Monday, August 9, 2010

“The law is a ass.”

First posted on Washington Post In Faith blog, August 7


"The law is a ass"
So spoke Mr. Bumble in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. The sometimes humorous jab at lawyers hit home August 4, when Federal Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California’s Proposition 8 that had defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
The decision called California citizens’ decision to define marriage as “irrational,” which suggests that their decision was absurd and beyond the pale. What’s really irrational is the judge’s dismissal of marriage between a man and a woman – the basic bedrock of our society – as if it were some kookie idea. What’s irrational is his ignoring the will of the people with real life experience of marriage, who have voted down gay marriage not only in California, but throughout the United States whenever legalization of gay marriage has been put to a vote. These votes did not take place in pockets of conservatism. Fourteen years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 342-67, and the Senate voted 85-14, to accept the traditional definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
What is even more irrational is the judge’s dismissal of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and Freedom of Religion with these damning words: “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.”
The judge’s placing religion and government at odds amounts to Constitutional irrationality. It is no small irony that his anti-religious position is enshrined in a ruling deemed to oppose bigotry. The U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens freedom for religion. That precludes government from weighing in on the “acceptability” of religious beliefs.
Judge Walker, in his decision, backed his bigotry with errors, including the misstatement that the “Catholic Church views homosexuality as sinful.” The fact is, the Catholic Church sees homosexuality as a condition, an inclination in a person, something not intrinsically sinful. The church calls for pastoral support, not condemnation, for people with this inclination. The Catholic Church makes clear that it is homosexual activities it deems sinful, because it holds that all sexual activity belongs within marriage between a man and a woman. At the same time the Catholic Church opposes all unjust discrimination against gays and lesbians and abhors violence against them.
The Catholic Church also holds that marriage is a unique institution with a privileged place because it is foundational to the good of society. The church is not alone in holding that a family headed by a mother and a father is the optimal place in which to raise a child. Judge Walker begs to differ, however, and says with grand aplomb that research that supports the contrary view “is accepted beyond serious debate in the field of developmental psychology.” If there’s ever been a statement open to debate it’s that one.
Judge Walker devoted three pages of his decision to make his case for the bigotry of religion, an insult to the tens of millions of religious people in the nation. This is not to deny that some people act despicably and portray their bigotry against gays as religious expression. So too do those who spew anti-immigrant, anti-woman, and anti-whatever sentiments. They’re an unfortunate result of our human condition that lets the morally weak, even morally decrepit, walk among us. Bigoted people are an unfortunate result but not a reason to upend the U.S. Constitution.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, was spot on when he declared that “marriage is more fundamental and essential to the well being of society than perhaps any other institution. It is simply unimaginable that the court could claim a conflict between marriage and the Constitution.”
On August 4, 2010, Judge Walker proved Dickens was right. The law is a ass.
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8 comments:

musculars said...

In the Judge's finding of facts he cites the famous halloween letter of Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) which states clearly the religious antipathy for gay people. The pastoral concern is one of paternalism and is ultimately disrespectful of conscience.
Never to my knowledge has a person been described as "ordered towards intrinsic moral evil" so to be "so objectively disordered" that a pathology became wedded to moral harm. It proceeds to try to cover itself knowing the damage these words will inflict in writing, “When homosexual activity is… condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.”
What should be disturbing here is that, contrary to what Sister Walsh and others claim that the moral teachings of various religions should not be examples of religious speakers who incite harsh treatment of homosexuals in fact the very harshness of these moral teachings laid out before us to see do violence in and of themselves and incite the very violence they disingenously condemn.
In 1992, the Vatican declared that discrimination against gays was “not unjust” if it involved adoption, foster care, teaching or military service.
It is obvious to gay people and it should be obvious to Catholics that the Church does them harm in fact she persecutes them with the same mentality once reserved for the Jews.This is just another example of episcopal malpractice and we all know what the other one was.
The Catholic bishops for whom Sister Walsh speaks have declared war on American constitutional government and are placing at risk the participation of American catholics in the political process.
They seek to impose idealized Roman law on what is essentially experiential Anglo-Saxon case law. If American catholic politicians advocated the enshrinement of Catholic dogma into the constitution no right thinking protestant would ever vote for a catholic.
There was a time when American bishops could impart to the Universal church an American spirituality inspired by the ideals of religious freedom and individual conscience and the experience of living in a pluralistic society. Now they act as foreign curial agents taking orders from Rome. They should all resign or submit for election. Let American catholics vote for their own bishops and not be imposed upon with these political lackeys and careerists dependent upon Rome for their thinking and positions.

