Sunday, November 30, 2008

Same Sex Marriage and Schools

*Our first e-mail submission! Keep them coming, folks. Marriage needs us.*

Teachable Moments and Unintended Lessons
by California Crusader

As I listen to the debate rage on about whether overturning Proposition 8 will affect our public schools, I’d like to weigh in as an elementary school teacher. I remember a debate I listened to recently between protect marriage’s Chip White and No on 8’s Andrea Jackson.

Prop 8 Debate

One of their discussions was about Rob and Robin Wirthlin, the Massachusetts parents who were told they couldn’t opt out of instruction about gay marriage. Ms. Jackson argued that this case doesn’t apply to California because we have the strongest opt-out laws in the nation, so that parents can always choose what they will allow to be taught to their children. I had to snicker. Ms. Jackson just doesn’t understand the dynamics of the public school classroom.

One of the most powerful tools teachers use are what we call “teachable moments.” These are times during the day when teachers stray from their lesson plans because of a comment, question, or action by a student. THEY HAPPEN ALL THE TIME, especially with younger students. Here are a few examples from my own experience:

1. A boy in my class used the N word. We had a long talk about why we should never discriminate against anyone because of the color of their skin. I even read them the book Martin’s Big Words as a follow-up the next day.

2. A student stole a classmate’s snack and ate it. We had a class discussion about honesty and how it feels when someone steals from you.

3. As I was teaching a reading lesson, we heard a loud clap of thunder outside from a rainstorm. Based on the frightened faces of some of the students, we stopped and talked about thunder and why we don’t have to be afraid of it.

Now, the problem with all these teachable moments is that they catch you off guard. You don’t have time to fall back on a prepared lesson plan; you just open your mouth, and hope you say the right thing. So, what if in the middle of a math lesson, a student asks, “Teacher, I heard about a girl that has two moms. Why doesn’t she have a dad?”

The teacher’s response would vary widely, depending on his/her personal views. Because I feel that discussions of same-sex marriage have no place in school, I personally would respond,

“That’s a good question. Why don’t you go home and ask your parents?”

But, how about a teacher who feels that giving marriage to same-sex couples is an equal rights issue? You might hear a response like this,

“That girl’s family is different than yours, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as good as yours. Her two moms love each other, so they decided to get married. Marriage doesn’t have to just be between a man and a woman. If two ladies love each other, they can get married too.”

Or, from the teacher who feels extremely passionate about same-sex marriage,

“That girl’s mothers are what we call lesbians. They are two women who love each other very much, just like your mom and dad love each other. In California, we are lucky to have laws that let them get married. Kids, I know we were right in the middle of math, but let’s take a break. I want to read you a very important book called, Heather Has Two Mommies.”

Parents, can you see why the whole question of opting out of instruction is really kind of silly? There is no time to send a permission slip home to ask if you can answer a child’s question. That’s why it’s so important to protect Proposition 8. If marriage stays defined as between a man and a woman, then teachers who feel that same-sex marriage is a civil right will be more careful during those teachable moments. But opening the door to same-sex marriage in California is basically opening the mouths of thousands of teachers who already want to teach that homosexuality is just as normal as heterosexuality. Don’t believe it? Ask the teachers you know how they voted on Proposition 8. Don’t expect them to tell you they voted yes. I’m telling you, approving same-sex marriage will have EVERYTHING to do with schools. In case you have forgotten, here are links to articles about two schools that already have decided to extend teachable moments in ways that many parents find inappropriate:

Coming Out Day at Public School

Class Field Trip to Lesbian Wedding

Here’s a great quote from an article by Dr. Laura Haynes . She expresses it much better than I could:

“At present, California curriculum includes units about families,
beginning in kindergarten. The legalization of same-sex marriage opens the
door for children from kindergarten on up to be taught that the state of
California validates that marrying someone of the same sex is as legal and
acceptable an option for them as marrying someone of the opposite sex. How
would this impact required curriculum units such as family, health, values,
child development, sex education, and history? Based on present research
showing that the liberal sexual attitudes in colleges not only allow but actually
elicit homosexuality, we should expect that extending education about liberal
sexual attitudes down through kindergarten will elicit many more of our
children to go down the path of homosexuality. Some parents who have raised
their children in traditional sexual values have been shocked at how much
those values have changed when their children went to public high school or
college. The same effect will begin in kindergarten if same-sex marriage is
allowed to stand in California, and the strong precedent in California will be
used to extend the changes across the U.S.”

