $250,000 so that your child can move into your basement and become a barista. In a changing world, colleges have actually changed in the wrong direction.  They’ve turned away entirely from educating young people to become useful and productive citizens.

What colleges have done, instead, is train youngsters to become lunatics, which is my second reason for being upset about modern American higher education. Last week, Bruce Bawer warned about a lunatic Leftist at Harvard. This week, Chicks on the Right warns about a whole cadre of potentially violent lunatic Leftists as Dartmouth. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this collection of young people expensively unmoored from reality comes from deep within the fever swamps of the gay rights movement.

I’ll say here what I always say: I believe that the government should stay out of people’s bedrooms. I believe that gay people should be free from discrimination, harassment, violence, etc. I believe that the heart loves where it will. But let’s get real here: These loony-toonz aren’t about gay rights.  They are about using the gay agenda as a wedge issue to destroy America as a free-market, individual-centered society, and to replace it with a hard-core centralized government and a socialized economy. I wonder if these “idealists” have any inkling that, when/if they’ve finally achieved their agenda they’ll meet the same fate that leading-edge revolutionaries always experience, whether in 18th Century France, or Russia, or China:  The new statist government identifies them as troublemakers and kills them first.

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My sister lives in Oregon, a state that has as its primary goal the creation of happiness. We’ve talked before about the fact that a state can impose “happiness” only if it first has the right to define “happiness.”  The reality, is that there’s only a slender likelihood that the state bureaucrat’s idea of what constitutes “happiness” is the same as your idea.  Moreover, if not everyone is happy — and no one can ever be — the situation is ripe for constant revolution. Still, Oregon tries. The libertarians on the Eastern side are constantly besieged by the statists on the Western, coastal side, who have turned Oregon into one of the most heavily regulated, and least economically successful, states in America. (For more on happiness, at a deep, philosophical level, rather than at a pop-culture, “everything is free” level, check out Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual.)

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And finally, knowledge that I gleaned in my youth catches up with the present. I’ve written before about my years at Berkeley, when I socialized with ultra-Leftist professors who lived in lavish houses in the Berkeley hillside, all of which seemed to be tended by Hispanic maids and Japanese gardeners. These effete, armchair revolutionaries enjoyed their Marxism because they lived on the straining back of the servant class.

That was a long time ago, but one modern-day Leftist has finally admitted that, yes, needing servants is precisely why the Leftist idle rich are so gung-ho about illegal immigrants:

As a friend of mine said after watching that, “If a conservative of any stripe were to insinuate undocumented workers were all gardeners, landscapers, and hotel workers the race card would have been played before he could even finish the sentence.”

The Left is wrong about AZ’s proposed law, but religious freedom supporters might have to boycott the Super Bowl to make that point

Gay marriage wedding cake photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, 26-1-2008.I’ve mentioned gay marriage once already today as the latest non-issue to roil the left even as the world around us crumbles (a la the 1930s), the American military is reduced (a la the 1930s), and tyrannies are rattling their sabres (a la the 1930s).  Overnight, the same liberal who have been remarkably quiet about the Obamacare debacle, uprisings in Ukraine and Venezuela, the flat economy, etc., have found a new cause:  Arizona, they scream, is poised to enact the next generation of Jim Crow laws, in the form of Senate Bill 1062, an amendment to Arizona’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

This Jim Crow claim, which gained instant traction amongst America’s Progressive class, is flat-out wrong as a matter of law and fact.  Nevertheless, presumably in the foolish hope that it can appease the Left into backing off from its ongoing effort to destroy football, the Super Bowl committee is using economic blackmail against Gov. Jan Brewer, promising to pull the upcoming Super Bowl from Arizona if she signs the bill.  To the extent that the Left is using the Super Bowl as a cudgel against religious freedom, it may be time for supporters of traditional marriage to use their own economic pressure against the Super Bowl.

Better people than I have examined the proposed law, so I won’t rehash it.  Without addressing the proposed law’s specifics, though, it’s still possible to show the falsity of the Jim Crow comparison.

First, no mainstream American religion has ever had racial discrimination as a core religious doctrine.  All traditional religions, however, have heterosexual marriage as a central tenet of the faith.  To the extent Southern racists claimed Christianity as their justification for separating the races, all that they could point to was their own twisted interpretations of the Bible, a document that never concerned itself with racial discrimination.

