Tuesday, September 11, 2012
In your September 7, 2012 column, Judge goes too far in sex change ruling which I read at:
you described the judge's decision to mandate that the government provide GRS to imprisoned felon Kosilek as "enraging."
I have to disagree - I think of it as an encouraging sign of the change in the societal perception of trans people that has been taking place in the past decade or so.
What enrages me is the fact that medical insurance, medicare, medicaid, etc. don't all cover trans medical needs in the same way that they treat diabetes, atherosclerosis or any other medical issue. GRS is far from experimental - it is the standard method of treatment for transsexual people.
You describe inadequate treatment as being "more moderate" - it's not "more moderate," it's cruel and unusual. or should be unusual.
It is not that Kosilek should be denied treatment, it's that everyone else who needs it should have it available - whether they are privately insured or on a government medical program.
Societal understanding has been improving over the years. In the 1960's the best medical experts considered trans people to be delusional members of their initiallya ssigned sex, for whom any treatment would be merely "palliative."
Today we know that trans people have brains that develop physiologically along the gendered lines associated with the sex not associated with their genital duct development. Scientists have found at least two kinds of genetic predisposition for embryological development along these lines, where the developing body "zigs" along one path for the developigng brain, and "zags" along the other path for the development of the reproductive system.
At one time, people thought the earth was flat and the sun traveled around the earth. Galileo was condemned by the Inquisition for advancing the Copernican theory - but we now know the earth is round and the earth orbits the sun.
In 1818, a New York court ignored the testimony of the leading natural scientist of the day, in favor of the testimony of sea captains and clergymembers, to hold that whales are fish. But whales are still mammals - and the state legislature recognized that shortly thereafter.
I'd recommend you read a little of Umberto Eco's works on semiotics. What our society is experiencing in connection with the understanding of the trans phenomena is much like the way society has experienced changes in the understanding of other things.
Your column represents the resistance of ignorance - perhaps out of ignorance, but I'd think you, as a journalist, should be educable, or I wouldn;t have bothered with this message to you.
I'd suggest you do some research on your own. Perhaps you might read my occasional blog. (And I think I am going to take this message and post it there . . . at www.trans-cendence.blogspot.com )
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
|Professor Randolph McLaughlin gives me a "teaching moment."|
The evening's principal speaker was Randolph McLaughlin, Esq., who is a civil rights lawyer, a professor at Pace Law School, and who is currently a member of the legal team representing the Chamberlain family's interests in connection with the shooting death of retired corrections officer and Marine veteran, 68 year old Kenneth Chamberlain, killed by a White Plains police officer in his own home for no reason except for the fact that he was an African American male who did not shuffle and say "yassuh" when the police came to his door, ostensibly to help him because his life alert pendant had triggered an alarm.
Professor McLaughlin's speech was inspiring and outstanding. He even cited one of my favorite quotes about the law, from the play A Man for All Seasons.
His speech was marred by a different reference, one I realized was rooted in an innocent ignorance.
In a portion of his speech, he compared the police refusal to allow Mr. Chamberlain's niece, who had arrived in the hallway, an opportunity to speak to him to try to get him calmed down, to the situation police offered to the character played by Al Pacino in the movie Dog Day Afternoon, when he was allowed to speak to his pre-op transsexual girlfriend (in the real-life bank robbery the movie was loosely based on, this character's inspiration was Elizabeth Eden). . .
. . . except Professor McLaughlin referred to the person on the other end of the phone, as the bank robber's boyfriend.
I realized that the factual inaccuracy was secondary to the point that was being made, but I did find it disturbing enough that I had to broach it to Professor McLaughlin afterward. And I did.
It was an opportunity for education, and I took it.
I explained the inaccuracy in the reference to him - and I pointed out the fact that the purpose of the bank robbery in both the film and in the real life situation, was to obtain the funds for Elizabeth's surgery (or surgery for the character based on Elizabeth).
When I finished explaining, Professor McLaughlin asked me to repeat the phrase "pre-operative transsexual woman." I realize that he was trying to commit the phrase to memory - and I am sure that the next time he gives a speech on the subject, and makes that reference, that he will be more respectful of the identity of the character based on Elizabeth's life.
