Homogenized religious dogma and political ideology: A toxic blend of vows and pledges

Part 3 of a three-part series

The ferocity with which some oppose equal civil rights for gay and lesbian Americans can be perplexing. They certainly don’t have the best interests of their fellow citizens in mind, and it’s a real stretch to suppose that they truly believe they’re “doing God’s work” by working to hurt people they don’t even know. It seems are more like that they’re power-hungry megalomaniacs who will use any means to accomplish their personal goals.

The endnote—number 11—for the third of 14 vows in Bob Vander Plaats’ “The Marriage Vow—A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family” reads:

It is no secret that a handful of state and federal judges, some of whom have personally rejected heterosexuality and faithful monogamy, have also abandoned bona fide constitutional interpretation in accord with the discernible intent of the framers. In November, 2010, Iowa voters overwhelmingly rejected three such justices from the state Supreme Court in retention elections. Yet, certain federal jurists with lifetime appointments stand poised, even now, to “discover” a right of so-called same-sex marriage or polygamous marriage in the U.S. Constitution.

“State and federal judges, some of whom have personally rejected heterosexuality and faithful monogamy.” That assertion demonstrates how skilled Mr. Vander Plaats is in redefining and twisting words and concealing straw man arguments. Earlier in the document, he listed his “reasons” as to why “the Institution of Marriage in America is in great crisis.” The final bulleted item reads:

Social protections, especially for women and children, have been evaporating as we have collectively “debased the currency” of marriage. This debasement continues as a function of adultery; “quickie divorce;” physical and verbal spousal abuse; non-committal co-habitation; exemplary infidelity and “unwed cheating” among celebrities, sports figures and politicians; anti-scientific bias which holds, in complete absence of empirical proof, that non-heterosexual inclinations are genetically determined, irresistible and akin to innate traits like race, gender and eye color; as well as anti-scientific bias which holds, against all empirical evidence, that homosexual behavior in particular, and sexual promiscuity in general, optimizes individual or public health. [italics added]

The preamble in the endnote for this items reads: “No peer-reviewed empirical science or rational demonstration has ever definitively proven, nor even has shown an overwhelming probability, that homosexual preference or behavior is irresistible as a function of genetic determinism or other forms of fatalism. Furthermore, no peer-reviewed empirical science or rational, scholarly demonstration has ever definitively proven, nor even has shown an overwhelming probability.” It then goes on to list six numbered “points.” Quantity is definitely not quality. Logocide and chicanery are everywhere.

Notice the words “definitively proven.” Those are very, very big words in science, words not often spoken. Science is based on expanding, evolving knowledge, not static dogma that uses itself as the only source of authority, of knowing. There have been, however, a large number of peer-reviewed, empirical scientific and medical studies that strongly suggest homosexuality is not a choice. For example, “The Psychobiology of Human Sexual Orientation,” a study authored by Drs. Qazi Rahman and Glenn D. Wilson of the Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, was published in the highly respected peer-reviewed scientific journal Personality and Individual Differences (34:8, June 2003, 1337–1382). The abstract reads as follows:

Sexual orientation is fundamental to evolution and shifts from the species-typical pattern of heterosexuality may represent biological variations. The growth of scientific knowledge concerning the biology of sexual orientation during the past decade has been considerable. Sexual orientation is characterised by a bipolar distribution and is related to fraternal birth order in males. In females, its distribution is more variable; females being less prone towards exclusive homosexuality. In both sexes homosexuality is strongly associated with childhood gender nonconformity. Genetic evidence suggests a heritable component and putative gene loci on the X chromosome. Homosexuality may have evolved to promote same sex affiliation through a conserved neurodevelopmental mechanism. Recent findings suggest this mechanism involves atypical neurohormonal differentiation of the brain. Key areas for future research include the neurobiological basis of preferred sexual targets and correlates of female homosexuality.

