Sunday, January 8, 2012

The GOP Debate, Contraception, and Anti-Christian Bigotry

This will be a rambling post about two issues that came up in the GOP Presidential debate last night.

1. Mitt Romney was befuddled about the contraception issue (see here). It’s odd that Mitt Romney—-a graduate of Harvard Law School—–was unaware of the Supreme Court decision Greenwald vs. Connecticut, which struck down state laws against contraception as a unconstitutional violation of the right to privacy. But I don’t think that this will hurt him, the way that Sarah Palin’s inability to mention Supreme Court decisions to Katie Couric hurt her. Mitt Romney is able to demonstrate that, overall, he is intelligent and has a grasp on key issues, even if constitutional law is not one of them.

Was Mitt Romney correct to say that the question about allowing states to ban contraception was silly, since states do not want to ban contraception? I don’t think that there’s a movement to ban condoms or diaphragms, so, from a certain perspective, the question was silly. The morning-after pill has been challenged by attempts to define life as beginning from conception, however. I once got into a debate with a relative on the morning-after pill and whether it is an abortifacent or a birth-control pill that prevents fertilization. From my reading last night, what I found was that it’s a little of both: it aims to prevent fertilization, but, if it fails to do that, then it prevents the union of the fertilized egg with the uterus.

I support birth control that prevents fertilization, for, if that is consistently used, then abortion will not be as much of an issue. But I do believe that life begins at conception. And I do not think that abortion is relevant to the right to privacy, for I see it as a human life issue, not as a privacy issue. Will I vote for the Republicans over this? No, because I believe that chipping away at the social safety net and America’s manufacturing base—-as Republican policies have done (in my opinion)—-encourages more abortions, in that it makes having more children more difficult for families.

2. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry decried anti-Christian bigotry, and here are some remarks they made about what they had in mind:

Newt Gingrich: “Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won’t accept gay couples, which is exactly what the state has done? Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won’t give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration?”

Rick Perry: “When we see an administration that will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act, that gives their Justice Department clear instructions to go take the ministerial exception away from our churches where that’s never happened before, when we see this administration not giving money to Catholic charities for sexually trafficked individuals because they don’t agree with the Catholic church on abortion, that is a war against religion. And it’s going to stop under a Perry administration.”

I’ve talked some about these issues here and here. My position is not exactly crisp, but I want to maintain two principles. First, I’d like for homosexuals to be free to marry and to receive the legal benefits of marriage, and also to be free from discrimination in housing and employment. Second, I’d like to respect the religious freedom of people to disapprove of homosexuality and not to sanction that way of life. It would be great if these two things could co-exist. In many areas, they can: gays can marry, but conservative churches do not have to be forced to conduct the ceremony or to ordain practicing homosexuals. But there are areas in which the two can come into conflict. What if a church owns a hospital and does not want for it to hire homosexuals? What if a conservative Christian owns an apartment complex and does not want for homosexuals to live there? I think that such a judgmental attitude is inconsistent with the evangelical mantra of hating the sin but loving the sinners. But do conservative Christians have a religious right to discriminate?

I wonder, also, if there is a way to make everyone happy, in certain areas. Why should the Catholic Church’s adoption services be required to send kids to gay couples who want to adopt? Why should Catholic charities be denied federal funding because they do not provide access to abortion or birth control (see here)? I mean, that helps no one, and it ends up denying help to a number of people. Maybe a solution is for there to emerge adoption services that are more open to gay adoption. Let the Catholic church’s adoption services hold to its beliefs, but let there also be alternatives out there to its adoption services.

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