And down go the dominoes

As more and more Americans begin to realize that sexual orientation and morality have zero connection, more and more states keep making marriage equal:

In the past week, Rhode Island and Delaware became the 10th and 11th states to approve gay marriage. But so far, only legislatures in coastal or New England states have voted affirmatively for gay marriage. Except for Iowa, which allows gay marriage due to a 2009 judicial ruling, same-sex couples can’t get married in flyover country.

Minnesota might go first, but Illinois could be close behind. The state Senate there voted in February to allow same-sex marriage, and supporters think they’re close to securing the votes needed to get it through the House and on to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who says he’ll sign it.

Officially, Maine was the first state to make marriage equal by way of the ballot box, but it soon became officially legal in Maryland and Washington the same night. Not long after, Rhode Island caught up with the rest of New England through the legislative process, and, to the surprise of many, did it with very strong Republican support. Now the states that value liberty the most eagerly await the next moves in the mid-west and west.

Catholics, adoption, intolerance, and non-acceptance

A friend recently made a post on Facebook where I felt she did not distinguish between intolerance and non-acceptance. I’ve written about the issue before, so I naturally responded. I think it’s more than a mere semantics issue: If we conflate intolerance with non-acceptance, we bring everything into a false equivalence, often causing us to overlook actual issues of intolerance. Let’s take the issue of Catholic adoption agencies in Illinois:

Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money.

This is blatant intolerance. Rather than continue placing orphaned children into loving homes, these Catholics are actively seeking to impede the rights of others by way of shutting everything down. If they weren’t legally bound, there is no doubt they simply wouldn’t allow gay adoptions at all – ya know, since that’s the sort of intolerance they had been practicing for decades.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, look at the gall of these people:

“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., a civil and canon lawyer who helped drive the church’s losing battle to retain its state contracts for foster care and adoption services.

I suppose the Bishop is technically right. No one is willing to tolerate his bigotry, so that is itself a form of intolerance. Of course, this is nothing more than a caveat: Intolerance is unacceptable except where it has a compelling reason. I think that much is implied, assumed, and understood. The Bishop is trying to exploit an unspoken yet implicit issue in order to gain pity for discriminating Catholics. It’s pathetic.

It should be obvious to any thinking person that this really isn’t a matter of mere semantics. If we’re going to allow people to run around, without challenge, claiming they are facing intolerance, as if connotations and implied meaning have no place in language, then real issues of intolerance – such as gays not being allowed to adopt – will have far less impact in the public mind when they are identified and pointed out: the dilution of language is always the dilution of meaning.

via Friendly Atheist.

Congratulations, Illinois!

Illinois has entered the mid-20th century:

Illinois abolished the death penalty Wednesday, more than a decade after the state imposed a moratorium on executions out of concern that innocent people could be put to death by a justice system that had wrongly condemned 13 men.

Gov. Pat Quinn also commuted the sentences of all 15 inmates remaining on death row. They will now serve life in prison with no hope of parole.

It’s always satisfying when one finds out that planned murder has been thwarted.

Gay marriage updates

Here are just a few of the recent news stories concerning gay marriage:

  • Dubya’s daughter, Barbara, has come out in support of gay marriage. She is helping the fight for basic equality in New York. Currently, thousands of families with gay heads of the house are being forced into unnecessary financial difficulties while they face bigoted social stigma. It ought to stop.
  • Illinois has taken a step in the right direction by legalizing civil unions. Gay couples will still face unnecessary hardships, but they now have some relief. Oh, and the negatives? Nothing. Absolutely nothing negative will come from this law.
  • New Hampshire lawmakers are trying to turn the state back. They’ve attached the banning of incest to a law that would ban gay marriage. I find this repulsive for two reasons. First, the most obvious reason is that it associates two separate ideas, as if it’s okay to say homosexuality and incest go hand in hand. Second, this is simply logically offensive. It’s a classic “When are you going to stop beating your wife?” fallacy. That is, it’s asking two questions but seeking one answer. (Remember that famous Watergate inquiry, “What did Nixon know and when did he know it?”) On the plus side, it is destined to fail.

Atheist lawsuit in Illinois

Rob Sherman has filed a lawsuit over $2.3 billion worth of grants that are being improperly given or may be improperly given to religious organizations in Illinois.

Most of the grants challenged by Sherman, Illinois’ leading atheist, go to religious organizations — houses of worship, parochial schools and religious ministries. Clear, unambiguous language in Article X, Section 3, of the Illinois Constitution says that no grant of money shall ever be made by the State to any church for any purpose. Article X, Section 3, also strictly prohibits public funds from ever being used to help support any parochial school. In addition, Article I, Section 3, of the Illinois Constitution provides that no person shall be required to support any ministry against his consent.

The article isn’t meant to be an objective A, B, and C happened sort of news article, so I feel it does the job of pointing out all that is wrong with these grants in Illinois. Do read it all.

I do, however, have one qualm. After listing a number of different religions involved in the grants, the writer says this:

As you can see, Sherman is not just picking on one faith.

So what if he was? It’s nice to see that no religion is getting a free pass, but if he wanted to pick on one over the others, why not? Christianity is a primary problem in the United States today, so it makes sense to focus on it here. And then there’s Islam; it’s currently going through a mini version of the phase through which Christianity went in the Dark Ages (and, indeed, Christianity caused the Dark Ages), so it is important to pick on that religion if one is in favor of better liberty, better social justice, and better quality of life. So I agree that it’s good that Sherman is hitting all the evidence-less ideologies, but if he had one particular concern over another, I wouldn’t blame him.