Category archives: Marriage

Did Pioneering Pro-Homosexual Judge Have a Conflict of Interest?

by Peter Sprigg

July 9, 2010

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has vetoed the bill to create civil unions that the legislature passed in a last-minute legislative maneuver in April. It was refreshing to see Gov. Lingle declare straightforwardly, I have been open and consistent in my opposition to same gender marriage and find that HB 444 is essentially marriage by another name. Its refreshing mostly because last year, two other governorsNew Hampshires John Lynch and Maines John E. Baldaccicaved to homosexual activists under similar circumstances, and signed bills to legalize same-sex marriage.

However, in reading a news report about the veto, something else caught my eye. Heres what the Honolulu Star-Advertiser said about one of the critics of the veto:

It’s beyond problematic,” said Steven Levinson, a retired associate justice of the state Supreme Court, whose daughter is a lesbian… . Levinson authored the landmark 1993 ruling that held that it was discriminatory for the state not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Now wait a second. The author of the very first court decision in American history that was supportive of same-sex marriagehas a lesbian daughter? Doesnt that suggest a little problem of judicial ethics known as a conflict of interest?

Of course, Levinsons landmark ruling was 17 years ago. His lesbian daughter might not have been out of the closet in 1993 (or might not have been born, for that matter). But it raises an interesting question, which iswhy am I the only person asking if this is a conflict of interest? If judges are going to rule on issues involving the supposed civil rights of homosexuals, dont they have a conflict if a close family memberor even they themselvesare homosexual? Shouldnt they be required to recuse themselvesor at least disclose the potential conflict?

Of course, its logically quite possible that a judge could rule objectively on the issue of same-sex marriage even while having a family member who self-identifies as gay. It is liberalsnot conservativeswho assume that there is a contradiction in loving a homosexual person while opposing same-sex marriage. But the way that Levinson spoke out publicly this week suggests that for him, liberal emotionalism trumps conservative logic. So its reasonable to ask whether it might also have trumped judicial restraint back in 1993.

You can only imagine the complaints of bias from liberals if the judge ruling on a case that arose from the Gulf oil spill were found to own stock in BPor even if his daughter did. Given their hostility to religion, the reaction might be even worse if a judge ruling on an issue involving a local churchsay, one of the Episcopal churches whose ownership is disputed by its conservative congregation and liberal diocesewere found to be a member of that same church (or even if his daughter was).

Why are there not similar howls when a judge who has a gay childor is gay herselfrules on issues involving homosexuality?

I guess liberal political correctness includes a lot of double standards.

Hospital Visit Horrors? Heres the Rest of the Story

by Peter Sprigg

April 21, 2010

On April 15, President Obama issued a memorandum to the Secretary of Health and Human Services instructing her to prepare regulations that will protect the right of homosexual partners (and other non-family members) to visit their loved ones in the hospital.

In a series of interviews the next day, I emphasized that the Family Research Council does not have any objection to such visitation in principle, as long as it is premised on the patients personal choice rather than on a redefinition of family or marriage. However, I also pointed out that the main reason this is even a topic of discussion is because it is used as a political talking point by the advocates of same-sex marriage, who see it as a golden opportunity to tug at peoples heartstrings and generate emotional sympathy for their cause.

I further asserted my belief that the frequency with which homosexuals are barred from visiting their partners in the hospital is grossly exaggerated. As I pointed out in an online chat on the Washington Post website,

The idea that homosexuals are regularly denied the right to visit their partners in the hospital is one that has only one source—homosexual activists who want to change the definition of marriage. Where are the media surveys of hospital administrators to determine how many hospitals actually have such restrictive policies?

In the reporting on the Obama memorandum, however, many media outlets cited the case of Janice Langbehn, a lesbian who sued a Florida hospital claiming that she was denied the right to visit her partner Lisa Pond when Pond was dying from an aneurysm. Langbehns story is apparently a familiar one in the homosexual activist community, thanks in large part to a sympathetic New York Times article last year.

In fact, Langbehns story was instrumental in moving Obama to act. According to the Washington Post:

Officials said Obama had been moved by the story of a lesbian couple in Florida, Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, who were kept apart when Pond collapsed of a cerebral aneurysm in February 2007, dying hours later at a hospital without her partner and children by her side. Obama called Langbehn on Thursday evening from Air Force One as he flew to Miami, White House officials said.

The New York Times story last year did report that the hospital disputes some of Langbehns charges, but media reports on the Obama memo last week, like that in the Post, did not even bother mentioning that. They were content to repeat the storyline of the homosexual activists verbatim, without even stopping to ask if there was another side.

