General Mills takes a brave public stand against the marriage amendment. Which Rice County area companies, organizations, government units, and churches will do likewise?

In last week’s Strib: General Mills against gay marriage ban

General MillsGeneral Mills is taking a stand against a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, becoming the most prominent corporate voice making such a public declaration. Chief executive Ken Powell voiced the company’s opposition Wednesday at a General Mills function attended by 400 gay and lesbian professionals, followed Thursday by a Web letter from the company’s vice president for global diversity and inclusion, Ken Charles. “We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy,” Charles wrote. “We value diversity. We value inclusion.”

Rice County Votes NO! FlyerMy first thought: Cool!

My second thought: Will Malt-O-Meal/MOM Brands do the same?

My third thought: What about other Rice County area companies? Non-profits? Churches? Governmental units?

There’s a Rice County Votes NO! Community Kickoff tomorrow evening, Monday, June 18, at the Weitz Center.

282 comments to  (Including 45 Discussion Threads) General Mills takes a brave public stand against the marriage amendment. Which Rice County area companies, organizations, government units, and churches will do likewise?

  • 51
    Todd Amunrud says:

    Joe, I asked a specific question that you seem to be avoiding based upon your experience, not by quantified evidence. That’s my problem with your statement. It’s also not a lifestyle choice. This type of statement shows an inedaquate understanding of what it means to be gay, no matter who you may have counseled. I respect that scriptures guide your understanding of the world. I just ask for equal respect for evidence-based information to guide this discussion. You will be called out on these issues. Peter has done a wonderful job with that.

  • 52
    Paul Zorn says:

    John,

    You said in 40.1:

    … the moral judgement against homosexuality is based [in religion], not in science, and not in secular humanism … the real argument here is not about what should constitute marriage but about the validation of homosexuality.

    OK, fair enough. But it seems to me you want government — in the form of a constitutional amendment, no less — to enforce a moral judgment about homosexuality that you yourself describe as based in religion.

    Is enforcement of religious precepts really government’s proper role?

    • 52.1
      john george says:

      Paul- I could bring up the argument that one of the ten commandments Moses brought is not to commit murder. Since this is a “religiously based law, should we eliminate it from our Constitution? Also, in the Declaration of Independence, we have this familiar statement.-

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

      It appears the writers who wrote that these unalienable rights are unalienable believed they were so because they were endowed by their Creator, not science, not evolution, and not by a simple majority. Since these appear to be religious based reasons for these rights, and since we must have separation of church and state so that the state does not enforce a religious precept, are we supposed to throw these things out? If you don’t think so, it would appear that you agree with selective government enforcement of certain religious precepts.

      • 52.1.1

        The argument isn’t “if there exists a religious argument for a law, it shouldn’t be a law”. It’s “if there does not exist a non-religious argument for a law, it shouldn’t be a law”.

        It is very easy to present non-religious arguments as to why it is useful for a society to have a law against murdering people. If there were non-religious arguments against allowing gay marriage, then someone could present them and they could be considered; a few candidates have been proposed, but none of them have really worked out.

        The Declaration of Independence isn’t law. No one is required to follow it. It isn’t binding on us; it doesn’t govern us. So it doesn’t matter whether it has a religious basis or not.

        So, again, the objection isn’t to ever enforcing a rule which complies with some religion; it’s to enforcing rules only because some religion has them.

      • 52.1.2
        Paul Zorn says:

        John,

        Nobody — left, right, or center — argues that laws that happen to align with religious precepts are therefore invalid. Can’t we put this dying horse/canard/straw man/some other lame metaphor/ out of its, and our, misery? Peter (Seebs) frames the issue well: the live question is whether arguments that don’t depend on religious adherence can be adduced.

        In the present case it’s you, John, who characterizes (see #52 or #40) the “moral judgement against homosexuality” as “based in religion, not in science [or] secular humanism … “. Hence my question to you.

      • 52.1.3
        john george says:

        Paul & Peter- I just don’t trust your judgement in this matter, so we are probably even. I have not heard any gaurentees from anyone, you included, that this change in social engineering will not lead us farther down the slope of decay rather than see our culture strengthened. I believe there is historical precedence for the former rather than the latter. You will probably not agree with Sodom and Gommorah, but what of the Phoenician, Egyptian, and Greek cultures? They all embraced homosexuality as the norm, did they not? This is not the only factor in their demise, but it is still a common thread. Does God indeed limit how corrupt He will allow a culture to become? What chance are you all willing to gamble? I will probably not live to see it in my day, but I am concerned about my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Will they end up being sucked along with the frogs in the proverbial pot of boiling water? That being the case, I will support a “religious based” law to limit the redefinition of marriage.

      • 52.1.4

        That gets complicated. Long story short:
        1. No, none of them embraced homosexuality as the norm. I’ve never heard of any culture anywhere which did. I’ve heard of cultures which treated it as a rare and interesting variant that was not shamed or derided, but never of it being the “norm” in any meaningful sense. The Greeks had a fair amount of tolerance for gay sex, but not nearly as much for long-term stable gay relationships, if any.
        2. None of the people that the Hebrews were comparing with had any concept of a stable long-term relationship between same-sex partners. The only model they had for gay sex was orgies and cult prostitution. They had no notion of a stable relationship between adults, neither of whom was a slave.

        And when it comes down to it: If I have to gamble on what God will or won’t tolerate, I will always vote for bringing comfort to the afflicted (and affliction to the comfortable…), because that is what I think I am supposed to be doing. It is clear to me that, right now, millions of people are suffering horribly because our society denies them basic rights. It is also clear to me that they will continue to suffer, and continue to be denied those rights, until this state of affairs changes.

        I don’t know what comes next. But I am not going to let uncertainty about possible futures prevent me from acting to take care of the people who are, right here and now, being hurt. While guarantees are hard to come by, I have seen our culture repeatedly strengthened by choosing the path of greater freedom, greater liberty, and greater inclusiveness. I have never seen our culture strengthened by imposition of sexual mores on other people, and often seen it visibly harmed.

        The core decay in our values right now is the focus on genitalia rather than on commitment and family bonds in marriage. A culture which upholds a 72-hour marriage between a man and a woman as infinitely superior to and more valid than a 20-year relationship between two men or two women is indeed broken, but recognizing that same-sex relationships are also real family relationships would make it better, not worse.

        The choice on the table is not “gay sex or no gay sex”. It’s not even “more gay sex or less gay sex”. It’s “gay people encouraged to form long-term committed relationships or not.” I would rather encourage people to form committed relationships and tie their families together than the alternatives. (The alternatives I see on offer are (1) telling them that they are not good enough to be entitled to family bonds (2) telling everyone that marriage isn’t about family bonds, it’s about animal husbandry.)

        People are still gonna be gay no matter what we do, and they’re still going to form relationships. The question is whether they’ll be treated with basic human decency and respect when they do so.

    • 52.2
      john george says:

      Paul- I could bring up the argument that one of the ten commandments Moses brought is not to commit murder. Since this is a “religiously based law,” should we eliminate it from our Constitution? Also, in the Declaration of Independence, we have this familiar statement.-

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

      It appears the writers who wrote that these unalienable rights are unalienable believed they were so because they were endowed by their Creator, not science, not evolution, and not by a simple majority. Since these appear to be religious based reasons for these rights, and since we must have separation of church and state so that the state does not enforce a religious precept, are we supposed to throw these things out? If you don’t think so, it would appear that you agree with selective government enforcement of certain religious precepts.

      • 52.2.1
        john george says:

        Griff- Somehow that comment posted twice. Probably operator problems. You can delete one if you like.

  • 53
    Joe Dokken says:

    Todd,
    Anybody can find someone to agree with their point of view. You and I will never agree, on this issue. My statement doesn’t need your approval, or whatever studies, professors, empirical evidence, DNA study, it doesn’t matter. You can tell me all day that being homosexual is as normal as being heterosexual, and I will respectfully disagree.
    My statements will never find agreement in the halls of intellectual elite.
    I even see how your choice of words are so similar to the savvy politician who just keeps saying the same thing over and over hoping someone will believe him. I refuse to fall prey to your wording, such as, “inadequate understanding”, and “refuse to answer”.
    I realize that this blog site is heavily weighted by those who think your way. If I wanted I could find many who think my way if I chose to jump on the “Focus on the Family” blog site.
    Honestly Todd I really don’t have time to debate your intellectual astuteness, or your heartfelt beliefs on this issue. Let’s just agree to disagree.
    The vote will be very close on Election Day, and it could easily go either way. It is going to depend upon which view motivates the most supporters.

