The Unreasonableness of Secular Public Reason

Aug 28, 2015 by

By Matthew J Franck, Public Discourse: When voters and legislators act on religiously informed moral convictions in making the law, it may entail a blending of religion and politics that is disquieting to the secular liberal mind, but it closes no gap in the “separation of church and state.” Although it may come as a surprise to some, the Constitution does not enact Mr. John Rawls’s Political Liberalism. That is to say, it is a category error to attribute to the Constitution (via the establishment clause of the First Amendment) the Rawlsian concept that “public reason” and political discourse should exclude “comprehensive doctrines” such as religious belief systems. The accents of this argument could be heard in the Iowa supreme court’s marriage ruling in 2009, in which the court held that “religious opposition to same-sex marriage” was the real reason the state protected conjugal marriage in its law. Therefore, the judgment went, the law lacked a rational basis and was unconstitutional. Likewise, Judge Vaughn Walker of the federal district court that struck down California’s Proposition 8 claimed to “find” as a “fact” that “moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples” with respect to marriage. For Walker, “moral” was fungible with “religious,” and therefore Prop 8—you guessed it—lacked a rational basis. Read here...

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Here’s my beef with gay marriage

Aug 25, 2015 by

By Brendan O’Neill, Catallaxy Files: Sinclair Davidson seems to think my main beef with gay marriage is that the people who campaign for it use unpleasant tactics. But this is merely an observation. And it’s the one I made on Q&A last Monday because I had just witnessed the doublespeak of Sam Dastyari, who said, in response to traditional marriage campaigner Katy Faust, that “people are entitled to have different views” (how generous of him) “but this American evangelical claptrap is the last thing we need in the debate”. For me, this summed up the illiberal liberalism of the gay-marriage campaign. “You’re entitled to your view; just don’t express it.” Beyond this observation, however, my gay-marriage scepticism (an awful phrase, I know) is driven by a belief that gay marriage expands rather than diminishes the power of the state over our lives. The first way it does this is through allowing the state to redefine the moral meaning of marriage. For much of the modern period, the state has brokered marriage, yes. But the moral idea and value of marriage is something that developed organically over centuries through the interplay of communities and traditions. That the gay-marriage campaign grants the state a new, unprecedented authority over how we define our personal relationships and family lives is clear from the relish with which the ruling elites of Canada, the UK and elsewhere have rewritten public documents to excise mentions of “mothers”, “fathers”, “husbands” and “wives” in favour of a more neutral language to suit their homogenisation of all relationships as “marriage”. Those who say “They’re only words, who cares?” clearly don’t know their Orwell: the policing of language is very often a policing of attitudes, a reengineering of societal values so that they better accord with the elite’s view. Read here...

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The legal tyranny of gay marriage

Jul 31, 2015 by

By Jon Holbrook, Spiked: Last week, public policy on gay partnership changed for 820million Europeans, whose governments may now be required to offer legal rights to gay couples. This profound change in the moral landscape of Europe was not the outcome of a public debate with campaigns, meetings, manifestos, votes and national legislatures passing new laws. This change was declared as a matter of law. Seven judges sitting in the European Court of Human Rights made this new declaration, and while the judgement was directed at the Italian government in particular, the new legal framework this ruling has produced will be equally applicable to all 47 European democracies that are members of the Strasbourg court. Whether or not having gay-partnership rights is a good or bad policy – many European states do not have them – is no longer relevant. It is now a legal issue that has to be determined within a legal framework, not a political issue to be determined by the public. Similarly, public policy on gay marriage changed last month for 322million Americans, as it was ruled that all US states would be required to make gay marriage available to their lesbian and gay citizens. This change was, similarly, declared as a matter of law, by nine judges sitting in the US Supreme Court. As a result, gay marriage in the US is now a legal, rather than a political, issue. The drive to put issues of public policy in the hands of the judiciary is not confined to gay rights. In Europe, issues like prisoner enfranchisement, corporal punishment and even differential car-insurance premiums are determined by European law. By signing up to the European Court of Human Rights, the UK government has ensured that many public policies are now beyond public determination. But the UK’s own courts have also been happy to expand the ambit of their powers, with or without the help of European treaties. Recent issues that UK courts have accepted a right to rule on include assisted suicide, welfare benefits and a plethora of tolerance disputes involving crucifixes, guesthouses and ‘gay cakes’. Across the whole of Western society, the relationship between politics and law has been changing in recent decades. A growing number of issues is now being resolved by judges. Issues that were once seen as purely political, to be resolved in a democracy through public debate, are now seen as matters of law, to be resolved in the courtroom on the basis of submissions made by lawyers. When members of the public do enter the debate, their engagement is often limited from the outset by arguments about what the law does or doesn’t allow. On issues of public policy, the blank sheet of paper for the public to write on is no longer blank – it comes with boundaries drawn by judges, which limit, by law, the range of permissible outcomes. Read here...

