Chipping Blocks from the Foundation

What’s dismaying is that which the Providence Journal editorial writer elides in his or her advocacy for same-sex marriage:

The ruling essentially locks homosexual couples into marriage in Rhode Island unless one or both members of the marriage move back to Massachusetts and institute divorce proceedings there. That is not equal justice under the law. After all, heterosexual couples who were married in the Bay State are allowed to divorce in Rhode Island.
The court, in its 3-2 ruling, noted that marriage in Rhode Island is repeatedly defined in state laws as being between a man and a woman. True, but the state has long recognized legal marriages performed in other states whose criteria for legality are different from its own. Take, for instance, that Ocean State courts have accepted marriages in other states involving people who would not have met the minimum age for marriage in Rhode Island.

The missing admission is that, in Rhode Island, marriage remains what everybody always thought it meant until very recently: a relationship between a man and a woman. By that definition, an out-of-state marriage between a boy and girl too young to enter into the arrangement in Rhode Island is still a marriage; there’s a difference between finding that a marriage was improperly entered into and/or ought to be considered void and finding that a relationship is not actually a marriage. The problem with the same-sex marriage movement, as with the larger homosexual movement, and the whole progressive movement beyond that, is the nonchalance with which advocates hack away at the blocks that form the foundation of our society in order to enable their peremptory emotional social manipulation.
Imagine a wall of cinder blocks toothed and stacked like bricks. In order to layer on a new block that allows homosexuals to enter into marriage, our system requires activists to gain acceptance across the population, which often builds with restrictions on positioning and changes in import. To avoid that necessity, same-sex marriage advocates have been attempting to swing the sledge hammer labeled “civil right” at more fundamental principles: that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman and, more fundamental still, that men and women are different in substantial ways. The tragedy is that other blocks rely on those principles — such as that children ought to be raised by their own mothers and fathers.
Attacking the fundamentals — usually without acknowledging that one is doing so — is the only way to declare, as the Projo does, that extending “full marriage rights to… homosexual residents” is “the right and just thing.” According to the structure of the law, the state’s gay citizens do have “full marriage rights”; they just don’t wish to exercise them. The predictable response from those opposite me on this issue is to scoff sardonically at a bigotry that they see as inherent in my assertion that legal equality indeed obtains, but no bigotry exists. I’m simply pointing to the “marriage = man and woman” block on which my opinion is based. That not being good enough for the advocates, they proceed to undermine that principle, and to continue the process on down to bedrock.
This is why homosexuality, as a movement, is so irredeemably subversive. Consider what’s been happening within the Episcopal Church:

The Fresno-based congregation is the first full diocese to secede because of a conservative-liberal rift that began decades ago and is now focused on whether the Bible condemns gay relationships. …
“I do not intend to threaten you, only to urge you to reconsider and draw back from this trajectory,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, head of the U.S. denomination, wrote in a letter to Schofield earlier this week.
[Bishop John-David] Schofield responded that the Episcopal Church “has isolated itself from the overwhelming majority of Christendom and more specifically from the Anglican Communion by denying Biblical truth and walking apart from the historic Faith and Order.” …
Christian advocates for accepting gay relationships, including Jefferts Schori, say they are guided by biblical teachings on social justice and tolerance. But Schofield and other conservatives believe Scripture bars same-sex relationships. San Joaquin also is one of three dioceses in the Episcopal Church that will not ordain women. Schori last year became the first woman elected to lead the denomination.

The movement plainly can’t insert its preferences into a religious infrastructure guided by Christian scripture without addressing all previous thought, right down to the way in which the Bible ought to be read and applied. In this case, leveraging previously installed wedges, the liberal movement has declared that “biblical teachings on social justice and tolerance” both override proscriptions against homosexual activity and apply to the church’s hierarchy in a specific manner.
The increasing experiences of religious organizations reveal the stress cracks that do and will run more deeply throughout our culture:

“This is not an abstract debate on principles,” Stern said, describing a number of other situations currently or recently in litigation:
— The Sea Scouts, a branch of the Boy Scouts of America, was denied use of a public wharf in California because Boy Scouts do not permit homosexuals as leaders.
— In Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal, a religious organization’s billboard quoting from the Bible that homosexuality is “an abomination” was ruled to be “hate speech.”
“Around the world, many countries are following the European model, which says hate speech is entirely unprotected and trumps religious liberty,” Stern said.
— An evangelical student wearing a T-shirt that said “Homosexuality is a sin” was suspended from school because the shirt challenged “the essence” of some of the other students. His suspension was upheld in court.
“Whether attacks on a person’s ‘essence’ are reason to deny free speech is questionable,” the attorney said.
— A physician who refused to treat a lesbian couple who wanted artificial insemination was sued by the couple and lost in court.
“Are we going to ask doctors to sign documents that violate their doctrinal beliefs” as a condition of licensure? Stern asked.
— An Orthodox Jewish university that designated certain housing for married couples only was accused of discrimination for denying a same-sex couple a place there and eventually was forced to open the housing to any couple.

Rights of association. Rights of speech. Professional rights. All must fall, and the promise from the demolitionists is always that not much more needs to be removed, that the structure will hold, and that we don’t need principles that uphold the rights of “bigots” (as their opposition gets branded) anyway. Unfortunately, we will all have to live in the society that they attempt to rebuild upon the morass that remains after their destruction.

