Monday, March 30, 2015

Fourteenth Amendment and Marriage, Part II

Today is the second part looking at the questions to be answered in oral arguments before the Supreme Court on April 28th. There are two questions being addressed.
  1. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex
  2. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
We covered question 1 in Part I. Today we’ll cover question 2, plus take a look at the status of marriage laws in the states prior to a ruling.
Question 2 relates to Article IV of the Constitution, Section 1: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.”
Normally, a contract formed in one state is upheld in the other 49 states. But marriage isn’t a normal contract. A simple contract between two people—such as co-ownership of a boat—would hold up beyond state boundaries. But a marriage is more complicated. It’s more than just a two-person contract; government and society are involved in honoring the particular thing that marriage is. While the marriage remains intact, we offer joint ownership of property accumulated during the marriage—which allows for one spouse to stay home to care for offspring while the other spouse earns income for the whole household, and other arrangements particular families might find beneficial. Insurance is different for married and single people. Taxes are different for married and singles (sometimes choices can be made to do what is most beneficial, filing jointly or separately).
Then there are things the state is required to do when the participants choose to end the contract—to divorce. States differ in general rules for dividing property. And then there’s the more difficult issue of dealing with child custody—preferably in the best way possible for the children while not abrogating the rights of fit parents.
Note that states already differ in ways they handle divorce; the couple is subject to the laws of the state in which they divorce, regardless of what the laws were where they married. The Full Faith and Credit clause does not require a state to have its laws subsumed within some other state’s laws, just because the contract was formed there.
Things would be less messy if no same-sex “family” had child custody issues. No such couple can produce children, so if a child is genetically related to one or the other, the simple decision would be to allow custody to the biological parent. If laws had been maintained to allow adoption only by married husband and wife, there would be no messiness now, in which homosexual couples complain that we, society, have somehow marginalized their children by making it seem that their family forms were less valid.
We did not make it that way; nature made it that way. And so far these “parents” are failing to prove themselves equally valuable to children or society. More studies are showing that same-sex parented families have outcomes seriously inferior to married parent families.[1]  Among the amicus briefs offered to the 5th Circuit Court in January came from a group of now-adult children raised by same-sex parents, declaring the problems they faced, ranging from sexual confusion, to fear of disagreeing with the same-sex “marriage” promoters (risking ostracism from family relationships), to subjugation to sexual predation—apparently unprotected by the parents, and possibly even enabled by those parents.
We do, however, have precedent for how to treat marriages formed in other states (other sovereign nations) that do not meet our basic definition. Various countries throughout history, and currently in our world, allow for multiple wives. Our government does not recognize more than one as a legal wife. Most of the time there is not interference with these people’s chosen family forms—unless they start requiring government recognition, such as in taxes, welfare, or child custody. It would be a simple thing to apply the same pattern among the united sovereign states in the US. If there are differences in what can be accepted as a marriage, then let the couple be aware of where they are going, as they do now concerning divorce.
No one is going to stop these people from traveling state to state and staying together. Nobody cares. But if they move to a non-recognizing state and then start requiring the state to determine their division of property and child custody disagreements, they shouldn’t expect the state to deal with them as their state of origin might. Nor should they expect the state’s tax laws to change just to satisfy them.
It shouldn’t be possible for a small state, like Massachusetts, which had same-sex “marriage” imposed on the people by its state supreme court’s misreading of their constitution, to suddenly by fiat go against the will and belief of the people in all the other states. That is not the intention of the Fourteenth Amendment, nor of the Full Faith and Credit clause.
Changes happen day-by-day lately. But I’ve attempted to find the current status of marriage in the United States and its territories. By my count, currently 25 states have had same-sex “marriage” imposed on them regardless of the state’s laws and constitutions to the contrary. Ten states plus the District of Columbia have had same-sex “marriage” imposed on them by state legislatures, with varying percentages of agreement from the people. Eight states have court rulings attempting to impose same-sex “marriage,” but these are under appeal and haven’t been imposed yet (or fully imposed in some cases). Seven states and the remaining five territories still have their original definition of marriage—so far.

If the SCOTUS ruling is that states have no right to define marriage in a way that doesn’t include same-sex couples, that would be at odds with the purpose of the 14th Amendment, and it would reverse the Court’s most recent ruling.
If the ruling on question 1 is that states have the right to their own definitions, as was made clear the last time the Supreme Court looked at the issue, then it would allow any or all of those 25 court-imposed states to revert to their traditional definition of marriage. That would be a swing from 35states licensing same-sex couples to only 10 (plus DC). And it would move the number keeping the traditional definition of marriage to 40 plus the territories. If that is the ruling on question 1, then it is likely that individual state laws will be respected in question 2 as well.
An anti-freedom ruling on either question would face state sovereignty challenges in a number of states (Texas, for one).[2] But the ruling would be expected to go beyond the court cases at issue and apply to every state.
So the stakes are high. Certainly higher than anything court related was intended to be by the writers of the Constitution. We’ll be watching and praying that the justices understand the law and abide by it, for the sake of civilization as we know it.
While the questions address specifically whether same-sex "marriage" will be imposed generally, we should be aware that every time same-sex "marriage" is allowed, freedom of religion comes under attack. Civilization requires a religious people, self-governing according to codes of conduct based on the Ten Commandments, and protecting family as the basic unit of society. Same-sex "marriage" isn't just a question of whether homosexuals have an innate right to marry whoever they choose regardless of the definition of marriage; it is a question of whether we choose to live in a civilized society, along with freedom and prosperity--or the alternative of savagery with tyranny and poverty.