Please consider the unintended consequences of approving same-sex marriage. They are real, and they are already happening!

P.S. Thanks to The Journalista Chronicle for pointing me to the Dr. Haynes article!

N.H. Civil Union Sponsor Will Push for Gay Marriage

As reported in the Boston Herald

ONCORD, N.H. - The legislator who sponsored New Hampshire’s civil union bill will push next year to legalize same-sex marriage.

But Portsmouth Democrat Jim Splaine will face a fight, as those opposed to civil unions vow to try to pare the law down.

Splaine says civil unions give same-sex couples about 90 percent of the benefits and obligations that heterosexual couples get through marriage. He says same-sex marriage is the only way for same-sex couples to attain full equality. Splaine describes the bill as necessary to propel debate.

[read more...]

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Intolerance and High School

Another guest post from my friend Mary. She teaches an early-morning mormon seminary class for high school students (it starts at 6:10am). Her students are studying the new testament this year.

Hello friends and family,

I thought you might like to see what it is and has been like here in San Diego as we have tried to advocate for traditional marriage and work to pass Proposition 8.

Though our family has experience plenty of prejudice and hateful commentary, I think the experiences of my Seminary students (ages 14-17) best illustrate the atmosphere that surrounds us.

Their strength in the face of immeasurable peer pressure has amazed me during the entire campaign season and continues to do so as activists wage war on LDS beliefs as the scapegoats for their anger.

My question to myself throughout this entire ordeal has been, would I be as strong as I see these teenagers being? Have I given as much socially and emotionally as they have to the cause?

Fighting for your beliefs is never about selfish martyrdom, but it may often be about personal sacrifice. That these kids have been asked to give such a personal sacrifice at such a young age should strengthen all of our resolve (meaning those of us who can vote) to protect their tomorrow.

We talked on Election Day about tolerance. I encouraged them to have tolerance toward and love everyone no matter what their belief. And for all intents and purposes, they had already been following that principle. But it prompted discussion regarding what they are asked to do in the face of intolerance and hatred directed AT them, and they wrote the following anonymous experiences on slips of paper.

These are from them, in their own words, when asked: “How have you seen or experienced prejudice or intolerance in your life?” I did not ask them specifically about Prop 8 but their answers are telling:

  • “People won’t talk to me because of my opinion of Prop 8.”
  • “Called a bigot at school.”
  • “A girl in my CPU class yesterday was saying bad things about the guy who was dressed up in Yes on 8 stuff. I defended him.”
  • “People are calling me bigoted and judgmental for my beliefs in the sacredness of marriage.”
  • “Eggs thrown at me for my beliefs.”
  • “People in class wouldn’t hear my side about Prop 8. Wouldn’t even listen to my opinion and got mad at me for not agreeing with them.”
  • “Everyone gangs up on me in class for my political beliefs.”

If you want to know how the same-sex marriage agenda will effect religious beliefs, you need look no further than the local High School.

I am very proud of the work that everyone did in California to pass this Proposition.

It may only buy us time, but it will allow us to look further into the consequences of such a decision.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Iowa's Gay Marriage Ban Goes Before High Court

As reported in the LA Times

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments next month about whether the Defense of Marriage Act - briefly struck down last year - is unconstitutional.
By P.J. Huffstutter
November 27, 2008

Reporting from Fort Wayne, Ind. -- The national fight over same-sex marriage is coming to a peak in Iowa, where the state's highest court will hear arguments next month over whether the state's ban on gay unions is unconstitutional.

The debate over the future of Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act, a decade-old law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, comes after a ruling by a lower court judge last year.

