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January 29, 2005

Illinois Establishes Religion

Rod Blagojevich, the governor of Illinois, better brace himself for litigation:

"What we're doing today is older than scripture: Love thy neighbor," the governor told the audience yesterday, according to the Associated Press. "It's what Jesus said when he gave his Sermon on the Mount: 'Do unto others what you would have others do unto you."'

As the refrain so often goes: what right do the executive and legislative branches of the Illinois government have to force their religious views on the people of that state? Surely the letter from the ACLU is already in the mail.

Well, perhaps a letter of congratulations. According to Bryan Preston, the ACLU supports this legislation, which:

... adds "sexual orientation" to the state law that bars discrimination based on race, religion and similar traits in areas such as jobs and housing.

... the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Carol Ronen, D-Chicago, is on record stating it should be applied to churches, meaning they would not be allowed, for example, to reject a job applicant who practices homosexual behavior.

Ronen said: "If that is their goal, to discriminate against gay people, this law wouldn't allow them to do that. But I don't believe that's what the Catholic Church wants or stands for."

As the governor apparently knows, one of the First Amendment's penumbrae covers the establishment of religious views when it involves turning scripture back on the people who actually believe in it. Most Christians would have others do unto them reasonable measures to turn them away from sin. Well, the government of Illinois is only too happy to oblige.

(via Lane Core's weekly Blogworthies)

Posted by Justin Katz at January 29, 2005 7:28 PM
Religion
Comments

Thanks.

Posted by: ELC at January 30, 2005 1:30 PM

I completely agree with your post on this.
If the ACLU had any credibility, it would sue Illinois on the basis that it made a law based on religious beliefs and doctrine.

Wait for it ....

Posted by: Mark Miller at January 30, 2005 5:20 PM

Why should people have the right not to hire someone just because they are gay? Are people that afraid of being around gays that they have to keep them out of the workforce? I would suggest that the world is moving on from the narrow bigotry of days past.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at January 31, 2005 3:14 AM

Joel,

I'm not saying that it is right to not hire (or fire) someone because of their sexual preference. I feel that in public employment and housing, that sexual preference should be a protected status.

But I do object to the plea towards Christianity as the basis for it. I also object to the statement by Sen. Ronen that this law may somehow be applied to churches. To me, that is clearly against the separation of church and state which gives churches the legal right to reject an applicant based on what they stand for.

I am a strong believer that the state and church need not stand for the all the same things - and that street goes both ways.

Posted by: Mark Miller at January 31, 2005 9:24 AM

Others have said that the amendment just piggy-backs on a law that already exempts churches. I agree that churches should be able to hire or not hire anyone they see fit as an extension of first amendment rights.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at January 31, 2005 12:22 PM

Why should only churches have freedom of association? I would like to refuse to hire people who engage in all sorts of behaviors, sexual and otherwise. Why would you deny me that freedom?

Posted by: Ben Bateman at January 31, 2005 1:56 PM

That is fair - as long as it extends both ways.

Does someone have the right to refuse to hire someone on the basis of their relationship with someone of a different race ?

Does someone have the right to refuse to hire someone on the basis of their affiliation with a particular political agenda ?

Does someone who is an atheist have the right to refuse to hire someone on the basis of their belief in God ?

Does a woman have the right not to hire a man on the basis of her angry feelings towards men stemming from her divorce ?

If not, why would you deny those that freedom?

Posted by: Mark Miller at January 31, 2005 2:25 PM

My comment was specifically about behaviors, Mark. None of your counterexamples necessarily involve behaviors. This is why the claimed SSM parallel to race offends so many. You don't choose your race or your sex.

Perhaps you also don't choose your sexual urges, but you do choose whether to act on them. I don't doubt that a great many pedophiles don't choose to be attracted to children. I still expect them not to act on those urges.

Behavior isn't the only basis on which people should be free to choose whom they associate with. But it should be the least controversial. A more nuanced law would recognize a distinction between public tax-funded institutions and private businesses. It would also see a difference--and this is the one that eludes most liberals--between a type of discrimination being morally wrong and it being illegal.

If you're really worried about rampant discrimination based on viewpoint, how about a crusade against academia? The viewpoint discrimination there is far more rampant and open than whatever anti-gay prejudice the State of Illinois hopes to erase. The failure to call academia to account for its bigotry demonstrates to me that these types of laws have nothing to do with nondiscrimination and everything to do with using law to punish political enemies.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at January 31, 2005 3:13 PM

My comment was specifically about behaviors, Mark. None of your counterexamples necessarily involve behaviors. This is why the claimed SSM parallel to race offends so many. You don't choose your race or your sex.

Actually, all those examples were based on choice. You may not choose to be black but you choose to marry someone who is white. You may not choose to have Republican leanings but you choose to act upon them by registering Republican and voting Republican. And you definitely choose to believe in God and by going to church you act on that belief.

