california court rightfully strikes down the bad law that was prop 8

No on Prop 8he struck it down. may it rest in peace (although we know there’s no chance of that).

the la times is reporting:

A federal judge in San Francisco decided today that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, striking down Proposition 8, the voter approved ballot measure that banned same-sex unions.

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said Proposition 8, passed by voters in November 2008, violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians to marry the partners of their choice. His ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

cnn has the story here. yahoo is here.

kudos to chief u.s. district judge vaughn walker for doing the right thing. of course, this will be appealed to the u.s. 9th circuit court of appeals (good luck there ;-) and then on to the u.s. supreme court. at that point, the supreme court may take up the case and rule (which is what everyone wants, but will spell certain disaster for one political group – hint: believe it or not, it’s the group that wins), or the court may choose not to rule on a state’s matter.

of course, we will not stop hearing the mantra of how an ‘activist court’ ‘disregarded the will of the people’ and ‘legislated from the bench.’ we’re going to hear that until we’re sick of it. of course, we didn’t hear that from conservatives when the supreme court overturned gun bans in dc and chicago, but i digress. (remember: when we read ‘legislating from the bench,’ we should actually read ‘legislating form the bench against my point of view.’) i wonder how long it will take for prop 8 supporters to cry foul and complain about the fact that the judge was himself gay?

sometimes, or very rare occasions, certain groups (mostly religious groups) rally within a state (and sometimes from outside a state’s borders) to bypass the elected representative legislature (via direct ballot initiative) and fund, support, rally behind, and pass a bad, discriminatory law. that’s what some people in california (and utah) did with prop 8, the initiative to ban gay marriage in california.

the court reached the correct decision today. the pro-prop 8’ers intentionally bypassed the legislature to pass a bad law. the court rightfully overturned it.

page 135 of the judge’s ruling concludes:

“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite- sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

the comment from the remedies on p. 136 is also worthy of note:

“California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.”

that is to say, they knew it was unconstitutional, and any lawmaker that supports prop 8 outside of an über-conservative district is finished. prop 8 supporters knew that playing on the fears and/or beliefs of the populace via direct ballot initiative was the only possible way to ram this initiative through into law. and now, that law is gone. (now, if we can only get rid of the ballot initiative process…)

now for the appeals.

i am wondering: the first time a gay marriage ban was placed on the california ballot (prop 22 of 2000), it passed with 61.4% of the vote. the second time (prop 8 of 2008) it passed with only 52.2% of the vote – a loss of over 9% in 8 years. i wonder when they put another gay marriage ban on the california ballot (and they most certainly will) if it will even pass? 2.2% more and it fails. given the current trends state-wide and nationally, the group that wants to discriminate against homosexuals is running out of bullets.

A Note to Christians Opposing Gay Marriage: Get Over It

Get Over ItRemember how the Bible used to say, “Slaves, obey your masters” (Col. 3:22; 1 Pet. 2:18; Eph. 6:5)? Remember that? Remember how it used to say, “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man” (1 Tim. 2:12; cf. 1 Cor. 14:34; Col. 3:18; Eph. 5:22)? Remember when the Bible used to say that? Remember how the Bible used to instruct people not to divorce, and those who divorced not to remarry (1 Cor. 7:10-11)? Remember when the Bible used to say all of that?

Now, I know what you’re saying, and you’re right: it still does say that. And yet, we got over it! The Bible never stopped saying, “Slaves, obey your masters,” and yet, we got over it and rightfully abolished slavery. We got over it just like we rightfully conceded the equal rights of women. We got over it just like we rightfully allow people to divorce and allow divorced people to remarry. Simply put, we got over it.

In the same way, we will soon get over the way we treat homosexuals – Christians and non-Christians alike. Despite the Bible’s explicit moral injunctions to slaves, women, and divorcées, we have learned that these social injunctions were the product of the social environment in which the Bible was written. In the same manner, so too will we get over what we are doing to gay individuals today.

Just like the army got over the integration of black soldiers into white battalions, the army will get over the integration of openly gay soldiers into its combat forces. We got over the integration of women into traditionally “male” positions in the workplace. We got over the integration of African-American children into segregated schools. We got over insisting that abused women remain in their abusive relationships because “no unchastity had been committed” (Matt. 19:9), and we got over the stigmatization of divorced people trying to put their lives back together.

