5th Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Same-Sex Marriage Arguments

Have they lost their minds?

Yesterday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments heard arguments on the legal challenges to same-sex marriage bans Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Some of the arguments were jaw-droppingly stupid. Article here.

According to a Texas state lawyer, the same-sex marriage ban is not meant to discriminate against same-sex couples but is it is instead designed to promote “responsible procreation.”

Wow. Let’s unpack that.

Apparently, the state is in the procreation business. Of all the places the government should intrude, the bedroom is perhaps the last. This is coming from the same Republican party that wants to get government out of nearly everything: gun licensing, regulation, taxes, etc. all in the name of “freedom.” When they paint themselves as champions of freedom, they lie. I know of very few Christians who claim to support “religious freedom” when it means allowing minority religions marry same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage bans are faith based initiatives and the majority religion is happy to trample on the rights of anyone who gets in the way.

The spin doctors must have thought up the phrase “responsible procreation.” They seem to be saying that turkey baster babies are “irresponsible procreation.” It doesn’t matter to them if the child produced is cared for and raised in a loving family. If it’s lesbians, it’s irresponsible. What about having a child in one of their “responsible” heterosexual marriages and then the couple putting the child up for adoption? Is that responsible? Is that what the state would like to promote? What about when a same-sex male couple adopts and raises that child same child? That’s bad, apparently. That family should remain unmarried and without family protections for the parents. The same Republican Party fueled by Christian crazy, has worked overtime to force women in the state who cannot afford a child to have one anyway. Family planning and sex education in the state have been sabotaged by the same bunch. Now that’s what “responsible procreation” must be!

If “responsible procreation” were my best argument for a case, I’d save face, pack it up, and just go home. Thankfully, members of the court challenged the insanity. With their questioning, they also poked holes in the idea that marriage is “for” procreation. That’s primarily a religious idea. Remember: religions try to control reproduction because there is no god who can make the next generation of gullible tithers necessary to keep them in business.

Even if the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decides favorably on same-sex marriage, the question will eventually be taken up by the US Supreme Court. Maybe this time, they’ll consider bans under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution’s equal protection clause. If that isn’t a slam dunk on this issue, I’ll be shocked.

Texas Right to Life demonstrates more of the fraud of Christianity

In today’s Austin Statesman, PolitiFact Texas fact checks a claim made by Texas Right to Life concerning an informal poll they did on the University of Texas campus. (Note: the article should appear later on the PolitiFact Texas web site.) Texas Right to Life made a claim that University of Texas Students “signed a petition seeking the legal right to abort newborn babies up to five-years-old.” Yes, that’s right: “aborting” infants, otherwise known as infanticide.

Sadly, Politifact Texas had to rate the lurid claim as half true. In their poll, Texas Right to Life approached students to “sign a petition,” concerning women’s rights and not being terribly honest about the true contents of the poll. Many student signed thinking it was about empowering women. The “poll” apparently involved exactly 30 students, 12 of whom were tricked into signing it. Those that understood the true nature of the poll where aghast. When asked later, one student was shocked at what she had signed. “Had I fully understood the actual position of the organizer was advancing, there is absolutely no way I ever would have signed the petition.”

[Read more…]

Mona Charen on Same-Sex Marriage

Mona Charen is a syndicated right-wing columnist who appears in the Austin American-Statesman. I usually find her pieces loaded with soft-peddled right-wing vitriol and poorly thought out. She published a piece on same-sex marriage on October 13, 2014 titled “Olsen Evades Gay Marriage Questions” in the Washington Examiner. In the Austin American-Statesman, it was titled “Give Acceptance, Without Undermining Marriage.” There is so much wrong in this editorial that it makes me wonder whether she really believes what she’s writing.

