Sunday, February 27, 2011

Obama, DOMA and the Constitution

There are so many different issues regarding the Obama Administration’s decision not to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. And to be accurate, he has only instructed that cases pertinent to Section 3 of the Act will be subverted. "...the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."

From the liberal butt-kissing support to the neo-con priestcraft, the misinformation has spread faster than wildfire. It would take volumes to address it all. I want to discuss one individual aspect, and just the one.

Does President Obama (or any past or future President) have an obligation to defend laws they believe to be unconstitutional?

On January 20th (and the 21st), President Obama recited the Presidential oath of office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The President did NOT swear to support the Defense of Marriage Act. Even if I concede and give the former Congress the benefit of the doubt in stipulating that they upheld their Congressional oath by enacting DOMA, which between you and I, would be a lie. Nonetheless, let's hypothetically give them that benefit. The President is not oath-bound to defend or protect their decision.

This is not the first time, nor will it be the last when a President refuses to defend the constitutionality of a law or statute. His duty to uphold the Constitution supersedes his obligation to enforce federal statutes when the two come into conflict. Federal statutes are only legitimate if they are constitutional.

The Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of our government each bears an independent responsibility to analyze the constitutionality of current and proposed laws. However, the Executive and Legislative branches are Constitutionally bound to obey Judicial decisions that address a statute but if the courts have not yet ruled on the issue, nothing prevents the President or Congress from making a considered independent judgment that the statute is nonetheless unconstitutional and acting accordingly.

In his role, if the President truly believes that DOMA is unconstitutional as he says, then he is at the very least duty-bound to defer prosecutions until the courts have had their say. However, the Obama Administration has made clear their position that they believe it to be unconstitutional, thus paving the way for a show down at the Supreme Court.

So to say that President Obama's actions are unconstitutional, or un-American, well the opposite couldn't be more true than on this issue as he attempts to "protect, preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Religious Texts and Modern Law

As it is no secret that I am vehemently opposed to any restrictive legislations that specifically target homosexuals, I have participated in numerous debates on the topic. One of the most obnoxious arguments has to be the appeal to the Bible as a source of defining authority. "We can't allow gays to marry because the Bible says it is a sin." Oh really?

Well if we're going to change our state constitutions to ensure a Biblically-approved legislation, let's look at some of the Biblical suggestions that we should write into our civil code.

Leviticus 20:13 says that if man lies with man it is abomination and they "shall surely be put to death..." Should we make that the law?

Leviticus 20:9 says that anyone who commits adultery should be put to death. Should we make that the law?

Deuteronomy 22:20-21 says that if a women is not a virgin on her wedding night, she's to be brought to her father's door and the men of the town are to stone her to death. Should we make that the law?

Leviticus 20:9 says that if I curse my mother or father I must be put to death. Should we make that a law?

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 says that if a couple has a disobedient, stubborn, gluttonous and drunk son...they can tell the town folk to stone him to death. Should that become a law?

Exodus 35:2 says if people work on the Sabbath they are to be put to death, should we make that the law?

Leviticus 25:44-45 tells us it's okay to make slaves of our surrounding nations peoples. Sounds like an easy fix to the whole illegal immigration issue...should we make that a law?

Of course, if the slaves get unruly...Exodus 21:20-21 says that if a man beats his slave and they die, he'll probably have to be punished but if they get up after a day or two, no punishment since the slaves are his property anyway.

If the slaves are still upset after the beating they barely survived, let them read the God's mandate in 1 Peter 2:18 that tells them to submit to their masters, regardless of if they are nice or harsh.

Of course, according to 1 Timothy 2:12 no woman should be so brazen as to be correcting my wayward apostate ways. This gem also applies to woman being supervisors, managers, or CEO's in the workplace.

If you truly believe we are a Christian nation, well...Deuteronomy 12:2-3 says we should go to all non-Christian places of worship and thoroughly destroy them out of existence.

Okay...let's be honest, if you read a few verses on, it actually tells us to kill anyone who has a different religions than yours.