    • 53.1

      Usually when I say things, it’s because I believe them to be true and want to try to persuade people of them, to which end I will usually present evidence or argumentation supporting them. If I can’t offer people a reason to believe what I tell them, I don’t see what good it does to tell them.

    • 53.2
      Todd Amunrud says:

      I’m definitely okay with disagreeing. I guess since you were quoting an article referring to scientific evidence for antibiotic resistance to gonorrhea you would have more scientific evidence to support your morality claim. I was wrong. Yeah, science is convenient that way, pick and choose to make a point, but drop it when it isn’t. And I don’t need to repeat things over and over as you state until someone agrees. You put out an assertion that cannot be quantified. I was looking for evidence it could be from you, and you still haven’t addressed your statement. This is also distracting from the topic at hand.

    • 53.3
      Phil Poyner says:

      I don’t appreciate people bandying about the term “intellectual” as if it were a pejorative. I put a lot of effort into educating myself and developing my intellect, and the fact that I use my acquired intelligence in a professional capacity makes me, by some definitions, an intellectual. In a country where we’re constantly clamoring about the need for more scientists and engineers, anti-intellectualism is, in my opinion, a threat to our future.

    • 53.4
      kiffi summa says:

      Joe: You said: “You can tell me all day that being homosexual is as normal as being heterosexual, and I will respectfully disagree.
      My statements will never find agreement in the halls of intellectual elite.”

      And we will continue to disagree, and hopefully respectfully. BUT … it is very difficult to be continually respectful when your opinion is religiously based, which by nature makes it exclusive to, and of , many … and when it flies in the face of medical/scientific opinion … to say nothing of the devaluing of the lives of other humans.

      This resistance to science is a scary thing,especially when you see it in a religious group who will raise their children to be ignorant/unreceptive of broadly accepted scientific fact.
      (by the way, I tried to cross out ignorant, but the keyboard would not let me do that, only delete it, and I did not wish to totally delete it, as I believe this resistance to science is a hindrance to a fully informed society)

      That said, if you wish to reject science, that is of course your privilege, but it is not an acceptable privilege if you use that rejection to devalue another human being, IMO.

      It also just doesn’t ‘wash’ to pair ‘intellectual’ and ‘elite’ and then place them “in the halls”, as if education is a bad thing.

      Sorry for the harsh words, but IMO no more harsh than the broader societal impact results of your personal religious beliefs.

  • 54
    Paul Zorn says:

    Joe,

    Like Todd, I wondered why you’d claim that (my emphasis) “the largest groups of moral people are Christians.” As you say, Christians do and have done many good things (and some bad ones), but this does not address the question actually asked. Nor does it offer any defense of or support for your sweeping, if not Pharisaical, claim that Christian “groups” are not just good but better or more numerous than others among the “moral”. Are Christians really more moral, by and large, than others? By whose standards? Who gets to say?

    Sure, people can agree or disagree, and none of us needs others’ “approval” to hold our opinions. But broad assertions of virtue and, by implication, dissing of vast swathes of humanity naturally raise questions. Is it unreasonable for Todd (and me) to ask them?

  • 55
    Joe Dokken says:

    Paul, Todd, whoever…
    This will be my last comment about this issue.
    A good portion (please don’t ask me to give you a number) of our current laws, (Nationally and Statewide) find their origin(reference) from Biblical teachings.
    Your group of people thinks any time the Bible is quoted suggested, used to validate a reasonable view…STOP, STOP, STOP! this violates, Separation of Church and State.
    Sadly most people don’t even know what this statement means.
    Yet it becomes your trump card every time an American holds to his or her religous beliefs as “a” or the “major” reason for their position on an issue.
    I never hear any of you say, STOP, STOP, STOP, you as a minister of the Gospel can’t have the view that it is OK to honor Homosexual Unions through a marriage ceremony. As long as they agree with your view, bring them on. It just shows your hypocrisy.
    The real issue isn’t that we have views on issues as Christians; rather it is as Christians our views don’t line up with yours.

    I rest my point.

    • 55.1
      Todd Amunrud says:

      Joe, I never said you cannot have your point of view. I am only trying to understand your points being made here. If you wish to add to the discussion and make the claims you have made, expect to be challenged. Speak away by-all -means, but please don’t reduce your disagreement with me wanting you silenced. I am looking for understanding from a point of view I wholly do not understand.

      Or maybe you were just trying to add flame to the fire with your approach and only looking for us hairy-eyed liberals to come after you.

      Can you add to the discussion so I can understand your evidence? I do not expect to change your point of view. Also, I recommend a historical prospective on how our government was formed based out of Native American culture. Try reading; Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World (Crown Publishers, NY, 1988), by Jack Weatherford. It adds an interesting view on our structure for government.

    • 55.2
      kiffi summa says:

      Joe: You said: “The real issue isn’t that we have views on issues as Christians; rather it is as Christians our views don’t line up with yours.”

      I would just like you to consider this point when you speak of “Christians” : I was raised as a Christian; baptized, sunday schooled, confirmed, married in the Methodist Church… BUT … now more conservative “Christians”, evangelicals, etc., consider themselves to be the ONLY “Christians”, and their far more conservative social views to be the ONLY “Christian views”.

      Why do you believe that you can disenfranchise anyone of their religious heritage just because their views are not identical with yours? Are they also not “Normal”?

      Why do you insist that ONLY those who believe exactly as you do can retain their culturally Christian upbringing? John George has told me to “get over it!” … is that a Christian Jesus- centered expression of tolerance?

      I really want an answer to this issue of exclusivity…

      • 55.2.1
        john george says:

        Kiffi-

        is that a Christian Jesus- centered expression of tolerance?

        Hmmm. I would like to know from you what scriptural precept you base this “tolerance” upon? Jesus was tolerant of every sinner who had an awareness of and did not deny his own sin. He was especially intolerant of the Pharisees who thought they could get by with their sin because of their adherence to the Levitical Law. We can love God only because He first loved us. We can love others as ourselves because we recognize we are all in the same boat and much in need of God’s provision for salvation. And that is a free gift from God that only does us any good if we believe it receive it. That is not a “conservative Christian” concept. That is the Gospel that Jesus presented.

      • 55.2.2

        It seems to me that the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees was in no small part their efforts to impose their standards on other people. The conflicts we see tend to revolve around situations in which they are trying to enforce rules and condemn others for failing to follow those rules.

        Jesus sought to transform people, but never to compel by force. There are perhaps reasons for which this is a better model to follow.

      • 55.2.3
        kiffi summa says:

        John: I asked a question; you did not answer it, but instead gave a rather, IMO, imperfect lecture… which in it’s first sentence manages to imply that Jesus was not tolerant or at least only on a prescriptive level !!!

        Let’s you and I not talk with each other , OK? I’m sure it is all too tedious for others who are commenting here; we have been arguing the same points for years!

        Joe: got an answer for me?

      • 55.2.4
        john george says:

        Kiffi- If you are going to use my name and quote me in a post, I think that opens the door for me to respond.

      • 55.2.5
        john george says:

        Peter- You are only partly correct about the Pharisees. They were not inflicting their Laws on everyone, just those who wanted to come close to God through Judaism. Jesus provided a way that did not require outward performance, but rather an inward transformation. Remember Matt. 5:17&18-

        Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

        Everyone who has ever lived, is now living, and has yet to live will be judged according to this Law. Being in Christ puts us in the place before God the Father of having fulfilled the Law.

        By establishing a scriptural law as part of our constitution can in no way change a person’s life, just as a speed limit sign cannot make a person follow the posted limit. But just because this is true, I still cannot justify myself to give even tacit approval to same sex marriage. As many have said, this will not change anything in interpersonal relationships, but it is my conviction that it will ward off judgement a little longer so more people can have a chance at eternal life.

