All posts from “Sexual Ethics”

June 5, 2012

California Moves To Pass First State Ban of Gay Conversion Therapy

Many Christian therapists have already abandoned the practice.

The California senate has voted to ban reparative therapy for gay and lesbian teens. The bill, which interestingly enough has been opposed by both the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and the California Psychological Association (though for very different reasons), now goes on to the state assembly.

CT has reported how many Christian therapists have abandoned reparative therapy amid broad changes in the ex-gay movement, as well as how Willow Creek Community Church and other groups have ended partnerships with Exodus International.

Practitioners of reparative therapy in the United Kingdom have recently lost their licenses over the disputed practice.

March 1, 2012

Senate Rejects Conscience Clause Change to Contraception Rule

The Republican-led bill would have inserted a broad religious exemption.

The Senate on Thursday defeated a Republican-led bid to insert a broad religious exemption into a federal mandate that requires most employers and health insurance companies to provide free contraception coverage.

Contraception_L.jpg

The largely party-line vote was 51-48 in favor of tabling an amendment that Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., had offered to a federal transportation bill.

Blunt and other Republicans had argued that the measure would protect the religious liberty of institutions such as Catholic charities and hospitals that object to contraception on moral grounds.

"It's not just the Catholic Church," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said during the floor debate on Thursday. "It's a moral and religious issue that should not be interfered with by the federal government."

In February, the Obama administration proposed a revision whereby insurers, not religious institutions, could provide contraception services to employees.

Continue reading Senate Rejects Conscience Clause Change to Contraception Rule ...

April 16, 2009

Should Christians Participate in the Day of Silence?

dos.jpg

That's the question Warren Throckmorton and Laurie Higgins are grappling with on their websites. Tomorrow is the Day of Silence, when students in middle schools and high schools are urged to take a vow of silence in support of gay students who experience discrimination.

Throckmorton, who is a psychology professor at Grove City College, says yay:

golden-rule.PNG

Without altering convictions about sexuality, I propose that evangelicals should have something more to contribute than a protest toward the elimination of hostility and aggression against gay people and other people who are viewed as different. Indeed, we should be leading the way to make schools safe and build bridges to those who often equate "Christian" with condemnation.

Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute says nay:

walkout.jpg

If parents leave their children in school on the Day of Silence as Dr. Throckmorton recommends, they become complicit in the exploitation of the classroom for partisan political purposes. Dr. Throckmorton's misguided effort does nothing to restore political neutrality to public education. In fact, his effort will help to further institutionalize GLSEN efforts to use public education to undermine orthodox Christian beliefs on the complex and emotionally charged issue of homosexuality.

Throckmorton wants Christians students to carry cards referencing the Golden Rule: "I pledge to treat others the way I want to be treated. 'Do to others as you would have them do to you.'" Higgins wants a walkout.

Another group, the Alliance Defense Fund, advocates for the Day of Truth. On April 20 students are asked to wear T-shirts and pass out cards that tell gay students they can alter their sexual orientation. The cards will say:

dot.jpg

I'm speaking the Truth to break the silence.
True tolerance means that people with differing -- even opposing -- viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other.
It's time for an honest conversation about homosexuality.
There's freedom to change if you want to.
Let's talk.

December 8, 2008

Newsweek's Religious Case for Gay Marriage

Newsweek's cover story attempts to tackle gay marriage from a biblical perspective.

"In the Old Testament, the concept of family is fundamental, but examples of what social conservatives would call 'the traditional family' are scarcely to be found," Lisa Miller writes. Here's her opening paragraph:

Let's try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel - all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments - especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. "It is better to marry than to burn with passion," says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple - who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love - turn to the Bible as a how-to script?

Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so.

To those who believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, Miller says there are two obvious responses:

First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second, as the examples above illustrate, no sensible modern person wants marriage - theirs or anyone else's - to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes.

Mollie Hemingway has promptly taken the article to task at GetReligion. CT posted a classic today in response: What God Hath Not Joined | Sorry, Newsweek: the Bible is in fact quite clear on why marriage was designed for male and female.

November 13, 2008

The States that Ban Gay Marriage

Protests over Proposition 8 continue, and gay-marriage advocates are attempting to collect signatures for a ballot initiative to reverse the ban in California, the Associated Press reports.

The AP reports that Connecticut issued 58 marriage licenses to same-sex couples yesterday, the first day that gays and lesbians could get married in the state.

Twenty-six states have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage, and the always-excellent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has released a helpful graphic that which states banned gay marriage when, starting with Alaska in 1998.

