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Marriage Equality in Washington?

It appears that there are enough votes to pass a law allowing full marriage equality for gay couples in the state of Washington after Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen announced that she would vote for the bill, providing the margin necessary for passage. AP reports:

As lawmakers held their first public hearing on legalizing same-sex marriage, a previously undecided Democratic senator on Monday announced her support for the measure, all but ensuring that Washington will become the seventh state to allow gay and lesbian couples to get married.

The announcement by Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, that she would cast the 25th and deciding vote in favor of the issue came as hundreds of people filled the Capitol to advocate for and against gay marriage.

One bit of her announcement stood out to me:

“To some degree, this is generational. Years ago I took exception to my parents’ beliefs on certain social issues, and today my children take exception to some of mine. Times change, even if it makes us uncomfortable. I think we should all be uncomfortable sometime. None of us knows everything, and it’s important to have our beliefs questioned. Only one being in this world is omniscient, and it’s not me.

“I have very strong Christian beliefs, and personally I have always said when I accepted the Lord, I became more tolerant of others. I stopped judging people and try to live by the Golden Rule. This is part of my decision. I do not believe it is my role to judge others, regardless of my personal beliefs. It’s not always easy to do that. For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. That is what I believe, to this day.

“But this issue isn’t about just what I believe. It’s about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It’s about whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed.”

Bravo, Senator.

Comments

  1. Budbear says

    Well, I’ll be hornswaggled. A Christian acting so……… christian. Who would have guessed? Maybe we all can just get along after all.

  2. a miasma of incandescent plasma says

    Budbear- A Christian acting so……… christian.

    Uh, no. It should be “A Christian acting so…. Humanist.”
    If you want to see what the christian handbook to hate and intolerance (sometimes called “the Bible” for short) says on the matter, you can just look to Romans (not even mentioning Leviticus).

  3. Chiroptera says

    I wonder whether the Fundamentalists will look to the courts to curb this extreme example of legislative activism?

  4. Cuttlefish says

    I have very strong Christian beliefs, and personally I have always said when I accepted the Lord, I became more tolerant of others. I stopped judging people and try to live by the Golden Rule.

    After all, no one would boo the Golden Rule.

    Senator Haugen seems more like all the Christians I know personally.

  5. carolw says

    Kudos to Sen. Haugen. She gets it right. I hope to see a wedding announcement from friends in Seattle soon.

  6. Michael Heath says

    Well I’m glad she’s going to start defending gays on their marriage rights, but the argument she uses to rationalize her vote within her duties as an elected official and the Constitution remains as repugnant as the one she previously used to deny gays and their families their rights.

    We predominately encounter religious objections justifying unconstitutionally denying gays their rights. Here Sen. Haugen makes a case her religion creates conflicting tensions within her where she merely weighs one commandment over supposed edicts.

    A better argument from Sen. Haugen would go like this:

    I previouly opposed legalizing gay marriage because my religion informs me it’s a sin where I strive to obey what the Bible orders from me. However, the U.S. Constitution has supremacy over commandments from the Bible relative to U.S. laws. That same constitution has supremacy over the state of Washington’s laws. In this context, the U.S. Constitution prohibits state laws which deny people their equal rights, specifically and I quote the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    This language to protect our liberty is clear and unambiguous. Regardless of my personal beliefs, my obligation as an elected official and more importantly, as an American citizen, is to defend the liberty and rights of gay people. Just as I strive to do for my fellow denominational members and hope other Americans who don’t share our faith will fight for my rights as well. A wise man named Ed Brayton once said and I quote:

    We are obligated, by virtue of demanding our own liberty, to protect the liberty of others. [1]

    I regret taking so long to understand and appreciate this founding ideal. I hope other Christians join me as well in defending the very Constitution that’s allowed our religion to flourish precisely because our government protects us from the tyranny of others.

    Now that would be authentic contrition.

    1] http://goo.gl/r59NT

  7. Trebuchet says

    I live in Washington and have been getting push-poll calls from “defense of marriage” organisations. Assuming this passes (which is no safe bet, I think), I’d guess we can expect an initiative campaign from Tim Eyman almost instantly.

