A popular new book by an anti-gay Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation is making headlines and causing controversy. Conservatives from Pastor Rick Warren to NOM co-founder Robert P. George are latching on to it, claiming it validly supports their views opposing same-sex marriage. But does it really? Let’s take a look.
Ryan T. Andersonâ€™s new book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom uses only arguments â€œbased in philosophy, jurisprudence, political science and social scienceâ€ to investigate â€œwhat marriage is, why marriage matters for public policy, and what the consequences are of redefining marriage.â€
Attempting to keep the debate on marriage equality going with social and religious conservatives, Anderson highlights â€œtruthsâ€ he imagines SCOTUS trampled in extending marriage equality to roughly 10 million Americans.Â
Anderson, in constructing these â€œtruths,â€ ignores the social history of marriage, elevates procreative complementarity â€“ the notion that only a man and a woman can create a child â€“Â Â as a condition of marriage, and discounts all major professional medical and psychological associationsâ€™ statements on the natural variations of sexual orientation and gender identity.Â
â€œTruthâ€ #1: Marriage is intended as a context in which to raise children Â
Andersonâ€™s â€œtruthâ€ of marriage as a context in which to create children may be sentimental, but taking the long view of history, it is not accurate.
Equal access to marriage by same-sex couples did not â€œredefineâ€ marriage. Its definition has gradually shifted over the last five millennia, primarily in the past fifty years. Breaking with thousands of years of tradition, in the late 19th century, marriages started to be based on love and companionship. Before that, couples married for political and economic reasons.Â
The womenâ€™s rights movement, along with the commercial availability of birth control in the 1960s, caused the next major modification to marriage. Suddenly women had greater access to legal rights, education, better paying jobs, birth control, and divorce.
It was heterosexual couples who significantly altered the marriage landscape with cohabitation, single parent families, and divorce.Â
â€œTruthâ€ #2: Procreative complementarity is required in marriageÂ
Though procreative complementarity in the sex act is primarily a Roman Catholic doctrine, can it be adequately used to restrict marriage to one man and one woman?Â
According to the Center for Disease Control, 6 percent of women aged 15 to 44 are deemed infertile, additionally, 12 percent have problems getting or carrying pregnancies to term. Add to that, 7.5 percent of men suffer infertility problems. These levels of infertile heterosexuals exceed the percentage of LGBT people in the US population. If naturally occurring infertile heterosexual couples get a pass on procreative complementarity, can we then bar access to infertile same-sex couples?Â
â€œTruthâ€ #3: Non-heterosexual sex is simply a behavior
Anderson asserts that any sexual attraction other than heterosexual attraction, or non-cisgender identity, is both a behavior and changeable. He ignores all major professional medical and psychological associationsâ€™ statements on these issues.
Prosecution not persecution
Prosecution for breaking discrimination laws is not religious persecution. Anderson fails to inform his readers that religious freedom is the liberty to worship according to your beliefs, to attend a faith community of your choice, and having the right to share your beliefs.Â
The freedom to practice oneâ€™s faith does not include asserting ideologies that inherently deny the civil rights of other citizens.Â
Letâ€™s move on to public discourse based in truth, not ideology
Anderson and his fans may enjoy deliberating marriage equality, but while the cases challenging marriage bans travelled through local courts, district courts, and finally to the Supreme Court, each of Andersonâ€™s ideologies, his â€œtruths,â€ were carefully examined. Theyâ€™ve already been found lacking and certainly less compelling than the need to expand marriage rights to roughly 10 million Americans.
As Americans, we will find our way through this important discourse, hopefully with mutual respect. The public conversation requires wrestling with real truths. The easily deconstructed personal ideology presented in Truth OverruledÂ is devoid of knowledge of social history and science and serves to slow the progress towards balancing and honoring both civil rights and religious freedom.
Image via Ryan T. Anderson/Facebook
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Burn Bags and Use of Personal Email: Justices’ Security Practices Even Worse Than Leak Investigation Showed
Multiple sources familiar with the court’s operations told CNN that justices often used personal email accounts for sensitive communications, employees used printers that didn’t produce logs and “burn bags” to collect sensitive materials for destruction were often left open and unattended in hallways.
“This has been going on for years,” one former employee said.
Some justices were slow to adopt email technology — they were “not masters of information security protocol,” according to one source — and court employees were afraid to confront them over the security risks.
