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

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

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

Rice County Votes NO! FlyerMy first thought: Cool!

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

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

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


  1. kiffi summa said:

    I had commented previously on the “welcoming community” thread about the statements that MN corporations were issuing in response to the letters to them from NOM ( Nat’l Org. for Marriage ); those letters asking businesses to stay out of the controversy.

    These strong statements are a very good thing, and I agree, Griff, that it would be good for our local organizations, social and professional, as well as businesses , to make statements of their own.

    Religious groups that fight this issue must come to the realization that this is America; we have a definite separation of church and state; we must not discriminate in any way that exempts any particular group from privileges or rights that others enjoy.

    Anyone may hold any personal or religious belief that is important to their belief system, but that may not be inflicted on others who expect equal treatment under the law.

    A huge ThankYou to the group organizing Monday evening’s rally at the Weitz Center. They have been working hard to educate people to look at law that enfranchises all persons equally; I hope they are ultimately successful. Thanks, again …

    June 17, 2012
  2. rob hardy said:

    The Cannon Valley Friends Meeting and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northfield have adopted a position against the amendment. Minnesotans United for All Families has a large list of coalition partners, which can be found here. It currently (as of 6/15) includes over a hundred churches of all denominations across Minnesota. It also includes many arts organizations (including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, which performs twice a year in Northfield), small businesses, and other groups.

    One of the best things I’ve seen on this issue is this video of Father Bob Pierson, of St. John’s Abbey, talking about why Catholics can vote no. Fr. Pierson has also shown great conscience and courage.

    June 17, 2012
  3. I keep planning to track down CVFM, but the meetings I know of are at a time when I am generally asleep. (I used to go to TCFM in the Cities; it amused me greatly to note the minute observing that the Meeting had found, after twenty years of recognizing gay marriages, that this had enriched the community and had been a good idea.)

    I wrote the nice people a friendly note and bought a couple boxes of their cereal. I also wrote Malt-O-Meal to ask them to also take a stand so I don’t have to choose between hometown loyalty and loyalty to my friends. 🙂

    It’s interesting that when people talk about religious liberties, they tend to gloss over the liberties of people whose religion does recognize gay marriage.

    June 17, 2012
  4. A “brave stand,” Griff? I don’t think so. Now if GM had come out in favor of the amendment, they would have been subject to very loud and pointed ridicule, and a boycott would be well underway. That would have required genuine bravery. Instead, the folks who insist on putting high fructose corn syrup in Yoplait are cheered by everyone who holds any place of power in the media, such as yourself.

    Perhaps Corporate America is finally right about something in opposing this amendment, but please don’t suggest that being “brave” had anything to do with it.

    June 18, 2012
  5. David Henson said:

    Yes, General Mills cares deeply about the US economy as can be seen from this article about shifting asparagus production from the USA to Peru. The General’s postion must be that outsourcing ag production away from the US growers and ending the 1000 year old definiton of marriage will fix our economic woes. Perhaps we should wholesale end our dependence on religious leaders and follow the moral advice of multinational coprorations that outsource our jobs and sell sugary cereal to kids. I wonder what the Snicker Bar folks think about abortion or Fritos about alcohol consumption?

    June 18, 2012
  6. David Ludescher said:


    Agreed. Fr. Pierson is showing courage. My guess is that General Mill’s statement was a calculated corporate decision.

    June 18, 2012
  7. I disagree. I don’t believe the gay priest showed any courage at all. The group he spoke to were lovingly supportive, and he certainly will receive no reprimand from the Catholic hierarchy. To me, courage is taking an action that will likely result in adverse consequences to oneself, especially violence. Like, for example, publicly demonstrating in favor of traditional marriage while being mocked and spat upon by opponents. That takes true courage.

    June 18, 2012
  8. The comments on the strib article are full of people saying they are discontinuing buying General Mills products, so I would say that whether or not it’s organized, or for that matter particularly effective, GM is clearly facing a boycott.

    If, as people keep asserting, this position is a minority position, then taking a stand on it was brave. Even if it’s no longer a minority position, coming out and saying something when many other companies are unwilling to do so is at least relatively brave. 🙂

    June 18, 2012
  9. Marriage has changed much more than this in the last century, always with dire prognostications about how utterly this change will destroy things. And every time, the real destruction comes from things that were unaffected by the change. Or do you think Rush Limbaugh would have suddenly been able to keep marriages together, if only we’d still had coverture, and he’d owned his first three wives rather than merely being in a relationship with them?

    June 18, 2012
  10. On what basis do you assert that he’ll receive no reprimand? The Catholic Church has previously been known to reprimand or fire people for speaking contrary to the Church’s positions, even just politically.

    As to whether the protestors you describe are courageous, I don’t consider them any more courageous than Westboro Baptist. You’ll know that the Westboro people also face threats of violence, but persist in protesting anyway. But we don’t call them courageous, partially because trying to incite people to violence through despicable behavior does not really give you a basis to claim victimization.

    And yes, I am pretty comfortable drawing the comparison, given that the video you link to, like most Westboro stuff, uses phrases like “pro-homosexual blasphemers”. Those are bullies, and while I think it is shameful that people are responding to their behavior with violence, I don’t really feel that their behavior can be called “courageous”. Attempting to exclude and marginalize people is not behavior which can be rendered courageous by doing it in the face of opposition; at the root, it is still bullying.

    June 18, 2012
  11. What is such a big deal if Gay people get married or not it should not be anyone’s problem or whatever Let them get married No skin off my nose : I am not a Bible reader in fact I I think some of it is fiction does that make a bad person ( I Hope not ) oh well anyway : In the Bible it says Matt : 7:1-2 : Judge not or you shall be judged : Yes even I am guilty of this sin : But I do not walk around claiming that I am a Christian or waving th bible around claiming that same sex is a sin : We have bigger issues to focus on like JOBS and the Economy : Why can’t we all get along : I will be proud to Vote No on this ridiculous ammendment : I will put it to my CHRISTIAN Friends : WWJD : Thanks David Roberts

    June 18, 2012
  12. john george said:

    David- Re.: WWJD. Why don’t you ask Him? The Scripture says His ear is atuned to the afflicted and hears their cries. He also told the woman caught in adultery, “…now go and sin no more.”

    June 18, 2012
  13. Griff Wigley said:

    David H, could you try again in your reply to Peter? I’ve removed your comment because of your use of sarcasm, which is against our Guidelines.

    June 19, 2012
  14. Griff Wigley said:

    Andy, why would GM go out on a limb at all on this issue when the safe thing to do is say nothing? I don’t buy their products but this was a gutsy move.

    I also don’t understand your comment:

    “…are cheered by everyone who holds any place of power in the media, such as yourself.”

    Are you saying that people who support the marriage amendment don’t have the power of the media like those who oppose it?

    June 19, 2012
  15. How can I ask him I can’t even see him to ask and what does adultery have anything to do with the issue of same sex marriage? I do not know :

    June 19, 2012
  16. That’s exactly what I’m saying, Griff. I know it’s a cliche, but the phrase “liberal media” is accurate. On just about any social issue– abortion, gay rights, capital punishment– those holding decision making positions in print, TV, or internet media are to the left of the general population. Apparently this phenomenon also holds true for Corporate America. I remember back in the ’90s Big Business were huge cheerleaders for Affirmative Action, while the rank and file were firmly opposed.

    I get tired of the mythology that upholders of traditional morality, like marriage, are the ones in power. Though they might be in the majority, the truth is the debate is dominated by the minority who favor gay marriage. It is the conservatives who are on the run. If anyone is likely to be bullied, it is them.

    June 19, 2012
  17. David Henson said:

    Sorry Griff, I’ll bow out as too many rules for my tastes

    June 19, 2012
  18. It’s interesting to note, though, that it wasn’t “go and sin no more *or else*”.

    That said… I guess I don’t see this as particularly relevant to the legal question. From a legal standpoint, it seems pretty straightforward to me that the law is not there to require other people to live according to my beliefs, but to protect people and give them some measure of safety and security as they go about trying to live according to theirs.

    So I guess I’d rather see gays allowed to get legally married, just as we allow marriages for divorcees, mixed-religion couples, mixed-race couples, and all the other couples that some people think cannot be validly married.

    On reflection, it’s occurred to me that I have long since become convinced that any interpretation which concludes that gay sex is sinful is false, and I can give you a simple Scriptural reason: Judging by fruits. (Pun not intended.) Sin corrupts; if people lie, and they will not be turned away from lying, it does not stop with lying, but spreads to other things as well. People who choose not to fight their cruelty don’t stay merely cruel; their whole nature is affected by their choices.

    By contrast, there is no evidence whatsoever that choosing not to struggle against homosexual inclination leads to corruption. Gays who become convinced that gay relationships are not sinful do not turn into liars, or cheaters; they do not become habitually angry, or cruel. In many cases, I have seen that be instead the first step towards a really powerful transformation in which someone became unambiguously a better reflection of God’s love.

    This, it seems to me, is the ultimate argument. Anything people think is meant or implied by words, anything we think about how the laws of Leviticus apply, cannot stand before the observation that a thing which does not corrupt is obviously not sin.

    Romans 14 for the win; nothing is unclean in itself.

    June 19, 2012
  19. Well, which is it? People repeatedly tell us that the majority of Americans oppose gay marriage; if a majority, whose views are the laws of the majority of our country, isn’t meaningfully “in power”, then what is?

    Tell you what. When you tell me about how you were excluded from the hospital in which the person you have lived with for twenty years was dying, because of the “power” of the gay marriage supporters, then I will concede that you have been somehow bullied. As long as you are on the side doing that to other people, rather than the side it is done to, though… I can’t really see you as the victim.

    I guess I am not much impressed by the appeal to tradition. It was not that long ago that the appeal to tradition was used to justify bans on interracial marriage, the legal principle that the wife had no independent rights or legal existence, or the very, very, traditional institution of slavery. It is not enough for you to argue that your view is traditional; I would have to see some way in which it is true.

    June 19, 2012
  20. You’re welcome to email me your sarcastic comments directly; I find your views and ways of expressing them fascinating.

    (And no, I’m not being sarcastic. People fascinate me.)

    June 19, 2012
  21. Griff Wigley said:

    David, there aren’t too many rules here. I’m simply asking that you use a tone of voice here that you would use in a civil face-to-face conversation.

    June 20, 2012
  22. Peter, being excluded from the hospital in that way certainly is a sad story. I’m sure that experience caused you a lot of pain. It sounds like the new domestic partnership registry in Northfield is a step forward in making sure something like that doesn’t happen again.

    I think it is entirely logically to say that a majority could not have power. Power, I think we could agree, is found, at least in part, in the ability to enforce one way of doing things over another. A majority is not always necessary for this to take place. Think of countries who leadership did things the majority of people did not support – China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea are all examples of countries in which the ‘power’ was held by a minority. In those countries the power was held held a military minority. What I think Andy is accurately asserting, is that in America much power for influencing social opinion and the agendas of minority groups is held in the hands of the media minority.

    I can’t see any possible scenario that a company who publicly supports the marriage amendment would be treating by the media (print, radio, online) with the same support as General Mills was shown. I have never seen a march in support of the amendment shown on the evening news. I have never seen a story specifically interviewing a pastor on why his church supports the amendment (they are only rarely interviewed after a pastor speaks out against the amendment and never given equal air time).

    Thoughts? Do you completely deny a media bias? Do you think individuals and business who support/deny the amendment are given the same treatment as one another?

    June 20, 2012
  23. Oh, it didn’t happen to me, but it happens every day to many people. This is not some kind of small-scale tragedy; it is a constant recurring reminder that the anti-gay side of this debate are, every single day, causing irreperable harm to innocent victims. Any attempt by the aggressors to claim to be “victims” is ridiculous.

    I agree that the anti-gay side of the debate does not enjoy as much media support, although there are obvious exceptions (Fox News originally used the words “declares war on marriage” in their headline about Obama’s announcement). However, this has not yet translated into power; gay marriage is still illegal almost everywhere, still banned in amendments to many state constitutions.

    The pattern here is not a new one; it’s just like what happened with interracial marriage, with women’s sufferage, and with civil rights for blacks. (The women’s sufferage case is slightly unusual in that women are roughly half of the population.)

    We start with a minority who are in some way excluded or marginalized. The majority is in power, and controls legal outcomes. Over time, some members of that majority start to realize that, while the discrimination does not directly apply to them, it affects people they know, so they start to care. We’ve now made it to the intermediate phase; in this phase, opinion leaders have largely transitioned to the view that discrimination is bad, but the populace as a whole have not yet been convinced. So, just as there were Jim Crow laws enacted from the late 1800s through the 1960s, we are now seeing a flood of attempts by legislators to enshrine in law anti-gay attitudes that are no longer universal to society.

    That people even think such laws are necessary testifies that they’ll be regarded as barbaric soon enough.

    But right now, if you want to talk about power, the answer is clearly that the anti-gay side has the power. The state of laws is consistently anti-gay.

    I would dispute that the media’s role is nearly as influential as you might think; media are belatedly reflecting social changes which have been happening for some time now. The media reflect our social norms, and the fact is, we’ve reached a point where anti-gay attitudes are generally regarded the way we view racist attitudes. Which is fine by me; there exist non-bigoted positions in which people have moral objections to gay sex, but they are fundamentally personal moral views, and personal moral views don’t justify legal enshrining of discrimination.

    June 20, 2012
  24. Robert Palmquist said:

    Just curious. Does anyone work for General Mills, and if so, do they extend benefits such as health care to domestic partners?

    June 20, 2012
  25. Barry Cipra said:

    Robert, you’d be amazed at what a little googling on key terms like “general mills domestic partners benefits” turns up. Here’s a snippet from an article in the New York Times, dated September 26, 2000:

    More companies are offering health insurance benefits to partners of gay and lesbian employees than ever before, including more than 100 of the Fortune 500 companies, a new study has found.

    The Big Three automakers — DaimlerChrysler,, General Motors and Ford Motor — announced in June that they would offer health benefits to the same-sex partners of their 466,000 hourly and salaried employees in the United States. This was a ”landmark move” in the effort by corporate America to provide such benefits for gay and lesbian couples, the report concluded.

    Coca-Cola also announced in June that it would extend health coverage to domestic partners, joining General Mills and Pillsbury, two other leading food producers that offer these benefits.

    June 20, 2012
  26. Barry Cipra said:

    Phil, I didn’t see your reply while composing my own (which I put in the wrong place by clicking on the wrong “reply” button).

    June 20, 2012
  27. Phil Poyner said:

    No worries, Barry.

    June 20, 2012
  28. BTW, I don’t work for General Mills, but the company I work for has had health care benefits for same-sex partners for as long as I can remember, and I believe our parent company (Intel) does also.

    Looking at it, Intel officially recognized their GLBT employee group in 1994, and has been extending benefits to same-sex partners since 1997. Interestingly, the domestic partner thing is only open to same-sex couples; heterosexuals have to get married to qualify. This strikes me as slightly unfair, but less unfair than not extending the benefits, and I suspect they’d have a hard time getting insurers to agree to extend it elsewhere.

    June 20, 2012
  29. David Henson said:

    Griff, did you think Peter was being serious in asking about Rush Limbaugh owning his first three wives? I think your view of sarcasm is influenced by your personal political views. As an FYI- I would never tell an adult in a face to face conversation “to mind their tone of voice.” Sadly many interesting magazines and blogs become dull when the editors let them become political monologues. My question of, “how selling Frosted Flakes makes someone’s opinion on morality particularly meaningful?,” is not even sarcastic.

    June 21, 2012
  30. Griff knows me well enough to know that, yes, I am absolutely serious.

    Back in the 1900s, coverture meant that wives were legally fully subsumed by their husbands, and had no independent legal rights. Really. That was “traditional” marriage. And when people talked about changing that, and recognizing women as people, there was outrage, worded basically identically to what you and others are writing today, arguing that were we to change the “meaning” of marriage, it would destroy the institution.

    As Rush Limbaugh has demonstrated, the institution of marriage is indeed in a sorry state now.

    So if you think that “changing” the institution of marriage endangers it, presumably you think it would be healthier if we hadn’t changed it, right? And we have a nice clear example of how much it’s been endangered, and a nice clear example of a major and fundamental change that occurred before that.

    So. Do you really think we should be going back to “traditional” marriage? If not, why not? What part of the “but changing marriage endangers it” argument doesn’t apply just as well to changes like the loss of coverture, or the new idea that both partners must consent?

    June 21, 2012
  31. David Henson said:

    Peter, you know far more about Rush than I but I question if he was alive during the period you mention therefore it was sarcasm. I fully understand your position on marriage but do not agree with it. However, the question in whether the view of a few managers (not creators) of a billion dollar enterprise (that grew under a long standing definition of marriage) should carry any special weight in the debate … I think not.

    June 21, 2012
  32. First, whether he was alive then or not is completely irrelevant as it was a hypothetical. If we had not made that change, but had stuck with the prior definition, would he have been more successful in maintaining relationships? That’s a question about what would have happened if that change had not occurred, making the fact that it did occur completely irrelevant.

    Furthermore, even if it were relevant, that wouldn’t make the question “sarcasm”.

    Furthermore, General Mills did not grow under “a longstanding definition of marriage”. They were founded in 1928, and coverture was still law in much of the country then; heck, courts were still using the principle in the early 70s. So General Mills has been through at least three major changes to the definition of marriage so far:

    1. The elimination of coverture.
    2. The creation of no-fault divorce.
    3. The legalization of interracial marriages.

    Each of these three changes was subjected to just as much outraged posturing as this one. And most people will agree that all three were net positives, and that two were unambiguously good ideas.

