Gay Marriage in California

A few days ago, the California Supreme Court struck down a statutory regime that gave same-sex couples essentially the same rights and duties as married couples, but called them “registered domestic partners” instead of “married couples.” This, the court said, violates the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.

The court did not say whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry and have their relationship called and recognized as a “marriage.” As the court pointed out on pages 4 and 5 of the slip opinion:

It . . . is important to understand at the outset that our task in this proceeding is not to decide whether we believe, as a matter of policy, that the officially recognized relationship of a same-sex couple should be designated a marriage rather than a domestic partnership (or some other term), but instead only to determine whether the difference in the official names of the relationships violates the California Constitution.

Nor did the court say anything about the federal Constitution. This decision was based solely on rights under the California Constitution.

The court also did not invalidate the will of the people, even though some people mistakenly think so:

In this case the people of California spoke clearly, when in 2000, 60% of the people voted for a proposition that recognized marriage as between a man and a woman. Now 4 Supreme Court justices make a ruling which overturns the expressed wishes of a state of over 36 million people.

Sorry, but that’s what you might call a half-truth. I.e., not the truth. Also known as a “falsehood.”

In its opinion, the court addressed this point. On page 113 of the slip opinion, the court explained:

Although defendants maintain that this court has an obligation to defer to the statutory definition of marriage contained in [California Family Code] section 308.5 because that statute — having been adopted through the [voter] initiative process — represents the expression of the “people’s will,” this argument fails to take into account the very basic point that the provisions of the California Constitution itself constitute the ultimate expression of the people’s will, and that the fundamental rights embodied within that Constitution for the protection of all persons represent restraints that the people themselves have imposed upon the statutory enactments that may be adopted either by their elected representatives or by the voters through the initiative process.

Yes, California voters approved a ballot initiative that made Family Code section 308.5 the law in California. (In case you’re wondering, that section says: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” In this case, the court was considering a group of code sections, of which that was only one.) But the ballot initiative did not change the California Constitution. Voters in this state can use the initiative process to change the Constitution. (Either of the two propositions on the upcoming June 3 ballot would amend the California Constitution if approved.) And as the court pointed out in the paragraph excerpted above, while section 308.5 was approved by the voters and therefore represents an expression of the people’s will, it remains subject to the ultimate expression of the people’s will, the state constitution.

Essentially, yesterday’s opinion told the people of California, “The only way you can discriminate against gay people is by amending your state constitution to make an exception to the equal protection clause.” (I’ll adopt the word “gay” the same way the court did in footnote 5 of its opinion: “For convenience and economy of language, in this opinion we shall use the term ‘gay,’ with reference to an individual, to relate either to a lesbian or to a gay man, and the term ‘gay couple’ to refer to a couple consisting of either two women or two men.”)

In my opinion that is not, as some people say, “legislating from the bench.” It is simply judicial review, which Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Marshall explained quite well in 1803:

It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each. So if a law be in opposition to the constitution: if both the law and the constitution apply to a particular case, so that the court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the constitution; or conformably to the constitution, disregarding the law: the court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty.

If then the courts are to regard the constitution; and the constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the legislature; the constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply.

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 177-178 (1803).

In yesterday’s decision, the California Supreme Court had to decide between the law of the California Family Code, which said that same-sex couples can have substantially the same rights as married couples, but that they cannot be called “married couples” under the law, and the California Constitution, which says “[a] person may not be . . . denied equal protection of the laws.” (Cal. Const., art I, § 7.)

Or, to put it another way, the court had to decide whether telling gay people that they can have substantially the same thing as married people, but that they have to be called “registered domestic partners” instead of “married people,” denies them equal protection of the laws.

You might disagree with the outcome of their decision, but you should see that when the question is posed, the court has to come up with an answer. That is not legislation, but adjudication. It can say, as it did, “Yes, that denies gay people equal protection,” or it can say, “No, that does not deny them equal protection.”

If you want to argue instead that the court does not need to come up with an answer, then you might say something like this: “The court should decline to answer this question. Deciding whether gay people should be allowed to get married is a political question, not a legal one. It should be decided by the legislature, or by the voters with a ballot measure.”