My suspicion that the gaffe was based on an innocent ignorance that led to the initial reference was conformed by the respectfulness and attentiveness that Professor McLaughlin gave me when I spoke to him after his speech.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
"We cannot pick and choose the books of the Bible, we cannot tear out pages, or cross out lines. Orthodoxy is to accept the whole of the Sacred Text, and to consider its claims with reference to the whole of Scripture and in keeping with its trajectory."
"In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God.[ Rom 1:24-27 ] This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of."
"For a Catholic, of course this is done in union with the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition."
"Many supporters of homosexual behavior adopt this heresy by saying, 'Jesus never said a word about or against Homosexuality.'"
"True, but he also never said a word about a lot of things: drinking to excess, beating one’s wife, he never forbade ethnic humor, or said people should wear clothes, He never declared how big and how much money should be spent on the military etc, whether Government should provide welfare etc. Since Jesus did not say out of his own mouth we cannot beat our wives then it must be okay to beat them? Of course not. An argument from silence is very poor and unhelpful."
“Thus orthodoxy, which holds to the whole and does not pick and choose Scripture, must in every way accept and announce that these are sinful acts, sinful enough to exclude one from the Kingdom if they are not repented of (e.g. 1 Cor 6:9)”
I grant that it is a Catholic perspective, and thus doesn't speak to those of different traditions - but if only, when it comes to LGBT people and the theologies that relate to is, Monsignor Pope, and the Pope, could just consider opening up their minds to a better-grounded theological approach to those of us who are not intolerant and wicked Men of Sodom like them. Our natures, even acting on them, come from the same God who created them - and God does not create junk. Neither their natures, nor ours, are intrinsically wrong - cis, het, trans and gay, we are all loved (even though Isaiah 56 makes trans people really special, as we get a special place in God's House, but don;t ask the Pope about that, he thinks that we're more dangerous than the destruction of the rain forest.)
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Pastor Rondell Lance of the Center Pigeon Baptist Church of Canton, North Carolina (or whomever the church chose for the purpose of setting up their church sign), appears to have admitted the wickedness that was the basis for the church's blatant open support of North Carolina's anti-marriage Amendment One effort, which enshrines anti-gay bigotry into that state's constitution, making N.C. the last state in a now solidly wicked South to do so by a "popular" vote.
For anyone who has actually read the Genesis story about the actions and punishment of the Men of Sodom, the story is not a condemnation of homosexuality (a lying misinterpretation that is taught by Christianists ranging from this backwoods independent Baptist preacher Rondell Lance from his pulpit in the mountains of Western North Carolina, a few miles south of I-40 and not terribly far east of the possibly even more backwards State of Tennessee, all the way up to Pope Benedict XVI,spiritual leader of over a billion Roman Catholics (many of whom thankfully ignore him) from the papal throne at the Vatican in Rome). It is about inhospitable intolerance for strangers and people who are different, by macho misogynistic people. It's all pretty much clear from a reading of Genesis 19, unless it's a bizarro reading.
The right-wing conservative Christianist base of the Republican Party is truly inspired by the macho misogynistic wickedness and intolerance of their heroes, the Men of Sodom. Pastor Rondell Lance is perhaps the rare one who is willing to actually admit it on a church sign.
So, thanks to Pastor Rondell Lance and his church sign, we can understand that the exceedingly wicked Men of Sodom are the inspiration for the Republican War on LGBT people, because we are strangers in their midst, different from their cissexist and heterosexist selves. Because we are different from them, they hate, fear and despise us.
Bit it isn't just us - and it appears that this deep spiritual evil root of this right-wing conservative Christianist Republican politics - the inspiration of the exceeding wickedness of the Men of Sodom - is also responsible for so many of the deeply-held positions of the Republican Party, such as:
The Republican War on Women. Needless to say, the Men of Sodom were macho misogynists. Their whole rationale for wanting to show their disrespect for Lot's visitors had nothing to do with sexual orientation, and everything to do with the fact that they believed women were lesser creatures than men. By extension, their intent to rape the strangers in their midst would, in their way of thinking, prove that the Men of Sodom were the real "he-men," and that the strangers, who would have been "used" in the same way that the Men of Sodom "used" their women, were debased and "less than women." It almost goes without saying that the attitude of the womb-controllers in the Republican Party is modeled on the misogyny of the exceedingly wicked Men of Sodom.
