Friday, April 01, 2011

A Conservative Argument for Marriage Equality: (NOT an "April Fool's Joke!")

File this one under must read -- the "Guest opinion" in today' s DeMoines Register by former Iowa Republican State Senator Jeff Angelo offering a conservative argument FOR marriage equality.
  • Bookmark this one to refer back to when you need to be reminded that hearts, minds and votes DO change.

  • Forward this one to your friends, relatives and colleagues who are currently where Angelo "was" on the issue of marriage equality.

  • But first read it and give thanks for his witness ... and consider joining me in sending him an email to thank him for it.
Why my view on same-sex marriage has changed -- Jeff Angelo I served 12 years in the Iowa Senate, and I, like all other legislators, took an oath to defend the our state's constitution. During my tenure in the Senate, I voted for a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and I was lead sponsor for a similar amendment.

I heard from my church and my fellow Republicans that homosexuality was wrong, and I thought I could lovingly disagree with them. I could "hate the sin, love the sinner" as people say when they do not believe gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry. But there came a point when I could no longer ignore how much this attitude hurt the people I know. Because this issue is not about rhetoric; this issue is about people and their freedom to choose a spouse.

Our constitution exists to protect the rights of individuals, and does so by limiting the government's power to control the lives and properties of citizens. A constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, instead of limiting government control, would limit the ability of a select group of citizens to enter into civil marriage, therefore violating the very purpose of our constitution.

When we start allowing constitutional amendments that limit individual control, and give that control over to the government, we open ourselves up to more limitations on our individual freedom. It's easy to feel so passionately about an issue that you don't look at it objectively, but what happens when the individual freedom we're discussing is gun control or universal health care? We need to set aside the rhetoric and look at the slope on which we're starting to slide.

This debate centers on a devaluation of the lives of select group of people. At its worst we are being asked to believe that our gay friends and neighbors are involved in a nefarious agenda, the outcome of which is supposedly the unraveling of society itself. It's tempting to place the blame for all society's ills at one doorstep; indeed, that has been the plight of minorities throughout history. But a villain like that only exists in movies. In reality, the forces we face are all the same: getting a good job, supporting our families and making our communities better places to live.

The stability of marriage and the sanctity of personal liberty are the foundations of conservative values, and we should be glad those values are spreading and being embraced in so many different walks of life. They are universal and fundamental.

There is no reason to think heterosexual marriage is threatened by gays and lesbians getting married. There will be the same number of heterosexual marriages, divorces and children born. Churches can choose not to marry same-sex couples, and churches that do have the religious freedom to perform those ceremonies.

Whether or not you agree with gay marriage, we're all joined by our love of liberty. Free citizens are allowed to disagree and live their lives as they choose without fear of government reprisal as long as life and property are not threatened.

The tenor of this debate does not serve the people Iowa well, and is not in keeping with an Iowa culture known nationwide for displaying respect and generosity of spirit. Each day, Iowans worship with, work with, live with, and love people who are gay. Together we make a great state, facing the same problems and, hopefully, the same bright future.



Here's my email to Mr. Angelo:

Just a quick note to thank you for your powerful and passionate conservative defense of marriage equality in today’s DeMoines Register.

While I have no doubt you will be hearing from those who disagree with your position, I want to add my voice to those applauding not only your recognition that this is a foundational issue of liberty and justice for all but your clarity and compassion in making that position public in such a convincing and compelling way.

My son is on active duty in the U.S. Army and has sworn to “defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” While he has been doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan you are doing that same important work in Iowa. And we are here in California as we continue to unto the work of Proposition 8.

As a priest and pastor I trust the First Amendment to protect my rights to free exercise of my religious beliefs … and they are that God equally blesses all loving couples. And as a proud American I believe that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection to ALL Americans … not just straight ones.

Thank you again. Prayers ascending for you and your witness from Pasadena CA.

IT said...

Here's the thing. He's no longer in the legislature, deciding on people's lives. He's just a citizen.

Angelo was a lead advocate for amendments to ban marriage equality when he was in the legislature. I'm glad he's changed his mind, but I would have been a sight gladder if he'd had his epiphany while still in office.

Then, when you read about the <A HREF='">party line vote in Colorado,</A> in which Civil Unions did not get out of committee, you find out that the Republicans are saying the right things but voting the wrong way.

over and over again, sensible Republicans REFUSE to vote their conscience on this issue. Oh, sure, Ken Mehlman and DIck Cheney will get friendly after they leave positions of influence, but when they have the VOTE, they don't vote for us.