There is, however, another side. On the website of the Miami Herald, I discovered that the hospital which Langbehn accused of mistreating her has sent its own letter to President Obama. Here is part of what the hospital said:

We would also like to take this opportunity to provide you with some clarification on the allegations being made by Janice Langbehn, whose partner was treated at Jacksons Ryder Trauma Center in 2007. From the beginning, JHS has vehemently denied that Ms. Langbehn was denied visitation due to her sexual orientation. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed Ms. Langbehns lawsuit against Jackson Memorial Hospital in September 2009.

Ms. Langbehns allegations and those made by published articles, blogs, etc., are inaccurate and have damaged the reputations and deeply hurt the feelings of the personnel in our trauma center. They have devoted their careers to all who come through our doors, from all walks of life.

JHS grants hospital visitation to all individuals equally, regardless of their relationship to the patient, as long as doing so does not interfere with the care being given to the patient or other patients in the area. With that said, our first priority when a patient is brought to our trauma center is always to stabilize the patient and save their life. As the only adult and pediatric Level 1 trauma center in Miami-Dade County to support a population of more than 2.3 million people, our facility is one of the busiest and most renowned in the nation.

The Trauma Resuscitation Unit in Ryder Trauma Center, where Lisa Pond was treated when airlifted to Jackson, is more like a large operating room with multiple beds separated by glass partitions rather than a traditional hospital floor. Sometimes, visitors are not able to see a loved one in the trauma bay as quickly as they would like or they may have to wait until the patient is moved to the ICU or to another area of the hospital that is better suited for visitation. This all depends on the circumstances of the situation, how busy the unit is at the time and the medical conditions of the patients in the unit at the time. The patients in this area are facing life-threatening injuries or illnesses and are extremely vulnerable.

The most important piece of information to consider from our side of this story is that the charge nurse on duty the night Ms. Pond was in our care and the person who made all visitation access decisions that evening is herself a lesbian with a life partner. In addition, numerous members of the medical team working in our trauma unit are openly homosexual. We can assure you that Ms. Langbehn was not treated differently because of her sexual orientation.

When homosexuals complain that they are denied the right to visit their partners in the hospital, they may give some people the impression (I suspect deliberately) that in some hospitals they are never able to visit their partners, simply because they are not legally recognized as family members. I pointed out that for ordinary patients in ordinary hospital rooms (the vast majority of hospital patients), there are few if any restrictions on visitation. You dont go through security, no one checks your IDyou just walk up to the room and visit. Some hospitals have even done away with the tradition of visiting hours, and instead allow visitors to come in at any hour of the day or night.

I did acknowledge that there might be exceptions to these liberal visitation policies, such as when a patient is in intensive care. But there was one point so obvious that I did not bother making it (until now)and that is that in situations of emergency, trauma, or intensive care, hospitals may sometimes keep away all visitors from a patient for medical reasonsnot for reasons of discrimination. If the hospitals account is accurate, that is what happened to Janice Langbehn.

Is the thought of a person dying without their loved ones at their bedside an agonizing one? Of course. But it is an agony that is probably experienced by many people, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, every day, for one simple reasontheir beds are surrounded by doctors and nurses fighting to save their lives.

Fathering Confusion

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 18, 2010

In June 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama gave a moving speech on fatherhood in his hometown of Chicago. Here, in part, is what he said:

We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child —- it’s the courage to raise one. We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong. It’s what keeps the foundation of our country strong.

All true. So why is a man who acknowledges the central importance of fathers and mothers seeking to corrode marriage? Consider the President’s remarks made in October 2009 to the 30th anniversary dinner of the Human Rights Campaign —- America’s leading pro-homosexual organization. In his speech, Mr. Obama said he looked forward to the day when:

..we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman. You will see a nation that’s valuing and cherishing these families as we build a more perfect union —- a union in which gay Americans are an important part. I am committed to these goals. And my administration will continue fighting to achieve them.

Huh? I thought children need moms and dads, not just two mommies or “spouses.”

This is more relevant now than ever, as in 2010 the President and his allies are committed to repealing the military’s ban on homosexuals serving in the ranks and passing the so-called “Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” which would impose homosexuality in faith-based and other private activities.

Either fathers and mothers are needed in a marriage or they are not. And either an unborn child is a human person from conception (as Mr. Obama suggests in his remarks above) until natural death, or it is merely a complex of disparate cells (as Mr. Obama has suggested elsewhere).

You’re in the White House now, Mr. President. The time for ponderous ambivalence is long past. Gotta make your mind up. Please do so in favor of real marriage and human life.

A New Welfare Program in the Obama Healthcare Bill

by Chris Gacek

January 13, 2010

According to a Washington Times news account by Cheryl Wetzstein in Washington Times (1/12/2010), the Obama healthcare bill will contain $1 billion over five years for a new federal welfare program. It is a maternal home-visit service in which a volunteering mother with a new baby will receive, for up to two years, nurse visits once or twice a month to help the younger mother cope with the daily demands of a growing child. Wetzstein adds, This maternal home-visit service is on its way to becoming a massive federal program….