  8. Budbear says

    miasma – I do wish there was a HTML code for sarcasm. Sometimes i”m too subtle. Quite familiar with the Bible. I was thinking more along the lines of Matthew 22:39.

  9. TCC (fka The Christian Cynic) says

    I disagree with those above who said that they would have preferred a different type of response: I think what the senator said was exactly the right thing for this situation. It frames the issue not as one of religious belief or of strict governmental necessity but as one of respect and empathy for one’s common man. I’m encouraged to see that kind of response, and it carries more emotional weight than a hypothetical response like Michael Heath’s @7.

    Uh, no. It should be “A Christian acting so…. Humanist.”

    As much as I hear commenters rail against Christians who think it’s impossible to be moral without a belief in god, I would expect that we wouldn’t embark on a moral superiority trip as well.

    Here’s a suggestion for a word you could use to describe behavior like this: moral. (A novel suggestion, if I do say so myself.)

  10. tmscott says

    “I’d guess we can expect an initiative campaign from Tim Eyman almost instantly.”

    Hey Trebuchet,
    I hope so. I would so look forward to a good Tim Eyeman slap down.

    TMS

  11. Reginald Selkirk says

    “You are saying as a committee and a Legislature that you know better than God,” said Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church.

    This comment could have appeared 150+ years ago, when the issue was slavery.

  12. Reginald Selkirk says

    “Humanist”
    TCC: Here’s a suggestion for a word you could use to describe behavior like this: moral. (A novel suggestion, if I do say so myself.)

    Please look up the definition of humanist now. There is no reason a theist cannot act as a humanist, and this particular act seems to qualify.

  13. skemono says

    This comment could have appeared 150+ years ago, when the issue was slavery.

    And did. Frequently.

  14. Michael Heath says

    TCC writes:

    It frames the issue not as one of religious belief or of strict governmental necessity but as one of respect and empathy for one’s common man. I’m encouraged to see that kind of response, and it carries more emotional weight than a hypothetical response like Michael Heath’s @7.

    We may be talking about two different things. I take your approach to be the most politically safe and expedient argument. But I could give a rat’s ass about this legislator’s personal political future. I’m instead coming at this from a position of both integrity and what our Constitution requires of our elected officials.

    I get how she might move a few people doing it your way, I in fact wrote within that context. I would argue my approach would eventually move far more people if liberals would only start using it. Precisely because it demands conservative Christians, and all Americas for that matter, to do what conservatives already claim distinguishes them in the public square, holding the Constitution as an inviolable trust to be defended. My approach pins them into a rhetorical corner which the media and Democrats allows them to avoid. [Yes, I realize this Senator is a Democrat, which is why I argue liberals should take up this argument.]

  15. says

    She hasn’t completely come over to our side on the issue, but acknowledgment of the need for tolerance in government is promising. I’m also glad to see what looks like a saner type of Christian siding with morality on an important issue, which she’ll probably get a lot of flak for when the fundies find out. I think she deserves a share of kudos.

  16. Paul Neubauer says

    I’d like to agree with both Michael Heath @#7 and The Christian Cynic @#10.

    Michael’s suggestion for a “better argument” is very well done. I expect many of us have used variations on that in the past. I know I have. As a rational argument for improving the equality climate in the state of Washington, it’s near perfect.

    However (you knew there’d be a “however” didn’t you?) TCC also hits a slightly different nail right on the head. Sen. Haugen’s need here is not really for a rational argument. Anyone who would look favorably on a rational argument has probably come over to the side of marriage equality already. Sen. Haugen is a politician and as such is more in need of rhetorical constructs to address those who are not already susceptible to rational argument. (Not to say that I think there is no place for rationality in politics, but there is certainly a need for talking to the irrational in their own language too.) I see Sen. Haugen’s announcement as speaking to the emotional side of the issue and, frankly, doing it well.

    All in all, I’m (figuratively) standing and cheering.

    Paul

    PS: Off Topic: How do those of you who have managed to get non-default pictures do that? Is it a feature that is only available to those who come here from Facebook or something? So far, I have successfully managed to avoid Facebook and I’d like to keep it that way. I wouldn’t mind having a non-default, picture, though. I can’t see any way to do that through the FtB profile page.