      • 55.2.6
        Joe Dokken says:

        Kiffi,

        I am only answering your question and not trying to continue the dialogue on the marriage amendment.
        I absolutely was not insinuating that only people who think like me are Christians.
        If my wording suggested that thinking, I apologize for any thought of exclusivity.
        I don’t agree with my brothers and sisters in Christ who believe abortion is ok, but who am I to be the judge of their salvation.
        Anyone who claims that Jesus Christ is their sole source of Salvation becomes part of the greater family of God.
        Ultimately God will judge us all, that’s another topic, but who am I to decide who is a Christian and who is not.
        I am called to declare that salvation is found in no one but Jesus Christ.
        All of us as Christian are supposed to be on a journey of growing in the knowledge and love of God.
        Until we leave this world, I am to be the salt and light of Christ as best I can in accordance with the Word of God, and His Spirit who lives within me and every believer.
        My statement was speaking of the group of “Christians” or the part of the Christian church which believes in a very conservative, traditional view of marriage.
        That is exactly why I posed the comment about a Pastor who views marriage as OK for Homosexuals.

        I would tell any Christian who believes this, that I don’t think it lines up with the Word of God, and I refuse to accept it as OK.

        Without delving back into the issue, my Wife was raised Methodist, I was raised Lutheran, I ended up at an Assembly of God church primarily because of their commitment to world missions.

  • 56
    David Roberts says:

    Northfield a Special Place? I really wonder this is not the Northfield I grew up in : Why are worried about other people do with their lives : We are supposed to Love one another : In a reply or statement before this one a person mentions that the word Jesus Freak hurts but remember calling one a cruel word because a person maybe homosexual is also very wrong and I thought that Jesus teaches to Love one another regardless : Yes it is very hard sometime : We have other issues to deal with : How do we help our brothers and sisters who are still unemployed : The one issue should be Jobs Jobs

  • 57
    Adam Elg says:

    Here illuminates the problem with blogs. Droning on-and-on attempting to out speak the other. Why any of you continue to pretend to debate with Mr. George is beyond me. He makes clear through his writing that he believes his understanding of scripture is beyond reproach. Personally, as a potential victim of this hurtful amendment, I suggest those of you arguing this point with people who have no ability to hear, turn your attention to those who have questions about the amendment and who actually appreciate gay and lesbian people in their community. Walk your neighborhood and talk to your neighbors.

    As a gay man in a committed 25 yr relationship, who’s values come from supporting parents and grandparents who had 44 and 60 yr relationships respectively, I am fed up with this thread.

    VOTE NO!

    • 57.1

      Well, here’s the thing.

      First, I like the guy. I have gone out for coffee with him a few times, and I don’t think he’s nearly as arrogant as you’re reading him.

      Second, if I won’t talk to people I disagree with, how will either I or they learn anything? I am not going to be better off in any way if I sit around talking with people I agree with; what I mostly want to do is understand and be understood. Agreement is less interesting to me than understanding in the long run. In the short run, either way, we’re not going to see equality in MN for a few years at least. In the long run, I think we almost certainly will eventually, maybe even within my lifetime. Neither of those is going to be changed by me persuading one person on the Internet.

      But I can try to encourage conversations which could lead people to understand each other and their respective views and beliefs better. And that seems like it might actually change the world.

    • 57.2
      john george says:

      Thanks, Peter. Sometimes, the result of communication is just to come to a better understanding. Successful communication cannot (should not?) be measured in whether you changed the other person’s mind about a subject. And, just because a person does not change their mind does not automatically mean they are arrogant.

    • 57.3
      Griff Wigley says:

      Seebs and John George, you guys rock. Thanks for modeling how to disagree.

  • 58
    Adam Elg says:

    Good luck! To learn anything there must be an ability to hear and an open mindedness -- a willingness to critically evaluate what you are hearing. Is this what you observe?

    Perhaps this conversation, which was originally concerning constitutional matters, and has now devolved to pseudo scriptural matters, could better be had over a cup of coffee.

    • 58.1

      I would definitely say that John George has shown real interest in listening to and understanding other people’s points of view; this is not the same thing as adopting them, necessarily.

      And while I certainly have no objection to the notion of chatting with him over coffee (we do that occasionally), I don’t really see a downside in comment threads wandering around a little; that’s part of what makes a discussion worth having.

    • 58.2
      William Siemers says:

      I think the discussion has to have been useful to those who value a religious perspective in decision making.

  • 59
    kiffi summa says:

    Griff, John, and Peter: I personally do not see how turning every thread that has a possibility of religious differences into an endless preaching against homosexuality, is anything but an endless preaching of religion.
    I don’t see that as a positive model for any discussion.

    That has happened numerous times … from the “prayer ladies”on … and you never redirect that deflection when it starts, Griff.
    And then those with differing views than what is being ‘preached’, get drawn into the religious argument which is so pervasive, and becoming more so, and the entire basis of the thread is totally redirected.

    Peter: you have tried to make a rational argument with John , from every human direction possible, and proven that you will get nothing but biblical rationales in return.

    I must reiterate… I don’t see that (biblical rationale only) as a positive model for an inclusive world.

    VOTE NO!

    • 59.1

      I don’t think that the Biblical rationales are a good way to run a government that is, after all, supposed to be a government for everyone, not just Christians. But I know some people value them pretty highly. So… If I want to talk to people about what they will, or should, do, I pretty much have to be willing to talk about the frameworks within which they make those decisions if I want to learn anything.

      I study philosophy and religion enough that I’m comfortable switching between several different value frameworks for the purposes of a conversation. Not everyone is, and I find it useful to meet people where they’re comfortable talking.

      • 59.1.1
        john george says:

        Peter- Most of the scriptural principles are intended for, and work best for, someone who has a relationship with Jesus. Our commission is not to establish a theocracy on Earth. Our commission is to make disciples. That being the case, I consider our individual involvement in government to be in response to personal direction from the Holy Spirit. We cannot legislate Christianity, nor are we supposed to try. That is one major difference between Christianity and Islaam. That being said, there are some pretty good ideas to base some laws upon that do line up with a secular direction. But for those of us who profess to follow God, we need to be attentive to those things to which we conform ourselves. (See Romans 12:1 & I John 1:15-16, if you are interested.)

      • 59.1.2

        I guess the big difference is, I see no reason for which the state needs to legislate a particular view of marriage as the only permissible one. It seems to me that there is no compelling interest here. States and countries which have had legal gay marriage for years show absolutely no problems — while places where people actively fight against recognition of gay marriage have catastrophic failures of the marriage institution.

        You cannot defend societal bonds by excluding people from them.

        And ultimately, the thing is… Even if we grant for the sake of argument some moral superiority to opposite-sex marriage, that doesn’t change my view on the law. What I’m supposed to do about people who don’t agree with me is love them, support them, and do what I can to make them safe and well. It has been very firmly established that people benefit from forming long-term committed relationships, that they benefit from societal acceptance, and that they benefit greatly from having their family relationships acknowledged and accepted.

        Right now, what’s on the table is a proposal that we postpone by a few more years the day when gay people will be allowed to visit their families in the hospital, allowed to share their property (before and after death) without paying extra taxes, and otherwise the ability to have their family relationships legally recognized. That’s it. Nothing the government does here has anything to do with what different churches teach or practice, only with what legal rights we extend to people. Only with whether or not we acknowledge them to be full citizens with the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as everyone else.

        That applies to all the different ways in which people can go about having relationships that other people don’t think are valid because of what their religion teaches. This one’s special, not because of any actual difference in the cases, but because of strong appeals to emotion and fear. There’s no concrete threat, there’s no actual risk; just lots of fear-mongering and “what IF there were a future risk that no one has been able to anticipate, define, identify, or demonstrate to be real or even plausible?”

        Let’s just get the basic human decency part covered and see what happens. If the next thing is that someone tries to do something which is a problem, let’s deal with that problem then. Let’s not hold people hostage and discriminate against them systematically just in case there might be a risk to not being mean enough to them.

        And make no mistake; telling people their families don’t count is absolutely being mean, and that is the sole function of this proposed legislation, or any other opposition to legal recognition of gay families.

    • 59.2
      rob hardy says:

      I always like to remember that the idea of separation of church and state (the anti-establishment clause in the Constitution) was supported at the outset by evangelical Christians, who opposed the political power of the established Anglican (Episcopal) Church in Virginia in the late 18th century. The Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, and others supported inclusivity because they understood what it was like to be excluded from political power. That is the American tradition: to extend the rights and privileges of our democracy to more groups (evangelicals, blacks, women, gays), not to further restrict those rights and privileges. Remember, if you were not an Anglican in 18th century Virginia, you could not hold public office and were taxed to support a church to which you did not belong. You, as an evangelical Christian, were discriminated against. Thank goodness, times have changed. Gays and lesbians should also benefit from those enlightened changes that have brought more freedom to our society.

