Thursday, May 15, 2008

High Priests of Secularity in the California Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court has released a decision that in essence requires that same-sex unions be termed marriages, reversing the moral position taken by the people of California. See the whole decision here, and a useful and briefer segment here.

This is an amazing, if not too surprising, case of judicial activism, as a dissenting opinion by Justice Corrigan also holds. The court has decided that it knows better than the people of California what is good and right and desirable, and the court imposes its vision upon the people by fiat.

A couple of portions of the ruling stood out for me as disturbingly audacious:

These core substantive rights include, most fundamentally, the opportunity of an individual to establish--with the person with whom the individual has chosen to share his or her life--an officially recognized and protected family possessing mutual rights and responsibilities and entitled to the same respect and dignity accorded a union traditionally designated as marriage.
The court doesn't really believe that. What if the person has chosen his mother to whom to be married? Or a ten-year-old? Or his daughter or granddaughter? What if the person one chooses is already married to someone else but would willingly add another spouse?

What if many such individuals are chosen, rather than one? For that matter, on what grounds, using this logic, would just one spouse be deemed the proper number, if it is all about the fundamental opportunity and right to establish a family the way one chooses?

Must any and every coupling, no matter how exploitative or ridiculous, be "accorded a union traditionally designated as marriage"? Ridiculous!

Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise--now emphatically rejected by this state--that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects "second-class citizens" who may, under the law, be treated differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex couples [emphasis added].
This statement is so full of judicial activism! The state has voted. The people determined quite soundly that marriage is between a man and a woman. Now four of seven justices emphatically reject for the whole state the very beliefs the state has embraced for itself!

This statement within the decision is also a religious statement. The judges have taken their belief, their value judgment--that gay sex is not morally wrong and is to be accorded every respect given to marital heterosexual sex--and imposed it wholesale on the state. The state supreme court justices have made a religious/moral determination on their own, distinctly different from the moral determination the state has made through its proper voting process, and they now impose that morality from on high upon a state that has said it doesn't so believe. That is tyranny!

Fellow Christians: Be prepared to live your lives as social outcasts from a society that calls your moral beliefs heterosexist discrimination and labels your morality the state-disapproved notions of hateful bigots.

For believing God's Word and for standing for the sexual purity that God has taught us, you will be one of those Neanderthals considered to be promoting something "emphatically rejected by the state." Well, not exactly rejected "by the state," but certainly by a majority of activist California Supreme Court justices speaking as if they were the state.


Blogger Meghan said...

So you're flat out going with the "only people who agree with me on this subject are Christians" thing?

Because, honestly, if the only way to be Christian is to agree with you on this issue, then I guess I have very little interest in being Christian.

1:00 PM, May 15, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...


I don't presume to have people agree with me. I seek agreement with--and conformity to--the Bible, to God's revealed will for our lives.

Don't make this about power. Don't make his about hate. Don't make this about anecdotal stories of woe. Don't make this about personal preferences. Make it about Scripture.

And in doing so, you will find no warrant for homosexual practice in the Bible. You will find no glimmer of permission for same-sex marriage. You find instead, condemnation of same-sex practice and praise for the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.

The arguments for homosexual practice and for gay marriage are not biblical arguments, and until they are, they will have no authority or interest for this Reformed Christian pastor.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

1:22 PM, May 15, 2008  
Blogger Meghan said...

But people, learned, faithful people don't agree with you that that is the only witness of the Bible.

Are none of them Christian?

I don't know how it is alright for you to dismiss them out of hand.

At the very least, I think they raise a reasonable doubt. (to coin a phrase.)

And yet you seem to have no doubt at all. Can you teach me that kind of confidence?

1:36 PM, May 15, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...


I really don't think your doubts are biblical doubts. Your argument is experiential: this is how you feel, and thus it must be so.

Those who argue as you do may well be Christians. Christians can be in error on any number of things, and this could well be one of them. I could be in error, too, but, as you have detected, I don't think I am.