First, let me fix some framing that Charen doesn’t address in her editorial. Almost all opposition to same-sex marriage and to treating gays and lesbians as human beings in the United States comes from Christianity. In the 70s, Christian leaders figured out that selling hatred of gays was a big money maker. It was precisely the sort of red meat issue that got the “base” riled up and kept the money flowing. It speaks volumes about the actual morals of Christians that they have created this sort of market. When seen in historical perspective, anti-gay prejudice just another faith-based initiative like the Crusades, Pogroms, Witch Burnings, torture of infidels, slavery apologetics, and murdering of Jews that one might expect from a bunch of people who blindly follow an invisible genocidal maniacal thug whose only communication is a functional Rorschach test for the morally challenged. Today, the homophobia industry is in decline, largely playing itself out in the minds of people who are no longer taken in by the lies and hysteria. The die-hard peddlers of this product are screaming like scared children. The are terrified of having their power and wealth slip away.

To begin her piece, Charen points out the hypocrisy of Ted Olson, a politician who has previously won elections pandering to Christian hatred but who has now read the handwriting on the wall that his message will have to change or he’ll risk losing re-election. We can be overly generous and say he is just representing the evolving views of his constituents. Or we can just chalk it up to politicians being politicians.

After showing her warranted disgust at Olson’s seeming change of principles, Charen asks, “… why not leave the matter [of same-sex marriage] to state legislatures and voters rather than taking the question out of their hands?” The answer is simple: that’s not the kind of country the United States is. The Constitution protects the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority. Perhaps Charen missed the recent Supreme Court ruling on this very question. Maybe she is unaware of a variety of circuit court rulings striking down various marriage laws on the basis of equal protection. I recommend Charen go back to high school and get a civics refresher. A patriot would have a clue how the government works.

And Christians love majority rule, exactly when it allows them to advance their agenda. They claim to follow and have a “relationship” with a dead guy who allegedly said to “do unto others what you would have them do unto you,” but I have yet to meet a single believer who thinks that the marriage rights of Christians should be put up for popular vote by gays. Think about it. If the gays voted against marriage rights for Christians, it would be a delicious just desert for the Christian thugs. If instead they voted for it, it would show that gays own the moral high ground. Either way it’s a win. But that will never happen. Christian leaders wouldn’t allow following their own god-man’s words to get in the way of their political agendas.

Next in her editorial Charen champions the views in Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, an anti-gay hate group. To his credit, Mr. Perkins’s views are unwavering, but far from exemplary. Let’s be clear here. Tony Perkins, Ted Olson, and even Mona Charen herself are all making their livelihoods trading on the rights of other Americans. All three are despicable low-lifes whose ideas are unworthy of consideration, though I fully support their right to express their wrong-headed views. It makes me wonder why Charen even chose Perkins as some sort of champion. It makes me wonder if, were she was writing in the 1500s, would she be in full support of Martin Luther on the question of whether Jews should be able to live, worship, or have businesses.

Throughout her editorial, Charen decries the use of “emotionally laden expressions such as ‘dignity’ and ‘respect’ as if to say that those who resist same-sex marriage are opposed to those civilities.” What amazing irony coming from the defender of a movement that has championed the “sanctity of marriage,” that has insinuated at every turn that gays are out to “recruit” children, that AIDS is God’s wrath on gays, and that gays are out to destroy civilization. The same Christians seem to ignore the fact that, the Catholic Church is a de facto crime ring that molests children with impunity and even gets tax subsidies in the bargain. Does Charen realize how stupid she sounds?

For the record, I’m a married gay man who works hard and makes an honest living. And while I’ve never been a married straight man, I’m pretty sure I feel the same way about my marriage as others do about theirs. I have made a family that I care a lot about. Conservatives seem to feel it is their right to meddle in mine and others’ families. It isn’t their right at all. There isn’t a single person in their ranks qualified to do so. If conservative Christians want to persist in this sort of meddling, please forgive us if we start “doing unto others” and actively sabotage their marriages. We’d only be following their example.

And let’s face facts. Conservatives lie when they say they are for families, liberty, and religious freedom. What they really mean is that they are wanting to control others’ families, take away others’ liberties, and foisting their religion onto others. Religious freedom means that I can be free of the murderous fraud known as Christianity just as others are free to uncritically support it.