Heterosexual marriage, however, is something quite different.  The Catholic Church elevates it to one of the seven sacraments, and all other traditional religions enshrine marriage between a man and a woman (or several women).  What this means is that the Southerners in times past who asserted their right to Jim Crow laws had no protected First Amendment right.  The contrary is true today:  Those people who will benefit from the proposed Arizona law have a strong First Amendment right that cannot simply be thrown aside.

Second, the Jim Crow laws were actual laws, relying on the state’s coercive power.  In other words, they represented government action discriminating against American citizens.  The Arizona law, however, does  not advocate any type of segregation or discrimination.  It simply says that Arizona’s government cannot use economic coercion, not to mention the threat of imprisonment, to force Arizona citizens to engage in religiously offensive activity.  There are also safeguards is the act:  The protesting citizen must show that he is acting consistently with his faith and that he has a track record of being faithful.

Jim Crow laws meant that the government was discriminatory and coercive in a matter that did not implicate religion.  By contrast, the proposed Arizona law narrows the range of situations in which the government can be discriminatory and coercive against people of faith.

Third, the Jim Crow laws mandated that Southern citizens refrain from providing goods, services, or jobs to blacks, or they mandated that those goods, services, or jobs, if provided, must be provided in the most limited, demeaning way possible.  The proposed Arizona law not only does not mandate any conduct, it’s also extremely narrow in scope.  It says only that genuinely religious people cannot be forced to participate actively in a specific event that clashes with their faith.  It’s worth keeping in mind here, as Eidolon so beautifully explained, that up until just a few years ago, every mainstream Democrat politician in America (including Obama and the Clintons) rejected gay marriage, a position consistent with all known human history.

Super Bowl ArizonaI have no doubt that Gov. Brewer is going to cave to Leftist pressure because of the economic risk that the Super Bowl will pull out of Arizona.  That seems to be the ultimate leverage, right?  But supporters of traditional marriage — or supporters of a religious individual’s right not to participate in a ceremony that mocks his beliefs — actually have an even bigger stick than the Super Bowl.  Just as the Super Bowl can boycott Arizona, believers in religious freedom can boycott the Super Bowl.  I mean, it’s a great game, but sometimes we have to subordinate pleasure to principle.

America’s lousy media and lousy sense of proportion

A couple of days ago, I wrote a lengthy post in which I argued that, during Democrat presidencies, the media constantly elevates non-essential information to top status, thereby keeping America’s attention away from the fact that things are going badly wrong.  During Republican administrations, the press focuses exclusively on hard news, always reported to the administration’s detriment.

Today’s Drudge Report perfectly exemplifies what’s roiling the world (Putin) and what’s roiling the media and the Left (a proposed Arizona law that would allow people who practice traditional religions to refuse to provide their services to gay weddings, which they see as a direct affront to their faith):

Drudge 2-26-14

The bizarre juxtaposition is even more apparent if you look at the Drudge Report on a smart phone:
photo

They’re rattling sabres in a way that presages another Cold War or, worse, a hot war, while our chattering class is incensed that traditional religionists don’t want to be driven into bankruptcy because, while they do not want to be active participants in what is to them a deeply offensive event.

The American media has found its fiddle, even as the world burns down around our ears.

The coming constitutional clash between traditional religion and homocentric secularism

Gay marriage wedding cake photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, 26-1-2008.Matt Lewis nails the core issue when it comes to the LGBT crowd’s demands that shopkeepers engage in acts contrary to their religious conscience:

But let’s be honest about something else. This is really a surrogate battle. A much bigger one is coming.

[snip]

The reason conservative Christians are fighting this fight today is because it’s a firewall. The real danger, of course, is that Christian pastors and preachers will eventually be coerced into performing same-sex marriages. (Note: It is entirely possible for someone to believe gay marriage is fine, and to still oppose forcing people who hold strong religious convictions to participate — but I suspect that is where we are heading.)

Think of it this way. If you were a congregant in a church, wouldn’t you expect the pastor to marry you? Why should you be treated different?

