Proposed: City of Northfield Statement for Our Safe and Welcoming Community

Ross Currier has sent this to City of Northfield Mayor Mary Rossing and other members of the City Council.

City of Northfield Statement for Our Safe and Welcoming CommunityMary –

I am writing to you not as executive director of the NDDC but as a citizen of Northfield.  It is on a subject about which I have very strong beliefs.

Northfield’s economy is driven by knowledge workers, the "creative class", or economic innovators.  These individuals, businesses, and institutions "export" their information-based products and services around the country and the world.  Their clients and customers reflect the diversity our our country and our world.  In addition, our economic future is based on our community’s ability to continue to attract and retain these people and these organizations.  Northfield must be safe and welcoming to all people.

Working with a small group of Northfield citizens, I have drafted a statement (which I have attached) that I hope the Council will adopt for MLK Day 2012.  For many Americans, Dr. King has come to symbolize the on-going struggle for human rights.  I thought adopting the statement for his birthday was a way of honoring his work.

I have only managed to share this idea with a dozen or so people.  I plan to come to the January 3rd City Council meeting to ask for Council adoption of the statement.  I may be alone or I may be joined by others.

Thank you for considering my request and thank you for all you do for Northfield,



  1. I read the statement and I think I understand the goal behind it. I appreciate the effort at making our community a place that is safe and welcoming. However, I don’t think it is an attainable goal. Particularly because of this statement, taken directly from the document.

    We accept the responsibility as individuals and a community, to actively participate in building a community where diverse attributes, perspectives, cultures, and values are accepted, appreciated, supported, and celebrated. We will challenge bigotry wherever it appears.

    This Utopian goal for our community creates all kinds of questions in a pluralistic society with no commonly agreed upon moral standard. I can’t help but wonder how the goal of accepting, appreciating, supporting, and celebrating diverse attributes, perspectives, cultures and values happens when all of those attributes, perspectives, cultures and values collide?

    Sample questions include:
    – How will the perspectives of members from NAMBLA being appreciated in Northfield?
    – Will Northfield be a place celebrating the culture norms of polygamy among certain people groups?
    – Will Judeo-Christian marriage values be accepted even if it means speaking up for same-sex marriage bans?
    – Will homosexuals feel supported when others feel that lifestyle is offensive to God?
    – Who gets to determine what behavior is labeled as bigotry?
    – Does your (speaking generally here) intolerance of my religious beliefs make you a bigot – or does it make me one?
    – Does intolerance of bestiality make someone a bigot?
    – Will necrophiliacs be supported in Northfield?
    – What about the unique perspective of people who choose not to recycle (or want to), or bicycle (or want to)?

    I am very weary about a city adopting a statement that it than has to somehow enforce in such a varied moral landscape (knowing that even such enforcement will be based on personal beliefs about all kinds of things). My fear is that these kind of statements create more division as everyone fights to define what is right/wrong, bigoted/or not in their own eyes.

    December 30, 2011
  2. David Ludescher said:


    I thought of some of the same questions as I read the statement. I can think numerous social areas where Northfield is quite intolerant – renters, big-boxes, land developers, and fundamental Christians – to name a few.

    December 30, 2011
  3. David Henson said:

    If Nothfield got as great as the statement says without the statement then why adopt it? What is the goal? Are people really going to flock here because “we fight bigotry” , are we distinguishing ourselves from Lakeville and Faribault which are known supporters of bigotry? I think it is a non-starter.

    December 30, 2011
  4. Brendon:
    How might the statement be altered to address your concerns? I’d like to believe we can have statements that we are open and affirming without having to address how they would be applied to… necrophilia.

    December 30, 2011
  5. Sean, while I agreed with David H’s statement that this kind of resolution is not really necessary for Northfield’s ongoing development, if it was deemed necessary I think the only part I would change is as follows…

    We accept the responsibility as individuals and a community, to actively participate in building a community where diverse attributes, perspectives, cultures, and values are not only accepted but given an opportunity to lawfully and positively contribute to the betterment of our entire community.

    I would then delete “We will challenge bigotry wherever it appears.”

    I know necrophilia is an uncomfortable subject at present time in our country, but it is not illogical to think that it is a preference that will have to be engaged if current concepts and applications of the idea of tolerance for individual choice and preference continue into the future.

    December 30, 2011
  6. I assume the additional language is targeted at acceptance of, from your list, things like “Will Judeo-Christian marriage values be accepted even if it means speaking up for same-sex marriage bans?” You have a similar thing in, “Will homosexuals feel supported when others feel that lifestyle is offensive to God?”

    I think it’s worth considering the general philosophy of “my rights end where someone else’s begin”: while it would be wrong to attack the legitimacy of your straight marriage, I’m not sure it’s a community goal to stand up for your right to attack somebody else’s (gay) marriage. People are entitled to their views, even if those views are on how other people live their personal lives. But I’m not sure defending that type of expression needs to be a community priority.

    As for general necessity… you and David are both right in that this won’t make or break Northfield. Governmental bodies do many, many things that are purely symbolic and have no direct policy effects. The US Congress, for example, regularly reaffirms “In God We Trust” as a federal motto. They perceive it to be an expression of national values, and so they bother to do it again and again. I think there’s a similar thinking at play here — an expression of Northfield’s values.

    December 30, 2011
  7. Hey Sean, the statement,

    “Will homosexuals feel supported when others feel that lifestyle is offensive to God?”

    is poorly worded. I actually included it as a balancing question to the question preceding it on the list. I can understand how the two seem like they fit together, my apologies. It is my hope that Northfield will remain safe and welcoming to homosexuals.

    December 30, 2011
  8. William Siemers said:

    Ross…I’ve had a few drinks and conversations at some of decidedly non-progressive watering holes around town (both upscale and down) over the years. The “we” I have found at these places ain’t necessarily the “we” you’re talking about, but it’s Northfield just the same. Maybe the proclamation needs a preface like…”Aside from a sizable contingent of homegrown crackers and closet bigots”… WE value etc., etc., etc.

    December 31, 2011
  9. David Henson said:

    Sean, being open an honest, it is the Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Judeo-Christian view of marriage. All major religions after exhaustive sober arguments over 1000s of years have found it best to educate people towards a relatively parallel set of restrictive sexual norms.

    And you seem to indicate people who are not in agreement with your thinking are “attacking” but when you are not in agreement it is “accepting” ~ this is the ultimate in intolerance. Perhaps it stems from thinking yourself, like Ross (who I often agree with but not this time), are part of the “creative class” whose importance and understanding are of much higher value than the __________ (uncreative class ?). The whole of it smacks of supremacy thinking to me … I would urge the council to focus on potholes.

    December 31, 2011
  10. Phil Poyner said:

    OK, that was funny!

    December 31, 2011
  11. David:
    I can’t respond to your entire lists of faith, but I’d ask you and Brenton not to speak on behalf of all of Christianity. My mother is Lutheran and has no objection to gay marriage; nor does my 90-year-old grandmother. Organized churches, like Church of Sweden, Church of Norway, and United Church of Christ perform gay marriages. Many perform commitment ceremonies, and a solid number — perhaps a majority — do not condemn homosexuality. So while your view might be that marriage is between a man and woman, that is simply not a universal Christian view.

    As to your other comments… consider that there is a fundamental difference between these scenarios:

    1. Billy and Bob want to get married
    2. Mike is married to Shelly, and Mike wants to pass a law (or in MN’s case, strengthen existing law) to prevent Billy and Bob from getting married.

    In scenario 1, Billy and Bob want to make a personal decision about their lives. In scenario 2, Mike wants to ensure that his view of marriage is practiced by everyone, despite not being personally affected by Billy and Bob’s marriage. Attacking #1 is attacking a personal choice and who somebody is. Attacking #2 is attacking a political position for others’ lives. However:

    3. Billy and Bob decide their marriage is the only legitimate kind, and demand that Mike get gay-married (or)
    4. Billy and Bob advocate fervently for a constitutional amendment that marriage is between two persons of the same gender

    Those, like #2, impose personal decisions and values on others, despite Billy and Bob not being harmed or affected by Mike’s straight marriage. While all 2, 3, and 4 are positions people are free to express, I do not believe (as I said earlier) they need to be protected and endorsed in a community document like this. Attacking somebody for who they are is fundamentally different than attacking them for a political position.

    December 31, 2011
  12. David Henson said:

    Sean, marriage is a legal covenant that has been defined for 100s of years as a sacred union between a man and a woman. If Billy and Bob want to get married they would have to find female partners. Billy and Bob are free to draft up any legal agreement between the two of them they choose. They could title the agreement in any way they want. But what the are now asking is to change the legal definition of marriage – they are attacking the established law. Not agreeing that two men living together should have the same legal definition as a man and woman living together does not make someone a bigot. Why not just fight to have a different covenant Gayrriage that anyone hetro or homo could choose? I think the reason is the real goal is to be able to teach a “moral equivalence” to students in public schools and undermine their family values from home and church … which is why many folks are pulling out of public education (it is becoming public indoctrination)

    December 31, 2011
  13. I do not wish to speak for Christianity, as it is not even possible to do. I do, however, try my best to speak in agreement with the commonly accepted Biblical teachings and doctrines held by the overwhelming majority of Christians from the time of Jesus Christ, and for hundreds of years before the Churches of Norway/Sweden/ or the United Church of Christ came into existence.

    Young thinking on old convictions (especially as they relate to what ‘used to be believed’ as God’s infallible Revelation in his Word, the Bible) is very dangerous. Revisionist thinking and theologizing, post-Enlightenment is very real I don’t think its findings should supplant hundreds of years of Cristian doctrine.

    Although there are so many topics laced in this comment thread that we could all go on writing for years, as many many others have already done in all kinds of formats, I have to come back again regrettably to the idea necrophilia and other related logical questions. Sean, I know the slippery slope idea makes you uncomfortable, but it must necessarily be engaged. If a homosexual is “who you are” (as Sean has affirmed many times), what other behaviors are simply a product of “who you are” and as such, how do we relate to them in society? If a polygamist is ‘who I am’, then not being able to marry multiple wives is an attack on my essential personhood. If man-boy love is “who I am” then all laws against such behavior are unjust. The same applies if I am, in my core being, a thief or a racist.

    Who gets to draw the line as to what is deviant behavior and what is lawfully justifiable? The argument that ‘all behavior is to be tolerated as long as it does not infringe upon the rights and well-being of another’ is circular as all behaviors impacts the rights and well-being of others to some extent, and raises the question of who gets to determine what ‘rights’ people have anyway?

    December 31, 2011
  14. Phil Poyner said:

    I guess where I draw the line is at what is consensual and what is not. As we, as a society, have determined that consent cannot be given before a certain age, pedophilia is non-consensual. As a corpse cannot give consent, necrophilia is non-consensual. As an animal cannot give consent, bestiality is non-consensual. By the way, some of these behaviors HAVE been socially acceptable but no longer are, leading me to believe that some sort of “slippery slope” isn’t necessarily a logical conclusion.

    By the way, I thought marriage was a sacrament rather than a covenant, although the term “covenant marriage” does now exist. It’s one of those new-fangled terms. Maybe that’s just valid in the tradition I was raised in.

    December 31, 2011
  15. If Billy and Bob want to get married they would have to find female partners.

    This argument has been used by Michele Bachmann as well. Under this thinking, these scenarios are equal:

    1. Mike and Shelly are in love with each other, have a sexual relationship, and want to build a family together. They get married.
    2. Bob is really in love with Billy and has a sexual relationship with him. However, he feels societally forced to be attracted to women, and so he marries his friend Jane.

    Are these equal? I’ve known several friends of the family whose marriages have fallen apart when one spouse finally comes out of the closet after years with their opposite-sex spouse. Is this desirable?

    As to Brenton’s comments, I think Phil succinctly and fairly addresses them. Pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia all have issues with consent. Even those who strongly believe that homosexuality is sinful or should not be granted marriage have to admit that two adult, mentally sound men or women can clearly consent.

    December 31, 2011
  16. David Henson said:

    Adults can consent but Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Herpes, Chlamydia, Aids, etc do not consent. But they do damage reproductive systems and spread through promiscuous societies very rapidly. Everyone pays the price. Sexuality absolutely effects everyone, societies place limits on sexuality or suffer extreme breaks downs in family structure and disease control. The subject is very serious and thus similar rules have been developed over and over by societies.

    December 31, 2011
  17. john george said:

    I think an interesting trend over the last couple decades in the definition of a person’s sexuality is the movement away from defining “male” and “female” as the physical way in which people are made to defining them by which gender to which they are physically attracted. It seems like a movement away from a scientific approach of definition by observable, consistently reproducible characteristics. What is the norm? Are men still really men and women still really women when they are attracted to their own gender? It just seems inconsistent to me, given the observable characteristics.

    Now, how we act out our own opinions is where conflict arises. This idea of marriage, which has been based upon opposite gender attraction for a few millenia, is suddenly being redefined to include any gender combination. This is bound to cause some rankle. Having a civil definition of each type of relationship should suffice, but for some reason, there is a segment of society that calls this discrimination. I just don’t get it. It is not the same as race. I can go around declaring myself black and part of the black community all I want, but it just defies the physical evidence.

    December 31, 2011
  18. Raymond Daniels said:

    Why does Northfield need to adopt a statement? How will this drive business to Northfield. This is a waste of time. Time that should be spent other pressing issues.

    December 31, 2011
  19. David Henson said:

    Griff, are you pulling legs here ?

    January 1, 2012
  20. john george said:

    David H.- What would he do that faux?

    January 1, 2012
  21. Ross Currier said:

    Griff asked me to participate in this discussion. So I read the comments, which somehow got to necrophilia, syphilis, and big boxes. Perhaps we don’t need the statement after all, anyone reading the comments will know that Northfield is safe and welcoming to creative thinkers.

    Perhaps it’s because I’ve heard so many “branding” discussions in the community during the past few months. For me, it’s a community making a statement about itself, its priorities, its values, its beliefs. I think of it as a statement from Northfield…to the world…that says, “This is who we are and this is a commitment we make to you.”
    It’s a commitment, it’s not a guarantee. We’re not perfect, but we’re determined, and we work hard (so please consider Northfield).

    About a third of the people with whom I discussed this statement asked something like, “Oh, is this about gay marriage and/or the marriage amendment?”, and the issue emerged in these comments, too. I don’t know where people see that in the proposed statement. There’s nothing about marriage in it. It’s just about creating and maintaining a safe and welcoming community.

    I saw it as making a statement, a commitment, and then doing our best to live up to that commitment. I did not see it as a new ordinance or regulation for which we’d establish a new department, commission, and budget. It wouldn’t have to take much time, potentially just a simple vote, and maybe a brief session a couple times a year asking ourselves how we’re doing in living up to the commitment.

    It’s just a statement, a commitment. All who live, work, and recreate in our community have a right to be in and a responsibility to create an environment that is safe and welcoming to all people.

    January 2, 2012
  22. kiffi summa said:

    Thanks, Ross, for making that clear… this statement which you will present is a “commitment”… nothing more than a commitment to have a community which is safe and welcoming to all … nothing more should be read into it.

    January 2, 2012
  23. David Ludescher said:


    I am having trouble reconciling your letter, which suggests that Northfield should be attracting the “creative class” with your statement that Northfield should be welcoming to all.

    For example, how would our commitment to welcoming stack up against our rental ordinance? Our land use ordinances? Griff’s diatribes against conservative Christians?

    I don’t think the Council should make a commitment to be welcoming to all unless it is committed to changing some of our unwelcoming ordinances.

    January 3, 2012
  24. David Ludescher said:

    Ross – To follow up on David H.’s question – Are you suggesting some standard other than the First Amendment to determine “welcoming”?

    January 3, 2012
  25. Will Oney said:

    As well intentioned as this letter is, I have to take issue with the assertion that, “Northfield’s economy is driven by knowledge workers, the ‘creative class’, or economic innovators.”

    A more accurate statement would be, “Northfield’s economy is driven by people making cereal, academia, service industries, etc.”

    I don’t think It’s the city’s job to promote smug self-importance.

    January 3, 2012
  26. Randy Jennings said:

    The phrase “welcoming community” is most commonly associated with conscious efforts to support the personal and civil rights of GLBT people, immigrants, and others whose individual rights have been or are being impeded by the larger society. As such, your efforts to encourage Northfield to adopt a statement affirming our community’s support for the rights or all of its citizens and members is laudable. I would certainly support the statement in its common context.

    Why, though, do you introduce it in the context of the economic argument in your letter to the mayor? The notion that Northfield’s economy is “driven by” so-called “creative class” workers is dubious at best. Will Oney’s comment above is more accurate: our economy is driven by education, health care and manufacturing, followed closely by retail and hospitality. Higher education and health care are certainly conducted by knowledge workers, but separate “creative class” activity is a tiny blip on the economic radar.

    Aside from this fundamental misunderstanding of what constitutes an economic “driver,” why do you think it is beneficial to try to link such an idea to a civil and personal rights issue? We ought to be willing to stand and say that as a community we support the civil and individual rights of all, without trying to hide behind a specious economic argument. The right thing is the right thing because it’s the right thing.

    January 3, 2012
  27. Beth Benson said:

    I think Brenton’s changes are a good one – especially the “lawfully” part. I think most people would agree that there are people who value and submit to sharia law (if you have never looked at these laws, please do so before making comments and see if you personally agree). The legality of many of those laws is non-existent in much of the world. Does the council want to “celebrate” and affirm those values (even the one that states the witness of a woman is equal to half that of a man, “because of the deficiency of the woman’s mind.”)? Does not affirming those values make us bigots?

    Now before anyone gets offended, I am not making anti-Muslim statements, but only pointing to facts that some Muslims do practice Sharia law and should we celebrate that – especially the views of women in these laws? Or, another example, there are some people who value using illegal drugs. Should we celebrate and affirm these values? Look beyond the narrow blinders of same sex marriage as a value and start thinking about the possibilities of affirming and celebrating every value that people have. If you think and reason about this even a bit, I’m sure all of us can think of some horrible values some people have that no one should affirm. Making this issue only about one particular value that anyone of us feels strongly about is very short sighted.

    January 3, 2012
  28. Will and Randy:
    It’s worth bearing in mind that the economic claim is made only in an email to the mayor and councilors, not in the statement itself. In fact, the term “creative class” does not make it into the document. Evaluating of the statement is of reasonable public concern… evaluating exactly how Ross is advocating for it doesn’t seem so important.