The problem with that argument, however, is that the court did not decide whether gay people should be allowed to get married. In fact, if you remember the passage I quoted above, you’ll recall that the court specifically did not answer that question. The only question answered by the court in yesterday’s opinion is whether gay people are denied equal protection of the laws when they are given substantially the same rights as married people, but not legally recognized as “married” people.

The opinion was about the label, not about the substance. Why? Because the California legislature already decided the substance when it enacted Family Code section 297.5, subdivision (a):

Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.

The issue before the court in yesterday’s opinion was not whether gay couples should have all those rights, protections, and benefits provided by section 297.5, but whether, once giving them those things, they can still be called “registered domestic partners” without denying them equal protection of the laws.

California’s Supreme Court did not override the will of the people; it simply looked at two different expressions of the people’s will and decided that the constitutional expression trumped the statutory expression, which is entirely proper.

Comments 14

  1. Thinker wrote:

    Sounds like a federal equal protection and repeat of the 60’s is eminent.

    Posted 06 Nov 2008 at 6:26 pm
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    From a purely legal standpoint, how do you feel about Prop 8? Do you think the challenge calling it unconstitutional will succeed? From a CA constitutional standpoint, is Prop 8 valid and enforceable?

    Posted 13 Nov 2008 at 10:22 am
  3. Peter wrote:

    I think the opponents of Proposition 8 have a good argument (or the potential for one), at least under California law. Though I haven’t had time to find and read the briefs, from what I gather, their argument is essentially that, in terms of the State Constitution, Proposition 8 does something too important to be left to a bare majority of the voters. They say this is a “revision,” rather than an “amendment.” I tend to agree on the substance of the argument.

    Procedurally, I’m not sure why it works the way it does. In my opinion, voters in California should not even be allowed to amend the constitution without a supermajority. If, as the California Supreme Court observed (and I think they were absolutely right on this point), the State Constitution takes priority over Legislation, in determining the “will of the people,” then the procedural hurdles to amending the State Constitution ought to be higher.

    I think that’s the spirit of the argument they’re making now, but maybe not the letter. Under California law, the procedure for revising the State Constitution is different from the procedure for amending it. Whether the “revision” procedure amounts to a higher hurdle, I’m skeptical. But the idea is that as the importance of the change increases, the procedure for accomplishing it increases. I think it’s well-intentioned, but probably not sufficient. And whether that argument will fly with the court, I have no idea.

    To the substance of the issue, though, as a matter of equal protection, even though the voters approved Proposition 8 — though just barely — the measure raises problems. If the voters can carve out an exception to equal protection by a bare majority vote, then what, really, is equal protection under the law?

    If we are going to put provisions into our constitutional system that say everybody is entitled to equal protection under the law, but we say, “Okay, now you voters go ahead and just carve out any exceptions where you think equal protection would be wrong,” then equal protection is a sham. We don’t let voters redefine certain racial groups as “non-human,” or certain religious groups as “not religion.” Why should they get to define certain long-term, two-member, monogamous, property-sharing, companionate, love-based relationships as not a marriage? Although, as plenty of people have pointed out as an analogue to the present situation, we did do that before: with biracial marriages. That observation has, in some quarters, probably passed into the realm of the banal, but I think that, in many ways, it’s a solid and meaningful comparison.

    But that leads me to the one reason why the opponents of Proposition 8 probably have a better chance in California courts, under California law, than they would under federal law. The California Supreme Court has defined homosexuals as a protected class for equal protection purposes. Protected classes are generally groups that are “discrete” and “insular,” with a history of suffering adverse affects arising from discrimination, and are typically defined by some immutable characteristic. You see, no doubt, where that leads in the present case:

    Is homosexuality an immutable characteristic?

    Personally, based on what I have read, and based on my firsthand experience with gay people, I think it is. But in its decision last spring (from what I recall when I read it then — I have not since re-read it), the California Supreme Court glossed over that element, pointing out that under California law, we have never really required a true immutable characteristic, because religious identification is a protected class, too — and you know, from personal experience, that that is certainly not an immutable characteristic.

    Federal law may treat it differently. Unfortunately, I am not particularly well-read in the current state of federal constitutional law on this matter, so I can’t say much else.

    Posted 13 Nov 2008 at 11:20 am
  4. gbm3 wrote:

    This quote is telling from lifesitenews.com regarding the legal issue of CA:

    [Pacific Justice Institute president Brad Dacus] believes the ongoing vandalism and protests against Prop. 8 will backfire. He noted, “Californians are among the most tolerant people in the world. They are also not stupid, and they deliberately rejected forced acceptance of gay marriage, while leaving in place domestic partnerships and a host of other special rights based for homosexuals.”

