Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Marriage amendment vote fails

Another attempt at considering an amendment to the US Constitution failed in the House vote.

The amendment, just like its predecessor, sought to define marriage as existing only between a man and a woman and was a priority for many family-values groups in and out of the Beltway.

This was the third vote in the American Values Agenda, which House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) introduced last month to minimal fanfare. After the amendment fell short yesterday, the Speaker criticized Democrats who opposed the measure and said a majority of Americans support the ban.

“Be assured that this issue is not over and that we will continue to send a message to the American people that preserving and protecting marriage is a priority,” Hastert said in a statement.

House Democrats condemned the marriage vote as a partisan political maneuver after the Senate rejected a similar amendment on a procedural vote last month that prevented leaders from bringing it to a vote.

A lot of the comments I see considering this issue seem to miss the real point. The underlying issue is a semantic question: What does “marriage” mean?

The Family Proclamation answers this, succinctly and unequivocally. I believe the official church interest in this matter is driven by prophetic inspiration, which forsees a developing crises involving of much greater scope than concerns about “alternative” fringe interests.

The final clause of the Proclamation is clearly politically directed, recognizing that legally defining marriage is rightfully a political issue, notwithstanding the sophistry of those who wish to simply disappear the problem by asserting that it is not.

LDS Church leaders urged public support from members in a letter sent to US Church units, to receive a mixed political reaction from supporters and detractors.

Some have suggested that from an LDS perspective, forcing others by law to live by correct principles is what Satan tried to impose. As I understand it, the proposal by Lucifer was that we would not have the option to exercise our own volition. He would dictate our actions. This arrangement would have had little in common with human government and laws which attempt to direct the choices we make under human agency. Under “Satan’s Plan”, there would be no choices.

We are instructed that all beings are endowed with fundamental insight into what constitutes the basis for morality. As moral beings it is our obligation to acknowledge that insight, and to attempt to codify it into a government structure and a legal system that reflect a positive disposition toward things which are “good” and a negative posture toward things which are “bad”. That our laws are an imperfect reflection of the ideal is axiomatic and acceptable, as long as our collective voice agrees that we are pointed in the right direction.

This is the real basis for the “definition of marriage” controversy. Now we experience discord in discussion of these issues because minority interests object to general rules which frame an advantage for others, but fail to address their specific minority concerns. Of course the ideal would be to implement laws which give no unfair preference to any single group, but there appears to be no way to serve that ideal perfectly. The acceptable compromise has long been that general rules which best serve the greatest number should prevail.

To propose to discard rules to which any minority finds marginal objection falls down the slippery slope toward anarchy.

The other day I listened to some ideas from a college student about the sanctity of room-mate relationships, as a strange parallel to the "gay marriage" rationale. It made me laugh. I have actually been campaigning to gain legal sanction for my loving relationship with my 1995 Toyota 4-Runner. For some reason, most refuse to take me seriously. ;-)

I agree that any focus on “gay” interests in considering this issue is off base, even to the point of being ridiculous. The attendent arguments are subterfuge to sidestep the most substantive question regarding the protection of the cultural definition of marriage, which affects vastly greater numbers than any “gay” actions ever will.

Perhaps it would be an acceptable (and infinitely more entertaining) solution, to designate a new government office regulating “gay” interests. Let us create an entire Federal bureaucracy exclusively for serving self-designated “gays”. It would prove once and for all that there aren’t really enough of them to warrant such a fuss.

Again, in my perception all of the discussion of peripheral issues effectively bypasses the vital point.

Perhaps it is more appealing for people to ignore the danger to real marriage, the issue that more directly concerns the vast majority, and instead focus on fringe, virtually inconsequential issues. Like whether “gays” are as good as normal people. Or whether polygamy should be legal.

In proper perspective, these are doubtless legitimate concerns, but should hardly rightfully occupy the top-of-the-list priority for the majority of us.

Very few will ever suffer any negative repercussions if the questions surrounding “gays” are never settled. This thread unravels into the surreal. As one who aspires to be a true disciple in the restored gospel, I try my best to understand direct statements from the First Presidency and to follow their counsel. Ideas forwarded by some in this discussion have thoroughly confused me. I cannot see how such thinking can possibly reconcile with the intent of the official statement.

In this context I can see how President Hinckley gets the impression that things might be as bad today as in the evil society of Sodom and Gommorah. While the Lord’s spokesman warns us that the traditional family is under heavy attack, some of us respond by hoping for more fully funded social welfare programs. The damage that accrues from problems with conventional marriages negatively impacts so many countless lives. As the problems multiply it becomes progressively more rare to find a “normal” family untroubled by problems with conventional marriage. Many of these problems are obviously inventions of our contemporary culture, and we could presumably discover effective means to correct them, if we only tried. Yet we are always distracted from the task by hand-wringing about “gays”.

I have wondered if just the open discussion of such trivia perhaps serves a bit of latent prurient interest.

(Speaking first for myself, of course. ;-)

Further discussion of BYU actions against "gay" protesters demonstrating on campus here and here.

I would observe that although it might be so inferred from certain comments on the internet, I would suppose that neither BYU nor the church has any independent civil authority to arrest protesters, or to so act in any other matters under the jurisdiction of civil laws. Offenders would be arrested by law enforcement officers, and answerable for legal violations directly to officers of the court, not BYU staff or officials.

Strangely, we also find homosexual apologists within the church actually looking to the Book of Mormon for proof-texts to represent the righteousness of accommodating homosexual activist demands. It makes little sense -- would we argue that because there is no Book of Mormon passage which explicitly forbids same-sex marriage, then it should be okay?

Indeed, as far as I know, there is no specific mention of proscriptions against homosexuality in the Book of Mormon, but there is explicit recognition of strict cultural observance of the Law of Moses. The Brass Plates apparently contained texts similar to our Old Testament, which offers condemnation for all kinds of sexual perversions in the most specific and unequivocal terms imaginable..

This Old Testament passage characterizes the law under which Book of Mormon society operated.

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:

And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. (Leviticus 18:22-25)

I strongly suspect no specifics were ever mentioned explicitly in the abridged histories of the Book of Mormon because the editors considered the topic of such abominations too disgusting and degrading to mention. Because they lived with and accepted this law, they already recognized how evil and awful the consequences of sexual immorality, therefore it needed no further elaboration.

Defenders of sexual deviance are ever wont to point out that such perversions have ancient historical roots and have existed in all societies from the beginning of time. This assertion, even if true, hardly constitutes a rational defense or justification for evil practices.

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