Any pastor — if he or she wants to maintain the church’s tax status, that is — had better grapple with this now.

Whether the analogy is fair, or not, refusing to officiate a gay wedding can just as easily be called “denying service.” And it will predictably also be compared to the bad old days of Jim Crow — where racist Christians opposed interracial marriage (until the courts struck down state laws prohibiting biracial marriage).

Gay rights and religious liberty are on a collision course.

I’m too lazy to go through my archives now, but long-time readers will know that I’ve been saying this for years.  In fact, just three years ago, I made precisely this argument using lawyer logic and the example of England:

I have said all along that the main problem with the gay marriage debate is that, by creating an entirely new bottom line (gay marriage) we’re going to see two bottom lines crash into each other.  You see, traditional male/female marriage meshed nicely with the vast majority of traditional religious norms.  Gay marriage, however, does not mesh with traditional religion.  While Progressive churches and synagogues have opened their doors to gay marriages, more traditional ones, especially the Orthodox Jewish faith and the Catholic Church, have not done so.

When I’ve raised this concern to people, they scoffed.  One liberal told me that, even though abortions are legal, the government has never gone toe-to-toe with the Catholic Church.  He looked a bit taken aback, and had no response, when I pointed out that the Catholic Church doesn’t provide, or withhold, abortions; it simply speaks against them doctrinally.  The Church does, however, marry people, and that leaves open the possibility that a gay couple will sue the church for refusing to perform a marriage service.

Others, while acknowledging that my point has a certain intellectual validity, say that it will never happen.  I’m not so sure, especially after reading a story out of England involving a Pentecostal couple who were told that, as long as their religion held that homosexuality is not acceptable behavior, they could not foster needy children:

A Christian couple morally opposed to homosexuality today lost a High Court battle over the right to become foster carers.

Eunice and Owen Johns, aged 62 and 65, from Oakwood, Derby, went to court after a social worker expressed concerns when they said they could not tell a child a ‘homosexual lifestyle’ was acceptable.

The Pentecostal Christian couple had applied to Derby City Council to be respite carers but withdrew their application believing it was ‘doomed to failure’ because of the social worker’s attitude to their religious beliefs.

The couple deny that they are homophobic and said they would love any child they were given. However, what they were ‘not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing’.

What’s relevant to this post is that the judges explicitly held that homosexual rights trump religious rights:

Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation ‘should take precedence’ over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.

Admittedly, Britain does not have a First Amendment.  However, as I noted above, First Amendment or not, our government bars, and (when Mormons are involved) actively prosecutes, polygamy.  It does so despite the fact that polygamy was official doctrine for the Mormons and is official doctrine for the Muslims.  Likewise, although Voodoo is recognized as a religion, we don’t let practitioners engage in animal sacrifice.  In other words, First Amendment or not, the government will interfere in religious doctrine if it runs completely afoul of a bottom-line American value.

If gay marriage is deemed Constitutional, we suddenly have two conflicting bottom-line values — gay marriage and religious freedom.  I’m not predicting how this will turn out.  I’m just saying that, if I was the Catholic Church or an Orthodox synagogue, I’d start having my lawyers look at this one now.

I’m not usually a great strategist or long-term thinker, but it was easy to see this one coming. It’s not about homophobia. It’s about a clash between faiths: traditional religion versus homocentric secularism.  The traditionalists have people who will willingly martyr themselves for their faith, while the secularists have people who will cheerfully force martyrdom on others.  It remains to be seen (a) which is the more powerful impulse and (b) which resonates more strongly with Americans.  Sadly, if I had to bet money on this today, I’d put my money on the secularists, who long ago successfully co-opted America’s cultural institutions:  the news media, the entertainment world, all public primary schools, all colleges and universities, reform Jews, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians.

Happily married man comes out as gay — and stays happily married

Gay men at San Francisco street fairGrowing up in San Francisco during the 1960s, I have very fragmented memories of an older time, when women still wore gloves, and both men and women wore hats.  Most of my solid, coherent memories start kicking in with San Francisco’s Summer of Love, which very quickly turned into its winter of degradation.  During those formative years (from about ages 6 though 16), it was common for me to see people tripping on sidewalks, lying in filth, and vomiting all over themselves.  I was also routinely assaulted and insulted by the smell emanating from these Flower Children.  Ick.