The Republican War on Immigrants. Like Lot's visitors, immigrants come from somewhere else. They are strangers in our midst. Republicans want to treat them disrespectfully. That is just like their spiritual ancestors, the exceedingly wicked Men of Sodom.
The Republican War on Islam. They're different, they worship what seems to Republicans to be a different god (A classic example of this is that of the thankfully now-retired U.S. Army general, William G. Boykin, a Christianist who ridiculed the faith of Muslims, in a 2003 NBC interview, stating about an Islamic terrorist he hunted down in Mogadishu, "He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, 'They'll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.' Well, you know what? I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." For that matter, during the Republican primaries, one of the reasons many Christianist GOPers were looking to "Anyone But Romney" was because his LDS faith marks him as being different, a stranger in our midst (and they were even willing to flock to Rick Santorum, A Roman Catholic who, just a few decades ago, would have been viewed as a stranger as well). Again, the Republican position is just like that of their spiritual inspiration, the exceedingly wicked Men of Sodom.
The Republican War on Racial Minorities. People who are not white are different, strangers in the midst of the community. This also passes the "inspired by the Men of Sodom" sniff test.
I could go on.
The thing is, that church sign in Canton, North Carolina says in truth what the inspiration of the Republican Christianist forces of Darkness really is - a deeply held distrust, revulsion and hatred for people who are different from themselves.
The exceedingly wicked Pastor Rondell Lance, with his bizarro Orwellian-Newspeaky brand of Christianist theology, likely does not realize the truth of the admission of wickedness on his church sign. After all, he mistakenly believes that gay men are the ones who are like the Men of Sodom, rather than being more like Lot's visitors, the strangers in the midst of the community because they are different from the heterosexist majority of voters.
But I know what the true meaning of the sign is. And now, if you've actually read this whole blog post, so do you, if you didn't know it already.
Spread the word.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Someone named Bev Jo, as a “guest” columnist on the anti-trans Gender Trender blog, writes an essay entitled Fighting the "Lie" of Trans, which summarizes everything that’s wrong with the cissexist POV on trans people adopted by many radfems based on the patriarchist birth-genital-essentialist position of the Roman Catholic Church, imported into radfem philosophy by the false spinnings of the twice-born Athenas, Catholic college-based professors, Mary Daly and her empire-building protégé, Jan Raymond.
On Facebook, while riding on the commuter train this morning, I summarized a response as follows:
The only time I ever lied about myself was when I was trying to assimilate in accordance with societal expectations. All the writer is doing is showing a particularly malicious, clueless, institutionalized pseudo-patriarchist cissexist POV no different from the cissexist birth genital essentialiam brought into Radfem philosophy by Catholic college professors, twice-born Athena fembots Daly and Raymond, who corrupted Radfem philosophy from the inside.
But sitting at the computer in my office after work, I decided to read and analyze Bev Jo's article a little more deeply. I have just started reading Mary Daly's book Gyn/Ecology in an effort to better understand why Radfem philosophy took a cissexist turn, beyond the surmise that I've made based on my exposure to the writings of Daly's protégé Raymond.
Right in the beginning, Bev Jo tells us she is a Lesbian, and then proves she can’t be one!
She parenthetically claims
“Who women choose to love is a choice, not something as trivial as ‘sexual orientation.’”That is a statement that can only be made by
(a) a woman with a bisexual sexual orientation who has a natural orientation that allows for such a choice, and who chooses to suppress her heterosexual side, or
(b) a woman whose natural sexual orientation is actually heterosexual, but who is so wrapped up in radfem philosophy that she rejects her natural orientation, suppresses it, and “chooses” to assimilate – for such as make that “choice,” the choice itself can be a cause for psychological imbalances.
So I don’t know what Bev Jo’s sexual orientation is, but she proves by her own words that she herself has no place in lesbian space, except perhaps to the extent that bisexual women are welcome.
So, having appropriated the identity of a Lesbian, she proceeds to assume the patriarchal authority to exclude others who have more right to Lesbian space than she herself does. This pseudo-patriarchy is not new, it has been a hallmark of Radfem cissexist thought since even before Mary Daly wrote her metaethics book Gyn/Ecology.