Perhaps you also don't choose your sexual urges, but you do choose whether to act on them. I don't doubt that a great many pedophiles don't choose to be attracted to children. I still expect them not to act on those urges.

I find this pedophilia analogy offensive. With pedophilia you have one person who is legally allowed to consent to sex and one who isn't. It isn't a matter of two adults making a choice.

Behavior isn't the only basis on which people should be free to choose whom they associate with. But it should be the least controversial. A more nuanced law would recognize a distinction between public tax-funded institutions and private businesses.

I agree. But then churches need to give up their tax exempt status and operate as a private organization.

Posted by: Michael at January 31, 2005 3:25 PM

"I find this pedophilia analogy offensive."

I find these repeated appeals to your emotions as a form of argument tiresome. Whether you find an argument offensive or not has little relevance to its cogency.

Ben said, "I still expect them not to act on those urges."

And you reply, "It isn't a matter of two adults making a choice."

Which is a non-sequiter. The adult is, in fact, making a choice to act upon his urges. The issue is acting upon urges, regardless of whether you find any particular action morally wrong or not.

Posted by: Mike S. at January 31, 2005 3:41 PM

Yes, Ben, I would, when that behavior has no relevance to the ability to perform work responsibilities. America has been on a hateful witch hunt against homosexuals for too long. Once upon a time, people considered being Catholic a behavior and character defect and accordingly refused to hire Catholics.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at January 31, 2005 4:01 PM

"My comment was specifically about behaviors, Mark. None of your counterexamples necessarily involve behaviors. This is why the claimed SSM parallel to race offends so many. You don't choose your race or your sex.
Perhaps you also don't choose your sexual urges, but you do choose whether to act on them. I don't doubt that a great many pedophiles don't choose to be attracted to children. I still expect them not to act on those urges."

I would say that the first two of my examples do refer to behaviors – in the same way as yours does. Someone may be attracted to a member of another race but should they be expected to refrain from that? Someone may be interested in getting involved in a political issue that offends some? Should that affect his or her employment possibilities?

"Behavior isn't the only basis on which people should be free to choose whom they associate with. But it should be the least controversial. A more nuanced law would recognize a distinction between public tax-funded institutions and private businesses. It would also see a difference--and this is the one that eludes most liberals--between a type of discrimination being morally wrong and it being illegal."

I agree that the law should recognize the distinction between public tax-funded institutions and private businesses.

The other difference you mentioned is very significant. We agree that this is about the difference between what is deemed morally wrong and what deemed is illegal. There are those that wish to criminalize homosexuality in the same way pedophilia is. There are those that view abortion as murder but are forced into subsidizing it via taxpayer dollar. There are those that are vehemently against the war in Iraq but are forced to subsidize that. I don’t think the distinction is limited to only eluding liberals.

"If you're really worried about rampant discrimination based on viewpoint, how about a crusade against academia? The viewpoint discrimination there is far more rampant and open than whatever anti-gay prejudice the State of Illinois hopes to erase. The failure to call academia to account for its bigotry demonstrates to me that these types of laws have nothing to do with nondiscrimination and everything to do with using law to punish political enemies."

I am in agreement with you on this. It is hypocritical to chastise Bob Jones University for its views and not do the same for Yale. Academia is heading in the direction of diversity in every way … except for diversity of thought.

Posted by: Mark Miller at January 31, 2005 4:22 PM

The best all-around solution to this type of thing is to make it mandatory for all employees to sign a "morals" contract. As a religous organization, it only makes sense that if the organization wants to enforce morals, it's better to enforce morals among the entire employee population to prove that their practices are non-discriminatory.

Posted by: smmtheory at January 31, 2005 11:38 PM

I think Marks examples are all very good and arguable points, behaviorally and otherwise. Perhaps i'll get into them later.

But i just HAD to laugh at Michael, who said with a straight face:

But then churches need to give up their tax exempt status and operate as a private organization.

If you really want to remove the free speech muzzle from the dog of religion, be my guest. But if you think the religious right displayed its power in the last election -- while legally prohibited from 'partisan political' activity -- just wait & see what happens when you make it legal (albeit taxable) for us.

Woof Woof!

Posted by: Marty at February 1, 2005 12:02 AM

SMM: "The best all-around solution to this type of thing is to make it mandatory for all employees to sign a "morals" contract."

Written or unwritten, the trouble is that people like Joel don't want you to have the freedom to do that. If they see a particular behavioral discrimination as morally wrong, then they want to use the law to prevent it. The debate should not be on any given behavior. People will always disagree on the particulars. The debate should focus on the starting premise: To what extent should we have freedom of association?

I start by presuming that people should be allowed freedom of association absent some extremely compelling reason to the contrary. But the liberals seem to start from the opposite end. They don't want you to make any decision that they would disapprove of.