By the mid-1970s, hippies were passé in San Francisco.  The new “in thing” was the gay scene.  The libertarian part of me thought it was a wonderful thing that men and women (but mostly men) could love freely, without being afraid that they would be humiliated, beaten, ostracized, or imprisoned.  Even as the gay lifestyle flowered in San Francisco, we heard stories about gays being imprisoned in Soviet Russia for no other crime than the fact that they were gay.

Nevertheless, even though I appreciated the gay liberation movement, I was revolted by the movement’s excess.  The drug use, nudity, orgies, etc., were too reminiscent of the hippies.  I already knew the price people paid for excess.  After AIDS came along, and the stories really broke about what was going on in the bath houses, I wasn’t surprised.

When I tried to explain to people my sense of repugnance about the gay lifestyle, what I always fell back on was the fact that this type of hedonism couldn’t be good — not for society and not for the individual.  In addition, I was offended by the lack of intimacy.  Getting naked with a stranger and having drug-fueled sex is not intimacy.  Getting to know someone, loving them, sharing the highs and lows of life together, understanding what makes them tick, wishing them well — those are the ingredients for intimacy.  The gay lifestyle I saw around me was aggressively opposed to those “mundane” relationship attributes.

Growing up and working in San Francisco, I was able to see that, to too many gays, their choices have always been, first and foremost, about sex.  Without exception, every person I knew from high school who came out of the closet instantly embraced a package deal.  It wasn’t just that they selected their partners from their own sex.  It was that they suddenly only went to gay movies, had gay porn magazines in their household, hung out only with gays, and voted gay . . . which meant an increasingly hard Left political agenda.  They were no longer “Larry, a teacher and father who happens to have a male partner.”  Instead, “they were a gay man named Larry who happens to teach on the side and is proud to raise his kid in a same-sex parent home.”

This obsessive focus on sex left little room for anything else.  As the 70s and 80s demonstrated (and as is becoming true again today for a young generation of gay men), brief, intense, drug-heightened sexual encounters were like meth for the brain.  Why have a stable, loving relationship with anyone when you could go to the bathhouse, or just walk down the street, and be a sexual endorphin junkie getting hit after hit?  Even those men I knew who were in stable relationships with long-term partners weren’t monogamous.  Instead, their relationships were still about having sex with as many men as possible — provided that they shared dinner with the same man every evening.

Growing up, seeing the hippies and their drugs and orgies, and then the gays and their drugs and orgies, what I figured out was that sexual pleasure, while delightful, is not the same as the pleasure of a life shared with someone else.  We can decide what we want to have as the center of our relationships:  the sex or the intimacy.  If it’s the sex, it had better be damned good and be damned good all the time because you’ve probably got nothing else to fall back on.  If it’s the intimacy and the stability, sex is important, but much less so.  If the sex isn’t good, or isn’t good all the time, or isn’t even there at all, there may be many compensations that keep the relationship pleasurable.

All of the above is an introduction to a most amazing post from a couple of years ago, written by the proprietor of a humor blog called “The Weed.”  (H/T:  Earl.)  Its proprietor, Josh Weed, came out of the closet at this site, but in a most unusual way:  he is a gay man, happily married to a woman and, most unusually for one of these “out of the closet” confessions, he plans to stay that way.  The reason he is able to recognize his sexual attraction to men, while maintaining a stable, loving — and, yes, sexual — relationship with his wife is because of his priorities:

The truth is, what people are really asking with the above question is “how can you be gay if your primary sex partner is a girl?” I didn’t fully understand the answer to this question until I was doing research on sexuality in grad school even though I had been happily married for almost five years at that point. I knew that I was gay, and I also knew that sex with my wife was enjoyable. But I didn’t understand how that was happening. Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won’t get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing. Many people never get to this point in their sex lives because it requires incredible communication, trust, vulnerability, and connection. And Lolly and I have had that from day one, mostly because we weren’t distracted by the powerful chemicals of infatuation and obsession that usually bring a couple together (which dwindle dramatically after the first few years of marriage anyway). So, in a weird way, the circumstances of our marriage allowed us to build a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig.