[1] Citations related to same-sex parents and children’s outcome:
• Parliamentary Report on the Family and the Rights of Children, January 2006.
• Douglas Allen, “Review of the Economics of the Household,” October 2013, described in “A Married Mom and Dad Really Do Matter: New Evidence from Canada,” by Mark Regnerus:  
• Loren Marks, “Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting,” Social Science Research, Volume 4, Issue 41, [     ] July 2012, pp. 735-751.
• Mark Regnerus, “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,” Social Science Research, Volume 41, Issue 4, July 2012, Pages 752–770.
• Ana Samuel, “The Kids Aren’t All Right: New Family Structures and the ‘No Differences’ Claim,” The Witherspoon Institute, June 14, 2012, [See the footnotes as well.]
• Ann Bailey, “How do children fare when reared by same-sex couples?” United Families International Blog, June 11, 2012 [has an excellent graphic]:
[2] The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill that would disallow officials from granting licenses to same-sex couples or any others that do not meet the requirements of the law, as written in the state constitution; it is a sovereignty issue. More on this bill in a Breitbart news item: .

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fourteenth Amendment and Marriage, Part I

We’re within a month of hearing oral arguments before the Supreme Court regarding the question of re-defining marriage. On April 28, SCOTUS will be interested in arguments on two questions, related to several consolidated cases:

US Supreme Court
official photo, found on Wikipedia

1.      Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
2.      Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
So our first step ought to be to look at the Fourteenth Amendment. It has five sections; Section 1 is the relevant one. It reads:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The Fourteenth Amendment passed in 1868, as part of Reconstruction, after the Civil War and the freeing of slaves. The purpose was to make sure that newly freed slaves would receive full citizenship rights throughout the United States, disallowing particularly the southern former slave states from abrogating the rights to vote, own land, own businesses, and otherwise fully participate as citizens equal before the law.
There were nevertheless “Jim Crow” laws relegating anyone with “black” appearance or known blood relation to second-class status in many southern states. Those were wrong, and took the mainly non-southern, Republican support in hand with Martin Luther King and other southern blacks to push through Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, a full century after the passing of the Amendment XIV.
Neither the Fourteenth Amendment nor the Civil Rights movement would have been necessary if we had had a people committed from the beginning to the radical but self-evident truth that “all men are created equal,” as we declared in our Declaration of Independence. But, since it took a while to get a critical mass of racially neutral people, we had to restate the self-evident.
You may have noticed that the Fourteenth Amendment does not say, “All States shall be required to re-define marriage to include couples of the same sex.” What is being argued is that “couples” are being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation—and therefore the longstanding definition of marriage used in civilizations through the millennia of recorded history must be declared null and void and replaced with something new and more inclusive.
So first we need to ask, do all “couples” (or couplings, or joinings together) merit the same inalienable rights as individuals? And second, what new definition of marriage would be suggested to lead us further into civilization?
Are all couples (or combinations of two or more) created equal? Existing marriage laws say no. A couple eligible for marriage, traditionally and in written law, has been a man and a woman, of marriageable age or of an age that parental consent can be given lawfully (differing state to state), not too closely related (differing state to state), not married to any other person.
While that last one has differed from culture to culture, with some cultures allowing one man to marry more than one woman, each such marriage is between the man and the singular woman. And such marriages have never been allowed without full knowledge of the other marriages—marriage to another without knowledge is a deceit prosecuted as bigamy—nor have such marriages ever been legal in one of the United States. (Utah outlawed plural marriage in 1890, six years prior to gaining statehood.)
So, the standard definition of marriage has always required an eligible man and woman, joining together exclusively in a contract intended for life, consummated with a particular sex act that can lead to offspring—and offspring are a social good that society is interested in.
Marriage predates this nation’s laws, and any others’. Because it is a contract, we ask for enforcement and mediation, as we do for other contracts. As in any contract, terms have specific legal definitions. The purpose of the national DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), signed by Pres. Clinton 1996, was to reinforce the definition that was commonly in use, to say that in contracts involving the Federal Government (some thousands at the time) would define marriage as between one man and one woman—as all the states up to that time did, with a temporary blip from Hawaii that was almost immediately reverted to the standard definition. But in 2013, the Supreme Court ruled (erroneously, in my opinion) that DOMA was unconstitutional because it had no rational basis except to discriminate.
DOMA did not discriminate; it reasonably defined a legal term commonly in use. But the ruling essentially made it so that there would be no definition of marriage in US law code; such definitions would come from whatever the states of particular citizens defined the term as.
It could be significant in the current cases that SCOTUS has already ruled that the federal government has no business either defining the term or forcing a federal government definition on the states.
The cases before the court now are related to federal circuit courts that have ruled that states do not have the right to define marriage—unless they change their definition to include same-sex couples. In other words, the courts have deemed it discriminatory for states to care about the forming of families as the best place for children to be raised by their mother and father in a permanent relationship. These courts have decided that states shouldn’t care about children, about permanence, about exclusivity, or even about the gender between those involved in producing children . But they think it is rational to force states to ignore all those things and define marriage as any sexual relationship between any two people who choose to announce their coupleness for the time being, whether or not it is exclusive or permanent, and with the certain knowledge that it cannot produce children, not for lack of fertility, but because of human biology.
The Fourteenth Amendment does require that the laws apply to all citizens equally. Persons with same-sex attraction are treated no differently under traditional marriage laws. There has never been a “ban” against homosexuals who choose to follow the law and marry. They can marry a person of the opposite sex, who is of age, who is not a close relative, who is not already married to someone else—the same as the rest of us. There is no discrimination.
When they want to “marry” someone who does not fit the requirements, they are requiring special treatment. They are claiming it is discrimination if all of society does not submit to changing the definition especially for them. How is their request different from someone who wants to marry someone who is already married? It’s love, they say. That’s what marriage is about! How can you be so cruel as to say no to people who love each other just because one of them (or both) is already married to someone else?
That won’t happen, you say? But it has. Have you heard the term “throuple”? It’s a “marriage” in which the number is not limited to two. Three homosexual men were “married” as a throuple in Thailand on Valentine’s Day. Not here, so not a worry? But it already happened here. In Massachusetts in August 2013. Two of the lesbian women were legally “married” two and a half years earlier. (Massachusetts was the first US state to recognize same-sex “marriage,” in 2004, when the state court imposed it.) Massachusetts does not recognize this new "marriage" form but will refrain from prosecution unless state benefits (taxes filed jointly, for example) are sought by the third woman. But this throuple had additional paperwork drawn up by a lawyer to equally divide their property, and one of them has since given birth to a child fathered by an anonymous sperm donor.
If a state cannot define the terms used in the contract, then it cannot be allowed to limit the number. It cannot limit the genetic relationship of the participants (i.e., you couldn’t prohibit a brother and sister from marrying). It might not be able to prohibit underage marriages. The Court would be saying you can’t discriminate against any persons who want to declare that their sexual relationship is a marriage. The definition would be new, unlimited, untried, and amorphous enough to be essentially meaningless.
So, the answer to SCOTUS’s first question should be no; the Fourteenth Amendment does not require the redefinition of marriage to suit the desires of people who do not meet the requirements of the contract.
That’s enough for one day. We’ll save the second question before the Court for Part II.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hat Throwing