    The “marriage” definition question of Prop 8 is just a revision (under CA law). There are many “domestic partnerships” laws in place. The definition of marriage is only a revision since the “rights”, ie money matters, of “domestic partnerships” are in place in CA.

    This whole debate is about whether CA legitimizes same-sex “marriage”. (I think it should not for these reasons.) Further, it is not a debate whether law enforcement officers should go around arresting those in “domestic partnerships”.

    When you get down to it, what’s the uproar really about? A very important word: marriage.

    I watched part of the interview with M. Ethridge (sp) and her “partner” on Oprah today. They were sitting on a couch as a “married couple”. What will they get if Prop. 8 is struck down? They will get no more money or property rights. They will get legitimacy for their relationship as a “married couple”.

    The voters of CA spoke with their vote: they do not legitimize their relationship as such.

    (Of course this is only about CA. It’s not my state, but it is a State issue.)

    gbm3

    Posted 14 Nov 2008 at 9:00 pm
  5. Peter wrote:

    gbm3 said:

    The definition of marriage is only a revision since the “rights”, ie money matters, of “domestic partnerships” are in place in CA.

    . . .

    What will they get if Prop. 8 is struck down? They will get no more money or property rights. They will get legitimacy for their relationship as a “married couple”.

    As to your two conclusions, about “money or property rights” and “legitimacy,” you are mistaken, I think perhaps because you are misconstruing the legal issue in the first sentence I quoted.

    First, it may just be small thing (though it could be contributing to what I see as your confusion about the legal issue), but I think you are getting “revision” and “amendment” confused. For the California State Constitution, revisions are the deeper and more important changes, while amendments are the less important ones.

    The question is not whether defining “marriage” in the State Constitution is a “revision,” but whether it is carving out an exception to equal protection. As I mentioned in my comment above, the real problem, in terms of the legal issue, is not the “moral” one propounded by the supporters of Proposition 8, but the fundamental difficulty of having this ideal of “equal protection,” under which the law applies equally to everyone, but then allowing the people to “democratically” make exclusions as to which people receive the benefits, or suffer the consequences, of a particular law.

    It is mostly true that if Proposition 8 were struck down, the “money or property rights” of gay and lesbian couples in California would not substantially change, so long as they are Registered Domestic Partners (RDPs) under the law here, since RDPs have already been given most of the same rights as married couples. (And, nevertheless, any property rights afforded to married couples under federal law would still not apply to them in California, because of the federal “Defense of Marriage Act.” That includes things like the right to designate a same-sex spouse an alternate payee under an ERISA-governed pension plan, if I’m not mistaken.) But the purpose of Proposition 8 is not to establish money or property rights, so that is mostly a non-issue.

    As to the “legitimacy” same-sex couples might receive, the thing at stake is not so simple. On one level, the dispute is merely semantic. What you call the relationship will not change its nature for the participants, nor will it force people who believe homosexuality to be wrong to afford any more “legitimacy” to those relationships, in a moral or social sense. But on a much deeper level, the problem is really not that opponents of Proposition 8 want to change the definition of marriage so much as supporters of Proposition 8 want to stop the flexibility of language. No one can realistically believe that simply by withholding the legal application of a word to certain relationships, the phenomenon of long-term, monogamous, same-sex relationships that are analogous to long-term, monogamous, different-sex relationships.

    To put it another way, the problem is not that same-sex couples really want new legitimacy, so much as they want people among the supporters of Proposition 8, and their sympathizers around the nation and the world, to stop refusing to recognize the social reality of the relationships the presently do, undeniably, exist. Supporters of Proposition 8, while they accuse their opponents of attempting to “redefine” marriage, are really the only people in this dispute who are attempting to do any kind of overt social construction. Their task is to institute a codified legal denial of something that obviously already exists.

    An analogue that may give you the right perspective would be something like a ballot initiative that attempted to say that “religion,” for the purposes of all laws relating to religion, does not include the Roman Catholic Church. It would be a denial of something that, like long-term, monogamous, same-sex relationships, clearly already exists.