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After Obergefell: The Effects on Law, Culture, and Religion

Jul 20, 2015 by

by Sherif Gergis, Crisis Magazine: “You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds…. What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.” ∼ St. Thomas More, Utopia In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court didn’t just confect a new right to same-sex civil marriage. In some ways, it inaugurated a new phase in American law, culture, and religion. But some things don’t change. In every age there are crises, calls to do what we can about them, grace to do it faithfully, and mystery as to the nature, and the hour, of our success. So we can keep serenity and cheer even as we take stock. Doing so fulfills Christ’s command to his disciples (John 6:33); it also prevents needless alienation from those celebrating Obergefell. Most of them don’t despise tradition, or the stabilizing norms of marriage. They just want everyone to be able to sate what Dorothy Day called “the long loneliness” we’ve all known. They think only (publicly recognized) romance does that—surely one of the Sexual Revolution’s crueler lies. We who refuse to collapse all companionship into marriage—to treat non-romantic love as simply less—can honor the self-sacrificial love and communion they value, but with more expansive vision: in all its splendid variety. We can agree on the human need for love, without consigning the unmarried to an inhuman loneliness. This will bring us closer to a sound culture of friendship and marriage, and clear obstacles to the faith that illumines both by the light of a still deeper bond of love. But before all that, let’s look soberly at the new landscape. Law First, Obergefell was a striking interruption of a promising legal trend. For two generations, conservative lawmakers, attorneys general, and legal groups like the Federalist Society had fought against early- and mid-twentieth-century judges’ imposition of social policy without legal warrant. The campaign seemed to make real progress. For years now, even the most eagerly progressive judges have felt obliged to contend with the legal texts at hand and show how those laws—not their own, free-floating sense of justice—supported their rulings. In that campaign, Obergefell is the biggest setback in a generation, revealing (in Justice Alito’s words) that “decades of attempts to restrain this Court’s abuse of its authority have failed.” Read here...

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SCOTUS re-trial on marriage issue? It’s possible if GOP doesn’t cave in

Jul 10, 2015 by

From MassResistance: It’s not completely over yet. But a group of treacherous and cowardly Republican politicians are standing in the way. A new fight is on, and everyone’s help is needed. Prominent pro-family figures, some GOP presidential candidates, and hundreds across the country are pressing Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to formally file for an appeal hearing on the US Supreme Court’s 5-4 “gay marriage” ruling handed down on June 26. According to the Court’s published rules, within 25 days of a ruling a party can ask the Court for a “rehearing” of a case on pertinent issues that would merit an appeal. The issue of “merit” here is that Justices Kagan and Ginsburg – both of whom ruled “for” same-sex marriage — were clearly required by Federal law to recuse themselves from this case. Read here...

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Marriage and the Rule of Law(yers)

Jun 30, 2015 by

By Tony Perkins, FRC: They were God’s covenant colors — a warm arc of reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, and purples — transformed and splashed across the White House in a defiant display of pride. It was a stark contrast to how the Supreme Court was lit up — with the candles of hundreds of men and women gathered to pray. Heeding a call that spread like wildfire through social media, Christians from across the city made their way to a vigil until the sidewalks were covered with the lights of God’s people. One by one, they pleaded for mercy, protection, and forgiveness in these difficult days. “God’s not looking for a lot of people,” FRC’s Chase Jennings said, “He’s looking for a faithful people.” And those faithful people have an important mission: showing the love of Christ by speaking the truth of Christ. But to do it, the church needs to rise up and realize that this isn’t the end of the struggle for marriage — but the beginning of the fight for freedom. The Court, like the nation, may be deeply divided on marriage — but it still recognizes the sacredness of belief our Founders fought and died to protect. “It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote. “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.” Even the President called the country to a tolerance so few on his side seem to exercise. “I know that Americans of good will continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition, in some cases, has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact and recognize different viewpoints, revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.” Already, the Left’s army is marching on its next target: the First Amendment. On MSNBC, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) set her sights on men and women of faith. “Certainly the First Amendment says that in institutions of faith, there is absolute power to… observe deeply-held religious beliefs. I don’t think it extends far beyond that,” she claimed. “[T]hey’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America.” Read here...

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