Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage’

PARABLE OF AMERICA (an allegory about gay marriage)

December 21, 2009

            Once upon a time, there was a small village in our land; the village was named “America.”  Because the village was so small, there was only one church, America Baptist Church.

            One fine day at choir practice, Steve asked why all the baptisms at ABC were by full immersion.  “Surely some people are too scared of the water to go all the way under,” he said.  The choir members suggested Steve go to the Board of Deacons.

            Unfortunately, the deacons were not pleased with Steve’s question.  They said only deviant people even considered such things.  Baptisms were always by full immersion and that was the way it had always been.  In truth, one of the deacons had been sprinkled as a child in another village, but it was a secret he was determined to take to his grave.

            “I don’t want to be fully immersed, I want to be sprinkled,” declared Steve.  “No one else wants to be sprinkled,” replied the deacons, “so why must you be so difficult?”  Steve started asking the people at ABC and discovered about 10% agreed with his views on baptism and other things, too.

            Steve and his friends decided if they did not fit in with the way things were done at ABC, they would form their own church, to be named America Methodist Church.  There was an old, abandoned community center downtown that had been an eyesore for many years, but Steve and his friends thought with some loving renovation it would make a splendid home for the AMC.

            Steve asked the Town Council if he could buy the community center from the town so that AMC could renovate it and make it their beautiful new sanctuary.  Sadly, though, all of the members of the Town Council were also members of ABC; they declared that Steve did not have the right to submit a bid on the property.

            Steve and his friends were upset they had been denied their opportunity.  Leslie suggested talking to the American Civil Liberties Union, which they did.  With the help of the ACLU, Steve and Leslie and the other prospective members of the AMC sued the Town Council for the right to purchase the property.  Although Steve was no longer alone, he was being called “unpatriotic,” “ungodly,” and many other unkind things.  Some people would no longer talk to him in public and he started receiving hate mail.

            During the trial, people said many things.  The chair of the deacons claimed that it would weaken the institution of baptism at ABC if Methodists were allowed to sprinkle.  Leslie answered that the folks of ABC were quite welcome to continue to practice baptism as they saw fit, but the folks of AMC should be entitled to do it their own way.  The judge listened carefully to what both sides said and eventually ruled that Methodists were entitled to the same rights as every other person in America and that Steve and Leslie and the others had the right to bid on the abandoned community center.

            Elections for Town Council were held not long after the judge issued her ruling.  Steve decided he would run for election on a pro-AMC platform.  However, the Mayor declared he thought that America should have only one church and proposed that the Town Council pass a “Protection of Baptism” act that would designate America as a sprinkling-free zone and turn the old community center into a Sanctity of Baptism Memorial.  Many people who personally agreed with baptism by immersion thought that the Mayor and Town Council were going too far in trying to contradict the judge and restrict the rights of the Methodists.  However, 56% of the people who went to the polls agreed with the Mayor, and to this day, America has only one church.

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Political Philosophy

December 20, 2008

I stand for equality and liberty.  As a citizen of the USA, I believe that all citizens should have the exact same rights as every other citizen and that those rights should be as expansive as possible, so long as not denied by the Constitution or clearly deniable by the State as being contrary to the Consitution or the public good.  Some people talk about “priviledges” extended by the State, but IMHO, there are few or no priviledges, as such is contrary to the egalitarian nature of the ideal polis.

As such, I overlap with, but am not identical to, libertarians, anarchists, communists, and especially utilitarians.  I appreciate the libertarians’ and anarchists’ zeal from freedom, but believe there is a legitimate function for a robust state–including to protect the rights of minorities.  I appreciate the egalitarian sentiments of communist theory, but especially in practice I have found it to be too heavy-handed and not respectful of individual rights.  I especially resonate with Mills’ Harm Principle (competent adults have the right to do as they please so long as they do not harm others), but am also turned off by his distrust of the common voter and his willingness to cede more power to the intellectual elite (e.g., the Electoral College as envisioned rather than directly electing a president by popular vote).

My stance, then, on some of today’s hot button topics:

Gay marriage: the marriage of GLBTQ people in no way harms the marriages or other rights enjoyed by the majority and this right should be fully recognized by the State.  What we have now is a Tyranny of the Majority denying rights to an unpopular minority.

Polygamy/polyandry/group marriages: the rights of consenting adults to live the lifestyle of their choice so long as it does not harm any children resulting from such unions also seems a no-brainer to me.  I’m the first to admit there are despicable things that have been associated with polygamy in the past, including the enslavement of women, but it seems to me these are a result of polygamy’s being forced underground.  If rigorously scientific tests showed that children of group (or gay) marriages were impaired, then the State would have a compelling interest in prohibiting their reproduction, if not their pairing–but as far as I am aware, no such study exists for either group.

Gun rights: it seems to me a tortured reading of the Second Amendment that allows unrestricted individual gun rights.  Hand guns in urban areas, in particular, are a public health menace and should be heavily regulated.  Guns that do not threaten the public well-being (in private homes for person defense, for hunting, in collections) should be reasonably regulated to prohibit their use for criminal purposes and to prevent their accidental discharge or use by minors.

God: American public places ideally should be free of religious monuments, symbols, artistic references, etc.  When they are permitted in tributes to historic origins of the law, etc., they must be open to all religious groups.  The free exercise of all groups’ religions must not be regulated so long as that practice does not harm the public good.

Drugs: competent adults should have unimpaired control over their own bodies, including the informed use of substances that are harmful to them, so long as they do not injure others in their intoxicated states–driving while intoxicated would be one example, as would neglect of a minor be another.  The State might reasonably restrict the use of intoxicating drugs, alcohol, etc., to private homes and sanctioned “shooting galleries.”

Abortion: a potential life is not equal to an existing life; as such viability is a reasonable (although admittedly imperfect) compromise between the rights of the unborn and the rights of parents–until viability, a woman should have unrestricted right to an abortion, while afterwards protecting the life of the mother should be the only permissible reason for an abortion.  Obviously this issue will need a major revisiting once science has developed an artificial womb such that all conceptions are theoretically viable when transplanted.