President Obama touted the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), during the campaign. NFP was devised by in the late 1970s by psychologist David Olds, now a professor at the University of Colorado, Denver. True to his word, Obama is pushing this program now.

In an accompanying analysis piece, Wetzsteins focuses her only fire on the lack of attention paid to fathers by the program. Howerver, there are other concerns. The first that struck me was this: so what happens when the poor, at-risk, poorly educated mother doesnt do what the friendly nurse instructs? What if she doesnt stop smoking, for example? How close is the link between the visiting nurses and social services enforcement division in your local community? These nurses have to be filing reports on their student moms and evaluating them. Are there jurisdictions in which NFP visits have led to mothers losing custodial rights over their children?

Intimations of various degrees of governmental intrusion come in the news article: The House bill also stipulates that home-visiting professionals will, when appropriate, provide referrals to other programs serving children and families. For example, the House bill apparently contains the goal of increasing birth intervals between pregnancies. (Aside: the wife of a colleague with a newborn was recently lectured by her ob/gyn about birth spacing when she indicated that she wanted to soon have another child.)

So, lets say a woman becomes pregnant at a time that doesnt comport with the latest social science models optimal birth spacing. Pro-life advocates like E. Christian Brugger, an ethicist and senior fellow at Culture of Life Foundation, worry that there will be referrals to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providing institutions.

James Harden, president and chief executive of CompassCare Pregnancy Services in Rochester, N.Y., observes:

Increasing birth intervals is a very loaded phrase, and where it goes in the future, no one can know, Mr. Harden said. What is the birth interval? Is it two years between children? Three years between children? Five years between two children? From my perspective, [increasing] birth intervals relates to a backdoor approach to population control.

Anyone who thinks Harden is exaggerating, in my opinion, does not understand the manner in which bureaucracies slowly gain more and more power. Finally, how long will it be before all new families have to have an initial screening from the friendly nurses and the very friendly public health officials.

Wetzstein quotes an NFP spokesman, Julian Kesner, as strongly disputing Hardens idea. Kesner states there has been no documented situation in which a nurse has told a mother to get pregnant or not to get pregnant, he said. Thats good to hear.

However, direct commands arent the only way control can be exerted by governments. Financial carrots and sticks, anyone? The bigger point is that there are numerous deep ethical matters that go into the decisions to form families and have children. Contrary to what the public health community would have us believe, these are not value neutral decisions. Nobody has elected the public healthers to impose these values, nor will they receive much scrutiny.

On the contrary, a good case can be made that with the massive retirements coming from the Baby Boom, our country would be better off reducing spacing between children not increasing the spacing. Where is the public debate on this? Notice and comment periods?

Finally, it seems clear that this program is designed to enmesh the mother and her baby into the welfare system through referrals. Is that a good thing?

In closing, before we create another massive federal welfare bureaucracy it seems that much more needs to be learned about all the various facets of this program and how NFP works in practice where the rubber meets the road.

Funerals, Domestic Partners, and the Meaning of Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

January 11, 2010

On January 5, both houses of the Rhode Island legislature overrode (by large margins) Gov. Donald Carcieris veto of a bill that would have given “domestic partners” the authority to make funeral arrangements for one another. Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr was one who took the governor to task (Carcieris heartless, but not surprising piece of work, November 13, 2009).

Toward the end of this article, Kerr says “if you could let me know exactly what traditional marriage is I’d appreciate it.” Perhaps as good a definition as any is that offered by scholar David Blankenhorn in his 2007 book, The Future of Marriage. He writes:

In all or nearly all human societies, marriage is socially approved sexual intercourse between a woman and a man, conceived both as a personal relationship and as an institution, primarily such that any children resulting from that union are—and are understood by the society to be—emotionally, morally, practically, and legally affiliated with both of the parents… . It also reflects one idea that does not change: For every child, a mother and a father.”

Kerr says, “I always thought it [marriage] was a lasting commitment between two people who love each other.” This sentence describes marriage but it does not define it. To say this about marriage, and conclude that same-sex relationships can be marriages too, is somewhat like saying, “An automobile is a wheeled vehicle of transportation—and therefore a bicycle is an automobile, too.”

In the scope of human history, “love” is a fairly recent addition to most people’s concept of marriage. Many cultures have practiced arranged marriages in which “love” is not a prerequisite, yet no anthropologists would suggest that these are not “marriages.” Even “commitment,” while desirable in marriage, is not a requirement for it. Some people who divorce lack commitment, but it does not mean that their marriage never existed.

No, the one essential, irreducible characteristic necessary for marriage is the presence of both a man and a woman. Some cultures have allowed polygamous marriages with more than one man or woman, but never less than one of each.