From Ted Cruz's speech at Liberty University, March 23, 2015
announcing his run for the presidency, photo montage from Rush Limbaugh
Today is the day Senator Ted Cruz announced that he is running for president of the United States.

He’s a Texan. We recently voted for him as our US Senator (2012). Before that he was serving as the Solicitor General, working with then-Attorney General Greg Abbott (our new governor). His work and education resume is notable.
I heard him speak at the first Tea Party rally I ever attended, and I made a note that he was impressive and knew the Constitution.
I heard his father, Rev. Rafael Cruz, speak at a small gathering last month, and learned some of where that understanding of the Constitution came from. Ted had memorized the Constitution as a teen and frequently spoke of freedom and free enterprise. Maybe he really was raised for such a moment as this that our once-great nation faces.
He spoke without notes or teleprompter—something the media seems amazed by, even though that was normal for Sarah Palin back when they were calling her stupid. But, rather than just being referred to as a great orator because of a one-time speech back in 2004, he has won multiple debate and speech contests—with Princeton's annual novice debate team championship named for him.
Anyway, Cruz said, “Today, I am announcing that I am running for president of the United States. It is a time for truth; it is a time for liberty, it is a time to reclaim the Constitution of the United States.”
Much of the speech covered his family story--father escaped from Cuba, mother moved up from working class to computer pioneer. He worked his way through college, and married a successful businesswoman. They have two young daughters. It was a compelling, personal story.
He also had some Reagan-like America-inspiring things to say:
“God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn’t done with America yet.”

“The power of the American people when we rise up and stand for liberty knows no bounds.”

What is the promise of America? The idea that—the revolutionary idea that this country was founded upon, which is that our rights don’t come from man. They come from God Almighty.
And that the purpose of the Constitution, as Thomas Jefferson put it, is to serve as chains to bind the mischief of government.
The incredible opportunity of the American dream, what has enabled millions of people from all over the world to come to America with nothing and to achieve anything. And then the American exceptionalism that has made this nation a clarion voice for freedom in the world, a shining city on a hill.
That’s the promise of America. That is what makes this nation an indispensable nation, a unique nation in the history of the world.

