Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DOMA Grows Weaker

I just heard about this and thought I'd share it with others. Apparently, today, Obama ordered the Department of Justice to stop defending section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in their litigation. The following is a link to an article describing the transition: ... tml?r=news

This came about due to the DoJ's defense of DOMA in two cases where plaintiffs claimed DOMA unconstitutional. The two cases, unlike previous cases, were in jurisdictions where there was no prior judicial decisions regarding whether sexual orientation, as a class, was subject to a heightened scrutiny. In previous cases, it was judicially pre-determined that sexual orientation was subject to the least rigorous form of judicial review, rational basis. This meant that the DoJ never had to actively engage itself in a legal battle of whether sexual orientation was suspect class (given heightened scrutiny) or not (where it would receive rational basis). However, with these two cases currently pending, the DoJ actually has to argue the issue of how to classify the class of sexual orientation. It is this added piece that has led to the DoJ's stance on DOMA.

One thing the article mentions, which is worth mentioning here, is that the DoJ, while it will stop defending the law in court, will continue to enforce DOMA out of respect for the previous Congress that voted yes to this abortion of a law. It will not stop enforcing the law until Congress repeals it or the SCOTUS declares it unconstitutional.

Honestly, I don't really know what the above distinction means. It certainly is a good thing to have the White House declaring DOMA section 3 unconstitutional and will, therefore, stop defending it. Whether this amounts to anything due to the "enforcement" language is something yet to be seen.

One last thing, this declaration regards DOMA section 3, which is the provision stating that marriage, for federal government purposes, is only between a man and a woman. The other major provision of DOMA, section 2, states that no state has an obligation under the Full Faith and Credit Clause to recognize the same-sex marriages of other states.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Children of Gay Parents in Catholic Schools: the Situation in Colorado

The Catholic Church is throwing itself into a whirl of turmoil. All the while, the Church acts cutely and passively, martyring itself for the good of its followers. Yet another issue arose last week in Colorado where a Catholic school rejected the already-enrolled children of a family headed by two women. The head priest at the school and the presiding archbishop stated they couldn't allow the two children, one in kindergarten and one in 5th grade, to continue their education at the Catholic school because their parents lived an openly gay lifestyle which was hostile to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

I call bull pucky.

Notwithstanding the obvious and egregious double standard the school is applying to these children, there are other concerns that I find more interesting and worthy of discussion. The fact is, private schools are not bound by the civil rights codes that govern other public bodies. Now some may question whether that is fair, and I for one do not like broad arbitrary selection capable of any organization serving a public purpose. I do, however, ultimately come to the conclusion that the school is doing nothing wrong per se when rejecting the children of gay parents. Although it's a tragedy, it's the consequence of having a separation between church and state. It's stupid and silly but it isn't wrong, and it certainly cannot be illegal.

With the above said, I do think it is important to note the consequences of the CO school's decision. While no legal nor moral wrong may have occurred (I realize this is debatable), to me it seems like such a weird thing with which the school would fight. First, private schools aren't funded by the government, aside from the basic necessities, such as water, trash disposal, heat, etc. Private schools are even allowed to receive public funding for bus transportation for their students and other academic basics. Overall however, private schools receive little funding from local, state, and the Federal governments. Thus, the bulk of their funding comes from private sources. This was a big reason for the introduction of parochial schools, those attached to and directed by the parish of a church. Donations to the church could be shared with the school. Further, students' tuition payments are another large source of funding. A private school really needs those students.

I remember during my years at Benilde there were so many students whose academics were way below standards. These students were often unruly, incompetent, and insolent. Students, parents and teachers were floored at the fact these kids were never expelled. Indeed, many of them should have been kicked out. However, if a school were to get rid of all its bad apples, it would accrue a big loss in tuition dollars. It also didn't help that a lot of the bad apples at our school came from wealthy families. Those kids could have torched the school and been sent to jail, but they would not have lost their "enrolled" status given the amounts of money their families donated.

Given the situation at my school, I can't imagine how any private institution would want to turn away the tuition dollars of students, let alone students who would succeed and do well in a school (homosexual students, specifically boys, have statistically higher GPAs than heterosexual students). Some might call that greed, but I see it as practicality. In order for a private school to fund it students' education and supply the school with contemporary equipment and supplies, it needs money. Tuition brings in money. Money helps a school assist its students in succeeding.

The next problem I have is with familial privacy. As was said above, private institutions do not have to adhere to the laws public institutions must follow. So yes, legally, that means a private school can discriminate the hell out of its students. Ugly? Nope. Whiney? Gone. Antsy? Poof. There is no end. Private schools may even be allowed to discriminate on the basis of suspect characteristics, such as race or national origin, when not in receipt of public funds. Thus, this school has every right to discriminate against the children of same-sex parents. But again, is this a wise decision on the school's part?

I certainly think no, and even if it wasn't necessarily imprudent, it's arbitrary and a waste of time. A private school simply shouldn't be making scrutinizing glances at its students, especially when it comes to private matters within the home. It can, such scrutiny may be legal, but it shouldn't. What's really stupid about the whole situation in the CO school is that if it simply thought the children were raised by a single mother, there wouldn't have likely been a problem. Admittedly, I do not know the specifics of this particular instance. If the two women were going into the school announcing their homosexuality or engaging in some direct behavior to counter the school's Catholic teaching, that would change my opinion. Based on my limited research (surprisingly, there was not a lot of press covering the facts leading up to the children's ouster) this was probably not the case. The articles I read stated the two women and children were not revealing their identities and keeping a low profile to protect their family. This says to me that there was no intent to create tension or fluster the school's administration as opposed to a staged attempt of activists wishing to garner attention. It also does not sound like there will be any pursuit of a legal remedy, if there would even be one available. Thus, it sounds like the school simply made its decision without effect by the couple. I am guessing here, but it seems like the school "caught wind" of these kids' setup and decided to take action in an attempt to garner support from the larger Catholic/Christian community.

I don't think it's an illogical, unsupported conclusion. The Catholic Church has a very strange way of throwing itself into the gay rights issue in really passive aggressive ways. Jut a few months ago, the Washington D.C.-based Catholic Charities decided to close the doors of its adoption agency after the government granted marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. They felt there was no other option because they were given no religious exemption and would have been legally compelled, if ever compelled, to place children with gay parents. Either that, or lose their funding. Let me make clear that this decision to close the adoption agency did not arise in the wake of a complaint against the agency. The directors just decided it was time to give up. I do not believe for one second it was because they were worried about the above consequences. I think they were passively attempting to prove a point, and at the expense of children desperately in need of good homes. Even if a married gay couple had initiated a lawsuit, the least Catholic Charities could have done was fight in court in order to preserve their ability to help parentless children. Further, no articles I read made any mention of attempts to secure replacement funding for government money that may have been lost as a result of a refusal to place children with gay and lesbian couples. It's irresponsible and most certainly NOT Catholic.