Josh also realized something really important, which is that nobody can ever have it all, something that’s especially true for gays:

One of the sad truths about being homosexual is that no matter what you decide for your future, you have to sacrifice something. It’s very sad, but it is true. I think this is true of life in general as well. If you decide to be a doctor, you give up any of the myriad of other things you could have chosen. But with homosexuality, the choices seem to be a little bit more mutually exclusive.  If you are Mormon and you choose to live your religion, you are sacrificing the ability to have a romantic relationship with a same-sex partner. If you choose a same-sex partner, you are sacrificing the ability to have a biological family with the one you love.  And so on. No matter what path you choose, if you are gay you are giving up something basic, and sometimes various things that are very basic. I chose not to “live the gay lifestyle,” as it were, because I found that what I would have to give up to do so wasn’t worth the sacrifice for me.

(You should really read the whole thing, which includes the way his Mormon parents accepted his sexuality while helping him focus on the things that matter in life.)

I am not suggesting that every gay person must replicate Josh’s decision to acknowledge his sexual attraction to men, but nevertheless commit to a relationship with a woman.  I’m simply suggesting that the gay milieu too often denies men and women the choice to have a traditional heterosexual relationship.  With its relentless emphasis on sexual identity and sex, the LGBTQ lobby puts enormous pressure on young men and women who self-identify as LGBTQ to abandon the notion of traditional intimacy in favor of a lifestyle focused solely on sexual preferences and, by extension, sexual pleasure.

The fact is that, as Josh shows, people’s sexuality is malleable, and our pleasure centers are surprisingly adaptable.  Many people can consciously choose one lifestyle over another — or, as I think happens with many young LGBTQ people — be bullied into one lifestyle over another.

Anyway, coming as I do from a background that left me with a deep distrust of hedonism, I was very impressed with Josh’s (and his wife Lolly’s) coming out post and think it is an interesting addition to the discussion about the LGBTQ community and the lifestyle choices its members make.  It’s especially interesting given that the 9th Circuit will soon be hearing arguments about the constitutionality of a California law that makes it impossible for religious people to help willing gays voluntarily transition away from the gay lifestyle.

Wednesday stuff, for want of a better word

My day is not proceeding as planned.  Grumble, grumble, grumble.

But I still found some good stuff out there:

For all the criticism aimed at him for daring to defend his nation from nuclear annihilation, Netanyahu successfully shifted the paradigm — not far enough, but it’s movement in the right direction.

Apparently 25 years or so is all it takes for New Yorkers to forget the horrors of Progressive government.  I know this is unfair to the small, smart minority that didn’t vote for de Blasio, but I hope that New York goes to hell in a hand basket very quickly (kind of the way Hollande’s France or Mugabe’s Zimbabwe did).  That seems to be the only way in which people invested in liberalism learn lessons.  (And sadly, sometimes, even the worst that can happen isn’t bad enough.)

Here are Seven devastating facts about Obamacare that you should memorize and politely slip into conversation whenever you find yourself trapped in conversation with those who still believe it’s a winner.

Jonah Goldberg suggests that the Republicans might want to be there for Tea Partiers because, ultimately, Tea Partiers are there for the Republicans.

And two from Keith Koffler.  The first is about Obama’s fraudulent conduct with regard to his “changing” views on gay marriage, and the second is about his administration’s fraudulent conduct regarding Obamacare.

I think it’s important that we stop using the word “lie.”  In the context of politics, we tend to think of a “lie” as an after-the-fact cover-up (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”). What Obama has done, repeatedly, is to commit fraud.  Fraud is a very specific legal animal.  Here’s as good a definition as any, culled from a fairly recent California case:  “The tort of deceit or fraud requires: “(a) misrepresentation (false representation, concealment, or nondisclosure); (b) knowledge of falsity (or ‘scienter’); (c) intent to defraud, i.e., to induce reliance; (d) justifiable reliance; and (e) resulting damage.” (Engalla v. Permanente Medical Group, Inc. (1997) 15 Cal.4th 951, 974, 64 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 938 P.2d 903, internal quotation marks omitted.)  Fraud is not a lie.  It’s much worse than a lie because you’re not just protecting yourself; you’re deliberating setting out to make others rely on you to their detriment.