    I would like to know who the citizen group who drafted the statement is, though.

    January 3, 2012
  29. David Ludescher said:


    It is worth noting that Ross’s stated reason for drafting the document is to appeal to the “creative class”. To that end, I think the document succeeds.

    January 3, 2012
  30. kiffi summa said:

    Sean… when Ross presented the statement at the Open Mic at tonight’s council meeting there were two other speakers who supported the theory: Carolyn Fure-Slocum, a chaplain at Carleton, and Matt Rohn , a professor at St. Olaf. That’s as much as know about the ‘group’; maybe Ross can elaborate.

    They both emphasized that beside the basic worth of making such a statement, the policy needed to be stated to attract a diverse group of both professionals and students to the two colleges.

    Professor Rohn went further, asking that Northfield separate itself from the state perspective, which is seeking to put a definition of marriage into the State Constitution.

    I would like to additionally comment that I wish they had asked to make a Presentation rather than use the Open Mic, which since it allows for no Council response leaves a very flat feeling upon leaving the podium.

    January 3, 2012
  31. Kiffi, do you find any irony in the fact that you accused me on the Patch blog of equating “this fine statement with infringing on conservative religious values, especially related to homosexuality“, and then 1 of the 3 people supporting the statement in the precense of the council uses the ‘fine statement’ as a platform to politic that Northfield “separate itself from the state perspective, which is seeking to put a definition of marriage into the State Constitution.”

    Ross, considering that one of the people who joined you to advocate for the statement used it as an opportunity to advocate against the continuation of the traditional definition marriage as a standard in Northfield, do you wish to rewrite the 3rd paragraph of your comment #8?

    January 4, 2012
  32. kiffi summa said:

    Brenton: No, I do not find any irony in what you mention re: Matt Rohn’s comment.

    Everyone expresses their personal opinion…

    January 4, 2012
  33. Griff Wigley said:

    I’m pleased with the quality of the discussion on this issue. I’ve not yet made up my mind about whether the City Council should adopt it.

    Tom Friedman’s column on Sunday NY Times is relevant to this ‘creative class’ discussion. So Much Fun. So Irrelevant.

    The best of these ecosystems will be cities and towns that combine a university, an educated populace, a dynamic business community and the fastest broadband connections on earth. These will be the job factories of the future. The countries that thrive will be those that build more of these towns that make possible “high-performance knowledge exchange and generation,” explains Blair Levin, who runs the Aspen Institute’s Gig.U project, a consortium of 37 university communities working to promote private investment in next-generation ecosystems.

    Will and Randy, I agree, Northfield’s “economy is driven by education, health care and manufacturing, followed closely by retail and hospitality.”

    But it’s future vitality may increasingly depend the type of ecosystem described by Friedman. And elements of that ecosystem include the Creative Class. The Wikipedia entry for Creative Class includes this:

    The “Creativity Index” is another tool that Florida uses to describe how members of the Creative Class are attracted to a city. The Creativity Index includes four elements: “the Creative Class share of the workforce; innovation, measured as patents per capita; high tech industry, using the Milken Institute’s widely accepted Tech Pole Index…; and diversity, measured by the Gay Index, a reasonable proxy for an area’s openness” (2002, pp. 244–5). Using this index, Florida rates and ranks cities in terms of innovative high-tech centers, with San Francisco being the highest ranked (2002)

    Florida and others have found a strong correlation between those cities and states that provide a more tolerant atmosphere toward culturally unconventional people, such as gays, artists, and musicians (exemplified by Florida’s “Gay Index” and “Bohemian Index” developed in The Rise of the Creative Class), and the numbers of Creative Class workers that live and move there (2002).

    Research involving the preferences and values of this new socioeconomic class has shown that where people choose to live can no longer be predicted according to conventional industrial theories (such as “people will go to where the jobs/factories are”). Sociologists and urban theorists have noted a gradual and broad shift of values over the past decade. Creative workers are looking for cultural, social, and technological climates in which they feel they can best “be themselves”.

    So Ross’ inclusion of this economic rationale in his letter to the Council made sense to me.

    January 4, 2012
  34. Griff Wigley said:

    And just to keep things interesting, here’s a Salon article from October, part of its Art in Crisis series:

    The creative class is a lie. “The dream of a laptop-powered “knowledge class” is dead. The media is melting. Blame the economy — and the Web.”

    But for those who deal with ideas, culture and creativity at street level — the working- or middle-classes within the creative class — things are less cheery. Book editors, journalists, video store clerks, musicians, novelists without tenure — they’re among the many groups struggling through the dreary combination of economic slump and Internet reset. The creative class is melting, and the story is largely untold.

    January 4, 2012
  35. Griff Wigley said:

    Hmmm. I kind of like this idea.

    In the Tues Strib: Eagan establishes registry for domestic partnerships

    Eagan residents in domestic partnerships will soon be able to register their commitment with the city. The City Council voted Tuesday to establish a domestic partner registry for residents in mid-January.

    “It won’t change significantly anybody’s tax burdens, but it will offer a service that somebody requested,” said Mayor Mike Maguire. The discussion of a domestic partner registry began in July when a resident asked the City Council members whether they would consider the idea.

    Sixteen other Minnesota cities already have domestic partner registries, which give gay couples a chance to document their relationships. Among them: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Hopkins, Maplewood and Red Wing.

    January 5, 2012
  36. Randy Jennings said:

    Affirming a community commitment to human rights requires no economic rationale. Couching a statement about human rights in economic terms won’t stop religiously motivated individuals (to pick just one vocal group) from wanting to impose their beliefs on others, or to restrict others’ rights.

    The economic issues Ross sought to tie in are worth conversation on their own. There’s no question that more freelance, contracting, consulting and other forms of self-employment are in the future. Some of that work might be described as things done by the so-called “creative class.” (Even the phrase is arrogantly off-putting; all work offers the potential for creative thinking, and no “class” has a corner on it.) The problem is that many (most?) people don’t want to be self-employed or have the interests or skills that such work requires. Most people want the security and stability (not to mention health care benefits) of jobs. That’s why it is more realistic to focus on what the job creators (in the literal sense, not the Republican sense) need to start and grow businesses. What would attract the next Monster Games, Northfield Automation, All-Flex, Multek, Malt-O-Meal, etc. What would help those businesses grow in Northfield? I can assure you that the first answer won’t be more members of the “creative class” in downtown Northfield.

    It is an interesting parlor game to see where Northfield stacks up on indices (like the one in your quote above) that measures characteristics of major urban cities, communities with research universities, or other such attributes, but Northfield isn’t — and will never be — like them along the dimensions that matter.

    January 5, 2012
  37. David Ludescher said:

    Griff or Ross (if you are still there),

    It seems to me that in a truly welcoming community, we wouldn’t be trying to attract “class” of people, nor would we intentionally try to exclude a “class”. Producing a statement that sounds neutral, but is intended to attract a particular type of person seems hypocritical. The subtle (or perhaps not so subtle) message is that all are welcome, but that the creative class is more welcome.

    Moreover, even a cursory examination of Northfield ordinances suggests that the City of Northfield does not want to be welcoming to all. Our rental ordinance may even be unconstitutionally unwelcoming; the state development office has told the Chamber that Northfield has the reputation of being one of the least welcoming communities in the state (witness the Target development); and downtown businesses have to deal with the Historical Preservation Committee before almost any renovation.

    January 5, 2012
  38. David Ludescher said:


    I too find it odd that “We” would try to attract the creative class. I also find it odd that the City Council is being asked to speak for “Us”, rather than being asked to speak for Itself, and how It is going to be more welcoming.

    January 6, 2012
  39. Several Northfield residents have asked if Northfield can adopt a domestic partner registry. The Council will consider whether to take this up in 2012 at our planning session January 24.

    January 6, 2012
  40. David Ludescher said:


    To what end?

    January 6, 2012
  41. David Henson said:

    The concept of “imposing ones beliefs” would be interesting to pursue. How are you not doing this? How are others doing this?

    January 7, 2012
  42. rob hardy said:

    You’re right, David. I don’t see the point of establishing a special privilege for same-sex couples. My wife and I don’t get a special registry. If same-sex couples want to have the benefits enjoyed by other partners who have committed their lives to each other, they should just get married like “the rest of us.” Those gays, always making unreasonable demands, like civil rights.

    Griff: Fine, delete this comment for sarcasm. Whatever.

    January 8, 2012
  43. David Ludescher said:


    I am not opposed to the City adopting such an ordinance if it serves some governmental purpose. But until the state changes its laws, I don’t know that the City can confer any “civil rights” on non-traditional family arrangements, or in any way help these non-traditional families.

    January 8, 2012
  44. rob hardy said:

    Again, David, I agree. The state should change its laws regarding marriage. I’m glad you use the term “non-traditional” marriage, implicitly acknowledging that it is only human tradition that sanctions a certain kind of marriage. Law is simply codified human tradition; we need to make an effort to change it.

    I’m again going to risk Griff’s ire by hijacking this thread for a mini-rant:

    I find it ironic that so many of the same Christians who reject evolution argue that marriage exists primarily as a context for the production of children. They reject evolution because it’s a materialist argument, but they make a completely materialist argument about marriage. Their argument is based on the premise that sex exists only to carry out a biological imperative imposed upon organisms by the need to preserve their genes. (To quote the “Minnesota for Marriage” website: “Why has virtually every society throughout history defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman? The answer can be summarized in one word: children.”) Conservative Christians reject evolution because it supposedly excludes God, but it’s really their own concept of sex that excludes God. I think the ability to experience sexual pleasure and deep commitment to another person apart from the pressure to procreate is what makes humans spiritual beings. The ability to experience beauty and ecstasy and true fidelity, not in the service of reproduction, but in the service of love. To me, that’s awe-inspiring.

    January 8, 2012
  45. David Henson said:

    Rob, that is sort of Satan’s intellectualism. Really it is sad to think people are allowed to teach children such false and harmful concepts. I expect most individuals following this line of thought find multiple partners and sexual exploration acceptable to teach youth also. Societies have strayed this way many many times in history (nothing new or innovative in the ideas) and the costs are very high. You have basically outlined the type of teaching that children will be exposed to if marriage is redefined. Honestly do you think one can teach these ideas without increasing promiscuity? Do you think one can promote these ideas without even more young girls contracted STDs (do you know the rates are skyrocketing)? At some point one has to grow up intellectually and think about what are really good values to teach people. When people have done solid adult thinking across the globe and across time they have reached similar conclusions on teaching appropriate sexual behavior. A wise person would really consider why these conclusions were reached and look at the statistical results as these customs have been relaxed.

    January 9, 2012
  46. kiffi summa said:

    Rob: Thank you for saying this so beautifully, and expressing the understanding of the deep human need for love, not limited to anyone’s perception or judgement of the validity of the individual need…

    January 9, 2012
  47. rob hardy said:

    All I can say, David H., is that my own sons have been raised to embrace the Christ-like values of tolerance, love, empathy, compassion, and humility. I am proud that my son at St. Olaf has a deep respect for the beliefs of his more traditionally Christian friends, and that he chose in his first semester to take a religion class on women’s spirituality. I’m proud of his deep regard for his kind and talented gay friends. I’m proud of his deep respect for women, fostered early in life through the example of a brilliant and strong working mother and a nurturing stay-at-home father. I’m proud that, as an exchange student in Thailand, he gained a deeper appreciation and respect for another culture. I’m sorry, David, but I don’t think there’s anything “sad” about any of this. I was raised as a Christian, but my Christ has an open and loving heart, and my God is capable of doing beautiful new things in this world. I make an effort not to make my own human prejudices the standard by which I understand God’s grace.

    January 9, 2012
  48. rob hardy said:

    Note: Are the rates of STDs skyrocketing? The actual statistics from the CDC tell a different story. The things we worried about as kids in the 1970s are down significantly, perhaps due to an effective and needlessly controversial thing called “sex education.”

    January 9, 2012
  49. David Henson said:

    Rob, I am sure you have done a great parenting job but many others do not have the benefit of strong family values and need to get them elsewhere (and if all they get at school is sexual experimentation is ok and how to where a condom – well that does not replace the strong parenting you describe). And yes STDs are rising and and new ones are evolving. Being tolerant is a good thing, being rational is also a good thing.
    Soaring Rates

    The CDC’s latest study on STDs found:

    * 1.2 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2008, up from 1.1 million in 2007.

    * Nearly 337,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported.

    * Adolescent girls 15 to 19 years had the most chlamydia and gonorrhea cases of any age group at 409,531.

    * Blacks, who represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for about 71 percent of reported gonorrhea cases and almost half of all chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2008.

    Read more:,2933,575265,00.html#ixzz1j1XIPAn3

    January 9, 2012
  50. David Ludescher said:


    The purpose of my question to Betsey, “To what end?” was to discern why the City would adopt a “domestic registry”. Regardless of the rationale, the implications are widespread. For example, if the City were to adopt such a registry, what would prevent college students from registering as “domestic partners” for the purpose of avoiding Northfield’s rental ordinance?

    If the purpose is to show the Council’s opposition to current question on the ballot, then wouldn’t the ordinance/proclamation/declaration be nothing more than the collective personal/religious opinions of the Council, and consequently a violation of the First Amendment’s entanglement provisions? As a general rule, governments are prohibited from adopting statements that begin, “We believe …”.

    January 10, 2012
  51. Jeff Ondich said:

    David H, if you are trying to use statistics to back up your argument, it would be helpful if you wouldn’t cherry-pick them quite so transparently. If you follow the link in Rob’s message 14.1.8, you’ll see a CDC chart that shows that yes indeed, reported chlamydia cases have been rising steadily since the mid-80’s (though they weren’t reported at all until 1984, so the early dramatic rise was probably an artifact of the reporting mechanisms coming on line–still, the disease is clearly a problem).

    But gonorrhea cases have dropped dramatically during that same time period, and syphilis appears to be at a very steady and historically low level. And chancroid appears to have been pretty much eliminated. So your statement that STD rates have skyrocketed is simply false.

    You are arguing that a particular set of moral values is the cause of societal problems. I don’t see any proof of causation, and for that matter, I don’t see the evidence of the problems you cite exist at all. I’m going to stick with Rob.

    January 10, 2012
  52. rob hardy said:

    David L.: I think your concern about the misuse of a “domestic registry” is not entirely far-fetched. When I was a student at Oberlin, the campus minister was fired for helping students get quickie, easily-annullable marriages so they would qualify for off-campus (married student) housing. Even I think that’s going much too far! 🙂

    January 10, 2012
  53. rob hardy said:

    David H. and Jeff O.: I’ve taken another look at the statistics, and some interpretations of them. Reported cases of chlamydia are on the rise, due in part to better reporting and better detection methods. Syphilis, after being nearly eradicated, is rising. In the mid-2000s, teen pregnancy rates began to rise, too. Are these rises due to the rising power of Satan (as David H. might argue), or due to the prevalence (coinciding with the recent rise in STDs) of religiously-motivated “abstinence-only” education, which fails to give adequate information on how to prevent these diseases and unwanted pregnancies?

    But this is now so far off-topic that I think will retire from this particular argument.

    January 10, 2012
  54. David Ludescher said:


    Which part was going too far – the students getting married to get student housing or the college firing someone for helping others exercise their “civil rights”?

    As a footnote: Ever since my kids went off to college, I have thought that a lawyer could make a handsome living by marrying and divorcing kids to help them get an independent status when they file for federal financial aid. If same-sex marriages become a reality in Minnesota, it might be easier to promote this idea, especially at upscale colleges where parents are often paying $10,000’s a year towards a college education.

    January 10, 2012
  55. Ray Cox said:

    Folks, if we want to adopt a welcoming statement, why not have it simply be “All are welcome in Northfield But I think all people already are welcome here, so maybe we need to put energy elsewhere.

    January 11, 2012
  56. Jeff Ondich said:

    I like the general sentiment of Ross’s statement, but I agree with Ray. There is other business for the council to address.

    (On an unrelated topic, I’m puzzling over the software’s behavior. Why is Ray’s post of January 11 numbered 17, while three other posts from Jan 3 and 4 are numbered 17.1, 17.1.1, and 17.1.2? Weird.)

    January 12, 2012
  57. Jeff Ondich said:

    (Sorry about the Bullwinkle gravatar–I’ll get a real picture in there before my next post.)

    January 12, 2012
  58. Griff Wigley said:

    City of Edina press release: Edina City Council opposes proposed Constitutional Amendment

    Edina, Minn., March 21, 2012 – The City of Edina has joined the cities of Duluth, Minneapolis, St. Louis Park and Saint Paul in supporting marriage equality.

    The Edina City Council at its meeting March 20 unanimously approved a resolution opposing the proposed Constitutional Amendment to ban the legal recognition of same-sex relations and unions in Minnesota.

    “The Edina City Council Resolution expressing opposition to the Marriage Amendment, passed unanimously, supports the Council’s belief in fundamental equality under the law,” said Mayor James B. Hovland. “If there is a constitutional right to be married, then that right should belong to every citizen together with the governmental rights and benefits that accrue to marriage, without distinction.”

    The resolution reads: …

    March 28, 2012
  59. kiffi summa said:

    This item was on the Council’s 1.24 work session, and those work sessions have no minutes… but I think the Council passed this on to the Human Rights Commission for wording that would then come back to the Council for approval.

    I would have thought the stronger position would have been to affirm the concept with a supporting vote, and then pass it along to the HRC for fine tuning.

    The way it was handled seems a bit wishy-washy to me…

    Can someone from the HRC comment on the current status?

    April 3, 2012
  60. john george said:

    Griff- With an edict like this, do the citizens of Edina still have a right to vote on the amendment? Is this exerting undue governmental pressure on the citizenry to support an ideology with which they may not agree?

    April 3, 2012
  61. John: I don’t think — and I don’t even think you think — that there’s any attempt to silence the citizens of Edina. The city council saw a proposal that would have a long-term discriminatory effect on a minority group in their city, and they expressed their disapproval of it. Should cities express no opinion on a change to our constitution when they themselves will be bound to enforce it?

    Of course, the individual citizens are the ones who ultimately vote for this or not, but I don’t see anything wrong with members of an elected body sticking up for their own constituents.

