Saturday, October 25, 2008

More thoughts on yesterday's post + a shwag giveaway

Here's a berry tiramusa that my mom made yesterday for my dad's birthday -- to sweeten things up after yesterday's post and comments. But I'll get to that later. First, some frivolity for maintaining that careful ratio. How about this: a Laini's Ladies giveaway!

I just got boxes of Ladies in the mail yesterday from the manufacturer -- they include four new "everday" designs and the new Christmas line of 6 designs, in cards, ornaments, and boxed post-it notes. Oh, and gift tags. I love the adorable gift tags. These will be distributed to friends, family, and colleagues, but I will still have leftovers to join the mass that is taking up space in the studio, so I think I need to thin the stash a little! So, if you are interested in receiving a Laini's Ladies shwag pack in the mail, EMAIL ME, and put "SHWAG PLEASE" in the subject line. I will do a drawing or something. (And Enna Isilee, I will already send you one, as a way-belated birthday/thank you for reading package; sorry for the delay!)

So, there's something fun and colorful. And now. . . there are some things I need to say as follow-up to yesterday's post about gay marriage.

First, thanks to the commenters. Thank you to Tone for being a consistent voice of acceptance and an advocate for love. Thank you too to the pro-8 folks who came over to voice their opinion -- it is important we hear from you, and it is courageous to own up to one's beliefs in a potentially hostile environment and not post as "anonymous." Almost everyone stayed within what I would consider to be the bounds of civility, and one who didn't removed her own comment herself. Anyway, there are two main things that I want to address.

1.) What is "discrimination"?
Though I posted the dictionary definition of it yesterday, I still feel compelled to quote Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."

Commenter Afton said, "It seems like the cry of "discrimination" is a little hypocritcal, however, because there is a lot going on in this discussion: namely, the discrimination of people who don't believe the way you do." Commenter Wyman echoed the sentiment: "Laini, the title of your post is: "To discriminate or not to discriminate?" Taken literally, the answer is you chose to DISCRIMINATE, as did virtually all commenters. Not to discriminate, would have been not to post."

And when I followed some other commenters back to their own blogs, where they had posted their own pro-8 opinions, I saw more of this view. So let's clear this up. Am I discriminating against Hwalk by disagreeing with her view of gay marriage? No. Because I am not trying to shape laws to deny her rights. I perfectly accept her right to be anti-gay; I do not accept her right to discriminate against gays. Is it discrimination to speak out against discrimination? No. It is standing up for law and liberty. Is it discrimination for Hwalk to blog or speak against gay rights? No. It's discrimination for her to vote against gay rights. See the difference? In our country, we DO have freedom of speech. Even the KKK can get permits to march. They cannot, however, ban African Americans from schools, commit violent acts, or otherwise perpetrate bigotry. Am I discriminating against the KKK by saying they shouldn't be allowed to burn crosses on people's lawns? No. Would I be discriminating if I said they should not be able to obtain legal permits to march? Yes. Abhorrent as they are, they have a right to express their views -- but not a right to act on them in violation of the rights of others. Are you seeing what I'm saying?

You can THINK what you want. You just can't actively try to prevent others from having equal rights. The Mormon church, as a private entity, can preach what it wants, and its followers can believe what they want. THAT is freedom of religion. What they cannot do is try to force their religious views on other people. That is the opposite of freedom of religion. That is tyranny.

So, it's just nonsense that protecting equal rights is "discrimination against discriminators." One pro-8 blogger wrote:

"If the law stands as it is now (meaning Prop 8 does not pass) it will have consequences. We have seen some of these happen in MA already. For example, religious leaders who speak out against gay marriage have been sued for discrimination and hate crimes. I believe that is an infraction of free speech. It is up to each person to choose their own way of life, which goes for both gay and traditional couples. Just because one holds a traditional view does not mean they should be kept from expressing their own opinions, just as those who do not hold a traditional view."

