Category Archives: Culture Clash

California, Proposition 8, and Democracy turned upside-down

Today is a red-letter date in American History.  It is not, however, a good thing.  Today, a federal judge, Vaughn R. Walker, declared California’s Proposition 8–defining marriage as between one man and one woman–to be unconstitutional.  This is huge.

Since I am not a lawyer, I will be discussing this issue in non-legalese common sense.  Having said that, there are a few things to explore:

1.  The text of Proposition 8 is as follows:

This initiative measure is submitted to the people in accordance with the provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the California Constitution.

This initiative measure expressly amends the California Constitution by adding a section thereto; therefore, new provisions proposed to be added are printed in italic type to indicate that they are new.

SECTION 1.    Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “California Marriage Protection Act.”

SECTION 2.    Section 7.5 is added to Article I of the California Constitution, to read:
SEC. 7.5.    Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. (source)

Notice, this is not a “law,” per se.  This is a constitutional amendment.  As such, by definition, it cannot be declared “unconstitutional.”

2.  The judge, Vaughn R. Walker, is himself a homosexual. (see here)  Since he is a gay man living in the state where this amendment is being challenged and since he would be directly impacted–in some way–by his own decision and because he is prejudiced toward the side of those seeking to overturn this amendment, he should have simply recused himself.   There can be no clearer demonstration of a conflict of interest.

3.  That the Proposition 8 amendment made it on the ballot, presupposes that due process was given to the proponents of the amendment and it also presupposes that the proponents did everything required by the California constitution to get Proposition 8 onto the ballot.  Furthermore, 52% of those voting in the November 2008 election decided to make an amendment to the California constitution recognizing as valid only those marriages between a man and a woman.

So, Then, What Is Going On Here?

What we are witnessing here is the end of the democratic republic.  I know that sounds alarmist, but it is true.

Let’s remember that, in California, homosexual couples have every right that every heterosexual couple has.  California has established the same rights in its civil-union law.  So, it is not about “equality” because in the eyes of California law homosexual civil unions and heterosexual marriages are identical in rights afforded to the parties involved.  The only “thing” missing is the title “marriage.”  So, this is not about equal rights; that is a red-herring, strawman argument.

Secondly, the Constitution of a state is not amendable by a court…that would be tyranny.  The Constitution of the State of California is amendable by simple majority of voters, not by judicial fiat.

What we have here, then, is the tyranny of one man who, because he is himself homosexual and therefore has a vested interest in the outcome of the case, should have recused himself.

What is more, the precedent set here is outrageous.  The State of California has proved today that it is most certainly not a government “of, by, and for the people.”  The people spoke in November of 2008.  The government of California is anything but democratic.

Why Does This Matter?

This matters precisely because this will inevitably give homosexual couples special rights.  No pastor will be able to preach against homosexuality without fear of imprisonment, churches may very well be forced to hire homosexuals against their own consciences, and every person’s right to “freedom of speech” will be taken away…simply because a minority of people do not like what the majority has to say.

The day may come when “gay marriage” is legal in all 50 states.  Truly, we (collectively) legalize gay marriage to our own peril–I know the Bible and I know that God will not long put up with this clear repudiation of and rebellion against Himself.  But, if this does indeed happen it must be done through the legislative process–which includes the ability of the people to amend the constitution.  It cannot be done through the judiciary–which, constitutionally, has no authority to make laws.  Had the anti-Proposition 8 group undertaken to re-amend the constitution of California to strike section 7.5, I would be disappointed, but understanding and far less apoplectic.  They would have to petition to get the measure on the ballot and a majority of voters would have to approve it.  Obviously, that didn’t happen; that would have been proper.  Nothing about this decision is proper.

In the California decision, there is something much more subtle at stake–whether a government (state and/or federal) is a government “of, by, and for the people.”  We are now discovering that we are no longer a nation of laws–a representative republic.  We can clearly see that we–actually, our government–have left the democratic haven that our forefathers left us and have slipped down the slippery slope to the place where the government dictates how we will live and what we will think.  George Orwell was right.

For a further discussion of this topic, read The California Supreme Court and Our Diet of Worms

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Group Rights vs. Individual Rights and How Freedom of Religion Hangs in the Balance

Fox News recently published an article about a lady being removed from a Southwest Airlines flight.  Why was she removed?  Because another passenger needed two seats.  (article here)

I remember when Southwest removed an overweight passenger…because they were overweight and the airline didn’t have enough seats available to give this person two seats.  At that time, I began to warn my friends about the legal ramifications of this.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes morbid obesity as a disability and, therefore, prevents discrimination against persons who are morbidly obese (at least in the hiring of employees).  Since obese persons (like persons requiring two seats in an airplane) are in some manner covered by the ADA, it becomes a very sticky situation when a person is removed from an airline or required to purchase two seats.

The Options for the Airline

In either of these cases, the airline has, as I see it, two options:

1.) Require the obese person to purchase two tickets.  The problem is that it would cost a disabled person twice the amount of a non-obese person to fly anywhere on an airline.  The slippery slope here is that you cannot charge a disabled person twice the amount of a non-disabled person.  Even though an obese person is inhabiting two seats (which would justify the double payment), that would be discriminatory.

2.) Remove persons to make way for the obese person.  The problem here is that it discriminates against non-disabled persons.  Non-disabled persons would be, in effect, required to accept random discrimination against themselves because he or she is not obese.  Non-obese persons would have their travel plans turned upside-down for no other reason than being less-than-obese.

The Root Problem

The root problem with this is based in the idea of “Group rights” versus “Individual rights.”  When groups of persons have what can only be described as special rights, individuals no longer have any rights.

Think of it this way:  When parents want to take an infant or a toddler child on an airline, they have to do one of two things: 1) hold that child on his or her lap or 2) pay for an extra seat.  The principle at work here is that you pay for the space you take up.

As the Fox News article states, the woman removed from the flight was flying standby.  However, she had already been awarded the seat and she had already paid for the seat she would be flying in.  But, when it was determined the obese person required two seats, it no longer mattered that she had been awarded and paid for a seat on the plane.  It is clear, in this instance, that group rights had trumped individual rights.

Why This Matters

The perpetuation of group rights over and against individual rights is frighting.  Already homosexuality has been granted “protected” status.  So it is not far from reality that a Christian pastor preaching against homosexuality could be fined, sued, imprisoned, etc. because he is speaking against a protected group of persons.  In this case, the homosexual would, in effect, be granted special rights that trump the Christian pastor’s individual rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

The Constitution of the United States, specifically the Bill of Rights, establishes, primarily, the rights of individuals.  Individuals have the right to the free exercise of religion; individuals have the right to not incriminate themselves; individuals have the right to keep and bear arms; individuals have the right to trial by jury.  When groups are awarded rights that may deny individuals of their constitutional rights these group rights can only be considered “special rights.”  These special rights, by definition, deny the rights of the individual.

As a person who is an American, I have the right to say whatever I please.  As a person who is a pastor and an American citizen, I have the right to preach whatever I please…at least for now.  Mark these words:  The day is coming when the individual rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion will be done away with because certain “groups” do not like to hear what people have to say.  This has already happened in other countries and it will not be long before the shadows of this come into daylight.

I firmly believe in the so-called Market Place of Ideas where anyone can discus anything with anyone.  Because, as Voltaire said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  Also, we must realize that liberty requires the freedom of speech.  George Orwell makes this point very clearly when he says, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

I have no problem with Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons coming to my door and trying to convert me.  I have no problems with Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists proselytizing as long as my right to proselytize is not taken away from me.

Stand up for your individual rights and the individual rights of others.  Our freedom hangs in the balance.

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