And then there’s this May 31, 2011 article in the neurology, neuroscience section of Medical News Today, a publication of Medical Education Resources:

Homo Or Hetero? The Neurobiological Dimension Of Sexual Orientation

“Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, it is primarily neurobiological at birth,” Dr. Jerome Goldstein, Director of the San Francisco Clinical Research Center (USA) stressed today at the 21st Meeting of the European Neurological Society (ENS) in Lisbon. “There are undeniable links. We want to make them visible to the eye.” At the congress he showed how the brains of people of different sexual orientations—gay, straight, bisexual—work in different ways, applying volumetric Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), functional fMRI scanning, and PET scanning.

There have been several reports of twin studies indicating the probable genetic link of sexual orientation. Dr. Goldstein has begun accumulating a database of identical twins, whose sexual orientation will be further evaluated by MRI, fMRI scanning, and PET scanning. . . .

“Some of the most striking results were delivered recently by Dr. Ivanka Savic-Berglund and Dr. Per Lindström of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden,” Dr. Goldstein reported. The Swedish experts performed volumetric studies, fMRI and PET measurements of cerebral blood flow. Using volumetric studies, they found significant cerebral and amygdala size differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects. Thus the brains of homosexual men resemble those of heterosexual women and those of homosexual women resemble to heterosexual men. . . .

At the end of his extensive endnote, Mr. Vander Plaats cites Robert S. Hogg et al, “Modeling the Impact of HIV Disease on Mortality in Gay and Bisexual Men,” International Journal of Epidemiology, 1997, Vol. 26, no. 3. What he doesn’t cite, of course, is the authors’ subsequent Letter to the Editor of International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 30, Issue 6 (2001), p. 1499:

“Gay life expectancy revisited”
Robert S Hogg, Steffanie A Strathdee, Kevin JP Craib, Michael V O’shaughnessy, Julio Montaner and Martin T Schechter

Over the past few months we have learnt of a number of reports regarding a paper we published in the International Journal of Epidemiology on the gay and bisexual life expectancy in Vancouver in the late 1980s and early 1990s.1 From these reports it appears that our research is being used by select groups in US2 and Finland3 to suggest that gay and bisexual men live an unhealthy lifestyle that is destructive to themselves and to others. These homophobic groups appear more interested in restricting the human rights of gay and bisexuals rather than promoting their health and well being. . . . [italics added]

1. Hogg RS, Strathdee SA, Craib KJP, O’Shaughnessy MV, Montaner JSG, Schechter MT. Modelling the impact of HIV disease on mortality in gay men. International Journal of Epidemiology 1997;26(3):657–61. Abstract/FREE Full Text

2. Based on correspondence with Olli Stålström regarding use of our paper by some Finnish citizens to oppose a proposed to legalize civil unions between members of the same gender.

Mr. Vander Plaats’ TFL is “associated” with the Family Research Council (FRC.org) which is notorious for twisting others’ research and using bogus “research,” such as that by discredited psychologist Paul Cameron, who has been advocating eliminating gays for decades:

Speaking at the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference, [Paul] Cameron announced to the attendees, “Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals.” According to an interview with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Cameron was recommending the extermination option as early as 1983.—Mark E. Pietzyk, The News-Telegraph, March 10, 1995

More about Cameron’s “final solution” is available here and here.

A skilled charlatan to be sure, but Mr. VanderPlaats’ misleading endnote does help clarify his earlier assertion that there is “a handful of state and federal judges, some of whom have personally rejected heterosexuality and faithful monogamy” [italics added]. He believes, as do other dogmatic, ill-informed religious fanatics, that sexual preference is purely a choice, so in his jaundiced view, gays “personally reject” heterosexuality. But what of his claim that these judges have also personally rejected “faithful monogamy”?

Is Mr. Vander Plaats referring to now retired federal judge Vaughn R. Walker and his Prop 8 decision? Judge Walker has a 10-year relationship with his partner. Hardly a “rejection of faithful monogamy.” Or is he just stereotyping, bloviating, and fear-mongering?

