Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Supreme Court should uphold true meaning of marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court meets today and tomorrow to address two cases - whether California's Proposition 8 ban on marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act are consitutional.

Proponents of gay "marriage" say it is a matter of equality and civil rights. But if you look at marriage for what it is - the union between one man and one woman - equality becomes a moot point. Since two same sex partners cannot suddenly become opposite sex partners, nobody is being treated unequally because marriage, simply put, does not involve same-sex couples. That may sound harsh, but the issue is not so much about being opposed to gay "marriage" as it is about simple logic of definition.

Moreover, nowhere in the Constitution are marriage or homosexuality addressed, and nowhere does the Constitution demand changing this long-standing definition of marriage that diverse cultures and faiths have embraced and supported throughout all of Western civilization. Just like the issue of abortion should have been left to the states to decide, the Supreme Court should leave marriage to individual states as well. At the very least, it is not something that should be rushed into without some serious thought as to what the real impact would be on society, and especially on children who most benefit from a mother and father who are married.

As for the accusation that marriage as it's defined violates same-sex couples' civil rights, I would imagine those whose civil rights really were violated - like black Americans up until the 1960s - would be offended. Whether someone is homosexual or heterosexual, the sexual act is a voluntary choice. Being black, for example, is not a choice. And no homosexual person has ever been denied the right to vote or has ever been forced to work without pay. Equating the real struggles and hardships that black Americans have endured to a gay person's desire to be married is a phony premise, not to mention an insult.

It seems the issue is being confused between "civil unions" and marriage. Marriage was instituted by God. In Hebrews 13:4 it is stated, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." Calling same-sex unions "marriage", is simply verbally inaccurate. Marriage is, by God's definition, the union between one man and one woman. Wanting marriage to mean same-sex unions is like wanting a table to be a chair. You can call it a chair all you want, but it's still a table. Perhaps same-sex activists should pursue expansion of "civil unions" benefits if they must, but leave marriage intact.

Of course not everyone believes in God or that the Bible comes from Him. Still, the federal government started endorsing marriage because a man and a woman, by nature, procreate. Of course some are unable to due to infertility and other issues, but that doesn't change the biological tendency of male-female unions. Same-sex couples, by nature, don't procreate. The federal government supports marriage simply to promote strong families because history shows that societies thrive when families are strong and united, headed by complementary - not interchangeable - parents.

A common argument put forth by same-sex couples is that they should get the same tax and other financial benefits (e.g. pensions to a widow) as heterosexual couples, and the fact that they don't violates their equality. But redefining the actual meaning of 'marriage' just so someone can get more money is hardly a principled motive, and once again, it has nothing to do with equality since it's an entirely separate issue.
Another argument often made is that the divorce rate of traditional marriage is so high, that there is no reason not to open it up to same-sex couples since heterosexuals aren't doing that great a job with it in the first place. But divorce rates have to do with many factors like cultural and moral decay, shifting attitudes about matrimony vs. "shacking up" and in many cases, simple immaturity. Traditional marriage is no more of a problem in itself than same-sex "marriage" is the fix to high divorce rates.

The other argument often heard is that God loves everyone, so therefore, to deny same-sex couples the right to marry as an expression of their love is hateful and unholy. Yes, God asks us to love the sinner, but He also asks us to condemn the sin, and homosexuality is clearly condemned several times in the Bible, e.g., Lev. 20:13 states, "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act."

Homosexuality goes against the created order of God who made Adam, a man, and Eve, a woman -- not two men, not two women -- to carry out his command to fill and subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28). Homosexuality cannot carry out that command.  It is, therefore, a contradiction to God's stated desire in the created order. Redefining God's institution of marriage to accommodate a lifestyle contradictory to God's will is hardly the path we should take.

Does that mean we should hate homosexuals? Of course not! But if homosexual "marriage" is imposed on America by the Supreme Court, then anyone who opposes it based on biblical teachings will automatically be branded a bigot. This then empowers the government to target proponents of traditional marriage for Federal Hate Crimes litigation and other conequences.

In addition, by making same sex marriage open to same sex partners, the premise of love will, by default, make marriage a fair game for everyone, and it will only be a matter of time before anything goes. After all, why shouldn't a man marry his dog as long as there is love involved? Isn't the right to love one of the main arguments of same-sex marriage proponents. Based on that premise, who are we to deny a man and his dog their love in the formal bond of marriage?

Just as worrisome is that institutions like the Catholic Church could be sued for not performing same-sex marriages, and the final decision could be left to how some random judge feels about the issue as to whether the Church had to perform the ceremony or not. The government is already forcing Catholics to provide for abortifacients and contraception. Don't be fooled into thinking the government would stop at the doors of the Church itself.