    April 3, 2012
  62. David Ludescher said:


    Does the charter permit the councilors to take a position (either way) on non-local political questions? It seems to me that a vote by the council is, at best, an expression of the personal opinions of the 7 council members, and, at worst, an (unethical?, illegal?) attempt by the councilors to influence a vote. (For example, what if the council took a vote on the best candidate for the 2012 general election? It seems to me that such a vote would clearly be unethical regardless of who the council endorsed.)

    April 3, 2012
  63. kiffi summa said:

    The Charter certainly, as I think you would know, David, having been a Councilor… does not prohibit the Council taking a position on an issue.

    Every year there are likely to be several resolutions of support for an issue, expressions of concepts . I can’t think at the moment of the exact title of the large framed document hanging on one of the Council walls, but it is an example of what I’m referring to.

    I don’t see any relationship to expressing a preference for a certain candidate who is up for election.

    April 3, 2012
  64. David Ludescher said:


    This issue is of no consequence to the duties of a Northfield elected official. None, zero, zip. How is an elected official to guide his/her vote without the vote being of consequence? Think of it this way – what if the Northfield City Council came out in favor of the constitutional amendment?

    April 3, 2012
  65. john george said:

    Sean- You better believe I think there is an attempt to sway the vote on the amendment in Edina. The council is a bully pulpit, and their resolution is meant to suppress those in favor of the amendment. For the council to take an official position against the amendment does have political weight in the city. Tell me this, if there was an amendment placed upon the state ballot to allow the Bible to be studied in the public schools, would you want to censor a city council who would pass a resolution supporting such an amendment? I think you would. I also think your opinion is biased, and you have every right to have it, but it does not have any weight one way or the other on what the Edina, or the Northfield, city council should or should not resolve on a state issue. This is simply political posturing.

    April 3, 2012
  66. john george said:

    Rats! I clicked on the wrong “Reply”!

    April 3, 2012
  67. john george said:

    Sean- One more thing. You said

    I don’t see anything wrong with members of an elected body sticking up for their own constituents.

    What about those constituents who are in favor of the amendment? Is anyone on the council representing them?

    April 3, 2012
  68. John: Of course I’m “biased”. Not nearly as biased as the straight men who have thought to constitutionally enshrine their sexuality and their lifestyle choices as more entitled to certain rights than others’, however.

    What about those constituents who are in favor of the amendment? Is anyone on the council representing them?

    I think there’s a widespread — but bizarre — attitude in this debate that the rights of the oppressors need just as much protection and representation as the rights of the oppressed. There’s a fundamental lack of balance here: certain members of Group A would like to deny Group B certain rights. Group B (with perhaps a few exceptions) would like both Group A and Group B to have the same rights. Group B has no serious proposal to deny Group A any rights; they only ask for the same rights Group A is already granted.

    So why should our council stick up for the right of Group A to oppress Group B in the same way that they defend the right of Group B not to be oppressed? Presumably they don’t have the same “bias” I suffer from, since every member of the current council is heterosexual, and all but one is married. Only one of those six married heterosexual members is apparently threatened by the possibility of gays getting married.

    April 3, 2012
  69. kiffi summa said:

    David: I disagree: i think it is very important for council members to show strong support for any issue that they feel impacts the lives of their citizens.

    We are not just creatures of “bricks and mortar”; there are hearts and minds to be considered also.

    ****Griff: I assume it’s this way on everyones computer i.e. the numbering system is messed up with two sets of 19s and 19.1s … some from January ???

    April 3, 2012
  70. David Ludescher said:


    I don’t see how any statement the Council issues is anything but their collective personal opinions. However, if they do decide to move forward, I would urge them to develop guidelines for determining which issues merit comment, and why.

    April 4, 2012
  71. kiffi summa said:

    David… of course it is nothing but their personal opinions… but it would be really good, and a positive move on their part, to say we support the rights of all people to be treated, and valued, equally… because that is the moral position we wish to communicate as the elected leaders of the community.

    “Nuf said on this… we’re not going to agree.

    April 4, 2012
  72. David Ludescher said:


    If it just their personal opinion, then it has no place in a public forum. Moreover, it is probably unethical and a violation of their office to use the public forum to express a personal opinion.

    April 4, 2012
  73. kiffi summa said:

    OMG! If you think it is an ethical violation for a Council member to express a personal opinion in a public forum… well… believe it or not, I am speechless!

    Maybe you should be backing up the Charter Commission in their quest to establish an Ethics Board…

    April 4, 2012
  74. David Ludescher said:


    The Council would be wise to hire their own attorneys to render an opinion on when and how they can use a public meeting to express a personal opinion.

    April 4, 2012
  75. In response to the discussion on 19:

    Here’s an interesting story from October about an Inver Grove Heights’ councilor who called the LGBT community a “weird little group” during a council meeting. Needless to say, he didn’t receive great publicity from it.

    April 4, 2012
  76. john george said:

    Sean- I think the main difference in what we base our thinking on is whether marriage is a “right” or not. I don’t believe marriage is a “right.” I believe it is a covenant agreement between two people of opposite gender first established by God in Genesis. The state has added certain “priveleges” to this covenant which allows certain joint ownership of real property and financial benefits. IMO, the real push of those of GLBT “rights” persuasion is to force upon society the ideology that they are the “same” as heterosexuals. This is based upon the opinion that a person’s “sexuality” is is defined by to which gender that particular person is attracted. It is not based upon observable, scientifically reproduceable physical characteristics. IMO, it amounts to thumbing one’s nose at God and saying, “You have nothing to do with how I have chosen to live.” To claim that “God made me that way” is to deny the whole of scripture pertaining to homosexuality. And, the tradegedy I see in this is the intolerance of anyone who might disagree with this premise.

    April 4, 2012
  77. kiffi summa said:

    Wait a minute John, you said ”the state has added certain ‘privileges’ to this covenant which allows certain joint ownership of real property and financial benefits”…. yet you did not find the “state” adding those “privileges” to be “thumbing one’s nose at God”.

    Do you claim to know which added “privileges” God will accept from the “state”, and which he/she will not?

    And should the “state” choose to add a provision which honors a commitment between two people, regardless of gender, will you accuse the “state” of “thumbing it’s nose at God”?

    April 5, 2012
  78. john george said:

    Kiffi- Owning property has no moral implications with God. You will find no Scriptural references pertaining to a wife joint owning property with her husband. Homosexuality does have moral significance, whether you believe that interpretation of Scripture or not. You know that I do not believe it is a civil rights issue. Just because a majority of the population may decide to call it a moral issue, that doesn’t make it one. Just because the cat has kittens in the oven, it doesn’t make them biscuits.

    April 5, 2012
  79. john george said:

    Sorry- I meant to say “…moral way to live…” rather than “…moral issue.”

    April 5, 2012
  80. kiffi summa said:

    You said: “owning property has no moral implications with God” and yet all through Ecclesiastes , just for one example,there are aphorisms related to the empty vanity of property and riches…
    But they hinge not so much upon the ownership, as what the person does with what they own.

    I would argue that it is so with everything about people, i.e., it is not so much what they “are’, but what their relationship is to ‘life’ and I mean LIFE in the Biblical sense.

    I think you’re looking to a Job-like session of boils, if you think you can set yourself above God to do his work of evaluation.
    Better keep a potshard handy…

    April 5, 2012
  81. john george said:

    Kiffi- God has already made the determination of what is moral and what is immoral. I don’t have to make that determination with my own intillect. I just agree with what He has already said. We still have a free will to agree with Him or not. IMO, the consequences of disagreeing with Him outweigh any short term enjoyment we might gain in this life from disagreeing with Him. As far as Ecclesiastes, Solomon was talking about the same thing Jesus talks about in the Gospels and in I Samuel. It is not the outward appearance that is important to God. It is what the heart is focused upon. That is why Jesus called the Pharisees white-washed tombs. They had an outward appearance of religion, but they had not allowed God’s word to change their hearts.

    April 6, 2012
  82. kiffi summa said:

    I give up, John… I’ll let your words speak for themselves…

    April 6, 2012
  83. john george said:

    Kiffi- I haven’t given up on you, nor has God. Have a blessed Resurrection Day.

    April 7, 2012
  84. kiffi summa said:

    Well, John, if you don’t want to “give up’ on me… read a new novel by Grace McCleen entitled “The Land of Decoration” … and write a book review.

    Happy Easter to you, too!

    April 7, 2012
  85. john george said:

    Thanks. I will take a look at it.

    April 7, 2012
  86. john george said:

    Kiffi- I will confess up front that I did not expend the $$ to purchase the book. I did read numerous reviews on it, and it is like any other novel. It is one person’s interpretation of some observations they have made about a particular subject, in this case, so-called Biblical belief. I would call it half-truth (just my opinion). I wouldn’t suggest basing one’s theolgy on this book any more than I would suggest basing one’s theology on one of Frank Peretti’s novels. They are good reads, and offer some insights, but are not conclusive in and of themselves.

    April 16, 2012
  87. kiffi summa said:

    John: the book is available from the library; that’s where I got the copy I read. It is written by a person raised in the belief system being written about , and therefore has some relevance.

    It is an interesting theological/psychological argument, and would be enlightening for anyone to read, as it poses the problem of a child’s understanding of the world they are expected to function within.

    It was a sincere recommendation; not a political/religious statement.

    Since I am now taking Prof. Gary Stansell’s “Wisdom of the Bible” CVEC class, it fits provocatively in with the OT books of the Bible which are the study basis of the class.

    April 17, 2012
  88. john george said:

    Kiffi- We have deviated far from the original thread, here, but it has been an enjoyable engagement, at least for me. There are two questions that come to mind. 1)Are we supposed to allow another person’s success/failure at a relationship with God determine our own? In fact, do we only look for things which validate our own experience? And if so, what standard do we use to make this determination? 2)Are we supposed to develop our own relationship with God only through our intellect, or is there a Spiritual dimension that we need to seek? Just wondering what your thoughts might be.

    April 17, 2012
  89. kiffi summa said:

    John: I initiated this diversion soliciting your input with specific regard to the book suggested… without that specificity the philosophical discussion is really a pointless digression, IMO.

    Let me know if you ever read it…

    April 18, 2012
  90. David Ludescher said:


    The real question is whether the City Council should be issuing political statements unrelated to the business of running the City.

    April 18, 2012
  91. kiffi summa said:

    My reply is that your question does not even qualify for a reply… BUT if that’s what you truly believe, then march in to the Council Chambers and tell them to take that big framed poster for the Year of the Child (or whatever it is) off the wall…

    April 18, 2012
  92. David Ludescher said:


    What is the connection between my opinion and the poster?

    April 18, 2012
  93. Curt Benson said:

    From last night’s council agenda: Proclamations about Earth Day and Arbor Day. I’m going to go out on a limb (heh) and guess they took a gutsy, controversial pro Arbor Day stance.

    April 18, 2012
  94. john george said:

    Curt- I really think you are barking up the wrong tree trying to tie this to Arbor Day.

    April 18, 2012
  95. kiffi summa said:

    does anyone have a copy of the language which was approved at the 4.12 Human Rights Commission meeting?

    There’s no packet material from that meeting on the City’s website, only an Agenda: ****Take note Griff!

    I have requested the language from the City Staff liaison for the HRC, But haven’t gotten it yet…….

    April 21, 2012
  96. kiffi summa said:

    It should be noted that sometimes , some level of justice prevails in the end…

    In 2010, three Judges in Iowa were ousted from their seats by a campaign by the National Organization for Marriage, the American Family organization, and the Family Research Council, who spent over $700,000 to get these judges voted out of office because the three organizations named strongly opposed the court’s same sex marriage ruling.

    *** BUT… Today, the three judges were awarded with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, presented by Caroline Kennedy at the JFK Memorial Library.
    CONGRATULATIONS to these three principled Judges.

    The award states that the three judges “were chosen in recognition of the political courage and judicial independence each demonstrated in setting aside (some) popular opinion, to uphold the basic freedoms and security guaranteed to all citizens by the Iowa Constitution.”

    May 7, 2012
  97. David Ludescher said:


    It is a dangerous precedent to give an elected official, especially a judge, an award for political courage for doing their non-political job – no matter how they voted.

    May 7, 2012
  98. kiffi summa said:

    Their vote on the Court, when they were still seated, was to uphold the constitution of the state of Iowa… for that, they were voted out by conservatives, persuaded by an outrageously funded personal attack campaign.

    If you want to argue with the wording of the Profile in Courage Award they received from the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library and Museum, I’m sure there is an e-mail address to which you can address your dissatisfaction with their choice.

    May 8, 2012
  99. David Ludescher said:


    They were voted out by the democratic process. While their vote may have been an act of courage, it could also be interpreted as an act of judicial over-reaching.

    May 8, 2012
  100. I don’t see anything bad about recognizing that doing a job honestly in the face of severe political pressure is pretty courageous.

    Yes, they were voted out by the democratic process; that the process is so easily abused to attack minority groups is one of the reasons we need to have judges who are willing to stand up for basic constitutional premises even when they are unpopular.

    May 8, 2012
  101. kiffi summa said:

    THank you for saying it clearly, Peter.

    So then, David, $$$$$$ to sway the opinions of voters becomes the defining effect on how a vote goes… not the judges record … not the content … that’s truly obscene.
    If I were John George, I could quote you about a thousand Bible verses against that … against allowing $$$$$$ to define our lives, not to even speak of our law …

    May 8, 2012
  102. David Ludescher said:


    Giving a civil servant an award for doing their job is the flip side of giving a bribe. Judges take an oath to uphold the constitution; they don’t need an award when they do what they think the constitution requires them to do.

    The larger question is whether the judges did what the constitution required or whether they engaged in improper law-making. Strong constitutional arguments can be made on both sides of that debate.

    May 8, 2012
  103. Well, insofar as it’s “the flip side of taking a bribe”, well, I’d rather they were on the flip side than the regular side of that. Really, this comes down to community; we as a society have to communicate what we value, and giving awards for behavior that we think is right is a way we can show that we don’t merely offer that as a formality, but seriously value it when people do it.

    I have never seen a “strong” or even a “not painfully weak” argument on the National Organization for Marriage’s side of any issue. They are sleazy liars, pure and simple. Same goes for Family Research Council. I have never, ever, seen either of those groups back something that was not both stupid and evil. (And yes, I’m taking Hanlon’s Razor into account.) They lie, they know they are lying, they do so out of malice and spite.

    You can have it one of two ways:
    1. It’s their job, and they should not get credit for doing it. In this case, it is unconscionable for these non-judges like FRC and NOM to be launching campaigns against them; you can’t take people for granted and then second-guess them all the time.
    2. It’s an exemplary demonstration of their role, and the fact that people acted against them for it merely confirms that they acted despite political attempts to push them to act incorrectly.

    But in general… Any time you find yourself thinking that NOM or FRC has acted in a way which does not induce nausea, rage, or despair, the chances are you are overlooking something very important about the facts of the case. They are organizations founded on active hostility to basic human decency, and it permeates everything they do.

    May 8, 2012
  104. David Ludescher said:


    Judges are elected or appointed to act without regard to the politics of the particular issue.

    May 8, 2012
  105. That is a nice theory, but it is very obviously not the case — in this case, judges were de-appointed precisely because of the politics of a particular issue. Which is the sort of thing that is not supposed to happen, but it does, and everyone knows it.

    Many judges, whether or not it is right of them to do so, give some consideration to “will I lose my job if I make this ruling”. Judges brave enough to stand up to the bullies deserve recognition that this is a good and noble thing which they do.

    If “you are supposed to do it” is taken as a reason not to praise people for good actions, then the message we send as a society is that we do not respect people who do what they are supposed to do. The fact is, positive reinforcement is a lot more useful for promoting desired outcomes than negative reinforcement.

    If we want judges to continue ruling on the facts and the law, then we must at least sometimes show clear respect and appreciation when they do, because otherwise, they will quite reasonably conclude that we don’t care.

    May 8, 2012
  106. David Ludescher said:


    Judges need to act with due respect for the existing law as well as the constitution. It is rarely easy for judges to decide which rule is more important. And, it is always a mistake for judges to decide which is the most politically popular, or morally correct.

    May 8, 2012
  107. rob hardy said:

    Re: 22.1.9. David L: The Iowa constitution says, for example: “All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation; the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.” The privilege of marriage should belong equally to all citizens. To say otherwise is to make a MORAL, not a CONSTITUTIONAL argument.

    May 8, 2012
  108. David Ludescher said:


    I haven’t read the Iowa decision but I did read the Massachusetts decision. It was very poor legal reasoning.

    The usual constitutional rule is that an unconstitutional statute cannot be enforced. Thus, if the statute granting special privileges to opposite-gendered couples is unconstitutional, then no one can be married. The court cannot fix the unconstitutionality by making it apply to even more people. It either applies to all or none.

    May 8, 2012
  109. Pretty sure that the entire point of the constitution is that it always wins; if you have a law which violates it, the law is invalid.

    And yes, they are supposed to decide the law, not the popularity or morality contests. This is why recognizing the contributions of judges who did so despite a bunch of people ready to cost them their jobs for doing so is a Good Thing.

    How many people would really do their job correctly if they knew it would mean losing their job? Not all of them, but at least a few more than did before those judges got that public recognition. Social animals are social.

    May 9, 2012
  110. And… that’s not how constitutional challenges work. If a court concludes that the enforcement of free speech laws is uneven, that doesn’t mean no one’s allowed to speak.

    The thing you seem to be missing is the large and rich pool of case law and precedent, not to mention various other sources like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which clearly confirm that marriage is a fundamental right. They can’t take that away from even *more* people; that would be even *less* constitutional.

    Problem: Some people are in jail unjustly, others are not.
    Solution #1: Jail everyone!
    Solution #2: Free the prisoners.

    Problem: Some people are unjustly prevented from marrying, others are not.
    Solution #1: No marriages for anyone!
    Solution #2: Marriages for everyone.

    The key here is that the law is not unjustly extending a right to some people who shouldn’t have it, but unjustly denying it to other people who should.

    May 9, 2012
  111. kiffi summa said:

    David: in 22.1.11 you state that you did not read the Iowa decision, which is what we are talking about here,i.e. my initial comment about the recognition of three judges who ‘dared’ to uphold the Iowa Constitution in the face of enormous adversity, and then paid for their honor and respect for their Constitution, by being removed from their seats by an absurdly prejudicially financed campaign against them.

