Religion and the definition of marriage remain intertwined in the present, just as in the past. Historically, disputes over the definition of marriage concerned marriage, divorce and remarriage. Dispute over these issues in the court of King Henry VIII of England in the 16th century caused upheaval in the Church and English society. Heads rolled, literally, in the process. In the present, there is an ongoing dispute over the definition of marriage or the redefinition of marriage to allow same sex couples to marry. As I view the movement for same sex marriage, defined as marriage equality, in the United States, North Carolina is a focal point. Amendment 1 to the state constitution, enacted in 2012 following a ballot measure, defined marriage as the union of one man to one woman. Amendment 1 was struck down on October 10, 2014 by U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. It is now lawful for same sex couples to marry in North Carolina, much to the dismay of opponents of marriage equality, including Charles L. Worley and Billy Graham, who object on religious grounds. Heads are rolling, though not literally, in North Carolina now that Amendment 1 is no longer in force. Continue reading
The publication of the Wolfenden Report in 1957 was a landmark in the movement that led to the destigmatization of homosexuality across the Western world in that it brought about the decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967. The repeal of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 (48 & 49 Vict. c.69) accomplished this. Section 11 of the Act, in particular the clause known as the Labouchere Amendment, applied to male homosexuality. In short, the clause provided for a term of imprisonment “not exceeding two years”, with or without hard labour, for any man found guilty of “gross indecency” with another male, whether “in public or in private”. In 1953 the Home Secretary, David Maxwell Fyffe, referred to male homosexuality as a “plague over England,” and vowed to wipe it out. In 1954, the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution was convened with John Wolfenden appointed chairman. Continue reading
The story of the life and love shared by Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone resonates with me to this day. I learned of their life together and the tragedy that befell them in viewing It could happen to you, the YouTube video produced by Shane Bitney Crone in memory of Thomas Lee Bridegroom, who died in a tragic accident on May 7, 2011. Though I do not know either of these men, I was so moved in a way that I normally am not upon hearing of a personal tragedy that strikes people who are strangers to me. Watching It could happen to you had a profound effect on me; I felt grief and outrage well up inside me upon learning of the injustice and iniquity that was heaped on Shane Bitney Crone following the death of his partner, Thomas Lee Bridegroom. As same sex couples could not marry in California at the time of Tom’s death, Shane had no legal standing as Tom’s partner and could do nothing as the Bridegroom family claimed Tom’s body, his assets and barred Shane from attending his funeral. This is so wrong and it happens to other couples. From the grief and outrage I experienced I was inspired to join in the effort to advocate for full civil rights for gay people, marriage rights in particular. Continue reading
The following comment was posted as a response to my recent post on the current state of firearms laws in Canada.
I think male homosexuality repellent, and therefore do not follow those issues closely. Because I am a genuine (which is to say, 19th century, tolerant, John-Stuart-Mill-type liberal) I believe that things which are none of my business are, you know, none of my business: You do not need, nor would receive, my approval, much less “celebration” for whatever passes for your lifestyle choice. But whatever consenting adults want to do that does not harm or threaten others is NONE OF MY BUSINESS. It is most certainly none of government’s business, and I believed that, and supported homosexual rights, from the times when homosexuality was an imprisonable felony in Canada.
I am heartened to see therefore, that with your lifestyle, you account responsible arms ownership on the list of things that are None Of Government’s Business.
When government wants to prosecute those who harm or threaten others, they have my entire support. When they want to persecute those whose lifestyle choices are contrary to contemporary fashion, then resistance, subversion, and defiance are called for.
Is religious liberty under threat in the United States? This is an interesting question and bears examination. The controversy over the passage of SB 1062 in Arizona and the decision by the Governor, Jan Brewer, to veto the legislation has many people insisting their religious liberty is threatened and determined to stiffen their resistance to this perceived threat. Regarding religious liberty in US society, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, in 1944 (then Federal Council of Churches of Christ), formed the following definition:
Religious liberty shall be interpreted to include freedom to worship according to conscience and to bring up children in the faith of their parents; freedom for the individual to change his religion; freedom to preach, educate, publish and carry on missionary activities; and freedom to organize with others, and to acquire and hold property, for these purposes. (as cited in Wikipedia)
At present, these are fundamental freedoms guaranteed in US law. Is there any reason to believe they are at risk? Continue reading
Mika and I have never travelled to the United States together. We have, individually, visited the United States on a number of occasions. Growing up I lived in Laurel, Maryland for several months in 1965 with my family. My father was serving in the Canadian Army at the time and was posted to Washington DC briefly. As a boy, Mika visited Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming with his family. I have been as far south in the United States as Florida; I took a holiday with my family during March break in 1977. I have been to New England and in 2012 had a very nice time visiting with a good friend and his family in Washington state. I have made periodic visits across the border into upstate New York on shopping trips. For our first trip together to the United States, Arizona is a state Mika and I are interested in visiting for a holiday. The appeal for us is to see the desert habitat, its hot, dry climate, the plants, like Sonora cactus, the wildlife, like road runners and javelinas and to get a taste of the culture of the Southwestern United States. Continue reading