Back to the editorial, Charen goes on to assert that the rights of gays and lesbians are not worthy of support because they constitute only a small fraction of the population. What fraction of the population are Christian demagogues? What rights do they deserve? And do I get to take those away? What fraction of the population has sworn allegiance to the Pope (a leader of a foreign government / organized crime ring) while harming US citizens? What fraction of believers kill their children through faith healing, prayer, or though the anti-vaccination craze? Charen quotes CDC statistics on the population size of gays, throwing a bone to those in the base that still are convinced by Christian propaganda that homosexuality is a disease. But the groups I mentioned above have all done measurable harm while gay marriage does not harm anyone. Well, perhaps with the exception of those like Charen who peddle hate for a living. Gay normalcy takes food out of their mouths.

In a pathetic attempt to seem nice, Charen says that gays are worthy of “dignity” and “respect”, but not worthy of the right to build families, have legal protections, enter contracts, and have some measure of security in our later years. I guess to conservatives, they long for the day when they could suppress women, blacks and other minorities and not be called bigots. Perhaps if Charen does return to high school, she could also take in some history about the Jim Crow laws and how “separate but equal” worked out only to benefit the already privileged. I suspect Charen and her readers long for those days. I can’t see why I should be treated as a second class citizen when, quite frankly, I’m a better human being than those trying to oppress me.

Like many conservatives, Charen argues for something resembling traditional marriage, but she and they prefer to be vague about exactly what they mean. Traditionally, a man owned many wives who were his property. The wives had no rights as independent people. This is the concept of marriage in the Bible. I find it ironic that only Christians on the radical fringe think highly enough of their holy book to openly support such a crazy idea while the rest lack moral conviction. But this begs the question of why did the US already destroy traditional marriage by preventing Mormons from taking multiple wives just like Abraham, Solomon, and David did in the Bible? Why don’t Christian conservatives champion the legal framework of women as property, passed from father to husband, with no independent lives? Why do Christians tolerate divorce, especially as instigated by an unhappy wife? Which specific version of marriage do conservative Christians want? If we ever get an answer, let’s check the calendar to see how long this “tradition” has been in force. The perpetual vagueness on what “traditional marriage” means is nothing more than intellectually dishonest attempt at emotional manipulation–precisely what Charen criticized Olson for doing.

Christians and conservatives during the 60s made arguments against mixed race marriages that echo with same-sex marriage arguments today. Back then, the arguments were about God purposefully separating races and fake concern about how the mixed-race children would be treated by bigots as they entered school and public life. Ironically, the bigots were precisely the people making the false and self-serving arguments. Over and over again, history repeats with Christians marching under the banner of God in the wrong direction.

Finally, we get to the meat of Charen’s editorial. She argues that “… same-sex marriage [will send] the message to heterosexuals that mothers and fathers don’t really matter.” If I’m to understand correctly, the idea is that heterosexual couples are not bright enough to raise children without proper cultural meddling, and so the rights of others need to be trashed to set the right ambiance for baby making. I think life would go on splendidly without the Christian conservatives. Christians are obsessed about controlling reproduction for the simple reason that there is no god who can make babies who will grow up to become the next generation of gullible tithers and who will support the parasite class more commonly known as priests and ministers. Penises and uteruses must be co-opted for this lofty goal. If only the Christian god could “get it up,” there’d be no need to control anyone’s reproduction. The parasites have every interest in keeping their exalted place. It is true gay marriages aren’t about government control of reproductive parts in service to the majority religion. And yes, that poses an existential threat to those living of the fat of others. May I suggest that priests stop having sex with teenage boys, take wives, and make babies of their own. They could get then get honest jobs and raise those kids with their own money. Nobody is stopping them from doing this. Perhaps then they would be busy enough that they wouldn’t feel the need to meddle in the affairs of others.