This passive resistance on the part of the Catholic Church is damaging to it. The Catholic Church has been around for a long time. No one thinks any Christian religion is bearing the brunt of unjust discrimination, at least not from the country as a whole. Maybe the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints, but even that's a stretch. Indeed, that would probably be a hard claim to prove. These knee-bending attempts by the Church to protect its teachings from intrusion by secular law make it out to look like a group comprised of buffoons, not as the weak, oppressed and unpopular. No one thinks the Catholic Church is getting a raw deal. Thus, the Church looks really bad to people outside the Catholic sphere. It also looks bad to people inside the Church. In the case of CO school, a significant part of the governing church's congregation protested at mass and showed support for the couple and the children. A number of quotes from parishioners and other parents from the school expressed great disappointment towards the school's treatment of the children. The vast majority of articles written on the subject condemned the decision of the school. When it comes down to it, the public, and even some people within the church, do not like it and it is weakening the Church. To what extent I don't really know, but reliable statistics do tend to show that the Catholic church is losing followers and support. People are starting to wonder why the Church can't seem to figure out a way to deal with these changes.

Part of why I feel the above arguments have merit is simply because of my own experiences with Catholic schools. The majority of my educational years have been in Catholic institutions. Throughout those years, I've come across many types of families with different beliefs in my schools. One of my close friend's parents are and always have been raging atheists. They hate Catholic teaching, they think its a horrible, oppressive religion that serves no good at all. Yet, their daughter (my friend) attended high school at Benilde with me. One of my friends came from a Judaism-practicing family. I don't think there is anything more unChristian than Judaism, given the fact that they have no appeal to Jesus as religious authority. Yet, she attended Catholic school. One of my good friends was conceived by her mother outside of marriage, and never did marry. No problem there either, nor should there be.

Although I see the point the CO school was trying to make, in reality it's a non-issue. Catholic schools don't generally teach their students what is considered unCatholic behavior, or what groups of people are unCatholic. Rather, schools inject a reasonable amount of Catholic teaching into the lessons as a way to foster in children an appreciation for the Catholic Christian way of life. It's a take or leave situation. The school doesn't have to teach that two women or men who are married are a good thing, but it's unlikely their marriage is going to be taught as a bad thing in schools. It's just not going to come up. Benilde didn't teach me that my friend's atheist parents were evil and unCatholic, but that a belief in God is Catholic, that I should believe in God. It would have the same situation had there been a kid with gay parents. They wouldn't have taught us that it was bad, but rather they would have taught us that Catholicism accepts man and woman unions as marriage. That's probably how the situation in CO would have played out had the children continued their education there. It just doesn't make any sense to deny admission to students for those reasons. Its arbitrary and a big waste of time because the school addressing a situation that will never have an impact.

Of course a big part of the problem is that gay marriage is a hot, controversial issue and will continue to be for probably several decades more. No one really cares whether there are children with atheist or Jewish parents because those groups don't really spark frustration like gays and lesbians do. It certainly could happen however. While it's legal and may not be morally objectionable according to Christian standards, it resounds in one's ears as unsettling. It upsets me especially because I love private Catholic education. If and whenever I have children, I would like them to go to a private Catholic school. It scares me that a school could basically cut short my kid's education whenever it wants because I'm gay. Another reason why this situation is so upsetting is because these children were already enrolled in the school. They have to go through whatever pain they might experience as a result of leaving their friends and favorite teachers. It's sad. It's one thing for the school to say they don't want children of gay parents attending the school BEFORE the children start. It's another thing to uproot them after they've started their education.

As I've said before in previous entries, I have no problem with Christian groups to attacking gays directly. Indirect attacks towards them through people associated with gays and lesbians, i.e. their children, is a completely different animal. I am not surprised that the couple screwed over by the school is laying low. How embarrassing that debacle must have been for them as a couple and as parents. There is no bigger slap across the face than seeing your children suffer as a result of your decisions (or, in the instant case, something beyond your decision). I can take whatever the Church has to dish towards gays, but this just wreaks of impropriety and makes me so angry. Those poor women and those awful people at that school . . . I truly hope other private schools don't accept this school's actions as precedent. It helps no one involved.

I also want to say that I tried posting some of these argument on the Catholic Online. Not a single one met the approval of the editors per usual. But this one did:

"Archbishop Chaput is one the strongest shepherds of the Church whom Jesus appointed to lead us today when there are so many false ideas around. People in lesbian and homosexual relationships must know that they are injecting a moral conflict into the classroom of a Catholic School. The whole thing is very unfortunate for the children of the "couple," but the Archbishop has a moral obligation in charity to the rest of the class and families to do as he did. The Archbishop clearly gave a biblical response to a situation that cannot be permitted in a Catholic School."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What is the Best Way to Handle Teenagers Today?

Good lord, there has been so much in the news lately about teenagers having sex, teenagers having kids, teenagers becoming grandparents!!!! OK, the last is exaggerated, but you get my point. I read in our local paper, the Star Tribune that some poor high school girl gave birth to her baby alone in her mother's basement. Oddly enough, the mother had no idea the girl was pregnant. The most horrid part of the story is that the girl stabbed her newborn child some hundred times and left the body in a trash can. Police found the poor baby and now the girl is being charged with homicide. It doesn't get any more sickening than that people.

I was reading my "beloved" Catholic Online newsletter. Now, I don't normally agree with the assertions made in those articles, but there have been some articles regarding teenage sex that made me think. Now, the Catholic stance is that abstinence is the way to go. Secularists and liberal/progressive Christians want to see safe sex instruction loosely coupled with some wait-till-marriage talk. The recent slew of teenage sex/abstinence articles in the Catholic Online lamenting President Obama's decision to cut funding for abstinence programs. The question about what to do with the situation is certainly perplexing. What perplexes me even more is that studies are tracking kids as young as twelve. This is really disturbing to me. Ultimately, I come to the conclusion that neither safe-sex instruction nor abstinence training is really important, and not even really necessary.

I will admit that I wasn't the most sexually provocative teenager. Indeed, I had that dork thing going on. I was a hot dork for sure, fluent in a language of fashion with designer glasses and I had wicked blonde hair. I was an awesome dancer, pianist, and human en general. Admittedly, however, the girls at my high school weren't looking to get in my pants. Then again I wasn't looking to get into their pants either (which weren't nearly as cute as mine). With that said, sex was really never part of my high school vocabulary. No girls would do it with me, which was fine because I was gay. Further, I couldn't have sex with guys because the gay guys in my class were closet-cases. I was actually a really good situation for me. I couldn't get into any trouble sexually because there was no one with whom to have sex. Looking back, it was great actually.