    SO … since you say you did not even read the decision… one must assume it is the concept of treating all citizens with the upholding of equal rights that bothers you, at least when it comes to allowing those rights to same sex couples.

    If that is truly your issue, then just say so… you will have lots of people who agree… just begin with the position Rejoice! church took against the more liberal ELCA position.

    You would also have an opportunity to speak against equal rights for all peoples, if you come to the Council meeting and speak against the “Welcoming Community” statement that has been prepared by the Human Rights Commission, and will be presented for Council approval on May 15; I would expect a lot of conservative ‘religious’ people to be there, so you won’t be alone.

    It is very important, IMO, that organizations that act as NOM, AFO, and FRC did, using hundreds of thousands of dollars to bully voters who will not take the time to educate themselves into anything but a ‘fearful’ vote; that these organizations be spoken back to, not with wasteful amounts of money, but with the voice of each person who does not believe their prejudiced and discriminatory message .

    P.S. Thanks to Rob for the quote from the Iowa Constitution; The language reads clearly.

    May 9, 2012
  112. David Ludescher said:


    I don’t object to the Iowa court making the decision that they did. They did their job. I don’t object to the Iowa voters voting them out of office. That was their right also. I don’t object to an organization offering an award for what they consider is an award of courage. However, I do think that the judges should turn down the award – in the interest of preserving their own integrity and the integrity of the system.

    I won’t rehash what I have already said to Peter and Rob. It is sufficient for our discussion to say that judges should not be politically motivated.

    May 9, 2012
  113. David Ludescher said:


    There are 3 different constitutional questions presented:

    1. Do people have the freedom to marry whomever they want? The clear constitutional answer is, “Yes”. Previous laws that criminalized who could marry whom violated people’s First Amendment rights of freedom of association. Thus, the “right to be married” is a freedom.

    2. Do people have a “civil right” to have the government honor their “marriage”? The answer is clearly, “No.”. Government is not required to grant any personal associations special privileges. In the same vein of thought, the government (and in most cases individuals) cannot impose greater burdens on people just because of their personal relationships, including whether they are married or not married. Thus, the “civil right” to marry is really a privilege.

    3. The hard question is this – can the government (constitutionally) define “marriage” so as to exclude some relationships and include others? And, as a follow-up – if it can, what is the basis for the inclusion or the exclusion? This is the question that remains unanswered. The Iowa court result permits discrimination to continue; Iowans are just unsure what kind of discrimination is permitted, and why is continues to be permitted.

    May 9, 2012
  114. Your answer to the second question is pretty disingenuous. It is absolutely, totally, not “clear”. Furthermore, it effectively contradicts the first one, because the government can’t even react to a marriage that isn’t at least presented to them for consideration. The government doesn’t care about people saying they’re married in a way which has no legal effects. The right to having the government recognize a marriage is an inextricable part of the right to be married, because that’s the only context in which legal rights are at all at issue.

    And yes, they may well be permitting some discrimination to continue, but they are improving things. That’s the thing; it’s unequivocally worse, constitutionally, to prohibit gays from marrying than it would be to permit them to marry. Maybe it’s not perfect; maybe other things need to be considered or adjusted. But the job of the courts is to make the right ruling on the question they asked, not to say “we’re wrecking this for everyone until it can be perfect”. That’s for Republicans in Congress with budget talks. 😛

    May 9, 2012
  115. David Ludescher said:


    The people have the constitutional right to be free from government in their speech, associations, religions (1st Amendment), and the other rights set forth in the Constitution. The right to marry is a form of the right to be left alone by the government in our associations.

    I can think of no jurisprudential basis to suggest that there is a “right to have the government support my marriage”. Moreover, there are all kinds of examples of the government not honoring a person’s claim to be legally married – polygamous relationships, many relative relationships, arranged marriages for immigration purposes, and same-sex couples immediately come to mind. The only requirement is that the government support has to be rationally based.

    What the Iowa court did was perpetuate discrimination without articulating why the discrimination was permissible, and without defining or re-defining what legal “marriage” is. It effectively destroyed the existing law, substituted a new, equally discriminatory law, and failed to state what the new law was or why this new discrimination is better than the old one.

    May 9, 2012
  116. Sorry, but… No, that’s not how it works. Legal recognition of marriages is a civil right. This has been litigated all the way to the Supreme Court, and it has been found pretty consistently the same way for some time now, going back all the way to Loving v. Virginia.

    Go back to that case. Now tell me this: Have you made a single argument here that would not apply precisely and without a single word altered to that case? You have not. And yet! The courts appear to disagree with you. They appear to feel that affirming rights is somehow better than denying them, even if not every right has been fully affirmed for every person.

    The courts do not have the authority or power to completely end all forms of discrimination. All they have the authority to do is rule on the questions at issue. If they are asked whether a ban on blacks and whites marrying is constitutional, then that is the question they answer. If they are asked whether a ban on same-sex marriages is constitutional, then that is the question they answer.

    Yes, there will always be discrimination. Demanding that the courts not improve things unless they can perfect them is ridiculous, and frankly not a position that is actually held; it’s just a red herring to try to get the topic to anything, anything at all, but the actual facts and law that are under discussion. Every time the courts are able to identify a specific ban as unconstitutional, and strike it down, that’s a win. That it is not all the wins we will ever need does not invalidate it.

    And again: The right to marry is in and of itself a civil right, and the right to have that marriage recognized and respected by the state is part of that right. The right to be “married” in a way that does not give you the legal rights of kinship has no legal meaning; all the courts have ever talked about is the legal recognition of marriage, and it is that legal recognition that they have recognized to be a fundamental civil right.

    It was progress for our country when we tossed out the laws against interracial marriage, having come to realize that they were an infringement of our rights. It is progress now that we are starting to realize that the laws against same-sex marriage are likewise an infringement of our rights. You may well be right that other such things will come along with time, and we’ll need to wake up again and again in our pursuit of liberty. Fine. But that doesn’t mean we should leave people outcast and suffering while we debate what would be perfect; we must do what we can now to approach justice.

    May 9, 2012
  117. john george said:

    Kiffi- You said in 22.1.4

    $$$$$$ to sway the opinions of voters becomes the defining effect on how a vote goes… not the judges record … not the content … that’s truly obscene.

    It seems that we all are alike. If someone gives $$$$$$ to a cause with which we agree, then we support their efforts. If those $$$$$$ go to support a cause with which we disagree, then they must be obscene. You might check out the political contributions of the Gill Foundation in Colorado.

    You also said that if you were me, you

    could quote you about a thousand Bible verses against that

    Sorry to disappoint you, but I can’t come up with that many.

    May 9, 2012
  118. David Ludescher said:


    I think we are talking past each other.

    The reason courts have ruled for same-sex marriages is not because laws creating marriage are illegal or unconstitutional. Nor was it because people have a right to have the government recognize their marriage as valid.

    There is same-sex marriage because the government was unable to articulate the rationale allowing one class of citizens to marry and not allowing another the same privilege. On that point, they are right on point.

    It is the remedy that is questionable. It had a chance make everyone equal. But, it didn’t do that.

    May 10, 2012
  119. kiffi summa said:

    No, John we are not all alike… and that is the most basic point: we believe different things, we espouse different causes, we give money to different organizations depending on what we wish to support… and here’s the big difference as I see it:

    I believe people have the free will to exhibit self-determination and how they define themselves to fulfill their life is no business of mine, and does not keep me from living my life as I please.

    But you seem to believe, as you have expressed many times here on LG, that some behaviors carry a burden of sin, as you would define it, and therefore that behavior taints
    your world.
    It is not up to you to determine the paths of the lives of others, and furthermore not up to you to assess their state of ‘righteousness’ based on your determination.

    All religious teaching, IMO, regardless of the name of the religion or its doctrine, at the most basic level comes down to one instruction: DO NO HARM .

    Do no harm, John… allow others to believe what they believe, to be what they believe themselves to be, as long as they “do no harm”… and you cannot make a universally accepted argument for how a same-sex couple does you any harm.

    Do no harm, John… Leave the circle of Life whole … by doing no harm.

    May 10, 2012
  120. We are not talking past each other. You are saying things which are false despite having it repeatedly pointed out that they are necessarily false. We’re not talking about points of possible dispute, but logical necessities.

    The government has no authority and no right to an opinion about “marriage” except in terms of the government’s legal recognition thereof. When laws and courts talk about the right to marry, they are necessarily talking about the right to the legal recognition of that state, because that is the only aspect of marriage which the government can talk about or do anything about.

    And our government has consistently found, as have all the others that even have the concept of civil rights, that the right to marry is a civil right — which is to say, the right to have formal and legally-binding recognition of marriages is a civil right, which may not be withheld from people without very compelling reasons.

    Again: You have not presented a single argument here which would not be every bit as applicable to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia. Either the Supreme Court was wrong then, or you are wrong now. So. Either come out and say that the Supreme Court erred in ruling that laws against interracial marriage were unconstitutional, or drop that ridiculous line of argument.

    Yes, they could have “made everyone equal”, but that would not have solved the problem. The problem is not that “there is inequality”, but that “there exist people who are being denied their civil rights”. Denying everyone their fundamental civil rights does not fix this problem; it makes the problem worse.

    The reason they did not “make everyone equal” is the same reason that we don’t shoot everyone to reduce the risk that some people will be unjustly killed. The key to these findings is not that there is inequality, but that the inequality involves denying people a civil right. Had some people been being given special privileges which were not a civil right, removing those privileges might have been a solution.

    But that’s not the circumstance we’re in. The right to social and legal recognition of marriages is, in fact, a civil right. Every court case that has discussed marriage has been necessarily about that recognition, and they have been pretty consistent for quite a while in concluding that this is a fundamental right. It is not the right to marry interracially, or the right to marry even when in prison; it is the right to marry, full stop.

    It’s always a bit of an upheaval when people start doing crazy stuff like letting women vote or letting blacks get votes that count for a full person’s vote, but every time we have done it, our society has become richer and healthier. It’s happening again, and it is not in the least surprising that the arguments against it are word-for-word identical to the arguments we had about interracial marriages back in the day. Heck, many of them are word-for-word identical to the arguments we had about the revolutionary and disruptive change of not regarding married women as fully subsumed into their husbands rather than legally existing as separate people (coverture, look it up). Nothing changes.

    It’s okay. The unknown turns out to be just like the known. The new marriages will not destroy our society any more than the last five or ten shifts in marriage have.

    And these changes will keep happening because we are still growing up as a species and a culture. I have every confidence that, a hundred years from now, people will be laughing about the ludicrously backwards things I believed.

    May 10, 2012
  121. David Ludescher said:


    Let’s take another approach.

    If it is unconstitutional for the government to deny two same-sex persons the right to marry, can the government deny the “civil rights” of two brothers who wish to marry? What is the basis?

    Can the government deny three women the “civil right” to marry each other? What is the basis?

    P.S. Loving v. Virginia was a criminal case where the parties were criminally prosecuted for exercising their freedom of association.

    May 10, 2012
  122. No, I will not waste time on those red herrings.

    It is irrelevant whether the government ought to allow two brothers to marry, or three women, or anything else. Justice is not served by denying people a foundational civil right because someone else might not have it yet.

    And again: Loving v. Virginia did not have ANYTHING, not ANYTHING AT ALL, to do with the “right of free association”. READ. THE. CASE. It is about a fundamental and inalienable civil right. It is not about some other right. Maybe that right would have been relevant if they hadn’t won on the civil right.

    The point is:

    The ruling of the Supreme Court, on that issue and on several other issues, is that marriage is a civil right. Period. Not that some other right might be infringed on by a law prohibiting or criminalizing a marriage, but that marriage itself is a civil right.

    That is the state of the law in the United States, and in pretty much every part of the world that has a concept of civil rights. Period. Marriage is a civil right. Period. Full stop. It is not some wacky side-effect of another civil right; it is in and of itself a civil right.

    You may not like this, you may think the courts are wrong, and the governments are wrong, but the fact is, that is the state of the law, and it is in that context that the Iowa judges made their ruling.

    And again: You have not yet made a single argument against their ruling that wasn’t just as good as an argument against Loving v. Virginia. So far, all you’re doing is throwing up smokescreens and red herrings and denying a fundamental civil right’s existence.

    You know what? We are done here. We are done because you are persistantly making blatantly false statements about the meaning or significance of relevant case law, and because I am sick of being reminded that there are still people, even in my lovely home town, who will grasp at any straws whatsoever in order to deny that marriage is a civil right.

    Deny it all you want. It’s still true. Marriage, in and of itself, is a civil right. The government has a genuine obligation to honor and respect marriages, and to do so without discrimination, because that is how the Constitution works. That this apparently leads to results that make you uncomfortable is not my problem now, any more than it was Richard and Mildred Loving’s problem in the 1960s. You are just gonna have to live with the undeniable fact that the courts in our country, along with everyone else’s, have consistently found that the right to marry and to have society acknowledge your marriage is a civil right in and of itself.

    Making excuses and trying to describe it in terms of other rights is disingenuous at best. Refusing to correct the error after being given citations to relevant court rulings, though, speaks to arguing in bad faith. Bye.

    May 10, 2012
  123. john george said:

    Kiffi- It seems you are putting a spin to my comments that is just not there. You said

    But you seem to believe, as you have expressed many times here on LG, that some behaviors carry a burden of sin, as you would define it, and therefore that behavior taints your world.

    The allegation that these behaviors “taint” my world is your opinion of what I have posted, but it is a misinterpretation on your part. It is “tainted” by your own animosity towards me for stating a belief that differs from yours. “Do no harm” is not a tennet of Christian doctorine. The death and resurection of Jesus for the redemption of the whole world is the foundation.

    My greatest concern in going this direction of legalizing gay marriage is that it will lead to a stifeling of any Christian who would claim that homosexuality is a sin. The separation doctrine has been twisted in modern times to allow the government to make laws concerning the establishment of religion in society by demanding that Christians be censored in the public domain, such as education and government. The next step, of limiting speech from the pulpit (by defining it as hate speech), seems pretty apparent to me and many Christian leaders. You and others have posted here that, no, this won’t happen. Sorry, but I just do not believe you. When Roe v. Wade was upheld, the progressives claimed that abortion on demand would not become a means of birth control. The exact opposite has happened, so I have precident not to trust these claims.

    May 10, 2012
  124. john george said:

    I don’t mean to throw kerosine on the fire, here, but, what the heck. We haven’t had a good fire on LG since Griff took on the High School prayer scandal. (I don’t mean any offence, here, Griff. Just citing the example.) The first sentence of the Supreme Court ruling of Loving vs. Virginia reads thus:

    This case presents a constitutional question never addressed by this Court: whether a statutory scheme adopted by the State of Virginia to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Hmmm. “…solely on the basis of racial classifications…” I wasn’t aware that Gay people are a “race.” In fact, one of the arguments in favor of Gay marriage is that homosexuality is found in cross sections of all races. Hmmmm.

    May 11, 2012
  125. I do certainly see your concern there. Honestly, though, I think the problem here is that so many people go straight from “I think X is sinful behavior” to “I think society should act to harm and marginalize people who do X”. Worse, when it comes to something that most evidence seems to suggest is an inherent trait, rather than a behavior, that becomes a dire strain.

    And the thing is: The people who who think homosexual activity is sinful, but who are able to live and let live, who don’t feel the need to go around picketing the funerals of gays, or asserting that gays are all child molestors are the ones who could have stopped that. See. Rush Limbaugh isn’t gonna listen to anything gay people say. But if someone came along and said “it may be sin, but everyone in this church sins, and you don’t treat the rest of them like that”, well… Okay, he wouldn’t listen, but maybe some people would.

    I think there comes a point where, if you want people to treat your opinion as though it is a respectable opinion and not a thinly-veiled cover for hostility or prejudice, you need to demonstrate that. And that’s not fair to you, but then, no one actually promised us that life would be fair, I don’t think.

    For me, the answer was pretty simple: If there are to be outcasts that are excluded and ostracized, I’ma go stand with them, and care for them. And if there are people that exclude and ostracize, I will call them out and tell them what they are doing.

    Comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable. It worked when they were throwing us to lions, and it works now that we’re the ones throwing people to lions to entertain the crowds. The thing that sickens me most about it is knowing that many of the most outspoken gay-bashers don’t even actually care, they just realize that preaching stridently about a “sin” that cannot ever, conceivably, possibly, tempt 95% of your listeners is a great political move.

    I would be sad to see people feel that their thoughts were unwelcome, but compared to being beaten and left for dead because of what those people said, I think it’s pretty mild.

    May 11, 2012
  126. john george said:

    Peter- That is a good observation, and I agree with you that parts of Christendom have acted this way. If you take a close look at these parts, most of them fall far short of Jesus’ teaching on mercy. I do not agree or support this facet, but I also do not want to be automatically lumped in with them just because I believe the variuos verses in the Bible about the sinfulness of Homosexuality. I am not a hate-monger or homo-phobe just because I believe this. The read that I have gotten from many Gay rights supporters is that they do not want to even discuss this prospect. I have my own sins that I battle, and I agree with what God says about all of them. This is the difference I see in the Gay community. They have amassed to themselves their own “Biblical scholars” who pass off these scriptures as either being archaic, meaning something else, or even that they are the precepts of men and not of God. In doing so, they deny that they have sin and violate the scriptures in 1st. John. This is getting into theology, but that is where I come from. I interpret the world around me from a Biblical perspective, not some philosophical perspective. I have yet to find anything in my Bible that cannot be observed in my environment. Therefore, I embrace it as truth.

    May 11, 2012
  127. kiffi summa said:

    John : you said: “My greatest concern in going this direction of legalizing gay marriage is that it will lead to a stifeling of any Christian who would claim that homosexuality is a sin.”

    I have asked you , previously, over and over how this ‘stifles’ any ‘Christian’? You have never been able to answer that… just because another person gets their legal equality does not mean you are in any way ‘stifled’…
    This is about the law, John, not belief systems.

    You repeatedly quote Roe vs Wade as an example of this purported “stifling”, which shows that it is a law that you personally disagree with, and one that you consider harmful to all “Christians”… It neither keeps you from thinking whatever you want to think, nor forces you into action… its effect on you personally, is neutral.