Some of us do believe in America—the America that thrives by tenaciously sticking to the Constitution. We’ve been heartsick watching the decay and decline, as an ineffectual anti-Constitutional socialist, along with minions and media, has taken us downward into tyranny, poverty, and savagery. We can clearly see what hasn’t worked. And we know what will work, because those principles are known and historically successful.
What we need is not a strong Washington, DC, to rescue us; we need a constitutionally limited government that protects our lives, liberty, and property—but otherwise gets out of our way.
We need a strong leader as president, not because we need a ruler. We need someone who is one of us—but strong enough to stand boldly against the socialist juggernaut that has been taking over the country we love. We need this person to give us hope—to remind us that speaking up for freedom can have a positive result.
This past weekend at the local Tea Party meeting, some of the discussion covered the political dilemma regarding whether a politician should act on principle or just get whatever he can in a compromise. It was a frustrating day for me. (I'll relate this to Ted Cruz in a moment.)
There was a libertarian speaker, who came over from being Democrat when he realized free-market principles really spoke to him. But he thinks the GOP makes a mistake by paying attention to those pesky social conservatives. We should just ignore them, if we want to bring younger, more diverse people into the fold, he suggests. I asked him what particular social issues were getting in the way. He thinks we should legalize marijuana and stop opposing abortion. Just what you’d expect; some stereotypes show up because the reality is so common.
I can write about why he’s wrong on both of those issues another day. But, in brief, if we have a society that values brain altering drugs for recreation, and allowing the killing of innocent human life because of a difference of opinion—then we don’t have a society that can handle self-rule or will abide by the laws required for prosperity in a free market. You have to have civilization as a starting point. So maybe we ought to try boldly stating our views—along with the principles underlying them. And then allow the truth to attract those who actually want freedom, prosperity, and civilization.
And then we had a speaker representing a US congressman, talking about a couple of recent votes that did not go over well locally. The position included an explanation that there has to be some compromise. It might be that the congressman had a valid reason for what looked to us mere constituents as caving in. But he called people who prefer standing on principle as “cliff jumpers.”
Here is a moment in which the Spherical Model can help: if you’re in a tug-of-war with some democrats/socialists who are already well south into the tyranny zone, and you’re barely hanging on at the equator, you don’t get above the equator and into the freedom zone by compromising. All you do is submit to some level of tyranny that is by definition unacceptable.
The congressman’s representative did not win hearts by saying that we could never even threaten to allow government to shut down, because the media would do us so much damage. I asked him whether we could ever count on our representatives just doing the right thing, because the media is never going to be with us regardless.
Dr. Kyle Scott, also one of our speakers, who is a community college board member, offered a good question that we want to know about our candidates and representatives: How do we know if they’ll go the expedient or principled route?
There may be times when you get almost everything you want, and it’s enough that you can seek further progress later. That is real compromise. We understand that. But giving in is not getting what you want in the compromise; it’s giving up our freedom just because the bad guys insist on it and you're afraid of what they'll say about you.
Most of the time we want what we’re promised in the Constitution. And we want our representatives to stand boldly for that.
I got this last June at the TX GOP Convention, just in case.
Glad I'm going to find it useful.
Bold is a synomym for Ted Cruz. I prefer bold. It’s sort of like preferring Tex-Mex to milquetoast. Just more satisfying.
I’m going to repeat a few tidbits from his speech at the TX GOP Convention last June, because they have that satisfying flavor to them (from my notes, so may not all be exact quotes):
“I spent all week in Washington, DC; it’s great to be back in America.”
“In Texas, gun control means hitting what you aim at.”
“Here’s a simple rule of thumb—if you’re litigating against nuns, you’re doing something wrong.”
“We will no longer play footsie with the mullahs of Iran.”
“For five years we’ve been trapped in the Great Stagnation. And those who struggle the most are the ones most hurt by it. How do we turn that around? Get back to free-market principles…. Unleash an energy renaissance….Audit the Federal Reserve…. Abolish the IRS…. And repeal every blessed word of Obamacare.”

There may be other good candidates. I’ll enjoy hearing from them too. But I’m really looking forward to hearing some more bold, strong Constitution-conserving words from Senator Ted Cruz. He inspires hope.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Court Collection

I recently did a new “Best of” update, relating to the political, economic, and social spheres and their interrelationships. In the past I’d also done topic collections related to the Defense of Marriage and Education.

I’ve noticed lately, as I write more on the Defense of Marriage, the pieces tie in with current court cases. These often relate to religious freedom as well. And I decided maybe a new collection relating to the courts was in order. Much of this list relates to the Supreme Court. But there’s also a fair amount related to circuit courts and state courts. The topics covered by the courts are fairly broad, but  it was surprising to me how much relates to the definition of marriage—and how much of that relates subsequently to freedom of religion issues. Also included in freedom of religion are cases related to the Obamacare mandate that employers have to pay for things that go against their religious beliefs.
We shouldn’t have to depend on protection from the courts, which was designed the weakest branch of government. Nevertheless, it helps in defense of the Constitution and our God-given rights when the courts understand and rule fairly on Constitutional issues.
SCOTUS is seasonal. They decide during the fall which cases to take on during a session. They hear arguments during winter and spring. And they rule in late spring through June 30th. One thing we’ll be watching this session is the ruling on whether states have the right to define marriage. Oral arguments will be heard April 28. We can expect a ruling to come by late June. The battle won’t be over, no matter which way they rule. But a correct ruling would sure help in the fight for civilization.
So, below is the relatively comprehensive list of posts related to the courts, with links. They’re listed chronologically, with a brief topic statement. 