If anyone has made “death threats,” they are responsible for their own behavior. There is no excuse for oppressed trans women to make futile death threats against their oppressors. I am aware of an unfortunate use of violent imagery in a Facebook conversation by two trans advocates who should know better, but I am not aware of any actual death threats.
Bev then asks a rhetorical question about women’s reactions to “men claiming to be women.” I can only ask a counter-question – where are the men who are claiming to be women? I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and I was erroneously assigned male at birth, but I am not and never was a man, even though I spent years trying to live a lie and assimilate with societal expectations based on that erroneous assignment.
Bev Jo does not have a right to call me a man. I have more of a right to deny her right to call herself a lesbian, because he own words indicate that she cannot possibly be a real lesbian.
Bev Jo in her essay shows her amazingly incredible ignorance about transsexual women. She certainly has never met me, and it seems clear to me that she has never actually met a real trans woman. If the story she tells about her “stalker” is not made up, the person she describes does not fit within the parameters of being a trans woman.
She also does not seem to understand what it is like to be a girl, growing up in a situation where everyone expects you to be a boy. Unfortunately, those of us who have had that experience resent it when someone else takes our narratives and distorts them. I have already had the dubious “honor” of being quoted more than once on the “mansplainin’ transplainin’” site. One of those quotes was an explanation of how I felt when I was four years old in the 1950’s, from the perspective of being a four-year old. The people who run that site thought that my simple child’s-eye view of the differences between boys and girls, and my realization that I was being told I was with the wrong group, was quite amusing. I am sure they enjoy their cruel little laugh at my expense.
When Bev Jo describes how some women look (referring to them as “female impersonators”) she does not realize that there are many trans women who don’t need artifice. It would seem that she gets her ideas about what trans women are like by poring over the writings of the notorious Opus Dei psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh, an eating disorders specialist who advised the Vatican abut trans issues. Her description is almost exactly what McHugh wrote:
McHugh wrote in a 2004 article entitled “Surgical Sex” in First Things:
“The post-surgical subjects struck me as caricatures of women. They wore high heels, copious makeup, and flamboyant clothing;”
Bev Jo writes similarly:
“they look like drag queens with their heavy, ugly makeup, plucked unnatural eyebrows, garish costumes, etc.”
Bev Jo’s apparent reliance on yet another patriarchist source like McHugh is more evidence of the nefarious influence the Roman Catholic Church has exerted on radfem philosophy.
Bev Jo rejects those of us who have surgery, and she rejects those of us who do not or cannot have surgery as well.
Bev Jo has apparently not been exposed to the mass of scientific evidence that shows that trans women are not, and never were, men, regardless of whether we have GRS.
Bev Jo has shown herself by her words to be an agent of the patriarchy.
She even writes. “It’s a basic weapon of patriarchy to divide women.” And then she proceeds to do just that – making sure that there continues to be a barrier between cissexual women and transsexual women.
I know who I am. I know that the scientific research backs me up. I have developed self-confidence. I am a woman, I am a lesbian, and no pseudo-patriarchist cissexist radfem is going to steal my identity, just because they themselves don;t know what a woman is.
You’ll note I am not using the term “transphobia.” The better terms to use are “cissexist” and “cissexism.” The relationship, particularly that of the institutionalized variety cause by a lack of understanding of trans lives, is eerily similar to institutionalized racism – and just as white people have to work very hard to see institutionalized racism, cissexual people have to look very hard to see the institutiopnalized cissexism that permeates the society.
If not by virtue of being cissexist, how is it that the Roman Catholic Church and the Radfem philosophers are so totally aligned on the issue of trans women?
One thing Bev Jo gets right – the alliance between some Radfems and their fellow separatist TS separatists, is still a variety of cissexism. Just as radfem philosophy as it relates to trans women is pseudo-patriarchist, the position of TS separatists is a pseudo-cissexist imitation of the radfem position, which makes it pseudo-pseudo-patriarchist. The willingness of the TS separatists to oppress other trans women as a means to gain entry for themselves into radfem circles, is pretty disgusting.
Bev Jo wants to organize het women to join with radfems. Um, that strategy is probably a non-starter – particularly with what Bev Jo already wrote in the beginning of her article about straight and bisexual women.
One would think that women – all women, straight, bi, asexual and lesbian, cissexual and transsexual, ought to be able to get along.