    And again, and for the umpteenth time, John, stop referring to people who have your identically same belief system as “Christians”, as if there are no other Christians who believe differently than you.
    That is offensive to the max… and only shows your dedication to one belief system,
    yours, as prevailing above all others, in the definition of a ‘Christian’.

    You are part of a Christian philosophy group, but not its singular entirety.

    May 11, 2012
  128. kiffi summa said:

    John: you are obviously unaware that the case called Loving vs. Virginia is a case about what was termed miscegenation in Virginia, i.e. marriage between persons of color, and a “white” person.

    It has nothing to do with homosexuality; but very much to do with equal rights to marry, under civil law.

    May 11, 2012
  129. David Ludescher said:


    I happen to agree with you that, under the current law, same-sex couples should not be treated differently than opposite-sexed couples nor should opposite-sexed couples be entitled to governmental benefits that other groups cannot receive. That is the constitutional mandate from Loving.

    I think I happen to be in a very small minority of people. Almost 50% of the people believe that the current law should discriminate in favor of just opposite-sexed couples. Almost 50% believe that the current law should discriminate in favor of just couples (opposite and same sexed). And, a very small minority, me included, believe that the law shouldn’t discriminate (unless the law can clearly articulate why discrimination is justified).

    That is why I don’t think we should go around giving out awards for public servants who did their job, and, in my opinion, and, in the eyes of the law, just continued a discriminatory practice.

    May 11, 2012
  130. David Ludescher said:


    Technically, that is incorrect. The case had to do with the powers of the state of Virginia to prosecute a criminal case. It is an important constitutional distinction.

    May 11, 2012
  131. kiffi summa said:

    David: I do not claim to be privy to the fine technical points of the law.
    John thought,(from his comment in 23.1.4) that the case was equating race to homosexuality and that was the content of the case… I was commenting on the content , not the technical structure.

    May 11, 2012
  132. john george said:

    Kiffi- Youn seem to be unaware of how our government is wedging its foothold into what can and cannot be preached from the pulpit of any church. Pastor’s cannot express any opinion on any political ideology from the pulpit under threat of loosing that particular church’s IRS status. The Gay community has tried to turn what, for us, is a moral issue into a political/civil rights issue. That being the case, there would be precident to enforce a gag order on the church pulpit regarding expressing a position on homosexuality. That is just the way the law works.

    May 11, 2012
  133. john george said:

    Kiffi- What I said above states what is trying to be done by the Gay community and its supporters- to equate sexual orientation with race, I believe this is an incorrect application of Loving vs. Virginia. The decision was based solely upon Virginia’s decision to not allow marrige between races, which cannot be changed, thus masking marrige a civil right no matter what the race of the two participants. There is no conclusive scientific evidence, yet, that race and gender attraction can be proven on the gene level. Therefore, I just do not buy this argument as a foundation to support gay marriage as a civil right.

    May 11, 2012
  134. David Ludescher said:


    That is clearly a losing legal argument. I think it also a losing theological and human rights argument. Sexual orientation is a protected classification as it should be. The question is not whether the classification is voluntary or involuntary, the question is whether the government has a justification for the discrimination. If the classification is involuntary, such as race, the burden on the government is extremely difficult.

    What Kiffi and Peter are talking about is the “civil right” of the people to have the government discriminate in favor of them. The simple rule is that if the government cannot discriminate against someone, they cannot discriminate in favor of someone. The exceptions are “affirmative actions” which can be justified under a theory of limited corrective action.

    May 11, 2012
  135. Sexual orientation is not so much being equated with race alone as with race, religion, and other traits that we do not feel we have the right to command people to change, whether or not they can. Maybe people can change their religion, but we don’t allow policies which demand that they do so. Civil rights for a group are not contingent on the trait that is being discriminated against being one you can’t change.

    And I see David is still misrepresenting the essence of Loving V. Virginia, apparently without reading the actual decision. The key ruling here is not whether or not Virginia is permitted to enforce that law, and has nothing to do with whether it’s a criminal law or a civil law. The key point is why the law is not permitted to be enforced, and the reason is that marriage is a civil right.

    And it doesn’t matter whether orientation is genetic, or a result of hormones, or whatever else; what matters is that trying to change it is more likely to kill the patient than to produce any change at all, and that no one has yet demonstrated the ability to produce a genuine underlying change in orientation in even one person — note the high rate at which allegedly “cured” people turn out to be doing rentboys on the side.

    But even that doesn’t matter, because we don’t get to say “well, you don’t have to be in that group, so it’s okay if we discriminate against you”. How would you feel about a law which discriminated against Christians being defended on the grounds that being Christian isn’t genetic?

    And yes, we’re well aware that many people prefer that the law discriminate against gays. Back when the courts threw out laws against interracial marriage, many people preferred those laws, too. Part of the purpose of our legal system is to defend minorities from the tyranny of the majority. We establish principles because we believe in the principles, and then the courts are there to keep us honest and enforce those principles even when many of us don’t care about a particular minority. The court was right as a matter of law, and they stuck to the truth even though they knew they would lose their jobs for doing them. That deserves an award.

    One last thing: John, the solution is obvious. If churches don’t want the government telling them what to do, they should stop demanding special treatment on taxes. Pay taxes like any other organization and say whatever you want. Problem solved! And yes, I’m serious. I think the “tax free status for staying out of politics” deal is one that churches should never have accepted.

    May 11, 2012
  136. Some explanation of why this change is happening, and how to get over the objections. Step #3 is of particular relevance to this debate, since people are still stuck on the arguments that were a big deal in 1967.

    I think we’ve reached the point where it’s about time for people to stop knee-jerk reacting to this and go get educated on the facts. Biology and psychology have made a lot of progress over the last thirty or forty years. We know a lot more about how human brains work than we did then.

    May 11, 2012
  137. john george said:

    Peter- As far as churches having special consideration under the law, I agree with you on that point. I know I am a minute minority in my circles, but I would rahter render to Ceasar that which has his image, and render to God that which has His image- namely, ourselves.

    The one thing to remember about Loving vs. Virginia is that it was decided in 1967. At that point in time, homosexuality was considerered a mental illness. The APA removed it from their list of psychoses in 1974, if I remember correctly. To infer that the justices’ intent in that decision was to apply the law to any couple, including same sex couples, is anachronistic, at best. I am not a revisionist of history. I think we need to consider decisions made relative to the time period in which they were made and not try to extrapolate an application just because of current opinions.

    May 11, 2012
  138. john george said:

    Peter- In response to a couple other comments you made, as far as someone changing their orientation, this can and has and continues to be done. I personally know of a couple people who have made that choice, and are living lives more free than before their decision. God is still in the business of making all things new when we submit to him. Do these people have any struggles? I’m sure they do, just as I have struggles with things out of my past. But, these struggles do not negate the power of God to change.

    As far as Christianity being genetic, I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your point. As far as my walk with God, I did not inherit that from anyone. I forged it with Him in the school of adversity.

    Some have expressed concern that I call same sex attraction a sin, that this is hurtful to those engaged in that life. I will defer to James 5:19-20

    My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that [s]he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

    May 11, 2012
  139. David:
    I’m interested in your position here:

    I think I happen to be in a very small minority of people. Almost 50% of the people believe that the current law should discriminate in favor of just opposite-sexed couples. Almost 50% believe that the current law should discriminate in favor of just couples (opposite and same sexed). And, a very small minority, me included, believe that the law shouldn’t discriminate (unless the law can clearly articulate why discrimination is justified).

    Well, I mostly agree. Couples do not deserve tax incentives and special financial benefits over single people. However most folks advocating for gender-neutral marriage point more to things that are pretty explicitly inherent to couples: visitation rights in hospitals, automatic right of inheritance, etc. Some say that gays are entitled to enter into such arrangements on their own, individually — but by and large, people don’t do that. And I really don’t believe that providing a government-recognized relationship that establishes the wide range of what most couples want is discriminating against single people. Is this what you mean by discrimination? Or what do you have in mind?

    Also curious what you think about other couple-related benefits that are not from the government — being on the spouse’s private health insurance plan, for example. Is this discrimination against single people? Is it less problematic because it’s a private entity, rather than a government, doing it?

    May 11, 2012
  140. John: My point is, it doesn’t matter whether gay people can change or not, any more than it matters whether Christians can change or not. Something does not need to be a biologically inherent trait in order to be protected and deserve civil rights.

    And while it is often claimed that people have changed their orientation, the sum total of cases where orientation has been demonstrated to have changed so far is Zero. Not a single one. Because, see. Orientation isn’t who you have sex with; it is who you are attracted to.

    Here’s the way this would work, if it existed: We would have a person, and we would demonstrate that they have an attraction response to one gender but not the other. This would be demonstrated, not by asking them what they think, but by things like measuring pulse rate, blood flow, and so on. Then, they would be “changed”, and after this, we’d do the same experiment again and show that their attraction response had changed.

    That has never, ever, been successfully done. And that is because, so far as anyone can tell, it is not possible except by direct divine intervention — and even then it doesn’t seem to be actually happening to anyone. That we might believe it possible does not create a moral duty in others to wait for it to happen. God can cure the sick, too, but we don’t go around telling people in wheelchairs that they ought to stop using a wheelchair because God could fix them.

    There are lots of people who claim to be changed, but a guy who can have sex with his wife only by fantasizing about guys and closing his eyes has not become heterosexual, merely dishonest. And the reality is, that’s what’s on offer right now. Go look at the recidivism rate among the “ex-gay” ministries. Now look at how often people who aren’t gay in the first place “slip” and accidentally have sex with a paid escort. The fact is, if you’re not attracted to guys, you aren’t attracted to guys. Some people are born attracted to guys, others aren’t.

    … but again, that’s a red herring, because people are not obliged to change to suit our preferences. It does not matter whether being gay is something people could change, because it’s a protected class regardless. If only traits which were proven to be genetic qualified for protection, then religion wouldn’t qualify either.

    As to Loving v. Virgina, it is quite probable that the judges in that case would never have thought it to apply to other couples. So what? The point is that they were affirming that marriage in and of itself was a civil right. The argument from the ignorance and prejudice of previous generations is not a good argument. The people who founded this country did not think that the statement “all men are created equal” implied that women should be able to vote, or that black men should get full votes, and even when one of those issues was decided, it didn’t mean that the people deciding it thought it would apply to the other. So what? That people have failed to think through their principles to their conclusions is not news. It’s not a surprise, and it’s not a justification for not trying to do better.

    May 11, 2012
  141. Paul Zorn said:

    David, Sean, et al.,

    Let’s try a brand new message number. Those starting with 25 seem to have become unlawfully wedded to messages from several months ago.

    The general discussion about what gay marriage laws do, don’t do, or should do is one we’ve had before on LGN.

    Anyone with the stomach for it, and plenty of time, can read plenty of similar earlier postings here. For example, here’s excerpt that seems to me germane:

    David L wrote:

    Or, we could leave the [marriage] laws as they are until we figure out exactly what a “civil union” really is and why the government would want to promote civil unions. In the meantime, churches or other social organizations can develop their own concepts of marriage or civil unions free from government sanction or endorsement.

    I said then (and still think):

    I agree with a lot of this. Yes, we’d do well to think more carefully what forms of relationship government should endorse or encourage, and why. And churches should stay free to define and “sanctify” whatever forms of extra-governmental marriage they want without asking government’s permission.

    Where I disagree is with the suggestion that everyone just do nothing until such time—very remote, I’d bet—as we can all “figure out exactly” the hard questions you pose. Such a course would, if not literally perpetuate, substantially extend, an unjust situation as regards those who would like to enjoy legally sanctioned same-sex marriage. A remedy so delayed verges on a remedy denied.

    May 11, 2012
  142. Well, this was the nearest thread on the topic when it Suddenly Became News Again.

    For a long time, I was of the opinion that the government ought to simply stop using the word “marriage” at all, and instead give everyone civil unions. Simply remove any reference, at all, to “marriage” or “spouses” or any such words from all the laws.

    However, I have gradually become convinced, particularly by some of the rulings in the DOMA cases, that this is in fact a bad solution. The fact is, there is a difference between a “civil union” and a “marriage”, that difference matters to people, and people are not okay with the idea of the government not saying they are “married”.

    So it comes down to the civil rights question, and that one’s easy; marriage is a civil right. If people want to get married in ways that are contrary to my religious beliefs (and many do), that is between them and their religious beliefs; it’s not my job to make other people do what I think they should do, nor is it my job to ask the government to do it. If I can’t show how they’re hurting me, it is none of my business.

    May 11, 2012
  143. I am not sure about “deserve”, but there is substantial evidence to suggest that providing a small but noticeable economic incentive for people to form and maintain long-term partnerships is sound policy from a pragmatic standpoint.

    … Interestingly, this carries over to the gay marriage issue, where places that allow gays to marry show very noticeable economic benefits in stability and growth. And here’s us with an economy that desperately needs boosts to stability and growth. Gosh, whatever shall we do…

    May 11, 2012
  144. David Ludescher said:


    You’re right. Let’s stick to the question of the Council issuing a “safe and welcoming” statement, or commenting on the proposed constitutional amendment.

    May 11, 2012
  145. kiffi summa said:

    Paul: my computer also sHows three out of time sequence messages from January at the end of the thread, but they just keep changing their numbers, and moving to the end of the thread after the current comments.
    I mentioned this to Griff several weeks ago to see if he could fix it, but he didn’t understand, and just explained the numbering system… so I guess he didn’t look at it…. or I didn’t explain t in sufficiently tech terms…

    May 12, 2012
  146. They’re responses to a comment which was moderated away, I think.

    May 12, 2012
  147. David Henson said:

    1) Marriage is not a “civil right” – many states have blood tests that prevent heterosexual couples from getting married.
    2) Marriage was undoubtedly created as a concept to encourage monogamous relationships to improve the lot of children and to reduce the spread of venereal disease.
    3) Why should two men having sex be entitled to share “benefits” (medical, etc) any more than two men who wished to share and were not having sex?
    4) Peter says “expanded rights have always made us a richer society.” This is inaccurate, if you research through The Economist and other sources you will find that people were happier in the 1950s in what was clearly a more paternalistic time period.
    5) Many people are not in favor of elevating “sexuality” to a higher and higher status out of genuine concern for society and for the individuals themselves – not out of blind hatred as childishly suggested. Those in favor of slavery had an economic incentive to support the institution – those opposing expanding marriage have no economic incentive and are simply espousing the genuine and heartfelt belief in what is best.

    May 13, 2012
  148. 1. Civil rights can be, and sometimes are, infringed when the government can make a compelling case for a reason to do so. That doesn’t change the fact that the courts have consistently ruled that marriage is a civil right.
    2. I would need to see some citations as to how you have established the purpose for which marriage was created, given that it happened long before we had written language.
    3. Having sex has nothing to do with it for men, any more than it does for anyone else. We don’t require straight people to prove that they have sex in order to be married. On the other hand, people who have been in love with each other for a decade or two certainly ought to be able to have hospital visitation rights.
    4. That’s a non-sequitur in a couple of ways. First, I said richer, not happier. Secondly, there are a whole lot of confounding events and circumstances which you haven’t controlled for.
    5. First, there is substantial economic benefit to preserving an advantage over other people. Secondly, when your belief about what is “best” involves denying someone else rights that you take for granted, you will have to understand when people are a little skeptical. But if you want to claim that this is, at best, a close parallel to the arguments that women and blacks needed to be “protected” by the more-competent white males, well, yes, it is in some ways quite a lot like that. It’s “for the best” that someone else be denied a right, of course.

    I don’t buy it. You show me two people who have been living together for 30 years, and then tell me that it’s “for the best” that when one is in the hospital, the other isn’t allowed to go visit, and I will not be convinced.

    The people campaigning against interracial marriage were also quite sure that they were acting out of a heartfelt belief that this was for the best. Good intentions: Paving roads for two thousand years and counting.

    May 14, 2012
  149. kiffi summa said:

    David: In 23.3.2 you said, in your bullet point #5: “those opposing expanding marriage have no economic incentive and are simply espousing the genuine and heartfelt belief in what is best.”

    Here’s what you just don’t get, IMO… what is their “genuine and heartfelt belief” has no relevance to anything except their conviction in their personal belief, and that is not enough to keep equal rights under the law restricted from anyone who just as sincerely holds a different “heartfelt belief”.

    I have a sincere and heartfelt belief that the only persons who might possibly be benefitted by the slaughter of the wolves in Yellowstone Park, Idaho, and Wyoming, are the ranchers (who have also enslaved the Buffalo in Yellowstone, by the way) but my heartfelt belief that it is wrong for the Feds to shot wolves from helicopters does not have any sway over that situation as long as the Congress permits the hunting of wolves by people with highpowered guns , from helicopters.

    No church, or believers in a particular doctrine, have the right to hold their “heartfelt belief” over the law which provides equality of opportunity for the lives of all citizens.

    May 14, 2012
  150. Curt Benson said:

    David, re: 26.3.2:

    You wrote: “1) Marriage is not a “civil right” — many states have blood tests that prevent heterosexual couples from getting married.”

    A google search tells me the states that require blood tests require that the results of the test be presented before the license is issued. The license is not denied if the results are positive.

    You wrote: “2) Marriage was undoubtedly created as a concept to encourage monogamous relationships to improve the lot of children and to reduce the spread of venereal disease.”

    Marriage existed is some form for centuries before people had any idea of how diseases were spread. It wasn’t until the 1800s before the germ theory was developed.

    May 14, 2012
  151. David Henson said:

    Curt, please – germ theory was not required for people to see the correlation between activities and disease any more than genetics was required to see the correlation between breeding livestock and outcomes. People were not stupid and undoubtedly had sophistication that is now lost (being lost quickly in recent times I am afraid … as outlined above).

    May 14, 2012
  152. David Henson said:

    Kiffi, I cannot really reply to helicopters and wolves. I know some near and dear fine quality folks who have same sex relationships and I know some fine people who enjoy who sky diving off bridges. But neither are values that we need to encourage in schools. We have to agree to disagree for at the moment I do not have the stamina for endless arguments about expanding sexuality in culture (the Lady Gagaization of a once leading manufacturing nation). But like the majority of voters in CA I think changing the definition of marriage is unwise.

    May 14, 2012
  153. That’s an interesting theory, but you do realize they wrote down what they believed for study, right? While you might think they would have spotted correlations, the fact is that when the correlations take months to show up, they often didn’t.