  • The Law and the Nine 5-16-2011  Looking at the Court, and the book The Nine
  • Constitutionality Questions 11-15-2011  Related to Obamacare
  • One Small Victory  11-18-2011  Related to standing in Prop 8
  • First Amendment Freedom of Religion vs. Obamacare  2-10-2012  Related to mandate to provide contraceptive coverage
  • Unprecedented 2-13-2012  Related to so-called compromise over mandate to provide contraceptive coverage
  • Oral Arguments  3-28-2012  Court hears oral arguments related to Obamacare mandate
  • Supreme Court Voting Patterns 4-13-2012  Data on agreement on the Court
  • Borderline Ruling  6-25-2012  Related to Arizona law on border enforcement
  • Mandate Does Not Equal Freedom 6-27-2012  Prediction that the Obamacare mandate would be struck down
  • The Day After Blog  6-29-2012  Debrief of the Obamacare mandate ruling
  • Supreme Court and the Definition of Marriage  3-27-2013   Related to arguments on Prop 8 and DOMA
  • SCOTUS on Marriage, Part II: The Gotcha Question 3-29-2013  Related to marriage definition arguments
  • Supreme Court and Definition of Marriage Part III: Outcomes of the Cases  4-1-2013  Possible outcomes of the marriage cases
  • On the Court  6-19-2013  Arizona voter ID law outcome and other cases
  • The Marriage Rulings  Blog post 6-28-2013  Rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA
  • SCOTUS 2012-2013 Voting Patterns Blog post 7-15-2013   A look at the data
  • SCOTUS 2012-2013 Voting Patterns, Part II  7-17-2013
  • SCOTUS 2012-2013 Voting Patterns, Part III  7-19-2013
  • Texas Abortion Ruling 11-1-2013  Constitutionality of Texas HB2, related to abortion clinics
  • Angels of Death  11-4-2013  Follow-up on HB2, and more on abortion
  • Corporate Religious Freedom 12-6-2013  Related to Hobby Lobby case and Obamacare mandate
  • Defining Marriage  1-20-2014  Upcoming arguments in marriage definition cases
  • Essential Religious Freedom  2-6-2014  Religious freedom and the Hobby Lobby case
  • Being Anti-Slavery Among Willing Enslavers  2-27-2014  Religious freedom and same-sex “marriage” discrimination cases, Arizona ruling
  • Being Anti-Slavery Among Willing Enslavers, Part II  2-28-2014  More on same-sex “marriage” cases, Texas case
  • Fractious Fractional Argument  3-24-2014   Related to Hobby Lobby freedom of religion case
  • Court Kudos  4-3-2014   5th Circuit ruling on Texas abortion law
  • Supreme Court Sampler  6-26-2014  Various recent rulings
  • A Good Day for Religious Freedom  6-30-2014   Ruling on Hobby Lobby case
  • Case Studies on the Sphere  7-11-2014  Review of cases related to religious freedom and Obamacare mandate
  • SCOTUS Annual Review  7-18-2014  Agreement and disagreement on the Court during 2013-2014 session
  • Admitting Bias  8-7-2014   Related to Texas abortion clinics law
  • Admitting Bias, Part II  8-11-2014   Related to Mississippi abortion clinic law
  • Intolerance on Its Head  8-28-2014  New York judge forces couple to hold same-sex “marriage” in their home
  • Bench Slap Needed  9-1-2014  Judge Yeakel interferes with implementation of Texas abortion clinic law yet again
  • Supreme Disservice  10-9-2014  Supreme Court declines to take up same-sex “marriage” cases
  • Houston’s LGBT Mayor Intolerant  10-16-2014  Houston restroom law and subpoena of sermons
  • Splits  11-10-2014  6th Circuit reverses lower court rulings requiring same-sex “marriage”
  • Courts and Public Opinions  1-29-2015  Supreme Court takes up same-sex “marriage" issues
  • Confusion among the Courts 2-12-2015   Federal courts clash with Alabama state courts on same-sex “marriage”
  • This Is Not Tolerance  2-23-2015  Washington coerces floral service against religious rights
  • The Free Exercise of Religion Clause  3-9-2015  Religious freedom, resisting federal rulings affecting religious freedom

Monday, March 16, 2015

Savage World Too Close to Home

I live mainly in a civilized world. Occasionally I face awareness of the savage world—or at least more savage than acceptable to me. But I’m relatively insulated. Beheadings are tragically going on in the insanely savage world of ISIS territory. Far away.