We got over it. And, we’ll get over using the Bible and ambiguous notions of “traditional marriage” to deny gay Americans the privilege of a state-recognized marriage. We’ll get over it and will one day look back and shake our heads at how we’ve treated gay Americans, just like we look back and shake our heads in disgust at how “those people” treated slaves, African-Americans, women, and divorcées.

We are “those people,” and we need to get over it.


For more by Dr. Cargill on this subject, see: “It’s OK for Christians to Vote No on Prop 8
and “Full Text of Dr. Cargill’s Remarks at the Pepperdine GSEP Panel Discussion on Racism and Homophobia.”
See also the classic West Wing segment on YouTube.


UPDATE: See also the news today that a U.S. Judge has ruled the Federal Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional.

how gay is gay enough?

North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliancenews of a peculiar lawsuit caught my attention this afternoon. according to the article:

Three bisexual men are suing a national gay-athletic organization, saying they were discriminated against during the Gay Softball World Series held in the Seattle area two years ago.

The three Bay Area men say the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance in essence deemed them not gay enough to participate in the series.

the problem is that the league is set up for gay athletes. banning non-gay athletes from the league is a form of discrimination based upon sexual preference. while the league does allow for two straight players to play on each team, the limitation of players based upon sexual preference appears to be a curb against teams who might recruit ‘ringers,’ that is, players who are exceptionally skilled at softball, but who may have no other affiliation with the group. (this happens a lot in church softball leagues, where teams will field a team full of exceptional softball players who may have never set foot in the sponsoring church, but there’s really no way to stop it. do league officials or members of the other team ask their opponents to quote bible verses to prove that they are actually christians? and does the ability to quote scripture make one a christian? church leagues usually leave the enforcement of team membership to each team. but i digress…)

there is really no way to stop a straight ringer from saying, ‘yep, i’m gay’ and then playing on the team. so, to prevent teams from fielding teams of ringers, and to preserve the gay nature of the league, the league put a limit on the number of straight players a team can have. i am guessing that the allowance for any straight players at all was itself a concession to avoid accusations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation while gay advocacy groups are lobbying hard for same-sex marriage around the country.

but this raises another question: how does one test for appropriate level of ‘homosexuality’? is not a man having sexual encounters with another man (among other encounters with women) homosexual and therefore gay? and how does one test for gayness? apparently, the league had a way. according to the article:

Each of the three plaintiffs was called into a conference room in front of more than 25 people, and was asked “personal and intrusive questions” about his sexual attractions and desires, purportedly to determine if the player was heterosexual or gay, the lawsuit alleges.

Gay softballouch. i can just see the right latching onto this as an example of a gay organization using a litmus test to determine one’s level of gayness, so that one can either be granted or denied benefits and access to something. sound familiar? it’s the very this that gay advocacy groups are arguing against in states with pending same-sex marriage legislation.

the lawsuit is even more interesting because it is not three straight players attempting to play in the league, but three bisexual players. three bisexual men were apparently prohibited from playing because as bisexuals, they apparently weren’t gay enough. i’m not sure if ucla’s lesbian gay bisexual transgender (lgbt) campus resource center would buy that argument. while some draw a distinction between the two, most consider bisexual to be at least a subset of homosexual. ask the question: how is bisexual not gay? if the definition of bisexual is a person who has sexual attraction to or sexual encounters with members of both sexes, and a homosexual is a person that has sexual attraction to or sexual encounters with members of the same sex, then by definition, bisexuals should be considered gay. all squares are also rectangles, etc.

so, as ridiculous as this lawsuit may sound at first, it will actually be a problem for the league, as well as for gay advocacy groups. again, how does one determine if one is gay? and why should sexual orientation be a determining factor for eligibility in a softball league?

the plaintifs realize the absurdity of the league’s rules and are therefore challenging them. they wanted to travel and play in the tournament, but couldn’t because of their sexual orientation. even if the league is a private league, they will lose because the league take’s advertising and solicit sponsorships. besides, imagine a ‘straights only’ softball league. would that stand up in court? would there be protests?

here’s what will happen: the plaintiffs will win this case. the north american gay amateur athletic alliance should immediately settle this case, apologize, fly the three men to wherever they want to go, let them play, and change their rules. in a world where even gender is being challenged (girls can now play little league and boys can play softball), and where the olympics and women’s sports leagues are encountering issues of transgender and hermaphroditic/intersexual competitors, it seems a ‘gay’ softball league will lose in court every time.