    As to whether their opinions should carry extra weight, I am not entirely sure they should, but I certainly place some weight on the observations of people who are successfully running a large company, when it comes to matters of which public policies benefit or hurt their employees, or make it easier or harder for them to recruit skilled workers. They have framed their comments in terms of matters where they are qualified to speak in an informed fashion, and their success as a business may be of some interest to the state given how many of our taxpayers pay their taxes off a salary from General Mills.

    June 21, 2012
  33. I Drink Coca Cola and eat Cheerios Support companies that do the right thing : One more thought to my christian friends would you be offended if I called the Bible a work of fiction maybe it is and maybe it isn’t Plus what makes a Christian a better person than someone else Churches are to be welcoming some of them are not : So the Churches non welcoming How can they even call themselves Christian just a question ? As long as I see people professing that they are Christian I will not hesitate to hold ther feet to the fire :Walk the walk or talk the talk B/4 we judge others : Like I said I am guilty of this sin but I do not profess to be a christian : Vote No No No

    June 22, 2012
  34. I wouldn’t be offended, except in that I’d find any attempt to categorize a large collection of writings of different types so precisely sort of intellecually upsetting. A collection of letters, histories, poetry, and other texts isn’t really a “work of fiction”, even if you think the histories are false. 🙂

    I tend to feel that churches ought to welcome people they think are sinners, much as I think hospitals ought to welcome people they think are sick or injured, but I am not apparently in the majority on this issue in modern Christianity. 🙂

    June 22, 2012
  35. john george said:

    Peter- Our church is looking for sinners. In the book of Acts, it says that God was daily adding to the church’s number those who were being saved. The only problem I have run up against with the Gay people I have had a chance to talk to is that they do not consider themselves to be sinners. A doctor can offer the most reliable treatment program available for a malady, but if the patient refuses to take it because he doesn’t believe it, the treatment will do him no good.

    June 22, 2012
  36. I’ve had plenty of occasions to discuss this with people as they wrestled with it, before and during and after, and have concluded that, assuming Romans 14 is accurate, they are probably correct; it may not be sin for them. And even if they’re wrong… So what? I am sure most churches are full of people who are not convicted in some of their sins yet. I wouldn’t be horribly upset by someone who, for instance, was arrogant, and didn’t see this as a possible instance of sin, but who wanted to go to church because he did recognize some other sins. Anything people can make progress on is progress, and it turns out it is mostly above my pay grade to determine whether people are right or not when they say that something does not seem to them to be sin.

    It was easy for me to see that some of the music I like showed no evidence of being an occasion of sin; it was harder for me to realize that this doesn’t mean that people who feel they need to avoid such things are wrong. For an example, there’s a popular child-friendly video game called Animal Crossing, which I quite liked at first; however, the game is rooted in the premise that you greatly value having an ever-more-impressive home and collections of valuable things, and I found this troubling. I can’t play that game; this doesn’t mean that everyone who plays it is sinning.

    I guess after spending a while reading the history of things that have been universally or nearly universally accepted by Christians, which are now widely ridiculed, and noting that some of them appear to be true regardless, I am not particularly surprised by the idea that the mainstream Christian view of homosexuality may be pretty far from the truth.

    If a thing heals, but does not corrupt, I don’t find the notion that it is not sin to be surprising.

    To follow the doctor analogy a bit: It is possible for doctors to be mistaken about whether a given thing is an ailment, or what the ailment afflicting someone is.

    June 22, 2012

    David Blankenhorn has acknowledged that much of the opposition to gay marriage has been motivated by anti-gay animus, not by genuine concern, and furthermore that fighting against gay marriage has done nothing to actually promote healthy married families.

    He’s long had a reputation for being one of the more sincere and level-headed people; it’s interesting to see that he has been convinced by the preponderence of evidence now.

    June 23, 2012
  38. john george said:

    Peter- Romans 14 does not apply here. There are about 8 passages in the New Testament that do apply, and all of them refer to the sin associated with same sex attraction. I know you believe that there was a change in how homosexuality was viewed in the 1400’s, but you fail to recognized that the writings concerning same sex behavior as sin were writted in the first century. James says that if you know to do right and do not do it, to you it is sin. The references to Sodom and Gommorah in the NT all refer to their immorslity, not their inhospitality. A person can look for all kinds of teachers to interpret the scriptures to fit with their own carnal desires, according to Peter’s writings, but they distort the scriptures to accomplish this.

    On the doctor analogy, I specifically said that the treatment he was offering was the most reliable. It is hard to slap success, as the old saying goes.

    June 23, 2012
  39. So John : You call this a sin ? What is sinful about Love of anykind? I do not know : Does the Bible say go and hate your Neighbor I do not know : Where is this verse? : Then shouldn’t we judge drug addicts and pedophiles as unfit to enter God’s Kingdom ? I do not know : Thanks P.S. Gay people are not pedophiles to make one thing straight :

    June 23, 2012
  40. I do not see why Romans 14 does not apply. In fact, I am quite sure it applies to absolutely everything. Yes. Everything. Paul did not say “I am convinced that no thing is unclean unless it is on a list that I am not mentioning here.” Paul did not say “For I am persuaded that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, unless it is gay sex.”

    I am fully aware that these passages were written in the first century. They were written in a context which we are not in, and they refer to things that we do not have.

    Analogy time! Paul lives in 1950, and writes a letter concerning the Las Vegans, in which he condemns “those who push buttons and watch lights all day, hoping for money without the effort of labor.” His letter is so utterly persuasive that, by 1990, casinos have completely eliminated any form of slot machine or similar device. By 2010, people are insisting that Paul unambiguously condemned computer programmers.

    But frankly.

    1. If the book appears to contradict the world, then either the book is wrong or we misunderstand the book. I will not believe something utterly ridiculous on the grounds that it seems like the Bible says it. Grasshoppers have six feet, not four.
    2. I have seen so many people transformed by the realization that they were wrong about this, and I have never, ever, seen someone who was positively transformed by coming to think that gay sex was sinful. Ever.
    3. The translations we rely on are oddly speculative and inconsistent in the famous passages people usually cite.
    4. See, e.g., Reluctant Journey for a more detailed discussion.
    5. The references in the NT to Sodom are not totally clear to me, but consider “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” This sounds to me like it has a lot to do with receiving and hearing people, which fits.

    Why do people think that couples must be straight, like Adam and Eve, but not that they must live in Eden, or wear fig leaves, or eat only plants? The essence of the thing is that it is not good for us to be alone, and we are made to seek partners; the gender of the partner is coincidence, not essence. It doesn’t matter; we just assumed it did because we tend to assume that statistical normality is morally normative.

    I have gone over this topic in exhaustive detail, and what I have found is that there simply isn’t a compelling case to be made from the Bible that condemns gay sex as a category, rather than specific ritual practices.

    And again:

    Nothing which heals rather than corrupting is sin. Period. We judge by fruits (hee pun), and the fruits of committed and loving gay relationships are the same as those of committed and loving straight relationships. If gay sex were a sin, that could not happen. Sin does not heal people. Sin cannot fail to corrupt.

    Yes, I’m saying that the vast majority of Christians, taking the translated text at face value, are wrong. I do not think this is an unusual or abnormal claim; it has happened often before, and it will happen often again. Hundreds of years from now, people will be horrified by things I believe now, and will deny that Christians ever believed them.

    June 23, 2012
  41. I probably came off as a lot more strident and snappish there than I intended, my apologies.

    I have been on various sides of these debates on and off for years (a friend of mine and I once swapped sides for a week just to learn more about the issue, it was a blast), and I think the thing is, this is such a baseline assumption of our culture now that it’s really hard for people to look at it with fresh eyes. Also, there’s something terrifying about it. Thing is, if we have been wrong about this all along, we have done incalculable harm to innocents; we have destroyed families and lives, and all over a misunderstanding. That makes it really, really, hard to look at this without a strong pressure to conclude that we’ve been right all along.

    And maybe we have; while I think the case that gay sex is inherently sinful is weak, that’s not to say there’s no such case at all. I just find that, having repeatedly seen people soul-search and pray and be led to the belief that it’s not sinful (at least for them), I am no longer able to accept that interpretation of the text. I think that the OT writers who were talking about things normally understood this way were talking about the ritual prostitution of neighboring tribes, and that Paul was talking about ritual sex in Romans, and pederasty in Corinthians and 1 Timothy.

    The environment available to them did not make available examples of cultures without slavery, so they took slavery for granted and preached that Christians should not try to overthrow that system; in the 1800s, it started occurring to people that we were not necessarily obliged to continue the practice, or let other people do so. The environment available to them did not make available examples of healthy romantic relationships between two men or two women, so everything written is talking about the unhealthy and abusive relationships, or sex outside of any kind of meaningful “relationship”, that were on offer as examples of same-sex relations.

    I cannot start with a condemnation of men renting boys and reason my way to a condemnation of consenting adults who treat each other respectfully. I have no basis for the generalization, and ample evidence that the generalization is contrary to what God has repeatedly led people to when asked.

    That we should have focused with our characteristic precision on something totally irrelevant to God’s point is such a common occurrence that I feel silly trying to make the case that it’s a possibility. What I would like to see is a compelling argument that for once this isn’t the case.

    June 23, 2012
  42. I have to reply to this because reading his words has triggered an epiphany. I have long wondered where this stuff came from, but reading his original words on the issue has revealed it.

    The problem is, he’s wrong. Marriage is not the institution to provide for kids; it is the institution to create family bonds. Family bonds serve many roles in society; while they can serve to provide a stable environment for kids, and that is a noble purpose, they can also serve other important purposes. And in deciding that only the case with kids mattered or had value, the people trying to “protect” marriage have instead destroyed it.

    Before they started their all-out attack on the notion that a family could have a value other than providing for kids, marriage was an institution that helped tie society together, by providing many people — adults and children alike — with families. It made peace between warring clans. It gave people whose families had died new families. All of these purposes were served by the essential underlying form of creating family bonds.

    Now, though, the “protectors” of marriage have eradicated that. Marriage, they have told us for years and years, is “a union of one man and one woman”. Is it a committed union? That doesn’t matter. Is it a serious union? Doesn’t matter. Is it a long-term thing, a thing that should persist despite adversity? Doesn’t matter. The only trait that gets any attention is the sexes of the partners.

    This has destroyed the soul of the thing. We had, when I was a kid, an institution which was respected and valued and provided family bonds to people under a variety of circumstances. Now, thanks to a movement ultimately fueled in large part by anti-gay animus, we have nothing left but an animal husbandry permit. Because ultimately, if you reduce marriage to nothing but a device for providing for kids, that’s all it is; a human-breeding license.

    There is a lot to be said for protecting the institution of marriage, but for us to succeed in doing so, we must recognize that the soul of the thing has been the creation of family bonds, and that families have more purposes than providing a stable environment for children. Adults, too, benefit from stable families. All of society does.

    June 23, 2012
  43. And one more, because I found this very compelling:

    A personal testimony on this issue, and confronting in particular the challenges we face when people feel something that could be a leading of the Holy Spirit, which tells them to go against everything they’ve been taught.

    Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I have sometimes followed leadings that appeared to contradict what I thought I knew about morality; when I do this, things happen which make people whole in ways I neither comprehend nor anticipate. Once I came to accept that, I started trusting the leadings a lot more, and now I simply take it for granted that that which is broken can be mended. I don’t know why. I think Real Live Preacher’s writing about “Even the Rich Woman” captures the soul of the thing; I am no longer willing to sacrifice any person on the altar of principle. If I conclude that a principle requires me to harm a person, then I trust that either the principle is wrong, or I am applying it incorrectly, and I disregard it. I don’t have to understand the error to know that it *is* an error.

    June 24, 2012
  44. john george said:

    Peter- Sorry it has taken a couple days to respond, but, Romans 14 has to do with the eating of meat offered to idols and the observance of various day. These are things that disappear with their consumption, and do not have moral connotations. Homosexuality has nothing to do with sacrificed meat or observances of days. It is the claim that a person is different than their physical attributes would denote by simple observation. According to 1 Cor. 6:18

    Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

    You say

    I have gone over this topic in exhaustive detail, and what I have found is that there simply isn’t a compelling case to be made from the Bible that condemns gay sex as a category, rather than specific ritual practices.

    Either you have just passed over the specific scriptures that deal with the sin of homosexuality, or you just don’t beleive them and therefore choose to deny them, or, as 2 Tim 4:3 says

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

    You also said that,”…Nothing which heals rather than corrupting is sin.”
    I would challenge you with this verse out of 2 Pet 2:19

    promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.

    Does an alcoholic “heal” humself by continuing to drink, or does an overweight person “heal” himself by continuing to overeat?
    Sorry, but I think your exegesis is inaccurate.

    June 28, 2012
  45. Just as Peter’s vision of eating all sorts of foods did not refer only to foods, but also to things like “eating with Gentiles”, I do not think Romans 14 is in any way limited. I believe that applies to everything. I think those rules were examples, but not an exhaustive list. I believe this applies to music, to movies, to books, to clothes, to whatever else people do or experience or consume. All the rules which are not “love god and love your neighbor” are not actually rules; we’re not under the Law. (Yes, I know, the Law won’t pass away until all things are accomplished. What do you think Jesus meant by saying “it is accomplished”?)

    I am aware of the passages in the New Testament that you refer to; however, I believe they refer to specific practices, not to “homosexuality”. In short, as condemnations of pederasty, I find them persuasive. As condemnations of non-abusive relationships between adults, I don’t. It’s important to remember that Paul didn’t write the word “homosexuals”. The famous passages (1 Cor 6:9 and the similar passage in Timothy) use words which are pretty hard to find outside of Paul’s writing, one of which may be a reference back to a popular Greek translation of the Torah, but I find the case that this refers to pederasty or ritual prostitution pretty compelling.

    2 Timothy 4:3 is a very good passage, but the thing is, it can apply to virtually anything we think people are believing because it makes them feel better. Rejecting the authority of the Pope? 2 Timothy 4:3. Following a human leader instead of the Bible? 2 Timothy 4:3. It’s a good thing to consider, but it doesn’t tell you which side of an argument you’re on. It is, on the other hand, a very good thing to remember any time we start feeling all good about what someone’s telling us — because sometimes that’s a sign that it’s what we want to hear, not what’s true. But sometimes the truth is pretty awesome; that we like something isn’t proof that it’s wrong.

    Your last point, though, I have very strong agreement with:

    Does an alcoholic “heal” humself by continuing to drink, or does an overweight person “heal” himself by continuing to overeat?

    Indeed, they don’t. And that is the core of the point I am trying to make. If you watch people do these things, they do not heal. They get worse. And sin works the same way. If people keep lying, they get worse. If people keep cheating, they get worse. These things make people less loving, less forgiving, less willing to confess their sins and repent.

    But when people who pray and study are led to reject our society’s mainstream interpretation of what the Bible says about their sexuality, replace fear and self-loathing with acceptance, and seek out committed relationships? They heal. They become stronger in their faith. They find it easier to forgive, rather than harder. They are more open to recognizing their sins, and correcting them.

    What I am saying is not “I think this might heal them because I don’t think gay relationships are sinful.” What I am saying is “I don’t think gay relationships are sinful, because I have consistently and repeatedly seen acceptance and committed relationships bring about healing in people.”

    The idea that we might have gotten the wrong idea of what Paul was talking about through translation errors is terrifying, but I find it much more acceptable than the notion that somehow this is the one and only sin which can bring about healing instead of corruption in people.

    Careful study of the writings that everyone cites to has left me believing that Paul was almost certainly describing particular practices famililar to his readers and unfamiliar to us. I do not think the generalization is supported by a careful study of the text, or of other period texts using those same words.

    And thanks for the thought-provoking response. I have sort of gotten in the habit of glossing over these arguments (most of them are, to put it mildly, not unheard of…), but you present them well, you draw connections I haven’t always thought of… and most importantly, the complete absence of malice in your tone makes it much easier to think about what you’re saying. It really is a nice reminder.

    June 28, 2012
  46. Griff Wigley said:

    The Just Food Co-Op board met tonight and evidently passed a resolution stating their in opposition to the marriage amendment.

    Earlier this week, Pat Fallon, chairman of Fallon Worldwide in Mpls, had a commentary published in the Strib: Marriage amendment: ‘No’ is the helpful vote

    Through the years, many of our best, most productive employees have been gays and lesbians — not the 10 percent that is estimated within the general population, but at times upward of 30 percent of our employees have been gay or lesbian. Their sense of living in a “safe” community and being appreciated for the quality of their work is something I’ve considered a competitive advantage for Fallon.

    More recently, however, I have come to believe that the acceptance of gays and lesbians in this community is a recruitment advantage for all of the advertising agencies, technology companies, retailers, designers and other companies whose success depends on creativity. It would be self-defeating for the state’s economy to wave a “You’re not welcome” sign in front of this potentially productive workforce by supporting this exclusionary amendment.

    June 28, 2012
  47. john george said:

    Peter- Through all this, you still fail to see the difference between the use of “things,” which are outside the body, and sexual immorality, which is a sin against the body. Jesus said it is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him. It is what comes out of it. In Peter’s vision, everything he saw was what he had been taught not to eat. There was not anything in the sheet that had anything to do with the way he lived. I find no scriptural reference to him not associating with the gentiles. He was, afterall, a fisherman. Jesus was touching on a person’r motivaion rather than his action. That is why He told the pharisees that they were not circumsized in their hearts. James touches on this, also, in his discertation about the tongue. How can sweet water and salt water come out of the same spring? How can a person claim to be a follower of Jesus and continue to live and even exalt a life of what the scriptures call sin? Sorry, but I still disagree with your application of the Scriptures.

