Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On Lugar and Amendment 1

I have some links to share, in light of the recent election results.

1.  Republican Senator from Indiana Richard Lugar lost the Republican nomination for Senate to Richard Mourdock, who was backed by a number of Tea-Partiers.

I remember working at a Food Pantry one summer, and I was talking about politics with some of the ladies there, one of whom was the head of a Republican women’s organization.  We were discussing which Republican would be the best one to run against Bill Clinton in 1996, and one of the ladies there said that she never heard anything bad about Lugar.

Years later, I was reading a web site, The Skeleton Closet at realchange.org, which goes into the scandals and alleged improprieties of people running for President, both Republican and Democrat.  But it couldn’t really find anything bad on Lugar (though it named one thing, and then questioned whether it was really a scandal).  The article said:

“Richard Lugar is by almost all accounts, one of the candidates [for President in 1996] with the best character and fewest skeletons of anyone running for President. He’s a former Eagle Scout and Rhodes scholar who is still married to a strong women he met in college, and he even served in the military (Navy).  Politically, he’s more conservative than the moderate image he is projecting, but he is an open minded man of apparent principle, who opposes his party’s positions on banning assault rifles, cutting back school lunches and affirmative action. There are far too few politicians who have the guts to oppose their own party mates on one or two issues just because they feel it’s the right thing to do, and Lugar seems to be one. In fact, we are hard pressed to report anything negative on him. If you have any tips, click here to send us the information or a lead.  Perversely, the press — which gets so incensed at the minor scandals they dig up — seems to be ignoring Lugar in part because he is so squeaky clean.”

As a former Hoosier, I am honored that a decent person like Richard Lugar represented the state of Indiana for so long.  I wish him the best.

2.  In North Carolina, Amendment 1 passed.  Amendment 1 declares marriage to be between one man and one woman, but people have argued that it could impact, not only homosexual couples, but also heterosexual couples and health benefits (see here).

I read some posts this morning: Michael Varrati challenges Billy Graham’s support for Amendment 1 on the basis of the Bible, arguing that the First Amendment is about not legislating religious beliefs; Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network talked about the importance of not marginalizing people from the other side but rather seeking to correct misconceptions people have about homosexuality (i.e., that it’s a choice); and Rachel Held Evans argues that conservative evangelicalism’s emphasis on the cultural wars may alienate younger evangelicals and the younger generation, period.

I can’t say that I agree entirely with these three pieces, though I agree somewhat.  On Varrati’s piece, I am not convinced that many of America’s founders intended to insulate religion completely from public policy, though I can understand Varrati’s point that “the Bible says” is not a sufficient public policy argument.  Regarding Justin’s post, I think that opposition to the state recognizing gay marriage does not necessarily flow from ignorance about homosexuality, for there are concerns that recognizing gay marriage could lead to a slippery slope, beliefs that a man and a woman each contribute something special and important to the raising of children, etc.  On Rachel’s post, I do not know if “most” younger evangelicals are as alienated from evangelicalism’s preoccupation with the cultural wars as she suggests, for I do know a number of younger evangelicals who are socially, culturally, and politically conservative.  (Rachel does refer to a study, though.)

I do think, however, that Rachel made an important point when she said: “And when it comes to homosexuality, we no longer think in the black-at-white categories of the generations before ours. We know too many wonderful people from the LGBT community to consider homosexuality a mere ‘issue.’ These are people, and they are our friends. When they tell us that something hurts them, we listen. And Amendment One hurts like hell.”

And Alise Wright said under Justin’s post: “I’m incredibly grateful to friends who walked me through understanding, rather than simply writing me off as a bigot.”

In my opinion, what is important is that we learn about people’s stories, so that we remember that there are people involved in these debates, not just issues.

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