      • 59.2.1
        Phil Poyner says:

        I remember the first time I read the words of Roger Williams. I found them amazing, even 350 years later. He seemed much more concerned with the state’s impact on the church than visa versa, and would probably be appalled if the lines between the two became too blurred.

  • 60
    David Henson says:

    You are correct -- without Christianity this country would not have had or have the freedom we enjoy today. And without Christianity we will not continue to have freedom. So I would pause before your second glass of chardonnay and think deeply about why many Christians think changing the definition of marriage is unhealthy for our society.

    • 60.1
      rob hardy says:

      Having been raised as a Christian, and having studied American history, I have great respect for the role Christianity has played in American life. For example, in the abolitionist movement and civil rights movements (both of which were movements to extend, not to restrict freedom). Many good Christians are now supporting the effort to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. I also have to say that, despite our occasional disagreements, I have a greater respect for a Christian like John George, who engages in civil and respectful dialog, than those who can only make sarcastic comments about chardonnay.

    • 60.2
      Phil Poyner says:

      You neglect to mention that the people those freedom-loving Christians were fighting against were typically…wait for it…other Christians!

    • 60.3

      I would love to think about it! If only some of them could give details and answer questions about this when I want to know more about some of their terms, or ask about the reasoning that connects a premise to a conclusion.

      What mostly confuses me is that the largest change to the definition of marriage on offer is the replacement of “the mechanism by which adults create new family bonds” with “one man, one woman”. No mention of permanence, no mention of family bonds, or commitment, no mention of the way the relationship ties together extended families. Nothing to it but animal husbandry.

      We’ve changed our definitions of marriage many times. We regard the woman’s consent as essential these days — an entirely un-Biblical concept. We now think that both partners continue to have distinct legal existance. A woman can no longer use “my husband told me to do it” as a viable and effective defense against criminal charges. Divorce is now an option even if you aren’t in a position to declare your country to have a new church solely so that you can pick an archbishop who will grant you one.

      I would love to know what it is about this particular change that people think is such a big deal, and I’ve never, ever, gotten an answer to that which someone could explain and articulate when asked for details.

      So far as I can tell, the main problem is that people continue to mistake “a change in the legal rules” and “a change in the definition” for each other. In practice, our society has long since granted that many states and countries allow same-sex marriage, which is to say: We already know perfectly well that same-sex couples can form comitted relationships which make them family. The question is why people are so terrified of what will happen if we stop trying to torture people by forcibly separating them when one is dying.

      • 60.3.1
        john george says:

        Peter- That is a good point between “the legal rules” and “the definition” of marriage. I have not run across any fellow Christians in the crcles I move in who wants to deny the “legal” rights. The pressure I get from people who support gay marriage is that they want the “definition” applied to gay couples so they can have the “legal” rights. Is that the only way they can have the legal rights? I think it was you who said there can be no such thing as separate but equal. Why do you say that? If there could be, I don’t think many in my circles would object. The fact that gay couples are living together and displaying committed relationships is a moot point. The major objection I have with the re-definition is that I esteem marriage as one of the first relationships sanctioned by God. Throughout the Scriptures, the relationship between God and both Israel and the Church has been described in marriage terms. Just as God cannot have a relationship with sin, and His word defines homosexuality as sin (in spite of how some contemporary theologials would want to twist that definition), then it would be like Him saying, “You don’t really have to be Holy as I am Holy.” ( See Lev. 11:44&45, 19:2, 20:7&26, 21:8) That is why I claim this is a sin issue and not a civil rights issue for we Christians. And, in so doing, I do not consider myself a homo-phobe or bigot.

      • 60.3.2

        Well, here’s the thing:

        This amendment is ONLY about legal rights. It has no effect on dictionaries. It doesn’t change our culture. ALL it does is affect legal rights. That is the sole purpose of it; it has to be the sole purpose, because it is the only effect the law can ever have.

        If you don’t want to deny gays legal rights, then vote against the amendment, and help bring legal rights closer.

        And here’s the thing. Maybe it’s theoretically possible to alter the entire legal system, update literally hundreds or thousands of laws nationwide, update all our treaties with all the other countries, and so on and so forth, so as to create the legal rights without using the word “marriage” for them. But… That isn’t gonna happen. It is not a real possibility. Any legal change we make other than allowing gays to get legally married will mean that people are denied those rights because they’re “in a civil union” rather than “married”.

        So in the end, a vote for this amendment is a vote that gays should not get these legal rights. Period. “Legal” is the only thing that a law can ever be about. It has nothing to do with culture, it has nothing to do with dictionaries. It’s just about what the law will or will not recognize.

        People should be able to be with their loved ones when they’re dying, Y/N? If “yes”, vote against the amendment. If you vote for the amendment, you are answering “no”. That’s all it does. It doesn’t change who’s shown exchanging rings on TV. It doesn’t change who gets to stand at altars and exchange vows. It doesn’t change anything, anything at all, except legal recognition. This is all about the law; if it weren’t about the law, we wouldn’t be talking about changing the constitution, because the purpose of the constitution is to govern our laws.

        As to what the Bible says about homosexuality, if you can make a convincing case for that, I am totally interested. I have been asking people to show their work on this one for about fifteen years now, and I’ve never seen someone offer a compelling argument that the Bible condemns “homosexuality” rather than “pederasty and ritual prostitution”. It would be rather an accomplishment, as the writers had no concept even remotely related to what the word “homosexuality” refers to. The idea of people whose instincts went that way was basically unknown; heck, the concept of “instinct” was not really one we had available at the time.

        There’s only a handful of passages that are remotely relevant, and of them, only Romans 1 has any legs at all; the others are doomed by questionable translations, massive shifts in interpretation away from what the writers and their original audience believed them to mean, and so on. Mostly, the problem is not that people are “ignoring” or “twisting” the Bible; it’s that they aren’t reading the whole thing, instead of grabbing half-sentences out of context.

        Familiarize yourself with neighboring cultures the Hebrews were familiar with, and read whole chapters of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and those passages are much better understood as condemnations of the ritual prostitution that was common in the region. Paul’s famous list of people who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven uses two words which, whatever they are, aren’t at all the way anyone writing period Greek would have tried to communicate “homosexuals”. They are quite plausible as condemnations of pederasty, or as an echo of the LXX condemnation of cult prostitution. Sodom and Gomorrah were known for over a millenium to be about hospitality and viciousness to strangers; the idea that they were about gay sex was unknown before the medieval period, and for that story to be a condemnation of gay sex, we have to assume that gang rape of angels is not sin unless it’s gay. (Otherwise, there’s nothing in the story that is specifically about gay sex of any sort.)

        The only real contender is Romans 1, and Romans 1 is a letter written to people in the vicinity of the largest temple of the cult of Venus, and refers to idolators having orgies. Really not convinced that this is meaningfully about homosexuality.

        Honestly? I think the entire thing is a red herring, a brilliant effort to get everyone up in arms about the wrong thing entirely. All the effort that goes into torturing gay kids to death because people think it’s “sin” could have been spent promoting commitment and fidelity as virtues, teaching people about relationship skills that go beyond finding the one person that makes you happy and it’s never any work to sustain the relationship… But no! We have to obsess over teh ghey to the exclusion of everything else.

      • 60.3.3
        john george says:

        Peter- The ballot summary says-

        “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman.”

        That sounds more like a definition to me, but maybe I am misssing something.

        As far as the “trouble” to the various levels of our government and businesses, this is something that happens on a regular basis. Just take a look at the ADA requirements that have changed over the last decade as an example.

      • 60.3.4
        john george says:

        Peter- I think I have discussed with you the Hebrew in Gen. 19:5 before, but I will do a quick summary. The term “yada” is translated “know” in the King James version and “have relations with” in the NIV & NAS. It is the same word Lot uses to describe his daughters as having “not known men.” It seems as little bit of a stretch to me to say the men of Sodom did not have a sexual intent in their quest, seeing that Lot offers up his daughters in the angels’ stead. There are whole books written on this, so for Kiffi’s sake, I will not delve further. There is a good quote on this gay translation web site http://www.soulforce.org/forums/showthread.php?t=1191

        We must always make a choice about how we will use the Bible.

        I think that is a two-way street.