Despite the lack of potential intimate partners in high school for me, there was something else that kept me (and most of my friends) from venturing into the strange realm of teenage sex. I was just way too busy in high school to think about finding someone with whom to do it. Looking back, there was never a period of time in the school year where I didn't have any extra curricular activities. In the fall our pop-choir started rehearsals, and then later in the fall was the school play. Those two activities brought me right up to Christmas break. As soon as break ended, pop choir resumed rehearsals and I would throw myself into speech, which, of all the activities in which I participated in high school, demanded the most attention and practice. About halfway through the speech season, I auditioned for the spring musical. In addition to simply performing in the musical, I also liked to help behind the scenes with sets and costumes, which sometimes required me to work late into the evenings. Throughout all of the above mentioned activities, I also had weekly piano lessons that required a great deal of weekly preparation. I practiced daily, performed, competed, accompanied . . . I had absolutely no time for anything else.

In addition to the fact that all hours of our days were packed solid with activities, these activities sparked furious competition between rival schools and between students. I must admit, I always find myself laughing whenever I hear people talk about "competitive sports," as if competition was the defining hallmark or some unique quality. Quite frankly, I think it would be up for discussion, the topic of whether the competitive element in sports dwarfs in comparison to the hectic, and often, bitter competition that swarms around the arts. Our coaches and directors and choreographers and conductors certainly made obvious attempts to inject that level of competitive spirit into our routine. In speech, for example, friends were pitted against friends, which often ended in great resentment. I remember our choreographers of the spring musicals actually used to tell us that they wanted the dance groups from different numbers to actually think of being in competition with the other. They wanted us to try and show up the other groups, even though we were in the same production with the same goal of trying to create to best show ever. It was kind of ridiculous, but at the same time the competition really got to the students. They'd really dedicate themselves as individuals, but also as a group.

Further, my closest friends in high school also took on the same amount of extra-curricular hours as I in practically all the same activities. I found myself in a very tight knit group of people who were not only friends, but they were my life. Literally. I saw these people day after day in classes and then in my activities. My best friend and I performed in a dramatic duo together in speech our final year. It basically required us to be at each other's side day after day. At dress rehearsals for the plays and musicals, the whole cast would all be there together for hours, until late in the evening. We basically moved as one group from activity to activity.

My point is basically this. Through our immersion in after school activities, the close (both emotionally and physically) interaction with my friends, and the fierce competition in which we engaged, we developed this kind of checks-and-balances system. If any trouble some how miraculously found a way to tempt us, there was always some kind of distraction. Basically, we didn't have time to get into trouble because our hours were filled, our friends were watching, and the competition created unwavering dedication. I remember my best friend and I rehearsing our duo at her house in the hallway next to a door until late in the evening trying to get it perfect. Although it was because we wanted to be good, we wanted to be better than the other duos on our team. The whole mixture really provided a good safeguard for us all.

It also helped that we were all basically good kids. We didn't drink, we didn't smoke, nor did we do any drugs. Our biggest addiction was the medium lattes at Pandora's, where we'd sit until one in the morning talking about anything and everything. However, it is debatable whether we were good per se, or whether it was simply because our commitments forced us to be good.

I realize this is a stab in the dark, but I would bet a hundred dollars that the girl who stabbed her new born and left him or her in the trash can did not have nearly the same school experience that my friends and I had. I would bet the same amount that the kids who are engaging in sexual behavior and the girls that are getting pregnant are also not nearly as involved. I think that is key. In order to get teenagers to stop thinking about sex, they've got to have something else to occupy their minds.

My friend and I branched out in the last few months of school and started becoming friends with kids from different social groups. One of the girls we got to know casually was a girl who had a particularly troubled teenage experience. It was well known throughout our class that this girl had been sexually active for a few years and still continued in her endeavors even after we got to know her. She also had some family issues as well as experiences with drugs and heavy drinking. Despite all the above, she was actually a very sweet, social girl. However, I know for a fact that other than her hours in school, this girl had little commitment, extra curricular or otherwise. I believe she played one sport during the year, but that was about it. That was basically the story for many kids in my class.

For sure, there were kids that weren't nearly as involved as my friends and I but still managed to stay out of trouble. There were some kids that were just super into the academic portion of high school that they spent all their time studying. However, most of the people I knew who stayed out of trouble had something to occupy their time when they weren't in class or studying. Indeed, I think it was the preoccupation that kept us all from venturing into the world of mature activity.

As most know, I am not a parent, so even if I had advice to give, I'd certainly expect people to find my judgment suspect. However, I think every one of us, having the experience of being a kid and knowing what our lives were like, has some idea of what constitutes a "good" choice and a "bad" choice. Personally, if and when I ever have children, I think the above method is what I plan on using to keep my kid on the straight and narrow.

Quite frankly, I think this talk of abstinence training versus safe-sex training is unproductive. The problem I see is that talking to kids about sex at young ages is counterproductive. Liberals keep citing statistics that say kids are getting into bed with one another at younger and younger ages with each progressing year. This incites them to say that kids need to learn about sex at younger before this starts happening. I see the logic in this and it is compelling. If kids are having sex, why not teach them to do it responsibly?

I do not consider myself a social conservative, but I do have problems with the above argument. No doubt it's true young people are engaging in adult behavior, and each year the ages get younger and younger. There are statistics out there to prove it. One thing that the statistics also show is that such training, while it has some effect, is not particularly successful. The study mentioned in the Catholic Online article reported that abstinence training was more successful than safe-sex training. Indeed, the teenage group that received abstinence training had less students engaging in sexual behavior as opposed to the safe-sex group. However, one thing I noticed was that the numbers were not that disparate. The abstinence training still had something like 30% of attendees engaging in sexual behavior. In the safe-sex group, it was around 50%. If each group had 50 students, that would be comparing 15 to 25. That to me doesn't sound as good. In addition, the study only mentioned how many children ended up becoming sexually active after training. It failed to mention any consequences that might have come about as a result of these kids being sexually active. For example, if a bunch of kids out of that 30% ended up conceiving a child or getting some horrendous disease, that would be an utter failure in my mind. One final thing about the study, the training was administered to children in 6th and 7th grade and the follow up was two years later. That means that the kids, when re-evaluated were in either 8th or 9th grade. Basically, all of these kids could have fallen off the wagon in their later high school years (something that is quite likely given the libidos of teenagers) and this study would not have caught that. Regardless of these statistics, one thing remains sure. Young kids are having sex, regardless of whatever training they receive.