  17. Paul Neubauer says

    I see Michael has responded while I was composing my post above. I’ll agree with him again that I too “could give a rat’s ass” about her political future, and>/b> that rationality as well as integrity are important. I would like her to acknowledge that too, but I still suspect that what she actually said is more likely to be effective.

    Paul

  18. Sadie Morrison says

    Contrary to Michael Heath, I find nothing repugnant whatsoever about Haugen’s religious rationale for supporting marriage equality. Quite the contrary. Her personal Christianity has led her down a different, more inclusive (and decent) path than the Christianity practiced by more conservative, evangelical brethren. I laud Haugan’s brand of Christianity even though I’m not a Christian (I’m a pantheist with inclusive beliefs).

  19. Michael Heath says

    Bronze Dog writes:

    She hasn’t completely come over to our side on the issue, but acknowledgment of the need for tolerance in government is promising. I’m also glad to see what looks like a saner type of Christian siding with morality on an important issue, which she’ll probably get a lot of flak for when the fundies find out. I think she deserves a share of kudos. [emphasis mine – MH]

    Sen. Haugen strongly implies she’s voting in support of gay rights in spite of the fact her beliefs have her believing such a practice is immoral. She states, within the context of being solely a Christian:

    For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. That is what I believe, to this day.

    You and I might agree her new position is moral, but her premise remains that gay marriage is immoral and yet she’ll vote for it anyway.

    As stated earlier, I’m happy for her support. But let’s be clear about how unconstitutional her argument remains.

    John Kerry and Hillary Clinton both argued that abortion on-demand is contra to their moral position, but that position is overcome by their acknowledgement that the Constitution limits power by government to prohibit early-term abortions. This is a very good argument and one we should push for from Christians who currently oppose gay rights. Not some notion of tolerance or justification by being a cafeteria Christian.

  20. Who Cares says

    @Paul Neubauer(#18):
    They are gravatars from gravatar.com , can log in with wordpress select one and get it connected to your wordpress account.

  21. Paul Neubauer says

    @Who Cares:
    Thanks. I’m not convinced I want or need a WordPress account either at this point, but it might be less intrusive than Facebook, at least. :-) I’ll look into it.
    Paul

  22. Nemo says

    Personally I’ve always said that I became more tolerant of others when I rejected “the Lord”.

  23. JustaTech says

    For all that Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen is getting all the attention for being the last person to say yes, I’m more impressed by the two R senators who are voting yes on this, one of whom (I can’t remember his name) will likely loose his next race because of it.

    And yes, the anti-marriage folks have already siad they want a referendum on the next ballot to repeal this law. I’m sure Tim Eyeman (I-Nothing for Anyone!) is already cackling about how much money he will make on this referendum. Well, Timmy, go (blank) yourself with the I-90 floating bridge.

  24. Michael Heath says

    Paul Neubauer on TCC vs. my preferred argument:

    I still suspect that what she actually said is more likely to be effective.

    From a tactical perspective, sure. But I think from a strategic, medium-term perspective, my argument would gain far more converts. The Senators plays to current sentiments. Mine, which requires a plethora of voices constantly making this assertion, puts conservatives into a rhetorical corner difficult for them to squeeze out of and avoid. They still have some arguments, like the always ridiculous – ‘gays can marry the other sex now'; but that’s still weak because it exposes what they falsely claim distinguishes them – their fealty to liberty and the Constitution.

  25. Michael Heath says

    Sadie Morrison:

    Contrary to Michael Heath, I find nothing repugnant whatsoever about Haugen’s religious rationale for supporting marriage equality. Quite the contrary. Her personal Christianity has led her down a different, more inclusive (and decent) path than the Christianity practiced by more conservative, evangelical brethren. I laud Haugan’s brand of Christianity even though I’m not a Christian (I’m a pantheist with inclusive beliefs).

    She’s a legislator; she has an ethical obligation to follow the law. Your point is fine for citizens who don’t claim fealty to the Constitution and instead base their positions on matters other than the law, but it fails spectacularly when it comes to a lawmaker who swore an oath to follow the law.