      • 60.3.5

        The ballot summary can say anything it wants. The sole power of law is to define legal things. The only “definition” under discussion is the legal definition, because that’s the only definition the law cares about. It’s not about dictionaries. It’s not about altars. It’s about who gets legal rights recognized and who doesn’t. It cannot be about anything else, because the law has no authority to speak to anything else. Any time you are talking about legislation, including laws-about-laws (such as the Constitution), you are talking exclusively about legalities to begin with.

        Again: This has no effect on who can or can’t stand at altars, who can or can’t exchange rings, who can or can’t come to Thanksgiving dinner with the family. All it affects is legal rights. That is what laws are for. Laws about marriage govern legal rights; no more, no less. And the purpose of the proposed amendment is to create additional barriers to extending basic legal recognition to some family relationships. That’s it. It has nothing to do with what people do or don’t call “marriage” in their personal lives, only with what gets the legal backing to make it count.

        Keeping gay marriage illegal has no effect on whether two guys can trade rings, come to family gatherings, or any of that. It just means that if one of them is killed in action, the other won’t be told because he’s not legally “family”. It just means that if one of them is dying in the hospital, the other won’t be allowed in because he’s not legally “family”. That’s it. Preserving that second-class citizenship is the sole purpose of this proposed amendment.

        The government of Minnesota could legally recognize gay marriages tomorrow (well, they can’t, but if they did…) and nothing would change in terms of what churches teach, in terms of who goes to family gatherings, anything like that. All that would change is whether gay couples were given the legal rights that the rest of us take for granted. The amendment doesn’t even directly affect that; the main purpose of it is to ensure that even if other states grant these legal rights, Minnesota won’t recognize them.

        As to Sodom: Not disputing that sex may have been involved. But to claim that this is about “gay sex”, we have to believe that, if the exact same scenario had played out, only it had been men wanting to gang-rape female angels, or women wanting to gang-rape male angels, it would have been fine. Otherwise, there’s no way to justify the claim that this shows that gay sex is bad. I think it is a safe bet that gang-raping angels is bad whether it’s straight or gay.

        And the thing is… Rape as a form of dominance is a real thing, and it’s a thing that has nothing to do with sexual orientation or preference. Remember, in the modern world, we’re not talking about people systematically abusing unwilling foreigners as a way to assert their territorial rights; we’re talking about people who have genuine long-term romantic affections.

        Sex as a method is certainly a plausible reading of the Sodom story. Sex as a motivation is incoherent. If you have a bunch of gay guys, and they desperately want to have gay sex, they don’t need to go looking for unwilling strangers who have just come to town to fulfill this goal. The only thing the unwilling foreigners have to offer that the hypothetical crowd of men of Sodom don’t already have amongst themselves is being foreigners (or being unwilling). Either way, that’s nothing to do with romantic attraction.

        Consider the very similar story in Judges 19. Was a crowd of hostile people who wanted to gang-rape a woman viewed as a good thing? It was not, because that turns out to be a bad thing in ways that have nothing to do with whether it’s male-on-male or otherwise.

      • 60.3.6
        john george says:

        Peter- Your comment-

        It has nothing to do with what people do or don’t call “marriage” in their personal lives, only with what gets the legal backing to make it count.

        reminds me a little bit of the old argument about what came first, the chicken or the egg? All government has done to “legalize” marriage is recognize what is being done culturally, and mainly within the church. People were marrying and giving in marriage when there was not universal government. The world only interracted as local tribes. I’m sorry, but I still do not understand what your objection is against “civil union” rights as opposed to “marriage” rights. You claim that there cannot be such a thing as “separate but equal.” It is like your only choice is my way or the highway. It would seem by this that the quest for recognizing gay unions is that they must be considered the “same”, not just “equal.” It is this concept that has such a sour taste in the mouths of many of we Christians.

        Just as an asside on a comment you made earlier, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not that they were inhospitabl. You also stated that the focus on the immorality of same-sex relations did not come along until the middle ages. I just can’t see a basis for that interpretation when you consider the New Testament scriptures as a whole. The moral references were proposed by not only Paul, but also Peter and Jude. Jesus’ reference to Sodom and Gomorrah in Matthew 10:15 has been twisted to mean that the “sin” must have been inhospitality. There is a term for this where people draw a conclusion that is not supported by the evidence, and I cannot think of it here, but I believe the theologians that promote this interpretation have fallen into that. This interpretation does not line up with what Peter or Jude wrote. That is why I don’t accept the argument.

      • 60.3.7
        kiffi summa says:

        John: You wrote: “There is a term for this where people draw a conclusion that is not supported by the evidence, and I cannot think of it here,”

        Wouldn’t the term you’re looking for be ‘opinion’ ?

        And that is what any interpretation of the Bible would be, i.e. opinion, not fact … because it is, admittedly, “interpretation” … as you said.

      • 60.3.8
        john george says:

        Kiffi- I suppose any “opinion” based upon observable evidence must also have a set of presuppositions. Peter has used this word before, and because of an attack of bronchitis today, I just can’t pull it up. It is a little like Algebra. There are certain presuppositions that have proven to be true. I believe that every discipline has these. In my Christianity, there are some presuppositions I base my analysis of observable evidence upon. 1) There is a God. 2) He has not changed from before creation. 3 )He has revealed Himself to us not only through His word, bur through our personal realtionship with Him. 4) His word is true and has not changed over the centuries. These presuppositions cannot be “proven” as Algebra can be. But they do provide a pretty good guide to study of the Scriptures.

      • 60.3.9

        (Bronchitis sucks, get better!)

        There’s two separate questions here.

        Right now, the reality is that we don’t *have* anything which has the same legal functionality as marriage. I don’t think we ever will, because there are so many hundreds of different laws and treaties which would have to change. So, simply as a matter of practical reality: There is nothing else on offer. Either we let these people get legally married, or we deny them basic legal rights and protections. Nothing else is genuinely on offer.

        If the people who are so concerned about the term “marriage” had first taken steps to ensure that the legal rights associated with marriage were available to everyone, and only after that pushed for careful protection of the term, I could believe that the intent of the people promoting this legislation was really about the term, not about the rights. But they didn’t do that.

        But the civil union thing is arguably a separate question. Right now, the proposed law has nothing to do with how the word “marriage” is used except for the very narrow purpose of legal rights and how relationships are recognized or treated under the law. That’s the only thing this law can affect. So it is definitely about the legal rights, and specifically about ensuring that they are not granted to the second-class citizens. That’s all it does.

        The only actual change this proposed amendment makes is that, once this amendment is made, there can never be recognition of the legal family rights of same-sex couples until we radically overhaul all sorts of laws which refer to marriage, and to spouses, to also refer to some other relationship which isn’t marriage. If this amendment doesn’t pass, it will take only one simple legislative act to give these people their legal rights.

        In reality, there is no real option on the table of granting all those legal rights through any means other than marriage. Any attempt to do so will be huge, complicated, sweeping, and will end up not covering everything because there will be exceptions and special cases cropping up for years to come.

        That said, even if there were a real legal alternative, “separate but equal” isn’t. It has been tried, and tested, and it has always failed. As long as you have a legal distinction, even if in theory both sides are treated equally, they are not actually equal.

        The sole purpose of this amendment, socially, is to tell some people that they are not full citizens; that they are not as important as the real people, and that they should be grateful for whatever crumbs the masters happen to let fall from the table. And no matter whether you think homosexual relationships are sinful or not, I do not think it is appropriate for our government to treat the people in those relationships as second-class citizens.

        Consider the famous Kim Kardashian marriage of recent days, which lasted a whole 72 hours. A “yes” vote on this amendment is a statement that her 72-hour “mistake” is absolutely worthy of more social respect, of more dignity, than any relationship any gay people could ever enter into. It is a statement that her relationship is the ideal to which gay people should aspire, because just being together for twenty or thirty years doesn’t really count for anything.

        As to the Sodom thing: We have two thousand years of Jewish writing on this topic, and throughout that entire time, it was always understood the same way. The Christian reinterpretation from the middle ages is anachronistic.

        Interpreted as a story about homosexuality, it *makes no sense*. A bunch of gay guys who want to find guys to have sex with don’t need to go anywhere to find them, because they *are* guys. Whatever the strangers had that the men of Sodom wanted, it wasn’t that they were male, because if all the men of Sodom wanted was males, they were done the moment two of them got together.

