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Grownups join the gay marriage debate

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:18 pm - February 1, 2013.
Filed under: Civil Discourse,Gay Marriage

First, let me apologize for not getting to this earlier.  The New York Times reported the story on Tuesday.  And Stephen Miller drew my attention to it that very day. I had meant to blog about it on Wednesday, but a friend from out of town invited me to join him at Disneyland that afternoon.  The following day (yesterday), I was preoccupied with determining the reasons for the dragon’s attack on Nah-nathas.  (And for the better part of today, I was tweaking the now-presentable Chapter Six to better set up that attack.)

Okay, now the issue.  One-time gay marriage opponent David Blankenhorn is spearheading a new coalition which, as the Times reports,

. . . plans to issue “A Call for a New Conversation on Marriage,” a tract renouncing the culture war that he was once part of, in favor of a different pro-marriage agenda. The proposed conversation will try to bring together gay men and lesbians who want to strengthen marriage with heterosexuals who want to do the same.

Miller links the group’s mission statement indicating that the group wants to begin a

. . . conversation that brings together gays and lesbians who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same. The new conversation does not presuppose or require agreement on gay marriage, but it does ask a new question. The current question is, Should gays marry? The new question is, Who among us, gay or straight, wants to strengthen marriage?

Emphasis added. It’s about time.  It seems that many advocates of gay marriage focus on what they deem the “right to marry” (but mean the privilege of state recognition) instead of the meaning of the institution.  By proposing to strengthen marriage, those in this new coalition understand that the institution is worthy of preservation and in need of strengthening.

Too often, gay marriage advocates tell us that marriage is declining, so why not include gays?  They should instead, as Jonathan Rauch has done, use their movement to secure state recognition of marriage to remind us of the institution’s importance.

Given the group’s roster, it seems pretty clear that its leaders want to have a conversation about the importance of marriage.  A welcome move.

Let us hope this group comes to dominate the debate.

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59 Comments

  1. I guess that the real thrust of Sonicfrog’s remark @ #49 is aimed at David Barton, not Jefferson. People For the American Way is a Soros funded group dedicated “to monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement.” As such, they have Glenn Beck in their crosshairs and that leads to David Barton.

    David Barton has a site called Wallbuilders which is dedicated to “presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes with an emphasis on our moral, religious, and constitutional history.”

    Beck and Barton are both engaged in a project called Black Robe Regiment which asks Pastors and ministry leaders to take the Black Robe Regiment Pledge.

    Now, this is all very churchy and just the sort of thing to stick in the craws of people who have a gripe with the whole religion and morality “thing.” But there is also the age-old “dueling academics” thing where historians go to the mat to protect their particular slant on what is “accurate.” Warren Throckmorton (A College Psychology Professor’s Observations About Public Policy, Mental Health, Sexual Identity, and Religious Issues) is a Huffington Post writer and reformed “cure the gays” advocate. He also is the co-author of Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President.

    There is an on-going cat-fight between Throckmorton and Barton which involved getting a publisher to cancel publication of Barton’s book: The Jefferson Lies.

    All of this is the same old story about which revisionist has got it right. Look at the titles: “Getting Jefferson Right” vs. “The Jefferson Lies.”

    But, more important by far, is the attempt to silence a voice in the Glenn Beck movement. Love him or hate him, Glenn Beck has got the Huffington crowd, the Soros group and Progressives in general foaming at the mouth.

    Sonicfrog brings the Progressive moonbattery here.

    Comment by heliotrope — February 8, 2013 @ 9:30 am - February 8, 2013

  2. Heliotrope… Do you not understand the book was pulled by the publisher, a christian based publisher, for not only getting historical facts wrong, but omitting facts that contradicts his central thesis that “Jefferson lived his life as a Christian”. How can you live your life as a Christian if you don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God?

    And no one is “silencing” Barton. Obviously, he’s able to get his voice out just fine.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — February 8, 2013 @ 8:13 pm - February 8, 2013

  3. Barton certainly has popped off with his homophobic rant

    Comment by rusty — February 8, 2013 @ 9:02 pm - February 8, 2013

  4. Sonicfrog,

    No, I do not “understand the book was pulled by the publisher because:” “(—)”

    The “because” is an introduction to “the facts.” Show me the facts. Not the speculation, but the facts.

    My point @#51 is that you chose to bring a point to this thread that is dripping with innuendo. The Throckmorton v Barton clash is between a Christian “conservative” psychologist and a Texas evangelist over “truth” and “lies” about Thomas Jefferson’s belief system.

    I have lived at the foot of Monticello for 45 years and I have not yet heard all the arguments about the “truth” and “lies” about Mr. Jefferson because the enigmatic great man invites such quarrels. For instance, why did Jefferson hang a painting of the head of John the Baptist on a platter among portraits of Madison, Washington, Magellan, Franklin, Bacon, Locke, Newton, etc. in his salon? You can only speculate. Kevin Hayes has offered that Jefferson’s penchant for editing (the Jefferson Bible) was to make “the factual information less wordy and more precise.”:

    Jefferson intercut a passage from Matthew to describe John’s baptism of Jesus (3:4-6, 13). After quoting from Luke (3:23) to record that Jesus was now “about thirty years of age,” he related a story from John (2:12-16) showing how Jesus chased the money changers from the temple. He also included the memorable phrase, “Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise.”