November 10, 2008

Protesters March in Front of Saddleback

Several Mormon churches and Rick Warren's Saddleback Church are taking heat for California's decision to ban gay marriage.

About 1,000 people protested in front of Saddleback, according to the Associated Press. Warren had endorsed Proposition 8 before it was passed with 52 percent of the votes cast last week.

The Mormon church has already been targeted after it contributed an estimated 40 percent of the individual donations made to the Yes on 8's $30 million-plus campaign, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Here are numbers from Matthai Kuruvila:

-- 84 percent of those who attend church weekly voted yes.

-- 81 percent of white evangelicals voted yes.

-- 65 percent of white Protestants voted yes.

-- 64 percent of Catholics voted yes. Catholics accounted for 30 percent of all voters.

A poll showed that weekly churchgoers increased their support in the final week from 72 percent to 84 percent, with Catholic support increasing from 44 percent to 64 percent. Kuruvila writes writes that the jump that accounted for 6 percent of the total California electorate, equivalent to the state's entire African American population combined and more than accounted for Prop. 8's 5 percent margin of victory.

November 5, 2008

How Obama Helped Calif.'s Prop. 8 (Updated)

The folks at National Review aren't sure there was a big jump in turnout, though the Associated Press is quite emphatic that voters went to the polls in epic numbers.

In any case, exit poll data says black turnout in California was way up: From 6 percent of the electorate in 2004 to 10 percent this year. One imagines that this is in large part due to enthusiasm for Obama.

Obama opposed California's Proposition 8 -- though not very strongly. (An enduring question is why he opposed it: Obama said he opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions. Proposition 8 deals only with marriage and would allow for civil unions.)

But African-American Californians overwhelmingly supported Prop. 8, by a 7-to-3 margin. Black women (who made up 6% of the electorate) were even more supportive, telling exit pollsters they voted for the measure by a 3-to-1 margin.

Update: I've been playing with math and could use some help from some more math-friendly readers out there. Is is true that if black turnout had been 6 percent rather than 10 percent that the measure would have failed? I did one set of calculations that had Prop. 8 losing by 7,000 votes or so without the bump in African-American turnout, but another set of calculations had the measure still winning by 268,000.

Well, the exit polls aren't really exact enough to do this kind of math anyway.

Meanwhile, The Advocate, a gay magazine, offers another reason why Obama's election may have been bad news for Prop. 8: "No on 8 volunteers fear that with the election all but won for Barack Obama, California Democrats who would have otherwise waited in line after polls closed might be inclined to call it a night -- bad news for Prop. 8."

Update from a reader:

If ALL of the pro-Prop 8 African-Americans stayed home, then it would not have passed.  It would have received 48% of the vote.  But if turnout dropped from 10 to 6 percent for this group, the pro and anti group would have lost voters (assuming that preferences for prop 8 were uncorrelated with turnout, i.e., those who turned out for Obama were not more or less inclined to vote for prop 8).


Yes Votes % Yes
Actual Results 5,163,908 52.0%
With No pro-8 AA voters 4,469,211 48.4%
If No AA's voted 4,469,211 51.0%
If 6% of AA's voted 4,844,347 51.6%

November 5, 2008

As the Country Goes, So Goes California

California completes the trend nationwide: abortion ballot measures lose, marriage measures win.

Both were tight: with 92 percent of the ballots counted, California's parental notification measure failed by less than 500,000 votes (out of nearly 10 million).

Proposition 8, which revokes same-sex marriage, is even tighter, winning by 363,639 votes (a 3.6 point margin). This is going to be a huge story today, since it's the first time that a state has barred same-sex marriage after allowing it.

Not close at all was California's measure regulating livestock confinement, which passed by almost a 2-to-1 margin.

October 10, 2008

Connecticut court okays same-sex marriage

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex couples have the right to marry, reversing a lower court ruling that civil unions had offered the same rights and benefits as marriage, the Associated Press reports.

The court ruled 4-3 that gay and lesbian couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry under the state constitution.

Connecticut joins California and Massachusetts as the only states that allow same-sex marriage. High courts in New York, New Jersey and Washington have ruled that there is no right to same-sex marriage under their constitutions.

In his majority opinion, Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote that the court found that the "segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a cognizable harm," in light of "the history of pernicious discrimination faced by gay men and lesbians, and because the institution of marriage carries with it a status and significance that the newly created classification of civil unions does not embody."