And of course, Sebelius seems charmingly insouciant about the fact that your private information could end up in the hands of felons that Obama’s government has hired to collect that private information:

Marriage’s open frontiers in America

A few days ago, I commented about a profound problem with the Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA:  before DOMA, we had a societal consensus that marriage was between one man and one woman.  During DOMA, we had a law that said marriage was between one man and one woman, even as the societal consensus broke down.  Post-DOMA, we have nothing.  There are no boundaries, and there is nothing to stop a “loving” marriage based upon bestiality, incest, pedophilia, polyamory, etc.  The boundaries are gone.

In addition, the demands on government will change substantially with this “new frontier” approach to marriage.  A friend of mine who knows all things military sent me this email:

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is how recent Supreme Court decisions have rendered marriage and family meaningless. For instance, if I were a young private or PFC in the military I would find another guy to get married to (contract marriages between service members are nothing new. It’s a great way for two otherwise unattached people to get free money for being married). Getting married is often the best way for service members to get themselves out of crappy barracks life so I could marry a male service member from another unit and move into my new house. We would not even have to be gay to do it. Then we could run around with as many women as we wanted and essentially be room mates and get paid a basic housing allowance (x2) for being married. If I were caught in some kind of adultery situation (hard to prove usually) I would simply state that I and my life partner are straight and though we are married we do not sleep together. Further, who is to judge how we choose to run our family/household? Anything goes according to the Supreme Court and if two gay men can get married why can’t two straight ones?

So that’s two of us figuring out that Anthony Kennedy’s decision creates tremendous societal problems.  Can we add three of us or four of us?  Yes, we can!

I don’t want to tread upon copyrights, so let me just direct you to Michael Ramirez’s post-DOMA cartoon and Terminal Lance’s post-DOMA cartoon (warning:  ever so slightly risque).  They both make the point perfectly, one with regard to society at large and the other with special focus on the military.

Andrew Klavan is right that we need to view this as a Democrat “squirrel” moment, one in which the Democrat powers that be distract their sometimes mindless constituents from more important issues such as the economy, or the fact that Syria is imploding, Egypt is on the verge of imploding, and Turkey is working towards imploding.  However, we cannot ignore the legal ramifications flowing from the Supreme Court’s rulings, because these ramifications can become very expensive very quickly.

If nothing else, the end of DOMA is one more reason that the tax code and IRS should be done away with and a flat tax instituted.  After all, the current tax code gives married couples distinct benefits, with an eye to advancing a stable, two-parent family.  Since that’s now out the window, we better revisit where all those tax benefits are flowing.

Thoughts about torture and our self-referential president

I finally got around to watching Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the decade-long hunt for bin Laden.  Before it came out, conservatives were concerned because the White House gave the filmmakers unprecedented access to information about the hunt and about the actual hit on bin Laden.  This opened up the possibility that (a) the movie would betray America’s security secrets and (b) the movie would become a pro-Obama piece of political propaganda.

I don’t know whether the first fear was realized, but the second certainly wasn’t.  Those who claim that the movie supports using torture to obtain information are correct.  The movie opens with audio of phone calls from people trapped in the Twin Towers, and then shifts to a torture site somewhere vaguely Middle Eastern looking.  The torturer is a CIA man.  The person being tortured is a money man for al Qaeda.  Having heard that audio, you are not sympathetic to the al Qaeda guy.

Because of the CIA’s torture tactics, the man gives them useful names.  This happens repeatedly, with al Qaeda members getting hung in chains, hit, subject to water torture, deprived of sleep and human dignity, etc., and eventually revealing names and phone numbers.  The movie makes it clear that they are not being tortured for fun.  They are being tortured to get them to yield information about their, and other people’s, role in killing 3,000 Americans.

The film also makes the point that this information is necessary.  Every so often, after showing CIA interrogations aimed at drawing out a little more information about al Qaeda, the film breaks in with news reports about the Khobar Tower bombing, or the London bombing, or the Islamabad Marriott bombing.  The implication is that it’s vitally necessary for the CIA to crack open al Qaeda’s notoriously closed infrastructure.