Conservatives like Charen falsely conflate the concepts marriage and reproduction. I have yet to hear a single proposal from conservatives regulating child birth, which is what they really care about, yet they want to step in to regulate marriage as some sort of proxy. Perhaps Charen could help us pick a government agency she thinks should crawl up into her uterus and play traffic cop. With artificial hormones, women can carry babies well into their 60s and sperm is cheap and plentiful. Even conservatives know this is level of control a non-starter. One need only look at the horrors of the Ceaușescu regime’s Decree 770 birth control program that are still playing out today.

If we are really concerned about the institution of marriage, shouldn’t we be concerned about the fact that the divorce rate of conservative Christians is higher than, say atheists? In a jaw dropping leap, Charen blames the idea of same-sex marriage for high divorce rates. She claims that marriages based “only on love” are to blame. At the same time, Christians are using marriages as the only socially acceptable means young people can have sex (and only for the purpose of making babies). Charen even nods to this Christian entrapment tactic in her editorial. Have the conservatives stopped to consider the harm done to a child growing up in a home where the parents are miserable and the child know that they are the cause of the suffering? Next, if we are really concerned about the sanctity of marriage, shouldn’t we prevent a fraudulent religion from trying to co-opt the institution of marriage to perpetuate the fraud? Also, given that, belief in Christianity is correlated with a variety of social ills, shouldn’t we be actively preventing Christian marriages? Sadly, the arguments of conservative Christians more aptly apply to the ills of their marriages than to same-sex ones.

Yes, stable families are good places to raise children. And guess what? About one tenth of gay people are parents. When conservatives prevent same-sex marriage they actually penalize the children by inhibiting those families. Most people realize that such punitive policies demonstrate Christians to be uncaring thugs. Perhaps everyone but Charen is aware of the wealth of scientific evidence in support of same-sex child rearing (one article here). I think the real fear of conservatives is that gays will someday soon surpass conservative Christians at child and marriage longevity. It’s a relatively low bar.

Charen closes her editorial with the claim that gays only want social acceptance, not really marriage. I personally have no desire for “social acceptance” by bigots. They have chosen me as their enemy and I welcome their hatred and bigotry. Celebrate it and imbue your institutions with it. It is your God-given right to do so. God is on your side. Go ahead and return to witch burning and Jew murdering. Be honest for once about the history of your religion and embrace the harm you have caused. Then I want to separate that evil from civil society like a callus around a wart. Let Christian leaders be marginalized like the KKK and the Westboro Baptists. I want conservative pundits and religious leaders to be held accountable for lying and fomenting hate in the public arena. I want all institutions that have sold hatred of gays to forever lose any tax exempt status as they have proven themselves unworthy of public support. I want the money that such groups have made selling the hatred of gays to be paid back tenfold–not to gays, but for the benefit of society. Then, I want the United States to honor its separation of church and state and forever separate the legal rights and privileges of marriage from whatever irrelevant rites may be performed in churches. Churches don’t own marriages and they should have their noses rubbed in that fact. Oh yeah, I also want the same rights and responsibilities that everyone else has. (How selfish of me, I know.)

Charen still seems to think that the marriage rights of gays is still up to debate and she and her pals can make a decision not to “undermine marriage.” I’m already married and the “decisions” of conservatives is nothing more than self-serving noise.

Christian Prick Bills

Just this week, the Arizona legislature passed a bill giving believers the right to discriminate against gays and others based on their religious belief. The bill has been touted for protecting “religious liberty”. And indeed, it allows people holding particular religious beliefs to run roughshod over the wishes, desires, and even religious liberty of their victims.

 “Except as provided in subsection C, OF THIS SECTION, STATE ACTION shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” (From the text of SB 1062)

 I say “particular religious beliefs” because we know that minority religious beliefs will never be upheld in Arizona or most Christian dominated communities. And let’s be clear: this is a Christian initiative and just another “Christian Prick Bill.”

The bill reminds me of other Christian initiatives in recent years. Christians have pushed for the “right” of pharmacists to not fill prescriptions for which they have a religious objection. Trans-vaginal probes lie in store for women seeking abortion in many states, thanks to the efforts of Christians. Gays in schools are more likely to be the victims of bullies, thanks again to Christianity. Of course, Christians have bullied gays for money for decades. These modern initiatives echo past Christian efforts to murder Jews, Muslims, Cathars, and infidels, the Inquisitions, the justification of slavery, and the subjugation of women.