And that's a problem.

LGMarshall said...

My grandfather was Editor of Des Moines Register in 1924... but am positive he would be in disagreement with Senator Angelo.

In his midwestern plain speaking he would simply say..."Feelings & Emotions come and go -- but Truth is unchanging. Marriage is Man and one Woman."

MarkBrunson said...

..."Feelings & Emotions come and go -- but Truth is unchanging. Marriage is Man and one Woman."

The problem with such an argument is it is based entirely in feeling and emotion. Even the Bible - a spurious device for argument, other than the fact of its existence - cannot support that marriage is one man and one woman.

Often "plain spoken" and "common sense" are shorthand for "unexamined and unsupported assertions."

MarkBrunson said...

I would also question the idea that the sort of love necessary to forge a marriage is based in emotion or feeling; surely, whether gay or straight, true love is an act of will, not a mere movement of the emotions.

uffda51 said...

There is a difference between “Truth” and opinion.

It is the opinion of too many conservatives that marriage equality is a religious issue when the truth is, it is a constitutional issue.


There was a time when "the Divine Right of Kings" was also considered an unchanging Truth.

I love what Benny Hazelhurst said in his blog a few weeks ago:

"By focusing on the 'end product' (male and female) rather than the need which God is addressing in the Garden of Eden (relationship), we risk making the same mistake as the Pharisees did with the Sabbath. They elevated the Sabbath to monumental proportions because they thought it was something greater that our human needs, and Jesus had to correct them by reminding them that the Sabbath was created by God to meet human needs, not to be an end in itself.

When we elevate marriage to the same monumental proportions and restrict it to our observation of Adam and Eve, we need to be reminded that marriage was ordained by God to meet a human need, not to be an end in itself. This is radical thinking sure enough, but it is just as Biblical as the challenges which Jesus brought to the Pharisees."

LGMarshall said...

to MB: 'Feelings and emotion come and go'... is an established fact of human nature.

God's Truth is unchanging, by definition. It's not an emotion or a feeling.

If you call God's Word, a 'spurious device for argument', then it makes sense that you would look elsewhere to create your own sands-of-change Marriage.

When you read Genesis 1 & 2, you will notice that Adam had NO INPUT at all in the creation of Eve... It was God's decision to create her.

God said: "it is not good for Man to be alone -- I will make a [female] helper for him."

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; Male and Female he created them."

-- If we ask, God grants us Wisdom in our old age, from deep examination of his Word & supported assertions from his Word. Plain-speaking & Common Sense springs from that.

ps-- The emotion or feeling of Love' is not necessary for a Marriage... where did you get that?
Commitment is primary. -- which can certainly blossom into feelings of Love.

Personally, I believe that Commitment 'till death do us part' is True Love. Time tells all.

LGMarshall said...

to SR: ....'the Divine Right of Kings', is that in the Bible?

....the Sabbath is not a human need, [many cultures do work 7 days a week] it's God commanding us to Worship Him. He is a jealous God.

1 Man + 1 Woman is NOT elevating Marriage to 'monumental proportions'.... it's plain & simple, obvious even.

Male & female together isn't an 'end product'... it's a beautiful Beginning, just ask any young newlyweds!
....also, we need not 'restrict our observations' to the Adam & Eve pairing. The Bible is full of holding up the Marriage relationship as Good, and directing God's Children away from other sexual groupings outside that initial prototype.

Rev. David Justin Lynch said...

God can and will redeem Republicans from sin.


LG ... at this point nobody who reads this blog doesn't understand that you read the Bible as the literal words of God and wish the rest of us would too.

We don't. And we aren't.

So I'm not interested in hearing any more about what you think the Bible says.

Really. We get it.

What I'm interested in is what keeps drawing you back to this site and whether or not you can find a way to be in respectful conversation with those who read the same Bible as you do and come to different conclusions. And if you're not interested in that, then I suggest you go set up your own blog and make your own "sola scriptura" case to your heart's content.

It's easy. And Free. Check it out:


David ... condemning as "sinful" all Republicans is just as ignorant as writing off any other category of people. You should know better.

Just Me said...

@Mark; yay! and thank you. Love is most definitely a choice and not an emotion or feeling. Now if only we could figure out a way to re-teach people that basic fact.