this lawsuit is bigger than softball: same-sex marriage equality is at stake and this case will be used to argue against allowing gay marriage. this case could cause irreparable damage to legitimate efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. opponents of same-sex marriage will tout this case as discrimination against others by homosexuals, and this will not help the cause.

the leagues rules are bad. settle the case, change the rules, apologize, and move on. besides, why not let straight men show support for gay rights by playing in a gay softball league? if straight men are willing to play in a ‘gay softball league,’ then let them. it’s a form of support for the cause and a sign of the straight man’s comfort with his own masculinity. if men who neither have breasts or cancer can walk in a breast cancer walk, why not let straight men play in a gay softball league?

here’s fox news’ attempt at being funny.

was jesus ‘hanged’ or ‘hung’ on the cross?

now this story is hard to pass up.

the english language can be quite difficult. for instance, many people have particular difficulty with the past tense of the verb ‘to hang.’ the general rule of thumb is that objects are ‘hung,’ as in, ‘we hung the ornaments on the christmas tree.’ however, human beings are ‘hanged,’ as in, ‘the bandit was hanged by the neck until dead.’ then, of course, there is the slang term ‘he is hung’ meaning a man is particularly well endowed.

well, one church in warr acres, oklahoma wants to take all the confusion out of the word by combining all three forms into one glorious painting.

imagine if you will a painting of jesus hanging on the cross. imagine that painting is the famed san damiano cross from the san damiano chapel in asisi, italy, which according to legend, is the very cross that spoke to st. francis of asisi in the year 1205. remember that st. francis of asisi was famous for his acts of poverty, humility and charity to the world. now, imagine a local church, st. charles church in warr acres, oklahoma, commissions a local artist, janet jaime, to produce a replica of the famed painting, seen below in various forms. now imagine that the artist forgets a brush stroke or two. the result is the painting below on the bottom right.

San Damiano's Crucifix San Damiano Crucifix
San Damiano's Crucifix San Damiano's Crucifix

jesus either works out a lot or is really happy to see you in church. i’m not saying that it’s obvious… but, well… who am i kidding? of course it’s obvious! look at that. honestly! how hard is it to draw abs that don’t look like a crotch rocket? seriously. of all the crosses that could have spoken to and inspired st. francis, this is the one?

the presence of this oversized painting in a house of worship is hard to swallow for some and resistance has stiffened. recently, some parishioners of the church where this painting was erected have left because of the prolonged controversy. and can you blame them? how can one worship with that hanging over the altar?

it seems, however, this crisis of faith will soon come to an end. reports today are that the head of the congregation has asked the local artist who was commissioned to paint the crucifix, to add a few strokes to the masterpiece in order to delineate jesus’ six-pack abs. that way, no one will be offended, but christians throughout warr acres, oklahoma can still proudly proclaim that jesus was indeed hung on a cross.

i promise you this: this is the last time i model for a painting!

(with thanx and a hat tip to scott bailey.)

an endorsement of genetic transplant research

Mitochondrion

A mitochondrion, the energy source in cells.

fascinating. newcastle university researchers are perfecting a procedure that will help prevent birth defects and other ailments in the womb using a dna transplant from egg and sperm cells with suspect mitochondrial dna to healthy cells with healthy mitochondria.

the nuclear material of the sperm and egg is from the parents, but the mitochondrial dna is someone else’s. the researchers say it’s like changing the battery on a laptop: the hard disk (brain) is the same, but the powerhouse is different. it’s more like a heart transplant, where the core of the person remains the same, but the ‘powerhouse’ is changed, only at an embryonic level.

i favor the research. this is the future of medicine. some anti-abortion and fundamentalist religion groups will protest, but this procedure does not result in the cessation of life, but rather the encouragement of it. call it designer babies if you want, but procedures like this will save lives and prevent birth defects. i don’t see a problem with using a woman’s own eggs to do this, nor utilizing the mitochondrial remains and cell membranes of cells that were harvested during the in vitro fertilization of another, which would otherwise be discarded. this is encouraging life from life.

the only potential problem will come far in the future. i can see a potential class struggle between those humans who were born naturally (the old fashioned way) and those that were genetically engineered using gene therapy or some other sort of genetic transplant. this will take generations, but make no mistake, opponents will use this hypothetical construct to argue against the procedure. however, the wise will counter by arguing it’s no different than those with access to healthcare today and those without; there is a definite scientific advantage for the group with access to scientifically based health care.

we all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. we know that early diagnosis and treatment of potential diseases can mean the difference between life (or at least a full, healthy, meaningful life in the eyes of the afflicted) and death. this procedure will assist in curing diseases before they develop, and i encourage and endorse this kind of life-giving research.

jesus was gay. elton john says so

Elton John claims Jesus was gay.