ClimbHi773 said...

Is a referendum enacted by a voting majority an infallible statement by society that must not be questioned? Sister Mary Ann Walsh considers it "irrational" to question the will of the people. Yet, Catholic organizations joined the 1994 lawsuit seeking to overturn Proposition 187 which limited state-funded services to illegal aliens. Catholic commentators did not object to this intervention against discrimination. Sister Mary Ann's blog entry would have been stronger if it did not place popular will above reapproach. In the Church, and in our Constitutional system, we recognize that the will of the majority can be errant and wielded as tyranny. Thus, in some instances, the popular will must be ignored.

Shepherd's Gate Books said...

Did you expect any other decision from this court? It’s unlikely the ninth circuit court will have different view. Hopefully the Supreme Court can see through the smoke and mirrors of the Gay agenda and insert some common sense into this issue.

Marcello said...

You've rightfully pointed out some errors in Judge Walker's decision. But the question he had to answer was: does the Government of California have the right to impose one community's moral beliefs on another if there is no compelling public interest to do so?

Judge Walker answered "no". I believe this answer is rational and correct. The law may be an ass at times, but in this case, it is a blessing.

Aldger said...

Judge Walker has, in effect, in his own opinion deemed all objections to same-sex unions to be "bigoted" and "irrationale." Judge Walker's personal perception of religion and his misguided interpretation of religious doctrine about homosexual relationships has tainted his occupational objectivity and should not be allowed to represent every religious view in the state of California or the United States. It seems, by various biased comments, that Judge Walker's own morality has superceded any moral objection that he deems inferior. In his lone opinion, he has dismissed one side of the national discussion on same-sex marriage as irrelevant, illogical and inferior and in doing so, has deemed religion the same. Judge Walker's opinion is not merely a decision about same-sex marriage. His opinion is about the cultural relevancy of religious morality in the United States. In his quest to rid the rhetorical atmosphere of bigotry and injustice, I fear that Judge Walker has introduced the same via his own religious views. Judge Walker is treating any and every objection from the religious community with the same unscrupulous bigotry, biased and bile that he has deemed unfit for the Constitutional discussion.

I ask one simple question that may have an easy answer that supercedes my thinking. If morality has no place in law, from what then was law derived? If we subplant religious morality from law, what then is the plumb line to which we retreat to find direction when sane voices have none?

Buist said...

I have heard several times over the years that we shouldn't make amendments for things like this, let the states deal with it. The problem is that federal judges often intervene in state cases and not only do they take away the voice of the people, but they crush it. In this case, Judge Walker insulted the millions of people who tried to protect the sanctity of marriage.

With rhetoric like his, it won't be long before people of religious convictions on such a matter are thoroughly castigated for their attempts to preserve the morality of society. It was bad enough to have those financially supporting Prop 8 hounded by those with opposing views-imagine what it will be like for future efforts if Judge Walker's judgment is upheld by higher courts.

RICHARD BALDWIN COOK said...

The judge found that the respondents' experts were not persuasive. This is not surprising.

There are no compelling reasons why homosexual marriage poses a threat to heterosexual marriage.

Religious arguments are of no moment in a US court and no religious entity is entitled to impose its behavioral standards and sanctions on civil society as a whole. This is of the essence of church/state separation in the US.

musculars said...

When we speak of morality in law we must necessarily speak of harm. Judge Walker's opinion spoke very specifically to the issue of harm and could not find "any" rational basis in other words no real evidence for the discrimination as same sex marriages posed no harm to opposite sex marriages that it has in fact a neutral if not positive effect on marriage and on society as a whole.
Religious beliefs and teachings as much as they can inform the law in and of themselves cannot be the sole basis of law. How many candles you want on the altar, whom you want to marry and by what sex you want to officiate at the wedding may be the concern of your religion but not mine and should not be made compulsory upon me.

That the vile rhetoric and "moral" teachings are coming home to roost only demonstrates that the law can inform the churches of their own immorality. That the USCCB and its defenders claim bigotry by a Judge simply citing their own words is a pathetic deflection from their participation in oppression.