Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On this day before we give thanks

While we all get ready to gather with family and friends and give thanks for all the blessings and good things in our lives tomorrow, we should all take a minute to think about the people of India and particularly Mumbai/Bombay.

Gambling for the family

On Mateo's walk today—I'm still walking him in spite of his nefarious breaking of my nose—I passed one of the many charming neighborhood businesses, the Palomar "Casino". It isn't a casino, but just a cardroom, where mostly middle-aged, mostly men spend pretty much their entire days playing poker and pai gow and watching horse-races and sporting events. Given the odds of the things, it is obvious that most of these people are losing money, money that they probably don't have. There just aren't that many people with actually disposable income coming to El Cajon Boulevard to gamble.
Parked right in front of the Palomar Casino was a rather large, red pickup truck, prominently displaying several bumper stickers claiming that California's Prop 8 against same-sex marriage was necessary to save the family. Whatever the merits of that argument, the irony of the person making it spending his day gambling in a crappy little cardroom wasn't lost on me. If you want to save the family, get the fathers of those family's out of the cardrooms and casinos, stop them from gambling and idolizing professional poker players. That's one hell of a lot more serious threat to the family than people of the same sex entering into legally binding contracts to take responsibility for one another off the state's hands.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Something quizzical

So, the Church of Latter Day Saints and the Knights of Columbus together with groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council dumped literally millions of dollars into California, most of it from outside the state—so much for any idea of states' rights and the self-determination of states—because there was a very important ballot initiative this year, one that goes to the very center of the family and deals directly with what some Catholic Bishops and other religious conservatives have called America's "culture of death".
That's right, there was a ballot initiative to require minor girls to either inform a parent or, in cases where parents are abusive, another designated relative or, in cases where there are no good family relationships, a judge before they could procure an abortion. It is hard to imagine something more central to family life than the protection—in most cases—of the rights of parents over an overzealous interpretation of the right of privacy of minor children. After all, in almost no other cases do we think that minor children have a right to privacy against their parents. Their school records are open to their parents, their medical records are open to their parents, they cannot get a flu shot without the permission of their parents, they cannot buy cough syrup, and so on. In fact, we think that parents have very strong rights over their children—to deny this is either truly radical individualism or totalitarianism, either of which is inimical to the family and to religion.
And certainly, a group like the Knights of Columbus that has fought so hard against abortion would want to do all it could to prevent these abortions by at least interposing this important bit of familial dialogue before the decision is made.
But, you see, religious conservatives who care so deeply about the family spent very little on this initiative, which failed. Instead, they poured over $30 million dollars into making sure that gays and lesbians could not enter into civil marriages in California. They bought ads that claimed that Churches would lose their tax-exempt status—granted by the Federal Government, not California—when they refused to recognize such marriages—ignoring the fact that any Church currently can deny marriage to anyone they choose. They used the images of children without their parents' permission and over their parents' objections. They spent and lied and used people because gays and lesbians are the greatest threat to the family.
So, the next time I am told by anyone involved with Yes on 8 just how much they care about babies and families, I'm going to explain just what they ought to go do to themselves. What they care about is icky gays, aborted fetuses and familial relationships be damned.