The CIA operatives in the movie are dismayed when the situation in Washington changes, making “enhanced” interrogation techniques impossible.  As one says when his boss demands that he get information, if they ask someone in Gitmo, he’ll just get lawyered up and the lawyer will pass on the question to al Qaeda, which can then use it to their advantage.  The only “anti-torture” argument in the movie is a 30 second or so snippet of President Obama saying torture is “not who we are.”

That’s not who we are?  What a funny way to frame a rather more fundamental argument:  Are we, as a society, willing to have our public servants use torture for certain limited purposes?  That’s the question, and the movie answers with a definitive “yes.”  If using torture will get information that can save hundreds, thousands or (G*d forbid) millions of lives, torture is not just appropriate, it’s necessary.  We don’t torture for pleasure or “to make a point,” we do it to save lives.

As for Obama’s that’s “not who we are” statement, I was struck then, as I always am, by how self-referential Barack and Michelle are.  They were at it again in Africa.  Michelle, the spoiled darling of a middle-class Chicago family, said that she’s just like the Senegalese (and before that, she was just like youths in Chicago’s worst ghettos).  I know she’s striving for empathy, but it just ends up looking narcissistic.

Obama is worse, though, because he is America’s official spokesman.  While in Senegal, the press asked him about his response to the Supreme Court’s decisions opening the door for national gay marriage.  (By the way, I like Andrew Klavan’s take.)  Obama, of course, approves.  Not only did he say that, he used the question as an opportunity to talk about gay rights as human rights.  This is actually an important thing, because gays are subject to terrible abuse in both Muslim and Christian Africa.  No matter how one feels about gay marriage or homosexuality, the torture, imprisonment, and murder gays experience throughout Africa is a true crime against human rights.

With the gay marriage question, Obama — who is the greatest orator since Lincoln, right? — had the opportunity to make a profound statement about basic principles of human dignity.  Instead, he embarked upon a wandering rumination about his feelings and his thoughts:

The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they’re treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa. So I want the African people just to hear what I believe, and that is that every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions. And when it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there.

But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort. That’s my personal view. And I speak as somebody who obviously comes from a country in which there were times when people were not treated equally under the law, and we had to fight long and hard through a civil rights struggle to make sure that happens.

So my basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you — the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law — people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember.

Every world religion has this basic notion that is embodied in the Golden Rule — treat people the way you want to be treated. And I think that applies here as well. (Emphasis added.)

No wonder that the Senegalese president Mackey Sall had no compunction about delivering a smackdown to the American president. And I do mean a smackdown, since he told Obama that he was a hypocrite to say that every culture has its own way of doing things, and Obama totally respects that, it’s just that the American way is better:

These issues are all societal issues basically, and we cannot have a standard model which is applicable to all nations, all countries — you said it, we all have different cultures. We have different religions. We have different traditions. And even in countries where this has been decriminalized and homosexual marriage is allowed, people don’t share the same views.

Obama is a petty mind with a bully pulpit.

In which I pretend to be Thomas Sowell and offer short takes on today’s headlines

I freely admit that I will never be as brilliant as Thomas Sowell, either in my analytical abilities or in my writing quality.  That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t borrow his technique of writing the occasional post that consists of one or two sentence thoughts about interesting subjects.  So, I am for his style, even if I lack his substance.

As I understand it, striking down DOMA means that marriage in America is no longer defined as being between one man and one woman.  More than that, it’s no longer defined as anything.  In pre-21st century America, it was understood to be one man and one woman, but now those common understanding is gone.  It seems to me that the feds better act quickly to define marriage as a relationship between two consenting adult humans.  Otherwise, the door is open to polygamy, incest, bestiality, or NAMBLA- and sharia approved marriages with children.

Earl Aagaard forwarded to me a wonderful comment a friend of his made with regard to Obama’s disastrous efforts to engage with Russian President Putin regarding Edward Snowden, currently hanging out with impunity in the Moscow airport:  “It seems that Barack Obama, not content with losing the war on terror, is also trying to lose the Cold War.

I have to admit that I haven’t read closely any of the news articles about Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revitalize the Middle East peace talks.  All I can think is that trying to get the Palestinians to agree to a two-state solution is a fool’s errand — and John Kerry is most certainly a fool.