It's a fundamental question in American politics: Should people be free unless we have a really good reason to restrain them, or should we restrain them and only allow them freedom once we're sure they won't do anything bad with it?

Posted by: Ben Bateman at February 1, 2005 1:50 PM

No, Ben, I don't want people to be free not to hire blacks. That was the KKK's agenda and I don't want any part of it. You're welcome to keep gays out of your house, your car, your boat, or your playhouse. But in public society morality mandates otherwise.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at February 1, 2005 3:42 PM

Of course, "being" black, and "being" gay are really two different things aren't they Joel? "Being black" doesn't really imply any particular immoral behavior at all...

I believe the question at hand is about moral behavior (or lack thereof), not something benign like skin color or left-handedness.

Posted by: Marty at February 1, 2005 6:46 PM

Joel, I'm glad that you're open about your desire to take away our freedoms. What other freedoms do you plan to take away? Will you permit us to smoke? May we eat too much?

Perhaps you personally don't favor personal behavior restrictions, though certainly others do. So let's address employment: May we prefer hiring attractive people instead of ugly ones? May we prefer smart people over stupid ones? May we prefer moral people over immoral ones?

If we can discriminate in some of those ways, may we decide for ourselves how to do it, or will you tell us how?

Suppose I think that redheads are unattractive. Can I refuse to hire them on that basis?

Suppose that I think that people with poor grammar and diction are unintelligent? Can I refuse to hire them even if that disproportionately affects blacks or hispanics?

Suppose I think that people who go to church are more likely to be moral than those who don't. Can I refuse to hire people who don't go to church? What if I take alcohol or drug use as a sign of poor morals?

The deep problem with your line of thought is that it carries no self-limitation. If the government can punitively regulate cigarettes, then why not fast food? If the government can forbid private discrimination on race or sex, then why not forbid discrimination on any other criterion that someone might object to?

The only defensible line I can see, which Marty mentioned, is between voluntary and involuntary status. We don't choose our sex or race. We do choose whether to use drugs or how to have sex.

(Even that distinction has some problems: I didn't choose to be born lacking in atheletic ability, yet jobs in sports are still cruelly denied me. Nature and societal prejudice have also denied the chance to professionally model men's underwear. Does anyone else remember the Saturday Night Live skit in which Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley vied for jobs as Chippendale's dancers? It was a hilarious portrayal of modern utopian thinking on nondiscrimination. Poor Chris Farley couldn't understand why he didn't get the job. He had practiced so hard!)

The expansion of hiring nondiscrimination from race and sex is no mere theoretical argument: Are we free not to hire alcoholics? Not a chance! Alcohol is a disability, you see. Refusing to hire alcoholics or drug addicts is discrimination against the disabled.

Joel, maybe you personally wouldn't push the idea of employment nondiscrimination to its extremes. But you push it knowing that there is no way to stop it without a separate political counter-movement. And if you don't know that it is already being pushed to those extremes, then your ignorance is entirely voluntary.

SSM has the same problem: It has no internal self-limiting logic. There is no way to distinguish gays from other sexual minorities that crave the same legitimization. Those who push SSM have no plan to stop the momentum they're working so hard to create---and no intention of taking responsibility for its consequences.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at February 1, 2005 7:49 PM

Marty,
Depending on worldview and perspective,
of course.
I'd be just as gay (or homosexual, if
you prefer) if I went the rest of my
life without interacting sexually with
anyone else.

It hasn't got anything to do with what
I _do_, after all.

Posted by: Robert at February 1, 2005 7:51 PM

There's a limit to how much time I'm going to spend arguing with people who think discrimination and bigotry is moral. My definition of good and evil is obviously far different than what is expressed here.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at February 1, 2005 10:17 PM

Robert said:
"It hasn't got anything to do with what
I _do_, after all."

Physiologically, a gay practitioner's sexual functions are identical to a non-gay practitioner's. The difference between the two is all in the mind. If sexual attraction were hard-wired into the brain, there would be no turn-offs, turn-ons, no distractions from kids banging on the door, no distractions from the phone ringing, no worrying about performance would interfere with performance, it would all be wham-bam-thank-you-man(ma'am).

Posted by: smmtheory at February 1, 2005 11:05 PM

Joel said:
"But in public society morality mandates otherwise."

Two things with this statement.

1)When I sometimes make the arguement against same sex marriage from the morality pov, I keep hearing "You can't legislate morality."

2)Isn't this in effect legislating morality? Who's morality is being legislated really? Is it the public's, or is it somebody elses idea of what the morality is suppose to be?

I'm not really arguing for discrimination toward gay practitioners based on their practices, but when it comes to practices being counter to an organization's visible stance they should either toe the line or do without.

Posted by: smmtheory at February 2, 2005 7:04 AM

If you really want to remove the free speech muzzle from the dog of religion, be my guest.