    As an atheist who routinely confronts people who do their damnedest to redefine my perspective out of existence and to deny me any stake in the political process as an atheist, I must say I have much sympathy for the gay and lesbian couples who simply want the rest of the world to say, “Okay, we know you’re there, we know you are our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, we know you are different than we are, but we will stop trying to pretend that you don’t exist, or berate you into being like us. We will recognize our differences, and get on with our lives.”

    Psychologically, there is an abiding daily struggle for people who, like gays and lesbians, like atheists, are condemned and cast out and otherwise unrecognized, belittled, and ignored by you people who sit up high and mighty with your self-appointed claims to be better connected to all of history and the centers of power for human governments and, indeed, all existence. That people like the supporters of Proposition 8 make it a concerted campaign to continue in their stubborn refusal to simply recognize that people who are not like them exist and ought to be afforded the same dignity and respect as anyone else, even in the face of disagreement.

    The message is crystal clear to opponents of Proposition 8: supporters of such laws are not just trying to “protect” marriage, because nobody, except a few idiots living in abject denial of reality, believes that letting the one or two percent of the population who is gay or lesbian get married will prevent the vast, vast, vast majority of different-sex couples to continue marrying, fornicating, adultering, divorcing, reproducing, and so on. No straight person with any kind of sex drive or need for a long-term companionate relationship is going to say, “Oh, damn, they’re letting gay people get married, so now I’m screwed.” No, supporters of laws like Proposition 8 are working to send a message: you people are not like us, you don’t belong in our society, we don’t want you, we can’t get rid of you, so we will do everything in our power to re-define and socially deconstruct you out of our consciousness.

    And in response, as an atheist who faces much the same kind of resistance to acceptance, I must stand with the gay community, extend both middle fingers, and offer a hearty: FUCK YOU.

    Posted 15 Nov 2008 at 2:37 pm
  6. gbm3 wrote:

    So,

    Getting back to FD’s question:

    From a purely legal standpoint, how do you feel about Prop 8?

    Yes, I got the amendment/revision language incorrect. Sorry ’bout that.

    Peter said,

    It is mostly true that if Proposition 8 were struck down, the “money or property rights” of gay and lesbian couples in California would not substantially change, so long as they are Registered Domestic Partners (RDPs) under the law here, since RDPs have already been given most of the same rights as married couples.

    So, as far as the legal questions — my “money or property rights” — they do not change with the passage of Prop. 8.

    To put it another way, the problem is not that same-sex couples really want new legitimacy, so much as they want people among the supporters of Proposition 8, and their sympathizers around the nation and the world, to stop refusing to recognize the social reality of the relationships the presently do, undeniably, exist. Supporters of Proposition 8, while they accuse their opponents of attempting to “redefine” marriage, are really the only people in this dispute who are attempting to do any kind of overt social construction. Their task is to institute a codified legal denial of something that obviously already exists.

    Any two people can live together for a lifetime in a non-marital relationship as siblings, parent/child, religious community, etc. As one court judge put it, defining marriage is about biology not bigotry.

    An analogue that may give you the right perspective would be something like a ballot initiative that attempted to say that “religion,” for the purposes of all laws relating to religion, does not include the Roman Catholic Church. It would be a denial of something that, like long-term, monogamous, same-sex relationships, clearly already exists.

    But I would never say that I was married to the Pope since he is the head of the Church and I am committed to the Church until death. I would also not try to get the State to legitimize the supposed “marriage” relationship since the State has no interest in it (I can’t have children with the Pope).

    Lastly, Peter, construing my arguments to apply to you as an Atheist is a stretch. The topics are different (same-sex couples/Atheists). No need for the childish remarks. I believe this dialog is for understanding, not attacking. (If you posted the last two words on my blog, your entire comment would be deleted post haste.)

    At any rate, Peter, God bless you. (I wonder if you find that more offensive than your last two words were. Actually, I do really hope that God will bless you.)

    Posted 15 Nov 2008 at 10:36 pm
  7. Peter wrote:

    There’s little, if anything, I find truly offensive. Being “offended,” in my opinion, is the mark of a small mind.

    It irks me that you can muster the sophistry necessary to maintain belief in God, but cannot deal with rather simple legal, social, and logical arguments.

