Saturday, July 16, 2005

Same-sex, the RC church, the UN and so on . . .

When I respond to a commenter it's because the comments they've made deserve to be answered - and sometimes the comments section is just too small.

Todays comments are in response to my post "How did we get here?" and are courtesy of NDP Nadine, who is a regular commenter at Either Orr. As per usual, quotes from NDP Nadine are in italics. They are unedited, except for placement.

SSM is all about the right to belong, the right to be equal; therefore, I consider it to be a human right.

One does not have to be married to be equal or to belong, in our society – in any society. Human rights are available for all humans. Marriage is not -- even now that the definition has been changed in Canada, there are whole segments of society ineligible because they don't meet the criteria. Human Rights are 'individual rights' -- marriage does not fall into that category.
As for equal coupling – one doesn’t have to be married in Canada to enjoy equal status in terms of taxation, housing, adoption -- common law couples enjoy most of the same rights and benefits, hetero or same-sex.
Whether gays like it or not, they didn’t fit the definition of marriage as understood by all cultures and religions. Proof: the definition had to change. Marriage is defined by its criteria. Changing the criteria is changing a fundamental component of the institution. It doesn’t make the relationships equal, it only makes them ‘fair’ which could have been done through a parallel form of registration. Legislation calling same-sex relationships 'marriages' will never make them so in the minds of many people. Don't say they are wrong, or bigots -- Bill C-38 says they are allowed to believe that because of their relgion.

In fact, so does the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Canada is a signatory. Article 16 of the Declaration states: "(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution." Sounds very inclusive to me.

You’re dreaming in technicolour Nadine. I don’t hold the UN in high enough regard to care what they think, but think of cultural and political make up of the UN. This wording was put in place specifically to rule out same-sex marriage. Had they been inviting gay-coupling to be justified through this, the wording would have been ‘Men and/or women . . .’

And why the big rush to defend churches anyhow?

And why your big rush to bash them?
Throughout the world Christian churches have done more to support and sustain marginalised people than any other ‘group’. It was Christianity (the Papacy in fact) that created appeals courts for people accused of crimes. It was Judeo-Christian values that lead to our current understanding of ‘human rights’. I’m not going to give you a history lesson here, but the Catholic church and nations influenced by Catholicism were pioneers in the arts, technology and science. The church itself has been a champion of freedom during times when the secular world was brutal and violent in the name of the state. Don’t get me started on the Crusades or the Inquisition – two of the most misunderstood, mythologised eras in history. Churches by far, have done, and continue to do --- more good for society than any government or state that has ever existed.

Church history is full of discrimination, violence, bigotry, the spilled blood of millions of people.

Secular nationhood is filled with the same. It is the nature of man, not the nature of Christianity that makes it so. No one kills in the name of God or Christ. Those who do are in error. Their error does not make the church culpable. It is insupportable theologically and biblically for people to kill in the name of Christianity. People do kill as agents of their state, nation, or in self-interest -- and with full sanction of their motivators.
As for discrimination and bigotry– the values of justice and equality of all people, which we take for granted, are the products of centuries of Christian discernment and freedom.

Not to forget residential schools either.

The churches acted as instruments of the state. Some of what happened at these schools was shameful and the churches have accepted responsibility for their role. Unfortunately the problems of our Native communities continue, and there are no simple solutions. Blaming the churches for their part in this tragedy is fair, but keep in mind the residential schools were designed, mandated and created by the government. Although we tend to impute malice to the people who created and worked within these places, I would suggest that when they started, it was with grand ideals and lofty intentions but as often happens -- misguided, paternalistic, governmental do-gooders thought they knew better for these people than they could figure out for themselves. They were wrong.

These are things not to be forgotten because clearly, discrimination is a mainstay in religion.

In societies where there is no religion, or where religion has been forced out of the mainstream, how have things been?

Jesus would be appalled at how people treat each other in his name.

On this point we agree.

I think he would support SSM anyway.

I think you’re mistaken.
Jesus understood the nature of humanity. Although Jesus never speaks of marriage, he does speak of divorce. Matthew 19 says: "The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave His father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." (. . .) "His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man and his wife, it is better not to marry." But He said to them, "All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it."

Jesus’ thinking on marriage doesn’t reflect the values of his times. The Pharisees believe they have the right to divorce, Jesus is telling them that Moses only told them they had that right because mankind had become so hard-hearted. His quote on the nature of marriage, and celibacy in the event that marriage is for some reason not in the cards, is unmistakable.