    June 29, 2012
  48. kiffi summa said:

    I have very much appreciated the dialogue between Peter and John but it makes one thing abundantly clear: one will not change the perception of a person who reads the Bible in what they think is an absolute sense, and will tolerate no other reading/interpretation because they have been convinced … by whatever reason, or lack of … that only their reading is correct.

    One part of this that continues to bother me, is those who belong to what are commonly referred to as the ‘Christian Right’ deny all others who consider themselves to be Christians (but do not believe congruently with all that the self-identified ‘Christian Right’ believe) are dismissed.

    John: in 9.1.10 you said: “Jesus said it is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him. It is what comes out of it.”
    I think this is important to remember…

    June 29, 2012
  49. Look at the history of Christianity, and I think it’s obvious how people can follow Jesus — not just claim to, but actually do it — while continuing in something that is obviously sin. They can do it through not being convicted of that sin. And either Jesus is still waiting for the first person to get it all right, or that is actually somehow okay; the forgiveness of sins may cover things that we fail to understand. Christians have persecuted Jews, they have owned other humans as chattel property, they have killed, they have done all these things and more, often without any thought that their behavior might offend. I don’t doubt that we’re doing things that later generations will look on with horror.

    As to the sexual immorality thing… See. This is sort of begging the question. Scripture says X. Some people think this means Y, some think it means Z. For all I know, we’re all wrong and it actually means W. The thing is, you can’t use the conclusion that scripture condemns homosexuality as the evidence that scripture condemns homosexuality. We need some kind of evidence that would confirm or reject our interpretation of Scripture. My response is to judge by fruit; if a way of living appears not to be creating any of the outcomes that consistently result when people will not turn away from sin, I tend to assume that it’s probably not sin.

    Which is to say, motivation, not action. I believe that “sexual immorality” is immorality which involves sex; not a large list of arbitrary Dos and Don’ts, but the same basic moral principles that Jesus always affirms. If you don’t start with the presupposition that a given action is presumptively immoral, therefore evidence of not loving God, can you make a case that it violates “love God, love your neighbor”?

    It wasn’t until 1993 that our laws recognized the possibility of rape within marriage in all 50 states. For hundreds of years, Christians taught that since sex within marriage is not a kind of sexual imorality, it was impossible for any sex within a marriage to be immoral. This was a rule focused on superficialities, and I believe the “gay sex” rule is the same thing; a rule that is not capable of being a genuine moral rule because it does not address a moral question. Treating another person as an object for sexual gratification is immoral, regardless of the sexes of the people involved. We are no longer trying to maintain a code of ritual purity.

    To put it another way: Say someone comes along, and he’s from a different culture from ours, and in theirs, they’ve always believed that the Bible’s got multiple condemnations of pederasty, like the harsh words in 1 Corinthians 6:9 about how pederasts will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. What could we present them with that might convince them that in fact, this was a reference to all same-sex sexual activity, not just an abusive form? Because I have gone back and forth over this a bunch of times, and right now, I got nothin’.

    And what could they say that might convince us that these references were actually to an abusive kind of relationship, not to all same-sex activity? There, I can make arguments. Maybe they’re not persuasive, but they *exist*.

    Can you imagine someone believing that Jerry Sandusky’s behavior is morally wrong, but that a couple of guys who have been living together for twenty years now are doing nothing harmful? I can.

    June 29, 2012
  50. In 9.1.8 comment John talks about sin : What does that verse have to do with being gay : I must be a very awful sinner if you call fat people sinners some of us heavy people do have pre-exisisting conditions have you ever heard of Prader Willie Syndrome : Are you free of sin to make such a judgement ? Just curious : Thanks David Roberts

    June 30, 2012
  51. I think the point is that, if a thing is bad for you, it won’t be good for you not to stop it. Of course, that gets complicated when you are talking about health in humans, where there are complicated interactions galore. But it’s a comprehensible illustration.

    July 1, 2012
  52. Paul Zorn said:

    Earlier in this thread we debated where General Mills’s position on the marriage amendment falls between brave-and-gutsy on the one hand and craven-surrender-to-the-liberal-thought-police on the other. IMO GM’s motives, if knowable at all, matter less than their position.

    But GM does appear to be taking at least some hit from an amendment-supporters’ boycott, if this Strib blog has it right.

    I have no idea how effective this boycott is, or how effective the anti-Target agitation (on similar issues, but from the other side) was in 2010. And I’m fine (not that anyone needs my permission) with the legality (not necessarily the wisdom) of boycotts by anyone against any entity. But both of these incidents suggest to me that organizations take stands at *some* risk to business as usual.

    July 1, 2012
  53. kiffi summa said:

    Paul: Everyone, corporations or individuals take “some risk” for expressing their POVs on controversial subjects; I could give you about 307 examples right here in NF.

    But I think corporations, as well as individuals, need to do what they perceive as “the right thing”: I’m sure you agree… so I am so glad that General Mills made the statement they did.

    And wasn’t it nice of them to send coffee and ice water out to the protesters?, as I saw on the news this morning.

    July 1, 2012
  54. Paul Zorn said:


    I just noticed (and it’s fine with me) a LoGroNo banner ad, paid for by an entity called Minnesota for Marriage. The ad is supposedly an “urgent poll” on the question “Should Marriage be Between One Man and One Woman?” Here’s the question actually asked (adjacent is a cute couple with three charming children):

    Do children need a mom and a dad? By encouraging men and women to marry, society helps ensure that children will be known by and cared for by their biological parents. Whenever a child is born, her mother will almost always be nearby. But the same cannot always be said of her father. Men, especially, are encouraged to take responsibility for their children through the institution of marriage. Marriage is society’s mechanism of increasing the likelihood that children will be born and raised by the two people responsible for bringing them into the world – their mother and father. Do you agree? Take this urgent poll right now.

    My reactions?

    First … Yes, I do agree that parents, including biological ones, should care for their kids, and that marriage is one way a good society links parents with children.

    Second … The undisputed importance of linking parents to children is an argument *for*, not against, gay marriage. So there’s a disconnect, verging on bait and switch, between the advertised subject of the poll and what’s really asked.

    This ad or poll or whatever it is exemplifies for me the essential logical fallacy in virtually every argument I’ve heard in favor of the limit-marriage amendment: Traditional marriage is a Good Thing. Hence, non-traditional marriage is a Bad Thing.

    Non sequitur. Don’t confuse the converse with the contrapositive. And other hifalutin jargon, which means, simply: It doesn’t follow.

    July 2, 2012
  55. kiffi summa said:

    Somebody just needs to come out and say it/this: if there were not religious, or maybe just very’conservative’ perspectives about the value of people who choose homosexuality, then there would not be any angst about who gets “married”.

    The legality of marriage in this country is secular, not religious; one does not have to get married in a church to have a valid/legal marriage.
    Therefor the only way for people to legally discriminate against those who choose a homosexual life style, is to try to instigate laws against the legal recognition of same- sex marriage .

    so… some people would prefer to put their belief system on all in order to limit the free will, free choice, self determination, whatever… of persons who do not follow the same belief system.

    If that is not discrimination against a class of people, I don’t know what is …

    July 2, 2012
  56. Kiffi,

    The debate is not about the value of any group of people. It is about the definition of marriage.

    Who do you think it really is who is “instigating” here? Marriage was lawfully between one man and one woman as far back as anyone can remember, long before the settling of North America. Now suddenly some judges have declared that same-sex couples can get married, and you are suggesting that conservative/religious people are “instigating” laws?

    You bemoan that some people “would prefer to put their belief system on all in order to limit the free will…” Does that mean you support the right of a man to marry seven women? What if they believe in polygamy? What right do we have to limit their free will? Do you see where the unrestricted freedom of free will can lead?

    July 2, 2012
  57. kiffi summa said:

    Andy: the law in America is not that churches define marriage but that our legal system does by saying who can issue a license and perform a service.

    The history argument doesn’t work: women couldn’t vote until 1920-something; didn’t make it right.

    The 30 some states pushing this issue to a vote are not being pushed by people who would let anyone who felt committed to be married, their choice.

    The polygamy argument doesn’t work either because laws against it were based on the age of ‘wives’ being taken.

    I am not asking for ” unrestricted freedom of free will”; I am asking for justice.

    July 2, 2012
  58. Andy, I think you are doing the institution of marriage a grave disservice.

    Every time you talk about “one man and one woman”, you are making a superficiality central to the thing. What about commitment? What about the family ties binding not only on the people being married, but their families? What about enduring in the face of hardships or challenges?

    Yes, this might be reasonably considered a change in our definitions. We have changed the definition of marriage constantly over the last couple thousand years. No one alive now was alive when we started with the radical policy change of expecting the wife to consent, but we have ample written records showing that this was a change. Many people alive now, by contrast, remember coverture or laws against interracial marriage, and people said that changing those policies would destroy the institution.

    If you are willing to speak out harshly against the notion that a woman can have legal property rights separate from those of her husband, then I will totally accept this rhetoric about what marriage was like “before the settling of North America”. Not that we have written records going back 9,000 years or more. (Note: This continent was not settled in the 1400s.)

    In fact, occasional recognition of same-sex unions has been around for a very long time, and formal recognition of it is not always a result of “judges”. The fact is, judges don’t get involved before someone else comes along and says “I think this makes sense and we should do it”.

    Honestly, if it were up to me, I would prefer to allow more-than-two people to get married. My religious text of choice is full of patriarchs marrying many women, and I personally see no reason not to allow that (or the alternative) in principle. In practice, I concede that a great deal of “polygamy” is destructive consent-free practices, and I can accept that the harm done by “under-age teen girls getting raped repeatedly” may be severe enough to justify a limitation that catches a few harmless people as well.

    But for the most part, the slippery slope remains a slippery slope. It is no more reasonable to oppose gay marriage because you’re worried about polygamy than it would have been to oppose interracial marriage because you’re worried about gay marriage.

    The law, it seems to me, should provide us with safety and liberty. It is justifiable to pick trade-offs there, perhaps; if the law and the courts want to restrict someone’s rights in a particular way because exercise of those rights endangers other people, that makes sense. But the fact is, gay marriage doesn’t endanger anyone else, leaving us no particular reason to worry.

    The point is long-since moot by now; it doesn’t matter what we do or say, twenty or thirty years from now gay marriage will be taken for granted in most of the US. There might be laws against it on the books, but the last US state law against interracial marriage wasn’t repealed until 2004, by which time the issue was long dead.

    I just think it’s petty of us to preserve discrimination on such spurious grounds. I was under the impression that much of the opposition to gay marriage came from people who viewed the Bible as Scripture, but it strikes me as frankly pretty laughable to imagine someone who takes the Bible as authority stating that marriage has always been “one man, and one woman”. David and Solomon would like to hear more about this fascinating revisionist history, I think.

    July 2, 2012
  59. john george said:

    Peter- You need to remember the words of Jesus to the Pharisees who asked Him why Moses had allowed them to present a writ of divorcement. His answer was, “It was because of the hardness of your hearts that Moses allowed this. But I say it was not so from the beginning.” You will find all kinds of moral failures in the Patriarchs, polygamy being one of them, but nowhere in the Old Testament were the Jews allowed through the Rabinical Law to embrace homosexuality. Also, you will find no reference to it in the Biblical acount of creation, before the fall of man. You may be correct, that when my generation dies off, then gay relationships will finally enjoy (?) free reign. That does not make them right, just as the patriarch’s embracing of polygamy and slavery did not make those things right, either. It seems we as men still believe the original lie, that we will be as God, determining (italics mine) good and evil. We are not like God, and we are supremely presumptious if we think we can actually determine good and evil.

    July 2, 2012
  60. Kiffi,

    You say that “our legal system” defines marriage. Wrong. Marriage should be defined by our elected representatives. That’s what this amendment is all about, you know. Judges are usurping the legislative branches by pretending the Constitution permits gay marriage. The amendment is an attempt to pre-empt that, so that the authority to re-define marriage remains where it belongs– in the legislative branches of the nation and the various states (and where gay marriage would surely lose.)


    You say many people alive now would remember laws against inter-racial marriage. Who would that be? No such laws, to my knowledge, ever existed in Minnesota. Like slavery, those laws were peculiar to the American South, and only existed for a relatively brief span in the context of Western Christian history. On this thread you have consistently used slavery to bash the idea of tradition. But slavery was only traditional in the American South, and only for a brief time before it was crushed by the Yankee North. Ironically, it was the Catholic Church that, finding slavery endemic in the dying ancient world, gradually lifted people out of that status before eliminating the institution altogether. Where in Catholic Medieval history do you find slave colonies? Nowhere. It was the Protestant Reformation that opened the door for the type of chattel slavery that plagued the New World.

    Finally, do not use recognition of same-sex unions to justify gay marriage. They are not the same thing! Two people of the same sex can form such a union, live together, love and support one another, and still be in perfect harmony with traditional Christian teaching. What was a monastery or a convent but a richly textured matrix of numerous such same-sex relationships? They also had special privileges and legal rights in the society of their time. But they did not cross the line into physical intimacy, in keeping with the Catholic teaching that the parts of the body designed by the Creator for reproduction are to be used only in the married state; and that that married state was reserved strictly for unions between one man and one woman.

    July 2, 2012
  61. kiffi summa said:

    John: “We are not like God, and we are supremely presumptious if we think we can actually determine good and evil.”

    That’s what you said… exactly what you said… in comment 16.1.3.

    If that is what you believe, them how can you ‘determine’ that homosexuality is sinful, and further wish to determine law based on that assumption of yours?

    July 3, 2012
  62. kiffi summa said:

    And Andy: surely you understand that our “elected representatives” are part of our legal system as they originate the laws that are passed?

    But once laws are passed as, as in the case of the legal requirements to marry, it is in the hands of the legal system of cities, counties, states, etc.
    They are the ones that issue the necessary licenses.

    It has been in the hands of elected representatives, and you are seeking to change what those previous legislators have done, because you disagree.

    Your right … but let’s be clear about motives behind that desired change.

    July 3, 2012
  63. Griff Wigley said:

    Agreed, Paul. Thanks for taking the time to critique the ad.

    July 3, 2012
  64. Adam Elg said:

    Where’s the voice of the Northfield City Council? haha

    July 3, 2012
  65. john george said:

    Kiffi- It would seem to me that in the years of our wrestling about homosexuality that the sin issue is not determined by me. It has been determined in the scriptures. Since you do not belive that this collection of writings are inspired by God, then, in your apparent reasoning, my opinions must have been determined by my own intellect. This could not be farther from the truth. I don’t have to twist scripture to come to this conclusion. If I remember correctly what Peter S. said in our discussion over coffee the other day, it is plausable to come to that conclusion. I don’t have to make judgements that are already there in the scripture. And, if I believe and state them, I am not bringing condemnation upon a group of people. I am pointing out what God has said about them. It would not be righteous for me to keep silent. As James writes in 5:20

    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.

    July 3, 2012
  66. kiffi summa said:

    John: You have exactly stated the rock bottom of the ‘problem’, i.e. that your belief system entitles you, no directs you, to hold the opinion you do… as you interpret that writing, and then follow that direction.

    and… you therefor apply it to others, believing that you have the right, the obligation to do so.

    I understand why the people working on the “VOTE NO” side of the proposed ‘marriage amendment say they don’t even bother talking to the ‘religious right’.

    You have explained over and over why you are obligated to follow your course of action, but there is no explanation for why you feel comfortable trying to make everyone read the Bible the way you read it, except that you believe your reading is correct…

    Unfortunately for you, the Bible is not synonymous with the law of this country, and will never be… but you do get an “A” for ‘effort’.

    July 4, 2012
  67. While I agree that it is a plausible interpretation, I don’t think it’s the only plausible interpretation. Which is to say, there are people who also accept the Scriptures as such, but who understand the meaning of those passages differently.

    I don’t think it’s generally fair to argue that what we believe about a given document is really a “choice” in the sense that we can just pick something and then sincerely believe that’s what it means, but I do think that our conclusions about what a given text means reflect the premises we came to it with. In particular, I have a much harder time perceiving meanings that are not the ones I originally thought it had, or was first told about.

    I have seen a number of people, whom I believe to be sincere and honest, who have studied this and prayed about it and come to different conclusions. I am suspecting that we are in some way asking the wrong question. (I am rather interested by the argumentation in the recent book Just Love, despite the Vatican’s disapproval.)

    July 4, 2012
  68. Andy, a few points. MN may not have had laws against interracial marriage, but Illinois and California did. It’s not just the south. As to where you find medieval slaves in Christianity, I generally figure the 500-1500 period counts, and I’m pretty sure the Pope sent people off to acquire pagan slaves (they’d concluded that you couldn’t/shouldn’t enslave Christians) around 595. Aquinas regarded slavery as “natural”. In 1404, the Pope told people that they had to free any Christians they had enslaved — but not non-Christians. In short, the period where Christianity taught that in general slavery was bad didn’t start until the 1700s, and even then it was quite some time before the belief became widespread.

    And I am not using recognition only of “same-sex unions”; I am pointing out that there are many places where we have recognized same-sex “marriage”, thus called, for some time.

    I am aware that not everyone thinks they’re the same thing. I think they are; I think that the soul of marriage is the creation of family bonds, and that this is the same for gays as it is for everyone else. Obsession with the reproductive aspect strikes me as reducing marriage to an animal husbandry permit.

    July 4, 2012
  69. john george said:

    Kiffi- I’m not sure what I have posted in the past that leads you to the conclusion that I “…feel comfortable trying to make everyone read the Bible the way you (I) read it…” I have stated many times that I cannot “make” anyone believe anything. I feel I do have a right to express my interpretations. Conversely, I feel your challenges to me have been condemning and belittling for believing what I do about the scriptural references to homosexuality, as if I am not “progressive” or align with “contemporary” theologians, and then having the audacity to express them publicly.