Another issue I have is why are children as young as eleven and twelve being taught about safe sex? Telling them where babies come from is one thing, but instructing them on how to do it themselves is a different animal in my mind. I personally feel that preventative sex talks have the opposite effect of what is desired, if they have any effect at all. One question I have is would these numbers have been any higher if these kids didn't go through the training in 6th or 7th grade? I would tend to think no simply because I don't believe these training sessions had all that much impact on these kids. Talking to children that young about sex is like talking to a child that young about philosophy or law. I don't think a child that young is really able to comprehend that effects of unsafe sex at such an age. Further, I think it prematurely exposes them to it, making the behavior more alluring. Basically, by instructing kids not to engage in a certain behavior, their interest is piqued.

Of course there is no easy way to stop it, unless you raise your kids in the country with no internet and no television. As unrealistic as it sounds, it certainly has appeal. However, I don't think the average parent needs to go to such extremes. I think good parenting, consisting of general parental awareness and supervision, works just fine. I personally believe that kids need to be kids. Distraction is a major key as well. Giving children something else to focus will help distract them from the barrage of social messages telling them they should be sexy, or be more adult. They shouldn't be burdened with the problems with which adults must deal.

Of course a parent cannot monitor their children every moment of the day. Especially in these times where both parents are working, or a child is raised by only one parent. Parenting tactics are constantly being undermined by outside culture in general. Honestly, I do not envy my sister who is raising two young kids in this day in age. The internet is at every kid's fingertips. You turn on a children's show on the Disney network and it shows kids in junior high entering "serious" romantic relationships. I don't think the cast of Suite Life is out of junior high quite yet. There is also the big issue of young celebrities being sexualized by the media. I came across a picture of Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) on one of the news websites I follow and the girl was dressed like Kim Kardashian. Kids idolize this girl. My niece thinks she cool. It seems as if every media outlet is undercutting parenting techniques aimed at preventing premature adult behavior in kids.

There is also the problem of naughty friends influencing children despite a parent's efforts. Parents can warn their kids about sex all they want, but it often goes unheeded when friend's are pushing fiercely in the opposite direction. I think this situation can be avoided, or at the very least diminished by monitoring whom a child befriends. I firmly believe that parents can and should play an active role in defining the social lives of their children.

I also think it has to do with the decrease in extracurricular activities in schools. As extra money dwindles in the bad economy, so do the perks. Further, I think a larger part of the problem is that extracurricular activities are more offered to children as something to do rather than something they in which they can become proficient. My college piano professor reported a statistic to my piano studio one day. She told us that only one percent of the world's population achieves the level of musical proficiency that we were at. It's not that the other world's musicians are incompetent, it's that they don't receive the training or they don't have the motivation to go beyond music lessons with the piano teacher down the street (the numbers in piano are significantly lower than other instruments given that pianos are generally more expensive than other musical instruments). Although hearing the statistic made us feel special, it was also very depressing. Why aren't there more kids continuing their musical educations so they can become concert pianists, or singers, or joining bands and creating music? How many kids on their high school sports team continue their training to maybe play at a higher level? How many kids who find themselves nurturing their talent for painting or photography several years out of high school? I'd bet very few. I am not talking about using talents at a professional level either. Obviously, most people, even if they are talented, are not going to be able to make a successful living just off the trumpet or join a professional sports team. But they could continue the activity just because they are good at it and because it gives them something to do. This is basically what piano has become for me and I am truly grateful to have that in my life. The problem is that schools do not offer extracurricular activities as avenues for nurturing talent and skill, but rather as a means to fill time or as application boosters. Kids aren't actually getting good at anything (or at least not enough) to make them want to continue. Being in band is enough, but being good at your instrument in band is unnecessary. Obviously as we get older, we get busier and certain things we used to love, and most likely still do, fall to the way side to make room for the more practical. But shouldn't schools and teachers and parents help a child figure out a way to live a practical life and still keep those talents alive? I am a super busy person, and yet I just finished Chopin's Fourth Ballade (it's fourteen pages of intricate fingering hell). And now I am starting Liszt's Mephisto Waltz. All I am saying is there are ways out there to make it work.

Of course at some point all kids are going to start engaging in adult behavior. Indeed, there is a point at which children do become adults. But it is at that point that parents need to step in and give their children relevant advice and guidance. Hopefully, that point will arrive later than sooner. In any case, I think advising children too early on issues beyond their comprehension is about as useful as giving children tax advice.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Perry v. Schwarzenegger: What Does It All Mean?

It has been done, something that no person on either side of the gay marriage debate was expecting. A federal constitutional challenge on issues surrounding gay marriage. In the past couple months, I've noticed that a lot of people really do not understand what this trial was about and what questions were actually being decided by the judge. I think a discussion of that would be in order because it really is an interesting challenge.

A little background: In November of 2008 Proposition 8 was passed in California which amended the state's constitution limiting the word "marriage" to the traditional definition of one man and one woman. This came after, and thus overturned, an earlier holding from the California Supreme Court declaring that limiting marriage to one man and one woman was unconstitutional (under CA's constitution).

There were many problems with the proposition 8 campaign. One was described by Dale Carpenter, a Constitutional Law scholar and professor at the University of Minnesota. He wrote an article describing the issues of changing California's constitution. California law allows two different ways to change its constitution. One is through an amendment process, which simply requires a majority vote from the people. The other is called a revision, requiring a 2/3 majority from both houses of the state's legislature before introducing it to the public vote. The latter process is more difficult because of the extra legislative hurdle. Thus, it is said that the revisionary process is reserved for issues of great constitutional change (I am not using legal terms or quotes from the court, but rather describing this generally), whereas the amendment process is used for changes of less import.

What followed the passage of Prop 8 was a major legal battle about whether the change to the constitution was proper under California law. As most people already know, the California Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the Constitution's amendment was valid and Prop 8 would stand. Much of the battle was whether Prop 8 should have gone through the amendment process, or the more rigorous revision process. Although I am not sure of the actual holding, I believe the court decided that the marriage change was indeed an amendment.

Then came the unlikely team of Theodore Olson and David Boies to challenge the passage of Prop 8 under the federal Constitution. It is an interesting fact to note that these two lawyers, who are fighting together on the plaintiffs' side, were once adversaries in the famous Bush v. Gore case. Olson was President Bush's lawyer.