Why should Bev Jo be strategizing at marginalizing the most marginalized women, just because we are different and not cissexual?
Bev Jo should know that the National organization for Women already supports trans women – maybe she should get a clue from them.
As to being in opposition to NAMBLA, I am surprised that is an issue. Even the gay men I know are condemnatory of NAMBLA, why should women hesitate to condemn child abuse?
Well, when we get to Bev Jo’s conclusion – even RuPaul would acknowledge that female impersonators are not women. But RuPaul identifies as a gay man, even though he does costume very well. RuPaul is not a trans woman. I doubt that RuPaul would want to be called a trans woman or a transsexual, or a transgender person.
On the other hand, if one were to watch the RuPaul Drag Race show, some of the people who work as “drag performers” actually *are* trans women – and while they are involved in drag culture they are often working toward transition.
It may be hard to tell the difference by looking at them, and Bev Jo has already shown that she can't tell the difference, but all anyone has to do is ask.
So, when Bev Jo asks for lesbians to put females and lesbians first, she should be inclusive of trans women who are lesbians. The fact that she isn't? That is very, very sad.
But when you start with false premises, as Bev Jo does, it is really difficult to come to a correct conclusion.
Friday, July 8, 2011
I have to say it: New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan is no John the Baptist. If he were, he’d be telling his superiors in the Vatican hierarchy the truth about marriage, and he’d likely lose his job, but not his head.
Instead, he continues to play it safe in his quest for his cardinal’s red hat.
In his July 7, 2011 blog essay, entitled Some Afterthoughts, he refers to the historic passage of the Marriage Equality Act as New York State having “sadly attempted a re-definition of marriage.” But the Act was no attempt to “redefine” marriage, but rather involved an extension of connubium, which is “the right to marry” so that it is applied on a gender-neutral basis, in addition to the enactment of certain “religious protections” to insure that it is clear on the face of the legislation that those religions with faiths based in misogyny, patriarchy, and heterosexist supremacy, may continue to limit the marriages they sacramentalize and celebrate to those that they do allow.
It is interesting that he says, “the Church neither has nor wants political ‘clout.’” That is actually refreshing, since it is likely to be an indication that Archbishop Dolan does not plan to order priests in the archdiocese to refuse communion to Governor Cuomo and Catholic legislators who voted for the bill as retribution for their not following the Church’s party line.
The archbishop expressed concern about the religious protections, referring to, but not citing any, “editorials already call(ing) for the removal of guarantees of religious liberty.” I’d really like some credible evidence of this.
Dolan goes on to accuse pro-marriage equality forces of religious intolerance – the case where the bully accuses his victim!
He refers to his side as “those protecting traditional marriage” as if the proponents of the gender-neutral connubium are in some way against traditional marriage. We are not.
There are many LGBT people who have suffered persecution at the hands of the Church and other so-called “Christian” Christianist organizations. I do not blame them for their issues with the opponents of marriage equality, or their form of expression of their reaction to having been bullied by people like Dolan.
I myself will point out that Archbishop Dolan is a heresiarch, and that he really is not a Christian but is rather a Christianist, as is the rest of the Roman Catholic Magisterium. In a credal sense, the RCC hierarchy is nearly as true Christian as the Orthodox Christians who did not add a filioque to the original Nicene Creed. But in a doctrinal sense, as it pertains to moral theology, the Roman Catholic Magisterium is deeply in error because of its teachings in opposition to true natural law (as opposed to the Aristotelian conception of nature brought in by Aquinas), and because of the many Church Fathers whose writings were misogynistic and heterosexist. The Church’s interpretations of biblical passages related to LGBT people is rooted in misogynistic heterosexism, and are among the things that are the cause of error. (I won’t get into matters of faith, since I have evolved theologically since the Catholic Church threw me out in 1999, to the extent that I am now Unitarian/Universalist – so I am not Christian myself, in a credal sense, any more).
Archbishop Dolan apologizes, and I will share that apology here:
“. . . if we did hurt anybody in our defense of marriage, I apologize. We tried our best to insist from the start that our goal was pro-marriage, never anti-gay. But, I’m afraid some within the gay community were offended. As I replied recently to a reporter who asked if I had any message to the gay community, ‘Yes: I love you. Each morning I pray with and for you and your true happiness and well-being. I am honored that so many of you are at home within our Catholic family, where, like the rest of us, we try, with the help of God’s grace and mercy, to conform our lives to Jesus and His message. If I have offended any of you in my strenuous defense of marriage, I apologize, and assure you it was unintentional.”I will accept that the apology is sincerely intended, but if only Dolan understood what it is that he, and the Church, are doing, I think he would want to rethink his position. (Certainly, casting his position as a “defense of marriage” is still an error.)