    After this episode, Jefferson flashed forward, intercutting the story of Herodias asking her father for the head of John the Baptist for the sixth chapter of Mark. This biblical episode was one of Jefferson’s favorites. Hanging at Monticello was a finely rendered copy of Guido Reni’s Herodias Bearing the Head of St. John.

    So. How do we “know” that Hayes has it right that “this biblical episode was one of Jefferson’s favorites?” How do we “know” that the painting is a “finely” rendered copy? Blah, blah, blah. Nit-picking Jefferson always seems to reach this stunningly silly level.

    Why would Jefferson retain the text of having Jesus say “Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise” if he did not want to preserve the son of God theme? It is a question that invites skepticism and speculation, but not proof. (For instance, calling God your “Father” does not mean you believe you are “His only begotten Son.”)

    There are a whole lot of people who are out to destroy Glenn Beck, David Barton, the call to greater Christian morality, the religious right and more. Throckmorton and Barton are within the same house arguing with one another. That is not uncommon among believers. What stinks in this argument in how Throckmorton has gone over to the Progressives to get support. How Throckmorton has used the enemies of his enemy to promote his supposedly academic disagreements with Barton.

    You dragged that cat-fight here, but you also have voiced an underlying agenda about who Thomas Jefferson was.

    We who live in the shadow of the sage of Monticello have heard all manner of Jefferson analysis through the years. It must be very, very frustrating to tear away at the man and never succeed at tearing him down to the level of human debris that is so satisfying to some.

    Being a docent at Monticello is no easy job. There is often a skeptic lurking in the crowd who has read some Jefferson gossip and can’t wait to try to trip up the docent. Imagine having to be the good natured instructor who has to have all of the answers and to satisfy every mood and underlying predetermination.

    I suppose you threw Jefferson into the thread on “the gay marriage debate” because of some anxiety over the Judeo-Christian ethic and religion in general.

    When Rusty talked of Barton’s homophobic rant, I went googling and found this. Honestly, if what Barton said was homophobic, it is because of an overdrive determination to find homophobia.

    Barton touches on the interesting conundrum of why we focus on some health problems and skip over more blatant health problems because of victim group political correctness. Perhaps Barton is a profound homophobe. I have no idea. But, shouldn’t gays and all people be concerned about the health problems that gays suffer and propagate?

    I don’t know enough about David Barton to have a side in this battle. What always intrigues me is the motivation behind attacking such a person. When you scratch the surface and the Soros groups and the Progressive demagogues pop up loud and clear, it occurs to me that the man is being made a political pariah to promote a political agenda.

    Comment by heliotrope — February 9, 2013 @ 11:00 am - February 9, 2013

  5. I suppose you threw Jefferson into the thread on “the gay marriage debate” because of some anxiety over the Judeo-Christian ethic and religion in general.

    No. If you go back to my post, it was a reply to V about what historians would write. The assertion that historians would write that this country fell because it allowed gays to marry is kind of far fetched. My point is that it would be a silly thing for someone who is a historian to write with any conviction… Unless there was a greater agenda at hand. The undoing of this country will not be because 15 or 20% of 3% of the population was allowed to get married. Civilizations end, when not destroyed militarily, due to large scale imbalances that the governing structure and society simply can’t adjust to or absorb. The Roman empire could not in the end deal with the growth of a new religion, and probably more important, they simply ran out of peoples to conquer, which reduced the influx of wealth keeping the state and upper levels of society, the ruling class, afloat.

    Why would Jefferson retain the text of having Jesus say “Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise” if he did not want to preserve the son of God theme? It is a question that invites skepticism and speculation, but not proof. (For instance, calling God your “Father” does not mean you believe you are “His only begotten Son.”)

    Agreed, which is why trying to project that Jefferson was a Christian based on that, and other things, is a silly endeavor. It’s very clear from from the mans own writings what he believed.

    What always intrigues me is the motivation behind attacking such a person. When you scratch the surface and the Soros groups and the Progressive demagogues pop up loud and clear, it occurs to me that the man is being made a political pariah to promote a political agenda.

    I am not attacking the person of David Barton. I am attacking the impulse a sect of Conservatives have to rewrite history to favor their political agenda. I hate that impulse of certain Liberal factions too. I was subing for a 5th grade class, and while looking through some of the assigned reading materials during my break, I came across a book that was devoted to Malcolm X. It was a total hero worship thing. I have no problem teaching about the guy, as long as you do it honestly. But this book, in a 5th grade class….. I shouldn’t have been stunned. I’ve been doing this long enough. But I was just the same.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — February 11, 2013 @ 4:03 pm - February 11, 2013

  6. PS. On Jefferson and Barton. When his book came out, it was reviewed by Jefferson scholar / NPR “Jefferson Hour” creator Clay Jenkins. He has issues with the book, but did appreciate some of the interesting questions. He made a point that what Jefferson himself did express was not very popular, and drew the ire of many of his contemporaries. If he were really a Christian, he certainly would not have made it a secret. He would have shouted it from the rooftops. Would have made his political life much easier.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — February 11, 2013 @ 4:10 pm - February 11, 2013

  7. Sonicfrog,

    I don’t pretend to speak for V, but gay marriage is a “metaphor” for pandering to rather small “victim” issues when compared to confronting deficits, largely uncontrolled illegal immigration and a sour economy and a high level of unemployment. Perhaps V was using such a metaphor.