On that note, what laws should we create on how to deal with those unruly youths if they make the dastardly mistake of calling a religious leader a..."baldhead" (gasp!)? 2 Kings 2:23-24 says that the leaders may feed them to hungry bears.

Leviticus 19:19 tells us not to wear clothes made of two types of fabric. Though, this one probably only warrants a misdemeanor fine.

Leviticus 19:27-28 says not to cut your hair nor shave or get tattoos, should me make those laws?

Leviticus 20:27 says that Psychics (among other things) are to be stoned to death. If we make this a law, the many major downtown city economies will take a dip...well, aside from the funeral and burial industry.

Leviticus 20:18 says that if a man has sex with a woman on her period, they are both to be "cut off from their people." Should we make this a law and create little internment camps for these folks?

Leviticus 21:9 says that if a priest's daughter is a whore, she is to be burnt at the stake. Should we make this a law?

Leviticus 23:14-16 says that anyone who curses or blasphemes God, should be stoned to death by the community. I wonder if we should use tax money to create a "Town Stoning Center?"

Deuteronomy 13:5 tells us that the First Amendment needs to be revised just slightly. If anyone uses their free speech to talk against God, or convince people away from God, they need to be put to death. Should we make that a law?

I could go on and on but I think you're getting the point. Mark Twain once said, ""The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also." Before they go on writing anti-homosexual legislation, a topic Jesus of Nazareth NEVER spoke on, maybe they should focus on figuring out why their own God-approved marriages are failing half of the time...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Did Oaks Really Used to Sit on the Utah Supreme Court?

I just read a disturbing article on the recent speaking engagement of Dallin H. Oaks at the Chapman University Law School. "We must never see the day when the public square is not open to religious ideas and religious persons," Elder Oaks said. Now if he would have just stopped there...I'd be okay. Well, sort of. As long as Oaks realizes that the public square is NOT like his Church in which opposing ideas are not subject to criticism. When religion is used as the motivating premise behind proposing, or establishing, legislation then the prosecution has opened the door for rebuttal questioning.

Unfortunately, Oaks did not just stop there. "The religious community must united to be sure we are not coerced or deterred into silence by the kinds of intimidation or threatening rhetoric that are being experienced." Really? Religious people are being forced into silence by intimidation and threatening rhetoric? Mr Oaks...your Church has led the charge in multiple states to create Constitutional amendments defining marriage as between "one man and one woman." 30 of the 50 states have created "separate but equal" legislation. And your whining over alleged "threatening rhetoric?"

Elder Oaks cited a number of religiously diverse examples and leaders in highlighting his four points on preserving religious freedom:

1. Religious teachings and religious organizations are valuable and important to a free society, thus "deserving of their special legal protection."
**My thoughts: Prove it. Prove that religious teachings and religious organization are important to a free society. I think morality exists outside of established tax-free corporations run by religious officers. We'd do fine without them.

2. Religious freedom "undergirds the origin and existence of this country and is the dominating civil liberty."
**My thoughts: I absolutely agree but not if the reader assumes Oaks is saying that the United States was established as a Christian nation. I agree that one of the foremost reasons this country was established was to promote freedom, including the freedom of religion. However, the phrase "the dominating civil liberty" is a bit extreme considering it was the religious text of the early Christian founders that allowed slavery to exist for as long as it did. The phrase is also somewhat ironic coming from an "apostle" whose Church didn't promise the opportunity for exaltation to black members until 1978.

3. The constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion "is weakening in its effects and in public esteem."
**My thoughts: Bullshit. I'd really like to hear how the opportunity for religious worship is suffering. Public esteem in religion is suffering because people are using their noodles. Public esteem in the constitutional rights of the free exercise of religion are not suffering, public esteem in the constitutional rights of tax-exempt status of religious organizations that use their influence to suppress constitutional rights of legal citizens is suffering.

4. Such a weakening can be attributed "to the ascendancy of moral relativism."
**My thoughts: "Meta-ethical relativism is the meta-ethical position that the truth or falsity of moral judgments is not objective. Justifications for moral judgments are not universal, but are instead relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of an individual or a group of people. The meta-ethical relativist might say "It's moral to me, because I believe it is." Hypocrisy again. It applies to others but not to me.