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rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Homosexual marriage is only as subversive as one allows it to be. Until someone can show me clearly and demonstratively that it harms hetero marriages, I see no problem.

msteven
msteven
13 years ago

I agree that granting a divorce in a state where the marriage would not be granted is not a ‘no-brainer’ and certainly not an example of bigotry. I commented about this before and the question is whether the State of RI treats the couple as ‘married’ in other ways. But I wanted to respond to the pat of your post where you identify examples of the experiences religious organizations and your view of the related stress cracks in our culture as a result of these. The Sea Scouts, a branch of the Boy Scouts of America, was denied use of a public wharf in California because Boy Scouts do not permit homosexuals as leaders. —- I don’t agree with the decision makers for use of the public wharf but they have the same right to make that decision as do decision makers who deny participation or use of their public events because they believe homosexuality is immoral. In Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal, a religious organization’s billboard quoting from the Bible that homosexuality is “an abomination” was ruled to be “hate speech.” —- Again, I don’t agree with the whole ‘hate speech’ concept but are you defending the billboard? How about if there was a billboard saying “People who haven’t accepted Jesus are going to He__”. I’m not saying the billboard should be a criminal offense, but I can certainly understand a decision where its content would be denied as appropriate material for a public billboard. “Around the world, many countries are following the European model, which says hate speech is entirely unprotected and trumps religious liberty,” Stern said. —– This is unfortunate and should be completely unnecessary. Like I said, I’m not in favor of hate speech laws but that doesn’t mean that anything said or done in… Read more »

Marty
Marty
13 years ago

Depriving a child of his father — because of your own inability to love a male — is an extreme form of sexist bigotry, and a cruel and unusual thing to do to a kid.

Pragmatist
Pragmatist
13 years ago

“Unfortunately, we will all have to live in the society that they attempt to rebuild upon the morass that remains after their destruction.” Morass and Destruction? Tragedies and sledgehammers and “ireedemable subversives!” Yes, indeed, the end times are nigh! By the way, the “irredemable subversives” label is a nice little Black shirt type of label. A funny thing about self-styled social “conservatives” is that their rhetoric and essential arguments remain the same over the decades and centuries. Ah, that infernal Enlightenment will be the end of us all. Science questioning the wisdom handed down for centuries by theocrats? And how can society survive if women are permitted to vote and work and own property??!! That overturns every legal precedent about the ownership of property and the foundation of the family unit and the ordering of society. More, who could imagine a mixing of the races in the same schools and — gasp –the same families! Egads! That is against the natural order of the universe and the way centuries of Christians have lived. Yes, Justin, you do indeed exemplify the William Buckley definition of a conservative — the guy “standing athwart history yelling stop.” And I recognize that conservatives like yourself are useful in the grand scheme of things to temper the excesses of extreme progressives, just as they in turn are useful to prod things along. But happily for society, the march of history is against you. Society has a way of adjusting to change and making it all work out even as more and more people gain new freedoms. I am sorry that you are gripped by so much fear of societal change. Gloom, gloom, doom, and more doom is your theme song I suppose. Not a happy time for you. But like your anti-abolitionist, anti-suffrage, and anti-enlightenment… Read more »

George
George
13 years ago

Prag, I don’t see the message of gloom. I see optimism that differentiation, yes DISCRIMINATION! between right and wrong, will prevail in the long run. What is right has prevailled in the issues of race and gender that you mention. I have great confidence that what is morally right with respect to marriage will prevail in the long run, even if morally confused communities such as hours suffer a temporary lapse in the wrong direction.

Pragmatist
Pragmatist
13 years ago

George,
Yes, you are right that social conservatives have rallied the forces against social change from time to time in reactionary movements. The Klan in this country is an obvious example and the fascists in europe is another.
But through both the long term and short term perspectives, social conservatives are always fighting a game of defense that can’t be won.
Over the long term, personal freedoms have increased steadily and unstoppably in countless ways since the 17th century, despite the opposition of traditionalists. And in just the last few decades, there has been a massive shift in public acceptance of concepts like racial and gender equality, and more recently, the acceptance of sexual orientation. In the case of the latter, the shift in opinion among the younger generations is astounding.
Yeah, the old men can grumble about the world going to hell in a handbasket. And some powerful old men can even use a populist platform to whip the crowd into a reactionary interlude, but traditionalists can’t win the fight in the long term. That’s why it’s called progress.
Cue: Time for traditionalists to recite quote from an old hack like Russell Kirk and hrumph about all that “progress” nonesense.

Marty
Marty
13 years ago

So the pragmatist can easily excuse sexist bigotry, perpetrated against children no less, by calling us all “reactionaries”.
How nice. Sleep well tonight.

Pragmatist
Pragmatist
13 years ago

Marty,
If a man has paternity rights to a child, he can establish his parental rights through the court system, regardless of the orientation of the parties.
I am befuddled by your “sexist bigotry” comment.
Of course, as a conservative, you probably have a problem with those unelected black robes deciding things. Ugh.

smmtheory
smmtheory
13 years ago

Or maybe it’s just a problem with people who teach their children their hatred of the opposite sex.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

The problem we’ll have if this gets on the Assembly floor is that for all conservatives complain about the budget, unions, etc., same-sex marriage is an issue that hits them on a deeper, more visceral level.
This issue will suck all the air out of the room, like casinos did last year.

joe
joe
13 years ago

i never gave a damn about homosexuals or what they did between consenting adults,but their aggressive posture in the last few years has made me kind of pissed off-it is not normal to be a homosexual-i also think that in most people they don’t choose to be that way,but i am sick and tired of the attempt to present homosexuality as something equivalent to skin color,left handedness,national origin,physical deformity,etc-those are not behavioral matters and homosexuality is all about behavior based on orientation-just because some egghead psychologists decided it was not a disorder doesn’t make it normal and we shouldn’t have to turn our society upside down to accomodate it- the best approach is to not do any harm to these people but to steadfastly as a society refuse to normalize it-the harder they try to foist this “normalization” on the rest of us the more forceful the reaction will eventually be

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