This whole same-sex "marriage" issue is putting us on a very slippery and dangerous slope and that is why, at the very least, it needs to be given long-term and serious thought. Let's pray the Supreme Court sees marriage for what it is, not for what some special interest groups want it to be.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Church bans heterosexual marriage to protest ban on gay 'marriage'

A Methodist church in North Carolina has decided to stop marrying straight couples until the state and the Methodists in general officially recognize homosexual “marriage.” Green Street Church's announcement said:

“On the matter of same-sex marriage, Green Street UMC sees injustice in the legal position of state government and the theological position of our denomination. North Carolina prohibits same-sex marriage and all the rights and privileges marriage brings. The Leadership Council has asked that their ministers join others who refuse to sign any State marriage licenses until this right is granted to same-sex couples. Because the United Methodist Church prohibits its pastors from conducting same-sex weddings, excluding gay and lesbian couples from the holy sacrament of marriage, the Leadership Council has asked the pastor to refrain from conducting wedding ceremonies in our sanctuary for straight couples, until the denomination lifts its ban for same-sex couples.”

Putting aside the fact that the "holy sacrament of marriage" is, by Biblical standards, reserved for a union of one man and one woman only, it's interesting how certain people are allowed to discriminate as long as it's packaged in a pretty politically correct bow. Law-abiding citizens are being sued for refusing their photography services at same-sex "weddings", or declining to rent an apartment to same-sex couples. But Green Street UMC can openly discriminate against heterosexual couples and it's okay, because it's in the name of "fairness." The ACLU and the leftist media are remarkably silent on this type of discrimination.

Once again, the sound of hypocrisy is deafening. Unfortunately it seems to be falling on deaf ears.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

God bless Pope Francis I!

The Holy Father just extended to the world his blessing and asked us for his prayers. Please pray for Pope Francis I in all his intentions as he leads the Catholic faithful going forward.

Viva il Papa!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why the death of Hugo Chavez matters*

*I thought the following article was interesting and wanted to share it. It's from the Heritage Foundation's 'The Morning Bell':

Tears streamed down the face of Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro yesterday as he announced that longtime Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was dead. The news likely came as a surprise to no one—Chavez had been battling cancer for years and was long thought to be on his deathbed. In fact, the Venezuelan leader had not been seen in public since December.

Though not unexpected, Chavez’s death has far-reaching—and potentially dangerous—implications for the U.S. and the world.

Addressing the nation, Maduro called on the Venezuelan people to rally together in the spirit of “love, peace, and discipline,” proclaiming, “Let there be no weakness, no violence. Let there be no hate.” Interestingly, this came from the same man who just three hours earlier made irresponsible and dangerous claims that Chavez’s poor health was caused by deliberate acts of the regime’s enemies. 

Further implicating the U.S., Maduro also expelled American military attaché David Delmonaco from the country, charging him with engaging in “destabilizing projects” against the regime.

Because they are outlandish to our ears, these claims may seem inconsequential. Yet in Venezuela, these ridiculous assertions threaten to take a dangerous situation from bad to worse.

It may be hard for many Americans to understand, but despite the sometimes brutal and authoritarian nature of the Chavez regime, the Venezuelan leader’s passing will be a difficult moment for the nation. Ruling Venezuela for 14 years, Chavez’s unique combination of populism, authoritarianism, socialism, and combativeness allowed him to build nothing less than a cult of personality. Bolstered undoubtedly by a system of socialist subsidies and political patronage, Chavez enjoyed the adoration of the masses.

With the nation already in mourning, the outrageous and provocative statements of Vice President Maduro have the potential to spark strong anti-American violence in Venezuela like that seen throughout the Middle East late last year.

As Heritage Latin America expert Ray Walser wrote yesterday:
The Obama Administration needs to act swiftly and sternly to rebut this outlandish claim, rally international support, and prepare to protect American lives and property, as well as that of innocent Venezuelans.

Factor in the country’s known ties to major U.S. enemies—namely Hezbollah and Iran—and the situation may develop into the first major foreign policy crisis for newly confirmed Secretary of State John Kerry.

Indeed, the threat of Iranian influence in Latin America is nothing new. In October 2011, two Iranian nationals were indicted in an attempt to bomb a D.C.-area restaurant and assassinate the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil. The men were caught trying to hire a Mexican drug cartel member to carry out the assassination. While Venezuela has never been directly implicated in the plot, with daily flight between Tehran and Caracas, Venezuela remains Iran’s critical entry point into the Americas.

While Chavez declared Maduro his successor before his death, the Venezuelan constitution requires that an election be held within 30 days. Former presidential candidate and democratic opposition leader Henrique Capriles is likely to run against Maduro. The Obama Administration should signal to Venezuela that anything other than free and fair elections for the nation’s new president will open the door to possible diplomatic and economic sanctions.

Regardless of who wins, the road ahead will be difficult. The nation’s new leader will inherit a nation plagued by over-dependence on oil revenues and stagnant industry, not to mention high inflation, currency devaluation, and extremely high levels of homicide and criminal violence.

Chavez may be dead, but his anti-American spirit and the damage caused by his sweeping socialist policies are not. In the days and weeks to come, both newly confirmed Secretary of State Kerry and the next president of Venezuela will have many challenges on their hands.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Poking holes in Obama's Chicken Little scare-tactics on spending cuts

Two days ago, President Barack Obama labeled the automatic budget cuts about to take effect as "dumb" and "unnecessary" -- and then blamed Republicans for the failure to avert them. The funny thing is (well, actually there is nothing funny about this) but Barack Obama himself is the one who conceived the plan in the first place. So in other words, the original spending cuts - all paltry $85 billion of them - were Obama's idea and now he's trying to blame it on the Republicans. Can we call that leadership?