@uffda51; excluding the generalization part, you also get a yay! and thank you. It is a constitutional/civil issue. Back to the generalization part, I would direct you to GayPatriot; one of the strongest voices within the tea party conversative movement.

@Susan; yet another yay! and thank you. Honestly, the titles Republican and Democrat mean little these days; if we could ever get to the point where we stop looking at parties and start looking at people... we just might get this train wreck cleaned up.

BTW, I'm back from vacation; y'all missed me, didn't ya ;-)

danielj said...

My take on 'the truth', is that many christians are simply missing the point. no one is denying that hetero is the default setting. This is the truth...but it is also true that a small percentage within nature does not conform to that default setting. It is a fact of nature that a small percentage of humans, other mammals, and birds do not fall within the default.

There may be many reasons for this, but 'sin' is not a valid one, but rather an errant theological construct designed to explain the variance of nature. I was born legally blind...not the default setting of two good eyes...what did Jesus say to those who believed that this is a result of sin...? If folks don't like the variance, they should take it up with God, not persecute those who live with the variance.

In Jesus, what is the christian response to all it not to have compassion, to show some grace? is it not to focus on our own imperfections rather than judge and condemn others?

the 'truth' is that there are queer folk...there is really only one mature christian response...and its not waving the bible in their faces, but rather showing the love of Christ, in 'our' faces.
my two cents

IT said...

DanielJ, you are quite right. A while back I ruminated on the idea of curing the variant. Those opposed to LGBT rights see us as an abnormal pathology (they further see us as complicit and deliberate creators of our "illness").

Modern science and medicine recognize LGBT people as a normal human variant, a minority not unlike being left handed -- and not a pathology. Yes, we do not fit the cultural "norm" any more than a lefty finds it easy to navigate a right handed world. But we are no more sinister than the left handed child.

Interestingly, in domestic sheep, homosexual behavior occurs in about 10% of rams and asexual behavior in about 10% more. Despite centuries of breeding, these pesky traits still pop up regularly, to the dismay of sheep farmers. Hmmm, what does that tell you about "naturalness"?

One of the greatest insults, of course, is that those opposed to LGBT rights fail to see that what WE feel is what THEY feel. Sex is only a small part of it. but as long as they can cast us as dirty, icky, diseased, they can ignore the fact that we are, really, no different than they are.

Regardless of any scriptural aspect, there's the fundamental witness of our own minds.

MarkBrunson said...

Everything in your response is baffling, LGMarshall. Everything.

The Bible is not God's Word - only Jesus the Christ is. That's it. And that's a living word in every heart.

As for the rest, you simply are making a non-argument, simply disjointed quotes that do not address the issue in any fashion. What does the changeability of emotion have to do with anything I said? You argue that gay marriage must be based in emotion - from that, your understanding of straight marriage must be based in emotion, thus unstable - Sands-of-Change, as you would have it, and of little intrinsic spiritual value. I argue that no marriage that will last can spring from mere emotion, but must be an act of will.

I don't think any of the arguments you made mean what you think they mean or say what you think they say - and simply resorting to abusing the one pointing out the failures in your argument is hardly a very Christian thing to do!

danielj said...

Dear IT thanks for your thoughtful response. I too have ruminated upon the 'cure'. i was in the healing ministry for a couple of decades, based upon the empowerment of the Holy Spirit ...when the juice was all used up, I ended that ministry.

My gift was in the area of pyscho/spiritual healing and i dealt with alot of pathology, and I never had the call or desire to try to heal gayness. i did do a lot of research on the topic tho. It seemed clear that therapy just was not up to the task, except perhaps for rare case of a truama based situation...and i am not sure is even is a possibility tho.

When one gets into biology and hormones....another kettle of fish entirely; psychology can't touch that.

and as for healing prayer...that would depend on two things; does God wish to heal a variant, and does the healer have the power to do so. It seems rather apparent that neither of these conditions are typically met.

I think it dangerous for people to try to push the issue as a result of a pre supposed theology that gayness should be healed. If we are going to mess with people on such a deep level, we had better be damned sure we are not just blowing smoke. While all things are possible with God, not all things are implemented.

healing is certainly a blessing, but learning to bless in the absence of healing is also very important and a blessing in and of itself. it is how people learn to love. thanks for listening to my ramble
blessings danielj