It seems to me, it's simply because of latent bigotry.

It seems to me that support of SSM is because of blatant ignorance and arrogance. Both of our opinions in this regard are irrelevant to the discussion.

Homosexuality is genetic, no one choses to be social outcasts. So why do people think it's ok to discriminate on things people have no control over?

There is no scientific consensus as to the reasons for homosexuality, but let me ask you this – if in fact it is genetic, or some sort of pre-birth anomaly ---- if science could invent a cure, how many gay people would take it?
As for being social outcasts – don’t pretend this is 19th century, Nadine. Gays are no longer social outcasts – they are prominent leaders in many aspects of society. They are not, and quite frankly, they never have been at the back of the bus. They had to hide their predilections in the past, but unlike other marginalised groups – they could choose to do that.

(this was in response to a reply from nicol of The War Room -- for context, you should read the comments section of yesterday's post) --- nicol, haha, read some history dude. Being left of centre does not make one a Marxist. Way back in the 30s, keep in mind that the Communist party wanted nothing to do with the CCF. Opponents of the CCF back then tried to associate it with Communism including PM Bennett but it was never the case. The CCF banned dual party membership so no communists could have possibly infiltrated it. The CCF is rooted in social democracy, labour, agrarianism, populism and social gospel. Hardly Marxist.

Your comparison of the CCF and the NDP is faulty. The ‘root’ of the NDP might be the CCF, but the two parties are hardly the same. You and the NDP are much farther left than simply ‘left of centre’ ---or at least you were, until this Parliament.

And about homosexuality, do you remember chosing heterosexuality? I sure don't. Gay people know they're different from a very young age because they are indeed born that way. Have you been in a school recently and seen how suspected gays are treated? It's truly tragic.

Oh please. It’s chic to be gay. I’ve got four kids in public school in Toronto. Smokers and fat people are treated with more derision and contempt. And say what you like – yes, people choose to smoke and overeat, but some people also choose to flaunt their gayness. Get off the gay-as-victim bit. Gays have never been an ‘oppressed’ minority. They have been a closeted minority, they have been scorned and despised – but oppression means subjugation – they don’t fit the definition of an ‘enslaved’ segment of society. Don't tell me they want to change that definition now.

I'm convinced that people who appear sincere about their concern for gay oppression yet oppose gay marriage are hiding at least some prejudices.

We all have prejudices, Nadine. Some of us are able to admit to them, and others lie to themselves that they are perfect. I believe that gays are equal to me, but I don’t believe they fit the criteria to be ‘married.’ If you think that makes me a bigot, I can live with that.
You see your views on religion and religious people, and your simplification of complex issues in order to dismiss adversaries as ‘latent bigot(s)’ as justified. Dear, your bias is showing.

Otherwise it wouldn't be such a big deal.

So all things that are important to a person are the result of prejudice? Perhaps. But that includes your prejudices and your bigotry – this is a big deal to you – why? Because you are altruistic? Or because you have some deep hatred of religion, and people who follow a code of morality and value system that you reject?
It is a big deal to me because I believe I don’t have a right to impose my morality on you. You have a right to live as you see fit. You have a right to believe that I am a bigot, and you have a right to teach your children that I am a bigot.
You believe that I don’t have the right to teach my children that homosexual activity is against nature and that it is immoral – or that if I do, you and your ilk have the right to ‘correct’ my teaching in the public realm through the normalisation of homosexuality in the public school system.

Who in this equation is against freedom of thought, against individual rights, against the autonomy of the family?

And those examples of the UN are not representative at all of the entire body. The UN is a product of its parts, so when they don't care, it appears the UN doesn't care. You can't blame the UN for the actions of a few.

It’s funny how you believe this when it comes to the UN, but you don’t give the same consideration to churches and religious people.
My goodness, it seems that someone has double standard on their shoulder. But then, that’s okay, because crying discrimination and bigotry while simultaneously practising them, ‘is a mainstay’ of the left.

* * *
I think the difference between the left and the right is this --
I neither want, nor expect my religion to change your opinion on anything -- but you believe your legislation should change mine.


Friday, July 15, 2005

How did we get here?

Canadians are proud of their moderate tendencies. We are peacemakers, looking for conciliation rather than confrontation. Traditionally, the Liberals have been seen to hold the centre of the political spectrum -- able to straddle the fence on tricky issues and come to some consensus. Whether one agrees with that assessment or not, that is the common perception -- they represent moderate thinking Canadians, or did, until now.