    July 4, 2012
  70. john george said:

    Peter- Fair enough, and those opposing the amendment are not doing likewise?

    July 4, 2012
  71. kiffi summa said:

    John: I just don’t know how many times this has to be said … I absolutely do not agree with your interpretation of what the Bible says to you, but it is your right to believe your interpretation.
    There are an awful lot of people out here who do not hear their Bibles saying to them what your reading says to you.

    But why must you insist that if everyone does not believe your interpretation, and just exactly as you do, they are not only wrong, but the law must be changed to have an effect on their ‘wrongness’ ??

    I can’t understand if you just don’t see that you are trying to structure everyone’s world to your personal belief, and that you think there is a legitimate reason … other than your interpretation of the Bible … OR … you just think your biblical beliefs are correct, and only yours, and the whole world should believe as you do … in other words a theocracy according to you, and ‘yours’.

    July 5, 2012
  72. Paul Zorn said:


    You say:

    … Fair enough, and those opposing the amendment are not doing likewise [i.e., trying to prevent people who already agree with them from being persuaded otherwise]?

    Sure, it’s fine for people on any side of any issue both to shore up their own supporters and try to persuade others. My critique of Minnesotans for Marriage’s ad/poll/whatever is not about whom it addresses; it’s about how the “poll” makes its case in rheotrically and logically problematic ways. Peter’s link makes this case in much, much more detail.

    July 5, 2012
  73. kiffi summa said:

    John: as I have been out watering, amidst the ravenous mosquitoes, I have been thinking more about this, and maybe you can understand it this way:

    Each of us may live in our personal religious/belief world, but that is adjunct to our reality of the secular world we live in, and whose laws we must follow.

    What I disagree with in your statements is the compulsion you display to try to overlay your religious convictions onto the broader secular world.
    I also understand that you sincerely believe it would be a better world if that did happen, and that you feel you are directed by your belief to proselytize.

    You are not being marginalized by the whole world population not believing as you do; you may believe as you please, as long as you follow the law of the land.
    If your belief is constant, then it is, no matter what others think.

    You may try to change the ‘law of the land’, that is your right , also.

    What you may not do, IMO, is expect to have everyone believe as you do, and punish them in some way, either real or philosophical, if they do not.

    July 5, 2012
  74. Raymond Daniels said:

    Kiffi-There are an awful lot of people who do hear the same thing that John hears. Why are you so insistent on trampling their rigts and beliefs? Everything that you call out in John can also be said about you.

    July 5, 2012
  75. kiffi summa said:

    raymond: yes, of course there are many who hear the same thing John hears, AND … I think you’ll have to agree, there are many who hear/see things differently.

    I am not asking John or anyone, to change their personal beliefs; I am asking that those beliefs be kept personal, and not inflicted (by trying to change law with religious beliefs)
    on others.

    I am asking that people who have different ideas about sexuality, and especially their personal self- determination not be labeled as “sinners” because they have a different set of personal values.

    July 5, 2012
  76. Jared Edwardsen said:

    Kiffi, Aren’t all beliefs, personal beliefs? Based on your comment, nobody should express an opinion for or against anything.

    I am asking that those beliefs be kept personal

    Or are you saying that only religious beliefs should be kept personal?

    July 6, 2012
  77. kiffi summa said:

    Jared: I am asking that personal beliefs, especially those with a non-universally shared religious basis be held as personal, rather than being used to evaluate, and especially to demean, other persons who hold different values… ultimately to curtail those ‘sinners’ civil rights.

    I do not call those who read the Bible differently than I, “sinners”, and I do not want to withhold ‘equality’ from them; that is very different than using a Biblical interpretation to label people as “sinners”, and try to withhold equal civil rights from them.

    July 6, 2012
  78. Raymond: I don’t see any trampling of the rights of people who don’t approve of gay marriage on offer. Even if gay marriage is universally recognized as a matter of law, not one right is trampled.

    The world is full of people that one religion or another deems to not have a valid or real marriage. There are remarried couples that the Catholic Church teaches are not really married. And they are welcome to believe that, to teach it, to refuse those people communion unless they adopt a chaste lifestyle… But they are not allowed to hire one of them and refuse health benefits to the other. Because that is where you get out of the realm of freedom of belief and into the realm of discriminatory action.

    The only people trampling on anyone’s rights are the people denying other people the freedom to live according to their own beliefs, and that would be the anti-marriage crowd. The right to live according to your own beliefs does not extend to your beliefs about when you should make the government force other people to live the way you want them to.

    It’s not symmetrical at all. If the anti-marriage crowd win, then people are denied the right to live according to their beliefs. If the anti-marriage crowd lose, though, everyone can live according to their own beliefs. No one will be demanding that people who don’t approve of gay marriage marry someone of the same sex. No one will be demanding that priests perform same-sex marriages, any more than they demand that priests remarry divorcees today.

    That’s why I have no qualms or worries about advocating for the right to marry — because there is simply no downside. No one is harmed, no rights are infringed, nothing bad happens.

    July 8, 2012
  79. David Ludescher said:


    Your argument in 16.1.18 is unconvincing.

    If “nothing bad” happens if same-gendered people are allowed to marry is true, then “nothing bad” will happen is true for all same-gendered people such as two brothers or an uncle and nephew.

    The more convincing argument is that the present law does not provide an objective criteria which would justify opposite-gendered couples receiving special treatment from the government. So long as the law does not specify why opposite-gendered couples receive special protection, either everyone or no one should receive special treatment. Justice demands no less.

    The current push to have same-gendered couples treated the same as opposite-gendered couples has its both its foundation and its validity in the concepts usually associated with religious dogma. These concepts, which I believe have substantial merit, involve a mixture of objective and subjective concepts. These concepts permit discrimination in human relationships based upon a host of relevant considerations, including familial relationship, fecundity, commitment, fidelity, complementarity, and exclusivity.

    July 9, 2012
  80. Uh, no, that is not how logic works. When someone makes a claim about a policy’s effects, that does not mean that they think that claim trumps all other possible considerations. There are of course reasons for which some marriages might be troublesome, such as “one of the people involved is a little kid”, which are true regardless of whether the relationship is same-sex or opposite-sex.

    The point is, if we change policy to allow same-sex couples to married, that in and of itself does not harm anyone. Now, maybe some couples will get married, and it will turn out that one of them is abusive, and that will harm someone — but if that’s a reason to ban a category of people from getting married, it is just as good a reason to ban straight people from getting married.

    In short, I’m not making the argument you seem to be looking at. I’m just pointing out that no one has offered any examples of people who are harmed by a hypothetical change in our law which recognizes gay marriages the same way it recognizes straight marriages. And yes, I’m aware that some people don’t consider those to be “marriage” at all. So what? There are millions of people whose beliefs about what makes something “a marriage” would indicate that some couples legally married in our state are not “really” married. What of it? People can have whatever opinions they want; the question is whether the state should discriminate.

    And yes, I’m aware of your argument that removing discrimination against one group of people should somehow be rejected because it does not remove all discriminations against anyone. I don’t buy it. That’s no more persuasive than the argument that we shouldn’t feed anyone who is hungry unless we can feed everyone who is hungry.

    So long as the law does not specify why opposite-gendered couples receive special protection, either everyone or no one should receive special treatment. Justice demands no less.

    Interestingly, I know of at least one church which is not performing legal marriages for anyone for exactly that reason.

    The current push to have same-gendered couples treated the same as opposite-gendered couples has its both its foundation and its validity in the concepts usually associated with religious dogma. These concepts, which I believe have substantial merit, involve a mixture of objective and subjective concepts. These concepts permit discrimination in human relationships based upon a host of relevant considerations, including familial relationship, fecundity, commitment, fidelity, complementarity, and exclusivity.

    “Complementarity”? Interesting theory. As to “fecundity”… Well, tell you what.

    We’ll get together ten couples who have spent more than two years’ income trying to conceive kids and failing. If you can walk down that line telling them that their relationships are a threat to our society and have no validity? Then, and only then, can you get away with using “fecundity” as a qualification for marriage. If you aren’t willing to do that, then obviously you have accepted that there is more to marriage than fertility.

    But fidelity? Commitment? Exclusivity? These are all things which are just as applicable to gay relationships as straight ones.

    Our society has long relied on marriage to tie people into extended family groups. For us to retain the benefits of this institution, we need to get away from the obsessive focus on breeding and get back to the way in which marriage creates relationships not just between partners, but between their families.

    July 10, 2012
  81. David Ludescher said:


    It had been my great hope that the evolution of the “gay marriage” movement would strengthen the institution of marriage.

    First, I had hoped that having people talk about loving and committed relationships in the same-gendered context would awaken a movement to have the law recognize that committed relationships are one of the important characteristics of the marriage contract. But, that has not happened. No-fault divorce remains the only marriage option. As long as it remains the sole criteria to end marriage, and as long as it can be done unilaterally, there is not and cannot be committed legal relationships.

    Second, it was also my hope that the gay marriage movement would awaken the law to recognize the need for different types of relationships to receive different legal status. Specifically, relationships which involve children present different issues for the government and the marriage participants. But, the recognition of the importance of children in the institution of marriage has not happened either.

    July 10, 2012
  82. kiffi summa said:

    david: the state of California is currently struggling with how to rewrite custody laws so that children benefit the most from a situation where they have supportive parents.
    Hearing an attorney speak about this yesterday was enlightening, as they are considering how to define WHO is the ‘parent’, and considering not just the obvious biological parents, but who acts as a support system for the child.

    This would allow grandparents, same-sex couples where one may be one of the ‘original’ parents, etc … i.e. all sorts of configurations which are focussed most purposefully on who it is who actually provides the support system for the child in question.

    Obviously, this would be tremendously complicated; but it does say there are two kinds of ‘parents’, those who are biological, and those who are functioning in every way except biological, as the child’s parent.

    Inherent in this discussion , as the attorney stated over and over, is the fact that the role of a parent, in today’s complicated social structure, has become more than just a biological one.

    I think this has tremendous implication for the role of legalized commitments of all kinds, and especially if you want legalized commitments to focus on the children.

    July 10, 2012
  83. I dislike no-fault divorce, but I dislike it less than I dislike people being stuck in abusive relationships. In the end, I think the problem with commitment isn’t the lack of legal force, it’s the assault on the cultural ideal. As long as we have people promoting the view that the essential characteristic of marriage is something other than commitment or bonding, we will continue to see marriage weakened.

    So my solution to that is to point out, every time someone says that marriage is “a union of one man and one woman”, that this strikes me as much less important than “a committed relationship” as a characteristic. But as long as people keep saying “the thing that is universal about marriage is that it is a union of one man and one woman”, well. They’re excluding the most important parts in favor of something that I don’t think matters to society as a whole. The benefits marriage offers come from commitment, not from animal husbandry.

    As to children… I’m not sure what gay marriage has to do with the children question. Lots of couples adopt, and I think there are very good reasons not to treat them as lesser families than the ones where the kids are biologically related to one or both parents. I do see some reason for society to think about whether people are raising kids, but I don’t see it as related in any way to the question of whether gay couples should be considered married… Except in that I think the benefits marriage can confer on kids should be available to kids who are being raised by gay couples, too.

    Still, good issues and things I would love to see people thinking about more. I think people have gotten away from the idea that marriage is creating a connection between more people than just the immediate participants. I think the nuclear family concept has not been good for us…

    July 11, 2012
  84. The people who are agaist gay marriage: Are you opposed to a drunkard getting married and the wife ending up in a abusive situation : I know would fear a drunkard more that a gay person getting married: or is being a drunkard ok ?

    July 11, 2012
  85. Griff Wigley said:

    In this week’s Atlantic: In Sleepy Minnesota Suburbs, Church Ladies Launch Gay Marriage Crusade

    The southwest Minneapolis suburbs of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie bring to mind Garrison Keillor’s tales from Lake Wobegon: They’re lined with well-maintained homes and tree-lined roundabouts, and home to residents of largely German and Scandinavian ancestry. But the ladies of these towns have quietly begun a revolt — one fought with rainbow flags and a Minnesota nice attitude.

    The women, mostly in their 40s and 50s, come from different political parties, religious views, and backgrounds, but they’ve united to fight what many of them call an embarrassment to Minnesota: a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage that will appear on the ballot this November.

    July 13, 2012
  86. Griff Wigley said:

    Props to Brad Tabke, mayor of Shakopee, for publicly blogging his rationale as mayor for his opposition to the marriage amendment:

    In opposition to a majority of the smart advice I received, I decided to follow my conscience. This amendment is simply wrong and, as Mayor of Shakopee, I will do what it takes to defeat it.

    Many in Shakopee may not agree with my decision and I respect that. My role is non-partisan and I believe this is absolutely a non-partisan issue. As Mayor of Shakopee, I represent many gay couples and I believe it is right to stand up for them. It is already law in Minnesota that marriage is between a man and a woman. However, if this amendment passes – and I don’t believe it will – it will constitutionally create a 2nd class of Shakopee residents. Those who can and those who cannot get married. This is simply wrong. The argument against the marriage amendment goes beyond love. It is also an issue of economic development, the cornerstone of my mayoral platform.

    July 13, 2012
  87. I wonder whether rainbow flags can be bought in town. You know, always wanna support local businesses.

    July 13, 2012
  88. They should allow rainbow flags : But there is a certain element of society which does not think that the flags sould be flown to that I ask WWJD Thanks

    July 14, 2012
  89. Griff Wigley said:

    Northfielder Ben Witt, proprietor of Milltown Cycles, has a new blog post titled If I May:

    This decision is not one that I have come to without serious personal reflection. Weighing in in any political debate as a business carries risk no matter what you are advocating for. I have no doubt that this will upset some of our customers. I fully expect that this will lose us some of them. If I offend some of you I am sorry for it.

    I do this for the love of my family and friends who are gay, because they deserve the right to share exactly the same relationship that I cherish with my wife.

    September 1, 2012
  90. kiffi summa said:

    Ben… Thanks so much for putting your principles front and center; I think it is terrific of you to state your “vote no” preference, and I do understand how hesitant businesses are to take political stands.

    I hope this gains you new customers from all over the region who will go directly to your shop as a reward for compassionate and principled behavior.
    I think people will say “this is a good guy; he’ll be fair and good to deal with for my bike needs, too”.

    Furthermore, I promise to never say anything negative about the possible inconvenience of the Criterion bike race again, and if I forget next year, please give me a stern reminder. 🙂

    September 1, 2012
  91. Griff Wigley said:

    I missed this update from Aug. 30: St. Olaf Faculty Opposes Minnesota Marriage Amendment

    The vote came at the faculty’s first meeting of the year. Last school year, there were 218 full-time faculty members and 115 part-time faculty members, according to St. Olaf records.

    The St. Olaf faculty is the third in Minnesota to publicly oppose the amendment, joining the faculties from the University of Minnesota and William Mitchell College of Law, according to Minnesotans United for All Families.

    Gonnerman said the voting at St. Olaf faculty meetings is an internal matter and said a breakdown of faculty who opposed and supported the amendment wouldn’t be released. At this time, no further action is being planned with the symbolic vote.

    September 2, 2012
  92. Paul Zorn said:


    Thanks for the link. A couple of things to add, for background.

    First, the second paragraph’s reference to “third in Minnesota” should not be read to suggest much of anything about other Minnesota colleges and universities, of which Wikipedia lists nearly 200. Least of all should it suggest a “score” of 197 for, 3 against. The president of Augsburg College, for instance, has spoken against the amendment, but not (as far as I know) as an official voice of Augsburg faculty. And I know that faculty of at least one other prominent Minnesota institute of higher learning have established a statement of opposition now signed by over 600 members of its community.

    Second, a “faculty” or institution has many alternative ways to make its views on any subject known — or to abstain from commenting, perhaps as a matter of corporate policy. A faculty that chooses to vote may or (more likely) may not speak for its institution in any “official” way. And a faculty that votes (as St Olaf’s did) may or may not include in the motion (as St Olaf’s did not) anything about joining a particular coalition, such as Minnesotans United.

    September 2, 2012
  93. For folks who are interested in this, there will be a conversation training hosted at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (corner of West Second and Linden) on Sunday, September 16, at 12 noon after the coffee hour. The training is organized by Minnesotans United for All Families and includes tips and guidelines to help people have respectful, honest, and effective conversations on this sensitive subject. Personal conversations have been shown to be the single best way to move concerned communities forward on understanding of the issue – better than lawnsigns and bumper stickers. The workshop is free and open to the public. For more information visit

    September 9, 2012
  94. Joe Dokken said:


    The queer sympathizer in comment #28 has not been held accountable to his use of offensive words by the moderator of this blog site. I purposely used the word I did at the beginning, because I knew it would create a level of consternation towards me for my hateful speech.

    By the way all speech which demeans another human being is hateful.
    The homosexual crowd does not have sole ownership of this term.

    To Whom It May Concern, The term “Jesus Freak” has been posted for over two weeks and nothing has been said about its violation of LoGroNo policies.

    To those whom I offended, I apologize, I am only trying to prove a point.

    September 27, 2012
  95. I was originally going to say, it hardly makes sense to use the term “queer” while complaining about offensive language. But yes, that does make your point. Nicely done!

    But I’m not as sure about “Jesus Freaks”. I know a fair number of people who personally identify as “Jesus Freaks”, and heck, if someone wants to call me that, I usually feel flattered. So I am not sure that this is the kind of language which is sufficiently unambiguously offensive to justify moderation. I also don’t know whether anyone flagged it for attention.

    Were I moderating, I might have emitted a wrist slap for “get over it”, but I wouldn’t have picked up the specific term you did. I guess I just think of it as a name for a category. Sorta like longhairs, only they’re more likely to buy you lunch.