Mr. Vanders Plaats crowed that “In November 2010, Iowa voters overwhelmingly rejected three such justices from the state Supreme Court in retention elections.” The decision of the Iowa Supreme Court was unanimous. This was not some conspiracy. It was an upholding of a goal of the state’s constitution by those charged with protecting and guaranteeing the equality of all citizens in civil matters. The fact that Iowa voters removed those Supreme Court justices up for reelection based on their vote for civil equality is not something to celebrate. It’s something to be ashamed of.

Mr. Vander Plaats claimed “certain federal jurists with lifetime appointments stand poised, even now, to ‘discover’ a right of so-called same-sex marriage or polygamous marriage in the U.S. Constitution.” Wrong again. What courts are repeatedly “finding” is the guarantee of civil equality, of equal access to all civil institutions by every citizens. But civil equality is exactly what dogmatists such as Vander Plaats dread.

The fourth vow: “the Institution of Marriage—faithful monogamy between one man and one woman.” One has to wonder about what “Institution of Marriage” Bob Vander Plaats writes. “One man and one woman” was not exactly the norm in those good ole biblical days when “marriage” was “bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous” and, above all, arranged. No “love” required. Watch this video of the first couple married in New York. They are what “marriage” is really all about, not some theopolitically concocted dogma, but a loving, lifelong commitment. Predictably, the endnote for the fourth vow cites “Justice Scalia’s dissent in Lawrence v. Texas . . .” Justice Scalia anti-gay rhetoric and behavior are a matter of record.

The final vow reads: “Fierce defense of the First Amendment’s rights of Religious Liberty and Freedom of Speech, especially against the intolerance of any who would undermine law-abiding American citizens and institutions of faith and conscience for their adherence to, and defense of, faithful heterosexual monogamy.”

To be sure, all the protections of the First Amendment are paramount. But same-sex marriage in no way threatens “religious liberty.” People are still free to believe and practice whatever religion they want. After all, what religion one professes is purely a matter of choice, and that choice is protected by the First Amendment. In relation to marriage, churches, mosques, and synagogues can still refuse to marry any couple transgressing the religion’s beliefs and dogma.

As for freedom of speech, it’s essential. The concept cannot be abridged, but it is limited, everyday . . . and for good reasons. The classic example is yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. “Inciting to riot” is another “limitation,” as are speech (or writing) deemed libelous or defamatory. Beyond the laws, it’s the responsible thing to do for conscientious citizens in all walks of life to “limit” their freedom of speech so as not to cause or precipitate harm to others. “Dan Savage and Jim McGreevey Discuss the Damage Done by Anti-Gay Political Rhetoric with Joy Behar,” “Michele Bachmann, GOP presidential candidate, plagued by ‘teen suicide epidemic’ report,” “Media Roundup: The Tragedy of LGBT Teenage Suicide,” “Harms of Anti-Gay Rhetoric Lost as Media Fixates on Bishop Eddie Long Scandal,” “Oklahoma Teen Commits Suicide After anti-gay rhetoric City Council Meeting.”

Finally, the “family values” ruse has pretty much been exposed and widely recognized as a theo-cloak for bigotry and discrimination it was and, thanks to “men of God” such ordained Pentecostal minister and New York State Senator Rubén Díaz, Sr., it still is:

Anti-Gay NY State Senator: It’s ’War’ on Gay Families
by Kilian Melloy, Saturday Jul 30, 2011

New York State Sen. Rubén Díaz, Sr., has declared a “war” against gay and lesbian families in the wake of the state’s first legal same-sex weddings, reported The New Civil Rights Movement on July 25.

The article said that Díaz “threatened judges who performed same-sex marriages on Sunday in New York, [and] also literally declared war on same-sex married couples in his state, and threatened to have their marriages annulled. Hundreds of same-sex marriages were performed in New York State Sunday, the first day the new marriage equality law went into effect.”

“We’re going to show them next week that everything they did today was illegal,” Díaz declared on July 24, the day marriage equality took effect in New York. “Today we start the battle! Today we start the war!”

A war against families spearheaded by a “Christian” minister-politician. What’s wrong with this picture?

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