The plaintiffs' complaint stated, very simply, that the passage of Prop 8 violated the plaintiffs' (and more broadly, gays and lesbians in general) Equal Protection and Due Process rights guaranteed under the 5th and 14th Amendments of the Federal Constitution. For most people, the previous statement means practically nothing. The words carry some weight and they resonate in one's ears, but their meaning is unknown.

To understand why Due Process and Equal Protection were violated, it would help to have a brief discussion about the passage of Prop 8 and what happened in those months before November 2008.

It is well-known that a large source of opposition to gay marriage comes from religious groups in America. In particular, Christian religions have a poignantly difficult time with the extension of marriage to same-sex couples. It is alleged that Christian religions had a great deal of influence regarding the pro-Prop 8 ads that were shown to voters, although the extent to which they had control is a topic that is often debated. However, much of the pro-Prop 8 literature and media advertising had a religious tone to it. Sometimes those tones were subtle. Often times they were not. Several of the ads painted gay and lesbians as quasi criminals, bad people from whom mothers and fathers should keep their children away. It is this kind of advertising that gave rise to the Perry case.

Basically what Olson and Boies argued was that pro-Prop 8 groups (particularly religions) used outdated, harmful ideas of gays and lesbians in their advertising, generally slandering them, in order to win the Prop 8 vote. They're basically asserting "you fought dirty and that's not fair." They are alleging that the use of these tactics violated the Plaintiffs' Due Process and Equal Protection rights. It is not the fact that Prop 8 simply passed that violated rights (although I think there is an argument for that), it's that the passage of Prop 8 was passed in the way it was. The argument is that a state can pass a constitutional amendment, but it has to be passed by their own rules and not in a way that is repugnant to the system.

The court made a point of looking at evidence regarding the advertisements for Prop 8 and heard testimony from expert witnesses from sociological and psychological fields describing the negative effects gays and lesbians have felt because of such discrimination represented in the ads. The court was determining what was in those ads, and if that content was indeed harmful and incorrect.

On the defendants' side, the argument was that Prop 8 was properly enacted by a majority vote of the relevant public. If it's what the people want, this is what the people should have, even if they might be wrong. Further, they argued that this is not an issue for resolution under Constitutional law. If the court to makes a judgment against Prop 8, it's a substitution of the court's will for the people's, which it is not supposed to do. Lastly, the CA government contends that it is not homophobic. It has one of the most extensive legal regimes of any state for same-sex couples' rights. They are simply asking, "just leave marriage alone."

One should also note that a similar case came before the United States Supreme Court in 1996. Romer v. Evans regarded an amendment to the Colorado constitution that declared gays, lesbians, and bisexuals as non-suspect classes for purposes of rights discrimination. This basically meant that no law could be drafted to afford special protection to gays and lesbians as are enjoyed by cultural minority groups in our country. The Court struck the amendment down, finding no rational basis that connected the law to its stated purpose. This was one of the rare times that the Court held the law in question failed the rational basis test. The reasoning of the Court was simple. You can't gang up on an unpopular group of people and makes laws discriminating against them just because you don't like them.

The decision of the Court mentioned above certainly is not without criticism, which was well-voiced by Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion. In his mind, this was simply a majority vote based on general public morals with which the federal judiciary does not normally involve itself. He further stated that no rights were being taken away from the GLB community, but rather the rights of that group of people needed to go through the legislative process. This is a constant battle between the conservative and liberal sides of the bench.

The difference between the two laws in Perry and Romer is subtle. Romer dealt with a blanket exclusion of gay rights from achieving redress through the courts. Perry dealt with a single right. Further, the right to marry, although fundamental, has always had the man-woman ideal attached to it. Thus, Perry may not turn so much on whether the discrimination of gays is wrong, but, rather, whether the right in question is really something that belongs to the gay and lesbian community.

One final note: I was one of those gay people that was in the dissenting camp. When I heard about Perry, I wasn't exactly thrilled. Although I am gay, I am firm believer in the democratic system and that rights not addressed under the Constitution should not receive Constitutional scrutiny. That's not to say that if Perry had a good outcome I'd be upset. I am a firm supporter of gay marriage, and not solely because I am gay. Actually, my being gay has relatively little to do with my want for gay marriage. Marriage is a good thing, it makes people better, it gives them responsibility, companionship, it's sex with a person that you trust and with whom you feel safe, it's better financially, etc. (marriage can also suck too, of course). Yes, marriage does generally bring about kids, but honestly, who cares. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. If marriage does good for the gay and lesbian community, even if it slightly damages the institution of marriage for heterosexuals and their kids, I am perfectly fine with that and I think heterosexuals, religious or otherwise could live with that.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bad Journalism

This is yet another entry regarding homosexuality and the ongoing debate. I know my blog was supposed to contain a greater variety of topics, but I am apparently stuck on this one. So yes, bear with me once again.

This topic isn't something that came to me recently and I am sure it isn't new to anyone with a brain. This entry's aim is to acknowledge the problem that occurs on both sides of a debate: the problem of bad journalism leading to misinformation.

I was reading one of the Catholic Online articles (I want people to know that I have stopped my consistent visits to the publication, mostly due to what I write about in this note). I was upset. My angst was not due to the arguments the author was making. It was from the comments that people made following the article. The content of the article was not really controversial. What people were saying most definitely was.

The following is an excerpt from what I read:

As one of our people here has pointed out to me.
Same Sex attraction has been put on the "disorder" list again yet the Same Sex Community is in denial of this.
Doesnt this also say that maybe it wouldnt be a good idea to marry since it is not in the same league as one man one women marriage?
We do meet same sex folks at the website: Courage Apostolate.
We do love you and we do learn from this sight.
Maybe you should take a look at this sight?
The Courage website does not encourage anything.
I suggest you look at this website.
You will not succeed in your endeavors.
Why is it the same sex community is so defensive of the possibility that they might be wrong about this because they are disordered after all?
Just a suggestion on my part.

Here is another comment from that same person:

What I gather being Same Sex is still considered a disorder.
How come they sugarcoat this fact?
So the question hasnt been answered yet. Therefore marriage equality isnt even on par with marriage.
I hope someday we get the real facts on the issue of same sex attraction medically and scientifically someday.
Right now we dont have real clear answers other than those found at Courage Apostolate.
Also Father John Harvey wrote an excellent book The Catholic Church clear answers to difficult questions.
I think its been helpful to me understanding our brothers and sisters who suffer this dilemma or disorder.

The comments above are from a woman whose writings I've seen before. I actually like her a lot, and she seems to have an interest in obtaining the truth, and not just the Catholic truth. However, her search for truth is enveloped by the teachings of the Catholic Church. She had written that she believed homosexuality to be a disorder, because everything she had read on the subject pointed in that direction. She does usually end her posts by saying that she wanted to hear other ideas, except not in the ones above.