    I would suggest that like Mr. Jefferson’s Christianity, there will endless debates in years to come (as there have been in centuries before us) concerning why Rome disappeared. Certainly, it is generally agreed that its government became corrupt and its society became culturally flabby and lethargic.

    Mr. Jefferson wrote a letter to Doctor Benjamin Rush in 1803 in which he declared himself to be a Christian.

    To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other….

    In 1819, Mr. Jefferson wrote a letter to a Rev Ezra Stiles Ely which stated:

    You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know. I am not a Jew, and therefore do not adopt their theology, which supposed the God of infinite justice to punish the sins of the father upon their children, unto the third and fourth generation; and the benevolent and sublime Reformer of that religion has told us only that God is good and perfect, but has not defined Him. I am, therefore, of His theology, believing that we have neither words nor ideas adequate to that definition. And if we could all, after his example, leave the subject as undefinable, we should all be of one sect, doers of good, and eschewers of evil. No doctrines of His lead to schism. It is the speculations of crazy theologists which have made a Babel of a religion the most moral and sublime ever preached to man, and calculated to heal, and not to create differences. These religious animosities I impute to those who call themselves His ministers, and who engraft their casuistries on the stock of His simple precepts. I am sometimes more angry with them than is authorized by the blessed charities which He preaches. To yourself I pray the acceptance of my great respect.

    Like so many others before you, I suppose you may to read Mr. Jefferson as referring only to God when Mr. Jefferson writes “Him” and “He” in his letter. However, it would be passing strange to find the “He” reference to be to God in this statement: “I am sometimes more angry with them than is authorized by the blessed charities which He preaches.”

    I enjoy Mr. Jefferson’s method of putting Calvinist Ely on notice: “…the speculations of crazy theologists which have made a Babel of a religion the most moral and sublime ever preached to man, and calculated to heal, and not to create differences.”

    Ely was a bit of a firebrand and I suspect Mr. Jefferson was not entirely enchanted with the book Ely sent to him “on the science of the human mind.”

    A year to the day of Mr. Jefferson’s death, Rev Ely called for a Christian party to take over the US. Perhaps Mr. Jefferson rolled over in his grave that day; he was the very proud author of The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.

    I add this bit of a letter to William G. Munford in 1799:

    I join you therefore in branding as cowardly the idea that the human mind is incapable of further advances. this is precisely the doctrine which the present despots of the earth are inculcating, & their friends here re-echoing; & applying especially to religion & politics; ‘that it is not probable that any thing better will be discovered than what was known to our fathers.’ we are to look backwards then & not forwards for the improvement of science, & to find it amidst feudal barbarisms and the fires of Spital-fields. but thank heaven the American mind is already too much opened, to listen to these impostures; and while the art of printing is left to us science can never be retrograde; what is once acquired of real knowlege can never be lost. to preserve the freedom of the human mind then & freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will, & speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement. the generation which is going off the stage has deserved well of mankind for the struggles it

    Comment by heliotrope — February 11, 2013 @ 10:27 pm - February 11, 2013

  8. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines,

    That, however, is not the standard as defined by modern Christianity. You specifically have to believe in the Holy Trinity.

    Anyway, yes this did get off topic, which was not my intention.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — February 12, 2013 @ 12:29 am - February 12, 2013

  9. Sonicfrog,

    The Council of Nicea in 325 AD was called by Constantine to “organize” the tenets of Christianity. Sort of a form of community organizing where they wrapped up the divergent strands emanating from the New Testament and putting a bow on it.

    Mr. Jefferson was highly interested in the words and thoughts expressed in the Gospels. His study did not deal with miracles; he concentrated on the philosophy.

    I doubt he gave much thought or even interest to the Council of Nicea, which is where your “Holy Trinity” was pondered out and laid down.

    So, in one sense, Mr. Jefferson was a Christian, as he said, and a sect unto himself, as he also stated.

    I charged you with bringing the Barton-Throckmorton scuff-up and Mr. Jefferson’s questioned Christianity issue here as a diversion to the gay marriage debate. I have enjoyed our exchange and I believe we understand one another better as a result of it.

    When Rusty decided that Barton is a homophobe, I was compelled to wade into this. Barton may be a homophobe. I really do not know. But I am very sensitive to attacks on Christianity as the ready, homophobic foe of a person who is gay. Phelps and related loons are not the face of Christianity. I suggest that reading Mr. Jefferson’s The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (The “Jefferson Bible”) would not annoy the average open-minded gay person.

    Comment by heliotrope — February 13, 2013 @ 1:36 pm - February 13, 2013

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