    In short: [citation needed]. If you’re going to qualify something as “undoubtedly”, you really ought to provide at least enough support for it to justify someone believing it at all, let alone to justify handwaving away any likelihood of doubt.

    May 14, 2012
  154. Yes, we know that the Californians were vehemently opposed to changing the definition of marriage, but over time, the courts consistently overruled them, and eventually the change happened.

    Note that I am actually speaking of the radical and widely-opposed change of “dropping the legal notion of coverture”. Which was opposed for exactly the same reasons people are opposing same-sex marriage now; because it made them uncomfortable, empowered the disempowered, and was a “change” to an institution which did not need any changes.

    I don’t think schools need to “encourage” gay relationships, but they certainly need to stop “encouraging” bullying of gay kids. And you know what? You cannot tell kids “it’s wrong to treat these people as less than human” while demanding that the government treat them as less than human. And “not allowed to marry the person they want” is a pretty classic example of “less than human”. That’s what we used to do to slaves; tell them who they could or couldn’t marry. It’s not how we treat people.

    Go look at pictures of the outraged protests in the 1960s about the courts trying to forcibly change the definition of marriage. Now photoshop your face into them. You now know what people will see when they look back at this in twenty or thirty years. The idea that people seriously thought the government shouldn’t recognize same-sex marriages will look just as ridiculous then as the idea that it shouldn’t recognize interracial marriages looks now.

    I have no idea what you think “Lady Gagaization” is, but the “once leading manufacturing nation” is just another sign of a commitment to a century long past. Manufacturing is in the middle of moving from a thing you hire the cheapest humans you can for to a thing you don’t even hire people for, because robots do it. While we’re at it, let’s complain about how, since the backhoe showed up, the number of proud shovel-wielding Americans has declined rapidly.

    May 14, 2012
  155. Even if licenses were denied, that wouldn’t at all speak to whether marriage is a civil right. Many states don’t let felons vote; are folks here going to try to argue that voting isn’t a civil right? Most states won’t let you kill people just because your religion says to; does that make freedom of religion not a civil right?

    The argument that something isn’t a civil right because it’s been limited in some way is not a remotely convincing argument. The reality is that the courts here and elsewhere have long since concluded that marriage is a civil right. The question is whether the state has a compelling enough reason to limit it.

    May 14, 2012
  156. It occurs to me that some readers may not have previously read the ruling in Loving v. Virginia.

    “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

    Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888).”

    Marriage is, and always has been, a fundamental civil right. The ruling in Loving v. Virginia is predicated on that finding. Perhaps they might have reached the same conclusion through some other argument, but they didn’t; they reached it based on the observation that marriage is a civil right.

    See also:

    May 14, 2012
  157. john george said:

    Peter- I still say you are not listening to our argument about equating “race” with “sexual orientation.” It is the same thing that happened with Roe vs. Wade. Abortion had been a “medical procedure” long before Roe allowed it to be a procedure “chosen” instead of “prescribed” by a medical practitioner. That decision alone has resulted in the deaths of more “unborn humans” than the number of Jews exterminated in the Halocoust. How you can now claim that the twisting of this judicial ruling about “race”, made about 6 years before homosexuality was redefined as an acceptable orientation and not a psychosis, somehow now applies to the homosexual community is more of a leap of application than I think is warranted. I have included some additional quotes from the ruling below (and, FYI, I read it before entering this dialoue with you):

    Over the past 15 years, 14 States have repealed laws outlawing interracial marriages:…

    We need not reach this contention because we find the racial classifications in these statutes repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment, even assuming an even-handed state purpose to protect the “integrity” of all races.

    “…it is simply not possible for a state law to be valid under our Constitution which makes the criminality of an act depend upon the race of the actor…”

    I other words, I think you need a better argument than this statute. And, I don’t believe your claims, or those of the Gay Community, that this will bring “enrichment” to our American civilization. Woe unto those who call good evil and evil good.

    May 14, 2012
  158. Paul Zorn said:

    John G,

    Yet again, depressingly, Godwin’s law surfaces. Can’t we stick to the point?

    To the substance of your point about the Loving v. Virginia: Yes, Loving v. Virginia was about race, not sexual orientation, and I doubt that the Supremes had orientation in mind when they decided that case. That fact might (or might not … I’m no lawyer) make it difficult to argue legally that the Loving ruling itself has implications here.

    But an important principle enunciated in Loving:

    Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.

    seems entirely relevant to me: A “civil right” and “fundamental freedom” so “basic” as marriage, the Court says, can’t be denied on an “unsupportable basis”.

    What the 1967 Court had in mind, of course, were the bogus racial classifications then in (legal) effect, not matters of sexual orientation. But the principle that denying anyone the right to wed should have to clear a very high bar of “supportability” seems unimpeachable.

    “It’s against the Bible” (even if that’s true) comes nowhere near that bar.

    May 14, 2012
  159. john george said:

    Paul- I suspect that my arguments will have no effect upon the outcome of this direction we are going, but I am of the temperament to not just roll over and acquiesce without expressing them. David L. has a good argument, IMO, about neither limiting or giving special rights to any particular group. What is at the basis of this discussion are what the requirements are for two people to be married. Evident gender and race are pretty basic and hard to deny. Sexual attraction seems to open up some grey areas, IMO. I suspect that you simply do not want to hear or give credence to my opinion. That’s your prerogative, I guess.

    Now, on to the proposal to have a welcoming statement, that everyone is welcome in Northfield. Sounds good to me!

    May 14, 2012
  160. Okay, maybe I wasn’t clear. I’m not saying that race and sexual orientation are the same thing. I am saying that the Loving court clearly and unmistakably asserts that marriage is a civil right. That doesn’t answer the question of whether a given group of people is a protected class, or marriage is applicable to them, or any of the other questions; the only thing it does is absolutely, totally, disqualify any claim that marriage is “not a civil right” from consideration. Marriage is a civil right, period.

    I’m not disputing that there are significant differences between the cases, but those differences are irrelevant to the core point I was getting at there: Marriage is a civil right. Whether “gay marriage” is a valid kind of marriage is a separate question, but for us to have a meaningful discussion, we have to start with the fact that we are talking about a civil right, not about criminal law or race or anything else.

    All this stuff about Roe v. Wade is a separate question, and mostly a red herring. It is certainly true that it is hard to predict the outcomes of laws in many cases. However, in all the years I’ve been having conversations on this topic, I have never heard anyone who thinks gay marriage should be legally recognized suggest that churches ought to be compelled to do it. And if you want a fair comparison for that, how about looking at actual marriage-related laws? You will note that we have had no-fault divorce and interracial marriage both for many years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone even trying to compel a church to perform a service they didn’t want to. You ask, they say yes or no, you move on. There are rabbis out there who will happily marry two male Jews, but will not marry any Jew to any non-Jew. No one disputes that the civil right of marriage extends to marrying across religious boundaries; nor does anyone dispute that no rabbi or minister is obliged to perform any particular wedding.

    I agree, though. It is a bad thing to call good evil. You may wish to consider the possible issues you face in condemning people’s love as “evil”. See also 1st Timothy, chapter 4.

    May 14, 2012
  161. John, maybe a little thought experiment:

    Imagine that you were talking to someone from the 1960s, and he was explaining to you how interracial marriage was a horrible thing. What arguments could you present that would convince him?

    May 14, 2012
  162. David Ludescher said:


    I think most of the confusion regarding “legal” marriage revolves around the fact that legal marriage is so different from a “spiritual” marriage. Legal marriage is just a contract sanctioned by the government. Today’s legal marriage has only two characteristics in common with a “spiritual” marriage: it involves two people and it is between a man and a woman. It isn’t about love, commitment, fidelity, or any other characteristic intrinsic to what has traditionally been considered a marriage.

    May 14, 2012
  163. A man and one or more women or girls, who may or may not be willing participants, I think, was the historical definition. Seriously, I don’t think an appeal to history is a winning move for anyone here; historically, marriage was a property arrangement between families in which women were subsumed as property.

    And… well, come to think of it, the “love” part wasn’t really that big a deal until relatively recently. You don’t seriously think that random prisoners of war were genuinely believed to love the men who captured them and killed their families, do you? Yeah, some people loved their spouses, but it was regarded as a bonus, not a foundational component of the relationship.

    And you do have a point, that a lot of people seem not to have much of an idea about commitment or fidelity. Ironically, the people who take marriage the most seriously now, by far, are the gays. There’s nothing to make people think seriously about what marriage is about like not being able to take it for granted.

    As has usually been the case since the beginning, it is the outcasts and the downtrodden with the spiritual wealth.

    May 14, 2012
  164. john george said:

    Peter- I have no argument about the Loving court defining marriage as a civil right. In this particular case, the issue was race related, not gender attraction related. That is why I take the position that there is another decision missing here, and that is what is being decided with the constitutional amendment. Is a gay couple entitled to the same societal “rights” that a heterosexual couple is entitled to? I say yes, they are, but give it a separate term. I contend that the term “marriage” should be reserved for a heterosexual union. And, I think the liberalization of divorce laws is an unfortunate tragedy against marriage. It is unfortunate that some men continue to be blind to their responsibility in Eph. 5, and have put, and continue to put, mny women and children in peril. I hope that all you say will come to pass, but I have my doubts at this time.

    You might refer to 2nd. Peter chap. 2 and Romans 14:22. Your reference in 1st. Timothy 4 might be better applied to the Shaker denomination, but that is just my interpretation.

    May 14, 2012
  165. Yes; the comments about marriage being a civil right were directed at a previous post claiming it wasn’t.

    Civil unions could be a solution, but if some people get “marriage” and others get “civil unions”, we are right back at the fountain labeled “colored people” arguing about separate but equal. That argument has been lost; separate cannot be equal, because the mere fact of separation implies inequality.

    That said, there was a time when I felt that the best solution would be for the government to completely drop the use of the word “marriage”, and participate only in “civil unions”, leaving arguments over the word marriage for a context in which they do not prevent people from enjoying the freedoms that most of us take for granted. Over time, though, I have become convinced that completely divorcing the term “marriage” from the legal relationship may well do more harm than good.

    I still meet people who think it is a horrific crime against God that we recognize divorces, second marriages, and interracial marriages. (I have also met geocentrists; the Internet is a wonderful thing.) I have seen people argue that coverture was the right policy. And, ultimately, I just don’t see a reason to try to separate the terms out. The fact is, the relationships people have are pretty much the same no matter what color they are, no matter what religion they follow, and no matter whether they are boys, girls, or best categorized as “other/hard-to-say”. If we were going to try to protect the term “marriage”, I’d much rather focus on the durability of the thing, or perhaps ban and invalidate pre-nuptial agreements, than worry about whether the people involved are male or female.

    When I was a kid, I thought gays were very different from straights. Then one day, I read a post from a gay guy complaining about how, fifteen years in, his partner still put the toilet paper roll on the dispenser backwards. Since then, I’ve spent a fair bit of time talking to people about their relationships and lives, and been confronted with the discovery that “us” and “them” have been the same people all along, with no meaningful or significant distinctions.

    At this point, after the number of times that people have told gays that they are not entitled to even basically decent treatment as humans, I don’t blame them at all for demanding full equality before the law, and that means that if anyone gets to be called “married” by the law, then it should be open to them too. We tried separate but equal. It failed. As various court cases involving the “defense of marriage act” have proven, the mere fact that a civil union isn’t a “marriage” does in fact create an inescapable legal difference, not to mention a societal one.

    It’s true that some of the things people other than me consider to be “marriages” don’t meet my personal view of what marriage should be, but ultimately, that’s my problem, not theirs. The law is not here to enforce my personal preferences; it is here to provide equality for everyone, and that includes the right to marry your partner. My personal views on the validity of a marriage are not sufficient reason to prevent other people from exercising their rights.

    May 14, 2012
  166. David Henson said:

    I think doing away with “marriage” as a legal covenant would be best. People could enter into legal contracts as they choose and churches could decide who to “marry.” For the purpose of benefits we could have a buddy system where anyone could name a buddy for coverage. The system would be fair and remove using government as an instrument to enforce values.

    May 15, 2012
  167. kiffi summa said:

    Look… nobody’s beliefs are going to be changed here… Some of us believe that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identification or self-identification should have equal civil rights
    under the law.

    Some do not believe that, as that conviction threatens their religious belief system, and those who do feel threatened are going to feel threatened, whether with what I call ‘reason’, or not… and that is all tied up with a particular notion of ‘sin’, and how that ‘corrupts’ their religious world. People who feel they have a religious commitment/commandment to change everyone else to their way of thinking have long oppressed society (the general populace) , in both minor and major ways.
    Unfortunately they see this proclivity of theirs as doing ‘good’, ridding the world of ‘sin’ … but that concept is only a belief system … not a provable truth … but they feel it is a ‘truth’, because their interpretation of the Biblical texts tells them so.

    This will not be resolved between the various beliefs systems… only the law will create an enforceable Truth.

    May 15, 2012
  168. David Ludescher said:


    I think we could reach an agreement on our beliefs if we changed the discussion focus. If the discussion focus centered upon what values the government wants to promote amongst its people, there is almost complete agreement between the pro-amendment and anti-amendment people. The government wants to promote stable environments for children and committed relationships between adults.

    May 15, 2012
  169. I would have to disagree with the premise that no one’s mind will be changed, because the fact is, a lot of people do change their minds on this issue. This happens whenever society gets to the point where a social change is ready to crystalize; lots of people already know the things that will eventually change their minds, and then when the discussion starts happening, some of them realize it.

    And yes, I think we all agree that the government’s meaningful goals here are stable environments for kids and committed relationships for adults. We’ve got 50 years of gay people raising kids proving that encouraging gay people to form committed relationships and raise kids produces both of those outcomes, and are in no way worse than straight people raising kids. So we clearly want gay people to have all the same legal rights and benefits for their relationships as straight people. As various laws like NC’s have shown, separate-but-equal isn’t, and any attempt to provide these benefits in a way that is legally distinct is going to mean not really providing these benefits.

    It is more than a little ironic that, without the efforts of the anti-gay folks in various legislatures, we might well have ended up with people considering civil unions “good enough”, but thanks to their tireless efforts, we now know that civil unions aren’t good enough, and imply continued second-class status.

    Enough. There is no excuse for us continuing to consign people to second-class status in a country nominally founded on equality. Sure, the founders of our nation probably didn’t think that applied to gays. But then, they definitely didn’t think it applied to women or blacks. Wha they did think was that they were articulating principles which might well some day go further than they themselves could see, and time has proven them right.

    The question is not whether people ten or twenty years from now will be looking back at this period in American history and be amazed that we were so resistant to recognizing this. The question is how bad we will make ourselves look. Yes, I’m aware that majorities often seem to prefer not to grant rights to gays. It was years after 1967 before the majority of the US populace would endorse interracial marriage, too, and people today look back at that and cringe in shame.

    May 15, 2012
  170. Randy Jennings said:

    The most principled statement in this entire conversation string is Peter’s comment from 28.2.2:

    The law is not here to enforce my personal preferences; it is here to provide equality for everyone, and that includes the right to marry your partner. My personal views on the validity of a marriage are not sufficient reason to prevent other people from exercising their rights.

    Thanks for an elegant and comprehensive description of the problem and its solution.

    To the ostensible topic with which this exchange began, I hope the City Council affirms this understanding of, and commitment to, the civil rights of all.

    May 15, 2012
  171. David Ludescher said:


    And, for my part, I hope the City Council keeps their personal opinions to themselves. Or, if they do want to speak, the Council should the affirm the constitutional right to vote as a citizen deems appropriate.

    May 15, 2012
  172. David Henson said:

    Kiffi, first you blame the Mormons (past posts), now you blame Christians. Your views seem highly intolerant. I would estimate that you are wrong anyway and that secular voters were not that far removed from the others in voting either for or against changing marriage. To me, religion aside, it would be like voting to expand AIDS (I know people will rationalize this away with absurdest statistics but I could not in good conscience vote to endorse a high risk activity). And its because I care about people not because “it threatens their religious belief system.”

    May 15, 2012
  173. I really don’t get that analogy at all. Marriage has changed repeatedly in the last century or so, but for the most part, we regard it as a good thing. How exactly is expanding marriage equivalent to expanding a disease? What exactly is the “high risk” behavior you’re trying to discourage when you act to prohibit the government from encouraging people to form long-term comitted relationships?

    I guess I don’t see much benefit to people in being told “When you are on your deathbed, you will be alone, and the person you spent the last forty years with will be outside, alone. It’s for your own good.”

    Usually, when I care about people, I try to avoid things that will obviously hurt them and exclude them. Often, I also try to learn more about them rather than reacting to stereotypes or statistics.

    May 15, 2012
  174. I would very much object to the council being told to keep their opinions to themselves. How are we supposed to know whether they are doing a good job of representing us without knowing their opinions? I like it when politicians make statements about their beliefs, even when I disagree with their beliefs.

    We always have the right to vote as we feel appropriate. The community as a whole, though, benefits from a statement of what kind of community we want to build. That helps people make informed choices about whether it’s the right community for them.

    May 15, 2012
  175. john george said:

    Sorry, Peter, but the legal mechanisms are in place to prevent you “death bed” scenario. Some comment earlier suggested these put unjust restrictions on people, but I just don’t buy that argument. Qualifying for anything government regulated puts restrictions upon people.

    May 15, 2012
  176. john george said:

    David H.- I think the “high risk” behavior to which you are refering is going to happen anyway. I don’t think the marriage issue has any bearing on it, unless you are trying to make an argument that allowing gay marriage somehow enables this behavior in certain relationships. I’m not sure that is a viable argument.

    May 15, 2012
  177. john george said:

    Peter- I agree with David L. If these personal beliefs of council members could be expressed without them being vilified by those who disagree, then I think that could be helpful. What with the level of intolerance in our society that I perceive right now, I think it would be political suicide in this case to encourage expression of those opinions. Not everyone withon a ward can be represented by one person representing their ward. The dichotomy would result in chaos and dysfunction. (Perhaps that is one reason there have been accusations against the council of dysfunction?)

    May 15, 2012
  178. Those legal mechanisms are, in fact, not in place right now. Right now, people are being turned away from hospital visitations because they are “not family”. And as the people of North Carolina have shown us, that will keep happening, until we finally stand up and do something about it.