Oaks continues: "Religious individuals should insist on their constitutional right and duty to exercise their religion, to vote their consciences on public issues and to participate in elections and debates." Mr Oaks, individuals do have a constitutional right to exercise their religion. There is NO CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY to exercise a religion. Individuals are allowed to vote their consciences on public issues and participate in elections and debates. However, there is NO CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION that says religious thought must win those elections and debates, nor is your voicing your conscience in public forums protected from scrutiny.

"All who believe in that fundamental should unite more effectively to preserve and strengthen the freedom to advocate and practice our religious beliefs, whatever they are," he said. "We must walk together for a ways on the same path in order to secure our freedom to pursue our separate ways when that is necessary according to our own beliefs." **Great, do it. That is a Constitutional right. Maybe the former Utah Supreme Court justice is learning after all...eyeroll.

"I speak for a broader principle, nonpartisan and, in its own focused objective, ecumenical," he said. **Well, ecumenical unless you're someone that God tells us to legislate against...

Okay, you ready, because here is where I really get pissed at someone who either knows better or cheated his way onto the state Supreme Court.

"Along with many others, I see a serious threat to the freedom of religion in the current assertion of a 'civil right' of homosexuals to be free from religious preaching against their relationships. Religious leaders of various denominations affirm and preach that sexual relations should only occur between a man and a woman joined together in marriage. One would think that the preaching of such a doctrinal belief would be protected by the constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion, to say nothing of the guarantee of free speech. However, we are beginning to see worldwide indications that this may not be so."

As a private religious organization, you have EVERY Constitutional right to continue your religious preaching against homosexual relationships. Why can't you just be honest and say that your feelings are hurt because of the backlash that church is receiving and that your PR department is working round the clock to try and save your asses.

Let's go a step further and say that your real concern is regarding your tax-exempt status as a religious organization. However, the crux behind that is the apparent inability of the LDS Church to accurately disclose to the IRS how much was actually donated to the YES on 8 cause. Well, I think your third submission might be close.

Oaks also took exception to the suggestion by President Barack Obama's head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that a "sexual-orientation liberty" could become such a right that it should prevail over a competing "religious-belief liberty."

"Such a radical assertion should not escape analysis," Elder Oaks said, because it condemns the notion of a centuries-old fundamental right of freedom of religion to becoming recast as a simple "liberty" ranked among many other liberties. It also would create sexual orientation as a fundamental right called "sexual liberty" and to the conclusion that religious expressions can be overridden by a fundamental right to "sexual liberty."

Hmmm....what is Oaks really saying? Okay, as a Church with tax-exempt status, a private organization, it is legal to discriminate any which way a bigot chooses. However, the for-profit corporations owned by the Church do not have such luxuries...hence, all of the for-profit corporations owned and operated by the Church (if same-sex couples can similar rights), would be forced to treat gays as equals under Constitutional protection. Can you imagine Deseret News had to offer domestic partner benefits?

"All of this shows an alarming trajectory of events pointing toward constraining the freedom of religious speech by forcing it to give way to the 'rights' of those offended by such speech," Elder Oaks said. "If that happens, we will have criminal prosecution of those whose religious doctrines or speech offend those whose public influence and political power establish them as an officially protected class."

This is probably the 2nd most inflammatory load of shit in his article. Homosexuals, and free-thinkers alike, are "offended by such speech." However, it is not the offended status of those listening to your constitutionally protected hate speech that causes gays to gain is the same Constitution that you as a state Supreme Court Justice swore an oath to uphold.

"I, Dallin H. Oaks, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as (name of position) under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”

Maybe you need to work on a constitutional amendment for Judges so that it can read "...administer justice without respect to persons...except for those we disagree with religiously..." For all of the talk about protecting the Constitution, without fail the Religious Right has done more to destroy and pervert the Constitution than all of the godless liberals.