And I think you showed your true colors--your true allegiance--when you said that if Christainity should prove to be as I describe it, you'd not be interested. Your main allegiance is to so-called "gay rights." Religion appears to be a handy tool to use to get what you really want, and if it proves not to be useful, it isn't Christianity that you'd retain. You would retain your gay-rights ideology.

Honestly, I have not seen one credible biblical argument for your point of view--not one that could begin to stand up to the withering fire from Robert Gagnon's excellent scholarship. People do not disprove Gagnon; they simply ignore his work or dismiss it offhand because it is apparently too long and involved (and too irrefutable) for them to stomach.

I suppose your real argument is with my appeal to "fellow Christians" to be prepared to be the scapegoats in a society in rebellion against God's Word and will. You are arguing that there are other "fellow Christians" who have no trouble with following the prevailing winds of sexual license in our society and thus can float merrily along as flotsam on the cultural tide and not have to worry.

You are correct. To be more precise, I should have directed my final admonitions toward "fellow Chrisians who have not abandoned biblical morality." My bad.

Now, please don't further divert this thread into arguing about whether homosexual practice is good or bad. Further comments need to be about the heart of the posting: secular "religion" in the court and judicial activism. Thank you.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

2:08 PM, May 15, 2008  
Blogger Presbyman said...


If the US Supreme Court could discover a "right" to abortion as well as sodomy within the US Constitution, why should we be surprised that a state court can discover a "right" to same-sex marriage in a state constitution? It's so predictable I am not even outraged about it.

And heck, doesn't the GA PJC also engage in results-oriented jurisprudence nowadays?

None of this surprises me. The legal elite definitely supports and would impose an agenda quite alien to both the actual Constitution and the wishes of most people. I know that first hand from law school.

Constitutional Amendments are becoming the only way to actually stop this kind of thing.

John Erthein
Erie, PA

2:30 PM, May 15, 2008  
Blogger Meghan said...

Outside of your religious beliefs and (I think) spurious slippery slope arguments, what would be the state's compelling reason to prevent same-sex marriages?

The court is not required to honor your religious beliefs above other people's religious beliefs. And as I was trying to point out, there are religious people who truly believe that you are wrong on this subject.

The state of California has emphatically rejected the idea that homosexuals are second-class citizens. California has some of the most inclusive non-discrimination laws in the country, California has statutes that provide domestic partners virtually every tangible benefit that married couples enjoy. What do you feel is the state's interest in withholding the word "marriage" from those partnerships?

Bear in mind that "the Bible tells me so" is not a valid legal argument. Even if you believe that every Christian in the world does, or should, agree with you, why should that matter to a secular court? And since, again, it is not clear that every Christian does share your views on this subject, why should a secular court pay more attention to your views than to mine?

The passage of Proposition 22, and the argument that therefore the court is going against the will of the people is not a compelling one to me, since my understanding is that one of the purposes of the Judicial Branch is to prevent the tyranny of the majority.

I don't believe that people's rights, or their equal standing under the law should be subject to a popular vote.

4:00 PM, May 15, 2008  
Blogger Jim said...


You win. You have more time and energy to ask questions than I have time and will to answer.

We disagree. The points have been made over and over in countless places. I have other things to do than to rehearse them again for you in a private tutorial: thousands of years of collective wisdom about the value of a father and a mother in a child's life; a desire to do nothing to promote a perversion of sexuality from what God created it to be; an aversion to social engineering at the cost of children; biblical fidelity; democracy and the will of the people. There are many, many reasons.

Your point of view is only recent, driven by self-interest, currently the rage but historically considered outside the pale, indefensible on purely biblical and theological terms, immoral, emotionally laden, and pushy. You want to overturn what has always been (and has been that way for a righteous reason) to introduce a moral novelty that should never be. You can argue that point, and you can feel bouyed by society's apparent deviation in your direction. You have the right to make your case, but that doesn't make your case right or good or God-pleasing.

Now, I ask you to please not dominate the conversation and my time. Have a little restraint. This is not your personal soap box, so please desist. Thank you.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

4:55 PM, May 15, 2008  
Blogger Presbyman said...

