Wednesday, July 6, 2011
The Fight to Bring Same-Sex Couples Together is Tearing Us Apart
Is the federal Defense of Marriage Act, limiting marriage to a man and a woman, unconstitutional? Now our Department of Justice (DoJ) is arguing this very thing:
• The Obama Administration has now completed a full turn on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), arguing before the courts that the law is unconstitutional and should be voided. Obama’s Department of Justice (DoJ) filed papers last Friday in a lawsuit filed by Karen Golinski, an attorney with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, whose partner was denied benefits based on DOMA. The DoJ argues in their brief that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection. The DoJ’s entrance into Golinski’s case represents the first case where Obama’s administration has dropped neutrality for active opposition to DOMA.
The DoJ is basing its challenge upon guarantees of “equal protection,” but how far should equal protection go? All law is a practice of discrimination. We discriminate against 12 year-olds driving and buying alcoholic beverages. However, society has over-riding reasons to deny equal protection to minors. We also deny it to polygamists, pedophiles and streakers. However, no one screams “unconstitutional,” at least not yet. What then should make DOMA unconstitutional?
• The DoJ’s 31-page brief asserts that DOMA’s “official legislative record” shows clearly that Section 3 of DOMA, which limits the federal definition of “marriage” to the union of one man and one woman, and “spouse” to indicate a member of the opposite sex, was “motivated in large part by animus toward gay and lesbian individuals and their intimate relationships.”
My central focus is Christ Himself. My blog is committed to the defense of the Christian faith, and so I always feel somewhat torn writing about subjects like this that seem to be tangential. However, this subject is not merely a scholarly one or even a legal one. It has become a battle-ax to beat down the opposition, claiming that those who oppose have an “animus toward gay and lesbian individuals.” The media and universities have long been terming such people as “religious fanatics,” “homophobes” and “bigots.” In tandem with these biased and unmerited charges is the growing contempt for the Evangelical and Catholic communities and the vilification of everything we believe in. To add insult to injury, these same sources continue to hypocritically deny any bias.
Already, in many places, the contempt is breeding self-contempt and even violence. I therefore feel compelled to ask several questions:
1. What evidence is there for the allegation of an “animus toward gay and lesbian individuals?” While we all struggle with negative feelings for those who vilify us, in my 35 years as a Christian, I have never heard a sermon expressing this “animus.” In fact, I am a bit disturbed by the absence of sermons speaking against the various sexual sins that have become ubiquitous, whether adultery, trial marriages, or pornography.
2. Even if some do have this “animus,” why should their negative motivation be a cause to strike down a law? None of us have pure motivations. We struggle against all manner of biases and resentments. However, the laws that we pass or repeal should be according to their merits and not a psychological analysis of the people promoting the law.
3. Isn’t the DoJ exercising their own bias or “animus” against the supporters of DOMA? Is the DoJ examining the same-sex community for their “animus?” Hardly!
4. Shouldn’t the repeal of DOMA also be considered in light of the possible repeal of the anti-polygamy and anti-incest laws? Aren’t they too the product of the “animus?”
5. Isn’t there something myopic about the DoJ’s challenge? Shouldn’t it be undertaken in light of an investigation regarding the long-range impact of same-sex marriage and other alternative groupings on the well-being of a society?
I have no animus towards gays. I’ve struggled with my own sins too long to have contempt on others. No Christian has any Biblical license to do so! If Christ has forgiven us, then we have the same responsibility towards others. However, if we are concerned about people struggling with suicide, we won’t put a gun in their hands. The same is true for people struggling with same-sex attraction. As love withholds the gun, love also withholds encouragement from those who would pursue a self-destructive lifestyle.
Love is also beholden to the welfare of society. In this regards, John J. Davis (Evangelical Ethics) writes of the work of British Anthropologist, J.D. Unwin:
• After a comprehensive study of both Western and non-Western cultures throughout human history, Unwin concluded that the record of mankind “does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilized unless it had been absolutely [heterosexually] monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs.” Unwin observed that a society’s adoption and maintenance of heterosexual monogamy as a social standard “has preceded all manifestations of social energy, whether that energy be reflected in conquest, in art and sciences, in extension of the social vision, or in the substitution of monotheism for polytheism.” (p. 116)
If we refuse to consider the long range impact of alternative sexual groupings, perhaps it’s because of our own “animus” towards the welfare of our society?