I could start with the schizophrenic passages in the Official Catechism of the Catholic Church, in which homosexual “activity” can never be “condoned” while homosexual people are to be “respected” and that there should be no discrimination against them. While Dolan is not responsible for the schizophrenia, he should interpret it in a more humane manner.
The tension between respect and condonation is thick – and the Church hierarchy often steers a course that can only be understood within the context of this tension – it is what allows Catholic organization leaders to refuse to allow a student group that has the word “gay” in it, but to permit the group without the name. I often find myself explaining (but not justifying) such actions on the basis of this.
From what I can tell, the Church Magisterium’s vehement opposition to even civil marriage rights is rooted in the “condonation” thing, even though I think that is a very wrong interpretation. The Church should be outside the civil marriage loop – it should be concerned solely with the sacrament of matrimony for Catholics. The opposition to civil marriage smacks of discrimination, and should be seen as against the Catechism. The problem is that the insane ravings from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the topic ties Dolan’s hands, so that in order to come across with the official party line of the Vatican, he has to make himself seem to be a fool (But, I am sure he might rejoin with, “but only a Fool for Christ!” or at least “only a fool in a quest for the red hat!” were he to read this essay)
Archbishop Dolan does not understand that we who support civil marriage rights being legally extended on a gender-neutral basis know that this does not have a single negative effect on the traditional marriage. There is a difference between connubium and matrimonium; while conjugal aspects of human reproduction through heterosexual sex acts are integral to many traditional marriages, they are not integral to all of them, and there are children integral to many same-sex couples’ lives.
Archbishop Dolan was in New York when New York adopted a no-fault divorce law just last year. He refers to the Church opposing no-fault divorce “sixty years ago.” Where was he last year, when the National Organization for Women was fighting valiantly in a losing effort to prevent New York from being the last state to adopt no fault divorce? I see nothing in his blog essays from 2010 that indicate that he was railing to stop the no-fault divorce law at that time.
There are many areas of the marriage “fight” where I could join with Archbishop Dolan. There are aspects of my 45 years as a practicing Catholic that still remain important to me, and aspects of Catholic morality that are not evil. The principles of monogamy and fidelity within marriage are sound. The idea that divorce should be limited to adultery and spousal abuse is one that I could support – I never understood the idea of “until death do us part” as meaning “or until we get tired of each other.”
I wonder what Archbishop Dolan would do about the thing that damaged marriage the most in the past century – the abolition of the common law regarding “bastardy and filiation.” This single legal change meant that women who would refuse a man carnal knowledge until “the ring is on the finger” because of the consequences to he and to any child, are now allowed to scheme on how to get celebrities and sports figures to get them pregnant out of wedlock so they can bring on the paternity suit. (One change I would make to the common law, though, is that it should not be the child who should be labeled as a “bastard,” but the man who was the “carnal sperm donor.”)
To my knowledge, while Republican Catholic and other Christianist legislators in New York State fought hard to include “religious protections” against gender-neutral connubium, there has never been any attempt by the Catholic Church or other Christianists to exempt Catholic marriages, or marriages performed in Christianist churches, from “no fault” divorce laws. While it is true that the Church maintains rigorous control over the granting of Church annulments, the canon law has been changed in such a way as to make it possible for just about any Catholic marriage to be annulled on the grounds that the parties were not really ready to be married at the time they were wed.
In addition to the above, there is much else to give the lie to how “the Church has always stood up for (its understanding of) marriage.” Yes, within the confines of spiritually guiding Catholics, but not to interfere with the civil laws – except for this time.
Where are the religious protections in the civil law against civil divorce involving Catholic marriages? I am sure that the LDS would join in to protect one of their forms of marriage, and the fundamentalist Christianists would support a civil “covenant marriage” concept that would be more difficult to end than the usual, run of the mill, marriage.