A couple of questions that should go to the heart of this discussion are:

1. Where do rights come from? Upon what basis does someone argue for their "right" to do something? If a claimed "right" is not to be found in the text of the Constitution (federal or state), where does it come from? God? The majority of the voters? A person's internal, subjective preferences? Why is an "inalienable" right in fact "inalienable?" Who decides?

In the absence of actual Constutional language in favor of same-sex marriage (which could be established by Constitutional Amendment, as other rights have been over the years), why should we assume that a relatively small group of lawyers are better qualified to decide what is a "right" than either the people or their elected representatives?

I think it was Bill Buckley or George Will who once opined that he would rather be governed by the first five hundred names in the Boston telephone book than by the faculty of Harvard University. I think this decision by the California Supreme Court confirms the wisdom of that claim.

John Erthein
Erie, PA

10:32 AM, May 16, 2008  
Blogger ZZMike said...

One problem with this decision is that (as Orwell observed) what is now permitted will soon be compulsory.

Before anyone raises the "slippery slope" flag, let's just look at the case of the Massachussetts Catholic Orphanages, which were compelled to adopt out to homosexual couples - something contrary to their belief system. Rather than comply, they got out of the orphanage business - to the detriment of many orphans.

And in California, a photographer was sued because she would not photograph a homosexual "wedding".

A Christian-based dating service (E-Harmony) was sued because they would not post homosexual referrals.

Eventually it all becomes compulsory. Pastors, ministers and priests will be forced to perform these ceremonies, under penatly of law (or lawsuit).

Meghan doesn't believe that people's "rights" should be constrained by a popular vote. Basically, that is correct.

The problem comes about when we start coming up with "rights" left and right - rights that are in fact no more than "wants". There are people who firmly believe that we all have a "right" to a living wage, that we all have a "right" to affordable housing, a "right" to free medical care. All to be provided, of course, by the rest of us who believe that what we really have is a right to work so as to provide ourselves with these things.

None of those are "rights" in the traditional sense. They are "wants". (Which you can also take in the Scottish sense of "needs".)

"... one of the purposes of the Judicial Branch is to prevent the tyranny of the majority."

What - and replace it with the tyranny of the minority?

Mike Zorn
Santa Ana CA

12:52 PM, May 16, 2008  
Blogger Kattie W. Coon said...

1) "Eventually it all becomes compulsory."

2) "What - and replace it with the tyranny of the minority?"



1) Compulsory for the State maybe, but Priests and Ministers have never been compelled by the secular courts to marry anyone.

2) Are you suggesting that those horrible homosexual tyrants have in their agenda the desire to eliminate heterosexual marriage? Please!

9:44 PM, May 16, 2008  
Blogger ZZMike said...

Katie: Please explain about the 3 cases I mentioned. The Catholic orphanage, the photographer and the dating service. True, they weren't "compelled", they were just given a choice to comply or face legal action. It won'tbe long before a minister is sued.

3:22 PM, May 18, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

High dudgeon here about the "tyranny" represented by the court deciding this matter contrary to the will of the people, "imposing its vision upon the people by fiat."

What is the point of there being a Constitution, anyway? Why don't we just let majority vote at any particular time rule the day on everything? The answer is that a Constitution, in our form of government, has as its precise purpose to forestall the will of the majority. That is, the provisions set forth in the Constitution are deemed so important that (unless the Constitution be amended pursuant to procedures designed to make amendments difficult), the people are foreclosed from acting, by majority vote, in a manner contrary to those provisions. A Constitution is fundamentally an anti-majoritarian document. That is its purpose.

And of course someone has to decide, in a particular situation, whether the expressed majority will of the people contravenes the Constitution. That someone is the courts.

Now there is great room for disagreement about whether a court's interpretation of constitutional provisions is right or wrong, or more broadly whether the interpretation should be closely confined to the actual text, or should be permitted to take into account non-textual considerations in various degrees.

But to simply attack a decision interpreting the Constitution as being contrary to the will of the people and therefore tyrannical misses the point of having a Constitution at all.

Though to be sure it pushes the right buttons for those highly sensitive to the possibility that "they", are out to get "us."

Bob Morris

Philadelphia, PA

8:44 AM, May 22, 2008  

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