    It is perhaps true that those mechanisms could in theory be created without legal recognition of same-sex marriages as such, but theory and practice are different. In reality, those mechanisms are not really in place, and will never be in place or reliable until people stop trying to destroy them. And since opponents of same-sex “marriage” have consistently acted in ways to deny the recognition of those rights in other forms, I think at this point the only way to genuinely back that very basic, fundamental, requirement of human decency is to decouple our views of what our church or beliefs say about marriage from our view of what rights our government should respect.

    Imagine how people would feel if the the rabbinical community were actively campaigning for a constitutional amendment clarifying that marriage was a relationship between two Jews or two non-Jews, and some were explaining that obviously other couples ought to be able to qualify for a civil union or something.

    And yet, that’s what we’re looking at; people saying that because their church wouldn’t recognize something, it must never have legal recognition. This is not a viable thing, and it is not an acceptable thing.

    The middle ground might have existed, but laws like NC’s recent amendment have destroyed it. There is no longer middle ground. We cannot, as people of conscience, stand by while a small minority are abused and treated with contempt. We must act, and thanks to the fanatics, there is only one action left that will serve; we must endorse the legality of marriages even when we personally think they are not valid.

    I tell you this: I am a lot less worried about gay people married than I am about Kim Kardashian’s 72-day marriage. But I accept that part of people having rights is people using those rights badly. That’s okay; they are still rights.

    May 15, 2012
  179. You raise a compelling point. I certainly know that I tend to vote based on issues that are important to me, but I try to stop short of villifying people. Mostly. There have been some politicians in recent years whose behavior it was hard to describe in a way that could not be considered “villifying”. 🙂

    May 15, 2012
  180. Speaking of tolerance and intolerance: John, I’d like to thank you for being friendly and civil in this discussion. I have spent a fair bit of time talking with people about this issue, and I really cherish the chances to discuss it with people who are able to be polite about it. I’d rather talk to a friendly person I disagree with than a jerk who agrees with me. 🙂

    May 15, 2012
  181. kiffi summa said:

    David: it does not profit a discussion to take comments to the evaluation point outside of the context within which they were written.

    I fully resent your remark: “your views seem highly intolerant”… I have repeatedly said that I don’t care what belief system is followed by anyone, as long as they allow others the same free will decision making about their personal lives without condemnation… condemnation based on belief, not fact.

    I think you owe me an apology.

    May 15, 2012
  182. Kiffi, I am not sure that is fair. As long as peoples’ condemnation does not translate into hostile action, I am of the general opinion that people have a right to condemn behaviors they disapprove of, whether or not other people like their justifications. I have spent too much time debating philosophy to believe that it is possible to have a “condemnation” which does not at some point end up appealing to a value judgement which cannot be proven to other people.

    If people want to say that they think gays are bad, that is fine with me, as long as they do not use it as a basis for denying gays decent treatment. I may disagree with them, and even condemn them, but I am not willing to tell them they can’t say it.

    May 15, 2012
  183. David Henson said:

    John, I understand sexuality to be a continuum and not a hard and discrete fact. I earnestly believe that if gay marriage is approved many more people will experiment with gay sex and some numbers will get AIDS (and depression and drug use, etc.) I think this has happened as sex has become commoditized (or liberalized) in our culture. The gay community is very accepting and I think many “gays” don’t even have sex and that many people who feel odd or outcast are recruited or accepted in and engage in gay sex without even having an attraction to the same sex. I know gay people who are relatively monogamous at a point in time but few who were not very promiscuous over a period of years. I admit promiscuous heterosexuality certainly exists and is being wildy mishandled by society but there are many monogamous heterosexual examples in today’s culture. This among the reasons I think “believers” are statistically happier and people on average in the 1950s (with far less wealth) were statistically happier.

    May 15, 2012
  184. Those are fascinating beliefs, but conveniently for us, the research has already been done, and they’re wrong. Legalizing gay marriage has no effect on the observed incidence of homosexuality, and the concept of “recruiting” is a bugaboo invented by gay-bashers back in the 80s to try to justify their fears. AIDS? Well, statistically a bit more likely for gays than straights in the US (though not so everywhere), I guess, but not an inherent risk. Depression? Drug use? Those are not results of “being gay”. Those are results of “being treated like a second-class citizen”.

    You want to fix that? Fix it by ceasing to contribute to bullying and harassment of gays. Fix it by not repeating laughable slanders.

    It’s one thing to hear that stuff from kids in the 1990s, when we didn’t have Internet access or a way to do decent research. Now? That’s just depressing. Come on, this is a college town. We can at least do some kind of basic fact-checking and stuff, can’t we?

    May 16, 2012
  185. David Henson said:

    Peter, you have the Internet you do the research. Use San Francisco as a baseline (an accepting place) – gays there have very high rates of depression and drug use.

    May 16, 2012
  186. California in general has very high rates of “drug use”.

    And frankly, there is no place in the US that can be meaningfully called “very accepting” to gays. More accepting than others, sure. Why, I hear rumors that there are places in the US where it’s likely that, ten or twenty years from now, gay kids will be able to go through high school without once being beaten up for being gay, and fewer than 10% of them will be told their parents don’t love them anymore.

    But right now, they are legally second-class citizens, and they are reminded of it every day. Every day, they see people describing them as equivalent to pedophiles. Every time they deal with health care, taxes, or anything else where “marriage” matters, they are reminded that many people don’t consider them people. Every time the Phelps crew find another funeral to picket to draw attention to how much they hate gays, every time someone uses “that’s gay” as an insult…

    If you had to deal with a tenth of the flak that gay people deal with every day, you’d be pretty depressed too. That so many of them overcome it is just a reminder that the downtrodden tend to be a little tougher than the rest of us.

    May 16, 2012
  187. John, someone forwarded me a thing which helps explain why I do not believe the current situation provides adequate legal protections:

    Watch that, and then tell me with a straight face that the legal rights available to gays in our country are remotely adequate.

    May 16, 2012
  188. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve removed those 5 ‘orphaned’ comments that were mucking up the hierarchy. All’s good now?

    May 17, 2012
  189. kiffi summa said:

    To follow up on Peter’s You Tube video recommendation, read the May 12th article in the New York Times (search archives) entitled “Harming the Troops”.

    Republicans on the Armed Services Committee, led by Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican from Missouri, wrote and passed on a party line vote, amendments to the military budget bill which undermine the equality of all those serving in our Armed Forces:
    1. “… bar use of military property or other institution under the jurisdiction or control of the Dept. of Defense” for a same- sex or “marriage like ceremony”.
    2. military must accommodate “the conscience and sincerely held moral principles and religious beliefs of the members of the armed forces concerning appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality”

    As explained in the article, these new rules legally create loopholes to evade the duty to minister to all soldiers, invite harassments, and interfere with spiritual counseling of all those serving our country, regardless of their beliefs.
    The article also explains that these amendments contradict existing law, but having been passed on a strict party line vote in Committee, may remain in the final new budget.

    May 17, 2012
  190. john george said:

    Peter- What about power of attorney? Anyone has the right/authority to place anyone they choose to be in charge of their affairs in case they become incapacitated. This is not limited to just those in a “marriage” relationship. If that were so, then the singles in our society would be at the mercy of whomever when they become incapacitated. I am no lawyer, and I am open to correction if my understanding is incorrect, but all the feel-good videos like this cannot change the law. If there are those who do not take advantage of this right, then they leave themselves open to the mercy of those with whom they have no relationship.

    May 17, 2012
  191. john george said:

    Peter- Thank you! I have enjoyed my interraction with you, also, as you demonstrate thoughtfulness, civility, and considertion in your posts. I like to engage those who do not follow the same tenets that I follow. It gives me opportunity to really test the foundations of what I claim to believe. And I agree, also, that I would much prefer to have a discussion with someone friendly and civil who disagrees with me than with a contentious person who agrees with me. ( And, unfortunately, there are too many of those around IMNSHO!)

    May 18, 2012
  192. Power of attorney doesn’t make you next of kin. You have to be legally kin for that. In other words, as long as DOMA is on the books, there is no legal mechanism to get that right for any purpose involving the federal government. Power of attorney doesn’t make the military tell you what happened to your partner, for instance.

    I suppose in theory we could demand that people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on lawyering to get some small subset of the rights that everyone else can get given a single small filing fee and a standard form, but it seems pretty unfair.

    So it comes down to this: There is no way, right now, for gays to get treated with basic human decency by large hunks of our government. Even if a given state wishes to treat them better, the feds not only won’t, but can’t — federal agencies are prohibited from doing so. And I think it is time that we do something about this injustice, and the only way to solve that is to push for a repeal of DOMA and a return to the basic principle that states can determine which marriages they do and don’t consider valid, and the federal government will respect their choices.

    The legal options on offer simply cannot be stretched into filling this role, and even if they could in theory, setting such a high bar for some people while making the process trivial for others is still an injustice.

    And you’re right, videos like that can’t change the law. What can affect the law is us, as voters, recognizing that the current state of affairs is cruel and unjust, and that the proposed amendment in MN makes it worse for many people without making it better for anyone. (And not just worse for gays; wording awfully similar to this has, in other places, been used to deny legal rights to straight couples who got married somewhere that used a term like “domestic partnership” or “civil union”.)

    If Catholic priests were being forced by the courts to remarry divorcees, and Orthodox rabbis were being forced by the courts to marry Jews to non-Jews, and so on, I might think there was some merit to worries about people demanding that churches marry gays. But really, that doesn’t happen, and so far as I know no one’s even tried. Partially because the courts wouldn’t tolerate something so obviously stupid (we have a nice strong history of rulings against compelled speech), partially because the entire point of wanting a religious wedding ceremony is that people want the authority of a religious leader they respect. If you have to force them to perform the wedding, you obviously don’t really respect them all that much…

    So I respectfully submit that, within the laws we have, and with the candidates and options that are on ballots, the only way we can live up to our basic duty to our fellow humans is to support their journey towards legal recognition of their rights. Maybe in a parallel world where groups like NOM and FRC had never poisoned the well, there would be other options that would serve, but in this world, it’s been made quite clear that those options are off the table. Colorado’s Republicans just killed a civil unions bill on the grounds that it would have provided rights “effectively the same as marriage”; well, yes, that’s the point. Those rights need to be recognized. And if that means that the word “marriage” will take one more tiny detour away from “the thing where men can own women that they have taken in battle or bought from their fathers”, I guess that bothers me less than watching people suffer due to the malice of the powerful.

    May 18, 2012
  193. Challenging our beliefs is usually a healthy thing. I would hate to see what the world would look like if we didn’t have a long history of at least occasionally challenging them. It amuses me greatly that I’ve met people who insist that there was never a time in human history when Christians kept slaves. That’s always the risk; if you win an issue thoroughly enough, people tend to be unable to understand that it could ever have been otherwise.

    May 18, 2012
  194. BTW, I have to ask how that qualifies as a “feel-good” video. I would not have described it that way…

    May 18, 2012
  195. john george said:

    Yes, the example of slavery is an interesting one. In the original Levitical laws, there was the Year of Jubilee, when all slaves were freed and allowed to return to the land of their family. There was provision made for those slaves who prefered to remain with their masters just out of their relationship with them. That is a far cry from the slavery imposed by our own southern states. It is sometimes hard to reconcile the early history of slavery with what we witnessed in our early history. If I remember correctly, William Willberforce was the theologian who really began to push for a reversal of this practice. I do not believe there was anything in God’s original design to allow for slavery. I believe it is a result of a fallen world. One thing the original slavery eliminated was a need for the welfare system we have. We certainly DO NOT want to reinstate that just to aleviate welfare. But, I sometimes wonder if we have simply shifted the enslavement from being to a rich landowner to enslavement to a government program. The gap between what is provided through welfare and a living wage is too often to wide for some people to step across, but that is another theme for another thread.

    May 18, 2012
  196. john george said:

    Peter- I’m not sure you representation of the Power of Attorney is correct. I know of a Navy Seal, unmarried, who, when he is deployed on a mission, registers his current girlfriend with Power of Attorney fro hi affairs just incase he doesn’t return. She is not “next of kin.”

    You also said this:

    If Catholic priests were being forced by the courts to remarry divorcees, and Orthodox rabbis were being forced by the courts to marry Jews to non-Jews, and so on, I might think there was some merit to worries about people demanding that churches marry gays.

    The reason this does not happen now is that there is no legal precident for it to happen. If homosexuality is given the certifying stamp of a civil right, can this stamp be used against those churches who would choose not to embrace it? I do know that the separation clause is now being misapplied as a club against churches who would have the audacity to endorse a particular party or candidate. Are there any gaurantees that legalizing same sex marrige will not be twisted in the same way in the future? Just wondering.

    May 18, 2012
  197. john george said:

    Sorry, I did not answer your question about “feel good” videos. That is what I call these types of videos because they are all emotional appeal. Look how bad the curent circumstances made the participants “feel.” I just don’t think it is good jurisprudence to base laws on how a person or group of people “feel” about something.

    May 18, 2012
  198. A clarifying note: Consequences of Gay Marriage.

    No one is proposing making homosexuality a civil right. Marriage is already a civil right, and gays are already a protected class for discrimination purposes in most cases. These are two different kinds of things.

    To answer your question: Gay marriage has been legal in various places, both some states in the US and some countries elsewhere, for a long time. In that time, the number of churches forced to perform gay marriages has been a rock-steady “0”. This is because that is not how rights work. Heck, no one’s even tried that I’ve ever heard of. No one wants that!

    The only reason the concept of “forcing churches to perform gay weddings” exists is that anti-gay groups have brought it up as a thing which could happen. This is part of a general campaign of lies and slander. It is not a true thing. It is not a thing that any of the gay groups have suggested, proposed, or attempted to obtain.

    We have had legal guarantees of government recognition of various classes of marriage (inter-religious marriages, remarriages after divorce, etcetera) for decades. In all that time, have you ever heard of a single actual case of someone even trying to force a church to perform a wedding? Because I haven’t. And I don’t think it could ever happen. That is simply not the way legal rights work. The right of free speech lets me say whatever I want, but does not let me force other people to say whatever I want.

    My spouse had been previously married when we got married. No Catholic church would have performed our wedding, for that reason and also because neither of us is Catholic. Do you think there is any possible way that, had we been so inclined, we could have gotten a court to order a Catholic church to perform a wedding for us? I sure don’t. And that holds for gay marriage just as much.

    That is, I believe, not a realistic or reasonable concern. You talk about powerful appeals to emotion; that is such an appeal. It’s a thing constructed to be terrifying, to be evocative of an infringement on a core freedom, and to be scary enough to make it hard to think clearly about whether it actually makes any sense. The reality is, no one wants to force churches to perform gay marriages, and even if they did, the courts would just laugh at them for being stupid. There are still churches today which won’t perform interracial marriages, or remarriages after a divorce, or marriages between people of different religions. Heck, I know of at least one rabbi who will perform gay marriages, but only for two practicing Jews.

    This one really isn’t a concern. It’s not possible for that bad outcome to occur, no one wants it to occur, and among the hundreds and hundreds of gay marriage supporters I’ve met, I’d guess maybe ten at most would respond to an attempt to force a church to marry a gay couple with anything other than outrage. Heck, I’d guess they’d respond with outrage to an attempt to force a church to marry an interracial couple. I think the people who would refuse to do so are backwards and a disgrace to our species, but I will defend their right to practice their religion as they best understand it regardless.

    This is not, and never has been, and never will be, about which churches recognize which marriages. This is all about the legal recognition of marriage. Anyone who tells you that gays are trying to get churches forced to perform weddings for them is either lying to you or passing on a lie. It’s simply never been on the table, and no one ever thought it was.

    I’m stressing this so much because I hear this complaint occasionally, and I have done a ton of searching to find any basis for it, and I have found absolutely none, and plenty of very strong counterexamples.

    As to power of attorney: It does let you make medical decisions for someone, if you check that box on the standard form. It does not make you “a relative”, and many laws and policies are keyed to “is a relative”, not “has a power of attorney”. You cannot confer that status by other means. Basically, the guy registering his girlfriend as power of attorney is indeed giving her some powers to represent him… But that doesn’t mean that the military would tell her if he died before they reached a point where a power of attorney was relevant. (Which it mostly wouldn’t be, because then you’re on to executors of estates and such.) Basically, if he went MIA, they wouldn’t be willing to tell her, but if she were a “wife”, they would. The difference is, they COULD have a legal relationship where the military would talk to her. If she were a guy, there is no legal relationship they could have that would get answers before general availability of information.

    May 18, 2012
  199. I think we are probably pretty close to agreement on that one. One of my hobbies is nudging things along to get people out of some of the various poverty loops. It is amazing how little money it takes to move someone from perpetually-in-debt to reasonably-well-off. I totally agree that there were many shifts; I just find it amazing that there would be people who would insist that there have never been any Christians who viewed any humans as property. (I think his dodge was to say “oh, well, they weren’t REALLY Christians”. Ugh.)

    If you want to chat more about stuff without cluttering LG quite so much, feel free to drop me an email.

    May 18, 2012
  200. john george said:

    Peter- I was just thinking that I would enjoy a cup of coffee with you sometime. You can ask Grifff- I don’t bite! My days off are Monday & Tuesday. I’ve bee a little tied up recently with new grandchildren being born and filling in for our pastor at church while he is on sabatical, plus working a 45hr. a week job. Give me a call @ 663-0976.

    May 18, 2012
  201. John, that sounds lovely. I will try to remember to call. If I don’t, ping me (email is usually good for reaching me) to remind me, because I have a really bad memory for things I was going to do.

    May 19, 2012
  202. john george said:

    Peter- I’ll be glad to do that, if I can figure out how. I’m technologically challenged, to say the least.

    May 19, 2012
  203. Eeek. So, LG just presented me with some ads from Minnesota for Marriage.

    CREEPY. Seriously, I haven’t gotten that kind of vibe off anyone since the time I got to meet some predatory lenders. The amount of sneaky trickery going into their language is just amazing, and it’s not an accident.

    I can deal with people I disagree with. People who are dishonest really squick me something fierce, though.

    May 24, 2012
  204. Griff Wigley said:

    Peter, it’s good to know that my Google Adsense ads are serving these up, however.

    May 25, 2012
  205. Randy Jennings said:

    Other than the few pennies it puts in your pocket, how is it “good” that your website promotes the constitutional enfranchisement of discrimination?