    September 28, 2012
  96. David Ludescher said:


    It could be that, as a rule, people who value liberty aren’t offended when someone tells it like they see it. I think that explains why the “right” is generally not offended by “leftist” name-calling.

    September 28, 2012
  97. That is a fascinating theory, but it absolutely fails to describe my experiences of online forum behavior, especially moderation. I have spent a number of years moderating online forums, which means I see the complaints, not just the actions the moderators take.

    What I generally saw was:

    From liberals:
    * Liberals asking that people not be allowed to advocate violence or killing.
    * Liberals asking that copyrighted material be attributed or deleted.
    * Liberals complaining about highly personal flames.

    From conservatives:
    * Demands that the site absolutely prohibit people who were not legally married from stating or implying that they had sex.
    * Complaints in which they went through every single post a given person made in a given forum and reported it, demanding that it be removed. And had three or four friends do the same thing.
    * Complaints that it was “highly offensive” for people to ask for citations for claims.
    * Complaints that it was “trolling” for anyone to post disputing what they said.

    I know plenty of people who are very strongly “right-wing” by most modern standards, and who deal very well and graciously with disagreement; likewise, I have known some stunningly rude and whiny leftists. By and large, though, the overwhelming majority of the people I encountered who were outraged and demanding that “offensive” things be removed were people that would be viewed as “conservative” or “right wing” in the US.

    Keep in mind, many people value liberty; they just have different views about what liberty looks like, or how best to protect it. The famous “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” quote? That is pretty much the essence of liberalism. As long as US culture tends to conflate “leftist” and “liberal”, there will be a strong tendency for people who value other peoples’ liberty and not just their own to end up being affiliated with left-leaning groups, simply because the others won’t tolerate them.

    September 29, 2012
  98. Griff Wigley said:

    Joe, you’re right. I just missed it.

    David Roberts, I’ve removed your comment (formerly #28) because it violates my discussion guidelines.

    September 30, 2012
  99. kiffi summa said:

    GRIFF: actually, it’s not all that clear as to who was violating what … I think of Joe as having very different views on some subjects than I do, but I think he strives to be fair.

    However, in this case, he says to “make a point” he calls the commenter in #28 a “queer sympathizer” … so … Joe is not just complaining about the single commenter’s (#28) use of words, he is denigrating a whole class of people by applying a frowned upon nasty pejorative, i.e. “queer”.

    So … in your ‘rule book’, is it OK to make a point about one person’s comment by using an insulting descriptor for a group?

    September 30, 2012
  100. kiffi summa said:

    AND … may I make a suggestion, Griff… that when you remove a comment as you did #28, it becomes confusing for subsequent comments that now Joe’s comment has become # 28.

    Couldn’t you leave the #28 numbering, with the designation “REMOVED” ?

    September 30, 2012
  101. Paul Zorn said:


    What Kiffi said in 28.3.2 — unless the numbers change again, in which case I mean what Kiffi said in … oh, forget it.

    The NY Times and other fancy big-city-type comment sites maintain the integrity of posting numbers with just the strategy Kiffi recommends. Otherwise we get the craziness exhibited above, in which the posting numbered 28 complains about the posting numbered 28 … boggles the mind.

    September 30, 2012
  102. Griff Wigley said:


    I’ve considered that strategy of removing the text of an offending comment instead of deleting it in order to keep the integrity of the comment threading. But over the years, it’s often been helpful to me as a moderator to refer back to the comments that I’ve removed. In other words, I don’t delete them but rather, change their technical status from ‘published’ to ‘pending.’ That keeps them in the WordPress database, allowing me to search/browse them by author, blog post, date, etc.

    In this case, I don’t think it was too disruptive, as David R’s comment stood on its own, ie, didn’t have any comments attached to it.

    September 30, 2012
  103. Griff Wigley said:

    Kiffi, in my rule book, people should avoid making a point about one person’s insulting comment by using another insulting comment.

    In this case, it seemed to me that Joe did go to sufficient lengths to explain what he was doing to make a point.

    So let’s get back on topic.

    September 30, 2012
  104. Griff Wigley said:

    The Tues. Oct 2 City Council meeting has this on the agenda:

    9. Resolution 2012-090 – Consider a Resolution Opposing the Marriage Amendment

    In the Saturday Strib: Cities speak on ballot issues

    Harris said that when he was campaigning for Golden Valley mayor last year, residents brought up the marriage amendment, saying it was something the city should take action on. He said council chambers were “packed” on the night of the vote, and that e-mail and phone response was skewed heavily toward opposing the amendment. “Maybe a couple of people said they didn’t think it was the right thing to do,” he aid. “There hasn’t been any kind of backlash.”

    Jacobs said that when the St. Louis Park council unanimously supported the resolution against the marriage amendment, there was one complaint and “dozens of e-mails thanking us. People were literally crying on the phone and saying ‘thank-you.'”

    September 30, 2012
  105. Griff Wigley said:

    Coincidentally, the City of Shakopee is also debating the marriage amendment on Tuesday night. See Mayor Brad Tabke’s blog post posted this afternoon: Tuesday Night’s Marriage Amendment Debate

    He embedded this video in his blog post, a TV ad by MN4AllFamilies. The description says “Kim and John are Catholic Republicans from Savage, Minnesota — and they’re voting no in November. Watch and share our first TV ad!”


    September 30, 2012
  106. john george said:

    Grif- I think it is interesting that the council has spent 3+ years trying to figure out how to take care of the space problem at the safety center. This is their business, and their decisions will affect all of us Norhtfielders whether we agree with their decisions or not. Taking council time to pass an opinion about the marriage ammendment is something that is not their business. Calling it a resolution seems to give it some kind of public importance, but has no effect on the state legislation one way or the other. It is just posturing to look good to a particular segment of the populace, and I wish they would not waste their time on it.

    September 30, 2012
  107. Griff Wigley said:

    John, I think this is a civil rights issue, much like the discrimination faced by blacks and women in our nation’s history.

    For the Council to pass a resolution in opposition to the marriage amendment speaks loudly to its current employees and citizenry, as well as to those who consider becoming employees of the city or moving their families or businesses here.

    I really don’t think of it as ‘posturing’ bur rather as ‘influencing.’

    September 30, 2012
  108. David Henson said:

    New Yorker article on a new drug resistant gonorrhea:

    Effects (at this time) mainly sex workers and gay men … why is it we want to raise the profile of the gay lifestyle knowing it is unhealthy? To me this is no different than promoting Russian Roulette to young high school males.

    September 30, 2012
  109. kiffi summa said:

    The proposed resolution by the City Council would only confirm the Council’s desire to adhere to The Charter of the City of Northfield which says : “If anyone is denied equality, no one is free. The following charter is a declaration of the public policy of the city of Northfield to fulfill its responsibility to treat all of its citizens equally and with good order”.

    October 1, 2012
  110. I think it’s very much their business to talk about or community values. Legal rights are not the only way in which people can be welcomed or excluded. The question is, do we want our community to treat people with contempt or respect? If we want to treat them with respect, indicating that this is our intent is a reasonable thing.

    October 1, 2012
  111. Congratulations, you managed a trifecta; you have a false presupposition, you have incorrect logic, and your conclusion is also false.

    The false presupposition is embedded in the term “gay lifestyle”. There is no more a “gay lifestyle” than there is a “straight lifestyle”. Straight people can form long-term relationships, be celibate, be promiscuous, or whatever else. So can gay people. Furthermore, which you are is in the vast majority of cases an inherent thing you are born with; all that’s at issue is how you chose to live given that set of instincts.

    The erroneous logic is the assumption that somehow “raising the profile of the gay lifestyle” would increase unhealthy behaviors. In fact, what is on offer is precisely the opposite. What’s unhealthy isn’t “being gay”. What’s unhealthy is “being promiscuous”. You know what would reduce promiscuity? Legal and social recognition and respect for committed relationships.

    Your position here is logically equivalent to arguing that we should not oppose a ban on seatbelts on the grounds that promoting the idea that people should drive causes traffic fatalities. People are gonna drive; we should be encouraging safety rather than trying to make it as dangerous (and thus scary) as possible.

    And before you go quote some hilarious Paul Cameron “study” about how dangerous gays are: Remember that Paul Cameron has stated that the reason he is so vehemently opposed to homosexuality is that gay sex is so much better than straight sex that if people try it they’ll never go back. This, coupled with his spectacularly dishonest research methodology, makes him an entirely unreliable source.

    October 1, 2012
  112. David Henson said:

    Peter- the health statistics speak for themselves. Is your position that the 17 year old boy caught having sex with the MN Democratic representative Kerry Gauthier behind a truck stop is “inherently gay?”
    I don’t think so – I think he is highly misguided by a society that is off the track to success.

    October 1, 2012
  113. john george said:

    Peter & Griff- Would you both be just as enthusiastic about a resolution to support the marriage ammendmant? My position in regards to this type of resolution would be the same. I just saw an article about one southwestern suburb whose council resolved to be neither for nor against the ammendment. Their stated reason was that it was outside their realm of responsibilities. I think that is wise. And, “posturing” is an attempt to “influence.”

    October 1, 2012
  114. john george said:

    Griff- Just remember that marriage was around before any civilization or governing body. To say this is only a civil rights issue is, IMO, ignoring history.

    October 1, 2012
  115. Well, obviously I’d be opposed to it, but I think that a place where the city council would vote that way should indeed have such a statement — because that’s a good warning that that’s a town where the political powers, police, and so on will not care about some of the citizens. And it’s nice to know that before moving somewhere.

    October 1, 2012
  116. rob hardy said:


    Do I want to point out that, like marriage, slavery predates recorded history?

    Do I want to point out pantheism is older than monotheism, and ask you why you’re not worshiping multiple gods?

    Do I want to observe that, in fact, to ignore change and progress and the expansion of rights is to ignore history?

    No, I’ll just keep my mouth shut.

    October 1, 2012
  117. From the point of view of the government, it’s a civil rights issue. It doesn’t matter to the government when or whether any particular religion or culture adopted recognition of women as people who had rights of their own, or rejected slavery; civil rights issues are not about preserving historical behavior, but about doing our best to improve fairness.

    Keep in mind, there’s more than one set of people who have a history to talk about here. The people who were here before the US expanded this far west had been performing same-sex marriages for as long as they have records, and probably quite a bit longer. This is a religious freedom issue, too…

    October 1, 2012
  118. As Mark Twain put it: Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Health statistics for non-comparable groups are non-comparable. As long as we’re actively discouraging people from forming stable and committed relationships, it’s pretty ridiculous to try to draw inferences from the fact that they are then less likely to do so.

    As to the rest: You “don’t think so”. Why? Where’s your evidence? We have, at this point, a good solid fifty-some years of exhaustive research, experimentation, studies, analysis, and so on. The net result is: We have absolutely no information suggesting that incidence of homosexuality varies with culture in any way. Incidence of open homosexuality varies, but that’s it.

    Cultures that don’t make a big deal about this get much better results than cultures that try to drive it away.

    Biology does not care what you think. It’s just there. You’re welcome to hold whatever opinions you want, but conventionally, it’s considered polite for your opinions to be in some way consistent with observed facts before you use them as a basis for legislating other people’s behavior.

    October 1, 2012
  119. john george said:

    Rob- I would take issue with you regarding pantheism predating monotheism. The first recorded sacrific was to God (Yahweh, Elohim) in Genesis. Of course, if you discredit this Biblical reference, then I suppose you can make whatever claim from whatever historian you give credibility.

    The elimination of slavery has not eliminated racism. I think that as long as we continue to force integration of any people based simply upon their race or sexual attraction, then we will not actually see a change in peoples’ hearts. And that is what has to change to eliminate racism or any other social stigma projected upon a people.

    History records change before there is perspective to call that change progress. There were many changes in the first half of the last century. Considering just one, the introduction of chemical compounds to control noxious weeds and parasites, this was considered “progress” at the time. Now, with the hindsight of time, many of these chemicals have proven to be deadly. Progress? Perhaps not.

    But the whole realm of social engineering is not as easy to determine, even with the perspective of time. I will still put my trust in a set of principles that have withstood a couple thousand years of attack and have proven themselves by being continually demonatrated by positive changes in the lives of their adherents.

    October 1, 2012
  120. David Ludescher said:

    This council’s reach simply amazes me. It doesn’t want us to vote on a $7.2 million safety center. Now is wants to speak for its citizens on the constitutional amendment. What’s next – elimination of trans-fats and limiting the size of sodas?

    October 2, 2012
  121. kiffi summa said:

    I do not think the Council is speaking for its citizens; it would be stating its opposition for this being a constitutional amendment.

    The truth is, that neither of the proposed constitutional amendments would change anything for years; they would be tied up in law suits , AND if voted in … but then struck down … the amendment process would have to be gone through all over again.

    IMO, both of these amendments, being proposed as changes to the constitution are the product of trying to enforce a more restrictive, conservative, and in the case of the marriage amendment a religious perspective, upon the general populace.

    October 2, 2012
  122. If the Bible is a factual historic account of the early history of humanity, then someone with nigh-infinite power has done a spectacular job of systematically erasing all of the evidence, and an even more spectacular job of creating a great deal of evidence to the contrary crossing basically every field of scientific inquiry.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that archeology is remotely accurate, animism and polytheism nearly always precede monotheism in human development of theology. (On the other hand, the frequency with which they converge towards monotheism is fairly noticeable.)

    It’s certainly true that change needs to come from within, and government-imposed change is not really change. On the other hand, government-imposed changes can do a very useful thing, which is give people the basic freedoms and legal protections which allow them to go about their lives in the mean time. The pattern playing out here is a familiar one. When civil rights started really taking off as a concept, opponents reacted by enacting a number of laws to create restrictions on minorities. Previously, no one saw a need for such laws because everyone agreed on the need to repress these people; over time, that shifted until there was a large enough majority that felt that way to push laws through, but a large enough minority that didn’t that laws were necessary to preserve the status quo. Eventually, those laws went away.

    My primary objection to the proposed amendment is that it is a bait-and-switch. People are asked whether they believe a particular thing (their understanding of “marriage”) is good, but their answer is taken as “should we use the full force and power of our government to prohibit people who feel otherwise from living according to their own beliefs.”

    There is a large gap between “should I live this way” and “should other people be prohibited by law from living any other way”. Outside of The Onion, legal recognition of gay marriage would have no more effect on people who aren’t gay than legal recognition of remarriage after divorce has on people who have never divorced.

    I’d love to say “and the Christian tradition does not involve forcing other people to comply with our rules”, but of course that’s not true from about Constantine on. I will say that I think the tendency to try to force others to comply is destructive both to the victims and to the people doing it.

    The American answer has been that, as long as you aren’t obviously and fairly directly hurting other people, you can do what you want. I think that is the right answer for this one; leave it to individuals to decide which marriages they personally wish to participate in or respect, have the law allow marriages even if some people don’t consider them valid.

    October 2, 2012
  123. David Ludescher said:


    This isn’t even a close call for the council members. They should keep their personal opinions to themselves.

    The constitutional amendment on marriage is a proposed state law. It doesn’t have anything to do with religion, local government, or the council’s job.

    October 2, 2012
  124. kiffi summa said:

    I vehemently disagree ,David … We have a state law,I believe.. amending the Constitution is a slightly different animal .

    And do you really believe it has nothing to do with religion? I’m sorry, but I think that is a naive position.

    We have legislation coming up all over the country with the same origination, and in many cases the same language, and the majority of these similar proposals come from ALEC, the notoriously conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. which from its title might sound like a good thing; in reality a very conservative group with an ultra conservative agenda and strong religious ties… Koch brothers as major funders, etc.

    These legislative and constitutional amendments that have social implications are not coming up spontaneously, but are a concerted effort at implementing social change.
    Unfortunately for MN, Ms. Kiffmeyer, former state official is the ALEC rep with oversight of MN.

    Before someone mentions the word “conspiracy’, let me say I do not believe it is a ‘conspiracy’; it is a front and center open attack to limit the social configuration to a narrow perspective favored by some religious groups.

    I would applaud a council that says this is not the picture we have of, or for, our community and its general well being.

    Would you deny the statement in the preamble of the Northfield City Charter, Davd?
    I would hope not, since you seek to be elected.

    October 2, 2012
  125. David Ludescher said:


    If the council is going to speak (as it seems intent upon doing) for whom does it presume that it speaks? Does Erica speak for her Ward 3 constituents? Betsey for the Ward 2 constituents?

    October 2, 2012
  126. john george said:

    Kiffi- Your accusation in (presently) 33.2.1 that this type of legislation is, “…a concerted effort at implementing social change…” is way off the mark. The concerted effort by the ALEC is to try to keep the status quo. It is the gay community and their sympathizers that are waging “…a concerted effort at implementing social change.”

    October 2, 2012
  127. john george said:

    Kiffi- I forgot to add that I agree with you about religious influence. This fight has everything to do with religion, and I am not ashamed to say so. Asside from the religions of our culture (all of them), there is really no other basis upon which to take a moral stand. Our laissez faire approach to morals as a society, best defined by Webster in this definition: “… a philosophy or practice characterized by a usually deliberate abstention from direction or interference especially with individual freedom of choice and action…” leaves people wide open to every whim or desire that comes along.

    October 2, 2012
  128. Well, that’s the thing. There are lots and lots of things my religion teaches against. Many of them are widely accepted in our society. I don’t campaign for laws against them, let alone constitutional amendments prohibiting legislators from legalizing them.

    The entire point about a personal relationship with the divine is that it is ultimately personal. I may tell people I think what they are doing is wrong, but unless I can show how it’s hurting someone else, they ought to be legally allowed to live as they please. Modern objections to gay marriage are sincere, but no more sincere than the equally-religious arguments against what was called by one protestor “the race-mixing march of the antichrist”.