    She making this a personal thing, whereas it is her professional position that makes us care about her position. My criticism of her is based first on her formal obligations as a legislator and the fact she took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution (not merely that of Washington). Specifically:

    I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Washington, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of (name of office) to the best of my ability.

    Consider this clause in the Washington state Constitution:

    SECTION 12 SPECIAL PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES PROHIBITED. No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.

    The point is, her job requires her to defend gays rights equal to others. Bringing her religion into it, even if she’s now on the right side, is a breach of her duties as a Senator. Cite: http://www.leg.wa.gov/LawsAndAgencyRules/Pages/constitution.aspx

  26. Michael Heath says

    Spanish Inquisitor writes:

    Bravo indeed. It looks like someone did some real soul searching. Or perhaps we should call it what it is…critical thinking.

    I see no evidence of laudable critical thinking. Instead I see someone who was lobbied heavily by family members to feel differently than they felt prior. Yeah it’s a victory and I celebrate an apparently coming win, but this legislative approach to taking a position is a systemic failure that now causes most gays across the country the denial of their rights.

  27. D. C. Sessions says

    Michael, I’m reminded of the directions that the judge gave the last time I served on a jury. She reminded us (and as it happens the lawyers as well) that the impartiality of the jury does not reqire lobotomy, that we are not expected to check our life experiences at the courtroom door.

    All the more so legislators. If every issue before a legislature could be decided by objectively appealing to first principles, democracy would be meaningless. We elect people who we trust to make decisions in some sense as we would. If that means that they refer to some well-known moral code (e.g. the so-called Golden Rule) and that accords with our preferences on how society should operate, all the better.

    I care not whether she arrives at her moral code through religion or through philosophy. The State has no business legislating either, but both are useful tools for me as a citizen to use in selecting my representatives.

  28. exdrone says

    Haugen says:

    Only one being in this world is omniscient, and it’s not me.

    Ah. She’s secretly a Gingrich supporter.

  29. TCC (fka The Christian Cynic) says

    Reginald Selkirk:

    Please look up the definition of humanist now. There is no reason a theist cannot act as a humanist, and this particular act seems to qualify.

    Thanks for that piece of information that was neither new to me nor an actual response to my admonition.

    To reiterate my position: If Haugen is to be congratulated, it is not on acting humanistically but morally. It isn’t important that the action can be considered humanist (although it probably can be) but that it was the moral action to take. (I would have the same criticism for the initial comment if it wasn’t obviously made in jest.)

    Michael Heath:

    She’s a legislator; she has an ethical obligation to follow the law. Your point is fine for citizens who don’t claim fealty to the Constitution and instead base their positions on matters other than the law, but it fails spectacularly when it comes to a lawmaker who swore an oath to follow the law.

    But that’s exactly why Haugen’s response is perfect: it is applicable to the ethic of the many Americans who don’t have such an ethical obligation while still allowing her to fulfill her own obligation as a legislator. If she went with your cold, calculated response, her position could be written off – that’s not so easily done* with an ethical position built on possibly the most ubiquitous moral precept imaginable.

    ________________________________________
    *Warning: Void if intellectually dishonest.

  30. Michael Heath says

    D.C. Sessions:

    Michael, I’m reminded of the directions that the judge gave the last time I served on a jury. She reminded us (and as it happens the lawyers as well) that the impartiality of the jury does not reqire lobotomy, that we are not expected to check our life experiences at the courtroom door.

    All the more so legislators. If every issue before a legislature could be decided by objectively appealing to first principles, democracy would be meaningless. We elect people who we trust to make decisions in some sense as we would. If that means that they refer to some well-known moral code (e.g. the so-called Golden Rule) and that accords with our preferences on how society should operate, all the better.

    I care not whether she arrives at her moral code through religion or through philosophy. The State has no business legislating either, but both are useful tools for me as a citizen to use in selecting my representatives.

    Your argument can be applied equally to her denying gays their rights in spite of the plain meaning of the 14th Amendment and in spite of the oath she took. Are you really sure you want to defend such logic as being a laudable approach for those making laws and who are obligated to defend the Constitution and our rights under that document?

    D.C. Sessions writes:

    If every issue before a legislature could be decided by objectively appealing to first principles, democracy would be meaningless.