Laugh all you want. I honestly don't think that religion has been muzzled all that much. But you cannot be afraid of free speech. It actually might hurt some churches, though, since private donations wouldn't be tax-exempt either. Although I think that each church should set up an independent non-profit charitible organization so they can continue to do good work unfettered by taxes.

If sexual attraction were hard-wired into the brain, there would be no turn-offs, turn-ons, no distractions from kids banging on the door, no distractions from the phone ringing, no worrying about performance would interfere with performance, it would all be wham-bam-thank-you-man(ma'am).

This makes no sense at all. Being hungry when your stomach is empty is hard-wired into the brain and yet every one of those distractions you mentioned can keep you from eating food when the refrigerator is stocked in the next room.

:I'm not really arguing for discrimination toward gay practitioners based on their practices, but when it comes to practices being counter to an organization's visible stance they should either toe the line or do without.

I'm not a lawyer but I think there is legal precedent for terminating a worker if their actions would run the reputation of the organization. For example, if a company's directive were to promote marriage and repeal no-fault divorce, I don't think that you could fire a secretary for getting a divorce (since he has no public role) but you could fire the vice-president because she would do damage to the reputation of the organization.

Posted by: Michael at February 2, 2005 9:56 AM

Michael,

I don't know whether I agree with smmtheory in total, but your response doesn't cut it:

Being hungry when your stomach is empty is hard-wired into the brain and yet every one of those distractions you mentioned can keep you from eating food when the refrigerator is stocked in the next room.

The distractions may keep you from eating, but they don't take away the hunger; they can sap the sex drive.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 2, 2005 10:07 AM

The distractions may keep you from eating, but they don't take away the hunger; they can sap the sex drive.

Now you're just nit-picking. The sex drive will eventually return. Maybe not as quickly as the hunger, but it will. And you've never had so much on your mind or been distracted by something important like your kid skinning his knee and you having to comfort him that the sensation of the hunger went away?

At the same time, the heterosexual will eventually sate his sex drive or suppress it fully. That doesn't mean it isn't hardwired. Unless he's using a completely different definition of hardwired than the rest of the population.

Posted by: Michael at February 2, 2005 12:25 PM

Joel said,

There's a limit to how much time I'm going to spend arguing with people who think discrimination and bigotry is moral. My definition of good and evil is obviously far different than what is expressed here.

Ah, yes, the moral/legal equivalence canard. Even if all discrimination and/or bigotry were immoral, which is self-evidently untrue (would you hire someone with an IQ of 80 to do your taxes?), it does not follow that it should be made illegal. Do you think it is morally acceptable for a father to spend all his time working and not pay any attention to his kids? If so, should we pass laws against it?

If you can't answer Ben's arguments in a reasonable manner, then I guess taking your comments and going home is the next best option...

Posted by: Mike S. at February 2, 2005 1:07 PM

Robert: "I'd be just as gay (or homosexual, if you prefer) if I went the rest of my life without interacting sexually with anyone else."

You raise an important point, which is what we mean by the word 'homosexuality' or 'gay.' In some usages it's strictly behavioral; in others it's mental as well. I wish that we had more precise terms to distinguish the subcategories. I see big differences between:

1) those who experience homosexual desires, but don't act on them,
2) those who act on homosexual desires without leading a sex-focused life, and
3) those who both act on homosexual desires and make those actions a major portion of their identity.

My only dispute is with those in the third category, especially those within that category who publicize their sexual self-identification. I really pity anyone who considers their preferred method of sex to be one of their defining features: "Bob over there likes to be on top. But me, I like the position on page 16 of the Kama Sutra." What a pathetic and shallow life! The problem isn't the method of sex; it's the obsession with sex.

Joel: "There's a limit to how much time I'm going to spend arguing with people who think discrimination and bigotry is moral."

It's always dangerous to make broad claims about what other people think, unless you're merely repeating what that person said. Calling the other guy a poopie-head just means that you don't really know what to say next.

Please distinguish between law and morality. I don't recall saying anything about whether it would be moral to discriminate on various criteria. I was talking about law--the threat of government punishment. That's quite different from general morality.

Joel, you are proposing to use the government to punish me and others for failing to adhere to your vision of morality. That is a very serious matter. Your intellectual basis for turning loose the uniformed men with gun and clubs should be a little firmer than gut feelings and name-calling.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at February 2, 2005 1:30 PM