    First, say “any two people” can live together and it’s not a marriage. That is true, but nobody is talking about “any two people”; you conveniently left out an important word: “monagamous.” Your denial of the nature of same-sex relationships indicates your failure, refusal, or inability to put yourself into the perspective of another human being. Those people do not experience their relationships as “any two people,” but in the same way different-sex people experience a romantic relationship or a marriage relationship. In that sense, your response is either a non sequitur or a willful failure to engage the real issue.

    Second, on the example of a legislation that denies the social reality of a real, existing group of people, I did not suggest that the metaphor was to compare marriage relationships, but to compare the problem of pretending that people who are actually doing something are not actually doing it. You are actually practicing a religion; if it were legislatively re-defined into oblivion, that would not cease your practice, or change anything about how you live your life, but I guarantee it would piss you off, just as same-sex couples and their supporters are pissed off. Again, I think you just willfully refuse to put yourself into a position of empathy for other human beings. My example was an attempt to snap your perspective around into something that might help you realize the enormous damage to many, many people that your views do when they are translated into political action. On the other hand, letting gay and lesbian couples get married would have no meaningful effect on your life whatsoever—one of the points in my previous comment that I note you did not address in your response.

    Finally, I did not try to extend your arguments against same-sex marriage to me as an atheist. Your construal of my comments that way indicates, again, either that you refuse to understand them, or that you are incapable of taking a position of empathy for your fellow human beings. The issue is not that atheism and homosexuality are the same, but that the use of political methods to do no more than, in effect, tell a certain group of people that they are not wanted is nothing more than a means of trying to intimidate people into excusing themselves from your consciousness and hiding away, as many of them used to do, so you can continue pretending you live in a world where there are not people with drastically different views than you have.

    Your prudery regarding two little words is astounding. Get over it. They have no magical power, except what you invest in them.

    Again and again and again when I interact with you and others online, and even as I am reading a book written by the Pope himself, I am convinced, ever more resolutely, that the most effective means ever devised to destroy a person’s capability to reason is to inculcate in him the tenets of the Catholic Church.

    Posted 16 Nov 2008 at 10:27 am
  8. gbm3 wrote:

    It irks me that you can muster the sophistry necessary to maintain belief in God, but cannot deal with rather simple legal, social, and logical arguments.

    I don’t know if you know, but there are different intelligences; it’s called “Multiple [9] Intelligences Theory”. In addition, there is always a learning curve for new topics. I apologize for being slow. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

    First, say “any two people” can live together and it’s not a marriage. That is true, but nobody is talking about “any two people”; you conveniently left out an important word: “monagamous.” Your denial of the nature of same-sex relationships indicates your failure, refusal, or inability to put yourself into the perspective of another human being. Those people do not experience their relationships as “any two people,” but in the same way different-sex people experience a romantic relationship or a marriage relationship. In that sense, your response is either a non sequitur or a willful failure to engage the real issue.

    This argument is attempting to assert a definition of marriage. Why is the distinguishing “monogamous” feature of some same-sex relationships important? Why can’t “non-monogamous” or a plurality of people be married? What makes a “romantic relationship” different from other relationships in the eyes of the law? Why does the State care if a relationship is romantic? Why not have a married relationship with your job, dog, or inanimate object?

    You’re discriminating. Can’t you see?

    From Judith Stacy:

    “Legitimizing gay and lesbian marriages would promote a democratic, pluralist expansion of the meaning, practice, and politics of family life in the United States, helping to supplant the destructive sanctity of The Family with respect for diverse and vibrant families . . . . If we begin to value the meaning and quality of intimate bonds over their customary forms, people might devise marriage and kinship patterns to serve diverse needs . . . . Two friends might decide to marry without basing their bond on erotic or romantic attachment . . . . Or, more radical still, perhaps some might dare to question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek some of the benefits of extended family life through small group marriages arranged to share resources, nurturance, and labor. After all, if it is true that The Two-Parent Family is Better than a single-parent family, as family-values crusaders proclaim, might not three-, four-, or more-parent families be better yet, as many utopian communards have long believed?”

    The real issue is what defines marriage and what the State (us) has at stake in marriage. What gives marriage a special status requiring protection?

    I know many people personally who are practicing gays who have multiple-partners, are “engaged”, and are committed/partnered and talk to them about it; I also attended a homosexual bible study at Pitt [http://alesrarus.funkydung.com/archives/2405]. I’m (heterosexually) married with children. I understand the issue intimately.