Elton John claims Jesus was gay. Photo copyright 2008 News Group Newspapers Ltd and/or its licensors.

well, there you have it. in case you had any questions about jesus’ sexual orientation, now we have the answer…at least according to elton john.

jesus was gay.

according to the sun article:

Elton, 62, declares as he pours out his heart to a magazine: “I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.”

He adds: “Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don’t know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East – you’re as good as dead.”

so, according to elton john, if you’re a compassionate, super-intelligent man who understands human problems, you’re gay. looks like all of you were right about me all these years. ;-)

(btw, roslyn, there’s probably something i should tell you… ;-)

i’ll dispense with making the standard ‘gay jesus’ jokes (like, ‘well, he did wear sandals, talk about love, hang out with his 12 partners, was environmentally conscious, greeted other men with kisses, and loved bette midler albums,’ etc.)

it is, however, a question worth asking, and one that many scholars have examined for decades now (although many of them have been unfairly ridiculed for doing so). likewise, the issue of homosexuality and homesexual christians is not going away, and the church (local congregations and denominations) must stop ignoring the problem and come up with some concrete answers. (you all know where i stand on this one.)

but what does one make of a single jewish man who never married (at a time where this was expected), hung out with other men, never produced a son (outside of the da vinci code), and never condemned homosexuality, despite the fact that both the hebrew bible (the christian old testament) and the new testament both criticized the practice sharply? can these practices be seen as evidence of homosexuality on the part of jesus, or were they the traits of an itinerant preacher from the north speaking about counter-cultural aspects of love, aversion to wealth, and the suppression of bodily desires?

it’s a legitimate question. so while we may have fun with elton john wanting jesus to be gay, we should not dismiss the question out of hand, nor should we ridicule those scholars seeking to examine these questions within a religious context. rather, we should examine the evidence and have the conversation. at least that way our decision about jesus’ sexuality will be based in facts and observations, and not on celebrity proclamations and/or fears, hatred, and prejudices.

nothing to do jan 3? watch ‘blood for the gods’ on discovery

there are no bowl games scheduled for jan 3, 2010. so what are nerds, biblical scholars, history junkies, and intellectuals supposed to watch on a sunday night? how about a short series about the history of human sacrifice on discovery channel called blood for the gods. the first two episodes are ‘sex & death‘ and ‘blood & power.’ the episodes debut back-to-back on sunday, january 3, 2010 at 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm.

the teaser for ‘sex & death‘ says:

To some ancient people, sex and death go hand in hand in fertility sacrifices meant to promote life…through gruesome rituals of death. But are the legends of fertility sacrifices true? Did Aztecs really cut out the hearts of thousands of victims?

the teaser for ‘blood & power‘ says:

Human Sacrifice in some cases is all about power – power over life and death, power in this world, and power in the next world. We’ll learn the price of power in grisly practices ranging from Egyptian pharaohs to Chinese rituals.

tune in. a couple of the experts interviewed are ancient near eastern scholars you may know.

lessons on ‘loving’ oneself from spain

any psychologist or counselor will tell you it is important to learn to love yourself. apparently, this is more difficult in spain than in other places, so a region in spain is offering to help their citizens:

The government of Extremadura launched a campaign based around the slogan “pleasure is in your own hands”, which gives advice on masturbation.

that’s right, gone is the famed self-love advice like:

  • “you must love yourself before you love another. by accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.”
  • “the most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely”
  • “love yourself, for if you don’t, how can you expect anybody else to love you?”

but, these time tested aphorisms are only the beginning. one must truly practice in order to be perfect. so now there’s a class.

read the article to learn how.

i always figured people learn how to do this on their own…

(with thanx to jim west.)

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