The whole question of 'hard-wiring' is irrelevant, in my opinion. For one thing, it is essentially impossible to tease out the 'nature'(genetic 'hard-wiring') and 'nuture' (environmental effects) of most human behaviors. Whether a given person's sexual attraction, or sexual attraction in general, is primarily genetic, primarily environmental, or some mixture of the two (my favored view) is irrelevant to its morality. Michael, Robert, and other homosexuals who comment here invariably object to comparisons of homosexual behavior to other types of behavior with a negative connotation. On the one hand, they say, "but that's who I am - you are denying my humanity, something that is intrinsically part of me." The comparisons, implicit or explicit, to factors like skin color or height or personality traits, are encouraged. But on the other hand, any comparison to intrinsic predispositions for negative behavior, such as pedophilia, bisexuality, or alcoholism, are ruled out of bounds. Morally, people don't condemn alcoholics for being alcoholic (or shouldn't) - they condemn them for drinking too much (with the subsequent negative effects) when they know they are alcoholic. The alcoholism itself is morally neutral - it's how the individual responds to that biological/physiological fact that matters. In the case of sexual preference, it is obvious that every sexual behavior is not morally acceptable. So one's predisposition to this or that sexual behavior cannot be determinative as to which behaviors are moral.

The biological/physiological fact that someone is attracted to members of the same gender is not in and of itself a reason to respect or condone homosexual behavior, any more than the biological/physiological fact of a predisposition towards alcoholism is a reason to respect or condone drinking to excess.

Posted by: Mike S. at February 2, 2005 1:32 PM

Joel, you are proposing to use the government to punish me and others for failing to adhere to your vision of morality. That is a very serious matter. Your intellectual basis for turning loose the uniformed men with gun and clubs should be a little firmer than gut feelings and name-calling.

And yet your anti-SSM policies are using the government (who must sanction all civil marriages) to punish me for failing to adhere to *your* vision of morality. And yet this is acceptable?

Posted by: Michael at February 2, 2005 3:21 PM

Oy vey, Michael. You just papered over so many distinctions that I don't have time to list them.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 2, 2005 3:24 PM

All I'm saying is that it is evil to refuse to hire someone because they are gay.

I might feel differently if anyone could just go stake out a plot of land, build a house on it and grow some crops to eat. We can't do that, however, as our ability to make a living necessarily means we must interact with other human beings. If people can be denied jobs because they are gay, then it would have to then be moral for them to steal what they need to survive.

If folks had taken the time to condemn as absolutely immoral the refusal to hire someone because of sexual orientation, then I might have respect for the position that it shouldn't be imposed as a matter of law.

If discrimination should be allowed under the law, then let's pass a law that says it is legal not to hire someone if they are a Christian.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at February 2, 2005 3:26 PM

With all due respect, Joel, do you moor your views to anything approaching practical reality? I dislike discrimination laws as a blanket reaction, but I can understand the argument (in the past) that blacks were so locked out of the economy that they were necessary. Are you saying that homosexuals are starving en masse because they cannot find employment? That doesn't pass the laugh test.

As for making it okay to discriminate against Christians in the private sector, I can only speak for myself, and I would never think to sue somebody who didn't want me as an employee for whatever reason (and there are apparently a lot of such somebodies in my neck of the woods). Furthermore, at this point, I'd support legislation to remove all such private-sector discrimination laws.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 2, 2005 3:33 PM

Justin,

So my view that hatred of Catholics is rooted in evil isn't grounded in practical reality? My view that racial discrimination is wrong isn't rooted in practical reality?

My view that people shouldn't discriminate on the basis of race or gender isn't rooted in practical reality.

Long before you were born, I was defending Catholicism from critics who charged that the Pope is the anti-Christ and that Catholics are going to hell. My support for Catholics isn't rooted in practical reality?

Maybe I'd feel differently if I felt that you had anything close to a Christian love for gays. However, as far as I can see, you never highlight their talents or gifts or express any genuine Christian affection for them as people apart from their lifestyle. But you're quick to express your moral outrage at anyone who would try to provide for civil rights. I don't get it.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at February 2, 2005 4:59 PM

Joel,

You're talking about the law. However much we may agree or disagree, and as those on my side of the same-sex marriage issue are constantly reminded, the law requires more concrete justifications than any given citizen's sense of evil. So I ask you: are homosexuals so unable to find work that the law has to step in? Do you have a single bit of concrete evidence to claim that theft ought to be moral among homosexuals because other options — such as applying for other jobs — are closed to them?

And I've no idea what it is you're asking of me here:

However, as far as I can see, you never highlight their talents or gifts or express any genuine Christian affection for them as people apart from their lifestyle.

I can think of specific homosexuals whom I've complimented, supported, and even promoted in capacities other than their orientation. I can think of many more times when I've spoken well of people and their achievements without knowing their orientation. It sounds like you're giving value to that flavor of compliment that claims to value somebody despite quality X while making it clear that quality X is of central importance to the compliment's being offered.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 2, 2005 5:12 PM

Joel: "All I'm saying is that it is evil to refuse to hire someone because they are gay."

I thought you were saying that it should be illegal to refuse to hire someone because they're gay. Lots of evil things are illegal. Most illegal things are evil. Which are you talking about?

"If discrimination should be allowed under the law, then let's pass a law that says it is legal not to hire someone if they are a Christian."