The reason why the marriage of a man and a woman is privileged over all other human relationships, and treated as a social institution rather than as a purely private liaison, is because it is the only relationship capable of naturally reproducing the human race. This is an essential social function, without which society cannot survive. The male-female union is the one absolutely necessary relationship.

Of course, not every opposite-sex couple has children, or intends to. But it is a mistake to base the definition of marriage on the reasons why individual couples choose to marry. The real issue is why society treats marriage as a public institutionand the answer is because of its role in the procreation and rearing of the next generation.

This legislation was largely prompted by a man named Mark Goldberg and his frustrations following the death of his partner Ron Hanby. These circumstances were sadand almost unique. Few people die without having any living family members (family being defined as people related by blood, marriage, or adoption) to make decisions regarding their remains. It is a cliche in the legal profession that hard cases make bad law. This was a hard caseand made, unfortunately, for a bad piece of legislation. To deal with a situation like Mark Goldbergs by creating an entirely new, quasi-marital, legally recognized domestic relationship (domestic partners) under state law is like swatting a bee with a hammer.

Gov. Carcieri is absolutely right in saying such laws lead to an incremental erosion of marriage. We have seen exactly that process unfold in the states that have moved (either judicially or legislatively) toward redefining marriage in recent years.

Ironically, the explanation for why Bill S 0195 is unnecessary is found in the text of the bill itself. It delegates decision-making authority regarding funeral arrangements to a domestic partner only [t]o the extent that there is no funeral services contract in effect at the time of death for the benefit of the deceased person. In other words, people in same-sex relationships already have the ability to delegate to their partner decision-making regarding their funeral arrangementssimply by preparing a funeral services contract. Such a contract completely does away with any need for a blood relative to make decisions, and indeed overrides any choices that a relative might attempt to make.

If gay rights activists really want to help people like Ron Hanby and Mark Goldberg, they should work at educating people how to complete a funeral services contractnot exploit a tragic situation to create a Trojan horse for the redefinition of marriage.

Fighting for EqualityOr Obsessed with Sex?

by Peter Sprigg

October 14, 2009

It seems that homosexual activist groups cant even raise money without using sexual innuendo.

I happen to be on the email list for Equality Maryland, the state homosexual activist organization (its always good to know what the opposition is doing). They are planning to raise money with a Jazz Brunch and Silent Auction on Sunday, October 18 in Baltimore.

But I was startled by the poor taste (and the poor proofreading) of the subject line for an email invitation to this event that I received on September 28. It read: Care to engage is [sic] some Four Play? (The gimmick was that you would get a discount when purchasing four tickets.)

I wondered if they would be embarrassed or get any negative reactionbut apparently not. On October 7, I received a follow-up email with this subject line: Forget Four Play … how about a Threesome? Offering a discount for the purchase of only three tickets this time, the message came complete with a publicity photo from the old Threes Company TV show.

When homosexuals promote their political agenda in the public square, they argue that its not about sex. Its about love, families, equality, justice, etc., etc. They dont want people thinking about two men or two women having sex. (This is why they prefer the term gay rather than homosexual.)

But when talking to each other, the agenda becomes more clear.

Its about sex.

How Long Has Marriage Been the Union of a Man and a Woman? Scientists Say4.4 Million Years

by Peter Sprigg

October 7, 2009

Some people believe that religious dogma is the only reason why anyone opposes same-sex marriage. Those who believe the human race began with Adam and Eve, and that their relationship was Gods model for marriage, believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. But those who dont believe in the Bible, who think Adam and Eve are a myth, and who dont accept a Christian view of the human person, have no reason to believe marriage is an opposite-sex union. Right?

Wrong. They should take a look at a front-page article in the Washington Post about the newest claim by evolutionary scientists. The scientists believe that a primate skeleton found in Ethiopia is that of a human ancestorone that lived 4.4 million years ago. Almost at the end of this long piece, the article describes what C. Owen Lovejoy, an anthropologist at Kent State University, says about the social organization of this species:

The males, he argues, pair-bonded with females. Lovejoy sees male parental investment in the survival of offspring as a hallmark of the human lineage.

So, how long has marriage (i.e., pair-bonding) been a male-female union? About four million, four hundred thousand years, if this secular scientist is to be believed. And what was its purpose? To insure male parental investment in the survival of offspringsomething which the advocates of same-sex marriage contend is now no longer necessary.

And what will we be discarding, if we change the definition of marriage from being a union of a man and a woman? Only a hallmark of the human lineage.

Marriage is not merely a religious institution, nor merely a civil institution. It is, rather, a natural institution, whose definition as the union of male and female is rooted in the order of nature itself. And it doesnt take a Bible to prove it. In this case, evolutionary theory points to the exact same conclusion.

Washington Post:

Ardi’ May Rewrite the Story of Humans: 4.4 Million-Year-Old Primate Helps Bridge Evolutionary Gap (see third-to-last paragraph)

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