    That’s quite a strawman. I never claimed every issue could be decided by first principles, I claimed this one can because of the plain, clear, and unambiguous meaning of the DofI and the Constitution where the Senator took an oath to defend that meaning.

    We are not discussing a ‘salt of the earth’ citizen whose obligations provide little time to study up on civics. We are instead discussing a person who sought elected office at a level and voluntarily holds the defense of rights of people in her hands. The standards I demand here are not particularly difficult to understand; as a Realtor® the code of ethics of my profession demand far more from me and are far more stringent and complex than what I ask from this state Senator. In fact we learn the very standard I apply here in high school government and civics classes.

  31. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    She’s a legislator; she has an ethical obligation to follow the law. Your point is fine for citizens who don’t claim fealty to the Constitution and instead base their positions on matters other than the law, but it fails spectacularly when it comes to a lawmaker who swore an oath to follow the law.

    TCC responds @ 34:

    But that’s exactly why Haugen’s response is perfect: it is applicable to the ethic of the many Americans who don’t have such an ethical obligation while still allowing her to fulfill her own obligation as a legislator. If she went with your cold, calculated response, her position could be written off – that’s not so easily done* with an ethical position built on possibly the most ubiquitous moral precept imaginable.

    TCC, I responded to this exact point in my first response to you @ 16. I repeat:

    I get how she might move a few people doing it your way, I in fact wrote within that context. I would argue my approach would eventually move far more people if liberals would only start using it. Precisely because it demands conservative Christians, and all Americas for that matter, to do what conservatives already claim distinguishes them in the public square, holding the Constitution as an inviolable trust to be defended. My approach pins them into a rhetorical corner which the media and Democrats allows them to avoid. [Yes, I realize this Senator is a Democrat, which is why I argue liberals should take up this argument.]

    and to Paul Neubauer @ 29:

    From a tactical perspective, sure [her religious-fueled transformation might be more effective]. But I think from a strategic, medium-term perspective, my argument would gain far more converts. The Senator plays to current sentiments. Mine, which requires a plethora of voices constantly making this assertion, puts conservatives into a rhetorical corner difficult for them to squeeze out of and avoid. They still have some arguments, like the always ridiculous – ‘gays can marry the other sex now’; but that’s still weak because it exposes what they falsely claim distinguishes them – their fealty to liberty and the Constitution.

  32. TCC (fka The Christian Cynic) says

    I understand your point there, Michael, just as I did the first time, but I am not entirely sure why your statement is inherently better. As much as I would like to say that reasoned argument should be the most compelling way to persuade someone of your position, it’s frankly not, in my experience. The kind of ethical appeal that builds on shared values rather than on the technicality of the law (yes, I know that’s a bad characterization, but it’s how the issue is likely to be perceived) is hard to discount, and it brings with it a kind of passion that I simply don’t see in your response. Ideally, Haugen’s response would have done both (I tell my students to diversify in terms of ethos, pathos, and logos under most circumstances), but I can’t fault her for going the ethics route since that is at the heart of basically all LGBT issues. That also makes me think that her argument has a broader applicability than just legal issues but to basic human treatment and empathy. So I find plenty of reasons to praise her response, not all of them merely pragmatic.

  33. Azkyroth says

    To reiterate my position: If Haugen is to be congratulated, it is not on acting humanistically but morally. It isn’t important that the action can be considered humanist (although it probably can be) but that it was the moral action to take. (I would have the same criticism for the initial comment if it wasn’t obviously made in jest.)

    Of course, “moral” for the interpretation of moral that her sentiment fits is basically equivalent to “humanist” (or, at least, “humane”) and “humanist,” unlike “moral” and “morality,” doesn’t have the disadvantage of suffering very aggressive and at least partially successful attempts to redefine it solely in terms of sexual behavior.

  34. TCC (fka The Christian Cynic) says

    Well, if basing one’s moral decisions on the Golden Rule is enough to constitute humanism, then there are a lot of humanist religions out there, and the term is a lot more watered-down than I previously thought (or perhaps this is a very broad usage).