    May 25, 2012
  206. kiffi summa said:

    The website Peter refers to only makes it more clear that the burden of informing oneself falls to each and every citizen’s responsibility to do just that… inform themself … and never mind the easy assumption that they will “Get the Facts”…

    It is easy to confuse the look of a website with the authority of fact; and the declarative language tone requires a ‘wait a minute” from everyone who reads it …
    What’s the responsibility to provide facts, instead of innuendo and downright misinformation; lots of opinion presented as “fact”…

    Another example of the responsibility to evaluate being on the observer, whether if newspaper, book, or website.

    May 25, 2012
  207. Well, it shows it’s picking up topical things. And I would rather they be shown to people who are in the process of reading about the ways in which they are misleading than to people who might otherwise not notice.

    May 25, 2012
  208. Randy Jennings said:

    Peter, I understand the gee-whiz algorithmic magic of placing topically relevant ads. Those tools also allow website owners to exclude (by keyword, category, or sponsor) ads for otherwise legal things they don’t support, like pornography, alcohol, assaults on civil rights, etc.

    Since he has not participated in this thread since the original post, I was hoping Griff might explain why he thinks it is a good thing to sell his implied endorsement of the mn for marriage position now. Intention? Oversight? Ambivalence? Griff?

    May 25, 2012
  209. Griff Wigley said:

    Randy, I don’t generally see the Adsense ads since I’m logged into WordPress. But I’ve set it to allow ads for politics, religion, and all other categories except for “References to Sex & Sexuality.” The Politics category performs about the same as Travel & Tourism… about in the middle of the pack.

    What I meant by “it’s good to know that my Google Adsense ads are serving these up” (in reference to the Minnesota for Marriage ads) is that I want Google’s algorithm to serve up the full political spectrum of political here on LoGro and not be biased one way or another. I just checked and it’s been serving up “Recall Scott Walker” ads along with the “Do children need a mom and a dad?” ads. So that’s good.

    I do have the choice of blocking a specific ad or advertiser but I’d rather not spend the time monitoring it. In this case, since we have plenty of LoGro visitors who support the marriage amendment, I’m fine with the ad.

    Personally, I oppose the marriage amendment with every fiber of my being. And I 100% support the City of Northfield Statement for Our Safe and Welcoming Community.

    May 25, 2012
  210. Paul Zorn said:

    Griff, Randy,

    Does it strike either of you as slightly odd that Google Adsense would see no “reference to sex and sexuality” in ads (pro or con) concerning the marriage amendment? Just asking.

    May 25, 2012
  211. Griff Wigley said:

    Paul, I’ve not checked but I’m guessing that none of Google’s ads in the “Sex & Sexuality” category concern matters of public policy. The description reads:

    Includes ads that are sexually suggestive, relate to sexual and reproductive health, or refer to sex and sexuality.

    Want me to flip on the switch for a few days to see what we get?

    May 26, 2012
  212. I really can’t see any way to interpret the gay marriage ads that does not meet the description “refer to sex and sexuality” or “relate to sexual and reproductive health”. That they are proposing a public policy change based on their views on sexuality doesn’t change the fact that they are referring to sexuality.

    May 26, 2012
  213. kiffi summa said:

    good news: the 1st District Federal Court of Appeals today affirmed a lower district court’s ruling that DOMA (defense of marriage act) is unconstitutional; and therefore must recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in states where that is legal.
    You should read the ruling to understand the legal basis for finding the federal law, DOMA, unconstitutional.

    Now on to the Supreme Court …

    May 31, 2012
  214. Paul Zorn said:


    Yes, I agree it’s good news. But (says the NY Times) it’s not likely to make any practical difference, at least for now. Here are some excerpts from the Times’s piece today:

    A federal appeals court ruled unanimously Thursday that the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress in 1996, discriminates against married same-sex couples by denying them the same federal benefits afforded to heterosexual couples.

    The decision will have no immediate effect because it anticipates an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

    In upholding an earlier decision by a lower court, Thursday’s ruling, by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Boston, is the first time an appeals court has declared the federal law unconstitutional.

    The ruling dealt narrowly with the question of federal benefits for same-sex couples, not with the legality of same-sex marriage itself.

    As you say, the next step is up to the Supremes.

    May 31, 2012
  215. It’s a very interesting ruling; their observation of the existence of determinations other than “heightened scrutiny” and “rational basis” scrutiny is interesting, and their analysis on a number of the points is interesting and persuasive. This is in some ways a more compelling case than the others. It also shows the way to a ruling which more people would be okay with, which would be a ruling that DOMA must go, leaving matters up to the individual states, but that the federal government has to respect the choices the states make.

    I think that might be a more achievable end.

    May 31, 2012
  216. kiffi summa said:

    I agree with your observation , Peter, in your last sentence; I also found that an interesting
    Making it a states rights issue also takes the onus … if they feel one … off the Supreme Court, and justifies a ruling which they know will anger may people.

    June 1, 2012
  217. kiffi summa said:

    I’m delighted to see some of the responses from MN corporations who received a letter from the National Org. for Marriage (an organization that defines ‘marriage’ solely based on their opinion, much of that religiously based) by asking the businesses to stay out of the discussion swirling around the ‘marriage’ defining constitutional amendment to be placed on the fall ballot.

    There have been some strong corporate replies against defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman; these statements have emphasized that such an amendment would negatively impact some of their valued employees, and also create an inhospitable business development environment in MN.

    June 15, 2012
  218. David Ludescher said:


    Current law will NOT be affected whether the amendment passes or fails.

    June 15, 2012
  219. kiffi summa said:

    David: there is more at stake here whether or not you are accurate in your statement that current law will not be affected, i.e. the more states pass such a purely religiously based discriminatory definition of marriage, the more the attitudes of people across this country will be affected … to say nothing of the actual burdens, social and financial (IRS, etc.) placed on innocent people who may be more committed n their relationship than some/many oneman/onewoman marriages are.

    And I am speaking not just of same sex couples, but any couple, of any combination, which choose to be committed to each other, but do not choose to marry.

    There are many senior citizens, who in later life find themselves without their original spouse, and choose to commit to each other, but choose not to marry because of the financial complications regarding their estates and fully grown children. One only has to have a parent in CA, FL, or AZ to know how extensive this is in retirement communities.

    My personal opinion is that is a shame that you have applied to the Charter Commission of a town that commits to an ordinance which expresses a more tolerant POV than you would espouse.

    June 15, 2012
  220. David Ludescher said:


    The only issue at stake in the current amendment debate is whether the government’s power to define marriage should be restricted by the people. The actual definition of marriage is not subject to change in this amendment.

    Further, as I am sure that you know, the City does not have the power to define marriage. So, Charter Commission membership is irrelevant.

    June 15, 2012
  221. That’s not true. Right now, we recognize legal relations between straight couples other than “marriage”, with the proposed amendment they would lose all legal recognition. This has already been a pretty serious problem for a few people in North Carolina.

    The purpose for the wording is to not only prohibit gay “marriage” from being recognized, but to also prohibit those same legal protections being extended by any other means. Problem is, the reason the legislators put the words there doesn’t define the law; the words do. And the words on offer would disqualify existing relationships that have legal recognition today from being recognized by the state of Minnesota.

    You’re right in your point (elsethread) that this amendment would not otherwise so much change things as just raise the barrier to changing things. That is, of course, why there’s been so much emphasis on passing amendments like this, just as there was once a sudden need to add constitutional amendments against interracial marriage. That society’s feelings on this issue are changing is unambiguous. Constitutional amendments can make it harder for those changes to be reflected by law.

    Ultimately, though, it all comes down to the mistaken belief that other people being given legal rights hurts the people who already have those rights.

    June 15, 2012
  222. Actually, reviewing the text more carefully, I’m no longer quite sure it would have that effect. It’s very similar to the North Carolina law, but not identical. NC’s read “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” The MN wording is slightly different, and may not have that effect, although there is room for ambiguity.

    June 15, 2012
  223. Griff Wigley said:

    Peter, props for your terrific commentary that’s featured in the Sunday StarTribune today:

    My marriage: Difficult to define, but very real

    In 1994, I married the girl I’d first fallen for in seventh grade. About 10 years later, he explained that he was actually not a girl. Honestly, it explained a lot of things.

    June 24, 2012
  224. Mike Bull said:

    Agreed, it was great, Peter.

    June 24, 2012
  225. Thanks! I am pretty stunned that I got into the Sunday paper. Now I just gotta find me some copies of the sunday Strib.

    June 24, 2012
  226. Griff Wigley said:

    I get the print edition and will save it for you, Peter.

    June 24, 2012
  227. Thank you much! This is the first time I’ve gotten anything in a newspaper in probably 15 years. (I got a letter to the editor published in the Pioneer Press somewhere in the early to mid 90s.)

    June 24, 2012
  228. Phil Poyner said:

    I was dreading the comments section, but it was remarkably civil.

    June 24, 2012
  229. I was sort of surprised. They’re not refusing to let any critical comments whatsoever through, but I am assuming they are doing at least some filtering.

    Not that I care all that much. We’re both autistic; not putting forth the effort of caring what people think of us is pretty much by definition a low-effort solution.

    June 24, 2012
  230. I was also a bit surprised by the comments. There’s at least a couple moderately negative ones, so they’re not just filtering absolutely everything, but I am sort of assuming the comment editors are being extra cautious there. (It is probably a very depressing thing that I am so cynical about human nature.)

    June 24, 2012
  231. Peter, feel free to submit a Letter to the Editor on Northfield Patch anytime you want. As Griff said, it was terrific commentary.

    June 24, 2012
  232. Corey: Can you drop me an email? I don’t have an account on patch and I am a little swamped right now, but the strib’s policy does allow me to submit my writing (a few words different from what they published) for consideration elsewhere.

    June 24, 2012
  233. kiffi summa said:

    Last night at the Council meeting , the last item on the agenda was a resolution to determine whether or not the Council should have a policy on making ‘policy’ statements that were outside of the strict definition of a “municipal issue”.

    Ross: I wonder what you thought of this, considering they issued a statement just a few months ago which defined NF as a “welcoming community” ???

    Last night’s resolution was “tabled indefinitely” by a 7-0 vote, but that only confused me more about where their ‘policy’ heads were !
    Someone on the Council had to have brought this to the agenda, but then voted to table indefinitely?

    6 of the 7 voted for the “welcoming community statement” just a few months ago, but now they don’t think, or don’t know whether they should be making ‘social’ statements…

    Where do you draw the line on “municipal” issues: isn’t “health safety and welfare of the citizens” one of the first two mandates of a municipality? How broadly defined is “welfare”; I think in this context it is supposed to be related to quality of life.

    Councilor Zweifel said that each issue should be decided on a case- to-case basis, i.e. , evaluated as presented… I think that’s right.
    Mayor Rossing seemed to have a concern about ‘partisanship’; I do not see these issues as partisan, except as Rs/Ds will define them for their own purposes.

    Don’t most voters vote for people that the voter thinks will express the voter’s values?

    I am really mystified by this group of very thoughtful councilors not being able to reach for , or express, their policy centers

    What do you think, Ross?

    September 5, 2012
  234. David Ludescher said:


    There is a simply policy – no preaching from the dais.

    September 5, 2012
  235. kiffi summa said:

    david: No one is suggesting “preaching from the dais”… as a matter of fact I am strongly against “preaching” from the dais.
    But citizens should be able to look to their elected leaders for more than decisions on street repair; i.e., for ethical leadership expressed as they are representing their communities.

    Do you think the City Councils of the dozen or so cities, including Duluth, MPLS, St. Paul, Edina, etc., who have expressed opposition against the ‘marriage amendment’ are wrong to have done so?

    It is impossible, IMO, to separate the strictly ‘infrastructural’ framework of a city from its broader social structure.

    Too “messy” to consider these questions ? Then again, IMO, too “simple” an attitude to represent a complex modern community.

    September 6, 2012
  236. Ross Currier said:

    Kiffi –

    I have been consistently clear that this is a purely economic issue in my mind. Those who work to cast it as a social issue, a partisan issue, or a religious issue have a different agenda. I’m not saying their agenda is better or worse than my agenda, just different.

    For me, it is about our community’s competitive advantage, specifically, why a business person would choose to locate in Northfield instead of another community. We are fortunate to have many small and medium-sized businesses that generate income working around the country and around the world, exporting their goods or services and “importing” income.

    I’ve had discussions with dozens of the leaders of these businesses over the years. They’ve told me that in order to succeed, their businesses must be located in a community where their customers and their workers, representing humanity in all its diversity, feel welcomed.

    According to these business leaders, many who started or relocated a business in or to Northfield, our community’s welcoming of human diversity is one of the reasons they are here. Many attribute much of this culture of our community to the presence of two nationally, and even internationally, recognized colleges.

    There is much talk in Northfield about retaining, growing, and recruiting businesses, often wrapped in the phrase “business-friendliness”. I thought that a simple, but intentional, statement by our elected leaders would potentially increase the economic leverage from one of our community’s competitive advantages.

    September 6, 2012
  237. kiffi summa said:

    Very good, Ross… and I agree it is largely an economic issue, and that is the way the Director of the NDDC should approach it, and work for it, as you so appropriately did…

    But there is also no ignoring the fact that it is an issue which defines the kind of society we wish to live in … ‘we’ are always saying “we celebrate diversity”, therefor we need to practice it: not by excluding differing opinions and lifestyles, but by being sure that differing opinions and lifestyles are protected from exclusion.

    September 6, 2012
  238. David Ludescher said:


    Seriously?? An economic issue?? Is it in the EDA work plan?

    September 6, 2012
  239. David Ludescher said:


    Yes, any city official speaking on a matter over which they have no power is pontificating.

    September 6, 2012
  240. Ross Currier said:

    David –

    I would encourage you to read the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan. While there is constant turnover in our leadership, we foot soldiers can continue to pursue agreed-upon objectives.

    I would say that such a tactic would be supportive of strategies 1. b., 1. c., 1. d., 2. a., 2. b., 2. c., 3. a., 3. b., 3. c., 3. d., and 3. e. That’s eleven out of the thirteen strategies.

    And speaking of 3. c., are you ever going to respond to my question about the rental ordinance? After all, isn’t it item number 2 on Ludescher’s List for business-friendliness?

    September 7, 2012
  241. kiffi summa said:

    I disagree , David … On important issues that determine the ‘fabric’ of society people want to hear what the ‘values’ are of those they are to vote on in elections.

    I really believe that people support, by their votes, those who they feel most parallel their own values … thereby giving the voter a voice .

    September 7, 2012
  242. David Ludescher said:


    Candidates can tell the voters whatever the candidates want. But, elected officials have no business using their position of power to state opinions on matters that are not within their power. Nor do they have the right to represent or even imply that their useless and arbitrary fiats are the will of its citizens.

    September 7, 2012
  243. Communities with such policies, even if they have no direct legally binding effect, tend to attract business and residents. And things that induce economic growth tend to be considered economic issues.

    September 7, 2012
  244. “Candidates can tell the voters whatever the candidates want. But, elected officials have no business using their position of power to state opinions on matters that are not within their power. Nor do they have the right to represent or even imply that their useless and arbitrary fiats are the will of its citizens.”

    I am not great at reading tone, but between this and a few other posts, I’ve ended up somehow with the impression that your primary objection is not to the topic, but to the position taken, and that the objections you’re stating are not really that closely tied to the issue. You’re using a lot of emotionally-laden words like “useless and arbitrary fiats”. But city councils and the like make such statements all the time, and they are usually regarded as part of the purpose of such organizations; to speak on behalf of their community.

    Yes, I’m well aware that not every member of the community agrees. The thing about community standards is, they don’t have to be universally agreed with; they just have to be a strong enough majority of opinion among people who care enough to express an opinion that they are recognized as the community’s norm. When I was growing up here, I think it was pretty unambiguous that our community norm was that racial discrimination was regarded as unacceptable. Doesn’t mean the one black kid in my class could go a full two weeks without getting beaten up, or a full week without getting called names that we generally regard as racial slurs. Just means that insofar as the topic came up, the majority of people regarded that behavior as shameful.

    And now? Now, the majority of our people regard the way gays are treated by the smaller number of people who discriminate against them as shameful. It is totally reasonable for our city government to formally recognize that.

    This is, as Ross has said, an economic issue. If a couple of guys wanna move here and settle down, one of the things they will want to know is what the overall sentiment of the community is. They’re not gonna have the implausible belief that they will face no discrimination; that would be stupid. But they are going to want to know whether such discrimination will be open and generally tolerated, or pretty subtle and generally frowned upon. I’d say that, for the most part, it’d be the latter. And that means that it is both truthful and beneficial to our community for us to clearly state that.

    Time moves on. There are still people alive who think interracial marriage is a horrible thing, but not very many anymore. It’s happening on gay rights issues, too, and I have long since stopped pretending that bigotry is any more respectable just because some people think the victims are icky.

    September 7, 2012
  245. Griff Wigley said:

    Nfld News: How Northfield residents can add to the City Council agenda

    After the Sept. 4 City Council meeting, a few Northfield residents said they wanted a policy statement against the Minnesota Defense of Marriage Act to be brought in front of the council. Mayor Mary Rossing said she wants the public to know how they can do something like that.

    At Tuesday’s city council work session, Rossing presented a memo to council members and the city administrator on the process of putting things on the agenda, a follow-up to the Sept. 4 council decision to postpone indefinitely a policy that would have restricted policy statements to municipal, city-related issues. Rossing said at the session that she wanted to “make sure that the public knows there’s another method to bring things forward.” And that’s through a council member.

    September 15, 2012
  246. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Nfld News: Ganey resigns, council to discuss marriage amendment

    At his final Northfield City Council meeting Tuesday night, Council Member Patrick Ganey announced his resignation, which will be effective Sept. 23. One of his last acts in his Ward 4 seat was to second a motion and vote to add an item to the agenda, which will have the council consider taking a position on the Minnesota Defense of Marriage Act on Oct. 2.

    Council Member Erica Zweifel made a motion to have the council discuss making a statement on the proposed state constitutional amendment to recognize marriage as a union between one man and one woman, which constituents will vote on in the Nov. 6 election. Ganey said he seconded the motion “in a willingness to hear the conversation.”

    September 19, 2012

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