First off, if everything this woman is reading is declaring homosexuality a raging disorder, then she is obviously not reading EVERYTHING. A person would have to be sheltered to a great extreme to not realize there are other pieces of literature out there that view homosexuality in a completely different way. Perhaps some of these people are THAT sheltered that they really cannot comprehend that. However, I do not believe this particular woman, and most people in general are that removed from society's grasp that they are not able to hear or read other viewpoints. Basically, what it comes down to, in my opinion, is biased selection and willful blindness towards these other viewpoints and facts.

This is where I find myself to be most contemptuous of the Catholic Online and other religious publications. They are dealing out opinions as facts, they are lacking in their research and they are making biased, unsubstantiated conclusions without looking at other facts.

As an aside, I want to make it clear that I do not stoop to entertain the whole homosexuality-as-disorder debate. I think it is old, fatigued, and has been proven over and over again to be false. It might not be the norm to be gay, but abnormality does not equal disorder. Honestly, whenever I encounter a person who asserts something like that (I rarely do, because I think that viewpoint is really that dead), I tell them that I can't argue against a point that is not worthy of debate, that is so unsubstantiated and so carelessly projected. If a person really believes something so ridiculous, they are beyond the ability to have a reasoned discussion on the matter. Why? Because their facts are whacked.

However, unfortunately, there are those rare few (they all seem to flock to Catholic Online) that continuously assert these ridiculous positions that have no basis in science or fact. Yes, they have basis in their religion, but religion can never really be unbiased, especially a religion as old and as poorly moderated as the Catholic Church.

What shocks me is that people are so quick to support their conclusions with what I see as factually shaky support. What shocks me even more is that these people are finding words out there, published words, that make these edgy and ridiculous statements.

This is what gets me. I understand that people have a a desire to learn and discover new information. This day in age, there is literature out there that supports any viewpoint and it is easily disseminated via the internet. Of course, anytime a piece of literature is read for information's sake, one must ask the question: how reliable is this?

I took it upon myself to do a little research into what this woman was saying. In all honesty, I was a little concerned because I hadn't read any scientific studies regarding homosexuality and I was fearful that maybe this woman was right. Maybe they did put homosexuality back on the so-called "disorder list." My research showed no such shift. From what I know, the APA is still the major psychological organization that most doctors and therapists follow. I don't know how that works exactly, because I know there are other academic and professional publications out there.

From what I can tell the above commentator was horribly confused. After reading some of the stuff on her cited websites, I was also confused. She gets her information from the website of the Courage Apostolate (CA from here on) which is an organization with Vatican recognition and also the National Assoc. for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

CA is not considered, and it does not consider itself, a reparative therapy group. From what I can tell, and from what I have heard from other people there is no "changing" gays and lesbians into heterosexual. Further, I have read elsewhere that the Catholic Church does consider homosexuality to be changeable to a certain degree (it should be noted, however, that this is in part due to the fact that CA does not believe in using the terms "gay" or "lesbian" or "homosexual" because they denote a certain permanence. They use the phrase "person with homosexual attraction." This interesting use of terminology prevents them from being a reparative therapy group because they can't change straight a person that was never gay or lesbian). Personally I do not have any personal problems with the CA simply because its a church sponsored organization basing its instruction on church teachings. They do not tout suspect statistics and studies as scientific fact, at least not on the website, and they do acknowledge that homosexuality is a deep-seated trait of a person that sometimes cannot be quelled. They use the word "sometimes" which I do not personally like, but basically its a group that trying to get its members to cope with being homosexual and live a celibate life. They are not trying to change them into heterosexuals (it should be noted that this is something that groups affiliated with the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints claim to do, a claim that I think is despicable, immoral, and irresponsible given the importance of marriage in our society and to Christian churches).

NARTH, on the other hand, is a group with which I have major problems. It claims itself to be a secular organization devoid of religious or biblical persuasion or bias. It holds that homosexuality is a disorder, it should be re-categorized as such, and, with treatment, it can be changed. First off, NARTH's scholarship and research generally has a religious undertone, despite its claims of secularism. One of its leaders testified in a gay adoption case in Arkansas. The judge in that case stated on the record that his opinion was highly suspect and could not be trusted due to his obvious bias against homosexuality demonstrated though his obvious religiousity. Secondly, NARTH is in complete opposition to the medical/scientific community at large. There seems to be a great deal of professional and societal opposition to what NARTH advocates.

I've had some run-ins with NARTH-related research and studies. My former employer and instructor, Professor Teresa Collett, sometimes cited their studies in her articles. Maggie Gallagher, and major presence in the Traditional Marriage Movement and the leader of National Org. for Marriage (NOM) also cites NARTH's studies. NARTH is certainly not some crazy, radical group on the sidelines. It does have a professional following. Although the psychiatric community at large generally avoids them as a person would an embarrassing cousin or uncle, it is not a group that is largely ignored. However, just because they aren't ignored doesn't mean they have any scientific credibility in the community.

Going back to the comment and this woman's dependence on these two bastions of anti-homosexual rhetoric, what I read was vastly different from what this woman actually put in her comments. In no place did either website state that homosexuality is now, again, considered a disorder. NARTH certainly suggests that it should and it cites studies and research that support that conclusion. CA is a little different though. The CA describes homosexuality as an "objective disorder" a phrase the website openly declares a philosophical term, meaning homosexuality does not comport with morality. The website acknowledges the fact that psychology understands homosexuality, but that their view is different.

The paragraph where the above was stated was a little murky and confusing. Yes, its words did ultimately say that the psychological community at large does not consider homosexuality a disorder, but it said it in a confusing way:

At Courage, we choose not to label people according to an inclination which, although psychologically understandable, is still objectively disordered.

I find this statement particularly misleading. There is a big difference between a medical or mental disorder and a "disorder" that exists because it goes against a certain part of morality (a religious morality at that). The term "objectively disordered" is not really isolated nor described in a way that separates it from its medical uses. I would have been fine had the CA went and said "although the psychological community and its standards state otherwise, we believe homosexuality to be that of an 'objective disorder,' which is not the same as a disorder listed under a medical or scientific treatise." However, they didn't say this. What bothers me is that this woman who read this somehow translated that to mean the American medical community at large has declared homosexuality a disorder. Of course, the CA did not actually go and say such things, but the language was highly suspect and unclear.