It already is legal not to hire Christians, at least in a practical sense. Academia has been excluding them for decades, at least the evangelicals, and no one seems to mind.

This is a big part of why I'm very suspicious of nondiscrimination laws: They're always applied very selectively. The Canadian government will fine you for publishing Bible verses that offend gays, but if you set out to offend Christians you'll probably get government funding.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at February 2, 2005 6:09 PM

Here's the type of situation that anti-discrimination laws are intended to prevent:
Mary applied for a job as an administrative assistant. She is eminently qualified, has good references, and is hired.
Six months later, someone who recognizes her from work sees her coming out of a lesbian bar. That someone calls her boss. She is given two weeks notice. No problems with her job performance or on-duty behavior; they just didn't want someone like 'that' working there.

And yes, that sort of thing happens. Not as much as it used to, largely because (in many places) it's been declared illegal. But it still happens.

I haven't heard of many instances where someone's been fired because the boss found out they go to Mass on Sunday.

Also, the comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism, insofar as it's all right as long as you don't actually _drink_, is sufficiently risible that I'm going to share it with my husband tonight.

Posted by: Robert at February 2, 2005 7:49 PM

This is all so rediculous... i'm getting very tired of arguing with people who insist square pegs belong in round holes.

Lets see, if you're hungry, you'll eat. If you can't eat -- or won't - you'll die. If there's food availible, and you won't eat it, you'll die. If there food availible, you'll eat it -- even if it doesn't taste so great -- because you want to live.

This is why you see gay couples in fertility clinic's. They're hungry for something, and do not want to die. So they eat something distasteful (heterosexuality), even if it means disguising the taste behind clinical a veil.

--

Robert seems to think that someone would still be descriminating against him even if he never had sex with other men... why, because you have a "roomate", or dress funny and collect Judy Garland movies? Well, people say i walk like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, and I suppose i may have been descriminated against for that, at one time or another. Or maybe it was my accent, or maybe they knew my ugly brother from someplace... Or maybe, just perhaps, it was because i walked around telling everyone that square pegs fit into round holes, and nobody ever bought it... who knows the myriad reasons why people descrimiate here and there... is it ALL going to be illegal???

I'll try to catch up with the rest later. Somoene tell me, was Mike pro-Roe or not?

Posted by: Marty at February 2, 2005 8:49 PM

Marty,
I think his answer was a resounding "I don't know". Or maybe it was a "Yes, providing there is suitable legislation to provide the same effect."

Posted by: smmtheory at February 2, 2005 9:16 PM

Robert,

"Also, the comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism, insofar as it's all right as long as you don't actually _drink_, is sufficiently risible that I'm going to share it with my husband tonight."

How about nymphomania and alcoholism? Pedophila and alcoholism? Bisexuality and alcoholism? A propensity to drastically overeat and alcoholism?

Can you please elucidate the criteria by which you divide biological/physiological impulses into the "imperative to indulge" (or "it's my right to indulge") and "must be restrained or not acted upon" categories? Surely you don't think all sexual impulses must be acted upon - what is the criteria for distinguishing those that should from those that shouldn't? And how does that criteria relate to the definition of marriage?

Posted by: Mike S. at February 3, 2005 12:48 PM

I didn't marry my husband because of a
"biological/physiological impulse", I
married him because I loved him and wanted
to share my life with him as long as we
both shall live. Fortunately, he felt the
same.

If you don't believe that my married life
is about more that rutting, I won't attempt
to convince you. But without that, discussing
the matter with you is like picking up an egg
by the handle.

Posted by: Robert at February 3, 2005 3:51 PM

Just curious Robert, does your "husband" refer to you as his "husband" also?

Posted by: Marty at February 3, 2005 6:13 PM

Marty,
yes, he does.

Posted by: Robert at February 3, 2005 6:29 PM

That is just sooooo gay

:P

Posted by: Marty at February 3, 2005 9:42 PM

Robert,

How did we get from this question:

Can you please elucidate the criteria by which you divide biological/physiological impulses into the "imperative to indulge" (or "it's my right to indulge") and "must be restrained or not acted upon" categories? Surely you don't think all sexual impulses must be acted upon - what is the criteria for distinguishing those that should from those that shouldn't? And how does that criteria relate to the definition of marriage?

To this:

I didn't marry my husband because of a
"biological/physiological impulse", I
married him because I loved him and wanted
to share my life with him as long as we
both shall live. Fortunately, he felt the
same.

If you don't believe that my married life is about more that rutting, I won't attempt to convince you. But without that, discussing the matter with you is like picking up an egg by the handle.

Of course you 'married' your husband because you loved him, but you married a man because you are attracted to men. And I wasn't implying that your marriage was about rutting (see below).