  35. dingojack says

    Michael Heath (#35) – “We are not discussing a ‘salt of the earth’ citizen…” the common clay of the new West – you know – assholes!
    TCC – “… I tell my students to diversify in terms of ethos, pathos, and logos under most circumstances… “. What no bathos?
    :)

    For what it’s worth, I agree with Michael. She wants a cookie for being moral when all she is really doing is her job (the job she swore to her god she would do).
    Do you, TCC, expect a standing ovation and the end of every class?
    Dingo
    —–
    BTW: “The Golden Rule” isn’t exclusively Christian. Following it may make you a good Christian, or a good non-Christian. Following such a wide-spread rule isn’t a significant ‘good Christian’ marker. Just my $0.02.

  36. dingojack says

    Having said that, it’s not that I don’t appreciate and applaud her dawning realisation of what her job actually entails*, it’s the whole ‘look at me, see how moral I am’ thing to which I object. (that, and her moral courage in having a bet each way).
    Dingo
    —–
    * whether she carries through with her good intentions will be the larger test

  37. TCC (fka The Christian Cynic) says

    I think reading this response as a cry for approval is mistaken. Haugen is merely giving her reasoning for why she has decided to support this measure despite personal misgivings. I agree that it’s bizarre that we should be praising someone for doing the right thing and securing the same rights for all citizens, but that’s more a function of LGBT rights in this country rather than of the response or of Haugen herself.

    And Dingo, I’m well aware of how common the Golden Rule is; you’ll notice that in an earlier comment I said:

    If she went with [Michael’s] cold, calculated response, her position could be written off – that’s not so easily done* with an ethical position built on possibly the most ubiquitous moral precept imaginable.

    That was a clear reference to the Golden Rule, which is a component of every major religion I can think of (and most secular ethics as well, I suspect).

  38. Michael Heath says

    TCC writes:

    I understand your point there, Michael, just as I did the first time, but I am not entirely sure why your statement is inherently better. As much as I would like to say that reasoned argument should be the most compelling way to persuade someone of your position, it’s frankly not, in my experience. The kind of ethical appeal that builds on shared values rather than on the technicality of the law (yes, I know that’s a bad characterization, but it’s how the issue is likely to be perceived) is hard to discount, and it brings with it a kind of passion that I simply don’t see in your response.

    I’m not sure you do understand my point for two reasons. My responses essentially concede your point regarding immediate persuasion. I instead advocated we broaden the context within which I think we should evaluate her statement. Not just in terms of her formal and legal obligations to her constituents and profession but secondly, in regards to a more effective long-term strategy on to best win this fight within the context of the sole remaining demographic.

    I agree the Senator’s rhetoric is probably better within a short time period and noted so at least twice. I also noted my approach will not work unless we encountered a plethora of liberals taking my approach. I am convinced my way is far superior in the intermediate term which you nor anyone else had directly confronted simply because there is no compelling counter-argument while my approach also creates heavy-duty cognitive dissonance amongst conservatives. That’s given their continual claims to be the sole defenders of the Constitution and freedom; where my argument reveals they can’t be and be against gay rights. I also don’t think the plain language of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause can’t be comprehended. I think quoting it alone makes for an excellent sound bite.

    TCC writes:

    I can’t fault her for going the ethics route since that is at the heart of basically all LGBT issues . . .

    We need conservatives to stop opposing the defense of rights. This will not resonate as a primary argument simply because they get their morals from what they believe God directs them to do via their selective reading of the Bible which reinforces their bigotry. Instead force them to confront their current opposition to the Constitution. Given how they already losing some of their flock on this issue, I bet they’ll increasingly support the 14th Amendment and then use your very rationalization to make them feel good about themselves and continue to claim fealty to “God’s Word”. But so far your argued approach has and continues to fail miserably as an argument for them to adapt – simply because they’re bigots whose holy dogma amply provides sufficient ammunition to defend their bigotry. [I think an excellent argument can be made to support gay rights even if we accept the premise the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Heddle makes this argument in a way very similar to mine own.]

    I highly recommend you watch In God we Trust, which Ed posted about the other day. This vividly illustrates why your approach with the remaining target demographic won’t change their mind, where I would argue their views on morality are the predominant perspective of conservative Christians and therefore representative. There you will see how conservative Christians determine their morals and justify their bigotry towards gay people.