        Wikipedia has lots of links if you want to read more about the historical understandings of this text:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodom_and_Gomorrah

        Basically, if you want to argue that the story is really about homosexuality, you have to be able to convince me that if you simply swapped out the apparently-male angels with apparently-female angels, suddenly the story would contain nothing worthy of condemnation. If that’s not true, then we don’t have a basis for asserting that the homosexuality was the reason for the condemnation, because we can explain the condemnation in terms of some other moral failing.

      • 60.3.10
        john george says:

        Peter- What little I know about angels is that they are neither male nor female, but possibly have the ability to appear as either. If you take a look at Gen. 18 & 19, from Abraham’s meeting with these angels, they were refered to as “men.” The idea of the attraction to the men of the city of these “men” is that they were new men, not the familiar ones these men of the city knew on a daily basis. There is, unfortunately, an aspect of our fallen nature that makes a “new” partner attractive. I believe it is the same drive that draws many men/women away from their marriage partners to which they have supposedly committed themselves for life and try “new pastures,” thus resulting in a broken marriage and, too often, divorce. So, these are some things that stand in the way of me accepting your arguments, well presented as they are.

        As far as the Hebrew writings to which you refer, I will go along with what Dr. Michael Wise, from Northwestern College in Roseville, knows about these writings. He is one of two of the most recognized scholars in the world on the Dead Sea scrolls. I had the opportunity to travel with him in Israel a few years ago. I don’t mean to cast desparagement upon your research, but I just trust him more than some of the sites I have pulled up on the subject.

        As far as where our society is on the subject, it has been less than 40 years since the American Psychiactric Association ruled that homosexuality was not a treatable mental aberration. I think their “treatment” methods, if you want to call them such, were not well founded. Just because they came to this conclusion does not, in my mind, cast doubt upon the Biblical interpretation. I do not believe any “sin” can be overcome with behavioral modification. There first needs to be a change of heart.

        But, getting back to the ammendment at hand, is there any reason not to craft a special designation for “legal rights” for gay relationships? You keep saying this does not work, but you have yet to give me any substantive past evidence to support this. The argument that this would be a big inconvenience for society as a whole just doesn’t cut it with me. As I have said before, our system goes through this type of thing after every legislative session, or so it seems. Making another adjustment just doesn’t seem to be impossible. But, making the distinction that same sex couples are the “same” as heterosexuals just to “convenience” a small portion of the population doesn’t seem like an issue of “rights.” It is using government to enforce your “moral precepts” upon the majority of the population. If you want to get a good perspective on the difference between “racial” equality and “sexual attraction” equality, just talk to a person of color from a Southern Baptist congregation or a Church of God in Christ congregant.

      • 60.3.11

        I’m not disputing the claim that “yadda” might well mean “have sex with”. I’m just pointing out that, for two thousand years, everyone knew this was about hospitality; the new interpretation is a change.

        It is possible that the newness of the strangers was relevant, but rape in general is not strongly tied to sexual attraction, so it’s not obvious that attractiveness would be at issue. But even if it is… Again, “they wanted to rape strangers because they were bored with their existing sex partners” is a thing one can condemn without caring whether the sex is same-sex or not. If the story is changed so that the sex doesn’t have the appearance of being same-sex, nothing changes. So there’s simply no basis for drawing that condemnation, any more than we can say that the problem is violence towards guests of people named “Lot”, and if he’d just had a different name, it wouldn’t have bothered God.

        As to crafting new legal rights:

        1. Yes, there is the reason that separate-but-equal isn’t. Which is to say, we’ve got an established legal principle that doing things that way is not generally acceptable.
        2. Even if we discard that, there is the reason that it is a huge amount of legislative effort. Do you know how many laws in Minnesota refer to “marriage” or “spouses”? Every one of those laws needs to be reviewed and possibly changed in order to create these new legal rights. And until it happens, people are suffering.
        3. There has been a long history of outrage over claims that gays are asking for “special rights”. Anything that creates a special new category is going to trigger more drama because it’s special rights.

        I am not okay with having thousands of people suffer for months or years while we see whether anyone’s willing to do that work, without any particular evidence that the work will get done, or that it will be successful. That is a pretty bad outcome.

        Tell you what. When you show me the legislation, drafted and proposed by the legislators who are pushing this amendment, that would create those special new legal rights, then I will at least acknowledge that the theoretical possibility of such legislation deserves a place at the table.

        But until that legislation is actually out there and being voted on, it’s an irrelevant distraction. We are not voting on what legal rights the state constitution should explicitly deny to some people in a parallel universe where they have other rights which they don’t have in our universe. We are just voting on what legal rights the state constitution should explicitly deny to some people. There is no proposed action that would give those people any rights to fill that gap.

        Ask yourself this: If this amendment passes, do you sincerely believe that, this time next year, same-sex couples will be able to get all the legal rights of kinship in Minnesota, including hospital visitation rights, right to notification in the event of a death in military service, shielding from estate taxes, and so on? Year after that? Five years out?

        My answer is: If this amendment passes, I do not believe gay people will get those legal rights in Minnesota until sometime after either the amendment is repealed, or more likely the Supreme Court of the US hands down a general ruling that such constitutional amendments are invalid for the same reason that the similar amendments against interracial marriage were invalid. I do not believe the people who proposed this amendment would vote for any of those legal rights, and I have pretty good evidence that many of them would vote against them.

        And of course, when that vote came along, they’d wrap it up in ribbons and talk about how it’s defending the Bible, and how it’s about preserving a cultural tradition, and they’d get lots of popular support.

        Fact is, people don’t want gays to have those civil rights.

        In the absence of a clear explanation of exactly how these rights are going to be granted if the amendment passes, the most obvious interpretation is that they won’t. So far as I can tell, that’s exactly what’s happened everywhere that amendments like this have passed. Somehow, none of the people who vote for this stuff ever actually take even the tiniest possible action to get any kind of rights, or safety, for the gays.

        Go ahead and prove me wrong! Write letters to newspapers and politicians telling them that it’s really important that gay people be treated with basic human decency, and get kinship rights even if those relationships aren’t called “marriage”. You’ll be the first to actually do anything of the sort.

        In the mean time, I’m going to vote against the amendment on the grounds that there is no reason for our state laws to specifically exclude some people from basic rights.

  • 61
    kiffi summa says:

    ALL freedoms, for all groups of people, are threatened when discrimination and the law denies equal freedoms to any one class or group.

  • 62
  • 63

    While I’m posting interesting links, a fascinating observation on why people treat gay relationships differently. Which is: When people think about straight couples, since they’re thinking about normal couples, they think of chicken soup when you have a cold, and staying up late talking about movies, and stuff like that. When they think about gay couples, they are thinking about sex.

    There are gay couples out there who believe that gay sex is a sin, so they don’t have sex. They just live together being in love and having a fulfilling relationship. Because, you know, sex is not that big a part of a long-term relationship necessarily. But they don’t get treated like people because if we recognized their legal rights, someone somewhere might have sex, as if they aren’t already having sex.

  • 64
    kiffi summa says:

    All the talk in the world will make little difference when attitudes like this persist…
    From the New York Times, 10.15.2012 :

    Headline: “Christian Group Finds Anti-gay Agenda in an Anti-Bullying Day”
    11 years ago the Southern Poverty Law Center created a program called “Mix it Up at Lunch Day”, which was intended to encourage kids to eat lunch with other than their usual lunchmates, hopefully breaking up cliques and preventing bullying.

    The American family Assn., a conservative evangelical group, has called the project ” a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools”.

    No need to say anything more …

    • 64.1
      Paul Zorn says:

      Kiffi,

      Interesting article, but there’s an extra “anti” in your headline. Here is the article.

      • 64.1.1
        kiffi summa says:

        Thanks for the correction, Paul, and for providing the link… I always have trouble linking from the NYT; not sure why…

    • 64.2
      john george says:

      I think it is intersting how this “mix it up” strategy is being implemented.

      Students will each be assigned a number and then paired up by school officials.

      I suppose this is a way to pry people out of their comfort zones, but will it really have any lasting effect on the kids? Will they perceive it as just another way adults want to force their ideas upon them? It seems kids have a tendency to congregate together around shared interests, neighborhood, etc. I emphasize the word shared here. Is it productive to place anyone in an uncomfortable social setting just to make a point? Does in give the children a better sense of enablement to force them to into these types of settings? These are just a couple questions that come to mind.

      • 64.2.1

        Well, conveniently, the research has been done, and the answer is: People who are forcibly put near other people that are different and thus scary and alien are overwhelmingly likely to stop being freaked out by it. Forced desegregation of schools dramatically reduced observed racism in the majority of kids.