This thread has been discussing whether it is OK to discriminate against gay people, and how we define what being gay means. Since discussions of discrimination must, by law, refer to discrimination against blacks, we were trying to determine the differences between being black and being gay. Being gay is simply a mental state, whether or not it is hard-wired. Having black skin is not. The only way anyone else can know if you are gay is based on your behavior. You say, "It hasn't got anything to do with what I _do_, after all." But of course it does: your mental state of being attracted to men is prior to your acting on that state, yes, but we make distinctions (i.e. discriminate) based upon different behaviors, not on people's mental states. You are equating your mental state with your behavior (e.g. the alcoholism analogy was laughable because the idea of not acting on your mental state seems ludicrous to you), which can't be a general logical proposition because there are many negative mental states that we don't consider it appropriate to act upon. And you are claiming that your particular behavior is no different from monogamous heterosexuals' behavior. I want to know how you reach that conclusion.

The final question about marriage was in anticipation of the "consenting adults" or "no harm" argument. If you say that your behavior is morally acceptable because nobody is harmed by it, then why is that not an argument for various other relationships to be declared marriages, as well?

Posted by: Mike S. at February 3, 2005 10:17 PM

Mike,

I hate to say it but I think the path from your question to his response is a logically legitimate one.

You clearly don't agree that the 'biological/physiological impulses' towards homosexuality is no different than heterosexuality but your assertion that it is different is no more scientifically legitimate than Robert's that it is not.

"And you are claiming that your particular behavior is no different from monogamous heterosexuals' behavior. I want to know how you reach that conclusion."

The answer is - in the same way in which you reach the opposite conclusion.

I do agree with you that the "consenting adults" or "no harm" argument is a poor one, especially as it applies to SSM. Incestuous or polygamous relationships would also fall under the "consenting adults" and "no harm" arguments. Yet we, as a society, have drawn lines as to what types of relationships we choose to legitimize and legally acknowledge. And these choices are made based on a number of factors, including moral ones.

Posted by: Mark Miller at February 4, 2005 11:42 AM

Mark,

"You clearly don't agree that the 'biological/physiological impulses' towards homosexuality is no different than heterosexuality but your assertion that it is different is no more scientifically legitimate than Robert's that it is not."

First of all, science has nothing to do with it. Second, I didn't claim that the impulse was intrinsically different, I'm claiming that one's response to any given impulse depends upon making moral distinctions.

"The answer is - in the same way in which you reach the opposite conclusion."

And how is that?

Posted by: Mike S. at February 4, 2005 12:05 PM

Based on our history of rhetorical exchanges, I think we should keep this short.

I agree that this has nothing to do with science.

I agree that this about making moral distinctions.

"The answer is - in the same way in which you reach the opposite conclusion."
And how is that?
---- by making a moral distinction.

Posted by: Mark Miller at February 4, 2005 1:43 PM

Mark,
I must thank you - you expressed what I
was going to say, more succinctly and
probably much more clearly than I was going
to.
As Marco Polo would say, what need of more words?

Posted by: Robert at February 4, 2005 2:01 PM

This is like trying to catch a greased watermelon in a pool.

"---- by making a moral distinction."

How does one arrive at this particular moral distinction? I want you, or Robert, or both of you to lay out the arguments by which you arrive at the conclusion that homosexual behavior is no different morally from heterosexual behavior. Something more sophisticated than, "that's just how I am."

Posted by: Mike S. at February 4, 2005 5:47 PM

"As Marco Polo would say, what need of more words?"

Well, I don't need more words from you, but you haven't addressed the question. If you are interested in doing so, then you need to use some more words. If you aren't interested, then you can hardly complain when I'm not convinced by the "SSM is the right thing to do because I feel strongly that it is the right thing to do."

Posted by: Mike S. at February 4, 2005 5:51 PM

Your concerns have been addressed.

We don't believe there is a moral distinction between homosexuality and heterosexuality.

An explanation is not required here and asking for the logic is rhetorical on your part - whether you understand that or not.

There are people who feel there is no moral distinction between marrying someone of the same color and those who choose to marry someone of a different color.

There are people who feel there is no moral distinction between the Holocaust and the War in Iraq.

There are people who feel there is no moral distinction between abortion and murder.

Moral distinctions or lack thereof are used by people on both sides on a number of issues.

Finally, common sense dictates that the onus for explanation is on those who feel that there IS a moral distinction between two things for the reason that it is easier to explain why two things are different things as opposed to why two things are the same.

Posted by: Mark Miller at February 5, 2005 10:44 AM

Mark,

You assert the same thing periodically: "We don't believe there is a moral distinction between homosexuality and heterosexuality." And all of your examples only serve to emphasize the problem with presenting such an assertion as an irreducible belief. Explanation is not only possible but morally imperative for those comparing the Holocaust and the War in Iraq, likewise abortion.