I was saddened, but not surprised, to see that the Senate passed the Immigration bill (all 1,200 unread pages of it), including 14 “yes” votes from Republicans.  I have only two hopes now.  I hope that every Senate Republican who voted “Aye” gets killed in the primaries and I hope that House Republicans figure out that they can vote “no” on the bill by pointing to the fact that, as written, it destroys American jobs, both by drastically increasing the pool of legal, low-income workers and by blending with ObamaCare to give employers the incentive to fire current workers (for whom they must buy insurance or pay a fine) in favor of amnestied workers (who don’t fall under ObamaCare).  I just know, though, the Republicans are going to be sufficiently stupid to sell this as fear of too many Hispanics.  Raaacists!!

We’re having a heat wave here in temperate Northern California.  Oh. My. G*d!  It must be global warming.  We’re all going to die!  Oh.  Wait a minute.  Never mind.  I just remembered that it’s June and we’ve had a heat wave in the Bay Area every June since my earliest memories in the 1960s.

There’s a saying that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.  There’s also a saying that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  If Obama was merely stupid, one would think that, in his approach to foreign policy, he’d occasionally get things right.  But he never does.  Think about his instincts:  With the Iranian revolution, when he should have given moral support to the opposition, he was silent.  During the Egyptian Arab Spring, when he should have supported and then gently eased out our ally, Mubarak, he was silent.  He found his voice again with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom he supported — so much so that, now that ordinary Egyptians and, especially Coptic Christians in Egypt, are figuring out that they went from a bad secular government to a much worse theocratic government, Obama has fallen silent again.

Obama pulled us out of Iraq, where we had won, before we had a chance to consolidate a democratic infrastructure.  Iraq is now becoming an Iranian satellite and falling into a dystopian Islamic anarchy.  In Afghanistan, Obama didn’t even wait until we won.  He announced that we had lost and would be leaving soon, and by the way, would the Taliban please refrain from killing Americans and instead sit down with American politicians to negotiate the terms of our defeat.

Of course one can’t forget Libya, where we helped destroy a neutral (which is what Qaddafi had become) and replaced the power structure with a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.  That chicken came tragically home to roost on September 11, 2012, when al Qaeda killed four Americans in Benghazi.  Then there’s Syria, where Obama sat by the sidelines when he could have helped a democratic movement against Assad’s dictatorship, but decided to provide support only when the democratic movement had morphed into — yes, again — a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.  One starts to get the feeling that Obama likes the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, despite their clearly expressed goals of world jihad, with Israel as target No. 1 and America as target No. 2.

Obama’s bestest friend in the international world is Turkey’s Erdogan, who is doing his damndest to turn secular, functional, democratic Turkey into another totalitarian dictatorship.  Meanwhile, he’s alienated Russia’s Putin so much that Putin gleefully rubs America’s nose in its helplessness with regard to the gallivanting Snowden.

My conclusion:  It cannot be random that Obama gets it wrong every time.  This isn’t stupidity.  It is malice.

Speaking of Snowden, I’m still sticking with my first instincts:  Snowden did ordinary Americans a favor by revealing that the federal government is a spy state, and one that could easily tip into being like the East German Stasi.  That he did something important, though, doesn’t mean that his motives were good.  This is an anti-American man who was either working for a foreign power (probably China) from the get go, or who, having gotten his hands on America’s national security secrets, didn’t hesitate one moment when it came to selling out America.  He’s not a hero.  He’s a villain who incidentally did something helpful.

Do any of you feel like being epigrammatic?  If so, please chime in.

California Progressives commit one of the best inadvertent puns I’ve ever seen

The one thing you can count on with Progressives is that anything that happens in Washington, D.C. — any legislation, any election, and any legal decision — is a reason to go out and beg for money.  Within hours of the Supreme Court decision that effectively strikes down Prop. 8, making gay marriage legal in California, a group called “Courage Campaign” sent out an email begging for money and, in the process, created one of the funniest inadvertent puns I’ve seen in a long time:

VICTORY! Now let's leave no gay behind

If you haven’t caught what makes it so funny, here’s a hint: read the very first line aloud:

VICTORY! Now let's leave no gay behind2

Hat tip: Sadie