With most political issues, disparate voices can be brought together through compromise and negotiation. Each side concedes some ground and a workable solution can be found. Gay 'coupling' and the legal form it should take, used to be one of those issues.

Same-sex marriage is not a dead issue judging from the blogs. Morality issues are always hot button topics, but as Debris Trail has said a few times, it could be a wedge issue come an election.
The most noticeable thing to me about the whole debate, is how fixed the debaters have become. There is a rigidity to the positions that wasn't there a couple of years ago. There is antipathy of all things Roman Catholic/Christian amongst many advocates of gay marriage, and more strongly worded anti-gay rhetoric used by many opposed.

It used to be there was a common middle ground on gay rights. This mutual understanding between the two conflicting views prevented extremists from taking root -- reasonable people agreed that gays had the right to live, and work, and be -- just as any other citizen -- free from persecution or harassment for their 'differences'. The thinking expanded, and gays began to fight for and assume rights that once belonged exclusively to heterosexuals -- pension rights for their partners for example. Many companies freely offered this kind of benefit, without the need for legislation to force the issue.

This modernization of thinking about gay rights allowed people with religious objections to 'gay sex' to feel both fair and principled. They could understand a person being entitled to receive their dead partner's pension benefits, without having to agree with (or even consider) the morality or validity of the 'gay lifestyle'. All of the main political parties agreed that government recognition of the 'unions' of same-sex couples was inevitable. Even the majority of those who are personally opposed to homosexual activity on a religious or moral level, were willing to make this concession.

At some point, it stopped being reasonable and moderate to respect the right of gay people to live their lives and go about their business -- it stopped being enough to believe that they were entitled to an institution, parallel to marriage, but different. Not different because they are unequal with heterosexuals, but different because they do not fit the one universal criteria for marriage understood for thousands of years. You had to do more -- you had to think their committed, conjugal relationships hold the same social value, and deserve the same societal support as heterosexual marriages. You had to believe that marriage should yield it's definition to accommodate their special circumstances.

The Liberals have annihilated the centre. They have taken the position they themselves recently vacated and have labelled it 'extreme'. It didn't happen because the Liberals thought it was the right thing to do - enlightenment doesn't affect a vast number of people simultaneously. Progress amongst moderates is deliberately slow -- only extremists want change with speed -- and that's only so they can't take in the damage they're doing.

For those who argue that it was a long arduous struggle -- think again. Marriage might have been on the gay agenda for 35 - 40 years, but for the average person, it only popped onto the radar seriously in the past 4 -5 years. Most struggles for 'equality' and 'recognition' take centuries -- women have been around since the dawn of time, and we were only granted the right to vote in the last eighty years. Anyway, I started to wonder how this happened so quickly, and why.

The Liberals and Conservatives both have their share of social conservatives. Both parties had moderate fiscal policies -- one favouring corporate welfare, the other tax cuts -- but not too dissimilar for the general public to really understand or care. Both parties were in favour of maintaining public healthcare and promised they'd improve the system. Both said they would address the democratic deficit and restore accountability to government. The Conservatives were untested, the Liberals tainted. There were no significant policy issues on which the parties differed enough to become an election winner, so it became a matter of trust -- The Liberals may have squandered the public trust, but the Conservatives were a new entity and public trust is not a given.

When the Conservatives latched on to Adscam to show the Liberals as corrupt, the Liberals realised they could say they'd clean up government but people were bound to be skeptical since they had made the mess in the first place. So, they had to distinguish themselves from the Conservatives on policy issues. Their record of 'fiscal responsibility' (as dubious as it might be) was not worth tossing aside, so they seized upon a strategy that would portray themselves as the champions of minority rights (we're a nation of minorities) and simultaneously set up the Conservatives as religious fanatics or ignorant bigots.

Because we had reached a point as a nation where most people expected and accepted that gay unions would receive recognition by the government, and because the Conservative Party had already said that it was for keeping the traditional definition of marriage (while accepting the compromise solution of civil unions) -- the Liberals knew that in order to make a clear distinction between themselves from the Conservatives, they would have to be bold. It was all or nothing. They chose to redefine marriage, and realigned political boundaries in the process.

The Liberals framed gay marriage as a human rights issue, making any opposition to it automatically 'anti-Charter'. They appeased the critics by offering protections for religions unwilling to yield the traditional definition. The protection was fallacious because it is not within their jurisdiction, and it is paradoxical because if marriage is a 'human right' how does the government justify using religious freedoms to deny a human right on the basis of sexual orientation?