Sometimes contrarily, you seem to believe that the reality and possibility of "moral distinctions" is a trump-all point. "We don't need to worry about the mechanism that will draw the line after same-sex marriage. Society draws moral distinctions, and we'll continue to do so. That's it. End of story." That's not an adequate response. And then you turn around with this:

Finally, common sense dictates that the onus for explanation is on those who feel that there IS a moral distinction between two things for the reason that it is easier to explain why two things are different things as opposed to why two things are the same.

I don't mean this with any disrespect, Mark, but your distinctions and your application of "onus" and "common sense" are entirely arbitrary. Homosexuality and heterosexuality are obviously different (unless you consider yourself to be omnisexual); the question is whether that difference matters. The side that contends that it does not has no more difficulty than the side that contends that it does (as if difficulty of explanation is a legitimate excuse).

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 5, 2005 10:59 AM

Justin,

I haven't seen in your writings any concrete justification for refusing to hire gays. Why are they to be feared or shunned?

In many rural areas, gays do have to leave their homes and go to larger cities in order to find employment. They are treated as modern day lepers and I don't think Christ would be pleased in that.

I don't base my views on my individual sense of evil or right or wrong. I base my views on Christ's commandment of love. My views on the evil of not hiring gays are very Biblical and based in the ethic of love of neighbor and the ideals of Christian community. Ayn Randian philosophy and Christianity are incompatible, in my book. No where in the Bible does it say it is always immoral to achieve a just social order through force of law.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at February 5, 2005 4:29 PM

Justin,

Our difficulty in communication continues …
Your representation of my comment is not accurate. Here is how I see this (paraphrasing and simplification included):

Mike responded to Robert that there was a moral distinction between his homosexual relationship and heterosexual relationships. I said that I felt that there was no moral distinction. Mike said we had to give an explanation as to how we came to that conclusion. I said that our explanation for our conclusion is no different than his explanation for his opposing conclusion. In other words, why can Mike assert his views as an irreducible belief but those with an opposing view have to explain the source, logic and rationale behind their conclusions followed by additional requests for the reasons behind the reasons behind the reasons for those conclusions ? That was my point.

I do understand that the basis for our disagreement is in the ‘moral distinction’. (sort of a ‘duh’) But you seem to be saying that it is only I that am guilty of asserting my view as irreducible beliefs. Please. I am only pointing out that there is another view of homosexual behavior and that view can be a basis for arguments in support of gay rights.

For you to say:
“Explanation is not only possible but morally imperative for those comparing the Holocaust and the War in Iraq, likewise abortion.”
is a distortion of what I wrote.
For you to take that stand, you must be prepared to explain - how do you come to the conclusion that homosexual behavior is immoral ? A silly question at this juncture ? If so, then you know how I feel about responding to Mike.

Sometimes contrarily, you seem to believe that the reality and possibility of "moral distinctions" is a trump-all point. "We don't need to worry about the mechanism that will draw the line after same-sex marriage. Society draws moral distinctions, and we'll continue to do so. That's it. End of story." That's not an adequate response.

I never said that my moral distinction view was a trump-all point for SSM. Actually, I’ve argued that while I disagree with you on the moral issue, that the lack of a moral distinction between those relationships is not enough to support SSM. I’ve simply used it as a response to the view that the existence of the moral distinction is the trump-all point for opposing SSM.

Finally, your distinctions and definitions of where the onus should be are also arbitrary. I’ll go so far to say that most oppositional views are ‘arbitrary’ in nature, by definition, perhaps.

"... the question is whether that difference matters. The side that contends that it does not has no more difficulty than the side that contends that it does (as if difficulty of explanation is a legitimate excuse)."

We agree on the above. But that is not what I meant in my response. To put it simply, I said A=B (in the moral sense) . Mike said A<>B. Mike asked how I came to the conclusion that A=B. Yet in the context of this debate, whether SSM should be allowed, I agree that the onus is on those who want to change the laws. But that is different than having to explain how anyone could come to the conclusion that there is no moral distinction between homosexual and heterosexual relationships - that assumes that the default is that there is a moral distinction. Who defined that as the default ?

Posted by: Mark Miller at February 5, 2005 9:12 PM

Mark,

This one's my fault. I get all comments from every thread in my email, and I think I jumbled things up. I was responding as if the conversation was directly about same-sex marriage, not directly about homosexuality. I apologize.

I do, however, think that a moral distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality can be drawn as a conclusion, not as a premise, but I'm not interested in jumping into that debate at this moment. (Not to worry: I'm sure it'll come up again.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 5, 2005 11:26 PM

Apology accepted.

I think it falls under the perils of being a blogger on an 'up and coming' popular blog.

"... but I'm not interested in jumping into that debate at this moment. (Not to worry: I'm sure it'll come up again.)"

Hard to disagree with that. (said with a smile)

Posted by: Mark Miller at February 7, 2005 8:42 AM