What of this argument? First of all, I am skeptical of the premise. IF someone sends me links to court cases in which religious leaders in MA have been sued for refusing to officiate gay marriages, I would concede that this violates a church's right to its own beliefs. But from what I have read in language in California same-sex marriage bills, this is very much NOT the intent. From House Bill AB-849:

SEC. 7. Section 403 is added to the Family Code , to read:
No priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination, and no official of any nonprofit religious institution authorized to solemnize marriages, shall be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or by Section 4 of Article I of the California Constitution.

So basically, I deny the argument. I personally would support the above clause. This issue is not about forcing any church to perform a ceremony against its beliefs. It's about preventing churches from forcing people to abide by their religion. You've got it all turned around backward, discriminators. It's you against the gay community, not the gay community against you.

Which brings me to my second point.

2.) Believe what you want. But WHY do you have to make others live by your beliefs?
Freedom of religion in America also means freedom from religion. What no one who is against gay marriage has yet explained to me is: who are YOU to decide? What jurisdiction does your church have over those who are not its members? Why can you not practice your religion in private? What would happen to America if all churches expected all Americans to follow their own religious practice?

Defend "traditional marriage" by practicing it well yourself.

There's so much more I could say on the issue, but I really need to get back to work. I'll just summarize my response quickly to a few arguments that were brought up yesterday:

1.) To paraphrase: "Marriage is a social institution for the making of babies. Gay couples can not make babies, so they should not be allowed to marry." Really? Which is it, is marriage sanctified by God, or is it a social institution that exists purely for propagation of the species? I hope anyone reading this can see the huge flaws in this argument without my having to point them out. But I will anyway. Lots of married couples cannot or do not have children. My husband and I have been married for over seven years and we do not have children. Does that mean our marriage is invalid?

We know gay couples who are raising their own biological children from previous hetero relationships. We know gay couples who have adopted. We know lesbian couples who have used sperm donors, and gay couples who have used in vitro and a surrogate. We know straight couples who have done all of these things too. Are the straight couples real parents while the gay parents aren't?

My argument yesterday was that marriage is the highest expression of love and commitment one human being can make to another. This comment seeks to redefine marriage as a purely biological arrangement wherein sperm meets egg. Does anyone really think that?

2.) "The nuclear family with a mother and a father is proven to be the best kind of family." Malarkey. Loving same-sex household are wonderful places for children to thrive. Plenty of nuclear families are miserable places for children, and plenty of single parents or even grandparents do tremendous jobs of raising children. It's about the people involved, it's about love and support -- not gender, not age, color, religion or anything else. The assertion that only a man and a woman can raise a child properly, well, it simply does not square with the reality of complex human experience. Y'all need to meet more people.

3.) The "slippery slope" argument, that if we legalize same-sex marriage, then all kinds of loopy marriages are going to rain down on us. Men will marry dogs! Girls will marry their grandmothers! Life will become a pornographic circus of bestial and incestuous marriages! People who make this argument in sincerity evidently equate homosexuality with bestiality and incest, and are likely the same people who believe all gay people are pedophiles, or at the very least, lewd and wildly promiscous. These are vicious stereotypes made in ignorance (and not only ignorance, but a particularly vile brand of smirking self-righteous, willful, hateful ignorance), and shouldn't be dignified with discussion. We are talking about loving adults who are human and not related. Bestiality and incest are both illegal. Homosexuality is not. If you have even the most rudimentary training in critical thinking, you know that the "slippery slope" form of argument is an "informal fallacy." It is faulty reasoning, and is used to manipulate and mislead. The Right loves to use it to instill fear, and this whole "next they'll be trying to marry dogs or their own grandmother" is not worthy of thinking people. Period.

Oh man, I need to wrap this up RIGHT NOW. If you want to leave a comment, I ask that it be civil. If you want to defend Prop 8, please give me a very thoughtful reason why YOUR personal beliefs should govern other people. You don't have to leave a comment, you know. I respect your right to your beliefs. It is just where you try to force them on other people that I have a problem. So, go in peace.


Anonymous said...

I have a question for you. How do you feel about polygamy?
Today it's gay marriage. What's next?

I'm do not know what your stance is on this issue, I'm assuming you would be against polygamy, but cannot know for sure.
I feel that gay marraige and polygamy are in league with one another. What if a man falls in love with multiple women, who is it to say that they are not allowed to be married?