    Second, on the example of a legislation that denies the social reality of a real, existing group of people, I did not suggest that the metaphor was to compare marriage relationships, but to compare the problem of pretending that people who are actually doing something are not actually doing it. You are actually practicing a religion; if it were legislatively re-defined into oblivion, that would not cease your practice, or change anything about how you live your life, but I guarantee it would piss you off, just as same-sex couples and their supporters are pissed off. Again, I think you just willfully refuse to put yourself into a position of empathy for other human beings. My example was an attempt to snap your perspective around into something that might help you realize the enormous damage to many, many people that your views do when they are translated into political action. On the other hand, letting gay and lesbian couples get married would have no meaningful effect on your life whatsoever—one of the points in my previous comment that I note you did not address in your response.

    This issue does have effect on my life, but I mainly do it for others (just like in the abortion topic). It all comes down to this right that should overshadow rights for adults: “Children have the right to be born and to be raised by their biological parents”. For this ultimate goal, Maggie Gallagher of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy says, “People who believe that children need [biological] mothers and fathers will be treated like bigots in the public square.”

    The happiness, well-being, and future perpetuation of a healthy society depend on the formation of the next generation. This includes the necessity of supporting the institution of marriage towards this end.

    Substantial research reports that a child raised by his/her biological parents is much better off. See “(How) Will Gay Marriage Weaken Marriage as a Social Institution: A Reply to Andrew Koppelman”. I suggest you read the entire Article (and/or any of this [http://www.marriagedebate.com/ssm.php]) and let me know what you think (put comments on this post perhaps).

    Personally, the outcome of this debate affects the culture in which my family resides since morality will be affected across many topics (a libertarian approach to morality will bring Rome back to Earth since there’s nothing special about being human with dignity, we’re just animals after all that want to satisfy ourselves). It will affect my Church (funding/moral objections/taxes/etc.) and the future of world in terms of population.

    Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter if redefining marriage affects me. I am my brother’s keeper which compels me to support the needs of children, the most vulnerable of society. Children need their biological mother and father to raise them in a loving united home for a lifetime, and the state should help the biological parents to do so.

    Finally, I did not try to extend your arguments against same-sex marriage to me as an atheist. Your construal of my comments that way indicates, again, either that you refuse to understand them, or that you are incapable of taking a position of empathy for your fellow human beings. The issue is not that atheism and homosexuality are the same, but that the use of political methods to do no more than, in effect, tell a certain group of people that they are not wanted is nothing more than a means of trying to intimidate people into excusing themselves from your consciousness and hiding away, as many of them used to do, so you can continue pretending you live in a world where there are not people with drastically different views than you have.

    My point: the same-sex “marriage” and atheist topics (as above) are different in that one set of arguments address biology (can’t change and a man and woman naturally (universally) create children) and the other about personal belief (can change and are not universal). (I hope I finally addressed your point.)

    Your prudery regarding two little words is astounding. Get over it. They have no magical power, except what you invest in them.

    It seems like you invest in the 2 “little words” since you use them. Get over using words that normally attack and continue using arguments.

    Again and again and again when I interact with you and others online, and even as I am reading a book written by the Pope himself, I am convinced, ever more resolutely, that the most effective means ever devised to destroy a person’s capability to reason is to inculcate in him the tenets of the Catholic Church.

    Reason is limited; revelation is infinite and illuminates reason. Talking about the Pope, I already finished the book of the atheist pope R. Dawkins, The God Delusion. It’s amazing how reason can sometimes keep one from attempting to reach for the infinite. His answers are ultimately unsatisfying (and quite often illogical in themselves).

    While were discussing:

    At the First Things blog,

    Hate for 8
    Amanda Shaw
    Having spent the last hour with the CA constitution, especially its articles on judicial power, constitutional amendments, and the Declaration of Rights, I have yet to discover where Cruz finds or grounds his theory. “The electors may amend the Constitution by initiative,” reads Article 18, and “a proposed amendment or revision shall be submitted to the electors and if approved by a majority of votes thereon takes effect the day after the election.”

    Nary a mention of the court.

    Note the “amendment or revision” language. Also, only a [simple] majority is needed.

    Posted 18 Nov 2008 at 10:44 pm
  9. gbm3 wrote:

    Below is in addition to the discussion above.