So sometimes it shocks me when the savage world shows up close to home.
Waco sting yields 29 arrests
photo from
The story out of Waco, Texas, last week, was the arrest of 29 individuals in a sex sting operation. The highest offenses are conspiracy to commit human trafficking. There were nine of those. Lesser charges included underage prostitution (seeking to pay for sex with a child), prostitution, and online solicitation. Among the were a couple that got media attention:, a Ft. Hood sergeant on the human trafficking charge, and a McClennan County deputy on underage prostitution.
Another of the human trafficking conspirators was a third year law student at Baylor. This is a classmate of son Political Sphere. Not a friend, but someone who seemed pretty normal among the class. The guy was specializing in criminal law, ironically.
I’m trying to understand why someone with a livelihood depending on reputation, such as these three, would risk everything to do something so clearly evil.
I think the sergeant is likely to suffer the full force of the law, as well as a dishonorable discharge. He is 48, so nearing completion of a full career in the military—now losing the retirement he had earned. There’s nothing but prison and ignominy ahead. The deputy sheriff will be prosecuted and will never work in law enforcement again. All of these, when/if they get out of jail, will spend the rest of their lives as registered sex offenders. A number of the arrested were already registered sex offenders, so that designation does too little to protect the public.
I’m feeling the most shock about the law student. Law school is a huge sacrifice. Only A students with excellent LSAT scores get into Baylor. Baylor has the highest bar pass rate in the state—in a state with one of the most challenging bar exams. Baylor is a private religious institution. Ethics are required, with a background check, for anyone going into law. Such a background check is required for any law graduate. But Baylor, because of its religious mission, probably more fully emphasizes ethics. A person doesn’t normally go to Baylor if the higher religious standards contrast too deeply with his beliefs. If a person aims to become a sleazy lawyer, why wouldn’t he go somewhere less rigorous?
Law school is expensive. It’s typical to get a scholarship for half tuition. The other half, plus all living expenses, come from student loans, which would be somewhat less for a single person than a married person with family, but can still approach $200,000 by the time they get out. The Baylor law student has already worked hard for an undergraduate degree, and has since gone through nearly three years of long hours, little sleep, heavy reading and work, and probably unpaid summer internships.
The third year includes what is called Practice Court. The first two terms are preparing for and going through simulations of real court situations. It’s hard, challenging, time consuming, and kind of scary, since the future depends on figuring out how to do it well. The third term of the final year is still hard for the normal person, but feels like coasting for the post-Practice Court student.
Graduation is just a month and a half away. Then comes studying for the bar.
This student who got arrested will not graduate. He will not be allowed to sit for the bar. He will have no future after prison likely to pay off those student loans—which cannot disappear with bankruptcy. It’s all wasted.
Why? Why would someone risk so much for a purpose so putrid? What does such a person tell himself? I’m imaging a few things:
·         I am the source of what I determine is moral.
·         If I want to make money by enslaving gullible children and forcing them to do sex, for which I will get paid, it’s my valid lifestyle choice.
·         I am above the law.
·         I am too smart, so I won’t get caught and punished by those who disagree with my valid choices.
·         Other people are insignificant, except for what I can get from them.
·         Other people don’t deserve freedom or safety as much as I deserve money any way I can get it.
·         Sex is just sex; no big deal. If I can benefit because some people are willing to pay for it, I should go for it.
I’m thinking about what I wrote last week, about the latest generation being taught that there are no moral truths. If you teach young people that morality is just a matter of personal opinion, and one person’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s, you produce a generation of moral relativists—which means immorality on a grand scale.
As shocking as this Waco sting case is, it’s not uncommon. There was a similar sting in the same county, with 20 arrests, just last November. After the dust settles from this one, the undercover team will set up again, and catch the next network of miscreants. The goal is about 20 arrests per sting, every few months. Other counties, in other states as well, are doing the same.
There are rumors that there is more slavery today than before the Emancipation Proclamation—between 21 and 36 million worldwide. Some of the victims are immigrants seeking a better life, putting their trust in people who betray them and enslave them, either for slave labor or forced prostitution.
Additional victims in this country result from reckless young people taking chances online—most of those in this sting. Typical would be a young girl making risky connections online with someone posing possibly as a teenage boy who wants to meet her, and it sounds exciting and enticing. But when she turns up to meet the person, she is kidnapped and victimized. It’s the kind of storyline that shows up on episodes of Criminal Minds.
Mental illness, the kind that results in psychopaths who victimize young innocents, isn’t widespread enough to explain the extent of human trafficking. This multi-billion-dollar-a-year savage evil is the result of a lack of morality. If no one was willing to “buy” sex with another person—and, worse, an enslaved captive child—then prostitution would disappear.
Every person involved in the buying and selling of sex, ever, anywhere, at any time in history, is a savage. But they don’t always look like savages. They may dress in suits or casual wear. Maybe they drive a nice car, have a job in the offices where we work, shop at the same stores we do. Maybe they go to the same law schools we do.
I have never knowingly met or associated with anyone who has gone to a prostitute, let alone anyone who thought human trafficking was just another business choice. But the numbers seem to reveal that I’ve probably met a few slimeballs unknowingly.
 “These people come from all walks of life,” McClennan County Sheriff McNamara said. “No socioeconomic class is immune. It seems to cross all barriers.”
If we want to live in a civilized world, this evil cannot be tolerated. It’s already against the law. We can praise the skill of the law enforcement officers who continue to capture dozens of the guilty. We must continue to seek the wrongdoers and hold them accountable, and put more resources there. Protecting life and liberty is the proper role of government.
Sheriff McNamara said, “These creeps love to prey on our young people. And we’re going to do everything we can to stop it.”
There are organizations working to bring attention to the issue, and to help the victims recover their lives after regaining their freedom. UnBound was invited to the Sheriff’s press conference following last week’s sting. Assistant National Director Natalie Garnett said, “It’s so exciting for us to see these people arrested because we work with the victims. When they see things like this, it will make them feel more hopeful.” The victims will need to heal, to learn that not all the world is the savagery they have suffered. They can choose and experience a better, civilized future.
Elizabeth Smart talked about work on the issue last week, on Glenn Beck’s show. And Beck has had other advocates on as well, from Operation Underground Railroad. They do heroic work.
As for the rest of us, what needs to happen is a change in culture. The rules of civilization work. Civilization requires that we honor God, and keep His commandments: honor family, value life, value truth, value virtue. Live moral lives—according to what God’s word tells us is moral. There may be specific belief differences, but the basics are clear. Protect life, liberty, and property. Have everyone equal before the law.
Civilization starts in our individual hearts. From there we extend civilization to the family in the home. And to the extended family and community as opportunities arise.
Never tolerate savagery. Spread civilization.
Darkness cannot exist where bright light shines.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fact and Opinion

