DOMA – Defense of Marriage Act

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Sunday Night Blog – DOMA

11th century Hebrew Bible with targum, perhaps...

More than a few of my friends may be clutching their hearts and falling over, actually.  I did not mean to lead you down the road to heart attack.  An issue that does not impact your life one bit should not worry you so much.  I know you did not expect me to be so blunt in my approach, but I have given it a bit of thought. This even surprises me, because the issue does not affect my life.  There are no male suitors, to be sure, and while Brad Pitt and a million bucks up front might be tempting, I seriously believe I am not walking down that aisle.  So why would I change my position when I have generally been indifferent to the whole matter in the past?

The legislature of the Great Bankrupt State of Illinois has adjourned without taking a vote on gay marriage.  It was expected to be called for a vote with a good chance of passing.  Perhaps the votes were not there or perhaps, like the group in the District of Columbia, they were moved to inaction on just about everything.  Whatever the excuse, we have delayed moving forward on this.  When the issue was generating interest, however, the opposition consistently fell back on one major point: “The Bible is against it.”

Perhaps the Bible is against it.  Perhaps all good Christians will vote no to gay marriage.  Perhaps man should not lie with man like woman, or perhaps the actual translation of the Aramaic text refers to male prostitutes as some scholars suggest.  Perhaps we should not eat pork.  Perhaps we should stone women who have had sex before marriage.  Perhaps we should cut off the hand of a woman who rises up in defense of her husband.  Perhaps we should put to death disobedient children.  Perhaps we should stop playing football as the ball is made of “pigskin” (allegedly).  Perhaps we should stop pretending that we know for sure what the ancient Greek and Aramaic texts actually mean and start loving one another as we love ourselves.  Do unto your neighbors as…you know the rest, or do you?

The arguments against gay marriage are religious arguments, put forth mostly by Christians.  I have been told by a Muslim friend who follows Islam, that gay marriage is unacceptable in their culture as well.  Even so, the objections are based on what certain groups of religions believe.  There is no other reason put forward.  As the Supreme Court is likely to come down on the side of separation of church and state, what follows is that religious arguments offer no valid support of DOMA.  In addition, misquoted Bible passages are no defense to a Defense of Marriage Act that creates separate and unequal classes.  We already know what the Supreme Court and Constitutional scholars think of that.

So there is no defense for the 1996 law.  In an era where who is married is the same as who and what the individual states recognize, each state will have to wrestle with the issue in its own capital.  If all they have to offer the general public are a collection of dubious statements based on alleged readings of poorly translated texts of ancient languages, then I think we have no reasonable opposing point of view.  The state will have to decide separately from its various religions that there is no rationale for us to concern ourselves with who loves whom.  Just as surely as the state has no interest in what sex acts are going on in the home of a man and woman, they should equally be unconcerned with any two law-abiding people who love each other in the privacy of their homes.

You may respond, “They are committing sin and they will go to Hell!”  OK, but you do not stop people from gossiping, another stoning offense, and you do not generally interfere with adultery where no civil law is broken, so why do you pretend to care about gay marriage?    Leviticus 19:28 forbids tattoos but I see no legislative action to shut tattoo parlors.  Marriage after divorce is adultery and women should not speak in church, but little is done about these “offenses.”

I do not pretend to speak for God, so I wish my legislators, in the spirit of the separation of church and state, would stop doing so as well.  Promoting the general welfare of society is not brought further along by twisting Bible passages to suit someone’s personal moral agenda.  At one time the concept that some were pushing a “gay agenda” became so twisted that the term ended up a punch line.  A hateful “moral agenda” will be a sad punchline too.  The recent work of three university scholars on the various types of marriage, that are acceptable in ancient Biblical text but not allowed today, may be found in a recent Des Moines Register op-ed piece that garnered plenty of hate in reaction.  It indicates that people only want to hear what they want to hear and please do not read them Bible passages that do not go along with their Rush Limbaugh / Glen Beck way of thinking.

You are now free to go forth and do what you will in the privacy of your own home.  OK, you would do that anyway and none of the rest of us would be any the wiser.  I must leave and attend to my friends who are having heart palpitations, or perhaps it is just a cholesterol reaction to the extra chicken wings and french fries.

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Daily Prompt: The Normal – Like Any Other

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Waiting for Dystopia

I’m bemused and a bit bewildered at the furor over how the NSA is spying on American citizens. As a long-time faithful fan of NCIS, Law & Order and so many other cop shows, I’ve become familiar with how easy it is for government agents to get our phone and computer records. Our photos are easy to find on traffic cameras and security footage. It’s the meat and potatoes of television crime shows, so I can’t believe there’s anyone over the age of 5 who doesn’t know when someone is compromising evidence or has forgotten to wear his or her gloves at the crime scene.

Portrait of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. (no ...
Feared FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover – Rumor has it he wore a dress when he wasn’t accusing Americans of being Communists.

We know there are cameras trained on us everywhere we go. It’s even more intense in Great Britain and most parts of Europe, so this isn’t just an American aberration. It’s everywhere.

It must have been 20 years since we first learned about the trap door in Windows. You remember. That’s the security hole designed to let the government peek into our computers. All operating systems have holes in them. Any 14-year old hacker can find them, so surely the FBI can do almost as well. Did anyone think that the holes in our operating systems have gone away? Been patched up? Really?

Blaming one political party or the other, one president or another for extending and expanding the surveillance that’s been ongoing  for decades is pointless. It’s not going to stop no matter what they say or who is in the White House. The agencies that run the surveillance will merely improve their ability to camouflage their activities. Our governments are not going to stop monitoring our computers, telephones, bank accounts, or anything else. We can’t even stop Google and Facebook from having their way with us, so what makes you think we can stop the FBI or Scotland Yard?

It is wrong that governments spy on their citizens? Isn’t that a gross violation of our privacy? In theory I agree. They shouldn’t listen to our boring phone calls. I think it’s possible the cruelest punishment of all would be monitoring the phone calls of adolescent girls, but I digress.

My opinion is (a) it’s not up to me or you, and (b) we can’t have it both ways. We can’t demand more and better security yet expect the government to accomplish it without compromising our privacy.

So, we are faced with a theoretical (but not real) choice. Do we want security or privacy? As for the theoretical but not real aspect of the choice: it’s not up to us. In the United States, agencies of the government are in charge of national security. It’s their job. This didn’t start with Obama , Bush or even Regan. It goes back a long way, at least as far back as when J. Edgar Hoover was The Man and probably long before that too.

This is not an area on which we get to vote. It has been this way since before any of us were born and will continue to be this way after all of us are dead and gone.

Continuing to whine and bitch about it isn’t going to change anything. If you don’t want to be monitored, stop using the Internet. Give up your cell phones. Keep your money under the mattress. Live on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Grow your own food and generate your own electricity. Don’t have a mortgage. Pay all your bills in cash. Better yet, don’t have bills.

Don’t work a regular job and move frequently. Don’t collect social security, Medicare or for that matter, file an income tax return. Don’t register a car and don’t vote. Should you have kids, home school them. Even if you do all these things, if THEY want to find you, they will. Because sooner or later you have to interact with other people and people talk.

75-FireAndIcePoem

I have friends who are awaiting the end the civilization, if not the world. They are planning against the day when they will live in the Dystopia of their nightmares. They want to make sure they have enough guns.

Personally, I think lots of bottled water and canned goods would be more useful. And blankets, first aid supplies, and warm clothing. But I’m not expecting the world to end, and if it does, I figure it will just wither away. Not with a bang, nope, uh-uh. I’m leaning toward the long, tired whimper.

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