  39. Michael Heath says

    TCC writes:

    I think reading this response as a cry for approval is mistaken. Haugen is merely giving her reasoning for why she has decided to support this measure despite personal misgivings. I agree that it’s bizarre that we should be praising someone for doing the right thing and securing the same rights for all citizens, but that’s more a function of LGBT rights in this country rather than of the response or of Haugen herself.

    I agree her response isn’t a cry for approval for the reason you give. But I don’t think it’s bizarre to praise someone for switching positions based solely on their interpretation of the Bible. I think that’s a monumental transformation, exceptionally rare, and therefore should be lauded. Lauded from the narrow perspective of her being a fellow citizen whose adapted her religious-based views while also taking a more moral and ethical position. But she should be condemned from the perspective of her being a legislator since this approach is a violation of her oath to defend the Constitution and an ethical violation of her service to her constituents.

    So my arguments do not minimize the enormity of her switch if her justification noted here is sufficiently framed and true. Just that is a defectively low standard for a legislator.

  40. TCC (fka The Christian Cynic) says

    Re: MH @43 – I think we’re talking past each other. I don’t disagree that a rational argument on rights based on the Fourteenth Amendment is a good argument, perhaps one that will be effective in persuading many holdouts on this issue. If our goal is merely to secure the same rights for LGBT individuals under the law, then your reasoning may in fact be the most effective one. What I’m saying is that an ethical argument can accomplish some broader goals: not only about ethical treatment for all people under the law but also ethical treatment toward other people in terms of a decrease in individual discrimination and bigotry. It’s been well-noted that most people change positions or come to an acceptance of LGBT people by knowing people who are (I know that was true for me); I think that appealing to fairness and empathy is in the same vein. In other words, my preference for Haugen’s approach is not merely about effectiveness but broader applicability (I said as much in #37).

    But I don’t think it’s bizarre to praise someone for switching positions based solely on their interpretation of the Bible.

    That’s not what I said was bizarre: I said it was bizarre that we should have to congratulate someone for treating all people fairly. That should be a basic expectation of all people – especially people who profess the Golden Rule as a core ethical precept – not something extraordinary that deserves recognition. That’s why I said earlier that the weirdness of the need to laud this move by Haugen is a function of the state of LGBT rights rather than anything about Haugen or this decision.

  41. Michael Heath says

    TCC,

    Your argument above is avoided by conservative Christians. They have various logical fallacies used to avoid cognitive dissonance regarding the Golden Rule and used to defend clearly immoral positions (slavery, racism, other forms of bigotry and ostracizing others). That’s why I suggested watching the video Ed blogged about and I link to above. To gain insight into why your approach, which you and I agree is both reasonable and laudable, is not a framework used by conservative Christians. They avoid your framework which is why we need a different approach to reach them, a framework they already use.

  42. TCC (fka The Christian Cynic) says

    To be honest, if they won’t go for the Golden Rule approach, I’m not convinced that a Fourteenth Amendment equal rights approach will work, either. After all, if cognitive dissonance can be resolved by ignoring the Golden Rule, what’s to say that the same people won’t just try to rationalize that the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t apply in this case? We do have to assume some baseline of rationality for either of our arguments to advance.

  43. Michael Heath says

    TCC writes:

    To be honest, if they won’t go for the Golden Rule approach, I’m not convinced that a Fourteenth Amendment equal rights approach will work, either.

    I agree not all will convert, in fact I already provided an example of one rhetorical out in one of my first posts in this thread. That was my pointing out that Michelle Bachmann argue gays are already able to exercise their equal rights by marrying someone of the opposite sex. My point was therefore within this context, specifically, the language of the 14th Amendment is clear an unambiguous and is based on dogma they claim is holy. While the Bible provides ample passages to deflect the Golden Rule, the Constitution does not, which is exactly why I promote it rather than making a golden rule argument.

    You’re never going to get 100% converts on either approach so claiming both are defective is not helpful, I think we’d get far more converts making an argument based on the clear, unambiguous language of the 14th Amendment:

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    This is not rocket science and you don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to understand this language. It certainly helps to fully appreciate this language if a person has studied constitutional law, but it’s not required to have a basic understanding.

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