    A great explanation of the revision/amendment language etc. of the CA Constitution is here at lifesitenews.com. [http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/nov/08111812.html]

    Posted 19 Nov 2008 at 7:57 am
  10. Jerry wrote:

    Peter, what book by which Pope are you reading?

    Posted 19 Nov 2008 at 8:48 pm
  11. Peter wrote:

    Introduction to Christianity.

    Posted 19 Nov 2008 at 10:57 pm
  12. Jerry wrote:

    Well, you picked a good book to be incensed by, not a strawman. Perhaps you could write up a critique of some key part of the book in the future for the blog?

    Posted 21 Nov 2008 at 12:19 am
  13. Peter wrote:

    gbm3:

    Weekends are usually when I have the time to participate in blogs. But my office is moving this weekend and I may not have time to respond to your comments (which I have not had time to even read yet). I apologize if it takes me a long time.

    Also, in the interim, please note that while I certainly expressed anger, frustration, and extreme irritation in my comments above, like anyone else I am subject to changing moods and stressors. While I remain angry, frustrated, and irritated with religious people, with proponents of Proposition 8, and with members of the Roman Catholic Church in particular (for reasons that extend far beyond our discussion here and elsewhere), I hope you can see (or at least consider the possibility and take my word for it) that I am far more interested in pounding the ideas than I am in pounding the person. If the idea-pounding breaks through that barrier I try to maintain in my own mind, it is purely a creature of those changing moods and stressors. That’s my failing.

    Jerry:

    I don’t read straw-man books. But I am reading Ratzinger’s book slowly, attentively, repetitively, reflectively, and while taking copious notes. The more I read, the more I am certain that a satisfying critique would be equal in length to the book itself. But my plan is to attempt such a thing, at some point.

    I am also reading Ratzinger’s book in conjunction with (Catholic philosopher) Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, which I find equally irritating at many turns, as well as with (Rabbi) David Wolpe’s recent Why Faith Matters, which is nowhere near as heavy-duty as the other two. During all of this reading I also make frequent reference to (Protestant with a Catholic flavor) theologian Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology.

    At the other end, I also recently read, in a similar slow fashion, Pascal Boyer’s Religion Explained, and am currently reading Richard Dawkins’ Unweaving the Rainbow (which his loudest religious critics, I suspect, have never read).

    All of this is not just because I have been avidly reading philosophy, theology, and science for the last ten years, but because of a comment of scholar-of-religions Huston Smith, who complained a few years ago in Why Religion Matters that the polemical among adversaries to religion are not good at “try[ing] to understand where we believers are coming from.” I used to be a believer, one who spent more time than any of the other believers he knew or associated with at the time trying to figure out where he was coming from, and I have spent the last nearly ten years as a non-believer still trying to understand where believers are coming from.

    Despite what you (and others) may want to think, I have read and pondered these things deeply, for years, and it has not brought me to any sense of comfort that religions are as good and noble as their practitioners claim. Quite the contrary. And I have also discovered, to my continuous and deepening dismay, that a large part of the problem seems to arise from the failure or refusal of the proponents of religion to try, as hard as I am trying to understand them, to try and understand where the adversaries of religion are coming from. The longer I read the works of theologians and religious leaders, the more I am convinced that they are willfully refusing to recognize that people like me are not just ill-informed cranks. There is plenty of non-polemical literature that establishes all the same arguments that anti-religion polemicists make. We resort to polemic because you people seem constitutionally incapable of going out and researching that vast literature, while most of you simultaneously insist that we go diving into your vast spillage of ink. But I am not a hypocrite, and if I expect others to try and understand my position, then I will try to understand theirs. And when they refuse to reciprocate, then out comes the polemic, because in my experience, polemic is what whipped the former me awake to the necessity of going out and discovering why there were people like the present me out there. How could someone feel so strongly that religion is a terrible evil that people inflict on each other? When I first asked that question, I found that I could not stop trying to find an answer. So I went searching. If you don’t care to know the answer to that question, then I think the circumstances giving rise to the question need to be placed in front of you again and again until you finally realize how important it is and try to answer it honestly.

    Posted 21 Nov 2008 at 10:02 am
  14. gbmIII wrote:

    Peter,

    Please see my comment here. I keep on getting error/spam messages when I try to comment on this post.

    gbmIII

    Posted 17 Dec 2008 at 9:00 pm

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