    But the Loving court was right; the job of the government is not to pick a set of religious principles to require everyone to live by whether it is their religion or not, but to stand back and let people exercise their religions individually.

    Our right to exercise our religion goes up to the limits of our own personal choices; it does not extend to prohibiting other people from making different choices.

    I do agree that ALEC, et al., are trying to preserve the status quo, as were the protestors against interracial marriage, and the protestors against women’s sufferage, or any other social change we’ve made. And they are doing it for the same reason; because they are on top, and they derive pleasure from knowing that they have privileges which are denied to other people, whom they consider their inferiors. That motivation is not shared by many of the people following their lead, but when you dig past all the rhetoric, there’s nothing else left. This isn’t about preserving a moral standard, it’s about keeping the second-class citizens second-class.

    When I see a sincere and concerted effort by the US branch of the Catholic Church to pursue constitutional amendments banning remarriage, I will believe that this was ever, at all, about upholding moral standards, rather than about control and exclusion.

    October 3, 2012
  129. Joe Dokken said:

    John- you are correct. Whether it is our national constitution or state constitution the majority of the rules, statements, provisions, protections, etc… come directly from Judeo Christian documentation. Ok I’ll specifically say it comes from the Bible, the Old and New Testament. I also want to clarify my comments are not meant to declare America as a Christian Nation. At one time we as a Nation were probably considered a Christian Nation, but that is not the point. The point is a bunch of our laws are based on the Bible. Whether you believe or read the Bible it doesn’t change history.
    Think of it this way…Sixty seconds will always been one minute and 12 inches will always be one foot. You don’t have to believe it or know who set the standard, but everything we do is based on these facts. I spent 4 years in the Air Force as a Metrologist, not to be confused with a Meteorologist, who studies the weather. I calibrated test equipment to make sure it was reading units of measurement correct. As mundane as it may seem, every day we do things which require accurate standards. Planes, Trains and Automobiles would collide into each other at much greater frequency if it wasn’t for accurate timing.
    What does this all have to do with the issue at hand? Marriage was instituted by God and the clarification of Biblical marriage in the New Testament is very clear. The reason that redefining marriage is troublesome is what becomes the standard for keeping order and harmony in a world teetering towards chaos? Do we really believe the definition of marriage will end as two people in a committed relationship (Gay or straight)? Within a few years we will want the definition of marriage to include: two men and one woman, three women and????
    So, elected officials, city councils, judges, college professors, pastors, and bloggers have all tried to define the proper definition for marriage. Ultimately we are headed for a train wreck because we are messing with foundational standards that not only Christians agree with, but amazingly the overwhelming percentage of all major world religions see marriage as it has been recognized for centuries.

    October 3, 2012
  130. kiffi summa said:

    to 33.2.2… David: the Council speaks for itself and for the principle it believes is upheld by the City Charter, which as they were quick to point out tonight, they have sworn to uphold.

    They are not telling anyone how to vote but speaking on principle, as they have done every time they endorse Poppy Day for the VFW.

    October 3, 2012
  131. kiffi summa said:

    to 33.2.3 … John: Once again you separate people out into groups/designations which imply ‘other’.

    There is no “gay community and their sympathizers” as you say; there are people who vehemently disagree with your position which would deny equal rights of personal discretion to all persons, and who also disagree with those portions of the ‘religious’ who would keep those rights to themselves.

    If you believe in one god, then you must believe that there is one god for all peoples on the earth. If those people are not all equal in that one god’s eyes, then you must believe in a god of discrimination, and all the talk of forgiveness is simply monumental BS, if you will excuse me saying so.
    I do not mean to insult, merely to be logical.

    October 3, 2012
  132. kiffi summa said:

    to 33.2.4 … John: you said: “Asside (sic) from the religions of our culture (all of them), there is really no other basis upon which to take a moral stand. Our laissez faire approach to morals as a society,…”

    I object vehemently also to your declaration that there is no moral stance outside religion. You included “all of them” and since they differ, in many important ways, not to say even strongly within branches of each religion, there cannot be one accepted “moral stand”.

    Do you accept that it is moral to stone to death a woman who is accused (not convicted) of adultery?
    Just one example; no need to belabor the point; many Islamists do not accept that as moral either.

    There is no “laissez faire” approach by those who seek equality for each and every human being’s personal life; that statement in itself condemns all whose opinions differ from yours as being of less worth in their general approach to life.

    It is insulting and demeaning to call the seeking of equal rights for all, a “whim”.

    Why can you not practice your personal religion in your personal way without seeking to infringe upon the rights of persons who hold a differing belief, very moral in their eyes , whether based on a religious precept or not so based?

    Can you not accept that your religion is not going to rule the world? and that you have no right to strive for that power ?

    October 3, 2012
  133. kiffi summa said:

    To #34 … Joe: your plea for keeping everything in a historical metric, as defined by the Bible’s New Testament, is not a convincing argument because it requires all to follow that discrete definition.

    You define yourself as a metrologist, one who measures.
    Then surely you must see that as society changes, so do the ‘measures’; we use to have slavery, no voting for women etc…Let me digress for a hilarious example: in MN it used to be illegal for women to be on a Library Board! That’s true; look it up.

    It does not hurt to validate a different ‘pattern’ for a loving, committed relationship unless you consider that new model to be so ‘wrong’ that it harms the larger society and/or exploits a vulnerable person, and if it is only ‘wrong’ in the eyes of like-thinking religious persons, then the redefining of a committed relationship does not harm the larger society.

    Ok… I’ll admit that it is the middle of the night as I write here, but I could not sleep because of the disturbing meanness of some of the discussion around this issue… and the seeming desire for power over people’s personal lives.
    I simply cannot understand the desire to control another human being’s personal life… that is a power not to be dictated by one philosophy, or religious belief system.

    Surely a successful society strives to empower personal relationships which model for harmony, not discontent; and should eschew constraints which dictate one model for all, regardless of individual personal belief.

    “Do no harm” is the strongest universal guiding belief, whether applied to the physical Earth, or its inhabitants.

    October 3, 2012
  134. Griff Wigley said:


    Nfld News: Council resolution says marriage amendment contradicts Northfield Constitution

    Five Northfield City Council Members voted Tuesday in favor of a statement that opposes the marriage amendment, saying it contradicts the city’s constitution. One council member abstained…

    Council Member Suzie Nakasian proposed new wording that removed that call to action. It says that the council opposes the marriage amendment on the grounds that it contradicts with the anti-discrimination portion of the city charter’s preamble.

    Here’s the wording of the resolution:

    “Be it resolved that the City Council of Northfield opposes the proposed constitutional amendment entitled “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman” on the grounds that the amendment contradicts the opening preamble of our City Charter which we are sworn to uphold.”

    October 3, 2012
  135. David Ludescher said:


    I do not know what “speaks for itself” means unless it means that they are stating their individual opinions. From their resolution, it sounds as if they are offering an unsolicited, quasi-judicial interpretation of the Charter.

    October 3, 2012
  136. Paul Zorn said:


    In 33.2.4 you assert that (my emphasis)

    [t]his fight has everything to do with religion …

    What do you mean by “everything”? Maybe your point is that all morality, and hence every question with a moral dimension, derives from religion. I disagree with this view, but think I understand it, so perhaps that’s all there is to say. Or maybe you’re saying that the marriage amendment “fight” is somehow between “religion” and “non-religion”.

    Or maybe something else … please help me not to misunderstand.

    October 3, 2012
  137. One man and many women, like David and his wives, whom we are told were a blessing from God for his righteousness, and if he had wanted more they would have been given to him?

    I think you are conflating two things: One is “conclusions which we can support with the Bible”, and another is “conclusions which we hold specifically because of the Bible and for no other reason”. Many moral claims, while consistent with traditional Christian views of the Bible, are also supported by other moral traditions; it is not obvious that the laws we have reflect the Bible specifically, rather than observations on morality that are shared by most people.

    And I would remind you: Not all Christians agree with your interpretation of the Bible’s stance on marriage. I don’t think it’s justifiable to claim that it’s “very clear” when people obviously disagree.

    Your “where will it end?” argument is not entirely persuasive, because it applied just as well to the gradual shift towards recognizing interracial marriages, or the end of the doctrine of coverture. I have no idea where it will end, but I also don’t think it’s my job to figure it out. My job is to answer the question put in front of me, which is whether people ought to be allowed to live according to their personal moral beliefs as long as they aren’t visibly hurting other people. I think the answer is “yes”, and that means I support the right for people to get legally married even if I personally don’t think their marriages are “valid”.

    October 3, 2012
  138. Ultimately, I guess what I find depressing about this is just the degree to which people appear to be conflating what seem to me to be very significantly different questions.

    The question “what do I believe is a valid marriage” and the question “what marriages should the government recognize” are not the same question! As people frequently note, this is fundamentally about religious beliefs. (Which, BTW, probably kills the amendment; if we can show that people intended it as an expression of their religious beliefs, which they certainly do, it’s unconstitutional even as a constitutional amendment.)

    The world is full of religious beliefs and practices which aren’t Christian, and which Christian churches typically condemn as invalid. Do we see people arguing that these religions should be denied recognition by the state, and that we should have a constitutional amendment explicitly carving out an exception for them from the standard freedom of religion? Not generally, no. Not because all the Christians think these religions are equally valid, because most don’t think that at all, but because our cultural norm is respecting other people’s right to believe differently. And not just their right to hold those beliefs, but to get the same basic respect and deference we grant everyone else’s beliefs.

    And then this issue comes along, and it’s suddenly totally different. People who are totally clear on these concepts the rest of the time suddenly stop talking about, or even acknowledging, the suffering people go through as a result of being second-class citizens. They stop acknowledging the right of other people to practice their religion and get the same respect and deference everyone else gets. We start hearing about this vast conspiracy to change social norms to include people who have been previously excluded… Why?

    I just don’t get it. I have talked to a lot of people over the years about this one, I’ve asked them to explain, and I have simply never found any explanation of how this issue is different from all the hundreds, and indeed thousands, of issues on which people are totally comfortable with the standard that the government lets different religions be practiced even when some of them disapprove of others.

    I pay taxes, same as everyone else. I hold down a job, I help out poor folks and charities, I do all the stuff that ought to make me a citizen (and I’ve been a citizen of the US since birth), but somehow, nearly half of Minnesotans have concluded that I am not really people. I’m not entitled to the same basic civil rights other people are. I’m not even entitled to decide for myself; I ought to just patiently wait while the real citizens talk about whether they want to consider things like me to be people.

    And ultimately, that is what it comes down to: If gays really are people, then they are entitled to the same basic respect and rights that other people are. And if we value religious freedom, then Twin Cities Friends Meeting has every bit as much of a right to perform marriages according to their beliefs as everyone else does, and they ought to receive the same legal recognition.

    October 3, 2012
  139. kiffi summa said:

    Peter: read John’s 33.2.4 again… He admits this has everything to do with religion and it does. These amendments to define marriage are pushed by conservative religious ideologies that believe (terribly misguided as they are, IMO) that any behaviors or beliefs that differ from theirs create a less than desirable world for them to live in.

    Their literature says it, their interpretation of the Bible confirms it for them, etc etc etc so that the bottom line is that the rest of the world who might believe differently are ‘tarnishing’ those religious conservatives’ world … so they don’t want to validate the worth of anyone else’s belief system and have their little version of the world less than what they want it to be.
    It’s all about them; it’s not about anyone else being happy, satisfied, secure, whatever.

    People who have these extremely hurtful, ultra conservative POV’s don’t care if the rest of the world is hurt by their discrimination; they don’t think the rest of us who believe differently are deserving of a peaceful secure life.

    I don’t give a fig or a penny for what they believe as long as they keep it to themselves and do not keep trying to impose their restrictions on other peoples lives.

    Any person may live their life under any belief system they want as long as they do not harm others.
    But people whose religious beliefs condemn others who believe differently, and consider other persons lives to be less valid because of those different beliefs are dealing with an unrecognizable god, IMO.

    They will not change, we must not let them devalue those they discriminate against.

    October 3, 2012
  140. john george said:

    Paul- Your question seems reasonably easy to answer, so I will respond to it first. In saying this push for this ammendment has everything to do with religion, I am just saying that the moral judgement against homosexuality is based there, not in science, and not in secular humanism. I’m not sure I can say this is between religion and non-religion because there are those who are “religiously” devoted to science and the quest for knowledge, and there are those who are “religiously” devoted to atheism. The real argument here is not about what should constitute marriage but about the validation of homosexuality.

    October 3, 2012
  141. john george said:

    Peter- Are you sure about this?

    And they are doing it for the same reason; because they are on top, and they derive pleasure from knowing that they have privileges which are denied to other people, whom they consider their inferiors.

    That is a pretty broad accusation, and it does not bear up under scriptural analysis. And this statement

    This isn’t about preserving a moral standard, it’s about keeping the second-class citizens second-class.

    is just unsubstanted, unless you know any people in this organization who have exibited these traits?

    The abolition of slavery, validation of interracial marriage, and the recognition of women as equals all have scriptural basis. You and I have talked about some of these things. What I have not found, nor have you pointed out to me, what scriptural basis there is to validate homosexuality. The pattern just doesn’t follow through.

    October 3, 2012
  142. john george said:

    Kiffi- My religion is not going to rule the world, but my God is. The only thing I strive for is the image of Jesus, and I fall far short of that. But because I fall short does not mean I will give up the quest. And, I will continue to freely express my convictions as long as the Constitution is still in power in this land. But, if the tenor of some of the things posted here is allowed to replace that Constitution, then my time to do so will surely end.

    October 3, 2012
  143. john george said:

    Kiffi- This statement is what laissez faire is all about-

    Any person may live their life under any belief system they want as long as they do not harm others.

    October 3, 2012
  144. john george said:

    Griff- If I remember my civics correctly, doesn’t the council have to have two public readings of this resolution before it can vote to adopt it?

    October 3, 2012
  145. It seems to me you’re rather more opposing the spirit of the Constitution than relying on it. The essential core of freedom of religion is that “my religion teaches that X is wrong” is not a good enough reason to make a law against X, because that is requiring other people to adhere to a thing solely because it is a tenet of your religion.

    That is pretty much the essence of “being contrary to the Constitution”.

    The only people here trying to undermine the Constitution of the US are the people running around trying to use constitutional amendments to do an end-run around clear determinations that their proposed laws are unconstitutional.

    What’s the point of even having a “constitution” if any time people think it’s inconvenient to have to respect other people’s freedoms, they can just go amend it to say “well, except those guys over there, they don’t get religious freedom, only we do”.

    October 4, 2012
  146. Well, that’s the thing, though. You feel that Scripture clearly condones interracial marriage, but a scant forty years ago, the reason people opposed it was, they said, the Bible. Same for the doctrine of coverture; it was absolutely clear to these people that the Bible absolutely mandated that husband and wife had no separate legal identity.

    As to validating homosexuality… There’s several separate questions here.

    1. Whether people are entitled to do something I personally think is wrong, but which doesn’t hurt me. I don’t think the Bible speaks very much on this topic, but the US Constitution is pretty clear on the right to liberty and pursuit of happiness.
    2. Whether homosexual sex is forbidden. I grant that people have reasonable grounds to think it is, but I have spent a heck of a lot of time studying it, and concluded that this is a misunderstanding of the text.
    3. Explicit “validation”. I don’t think there is any, nor do I think any is needed. I don’t need to be told specifically that something is okay to think it’s permitted; I just need to not have a good argument against it.

    A really detailed study of what the text says, and why I think it means one thing rather than another, is too big to post here. But it’s also not relevant. Where does the Bible validate “using the force of law to compel other people to act according to the tenets of our religion rather than their own”?

    If the amendment fails, and if Minnesota and the Federal government both declare same-sex marriages legal and valid, no one is forced to do anything they don’t want to do, except be polite and basically decent to other people. Yes, we might have to grant legal recognition to “marriages” which our religion teaches are invalid. But we’ve always had to do that; there are lots of people who don’t consider my marriage valid, but the goverment does, and anyone doing business in the US has to act as though it is no matter what they think.

    If this amendment passes, and same-sex marriage doesn’t become legal many people are denied basic legal rights and privileges.

    Thing is, the only difference is what happens to the people who want to have those marriages. The people who are in opposite-sex relationships have the same options no matter what. It never affects them.

    There is no meaningful comparison between having to act as though two people have a legally significant relationship even though you don’t think it’s a valid sacramental relationship, and not being able to obtain the basic legal rights that our society gives to spouses. One is at best a mild inconvenience that people ought to be bearing anyway out of common courtesy and decency; one is a devastating nightmare.

    October 4, 2012
  147. What I am not getting:

    How is a moral judgement rooted in religion remotely like an acceptable basis for a law? Isn’t the entire point that, if religions disagree on an issue, the government doesn’t pick one religion’s answer and force everyone else to live by it?

    Do you think a Constitutional amendment denying recognition of religions which are not monotheistic would be a reasonable law? If not, how is it different? The Bible’s condemnation of polytheistic religions is strong and unambiguous. And yet, when the federal government says that, yes, those are religions, and they are entitled to religious symbols on their tombstones in military cemetaries, a few people yell loudly about it, and everyone else shouts them down. Because we accept that the right to practice a different religion is a fundamental one.

    I simply can’t comprehend how this proposed amendment can not be immediately dismissed as a direct and unambiguous violation of one of our most fundamental principles. Just substitute out terms. “Should the state constitution be amended to affirm a particular religious belief held by many Christians, and to enforce behavior consistent with that belief on everyone else also?”

    Well, of course not.