[read more...]

Separation of Church and State!

By Beetle Blogger

Thoughts behind the effort to ban churches from participating in the national conversation

I’ve been listening to a lot of interesting theories on how this church or that church should lose its tax exempt status over its involvement in the moral issues of politics. “Separation of church and state!” the religious opponents scream, but is the problem the churches running the government or the government running the churches?

The prevailing argument seems to say that there ought to be separation between church and state, so that means anyone who belongs to a church can’t speak or assemble, or have a public opinion on how government operates or the government will punish them by taking away their tax exempt status.

Even as we gather to celebrate the flight of pilgrims to America from the oppressive religious persecution of England, religious oppression is again raising it’s head in our recent political dialogue. In the name of freedom, advocates of same sex marriage are threatening to oppress the religious community with monetary retribution as retaliation for expressing opinions the gay community does not agree with, and that’s not right.

As Glen Dean says in his recent post on religious freedom,

"The whole purpose of the first amendment establishment clause was to protect religion and religious people from government.”

Fundamentally the United States is a country that was built on freedoms, and freedom of speech and religion are among the foremost of these. Pilgrims coming to the Americas wanted, above all, to be free to express their religious thoughts without being forced to conform to another set of values, political or otherwise. England’s government required religious conformity because they had a state sanctioned church governing what could and couldn’t be said or done. That is the origin of the thought that there ought to be “separation of church and state.” No one ought to try to control religious freedoms by coercion or manipulation.

I look at the politically correct movement that uses tax dollars as a form of coercion to muffle dissent and control actions, and I see a situation mirror opposite to that of America’s forefathers, but with the same result–censorship.

Today we have a situation where instead of having a church controlling the government, we have the government trying to control churches through tax law, and those who oppose churches are using the government as a tool to silence their opponents and to ultimately stifle dissent.

Whether it’s taxing churches and controlling them through tax code manipulation if they don’t conform, or whether churches are tax exempt and controlled by threatening to take the exemption away if they don’t conform, the result is the same. It’s two ends of the same stick. The only true freedom is the recognition that churches have freedom from government control that is inherent, not granted by the government. If the freedom to speak is granted by the government, it can be taken away by the government. Churches can and ought to say what they want as fellow voices in the national dialogue, and that speech should be free from recrimination or tax penalties for speaking on themes unpopular to others.

Those who think churches should be muzzled don’t have a constitutional leg to stand on. Tax exemption has been the hidden boogey man that has kept church opinions in a box for years. Oohoo, you’d better not say this! You’d better not do that! You might get the IRS after you!

From Wikipedia:

Freedom of assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right to come together with other individuals and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests. The right to freedom of association is recognised as human right, political freedom and a civil liberty.

In short, these freedoms are a human right, not a privilege benevolently bestowed by the government that can then be unilaterally whisked away. So why does the Government think that it has any right to curtail the ability of people to assemble in churches to voice their opinions? What about Freedom of Speech?

And to the voices clamoring for censorship of churches I ask the same question. Why are you so eager to have censorship of ideas that conflict with your own? If the facts are laid bare, truth will defeat falsehood in open competition. It is up to each individual to uncover the truth; no one is wise enough to act as a censor for all individuals.

Noam Chomsky said: “If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like. Goebbels was in favour of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favour of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favour of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.”

The whole argument for trying to tax churches boils down to the false idea that this tax exemption is a subsidy of churches by the government. They don’t pay taxes because churches are good for society, so the government subsidizes them and encourages them to flourish. If church tax exemption is a subsidy given by the government, then it can be taken away by the government.

Unfortunately, that thought goes against the much ballyhooed “Separation of Church and State!” that everyone says they care so much about. The truth is that to be truly separate, the government should get out of the church’s way and quit trying to threaten them with boogeyman threats for conformity, in this case silence in the moral/political realm, or we’ll be losing more than just “tax status”, we’ll be losing the very freedom our country was founded to achieve.