In his dissent, Justice Peter Zarella said any decision on gay marriage should be left to the legislature

"The ancient definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has its basis in biology, not bigotry," Zarella wrote. "If the state no longer has an interest in the regulation of procreation, then that is a decision for the legislature or the people of the state and not this court."

The Hartford Courant
writes that eight same-sex couples had brought the case after they were denied marriage licenses in 2004. A Superior Court ruled in July 2006 that civil unions already provide all the rights and protections of marriage. The couples then appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

Connecticut joins California and Massachusetts as the only states that allow same-sex marriage. High courts in New York, New Jersey and Washington have ruled that there is no right to same-sex marriage under their constitutions.

October 8, 2008

Whatever Happened to Gay Marriage as the Ultimate Wedge Issue?

A few years ago it looked like opposition to gay marriage was going to equal or surpass abortion as the ultimate wedge issue - a device capable of defeating Democrats in all but the most-liberal districts.

And yet consider this:

-The topic didn't come up in Tuesday's debate
-There's not been a single McCain-Palin ad on gay marriage.
-John McCain did not mention it in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention.
-Sarah Palin did not mention it in her convention acceptance speech, either.
-Of the 57 speeches listed on McCain's Web site, I couldn't find a single mention of the gay marriage issue.

What happened?


For starters, the topic has less currency because there are fewer referendums on state ballots. While 11 states considered ballot initiatives in 2004, only three are this year. That means fewer campaign dollars and volunteer hours focused on the issue.

More important, public opinion has shifted. Social issues in general have become less important to voters as the economy has worsened. The new Twelve Tribes study by Beliefnet and the University of Akron, showed that percentage of people listing moral issues as most important is now half what it was in 2004.

But that's just part of the explanation. After all, abortion is getting significant attention. The Catholic bishops, for instance, have been far more vocal opposing abortion than gay marriage. It's not like social issues have completely disappeared.

Rather, while the public hasn't much changed its views on abortion, it has on gay rights. For instance, in 2004 48% of "Convertible Catholics" supported civil unions or gay marriage. In 2008, 61% do. Among Moderate Evangelicals, the percentage was 33% in 2004, 42% in 2008.

Just as important, young people have starkly different views on gay issues than their parents. Most surveys show this but it's particularly striking among evangelical Christians, who are just as anti-abortion as their parents but significantly more supportive of gay rights. The Barna Group asked "born again Christians" if they believed that "homosexual lifestyles" are a "major problem" The results show a stunning shift by age:

Age
18-41 -- 35%
42-60: -- 52%
61+: -- 71%

With support for gay marriage or civil unions rising, conservative politicians have to be careful where and how they push this issue.

Though McCain approved a Republican platform that called for a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, he routinely contradicts that view by saying he wants it left up to the states. When McCain and Palin do discuss their opposition to gay marriage it's now usually accompanied by a statement of tolerance towards homosexuals.

Political strategists realize there are still large numbers of people who view gay marriage as a major threat. But now, candidates must appeal to them without alienating moderates or younger voters.

Since abortion seems to work just as well as ever among culturally conservative voters like moderate evangelicals, they figure: stick with that.

Adapted from Steven Waldman's "Political Perceptions" column at the Wall Street Journal Online.

September 23, 2008

Battling in the states

Supporters of California's same-sex marriage ban have raised $17.8 million, compared to opponents, who have raised $12.4 million, the L.A. Times reports.

Dan Morain and Jessica Garrison write that Proposition 8 could be the most expensive measure focused on a social issue, according to Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies and an expert on initiatives.

A separate state -- South Dakota -- is preparing for another abortion battle when voters will be asked on the ballot to outlaw almost all abortions.

U.S. News and World Report
writes that Sarah Palin's candidacy has sparked re-emergence of culture war issues like abortion.

Reporter Jay Tolson writes:

"The Palin pick was seen by many as McCain's way of reigniting the culture war - a limited culture war - while not getting too directly involved in it. In fact, says James Davison Hunter, a sociologist at the University of Virginia and the first scholar to apply the culture-war concept to the American scene, that war had never really gone away but had only moved into the background. The Palin pick, he says, returned it to the foreground, where it now shares the limelight (and headlines) with the economy and the war. But it's not, he believes, the same old battle. 'The lines of the culture war are changing,' he says. 'The gender views, for one, were so much sharper, traditional versus modern. So much has changed in the last 28 years.'"

"Although there is now more enthusiasm for the Republican ticket among religious conservatives, Pew Forum researcher Masci says that evangelicals 'are still up for grabs.'"