    October 4, 2012
  148. John and Kiffi: I think you guys may be talking past each other on the laissez faire question.

    I tend to adopt a fairly hands-off approach with respect to how other people behave, but I personally try very hard to live up to my morals. I don’t have the belief that all actions are of equivalent moral value, or that there’s no difference between right and wrong; I just don’t feel it’s my place to demand that other people follow my moral beliefs. I would rather the government stick to providing a safe environment in which we can pursue our individual or group beliefs as we see fit. But for this to happen, we have to be willing to let other people do things which we think are wrong — otherwise, we’ve torn up the social contract which said that we had the right to do things that other people disapproved of, too.

    Here’s the thing. Say someone wants to pass a law which unambiguously infringes on traditional beliefs and behaviors of Christians, even though those behaviors don’t harm anyone else.

    What’s our counter? It can’t be “you can’t ban this just because you think it’s wrong”, because we’ve just established that we don’t believe that rule. We’ve shown that we can and will try to ban things that we think are “wrong”, even though we have no evidence that they hurt anyone.

    By pushing for this amendment, large portions of the Christian community have permanently abandoned the moral high ground when it comes to religious freedom. It’s not “freedom” if only the people on top are allowed to exercise it.

    October 4, 2012
  149. kiffi summa said:

    John: an ordinance requires published notice, a public hearing and two readings, and then 30 days to become a ‘law’…

    This is only a resolution, not an ordinance which becomes part of the City Code.

    October 4, 2012
  150. kiffi summa said:

    John: this is what some of us just can’t accept: … You said: “In saying this push for this ammendment has everything to do with religion, I am just saying that the moral judgement against homosexuality is based there,…”

    **** Why do you think your religiously based “moral judgement ” should become a law which applies to all people, whether they agree with your religiously based moral judgement or not?

    I thought we were through with that sort of totalitarian position…

    Isn’t “religiously based moral judgement” something we are protected against by our various levels of constitutions?

    October 4, 2012
  151. kiffi summa said:

    John: as a matter of fact, and definition, that is not what ‘laissez faire’ is about.

    The definition of laissez faire applies to the theory that gov’t should interfere as little as possible in economic affairs.
    Three dictionaries agree; Random House, American Heritage, and the Oxford American.

    October 4, 2012
  152. kiffi summa said:

    Peter: the truth as I see it, is Yes, we are all talking past each other , because there is no meeting of the minds on this issue.

    John, and his like believers will insist that they have the right to pass moral judgement on others… and … to the extent that they will try to pass laws to codify that “religiously based moral judgement”.

    I will not go quietly into that ‘great abyss’ which removes a freedom central to the constitutional core of this country.

    October 4, 2012
  153. David Ludescher said:

    Kiffi and Seebs,

    There can be no meeting of the minds when we don’t start from the same place. Here are the facts:
    1. The law currently limits the government’s recognition of marriage to one man and one woman.
    2. The current amendment seeks to make this law a constitutional law as opposed to a statutory law.
    3. There is a constitutional right to “marry” whomever you wish, but only marriages of one man and one woman will be recognized as valid by the government.
    4. Governmental marriage has nothing to do with love or commitment.

    Given those precepts, the question is whether the current law should be codified in the constitution.

    If it is not codified in the Constitution, the question for society is going to be what the new definition of marriage should be. Should it be based upon love? commitment? Two persons? Children? Discarded? What, if any, will be the discriminating factors?

    Almost all of the arguments proposed on both sides are irrelevant to the main concern – Should marriage as currently defined be put out of reach of government and be put in the hands of the people? (Remember the constitutional amendment can be repealed just like it is being proposed.)

    It is not helpful for the discussion (although it seems to win a lot of political points) to suggest that one side is doing it for “religious reasons”. It would be more helpful to state what you believe will be final definition of marriage, if any, when we are all done. What will be its elements? Why will or should government accord it special privilege?

    October 4, 2012
  154. kiffi summa said:

    David: John has stated several times in this discussion that his position is based on a moral judgement which is religiously based, so it is not inappropriate to comment on that… and then the related issue of whether that should be any part of a governmental definition.

    October 4, 2012
  155. Actually, I’m not sure about your first point. What does Minnesota currently do about people who are legally married in another state, but who couldn’t have gotten a legal marriage here?

    And it absolutely matters that the reasoning is religious. That makes this proposed amendment unambiguously unconstitutional; it’s an imposition of religious beliefs. Would you stand for a Catholic-backed amendment asserting that the state of Minnesota will not recognize any remarriage after divorce as a marriage? Of course not! It would be ridiculous for us to embed one church’s religious beliefs about marriage in the Constitution of our state, and dismiss all the others.

    The right to marriage is not just a right to whatever ceremony you want; it’s a right to all the rights and privileges, like hospital visitation rights, notification of deaths in military service, and all the other things which 90% of our population can take for granted. And the only way we can really do that is to have the government let people get legal recognition for their marriages, period.

    The characterization of this as moving the definition “to the people” is highly disingenuous. The tyranny of the majority is contrary to our principles of liberty. If it were up to the majority, interracial relationships wouldn’t have been legal until the 70s or 80s, or possibly the 90s. The point of the Constitution is to protect minorities from majorities who don’t care about them, or who are actively hostile to them.

    October 4, 2012
  156. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to use the term more broadly to talk about the government avoiding involvement in many other things. And religion and morality among the things I definitely want the government staying out of as much as possible.

    I do not think it is possible for people to make real moral choices under duress. Legal force is a kind of force. Any time we make moral rules into laws, we limit the scope of human moral experience and growth. Now, there’s good reasons to do that sometimes — protecting people from harm, for instance. But it’s a bad thing to do, and should never be regarded as anything better than the lesser of two evils.

    October 4, 2012
  157. Joe Dokken said:


    Three questions. Answering these questions helps me understand your point in 43.1.3

    #1 Do you consider your judgements to be moral?

    #2 Are all moral judgements religiously motivated?

    #3 If moral judgements are not exculisvely owned by the religous crowd, who else can accept/claim ownership?


    October 4, 2012
  158. kiffi summa said:

    Joe: #1. yes
    #2. no
    #3. cultural influences, constitutional influences, scientific influences, common sense, genetic predisposition to altruism (sociobiology), and some religious influences.

    here’s a question for you, Joe : Do you think it is possible for a Atheist, a homosexual, or a religious person that is not a conservative Christian to be moral?

    October 4, 2012
  159. I would point out that most moral judgements which are ascribed to religion are suspiciously well aligned with the surrounding culture. There is far more similarity in moral beliefs between atheists, Christians, and Muslims who live in Minnesota than there is between Christians in Minnesota and Christians in Uganda. I’ve often had people tell me with absolute sincerity that the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves”, and I’ve more than once seen Christians respond with derisive laughter to the thought of responding to hostility with anything other than even more hostility.

    October 4, 2012
  160. john george said:

    Kiffi- Thanks for the clarification.

    October 4, 2012
  161. john george said:

    Kiffi- This is a direct quote out of Webster’s on-line dictionary defining laissez-faire-

    a philosophy or practice characterized by a usually deliberate abstention from direction or interference especially with individual freedom of choice and action

    October 4, 2012
  162. john george said:

    Peter- It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “God helps those who help themselves.”

    It really goes against human nature to respond to hostilities by turning the other cheek. It is also against human nature to bless those who despitefully use you. Examining how one responds to these types of instances is a pretty good thermometer to one’s own level of Holy Spirituality. Dying to one’s self is just not enjoyable, but it reaps eternal benefits.

    October 4, 2012
  163. john george said:

    Joe- Probably a little of a person’s perspective on moral judgements depends upon whether a person considers religions as creations of men. I think that is a characteristic of the difference between a religion and what we consider Christianity. We believe Christianity emanates from God, not man. If a person doesn’t believe this, then they will have a hard time accepting what we say.

    October 4, 2012
  164. john george said:

    Kiffi- “Do no harm,” is the basic tenet of the Wiccan religion. Are you saying that this religion should then have sway over every other religion?

    October 4, 2012
  165. Yes. And that’s the thing — if someone tells me that their morals are based in Christianity, but they tell me that it’s stupid to not try to hurt people who hurt you, or that the Bible teaches “God helps those who help themselves”, then I am pretty skeptical of the claim that their morals are meaningfully based on their religion. I know some really do base their morals on their religion, but not nearly as many who use the religion as a cover for what they’d like to do otherwise.

    October 4, 2012
  166. No, it’s Hippocrates who should have sway over everything. 🙂

    Which is to say: There is a distinction between “X is a tenet of religion Y” and “the only reason anyone is using X as a standard is that they adhere to religion Y”.

    There are at least three separate questions here:

    1. What do I personally think is right?
    2. What am I willing to try to coerce or force other people to do, or to not do?
    3. What do I think the government should try to coerce or force other people to do, or to not do?

    These are sorted by how restrictive I think they should be. There are a lot of things I will personally not do, but which I make no effort to coerce other people to not do. I might tell them I think they should do otherwise, but that’s as far as it goes.

    When we get to government, I turn it back even further. The government cannot exercise judgement or consider context, timing, or anything else like that. So I think the government’s restrictions on our behavior should be fairly minimal, with a strict requirement that they be justified with “our society will be unable to function without that restriction”.

    My personal beliefs about when divorce is or isn’t a reasonable choice are comparatively restrictive, and I have certainly advised people to give relationships a bit more of a chance than they might otherwise have done. But when it comes to the law? I think the government should stay out and let the people involved make that call.

    If I can’t offer a justification for a course of action which is reasonably persuasive even to people who don’t share my religion, then it may well be right, and it may well be reasonable for me to advocate for it, but it seems to me that imposing it by law would be utterly inappropriate, and probably evil.

    October 4, 2012
  167. Christ’s teachings emanate from God. Christianity… well, that’s not quite the same thing, now is it? The word can refer to any of “the set of institutions” (which strike me as clearly man-made), “the set of beliefs held by the adherents” (which are a mix of bits and pieces, many obviously man-made), “the particular religion a person practices” (which can be nearly anything)…

    I am not a big fan of Westboro Baptist, and I think what they are doing is shameful and disgraceful, and certainly unrelated to the teachings of Jesus… But I am not quite sure I have adequate grounds to declare it not to be an example of “Christianity”.

    October 4, 2012
  168. john george said:

    Yep. Jesus said that we will know them by their fruits. It is a lot easier to go after bad apples in the bin rather than to properly store the apples to begin with so that they will be less likely to spoil. I’m all for storing them properly in the first place.

    October 4, 2012
  169. I currently believe that attempts to impose moral standards as law are actually the source of a great deal of that problem. Morality isn’t achieved by going through the motions; when people behave a given way because it’s the law, they are doing so without genuinely thinking about the moral issue. And then we end up with the inevitable problems of a formalized law; people telling Jesus and the disciples not to pick up food on the Sabbath, because that’s working, and you’re not supposed to work on the Sabbath. And people end up condemning behavior because it violates a formalized rule, rather than out of any genuine moral consideration.

    The only way to avoid this, I think, is to enforce only what you must enforce to have a functional society, and let people make their own moral decisions, even when those decisions are wrong. Then it becomes possible for them to genuinely consider the moral issue without the distraction of the law.

    It may seem counterintuitive, but it is consistently borne out; try as we might to force people to be good, all that results is a rigid power structure which is unconcerned with people’s wellbeing, only with their conformance to a set of rules. When we stop trying to force goodness, we find that people are frequently led into it by a mechanism beyond the scope of our government and laws.

    Which is a bit of a digression from the question of where people’s morals come from. I think in the common case today, the answer is “objection, assumes facts not in evidence; no one has established that these sets of rules can be accurately called moral rules in the first place.” The bulk of what is called morality, and claims to come from religion, is nothing but cultural norms upheld as moral ideals, and comes from the society people grew up in and live in now, not from their religion.

    October 4, 2012
  170. john george said:

    Peter- You touch on a good observation here. If morality was only outward actions, then laws would be effective in bringing moral transformation. In other words, people would not drive 65 mph on a road posted for 55 mph. It is quite evident that these laws do not impose any change in behavior. What is an effective deterent to speeding is the fact that “law enforcement” officers do patrol roads randomly and have authority to impose fines or revocation of a license to drive, depending upon the level of offence. Is it just fear of retribution, then, that brings order to our society? Is this really bringing about “morality” in our society?

    But what happens when a person’s heart reaction to the law is actually changed? That person has no need to fear law enforcement officers, because his motivation to obey the law is not fear based. It is a genuine desire to obey the law.

    This is the same process that happens when a person is born of the Spirit. His obedience to a moral code changes from a fear of being caught and judged to a true desire to please God. Adherance to a relgion can be forced upon someone, but there is not a change of heart by coercion. Christianity is all about a change of heart, not just an action, and this comes about through a personal relationship with Father God.

    I therefore do not hope to bring any change to anyone through government activation of the marriage amendment. But for me to vote against it would be an ambivalance in my relationship with God.

    October 4, 2012
  171. kiffi summa said:

    John: I guess I was being obtuse, out of not wanting to be aggressive; I was making a point about your comment, about my comment, which essentially said people should be allowed to live their own personal lives without the behavior police coming around as long as they did not harm others.

    October 5, 2012
  172. kiffi summa said:

    Peter: you said something really interesting that ties in closely with a class I am currently taking, “Sociobology”:
    You said: “When we stop trying to force goodness, we find that people are frequently led into it by a mechanism beyond the scope of our government and laws.”

    Sociologists and biologists have fought for years over the predominance of ‘nurture’ versus ‘nature’.
    Sociobiologists now think that nature wins, in that there are many strong reasons to believe that a large degree of ‘altruism ‘ is genetically established and reinforced through the positive outcomes of a species related successes.

    Of course, one has to believe in evolution, to affirm this thinking….

    October 5, 2012
  173. There are at least two types of marriage in this country. The civil licensing and the religious sacrament. I would speak to the Catholic angle of religious sacrament. First, there are seven sacraments that Catholics have that help them unify with the Church and Christ. Marriage is one of them. In order to be married, you must be a man and a woman, you must be Catholic or get special dispensation. Those are the rules of the church and no one has the right to break those rules without a very long term think by the holy men of the church. Rarely if ever do the lay people make a difference in those decisions as their judgment is more usually based in what is convenient for the times, whereas the holy men think more in terms of generational good with as much respect to humanity as if to Jesus Chris, God and the Saints. You wouldn’t want to abort a saint, or stick things into them.

    Hospitals should find out who significant others are and allow them marital rights. Tax laws should be rewritten to allow for inheritance to significant others through registration or some such thing. Let the GLBT people make their own rules and we won’t bug them about getting into their sacraments, as equal rights calls for.
    I like many gay people, as I like non gays, and I don’t mean to offend anyone. Just getting tired of people telling us what to do when marriage is a wonderful thing just the way it is. It was never meant to be a vehicle for other rights and cover other laws.

    October 5, 2012
  174. Joe Dokken said:

    Yes, because their behavior is not based on their label.

    Also, I’ve seen Christians act very immoral, and wonder what happened to the guidance of God’s Spirit in their life.

    Yet in the greater picture of mankind, the largest groups of moral people are Christians.

    Morals and “free spirited, let people do whatever they want” should not be confused.

    My foundation for morals knows the difference between right or wrong.

    I may not get caught speeding, it still is wrong!
    I may not get caught cheating on my spouse, it is still wrong!
    I may not get caught cheating on my Taxes, it is still wrong!
    I may not get caught voting twice (Once in my College town, and once in my home town)it still is wrong!
    I may not get caught taking funds from the 501(c)(3) I oversee, it is still wrong!
    I may not get caught taking down the pro marriage signs in NFLD, it is still wrong! (Goes for the other sign too)

    God is watching everything we do, and he keeps records.
    No different than what we do with relationships in our lives.

    October 5, 2012
  175. Assuming for the sake of argument that we assume a similar amendment on an issue where I agree that the amendment describes a more-moral state: I would vote against an amendment because I care more about moral change than about changes in outward behavior.

    The key here is that someone who is not already inclined to follow the law is hindered in that transformation by the existence of the law. A law prohibiting cruel speech creates an environment in which it is much less likely for people to come to experience a genuine internal awareness that cruelty is wrong.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that there is something morally wrong with gay relationships, laws against them serve to prevent people from coming to realize this. They are a stumbling block, and as such, I have to oppose them.

    … Of course, in this particular case, I have gradually been led to believe that the passages people in our culture usually associate with homosexuality have nothing to do with it, and are about something else. So that’s another reason for me to oppose such laws.

    The nature of human relationships with both our sense of right and wrong and our society’s laws is such that, in general, we have to choose whether we want to coerce conformance with the outward form of a rule, or lead people to a personal commitment to that rule. Doing the former directly undermines any efforts towards the latter.

    October 5, 2012
  176. I’d point something out:

    The Catholic Church did not perform marriage ceremonies until around the 1100s. Marriage is unique among sacraments in that it is performed by the participants, not by the priest. And the Church has pretty much always recognized that marriages by non-Catholics are in general valid marriages. They don’t believe that all Buddhist couples are engaging in premarital sex; they distinguish between “a marriage which the Church knows to be sacramentally valid” and “a marriage which may be valid but we don’t have definite knowledge”.

    What you describe wanting is exactly what all the LGBT people want: They want the legal rights and privileges (and responsibilities). That’s all that’s ever at issue when we talk about what laws the state has. The Catholic Church does not recognize remarriage after divorce, the state does. No one freaks out about the state asserting that remarried couples are married, or even about the state requiring employers to extend marital rights to the spouses in a remarriage.