–Beetle Blogger

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Violating the Spirit of the First Amendment

One of our contributors stumbled upon this piece while doing "research." It gives great clarity to this issue of demanding the recall of the religious institutions' tax exempt status.

Taking Away Churches Tax Exempt Status Would Violate
The Spirit Of The First Amendment

By Glen Dean

This post is a response to a post at Nashville Is Talking, which linked to a post from No Quarters.
Brittney wrote:

"The tax exempt status of churches has always baffled me. Does Two Rivers Baptist Church, with its bookstore and lattes, get coffee and songbooks tax free? Are all these giant megachurches with lavish accommodations getting all the stuff they purchase tax free?"

Taking away a churches tax exempt status would result in a violation of the spirit of the first amendment. The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to protect the citizens from government. The founders knew that only government could take away rights. As far as religion is concerned, they made a point not to set up a state church like the Church of England and they specifically wanted government to stay out of the affairs of churches. The whole purpose of the first amendment establishment clause was to protect religion and religious people from government.

Presently the federal government is much more powerful than the founders ever intended. Government uses the system of taxing and spending to control the behavior of the citizenry. The tax code is filled with all kinds of deductions designed to affect certain behaviors in Americans. The government especially controls our behavior when they redistribute our money in the form of government spending. Does anybody remember how the Carter administration withheld highway money from states that did not change the speed limit to 55? There are countless other examples, but the point is that government exerts power over us with the system of taxing and spending.

Imagine what would happen if government taxed churches? I have already written about what can happen when faith based groups take government money. Do you really want government controlling religion? Now do you see what I mean when I say that taxing churches would inevitably violate freedom of religion? Can you not see that if Congress made a law taxing churches, that they would eventually use the tax code to "prohibit the free exercise thereof"?

The day that churches lose their tax exempt status is the day that freedom of religion in this country dies. Sadly, that may very well be the aim of many secularists.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

L.A. Film Festival Director Richard Raddon Resigns

Raddon, a Mormon, steps down over reaction to his financial support of Prop. 8.
By Rachel Abramowitz

2:31 PM PST, November 25, 2008

Richard Raddon, the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival who has been at the center of controversy ever since it was revealed almost two weeks ago that he had contributed $1,500 to the campaign to ban gay marriage in California, resigned from his post over the weekend.

The nonprofit arts organization Film Independent sponsors both the Los Angeles Film Festival, held in May, and the popular Independent Spirit awards. Raddon is a member of the Mormon Church, which actively called on its congregants to work for the passage of Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. It has been estimated that Mormons gave more than $20 million in support of the recently passed ballot measure.

After Raddon's contribution was made public online, Film Independent was swamped with criticism from "No on 8" supporters both inside and outside the organization. Within days, Raddon offered to step down as festival director, but the board, which includes Don Cheadle, Forest Whitaker, Lionsgate President Tom Ortenberg and Fox Searchlight President Peter Rice, gave him a unanimous vote of confidence.

[read more...]

Friday, November 21, 2008

eHarmony and the Tolerance Mau-mau-ers

My syndicated column today expands on yesterday’s eHarmony post (link). As I note, eHarmony will be forking over $5,000 to the gay plaintiff and $50,000 to New Jersey’s Civil Rights office. Here’s the entire settlement the company agreed to, via onlinedatingmagazine. There’s more on the class-action lawsuit against eHarmony proceeding in California here. And Jacob Sullum weighs in.

The eHarmony shakedown
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2008

Congratulations, tolerance mau-mauers: Your shakedown of a Christian-targeted dating website worked. Homosexuals will no longer be denied the inalienable “right” to hook up with same-sex partners on eHarmony. What a landmark triumph for social progress, eh? New Jersey plaintiff Eric McKinley can now crown himself the new Rosa Parks — heroically breaking down inhumane barriers to Internet matchmaking by forcing a law-abiding private company to provide services it was never created to provide.”Men seeking men” has now been enshrined with “I have a dream” as a civil rights rallying cry of the 21st century. Bully for you, Mr. McKinley. You bully.

[read more...]

Thursday, November 20, 2008

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