Supreme Court marshal Gail Curley in her investigative report noted that printer logs intended to track document production were insufficient, but a former employee said employees who had VPN access could print documents from any computer, and remote work during COVID-19 shutdowns and otherwise meant draft opinions could have been taken from the building in violation of court guidelines.
Curley’s report noted that court methods for destroying sensitive documents should be improved, but three employees said striped burn bags supplied to chambers were often left sitting out unattended, and each justice had their own protocols for disposing of court documents.
A source familiar with court security practices said some colleagues stapled burn bags shut, while others filled them to capacity and left them near their desks, and others simply left them sitting in hallways where anyone with access to non-public areas could have taken sensitive materials.
Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’
If you are hired to work in Senator Kyrsten Sinema‘s office on Capitol Hill there is a 37-page memo you’ll want to read detailing all the responsibilities her staffers are required to perform, from getting her groceries, calling Verizon and going to her D.C. home to wait for a repair person if the internet goes out, scheduling massages, and ensuring her very detailed airplane requirements are met.
“It is your job to make her as comfortable as possible on each flight,” the memo says, as The Daily Beast first reported in December.
But now a group of 13 non-profit organizations have joined to file an ethics complaint against Senator Sinema (I-AZ), a new Daily Beast report reveals Friday, including details from that 37-page memo which the newly-independent lawmaker directed to be drawn up. Dated Thursday, the complaint is titled: “Letter to Senate Ethics Committee Regarding Reports of Sinema Abusing Taxpayer Dollars.”
“Senate Ethics guidelines stipulate that staff should not be asked to perform personal errands for members. This is an unambiguous ethical boundary,” the group’s complaint reads.
It also points to that 37-page memo, which it says, “indicates that staff are required, as a condition of their jobs, to carry out numerous tasks that are outside the scope of public employment, including doing personal errands for the Senator, carrying out household tasks at her private residence, and advancing their own funds for her personal purchases. It makes unreasonably precise scheduling demands, and former staff have confirmed some of the allegations.”
The allegations continue.
“And, most troubling, it calls on staff members, who are employed and paid by the public and explicitly barred from campaign activity, to schedule and facilitate political fundraisers and meetings with campaign donors, presumably during the workday while they are on the clock and physically on federal property.”
“Senate staff are prohibited under your guidelines from engaging in political activity ‘on Senate time, using Senate equipment or facilities.’ While you have not prohibited campaign activity outside work hours, the plain language of the memo clearly implies that Sen. Sinema expects her staff to carry out these scheduling tasks during the workday. And these tasks may separately violate Senate Rule 41.1, which explicitly prohibits Senate employees from ‘solicit[ing]’ campaign funds.”
The complaint also alleges that “Sen. Sinema required her staff to schedule three physical therapy and massage sessions a week related to her training for athletic competitions, and to tightly manage her dietary schedule — while allotting only a 30-minute period on Wednesdays for meetings with the constituents she represents.”
The carefully-worded complaint adds, “the allegations paint a picture of a Senator who is not only unresponsive to her constituents, but also disrespectful and even abusive to her employees and wholly unconcerned about her obligations under the law.”
The Daily Beast has posted a copy of the complaint here.
You can read The Beast’s full report here.
Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report
When he left for Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. George Santos also appears to have left a string of unpaid traffic violation fines and fees in two states, including red light, double parking, and overtime parking citations totaling thousands of dollars.
The embattled serial liar and freshman New York GOP lawmaker “may owe more than $3,400 in unpaid citations, according to records from New York City and Florida,” CBS News reports.
Included in that total is $1,299.10 from Florida for toll violations that “racked up late fees and were ultimately sent to collections agencies.”
It appears that in November of 2016, as soon as he got his New York driver’s license after having one in Florida, a car previously ticketed via a red light camera whose plates match one registered to Santos “began piling up citations in New York City — 29 in the next two and a half years, according to city government records, which do not identify the drivers of vehicles being ticketed.”
“More than $1,800 in payments were made for 17 citations, but another 12 remain unpaid, with $2,142.61 still due, according to city records.”
CBS News also points to a New York Post report from January revealing “a Nissan Rogue driven frequently by Santos in recent months had been issued speeding tickets at least five times since he was elected on Nov. 8, ‘including four times in school zones.'”
Santos is under numerous state and federal investigations that span the gamut from campaign finance to allegedly stolen charity funds donated to save the life of a veteran’s service dog. The dog died after the vet could not afford to pay for the operation.
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