Let’s pull out the common themes in these Christian Prick Bills:

  • There is usually a claim that Christians are suffering some sort of persecution, that their religious liberty is being compromised; they are the victim. And the only way to address this terrible situation is to enable them to victimize their chosen enemy. This is a huge lie, of course. Christians rarely suffer the persecution they would gladly inflict on others. Theirs is a position of privilege in terms of power, laws, and tax breaks.
  • They want immunity from the consequences of their actions. Rarely, is there a notion of tit-for-tat. They want to bully and persecute while simultaneously being protected from any retaliation for their bullying. I’ll guarantee the Arizona bill will not protect the “religious liberty” of a doctor who refuses IVF, say, to a Christian couple because of his sincere religious belief that there are too many Christians.
  • A related idea is that Christians want to wash their hands of any personal responsibility for these efforts. They want to be pricks to gays in their businesses but not have any financial fallout from being labeled bigots. They want unwanted children to be born, but they don’t want to provide for them. They want to control people’s medical decisions, but be immune from any harm that comes from that control. Remember: with great power comes great responsibility.
  • There is a strong undertone of vindictiveness. In reading the Bible, you’d get the impression that that the Christian god is a petulant, sadistic, murderer and thug. These initiatives honor that spirit. I’m actually OK with vindictiveness, but only to the extent that it becomes synonymous with the brand of Christianity. From a recent Pew poll, we see that young people are turned off by the judgmental attitudes and hypocrisy and are leaving the church. This can only be a good thing and it will be helped by making Christianity synonymous with thuggery in the popular culture.

“But wait,” I hear some Christians say, “that doesn’t represent my version of Christianity. You’re painting with too broad a brush.” I have a number of responses to this sort of complaint:

  • First, you don’t get to do action X and the opposite of action X and claim the backing of some sort of divine moral intelligence. That’s like circling all the answers on a multiple-choice test and claiming you aced it. If you guys can’t agree on your Creator’s absolute morality despite your claims of actively conversing with him every week, that’s evidence enough for me that the whole enterprise is just a fraud. The Bible a Rorschach test for the morally challenged – it supports pretty much all positions. Ministers are just working an invisible puppet who seems to always agree with their bigoted attitudes. Atheists can see through this con.
  • Next, what kind of Christian are you? So many Christians are content to go once or twice a week and get their shot of Jesus heroin, have a magic cracker, bask in the fantasy of perpetual orgasm, or being raptured up to watch Armageddon unfold and enjoy the torments of non-believers. These people count the days when they can be relieved from being in this world and regain their “true spiritual nature”. Such people are, by their own definition, useless to this world. You would think if they really believed that stuff, they would hurry on to their reward.
  • If instead you’re a genuinely decent person who wants to make the world a better place, why do you let such an evil institution trade on your good name? Why not distance yourself from the historical and current cesspool that is Christianity?
  • If you really want to hold onto the Christian label and you don’t like the Christian Pricks defining you, please consider taking up your complaint with them. I don’t consider this my problem. So often the idea is to shut down the person pointing out a problem with Christianity, rather than address the actual complaint.

Us atheists do owe the Christian Pricks a debt of gratitude. They make our points for us and they hasten the day when belief without sufficient evidence is just the hallmark of a powerless rube.

How We Can Really Prevent Fetal Pain

The religious conservatives are once again being dishonest in their quest to control others’ reproductive organs in Texas. In the 60s, the religious conservatives argued that the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds would help with juvenile delinquency (by blatantly violating the highest law in the land). In the Texas Legislature, they are working to close down Planned Parenthood clinics because they provide abortions. They don’t seem to care that Planned Parenthood actually prevents more abortions than the Christian God, the Bible, Prayer, rosaries, holy water, or Christian bullying in the name of “love”, combined, has ever prevented.

[Read more…]