I read a piece about moral relativism being inculcated into our children, “Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts,” by Justin McBrayer, a professor working in ethics and philosophy of religion. It got me thinking some of the big philosophical questions: What is truth? What is real? What is knowable?
I may not have suddenly come up with all the answers, but we probably can look at a few helpful definitions.
McBrayer’s piece dealt with what he found a troubling definition placed on the wall of his son’s school:
Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.
Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.
These definitions, he found, were ubiquitous online, and were provided by Common Core as a standard. [His piece provides links.] He was troubled because there’s an implication that facts are all provable, and anything unprovable must not be true. And anything believed is merely opinion, and therefore can be dismissed as not factual.
Is truth equivalent to proof? No. Truth is true whether we are aware of it or have yet proven it.
Is truth relative (i.e., changeable depending on perspective or perception)? No. Truth exists, and it is up to us to do our best to perceive it accurately. It is true that gravity is a force that works on my body whether I believe in gravity or not.
Gravity is a provable law. We use the laws of physics to perceive and measure it. I am persuaded that, while I can’t “see” gravity, it’s still there. It exists. I believe gravity pulls me earthward. So, since that is a statement of belief, is it fact or opinion? I am persuaded that gravity exists; that is my opinion. But it’s a considered, educated opinion, well supported. Regardless of my awareness or opinion, gravity is still working on me. If I jump off the roof, gravity will bring me to earth—fast and hard. I’d say that’s pretty real.
The definitions above imply an either/or arrangement. Something is either fact (provably true) or opinion (something not provably true). So can an opinion be true? And can a “fact” be untrue? Yes, for both. A “fact” might be stated as true, and then learned to be false. It was once thought to be a fact that the earth was the center of the universe, until Copernicus and Galileo more accurately described our solar system. In the 1980s, it was a supposed “fact” that the world was cooling, and then in the 2000s it was warming at an alarming rate—stated as “fact,” and given measurements, but opposed to conflicting measurements. Just because something is stated as fact, doesn’t mean it’s true.
This blog is made up of my opinions. But it is my intention, always, to clarify truth. I search for true principles, and then apply them. The Spherical Model is a way of looking at the interrelationships of politics, economics, and social behaviors, in an effort to find ways to attain freedom, prosperity, and civilization. That is a statement of fact. I invented the concept, so the definition of the Spherical Model is what I say it is. I control that fact.
The principles that lead to freedom, prosperity, and civilization exist, whether they are widely perceived or not, whether they are understood by anyone but me (or even by me). There are ways that lead to those good outcomes, because those good outcomes have been seen and identified at points in history, and people got there somehow. God knows the path. Knowing that path is knowing something true—a fact.
It is my opinion that I have discovered the right path, the right principles. There is a lot of evidence supporting my opinion. I am persuaded that the principles if applied among any people, nation, city, family, tribe, or organization will lead eventually to freedom, prosperity, and civilization—all ultimate Goods.
Are the Spherical Model principles wrong because they are my opinion? No. They may not yet be proven, but they are either true or untrue based on what God knows. I have attempted to know what God knows; I do that imperfectly, but chances are if I follow principles God has laid out for a happy life, I’m probably closely aligned with truth.
McBrayer’s concern was that, when weeding out fact from opinion, moral values always got sifted into the opinion category, with the implication that they can be disregarded as unknowable and probably not true. He listed some examples of opinion, and therefore not fact (not true):
     Copying homework assignments is wrong.
     Cursing in school is inappropriate behavior.
     All men are created equal.
     It is worth sacrificing some personal liberties to protect our country from terrorism.
     It is wrong for people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol.
     Vegetarians are healthier than people who eat meat.
     Drug dealers belong in prison.
Some of these just might be true. They might even be provably true or false (vegetarian health, for example). But because they are “value judgments,” students are taught to discount them. Which makes it seem reasonable to cheat on homework (if you want to), curse in school (if you want to), subjugate other people (if you want to), give in to tyranny (if you want to), drink alcohol while underage (if you want to), or deal drugs without going to prisons (if you want to).
It is a value judgment that life is sacred. It is my opinion that beheading another human because he doesn’t belong to my religion is morally wrong. God knows whether that is true or not. But every civilized people in history—and all of the people on earth today except a radical few—believe killing innocent people is wrong. We punish for it. It’s a capital offense. Does our morality-free generation know whether murder is right or wrong?
It’s a problem when you raise a generation that believes there are no moral absolutes. You can’t get civilization without a critical mass willingly living moral lives. How can that happen if they don’t know what is moral, and don’t even know that morality is real?
What about honesty. We require truth telling in court; perjury is punishable. Should it be? People in a civilized society believe so. But if someone is raised to believe truth, or reality, is just something in your head, it can be whatever you think it is. “It depends on what the meaning of is is.” “I didn’t have sex with that woman.” “If you like your insurance plan, you can keep your plan.” “I didn’t set up an illegal private email server starting the day I took office as Secretary of State in order to hide correspondence from public record; I was just trying to make things convenient.” “Four Americans were killed in Benghazi because of outrage caused by an obscure internet video.”  
As Horace Mann said, “What the church has been for medieval man, the public school must become for democratic and rational man. God will be replaced by the concept of the public good…. The common schools… shall create a more far-seeing intelligence and a pure morality than has ever existed among communities of men” ( Klicka, The Right Choice—Home Schooling, p. 32).
So if the morality-castrating definition of fact and opinion is provided through the public schools, that is an attempt to form a new “morality”—one that is whatever government says it is, among a populous unable to think through the reasons government might be wrong. It’s not about building a better society; it’s about building power over a weaker people. (Yet another reason to homeschool.)
I keep an old dictionary[1] around, definitely pre-Common Core. So I looked up fact and opinion there, to know what it meant while I was growing up:
Fact: a thing that has actually happened or that is really true; reality; actuality; truth
Opinion: a belief not based on absolute certainty or positive knowledge but on what seems true, valid, or probable to one’s own mind
So, a fact is true, whether we know it or not; measurement or perception is not required. An opinion is true as far as we can ascertain. Both are attempts at understanding what is real, what is true. If you can see fallacies in a person’s support of their opinion, then discount it if you like. But throwing out an opinion just because it isn’t viewable or measurable jettisons an astounding amount of truth.
Truth exists separate from us. Seeking truth is a work for a lifetime. It takes a good mind, and a good heart, and spiritual strength to know truth. Seeking God is more likely to lead to truth than leaving out the Omniscient One and going at it on our own.
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words,
light and truth. Light and truth forsake that evil one.”[2]