Marriage is not a human right, but the government needed people to buy into this vision. Human rights are regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons. They are seen as being universal, applying to all people everywhere, and as intrinsic, referring to essential or basic human needs. By framing the marriage issue as a 'human rights' issue, it becomes increasingly impossible to oppose same-sex marriage without being painted as a bigot or a homophobe.

There can be no middle-ground on human rights issues. They aren't the same as other rights, which are granted based on criteria set out by the government -- human rights are granted to all of us by virtue of being human.

Reading C-38, I'm not sure if the law is set out that way (as a human right) but throughout the debates this is the message being driven home by the 'centerist' Liberals. The soft middle latched on, and allowed the boundaries to shift -- setting an extreme and radical ideology in place of middle of the road sensibilities.

The middle is now unwalkable for people who until recently, were confident they held a fair and legitimate view of gay rights. The Liberals can call it what they like, but same-sex marriage is not a moderate position. By framing the question as they did, the Liberals have annihilated the centre for political gain.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Are any rights sacrosanct?

Is a law constitutional if it allows you to deny me a legitimate service, because you are morally or religiously opposed to my receiving that service?

Alberta is hoping to:

"develop legislative options to ensure the rights of religious officials and those Albertans, who hold social or cultural beliefs or values, whether religious or non-religious, will be free to express opposition to the traditional definition of marriage or a change to the traditional definition of marriage and will not be required to advocate, promote, or teach about marriage in a way that conflicts with their beliefs.”

I think we can all agree, that regardless of what we may believe on a religious or moral level -- legally and constitutionally we don't have the right to refuse a service to a person based on their sexual orientation.

Substitute 'wedding' for other services -- a lawyer refusing service to handle a gay couple's adoption or divorce; a marriage counsellor refusing to provide counselling to a gay couple; a hotelier refusing to provide a gay couple accomodation . . .

Will the moral or religious rights of a person who is against same-sex marriage, outweigh the right of a gay couple to have a service performed?

When there are conflicting rights (the right to be married vs the right to freedom of religion/free speech) someone's rights are going to have to take precedence. The courts have consistently sided with the rights of gays over the right of Christians to express themselves, and I see no reason why this would change.

A law permitting conscientious objection to gays and lesbians having access to an institution that is available to the rest of the population, would be challenged in a heartbeat.

If anyone can make a coherant argument to the contrary, I'd love to hear it.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

When leftists misread . . .

Those of you who read my blog frequently know that I don't trash other bloggers. I do challenge my commenters, but even then, I try to remain respectful and civil.
Imagine my surprise at finding links to my page from no less that four lefty blogs, each with comments totalling more than a dozen commenters -- and all of them use my blog as a starting point to shred apart the collective intellect and acumen of the entire Blogging Tories blogroll.

When I opened my previous post by noting the hostility eminating from some of the lefty blogs, with regard to some priests refusing communion to MPs who advocated for same-sex marriage -- I thought even the dimmest amongst them would understand that I was throwing their extreme reaction back at them, with similarly extreme rhetoric.

Even in my comments section -- long before the lefty blogs wrote about how 'irrational' I am -- when someone commented about Charter protections applied to laws, not people, my response was: "I wasn't really thinking this would happen BTW. It was more just a way to point out how silly some of the blogs have been about this."

Some of these blogs say that I'm 'frothing at the mouth' or 'foaming at the mouth' -- yet with all that attention to my mouth, they never noticed my tongue, firmly planted in cheek. These lefty bloggers take themselves so seriously that the light from their own brilliance blinds them to reality.

For the record -- I 'get' the Charter. I realise that one could not 'charter challenge' Jack Layton's punishment of Bev Desjarlais, because Jack Layton was not making a law violating her rights. I should have said 'Human Rights Code' rather than 'Charter of Rights' but it is fair to say that Canadians understand their rights to be the ones guaranteed by the Charter. Since they guarantee similar protections, and since I implicitly said the recourse for the affected MPs would be a Human Rights tribunal, I fail to see how it confounded my leftist detractors to such a broad extent. I said 'Charter' instead of 'Human Rights Code'. So, sue me. At least I know Canadians didn't storm the beaches at Norway, and I don't think there was a big battle at Vichy.
My reasoning was correct, if I used the wrong document to support it.

That said -- after reading this paragraph from early on in the post:

Many of them have repeated the calls for yanking of the tax-exempt status of the church. Some have had the effrontery to ask 'who does the Catholic Church think it is?' --- as though, by enforcing its doctrine, the church has overstepped its authority.