Now he's crying that this meaningless - and I do mean meaningless - cut in spending will destroy America. Jobs will be lost, seniors will lose medical care, children will starve to death. These are all basically the charges our supposed leader has put forth in his scare-tactic rhetoric in the past few weeks. Is this really how a president is supposed to lead - by terrifying Americans? What's worse is that his Chicken Little fear mongering is all based on lies.

The spending cuts in question are, even taken at face value, absolutely nothing compared to what we spend daily. What Obama is so hysterical about is less than a drop in the bucket and will do nothing to harm us. In fact, the cuts are so small, they won't even really help us. On top of it, the cuts are really more about an agreement not to spend as much as the president would have liked. That's like saying you were going to spend $100 on new shoes, but decided to spend only $80, so now you're claiming that you reduced spending by $20. It's all a sham.

What's particularly galling is that Obama wants to increase spending - and wants to get the money from us through new tax increases in addition to the ones he just got from us on Jan. 1, 2013. Democrats are carrying the torch for Obama saying that the prosperity of the late 1990s was because of Clinton's tax hikes, so that's why we need them again now to spur our current economy.

But what was successful about Clinton's terms in office had to do with his spending cuts, not his tax hikes. In his eight years as President, Clinton reduced federal spending to 18.2 percent of GDP from 22.1 percent, thanks in large part to a Republican-controlled Congress that forced the issue.  Defense spending as a portion of GDP declined by 1.8 points, but non-defense spending dropped by 2.2 points.  Clinton and the Republicans in Congress cut spending on domestic discretionary programs as well as entitlement spending through welfare reform. That's what turned things around for the economy.

Obama cannot remotely claim that he has done the same. In fact, what Obama hopes none of us knows is that 2012 was the fourth consecutive year with a trillion-dollar-plus deficit. Total federal debt has surpassed $16 trillion, and federal spending  hit the $3.6 trillion mark in 2012.

Of course, people love to blame all this on George W. Bush. It's true that Bush increased federal spending as a share of GDP by 2.6 points in two terms, and it wasn’t just spent on defense; the increase was split evenly between defense and non-defense spending, a remarkable statistic considering the two wars waged in those eight years. 

But just looking at government websites on spending, Obama hiked federal spending by 3.5 points in just his first term. Under Obama, federal spending now exceeds 25 percent of GDP, which has been the biggest increase of any of his predecessors over the last 60 years – even for two-term Presidents.

Despite this utterly insane spending - which Obama wants to increase -  he says there are no places we can cut meaningful spending without obliterating America.

Oh, really? What if we at least started by cutting some of these programs:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends $200 million a year to help trade associations and cooperatives advertise their products in foreign markets. In 2011, it funded a reality TV show in India because it advertised U.S. cotton.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency spent $141,450 to fund a Chinese study on swine manure, and gave $1.2 million to the U.N. for clean fuel promotion.
  • The government spent $10 million for algae harvesting.
  • The federal government spent $325,000 on a robotic squirrel named "RoboSquirrel" to study how a rattlesnake would react to it.
  • An airport in Oklahoma receives one flight per month, has zero planes based there, and is located just a couple miles from two more heavily used airports, but the federal government spends $450,000 a year to keep it open.
  • $2.5 billion a year is wasted on food stamps used to buy alcohol, cigarettes and fast-food despite the fact they are intended to be used to make sure hungry kids get healthful meals.
  • $27 million was spent to study the competitiveness of Morocco, including funding Moroccan pottery classes to see how well they'd do in the market.
  • The government pays as much as $2 million annually in monthly service fees to maintain about 28,000 phantom grant accounts that are empty and have expired.
  • $947,000 was spent to study recipes for pizza and about 100 other foods that could one day be served on Mars.
  • While too many Americans are struggling just to put basic food staples on their table, the federal government spent $300,000 in 2012 to promote the caviar market.
  • The federal government has earmarked over $9 million to a failing for-profit ferry verging on bankruptcy, which very few people benefitted from and a small town in Alaska did not want. Privately owned competitors are suffering economically because of this.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. While our president, the one who was supposed to unite and lead us, carries on his toddler-esque tantrums about the end of the world, his demands for endless spending, if granted, will only expedite the end of America. And while the federal government continues to threaten our currency value through the constant printing of new money, we better not get complacent about things. Yet you can be assured that any fallout from Obama's disastrous spending and other policies will be blamed on someone else.

It's time Obama's followers open their eyes and recognize that the absolutely worst type of administrator is the one who recommends utterly reckless policies, and then blames those under him for the consequences. There is an old saying, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." Obama is certainly not leading. He is not setting good examples and he is not being faithful to the oath of office he took to protect and preserve America.

He is, however, leading the country to ruin, and all he can say is that it's someone else's fault. I don't know what exactly to call that, but I wouldn't call it leadership.

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