Here’s a quote that has me in partial agreement:
“And now we ring the steeple bell again at this latest dilution of the authentic understanding of marriage, worried that the next step will be another redefinition to justify multiple partners and infidelity. If you think I’m exaggerating, within days of the passage of this bill, one major newspaper ran a flattering profile of a proponent of what was called ‘nonmonogamy.’ Apparently, ‘nonmonogamy’ is the idea that society is unrealistic to think that one man and one woman should remain faithful in marriage, and that openness to some infidelity should be the norm!”I think the Archbishop is referring to the New York Times Magazine article on infidelity that prominently featured Dan Savage, which caused some interesting conversation over at the Joe.My.God. blog, entitled "Homoquotable - Dan Savage" (Is this the "editorial" he was writing about earlier? - if so, it's not an editorial, but is rather a magazine article, and Dan Savage was perhaps tryig to be practical rather than theological.)
Marital infidelity is something that should not be legally condoned, or condoned by the Church. However, I would not push my moral position beyond that. The law against adultery and the adultery ground for divorce already contains defenses for both condonation and procurement. So, in the situation where both parties to the marriage enter into the marriage with the agreed intention of condonation or even procurement, I’d hesitate to be a moral judge. (With the "no fault divorce" law, they could get divorced anyway, but what if that were to change and divorce became more difficult to get without a legitimate reason?)
To speak against the practice, to advise against it, yes. To forbid it, no. People should be allowed make their own personal moral choices, though there should be guidance available for those who want it. I would not change the law with regard to marriage to eliminate adultery as a ground for divorce, or to remove the defenses.
On the issue of multiparty marriages, that, too, is one that requires more examination. The state should provide a legal structure for various kinds of multiparty marriages (much as it allows various different kinds of business entities), all of which would require the up-front consent of all parties in advance, and all parties would have to be competent adults who freely and willingly enter into the arrangement with full knowledge and understanding and without any coercion. Ideally, each party should be required to be represented by an independent attorney as well, since it is not likely that most people would fully understand the various ramifications of such a marriage.
As I have pointed out in the past, the Catholic Church itself has examples of forms of multiparty marriage, albeit marriage-like family structures that do not require sexual congress among the parties – these are the various religious orders of priests, nuns, monks, lay brothers and sisters, particularly evident in those who live in religious communities, such as monasteries or convents. In some ways, these are marriage-like structures modeled on the natural law relating to certain insect colonies and other creatures.
If Archbishop Dolan were pro-marriage, he’d be for both gender-neutral connubium and a framework for multiparty civil marriage that would protect all parties. But he isn't - he is just pro one kind of marriage, and against other kinds.
Dolan’s blog post shills a bit for Robbie George. I have demolished some of Robbie’s writings in earlier blog essays –it would be a pleasure to do it again.
Dolan frustratingly holds “fast to the God-given definition of marriage, and acknowledge that no unfortunate legislative attempt can alter reality and morality.”
It’s interesting that in this, Dolan himself, like his mentor Robbie George, is retreating from reality in his inability to understand gender-neutral connubium as not affecting traditional marriage at all. He is retreating from morality by what I would call an institutionalized heterosexist blindness. It’s sad, really, that he does not understand that the misogynistic, heterosexist supremacist position of the Church is one which has no basis in Truth. Heterosexist supremacism can be understood by an analogy to white racist supremacism - which I would assume is a concept the archbishop can readily grasp. The idea that opposite-sex couples are superior to same sex couples, and that their legally sanctioned relationships should be better than those of same sex couples, that opposite sex couples have a relief valve for their natural sexual urges by way of a sanctioned moral marriage right, but that no same sex couple can have such a legal or moral outlet, is rooted in the same sort of thinking that led white supremacists to believe in the moral superiorityof the white race, that it is the pinnacle of evolution, and that the black race is destined by the Bible to be the chattel slaves of the white race, because they are the descendants of Canaan, and all the other arrant nonsense that goes witth the racial bigotry of white supremacists.
Archbishop Dolan would have to be blind to be unable to make the connection. He could try to rationalize the different kinds of -isms as having some sort of moral difference - but it would be just like turning to the Bible and retelling the story of the children of Ham to justify slavery.
Even so - he really likes his job, and he really wants that cardinal's hat. Even if we could provoke a crisis of personal conscience in him, he would likely push it deep below his conscious thought, lest he run off the rails on his trajectory to a princedom in the Catholic hierarchy.