August 28, 2008

The 'Traditional Values' Part of Obama's Speech

Not a lot of God talk in Obama's speech tonight, but there will be talk about abortion, same-sex marriage, and traditional values (as well as a promise to "end our dependence on oil from the Middle East" in ten years). From the prepared remarks:

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can’t just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that’s what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America’s promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

August 22, 2008

Donald Miller to Give DNC Benediction

The author will replace Relevant founder Cameron Strang, who pulled out of the prayer earlier.

Best-selling author Donald Miller will give a benediction Monday night at the Democratic National Convention. He replaces Relevant Magazine founder and CEO Cameron Strang, who decided not to give the benediction at the Democratic National Convention as previously planned.

Christianity Today featured Miller on its cover in June 2007, and his spirituality book Blue Like Jazz has sold more than one million copies.

"Don is one of the top names among young evangelicals," said Joshua DuBois, director of religious affairs for the Barack Obama campaign. "We didn't think he would do it. We're just ecstatic. I love Blue Like Jazz myself. I think it sends a huge signal that someone who's is helping to lead off the conventions is an evangelical of his calibre."

I spoke to Miller this morning.

Why did you choose to accept the invitation?
Somebody calls you and asks you to pray, you do.

You get three minutes to pray? Have you thought about what you're going to pray?
I've not written the prayer yet, but I really wanted to hone in on the theme of unity, even unity between Republicans and Democrats. In the convention, as we highlight our differences that we wouldn't forget that we're unified, we have more in common than we don't. That's the focus of the prayer.

Cameron Strang was in that slot before and said that people perceived the prayer as showing favoritism. Are you worried you'll receive the same reactions?
I'm not. I'm a registered Democrat. While that's perceived as black or white, or hostile toward the Republican Party, I grew up in the Republican Party. I even attended as a kid the Republican National Convention when it was in Houston when Bush Sr. was running against Clinton. I changed parties about five years ago. I really felt like the Republican Party was taking advantage of the evangelical community by throwing us abortion and gay marriage, really not giving the heart of Christ more thought. I felt like it was the party of the extremely wealthy and they needed this conservative base in order to get a majority and so they pandered to us.

(The rest of the Q & A is posted after the jump.)

Continue reading Donald Miller to Give DNC Benediction...

August 16, 2008

McCain on stem-cell research, abortion, marriage, and evil

Conservative evangelicals have raised John McCain's support of embryonic stem-cell research in opposition to his candidacy.

McCain addressed it briefly in his response to Rick Warren's "worldview questions." "For those of us in the pro-life community, this is a great struggle. … I’ve come down on the side of stem cell research, but I’m wildly optimistic that skin cell research … will make this debate an academic one."

Rick Warren: At what point is baby is entitled to human rights?
John McCain's answer: At the moment of conception. I have a 25 year pro-life record in congress, in the senate. This presidency will have pro-life policies. That’s my commitment to you.
Warren's answer: We won’t go longer on that one.

Warren: Define marriage.
McCain: A union between man and woman, between one man and one woman. The court overturned the definition of marriage. I believe they were wrong. I’m a federalist. I believe states should make that decision. That doesn’t mean that people can’t enter into legal agreements, that they don’t’ have the rights of all citizens.

When asked a question on evil, McCain said, "If I have to go to gates and hell and back, I will get Osama Bin Laden."

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.

August 16, 2008

Moral failure

Obama has already had a lot of ink spilled on what he told Warren his biggest moral failure was: using drugs and alcohol and selfishness in his youth.

McCain's answer was short: "The failure of my first marriage." Background is here if the answer was a surprise.

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.

August 16, 2008

What about Proposition 8?

Leaving marriage to the states? Really?

At the Saddleback Civil Forum, Obama just said that he opposes a federal marriage amendment because he thinks it's not something the federal constitution should decide. It's a state issue, he says.

He also says he supports civil unions, but thinks marriage is between a man and a woman.

So why does he oppose California's Proposition 8? It only deals with marriage, but would allow civil unions.

If "leaving the issue to the states" doesn't mean allowing a state to define marriage, what does it mean?

Too bad Warren didn't ask a follow up question on it, considering it's his own state.

Update: Warren, who said he'd ask the same questions of both candidates, just asked McCain about the California Supreme Court decision and Proposition 8. McCain says he thinks the states rather than the federal government should define marriage, but does support a federal marriage amendment if necessary. He has also supported Prop. 8.

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.