Do they really think that I would believe a political leader should be hauled in front of the Human Rights commission for enforcing his doctrine? Get a grip, people.

My point with that post was that when you belong to an organisation, you agree to abide by the rules of that organisation. If you fail to live up, you take your lumps. Period. That goes for Comartin and Desjarlais. They each knew the rules of the game before they started playing. If the left feels Jack Layton has the right to punish Desjarlais, then surely they can understand the church's right to do the same.

Maybe this will make it more clear:

The Catholic church is an organisation with rules.
The NDP is an organisation with rules.

Catholics are aware of those rules.
NDP MPs are aware of those rules.

Catholics publicly advocated against those rules.
MPs acted against those rules.

Catholic MPs should face the consequences of publicly and unrepentingly teaching against a sacrament.
NDP MPs should face the consequences of voting against the politicy of the party on same-sex rights.

When the lefty blogs started calling for action against the church for enforcing their doctrine within their own congregations . . . I made a similar call for action against politicians. The lefties take both calls seriously -- but they support the first and deplore the latter.
I see both calls as fallacious -- and am floored by the slow-wittedness of their bloggers.

I notice none of them commented on my other points in that post - First, that if ever action is taken against churches for being 'political', all churches should be treated equally -- regardless of the government's position on their 'politics'.
And second, that churches should register as political parties so they could be political, keep their tax-exempt status and be free from state interference.
I meant the first point -- and I figure the lefties didn't address it because they would support politically active churches so long as they go along with the liberal-secular worldview.

And I was being facetious with the second point -- why do you suppose they didn't touch that one?


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Layton in violation of the Charter

The 'progressive' blogs are filled with righteous indignation that some Roman Catholic Priests have withheld communion from MPs who openly denied the church's teaching on the sacrament of marriage.

Many of them have repeated the calls for yanking of the tax-exempt status of the church. Some have had the effrontery to ask 'who does the Catholic Church think it is?' --- as though, by enforcing its doctrine, the church has overstepped its authority.

In light of the negative yap about the Roman Catholic Church by those on the left, I would like to remind people of two things:

Jack Layton violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by disciplining Bev Desjarlais after she voted her conscience, and said 'nay' to Bill C-38.

Section 2 of the Charter reads:

Fundamental freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.

Bev Desjarlais exercised her Charter rights of 'freedom of conscience and religion', and 'freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression' when she voted against the Civil Marriage Act. Jack Layton subsequently demoted and publicly humiliated her for her stance on this issue of conscience. His actions could be described as punitive and vindictive. His reasoning seems to be that Bev knew the rules going into the vote, and yet she chose to buck the party line. Bev has taken her lumps without complaint and has not pleaded her case for victimhood in the media despite such strong arm tactics by Layton. Regardless of his justification, his actions go against the protections given all citizens under the Charter.

Paul Martin is also guilty of violating the Charter. Liberal MP and Cabinet Minister, Joe Comuzzi was forced to resign from Cabinet in order to be allowed to vote his conscience. When he refused to allow a free-vote on SSM, the Prime Minister cherry-picked which Charter rights he was willing to uphold. His blatant disregard of this sacrosanct document with regard to Cabinet Ministers, exemplifies Martin's willingness to ignore the charter when it suits his ends.

Now, as to the churches losing their tax exempt status for being 'political'.

One would hope the left is including all churches in this demand ---- not just those with whom they disagree.

Will they insist that Metropolitan Community Church lose its tax-exempt status for playing politics with marriage?
You'll recall the first same-sex 'marriage ceremony' was performed there in 2001 -- less than 18 months after Parliament had affirmed by an overwhelming majority that marriage is the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. This was more than four years before same-sex marriage became the law of the land. Political, no?

Where was the left then? Religious interference in politics wasn't a problem when it suited their political agenda.

In our increasingly secular society, people often donate their time and money to the political party of their choice, rather than to a religious institution. Since the left believes both churches and political parties advance political causes -- taxing churches would give political parties an unfair financial advantage.
If the left wants churches to lose tax-exempt status for being 'political' - perhaps the churches should register as political parties instead. They'd continue receive tax free donations; they'd still be allowed to issue income tax receipts; and they would be part of the political infrastructure -- and free from interference by the state.

The left is going to continue to whinge -- when I see Jack Layton and Paul Martin hauled in front of human rights tribunal -- that's when I'll start to listen.