[1] Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, Simon and Schuster, © 1982.
[2] Doctrine and Covenants 93:36-37.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Free Exercise of Religion Clause

One of my most popular posts (in fact, the second most viewed) is my 200th post, in January 2012. It was a little grammar lesson about the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment. It's short, so I'm about to re-post some of it:

First, let’s do a little grammar practice. This is what the 1st Amendment to the
Constitution says concerning religion:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
There are two parts. So how would it read if we clarified by making each part its own sentence?
·         Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
·         Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
It’s not really that difficult, grammatically. The second has been violated many times because of some twisted misunderstandings about the first. What would it mean for Congress to establish a religion? It would mean that they would make one particular religion (sect) the preferred religion—they would “establish” that religion as “the” official religion of the nation. Adherents to that particular faith would have preferred status under the law. Our founders didn’t prevent particular states from establishing their own state religion, and in the beginning several did indeed have state religions. But the Constitution prevented that from ever being done at the federal level. (And states figured out on their own it wasn’t a good idea at their level either.)
There is nothing about getting all religious expression out of public life. In fact, getting religious expression out of public life would indeed violate the second part; it would be prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
So what about non-believers, or different believers? They get to tolerate differences in religious beliefs, just like the rest of us.

I wrote that the week the Supreme Court voted unanimously to sustain a parochial school’s right to terminate an employee who refused to sustain their religious beliefs. Usually the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of religious freedom. More Obamacare mandate cases are coming up this spring.
In the past, religious freedom won on religious exemption for churches, and religious exemption for religion-affiliated non-profits, such as Catholic schools. The First Amendment also prevailed on exemption for closely held corporations, such as Hobby Lobby. Still to come are rulings on Little Sisters of the Poor, an independent non-profit serving the elderly poor, clearly formed and run by religious people—but the administration refuses to give them an exemption as a religious entity. We also don’t have any exemption in sight for larger corporations that were formed based on religious people and are run by board with those religious principles in mind.
The federal government has no business forcing anyone to purchase any service. But aside from that, forcing someone to make a purchase that goes against their religious beliefs is clearly in violation of the first amendment protection of religious freedom.
Let’s be clear: the Constitution does not grant religious freedom. God gave us religious freedom. The First Amendment is a declaration to make it crystal clear that the limited powers granted to the federal government do not include any power to prohibit the free exercise of religion. We would still have those freedoms, even without the Bill of Rights. Those first ten amendments were put there just in case there came a time when the people no longer understood what was self-evident to the founders.
We are living in such a time.
I’ve written a few times on business people who are being forced to perform services against their religious beliefs, most often regarding same-sex “marriage,” a movement becoming more and more coercive against religious people. We’re on a knife-edge, waiting for SCOTUS to rule on same-sex “marriage” this term. Oral arguments will be heard April 28th. They’ve allotted more than the usual hour, planning to determine two issues: Are states required to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples? (It’s often erroneously worded as, “Are states allowed to ban same-sex couples from marrying?”) And also, are states required to recognize same-sex “marriages” of couples “married” in states where such “marriages” are legal?
In Texas there’s a bill in the legislature, HB 623, making it clear that officials cannot grant same-sex “marriage” licenses against Texas constitution and law. (Breitbart had a piece on the bill when it was filed.) Lest you think there will be confusion, we already don’t recognize illegal marriages; for example, in some Middle Eastern countries, polygamy is legal; if such people move to the US, only one wife is recognized as legal. In addition, within the US, some states recognize common law marriages, but not all states are required to recognize such marriages. So there’s already precedent for handling marriage law differences. It’s a state’s rights issue, regardless of what SCOTUS rules. But we can still pray that the rulings go the right direction, to minimize the momentum of the hate-religion groups, chief among which are LGBT activists.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone
AP photo found at Wall Street Journal

Another religious persecution case came to my attention this week. Catholic schools in San Francisco. As you would expect, teachers in Catholic schools are supposed to uphold the doctrines of the religion. That includes “denouncing masturbation, pornography, same-sex marriage, contraception and other issues that, in line with Catholic teaching, are described as ‘gravely evil.’” Seems totally unsurprising, if you know anything about Catholic doctrine. But some California senators and assemblymen took issue with the statement of belief, and are asking for a discrimination investigation of the archdiocese. Ryan Anderson wrote about this, and a list of other attacks on religious institutions. He included these:
·        Gordon College, a religious school, with a conduct standard (I believe for students and employees) of chastity—no sex outside of marriage—is being investigated for discrimination based on that behavior standard.
·        Notre Dame and Wheaton College being forced to provide contraceptives according to the HHS mandate.
·        Washington, DC’s private schools, including religious schools whose beliefs would be violated, to be required to recognize LGBT clubs and host “gay pride” events on campus.
I went to a large religious-affiliated university. I can't imagine any of these coercions being submitted to there. But the need for defiance may be simply a lawsuit away. I don't know.

What is clear, if you read the First Amendment with any basic understanding, is that the federal government is making laws (or making up meanings of laws) prohibiting the free exercise of religion.