He started his essay with John the Baptist, and ended his article with Thomas More, both of whom quite literally lost their heads, while Dolan himself only loses his rationality and moral compass on the subject of marriage (to be fair, he does it on women's reproductive rights as well - but that's the misogyny again).
Thomas More was a brilliant man, but he was also a creature of his times. Neither the admittedly erudite but misguided Robbie George nor Archbishop Dolan can hide behind that fig leaf. They live in a world where they have access to sufficient rational knowledge to change their views - unfortunately, the availability of Rational Truth may well not be efficacious in their cases.
Monday, July 4, 2011
|Robert P. George, from Princeton University|
It’s interesting that Robbie seems to associate gender-neutral marriage with “sexual freedom” – when marriage itself provides legal limitations on sexual freedom. One should suppose that society should discourage licentious behavior among those with a same-sex orientation quite as much as it discourages licentious behavior on the part of opposite-sex oriented people.
“marriage simply cannot function as the central principle or standard of rectitude in sexual conduct, as it has in Western philosophy, theology, and law for centuries.”
“The idea that sexual intercourse (the behavioral component of reproduction) consummates and actualizes marriage as a one-flesh union of sexually complementary spouses naturally ordered to the good of procreation loses its force and even its sense.”
That is not a tremendous leap, and if the examples of Canada, Massachusetts and other places where the right to marry has been made gender-neutral, Western society is not about to collapse because of this.
I am aware that polygynous polygamy is an easy adaptation, but that kind of multiparty marriage is only a standard traditional patriarchal marriage on Viagra. The practice of splinter Mormon sects is more of a warning of the wrong way to do it than it is an example of what should be done.
“there is no intelligible basis in them for the norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence that structure and help to define marriage as historically understood in our law and culture.”
“Of course, among the activists and leaders of the movement to redefine marriage, it is already difficult to find anyone who believes that same-sex marriages demand as a matter of moral obligation sexual exclusivity.”
Well, Robbie, here I am. Though I don’t refer to the marriage equality movement as “redefining marriage,” all I think of it as doing is making connubium fair to LGBT people.
24. This mutual molding of [
husband and wife] spouses, this determined effort to perfect each other, can in a very real sense, as the Roman Catechism teaches, be said to be the chief reason and purpose of matrimony, provided matrimony be looked at not in the restricted sense as instituted for the proper conception and education of the child, but more widely as the blending of life as a whole and the mutual interchange and sharing thereof.
25. By this same love it is necessary that all the other rights and duties of the marriage state be regulated as [
the words of the Apostle: "Let the husband render the debt to the wife, and the wife also in like manner to the husband,"] not just a 50-50 proposition, but as each spouse giving 100% to the other, to express not only a law of justice but of charity.
In the story from the Biblical book of Genesis, God, who had created the original Adam in God’s own image and likeness as male and female, proceeded to divide Adam into two people so that the human person would not be alone. The Greeks contribute to our understanding of this unitive nature of human beings, a story, from Plato’s Symposium, about how human beings were first created in combined pairs, male-and-male, and female-and-female, as well as in the form of male-and-female from the Genesis story. In the Biblical First Book of Samuel, we read of the love between David and Jonathan being so great that they become “one soul.”
From the Gospel we see clearly that this doctrine was declared and openly confirmed by the divine authority of
Jesus ChristYeshua, son of Miriam. He bore witness to the Jews and to His Apostles that marriage, from its institution, should exist between two only, that is, betweenone man and one woman; that of two they are made, so to say, one flesh; and that the marriage bond is by the will of Godso closely and strongly made fast that no man may dissolve it or render it asunder. "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." And Yeshua never said a word against marriage as being between men, or between women, and thus, while the conjugal “becoming one flesh” is representative of the generative power of marriage between a man and a woman, we must not forget that becoming “one soul” as did David and Jonathan is the form of marriage appropriate to those with a same-sex orientation.
“If you ask, “What can be done going forward around the country to protect religious liberty?” the answer is this: Win the fight to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. Period.”
Robbie closes with the “intellectual challenges” that he thinks that marriage equality advocates “have not met and cannot meet.” I have news for Robbie, I took care of that yesterday.