        Note that nothing whatsoever about the “mix it up” program has anything at all to do with sexual orientation, sexuality, or anything else. It’s purely a shuffle to get people to talk to kids they don’t know very well. The sexuality is being projected on it by the AFA, who explain that if you have rules against bullying kids, somehow this magically translates into punishing Christian kids.

        Now, me, I woulda suggested that maybe the Christian kids could be taught not to bully, and then we wouldn’t have a problem. But that is probably why I do not run the AFA.

        But anyway, to answer your question: Kids tend to form cliques, and while these may be initially driven by shared interests, they quickly grow to include and exclude people by familiarity more than by interests. Most kids have more than one interest, but once they’ve formed a clique around a given activity, the individual kids are much less likely to interact with other kids with whom they share other interests, because those kids aren’t part of the group.

        Mixing kids up a bit tends to result in them making new friends who might not have been people they’d otherwise have gotten to know. And very, very, strongly tends to result in reduced fear and bigotry, because the other kids aren’t new and unfamiliar.

        To get towards the underlying science: The human brain tends to conflate “familiar” and “good”. People who have seen a name before will have more positive impressions of the person named, even if it’s a made-up name and they never heard anything specific about that person before. In general, humans tend to react positively to people whose names they recognize even when their experiences haven’t been positive, and negatively to unfamiliar names. Or faces.

        So, philosophical questions aside: Yes, programs like this will in general reduce bullying and bigotry in kids and leave them better prepared for dealing with the world as adults. And have nothing to do with sexuality.

      • 64.2.2
        kiffi summa says:

        John: your boxed quote is how one school in rural Pennsylvania has decided to implement the program.
        Each school can handle it anyway they wish; there is no proscribed process.

        Your questions are valid, but I would remind you that you have often thought it would be productive to have a F2F with people whose views are not congruent with yours, and indeed according to both you and Peter, that has been true.
        I don’t imagine most school administrators would find it productive to “force’ this upon a child who did not want to participate.

        Could you please comment on the statement from the American Family Assn. which is quoted in the article … “a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in schools” ?

        I would find it difficult to believe that you would find that statement to be credible……

      • 64.2.3
        john george says:

        Kiffi- In the last few years, there has been more and more done to put gay people in the main stream of our society. Dependiong on which side of the fence you are on, you might call it a “push” or you might call it an exercise. There have definitely been many wrong actions by many people agaist gay people. As Peter noted, becoming more familiar with those who believe differently than you has a tendency to tear down walls and open avenues for relationship. The question is whether this is an exercise for understanding, or a push to silence those who take a different view of homosexuality. I believe there is precedent for some of us Christians to believe the latter, based upon some of the rhetoric from some voices within the Gay community. I would hope that we can overcome annimosity from both sides. The motivation behind the program has merit, IMO. I only hope that trying to break kids out of their natural tendencies at this young age works. Most of the time, this is broken up in college. I think we have a misdirected approach in our country to get kids to grow up too soon. This is reflected on many levels from fashion to activities.

      • 64.2.4

        This specific program is certainly intended to eradicate one category of beliefs, not about gays specifically but about all manner of groups of people (liberals, conservatives, blacks, whites, asians, hispanics, gays, Christians, Jews, Muslims, etcetera). Which is the category of beliefs that can only be held by people who don’t know any of the people in question.

        Let us assume for the sake of argument that the mainstream evangelical belief that homosexual sex is sinful is correct, and that it is beneficial for people to hold this view. But let us also assume for the sake of argument that the common responses of vicious cruelty to gay people are also sinful, and it is not beneficial for people to act that way, or to think that they should act that way.

        The only way for this to work out is going to be for people to be introduced to gay people and get used to thinking of them as people who happen to have a particular trait, not people whose every waking moment is focused on that trait. Because without that, people are going to invent bogeymen and react to gays as though they were some kind of strange malevolent entity, rather than people who happen to have a particular predisposition.

        So things like this are probably socially useful.

        Now, it is true that this is also likely to result in people concluding that the belief that gay sex is sin is probably wrong. Honestly, long before I got into questions of translation, what originally got me to conclude that I had to reject that belief to remain consistent was the much simpler rule of judging by fruit. I had learned that sinful behaviors created an obvious kind of corruption which extended gradually outwards, and I had noticed that this did not appear to be the case with people being in gay relationships. Conclusion: One of my other premises must be wrong. But that’s not preventing me from holding a religious belief; that’s encouraging me to actually apply my religious beliefs, including the ones that tell me how to evaluate the others and check whether they are right or not.

  • 65
    Griff Wigley says:

    Nfld News: Northfield rally for marriage amendment draws a small crowd

    Northfield supporters of Vote Yes on the Marriage Amendment Between One Man and One Woman held a peaceful demonstration at Bridge Square on Saturday in downtown Northfield. Local organizer Paul Reiland wanted the chance to meet and talk with local residents about importance of voting in favor of the marriage amendment that will be a yes or no referendum question on the Nov. 6 Minnesota election ballot.

  • 66
    kiffi summa says:

    Now that both the First and Second Federal Appeals Court have denied a major section of DOMA to be unconstitutional, under the mandate for equal protection under the law, will that push the Supreme Court to consider?

  • 67
    Paul Zorn says:

    Two developments on the marriage front:

    1. Today’s Strib editorial (quite forcefully) recommends a no vote on the “dubious” and “anachronistic” marriage amendment.

    2. The banner ad at the top of this page as I write is a “poll”. Asks the National Organization for Marriage: “Should Obama force homosexual marriage on everyone?”

    • 67.1
    • 67.2
      David Ludescher says:

      Paul,

      The Strib’s editorial was predictable, trite, unbalanced and uninformative.

      • 67.2.1
        Paul Zorn says:

        David,

        Could you defend your criticisms a bit? I don’t say the editorial was a work of literary art, but should we expect such a thing?

        Should an editorial be “balanced” in the sense of not taking sides? Or was it “unbalanced” in the sense of not acknowledging countervailing arguments? Or what? And what additional “information” would you expect to find in an editorial?

        If by “trite” you mean that much of this stuff has been said again and again, then I agree. Would you expect to hear something new?

        Stuff like that.

      • 67.2.2
        David Ludescher says:

        Paul,

        The editorial was stuffed full of legal and factual untruths.

        Here is a sampling:
        1. Voters will be asked to add a “ban on marriage between gays and lesbians”. That is not in the proposed amendment. Rather the amendment limits marriage to just a man and a woman. It doesn’t “ban” gay marriage. It doesn’t change the law at all.
        2. This is about “freedom”. No, it’s not. It does nothing to limit a person’s freedom. It limits the government’s involvement in the marriage business. More specifically, it would limit government officials from changing the law as it now stands.
        3. Marriage is the “voluntary union of two loving consenting adults”. The legal definition is that marriage is a contract between a man and women. There isn’t anything in the law now about loving. That is a religious, not legal concept.
        4. It will deny rights based upon religion. That is wrong on two counts. First, people other than one man and one woman don’t have a “right” to be married by the government. Second, the law has nothing to do with religion (despite the attempt of religious right and religious left groups to superimpose their own concepts of marriage into the secular sphere).
        5. Passing the amendment will have a negative impact on the economy. Pure speculation, especially considering that gay marriage is not currently legal in Minnesota. How can keeping the law the same possibly have an impact on the economy?
        6. It is a human right. Wrong. A human right is the considered the freedom to not have the government interfere in our lives. A human right is not the ability to force the government (other people) to give you something.

        What I would expect from a major newspaper than covers more than 3 million people is some linguistic truth. The only difference the passage will make is how hard it will be for government officials to change the law. You vote for the amendment if you want to take the power away from the government, and you vote against it if you want the government to have the power. There are fairly compelling arguments on both sides of how much power the government should have.

        The Strib article did nothing to shed any light on how far the government should be allowed to reach, or when the people should have the power to decide their own laws. These are important questions in a society that believes in democracy and freedom.

      • 67.2.3

        Oh, that’s really disappointing. Surely you can do better. Restricting something to men is equivalent to banning it for women; likewise, restricting marriage to opposite-sex pairs does indeed prohibit gay marriage.

        As to whether marriage is a right: Both the US court system and the various human rights groups, declarations, and international laws disagree with you. Marriage itself is a civil right, period. You’re unlikely to win that one any time soon; the time to argue it was the mid-60s.