The above situation is what I call "bad journalism." Published material that invokes a controversial debate should put its statements in a context. Quite frankly, I think its a little appalling that CA is using the word "disorder" when what they are describing is not a disorder, technically speaking, but rather something that does not comport to the Christian faith. Yeah, they qualified the word with "objective," however, what does that actually mean to people with lower education levels or to people who are looking up this information with the sole purpose of trying to prove homosexuality is a medical disorder? It apparently meant nothing this the woman who posted those comments and most likely not a lot to other people who read it. The term "disorder" is being used as a term of art, like a person calling someone or something "retarded." Although I would like to say that the woman who commented is an idiot and she was stupid for her interpretation, I do not actually believe that. I've actually had discourse with her through our comments and she is actually a really nice gal and she generally seems interested in her truth-seeking endeavors. Of course, based on her writing I have to admit she does not seem to have the greatest comprehension level (she does say some really weird things that come out of nowhere). In no way, however, do I think she's incompetent.

Part of what bothers me about this is that it seems like intentional misdirection for the purpose of proving a point. I will completely admit that homosexual rights activists do the same thing all the time. It is unlikely you are ever going to go to HRC or UCLA and find a study that tends to prove homosexuality is a disorder. More analogous would be finding a pro-gay website that featured kind words about Christian religion members, or at least an unbiased portrayal. I see it all the time on blogs and in in the comments of liberal gay rights articles. Liberals are constantly calling the marriage traditionalists "bigots" or "bible thumping jerks" or whatever else. I do think this is very improper. However, I feel like the conservative side of this debate tends to do it a lot more than the left. In particular, I feel like the conservative side of the debate tends to push out these slanted, insulting viewpoints and sees it as fair play simply because its clouded in religion; they must because it's God's demand. People may disagree, but I really find the words on the CA website to be conveniently unclear and inarticulate and I get the feeling that it might be intentional. How can reputable organizations and the people that make up them publish such garbage?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why Don't Devout Catholics Do What They Should?

I am ticked . . .

I follow the Catholic Online articles and often comment on them. My purpose in doing this is not to trash-talk the Catholic faith, intentionally stir-up controversy (although I do not think that necessarily a bad thing) or boost my ego. The truth is, I find the debate between conservative Catholicism and the secular population very interesting. I enjoy tossing around different ideas simply for the sake of intellectual enrichment. My purpose is not to degrade any religious beliefs, or even argue against the validity of Church teaching. Indeed, I myself am a Catholic and do follow its teachings generally. However, I do not like the blind adherence to religious principles exhibited by so many on the site. Further, I think blind faith without test and tribulation leads to a very uninformed zombie.

The Catholic Online, I've gathered, does not appreciate this quality in me. In the past several weeks, I have tried to post numerous comments on their boards. For sure, most of them extend my disagreement with the rigid Catholic teaching exhibited on the site. As most people know, I am not what I would consider a "devout" Catholic, in the generally accepted meaning of that word. Thus, I have great disagreement with people on the board. Further, I just graduated from law school, I don't really like discussing problems and issues that end up in useless agreement. That's boring. It's so much more fun to turn heads.

Of the comments I've tried to post on the board (I believe there were 5 or 6), only one was posted, and it was an addendum to a larger comment I had posted earlier (that never made it up) so it didn't make much sense. The board has its "disclaimer" that states any harassing comments or false representations of the teachings of the magesterium will not be posted. Personally, I don't think my comments fall into this category. I can certainly get heated up and will often write from the heart, especially regarding issues that mean something personal to me. I will flat out say, none of my comments harass, and none of them misrepresent established Church teaching. Indeed, most of my comments do not even touch on Church teachings simply because I do not know enough about them where I would feel comfortable writing on them.

My comments are nothing more than opinion, occasionally littered with relevant facts. Yet the moderators of these boards seem to think they are inappropriate. I have e-mailed Catholic online twice and even tried to call them in an effort to figure out why my thoughts are being rejected. Nobody on their end wants to discuss it.

This is where I get infuriated. If the Catholic Online wants to be some kind of "praise Jesus" site with no discussion whatsoever and everybody agreeing with one another, I think that's fine. However, that is not what they make themselves out to be. In their disclaimer they say they allow robust discussion. Well that is apparently not true, at least not in my case. Apparently, they do not like any kind of adverse thought antithetical to Church teaching. My question to them is "why?" I am not conceited, I do not think I am going to write some fabulous argument countering the authors' words that is going to change the faith of others on the board. I suppose it could happen, but that's probably unlikely.

What bothers me about this is it is simply bad form in argument. A debater cannot pick and choose which of its opponent's arguments it's going to defend against, and then slyly ignore the other hard ones.

For example, I was reading an article about gay marriage and the writer stated within that homosexuals engage in dangerous sex practices. I do not disagree, there are many gay men (and women) out there that practice unsafe sex. For sure, in my comment I did not dispute his assertion. However, I felt it necessary to clarify that homosexual men are not the only group of people that engage in dangerous sex. Heterosexuals are equally, if not more, guilty.

Now, obviously I wasn't in an actual debate with the writer of the article. However, I do think it appropriate to make comments like that, pointing out false assumptions that people are making, as in a debate. Basically, what this website is doing is allowing its writers to assert these horribly suspect opinions and statements of fact, but blocking a dissenter's ability to write out corrections. This is very bad.

I found this interesting. While talking to one of the representatives of Catholic Online on the phone, he told me that their publication was larger than the New York Times. This very well could be true. However, one thing I wanted to say to him is that I could never imagine the New York Times, a renowned journalistic publication not allowing some form of correction, i.e. letters to the editor. The Catholic Online might be a large publication, but it is not a paradigm of journalistic integrity and objectivity, and certainly not in the same echelon as the NYT. I literally almost laughed out loud when the guy said that.

A larger question looms however. Why is this conservative publication so afraid of valid comments that oppose statements in its articles to the point that their haphazardly censoring what ever "feels" bad? Honestly, I do not actually know. I think there is a concern for other readers. They are obviously reaching out to the Catholic conservative audience and I suppose they may lose more and more readers if people are reading posted comments that offend their beliefs, thinking it is the website condoning what these people are writing. I think it could also be the whole, "Crap, this guy's writing some good stuff that puts us Catholics in our place, we shouldn't let this out." This is even worse because the editors are assuming that their readers are a bunch of idiots and cannot defend the Church's stances against criticism. Having been in contact with Catholics all my life, I realized very early on that it isn't hard to stump them when it comes to contradiction in teaching. It has happened to me when defending the Catholic faith against criticisms I do not like.