    And that’s all that anyone wants; for the state to recognize those legal rights the same way for everybody. No one expects the Catholic Church to change its rules for which marriages are considered sacramentally valid. No one’s asking for that. They’re just asking the Church to stop demanding that relationships which aren’t sacramentally valid don’t get legal recognition.

    Seriously, how is this hard? How is this in any way different from remarriage, which we’ve been living with for a good fifty-plus years now? You may rest assured, my general impression of serial monogamy is not noticably more positive than that of the most conservative Catholics. I don’t personally think Rush Limbaugh has been genuinely married four times. But I don’t object to the government rule being that I have to treat him and his current legal spouse as legally married.

    October 5, 2012
  177. There’s a lot of fascinating interactions, and there are many things you can do to increase or decrease the awareness people have of their moral choices, or influence the ones they’re not aware of. There is a sort of fussy question here; morally, I object to people being tricked into behaving in useful ways, but I also recognize that society needs to do some of that to be functional. (And that tricking people into it by exploiting the way their brains work is infinitely more effective than trying to use force.)

    October 5, 2012
  178. Todd Amunrud said:

    “Yet in the greater picture of mankind, the largest groups of moral people are Christians.”

    Joe, can you provide any evidence for this? I would call this an irrelevant statement. I also do not think can be quantified.

    October 5, 2012
  179. Joe Dokken said:


    Let’s see….Since being moral is about doing what is right rather than what is wrong.(Very Basic Premise)
    Since the scriptures tell me, that not doing what is right is just as bad as doing what is wrong.
    My best observation throughout the world and since the dawn of Christianity is the number of benevolent organizations that were started by those motivated by their faith verses those who just want to help people, which is also very commendable.
    Feeding Programs, Hospitals, Orphanages, Education, the list goes on.
    It would take way to way too long to list the churches, Para churches, individuals, who do this because it is the right thing to do.
    I know you can tell me, like others have, about the nut cases who have done horrible things in the name of God.
    No doubt ….so let’s all quit going to Doctors because there are a few unscrupulous ones out there.

    October 5, 2012
  180. Patrick Enders said:


    I’m confused. Why is it more moral to behave positively because “God is watching everything we do, and he keeps records,” than to behave positively because “the police are watching, and they keep records”?

    Either example implies that the primary motivation for behaving appropriately is fear of retribution, or (perhaps) hope for reward. That seems to suggest little difference between christian morality and non-christian morality, of the sort which John George asserted above at 45.2.5.

    October 5, 2012
  181. Joe Dokken said:


    The point is everything we do is being recorded.

    I’m motivated by both love and law.

    I never said I am more moral because of God.

    My point has always been God is the standard of Morality

    A Christians reward is not based upon what he/she does, it based upon what Christ did.

    God tells us in his word to Honor and Fear those who rule over us. (This includes governmental authorities)

    Love and Law are two great pillars in my life.

    The reason the Football Homecoming game tonight (Based on the premise of a Raider win! GO RAIDERS!) will have such great joy and satisfaction attached to it is because the winners played by the rules. They can be the greatest athletes in the world, but if they cheat, it means nothing.
    Case in point is the cheaters from the Bayou who had to injure #4 to have a chance to win.

    How many Viking fans have a bad taste in their mouth after finding out the truth?

    The reason any sporting event victor can celebrate his accomplishment with great pride is because he played by the rules.

    He loved his sport enough to honor the integrity of the game.

    I love my God enough to honor the integrity of his game and his name.
    I do my very best to play by the rules.

    Enron, Lance Armstrong, Ted Haggard, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Swaggart, Wall Street, Various Unions, Bad Cops, Berne Madoff, (add whatever name you like…)


    October 5, 2012
  182. You say “being moral is about doing what is right rather than what is wrong”. You may not be aware that this itself is disputed. See, if it were just about “doing what is right”, then salvation would come through works; you would be a good person if you did good things, and intent and spirit would not enter into it. So a person who hates the poor, but gives them food because giving food to the poor is how you get to Heaven, would be “doing what is right”.

    But that’s not really how traditional Christian theology evaluates morality. It’s not about “doing what is right”; it’s about a transformation of identity. No amount of “doing right” could make the Pharisees righteous, because they were acting for the wrong reasons. Acting for right reasons is moral action, even if your choices are poor. Acting for wrong reasons is immoral action, even if your choices end up helping people.

    And it turns out that:
    1. Trying to prevent gays from acquiring civil rights is very definitely harming people.
    2. The vast majority of the people doing so are doing so for wrong reasons.

    David Blankenhorn, one of the primary advocates of preventing gay marriage, eventually switched sides for that latter reason; it became clear that trying to prevent gay marriage was not improving the health of the institution of marriage, and that the main motivation he encountered among his nominal allies was animus towards gays, not any kind of interest in strengthening the institution of marriage.

    October 5, 2012
  183. Todd Amunrud said:

    But you didn’t answer my question Joe. I am not Christian and hold a good understanding of right and wrong. And in terms of your contribution, it does not address the question at hand. Others have already covered that eloquently. This is not about any nut-cases, it’s about equality.

    October 6, 2012
  184. Joe Dokken said:

    You just don’t like the answer I gave. Actions speak louder than words.
    The Christian church has done more compassionate, moral things than any other one group.
    My connection should be obvious, why would a bunch of “homophobic” labeled Christians want to stand in disagreement with a group of individuals who want to call their relationship a marriage unless we truly believe the scriptures clearly tell us what a Biblical marriage should look like.
    I don’t wish ill will on those in same sex relationships, a matter of fact, as a Pastor of a conservative Christian Church in Northfield we helped out people who clearly were homosexual. God’s love compels us to help all people. But it does not require us to endorse their lifestyle. The problem with some Christian Churches is they ignore certain groups of people because they are different, and don’t fit their mold.
    As moral, benevolent Christians there is a standard we must follow. That is why the majority of the Christian Church is not in agreement with opening up the definition of marriage to something beyond long standing tradition and the clear Biblical stand of the largest portion of the Church worldwide.
    Has the American Christian Church always been on the right side of big issues? No, we have had our moments, Slavery, rights of Women, etc…But the issue at hand is much different.

    October 6, 2012
  185. Todd Amunrud said:

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

    October 6, 2012
  186. Paul Zorn said:


    You said in 40.1:

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

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

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

    October 6, 2012
  187. Joe Dokken said:

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

    October 6, 2012
  188. Paul Zorn said:


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

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

    October 6, 2012
  189. Usually when I say things, it’s because I believe them to be true and want to try to persuade people of them, to which end I will usually present evidence or argumentation supporting them. If I can’t offer people a reason to believe what I tell them, I don’t see what good it does to tell them.

    October 7, 2012
  190. Todd Amunrud said:

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

    October 7, 2012
  191. Phil Poyner said:

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

    October 7, 2012
  192. kiffi summa said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    October 7, 2012
  193. Joe Dokken said:

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

    I rest my point.

    October 7, 2012
  194. Todd Amunrud said:

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

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

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

    October 7, 2012
  195. kiffi summa said:

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

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

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

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

    I really want an answer to this issue of exclusivity…

    October 7, 2012
  196. john george said:

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

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

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

    October 7, 2012
  197. john george said:

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

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

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

    October 7, 2012
  198. john george said:

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

    October 7, 2012
  199. john george said:


    is that a Christian Jesus- centered expression of tolerance?

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

    October 7, 2012
  200. The argument isn’t “if there exists a religious argument for a law, it shouldn’t be a law”. It’s “if there does not exist a non-religious argument for a law, it shouldn’t be a law”.

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

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

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

    October 8, 2012
  201. David Roberts said:

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

    October 8, 2012
  202. Paul Zorn said:


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

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

    October 8, 2012
  203. It seems to me that the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees was in no small part their efforts to impose their standards on other people. The conflicts we see tend to revolve around situations in which they are trying to enforce rules and condemn others for failing to follow those rules.

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

    October 8, 2012
  204. kiffi summa said:

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

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

    Joe: got an answer for me?

    October 8, 2012
  205. john george said:

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

    October 8, 2012
  206. john george said:

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

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

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

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

    October 8, 2012
  207. john george said:

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

    October 8, 2012
  208. Joe Dokken said:


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

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

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

    October 8, 2012
  209. That gets complicated. Long story short:
    1. No, none of them embraced homosexuality as the norm. I’ve never heard of any culture anywhere which did. I’ve heard of cultures which treated it as a rare and interesting variant that was not shamed or derided, but never of it being the “norm” in any meaningful sense. The Greeks had a fair amount of tolerance for gay sex, but not nearly as much for long-term stable gay relationships, if any.
    2. None of the people that the Hebrews were comparing with had any concept of a stable long-term relationship between same-sex partners. The only model they had for gay sex was orgies and cult prostitution. They had no notion of a stable relationship between adults, neither of whom was a slave.

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

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

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

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

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

    October 8, 2012
  210. Adam Elg said:

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

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

    VOTE NO!

    October 9, 2012
  211. Well, here’s the thing.

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

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

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

    October 9, 2012
  212. Adam Elg said:

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

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

    October 9, 2012
  213. john george said:

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

    October 9, 2012
  214. I would definitely say that John George has shown real interest in listening to and understanding other people’s points of view; this is not the same thing as adopting them, necessarily.

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

    October 10, 2012
  215. The Catholic Church will recognize any marriage at any time if you in good conscience feel that your first or any other marriage had good reason to end. Just as any person may come back to the church as a full member if they can honestly say that they have done the best they can and will strive to do better, or something to the effect that you have your head on straight and will not succumb to whatever it is that send things down the wrong path. It is really a decision between you and Jesus or Mary, etc. This goes for excommunicated people as well.

    October 10, 2012
  216. Griff Wigley said:

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

    October 10, 2012
  217. kiffi summa said:

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

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

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

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

    VOTE NO!

    October 10, 2012
  218. William Siemers said:

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

    October 10, 2012
  219. I don’t think that the Biblical rationales are a good way to run a government that is, after all, supposed to be a government for everyone, not just Christians. But I know some people value them pretty highly. So… If I want to talk to people about what they will, or should, do, I pretty much have to be willing to talk about the frameworks within which they make those decisions if I want to learn anything.

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

    October 10, 2012
  220. It’s complicated. In theory, you have to get an annulment or you cannot validly remarry. In some cases the priest or bishop will make a judgement call to overlook that, but in some cases they won’t; there are real people out there who have been told that they cannot be considered validly married by the Church due to a previous marriage. And heck, I know of priests who will happily accept gay couples as valid for purposes of Communion and such; there’s a certain amount of diversity on the fringes. (More detailed discussion of the topic.)

    But there is definitely a formal teaching that remarriage is invalid, and doesn’t count. And yet! No one cares. Because we don’t think that legal marriage and church marriage have to be aligned. Unless it’s gay marriage, at which point suddely it’s a horrible thing if the government recognizes a relationship that some churches don’t.

    I don’t get it.

    October 10, 2012
  221. john george said:

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

    October 10, 2012
  222. rob hardy said:

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

    October 10, 2012
  223. Phil Poyner said:

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

    October 10, 2012
  224. I guess the big difference is, I see no reason for which the state needs to legislate a particular view of marriage as the only permissible one. It seems to me that there is no compelling interest here. States and countries which have had legal gay marriage for years show absolutely no problems — while places where people actively fight against recognition of gay marriage have catastrophic failures of the marriage institution.

    You cannot defend societal bonds by excluding people from them.

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

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

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

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

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

    October 11, 2012
  225. David Henson said:

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

    October 12, 2012
  226. kiffi summa said:

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

    October 12, 2012
  227. rob hardy said:

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

    October 12, 2012
  228. Phil Poyner said:

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

    October 12, 2012
  229. I would love to think about it! If only some of them could give details and answer questions about this when I want to know more about some of their terms, or ask about the reasoning that connects a premise to a conclusion.

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

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

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

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

    October 12, 2012
  230. john george said:

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

    October 12, 2012
  231. Well, here’s the thing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    October 12, 2012
  232. john george said:

    Peter- The ballot summary says-

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

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

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

    October 12, 2012
  233. john george said:

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

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

    I think that is a two-way street.

    October 12, 2012
  234. The ballot summary can say anything it wants. The sole power of law is to define legal things. The only “definition” under discussion is the legal definition, because that’s the only definition the law cares about. It’s not about dictionaries. It’s not about altars. It’s about who gets legal rights recognized and who doesn’t. It cannot be about anything else, because the law has no authority to speak to anything else. Any time you are talking about legislation, including laws-about-laws (such as the Constitution), you are talking exclusively about legalities to begin with.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    October 12, 2012
  235. john george said:

    Peter- Your comment-

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

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

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

    October 15, 2012
  236. kiffi summa said:

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

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

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

    October 15, 2012
  237. john george said:

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

    October 15, 2012
  238. (Bronchitis sucks, get better!)

    There’s two separate questions here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wikipedia has lots of links if you want to read more about the historical understandings of this text:

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

    October 15, 2012
  239. While I’m posting interesting links, a fascinating observation on why people treat gay relationships differently. Which is: When people think about straight couples, since they’re thinking about normal couples, they think of chicken soup when you have a cold, and staying up late talking about movies, and stuff like that. When they think about gay couples, they are thinking about sex.

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

    October 16, 2012
  240. kiffi summa said:

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

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

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

    No need to say anything more …

    October 16, 2012
  241. Paul Zorn said:


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

    October 16, 2012
  242. john george said:

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

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

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

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

    October 16, 2012
  243. kiffi summa said:

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

    October 16, 2012
  244. john george said:

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

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

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

    October 16, 2012
  245. Well, conveniently, the research has been done, and the answer is: People who are forcibly put near other people that are different and thus scary and alien are overwhelmingly likely to stop being freaked out by it. Forced desegregation of schools dramatically reduced observed racism in the majority of kids.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    October 16, 2012
  246. kiffi summa said:

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

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

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

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

    October 16, 2012
  247. I’m not disputing the claim that “yadda” might well mean “have sex with”. I’m just pointing out that, for two thousand years, everyone knew this was about hospitality; the new interpretation is a change.

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

    As to crafting new legal rights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    October 16, 2012
  248. Griff Wigley said:

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

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

    October 16, 2012
  249. Sadly, by the time I got down there to ask them to, yes, please explain this, they were gone.

    October 16, 2012
  250. john george said:

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

    October 17, 2012
  251. This specific program is certainly intended to eradicate one category of beliefs, not about gays specifically but about all manner of groups of people (liberals, conservatives, blacks, whites, asians, hispanics, gays, Christians, Jews, Muslims, etcetera). Which is the category of beliefs that can only be held by people who don’t know any of the people in question.

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

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

    So things like this are probably socially useful.

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

    October 18, 2012
  252. kiffi summa said:

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

    October 19, 2012
  253. Paul Zorn said:

    Two developments on the marriage front:

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

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

    October 22, 2012
  254. I do think homosexual marriage will be good for the economy, except for real estate perhaps. Marriage is a huge business for florists, hair dressers, wedding gowns and tuxedo rentals, bakeries, shoes, jewelry, air travel, you name it, about every retailer gets a piece of that pie.

    October 22, 2012
  255. In general, marriage tends to make for stronger and healthier communities. Some of the economic boosts from recognizing same-sex marriages probably only work if not everyone does it — people come to places where they can get married, and/or move to places where their marriages will be recognized. But some of the benefits are more structural.

    October 22, 2012
  256. David Ludescher said:


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

    October 24, 2012
  257. Paul Zorn said:


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

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

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

    Stuff like that.

    October 24, 2012
  258. David Ludescher said:


    The editorial was stuffed full of legal and factual untruths.

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

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

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

    October 24, 2012
  259. Oh, that’s really disappointing. Surely you can do better. Restricting something to men is equivalent to banning it for women; likewise, restricting marriage to opposite-sex pairs does indeed prohibit gay marriage.

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

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

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

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

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

    October 24, 2012
  260. Paul Zorn said:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    October 24, 2012
  261. David Henson said:

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

    October 25, 2012
  262. Phil Poyner said:

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

    October 25, 2012
  263. Paul Zorn said:


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

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

    October 25, 2012
  264. kiffi summa said:

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

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

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

    October 25, 2012
  265. David Ludescher said:


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

    October 25, 2012
  266. David Henson said:

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

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

    October 25, 2012
  267. Paul Zorn said:

    David H,

    Just to be clear …

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

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

    October 25, 2012
  268. There are probably just as many people who avoid an area populated by people who are unlike themselves. Goes both ways.

    October 25, 2012
  269. First, this is simply false: Neither of them has adopted language keeping the traditional definition of marriage. When they have language which states explicitly that the woman ceases to have distinct legal rights, and cannot be prosecuted for anything she does on her husband’s orders, then you can truthfully say that they have adopted the traditional definition. As is, all they’ve done is cherry-pick for the emotional comfort of some people.

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

    October 27, 2012
  270. In the long run, surely that’s true; there’s no way an amendment like this will survive another generation. Well, maybe one and a half; I don’t think the last anti-interracial marriage amendment got struck from a state constitution until 2000 or so.

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

    October 27, 2012
  271. Griff Wigley said:

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

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

    I suggest waiting 2 years, and maybe 4.

    November 8, 2012
  272. I just hope we keep Minnesotans for Marriage as the opposition. The venom in their writing really helps remind people of what’s at issue here.

    November 8, 2012
  273. Adam Elg said:

    From Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

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

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

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

    November 8, 2012
  274. Griff Wigley said:

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

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

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

    November 9, 2012
  275. Jane McWilliams said:

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

    November 9, 2012
  276. I think right now, there’s a large number of people who might vote no on this as a constitutional amendment, but who would happily vote in favor of a regular law banning gay marriage if it weren’t already illegal, or against a change to permit it. And if that “large number” were, say, 3% or so, that might be enough to change the outcome.

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

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

    November 9, 2012

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