        The religion one is a beautifully-done red herring, but a red herring nonetheless. There are no secular arguments against allowing same-sex marriages, only religious arguments — and only some religions.

        Finally, the notion that “keeping the law the same” is at issue is ludicrous. Would people spend this much money and time trying to do something if it had no effect? Passing an amendment like this indicates that not only are they not currently going to get basic legal rights, but that our state has a majority of active voters committed to preserving that state for as long as possible. That sends a clear message that they’re unwelcome.

        That last one isn’t just a bad argument, though. It’s an insultingly bad argument; it is implausible to imagine, for a moment, that you sincerely believe that we have seen millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of legislative and court time sunk into this amendment, and yet that the amendment is going to have no effect. You cannot convince me that you genuinely doubt that the amendment has a significant effect. It is preposterous on its face; you are far too literate, and too familiar with the law, to believe that. It is insulting to the reader that you present such an obviously bogus argument.

        Surely you can do better. And if you can’t, perhaps that should be a sign to you that there is something fundamentally wrong with the position you’re defending so emotionally.

  • 68

    I do think homosexual marriage will be good for the economy, except for real estate perhaps. Marriage is a huge business for florists, hair dressers, wedding gowns and tuxedo rentals, bakeries, shoes, jewelry, air travel, you name it, about every retailer gets a piece of that pie.

    • 68.1

      In general, marriage tends to make for stronger and healthier communities. Some of the economic boosts from recognizing same-sex marriages probably only work if not everyone does it — people come to places where they can get married, and/or move to places where their marriages will be recognized. But some of the benefits are more structural.

  • 69
    Paul Zorn says:

    David,

    I think your reading of the editorial is tendentious. For instance, you say:

    Marriage is [quoting the Strib] the “voluntary union of two loving consenting adults”. The legal definition is that marriage is a contract between a man and women. There isn’t anything in the law now about loving. That is a religious, not legal concept.

    But you elided an important part of the Strib’s sentence:

    Marriage is the voluntary union of two loving, consenting adults who want to make a legal commitment.

    The full sentence may not be legalese, but it’s not guilty of the charge you level.

    Would the amendment harm the economy? Indeed, that’s speculation in the sense that the future is never fully knowable. But it seems quite plausible that passing pointless (as you describe it) or narrow-minded and mean-spirited (in my view) amendments could harm Minnesota’s justly good reputation for good values and common sense, and thus repel or expel people we should want to welcome and appreciate.

    Finally … I get that you don’t like the editorial. What about the amendment itself? Is it more good than bad? Should people vote for it?

    • 69.1
      David Ludescher says:

      Paul,

      In the end, I don’t think the results of the vote are going to make a difference.

      • 69.1.1

        In the long run, surely that’s true; there’s no way an amendment like this will survive another generation. Well, maybe one and a half; I don’t think the last anti-interracial marriage amendment got struck from a state constitution until 2000 or so.

        But in the short run… Just an idle question. Right now, MN law does not allow same-sex marriages, but what about marriages which were performed in another state or country? It seems to me that in at least some cases, our various institutions have recognized legal unions formed elsewhere, even when we wouldn’t permit the formation of such unions here. But the amendment clearly and explicitly rules out any recognition of such unions. It covers not only whether MN itself will create them, but whether such unions created elsewhere will be recognized.

  • 70
    David Henson says:

    The the two fastest growing economies in the USA are Texas and North Dakota -- both added language to their constitutions keeping the traditional definition of marriage so that argument seems empty.

    • 70.1
      Phil Poyner says:

      Texas and South Dakota have expanding economies primarily because of the expansion in the energy sector (and in Texas aided by the increase in exports of petrochemicals). They could have declared state-wide “marry a herd of goats” day, and their economies STILL would have expanded. Northfield isn’t sitting on a oil field.

    • 70.2
      Paul Zorn says:

      David,

      I think you’re flirting here with a version of the non sequitur fallacy. But granted, it’s always difficult to sort out causes, effects, and phenomena that are neither of the two. In any event, what about California, which passed a similar amendment and saw its economy tank?

      Bottom line for me: Nobody asserts that any amendment, wise or foolish, solely determines a state’s economy. But this one could, plausibly, hurt our state’s economy.

      • 70.2.1
        kiffi summa says:

        Look … as much as anyone tries , valiantly … or even speciously :-) .. to make an argument for or against the marriage amendment, there is only one core issue: shall persons be allowed to determine their own sexual identity and still hold on to all their basic human and civil rights ?

        I say, Yes, of course. There is no separate but equal.

        Any legal curtailment of those rights would simply be a social aberration to exclude a ‘class’, as were the voting rights laws.

      • 70.2.2
        David Henson says:

        Paul, In CA, government gone wild tanked the economy. But following your logic, NY as the biggest supporter and an economic disaster would be the contrary example. On this issue, I agree with Kiffi this much … one does not vote yes or no based on the economy.

        I assume Phil since Griff agrees with you then he will find the “goats” comment gentle humor rather than deeply offending profane sarcasm directed at the union of one man and one woman held sacred throughout the world. (just saying)

      • 70.2.3
        Paul Zorn says:

        David H,

        Just to be clear …

        The idea that gay marriage policy will, by itself, radically affect any state’s economy is by no means (as you put it) “my logic”. Any state’s economy depends on lots of factors: investment (sorry, David L) in things like education and infrastructure, geographic accidents (like having oil or water), climate, work ethic, connectedness to other states and the outside world, attractiveness to immigrants, quality of life, resources for leisure and the arts, a good outdoor environment, openness to diversity, human capital in various forms, tax rates, a spirit of cooperation, etc.

        Messing up any of these things by, say, dissing gays weakens the big picture, and so can impose economic costs.

    • 70.3

      First, this is simply false: Neither of them has adopted language keeping the traditional definition of marriage. When they have language which states explicitly that the woman ceases to have distinct legal rights, and cannot be prosecuted for anything she does on her husband’s orders, then you can truthfully say that they have adopted the traditional definition. As is, all they’ve done is cherry-pick for the emotional comfort of some people.

      Secondly, given the state of energy development in those countries, I don’t think this is particularly convincing. You’d have to look at all the states that have made various decisions (including those which have legalized gay marriage) and comment on that. Doing otherwise is disingenuous at best.

  • 71
    Griff Wigley says:

    Today’s Strib: Movement to legalize gay marriage gains steam

    Marty and others in the marriage equality movement said they need to be careful to not to overplay their hand and push too soon. After spending 18 months bashing the other side for trying to inflict their marriage views on everyone else, they are leery of opening themselves to the same criticism. At the same time, they don’t want to wait too long and lose momentum.

    I suggest waiting 2 years, and maybe 4.

  • 72
    Adam Elg says:

    From Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

    “For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

    How dare you suggest we wait. Having been in a happy 25 year partnership, I’m tired of waiting.

    This sentiment is reminiscent of the view of many during the civil rights movement that suggested it was better to wait for a more appropriate time. Thankfully others kept up the fight.

    • 72.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Adam, I don’t blame you for being tired of waiting. I’d love to see gay marriage legalized tomorrow.

      It comes down to what’s the most effective strategy to make it happen. What sense do you make of this:

      Marty and others in the marriage equality movement said they need to be careful to not to overplay their hand and push too soon.

      • 72.1.1

        I think right now, there’s a large number of people who might vote no on this as a constitutional amendment, but who would happily vote in favor of a regular law banning gay marriage if it weren’t already illegal, or against a change to permit it. And if that “large number” were, say, 3% or so, that might be enough to change the outcome.

        On the other hand, the rate of change is phenomenal. Even a couple of months ago, polls were showing 60% support for the anti-gay amendment. Polling results have been higher than that in the fairly recent past, and voting has often been more anti-gay than poll results by some margin.

        Which is to say: If it were up for a vote today, I don’t think legalizing gay marriage would pass. But if it were voted on by the legislature in a bit, and then ended up being delayed for a ballot vote, it might pass by the time that came up.

  • 73
    Jane McWilliams says:

    Griff -- maybe Sen. Marty was talking about the statute we have in place now. No doubt there will be efforts to remove it (as there have been previously). With the other legislative issues looming, mainly the budget, maybe he doesn’t want to play that hand too early. On the other hand, if they wait until after the mid-term election in 2 years, the DFL majority in the legislature could be changed -- making eliminating the statute chancy.

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