My personal opinion is that the Church is filled with bad debaters. Part of the problem is that followers of the Church see it as having this infallible authority, and the Church makes itself out to be just that. Justice Jackson once said of the United States Supreme Court: "We are not final because we are infallible, but we are fallible because we are final." This concept doesn't exist in the Catholic Church. There is no "we might be wrong." The Church basically closes itself off to public debate, at least from within the Catholic community. Indeed, if you question, you cease to be a Catholic. I've seen this happen many times. It scares me. One, because the Catholic Church is basically leading itself unprepared into a very important debate, and two, it makes the Church look like a bunch of idiots.

If the Church really wants to start being a practical and important part of the debate on Catholic issues, it has got to step out of the strict authoritarian role and it needs to venture out in to the land of secular law. It has to understand that its teaching and rules only apply to those who choose to follow them. The Church has no armies or police to enforce its rules, its only power over people on earth is stating "you will not inherit the kingdom of God." I am not saying that this is not an effective mechanism, indeed, a lot of people do keep strict adherence to Church teachings for that very reason. However, it doesn't really work against those who don't believe it. Thus, I think the Church needs to start making its way into the secular debate, and giving more substantive arguments than "the bible says so." Yeah, the bible does say it, but the bible is simply not relevant authority to a lot, and a growing number, of people.

This is what bothered me a few months back regarding the abortion debate I was having with people on those boards. People kept saying, abortion is murder, murder is bad, it should not be allowed. Well yes, that is one way to look at it, but then secularists (who do not follow biblical teachings as closely) say it falls outside the definition of murder, because murder is the intentional killing of a human person and that doesn't include an embryo or fetus. Then the religious argument goes all to hell because religious arguments do not work in a secular debate. At some point, you have to stop saying "God hates abortion" and start making some other claim.

I do want to mention that I think the religious argument is a valid and important argument to assert in debates concerning public morality. However, it cannot be the only source of argument, especially not in a system that makes use of far more secular views than Catholic/Christian views. It concerns me that devout Catholics wont go out and venture beyond their religious identity. And it certainly doesn't work to keep ignoring secular arguments, good arguments, simply because they're not religious. This is what Catholic Online is doing and it makes the Catholic Church look like a very weak opponent in the debate. I think they should rethink who and why they censor.

Friday, October 2, 2009

General Thought on Gay Marriage and the Catholic Church

I was reading an article in the Catholic Online bulletin this morning about how a gay Catholic church is "queering" the Rosary prayer. First off, I have no significant bias towards either side in the debate. I can understand why the Church would be upset; although I am not a huge prayer junkie, I guess I wouldn't want some of the most fundamental prayers of Christianity being changed haphazardly to suit a single person's faith. On the other hand, well, who cares?Let them do it.

What bothered me were the verbal attacks uttered by commentators. Things like "they should be excommunicated" and "they are not Catholics" were flying around the board. Now, I have no problem with members of my religion disagreeing with others. However, I do have great issues with lay-members of the faith making decisions as to who is and who is not a Catholic, or a good-enough one.

First off, a person is a Catholic, or they're not. There are unCatholic actions and practices, but there are not unCatholic Catholics. That doesn't make any sense. It's like saying someone who disagrees with executive or legislative action is unAmerican. No, being American is just that, it describes an origin, what country you associate as your "place."

Second, what actually makes one Catholic better than the other? I may not be the most devout Catholic, going to Church, praying daily, supporting Catholic movements. However, I still am a Catholic. I mean I was baptized, had my first communion, confirmed into the Catholic church. Is someone a better Catholic if they have more education in the religion? If that's the case, me and most of my high school friends are the best Catholics in the world. My personal view is a Catholic is a person with acceptance into the Church via the rites of passage who implements a significant amount of the religious beliefs and their education (wherever it comes from) into most of their daily life. Of course I think the stupid people writing comments on these articles and the bozos that write them are Catholics too, although I do sometimes question their implementation of the Catholic faith into their daily lives. Being a jerk is not a Catholic virtue last I checked.

This doesn't necessarily have to mean anything, it's just something I have been thinking about the past couple weeks and it was on my mind this morning. I just think it so terribly wrong and tacky to go around demanding ouster from the Church and calling people unCatholic. It's not anybody's decision to make. So please, if you ever hear someone say something along those lines, give them a piece of your mind.

The second issue I wanted to discuss was an article I read regarding President Obama's "National Family Day." The pres issued a proclamation claiming some day (don't remember what, I probably missed it) where he wanted all families to come together and be together. In the executive order was very broad, encompassing all families, whether it's a mom and a dad and kids, homosexual parents (WHAT!?!?!?!?! ISH!!!!!!!!!!), single parents, guardians, etc. It included every family known to man.

Well, once again I was reading a Catholic Online article and some wretched writer, Kathleen Gilbert, wrote a bulletin sort-of-thing about "National Family Day." In the article, she ingeniously stated the obvious: Obama's interpretation of "family" includes GAYS!!!!!! Although the author never really said anything pejorative regarding gays or those families, it was obvious what she was pointing out: "Lookout Catholics, these gay families and their gay kids are coming." However, one thing she conveniently forgot to include was that there are more families than just those headed by homosexuals that are in opposition to Catholic teaching. Quite frankly, I've been reading all these Catholic articles about how the best family structure is the traditional family. So really, the Church should probably have issue with every family included, except one. But no, this ingenious, faithful Catholic woman . . . who writes . . . she only saw the gay thing.

OK, here's my point, Obama's inclusion of all families also includes those slutty little girls that get knocked up at 17 and the baby's daddy hits the road. It includes families separated by divorce. It includes pseudo-traditional families where the parents live together but aren't married. These are things that also go against Catholic teaching, yet this Gilbert woman completely forgot to mention that.

Actually, I wrote a rather scathing letter to her via her listed e-mail address to tell her that her mistake tended to showed a particular animus towards gays. To sit there and complain that gays and their marriages are immoral because of scripture, but then completely disregard those other things that are also in opposition tends to show that she is focusing on gay families simply because she doesn't like them, her personal preference (notice how I said "tends to show," there could be something else that could get her off the hook). It has nothing to do with scripture, it has nothing to do with morality, it has nothing to do with family. All it is is two men or two women shacking up and adopting kids.

By the way, I gave the author my full name and e-mail address in my letter to her in case she wanted to discuss it or give me a rebuttal. This was only yesterday, so perhaps she has not had the time to get back to me. But, I think it's probably going to go unanswered.

Further, I tried to post a comment similar to the one above on the board following the article. It was never posted. I tried once again, it, too, was also never posted. I wrote a stearn but kind e-mail to customer service at Catholic Online. Nothing. Are they just sick of me, or did I call their author on her egregious mistake and they're embarassed? Of course I don't know for sure . . . but I do.