I am a Californian and will be votin yes on Prop 8. This stems from religious beliefs, but I find it impossible to place religious convictions upon people who do not share them. Its a completely different language with no translation.

Ultimately, the bible says to love other unconditionally. As a result, I am to love gay people, share my vies of homosexuality if it is welcomed, and ultimately respect their right to act as they please, even if that means acting sinfully.
And yet, the bible also instructs followers of Christ to engage in a battle against sin. The bible states that acting on homosexual tendancies is sin, and as a result I will try to fight this sin.

In addition, if gay marriage is made legal it will become a huge issue for pastors, preists, etc. If a gay couple asks a church figure to marry them, and they refuse, this will be considered discrimination. In this case, I don't feel that it is, although you may disagree. Say a couple comes to a pastor and asks to be married, but the pastor discovers that one of the individuals is having an affair. They would refuse to marry them for various moral reasons. This would not be viewed as descrimination. And yet, if a pastor refuses to marry a gay couple, for various moral reasons, they could be sued. I know many individuals who are voting yes on Prop 8 for this reason alone.

Now, we have very different veiws as to what is sinfull. I base my views upon the bible, which is the ultimate Truth. Others may see the bible as a book, and nothing more, and believe sin is when the rights of others are trampled over.

This is why I brought up the polygamy, which would, by this definition not be considered sin.
I don't know how you would define sin, or whether you would even use the term sin.

I'm interested to know how you feel about this issue.

Stephanie Perkins said...

Hi Laini,

I wish I had time for a thorough response, but I wanted to at least leave another THANK YOU comment.

Thank you for your bravery and for tackling this issue head-on.

Thank you for being the voice of compassion and reason.

Thank you for blogging.

Much love,

Anonymous said...

I went back and thought about my post. I didn't really tailor it to your post, and felt it needed some clarification.

The polygamy could be viewed as a slipper slope,...but it is not the same as grandaughter/grandmother, incest, animal/human relations, or pedifiles, particularly because all of those could be considered a violation of the rights of others. Instead, polygamy involves consenting adults, and it isn't so much an over the top slipper slop argument, if you recall the huge incident in Texas just last year.

And as for Church leaders being sued for not marrying homosexuals...I have no instances in which it has occured thus far, but it could become an issue in the future. Mostly, gays are going to city hall, or open denomenations at present. Why would they go to churches that might oppose them? But, in time people will be going to local churches because of the location, or other reasons. At present churches are not permitted to speak out in support of a specific candidate or law. I can see this becoming a prominent issue in the near future.

Laini Taylor said...

Hi, Hopeful Romantic, I'm glad you came back and clarified, because I had gotten the feeling you hadn't really read my post, and now I can see that you have. I understand that people fear their churches will be forced to do things they don't believe in. I think that clauses like the one I copied into my post from the California house bill (incidentally, that bill was vetoed by the governor), should put any such anxieties to rest. The laws should protect church's freedom of belief and expression. If the laws do that, then where is the problem, and where is the fear?

Second, on polygamy, I don't really know how I feel. To be honest, I've never given it careful consideration. I'd have to think about it. The recent cases in which polygamy has come to light are extreme examples of religious leaders exerting undo influence, often on minors, and giving young girls to old men as wives. In one case in Arizona the church/community leader shunned teenage boys for all sorts of flimsy reasons, basically so the old creeps wouldn't have competition for the young girls. Ick. And obviously, major moral and legal implications. In a case like consenting adults on the show "Big Love"? Clearly not the same scenario. I don't honestly know if I'm whole-heartedly against that. But I am sure there are many intricacies and complications to this issue that I have not considered, never having researched it. I think the only responsible thing for anyone to do in such a situation is:

1) state they don't know the facts and haven't thought it out;

2) refrain from making a snap judgement

So that's what I am going to do here. But in any case, we're not talking about polygamy. We're talking about gay marriage. Why do people who are against gay marriage always want to change the subject?

Stephanie Perkins said...

And FYI: The Bible is A-OK with polygamy.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David (and many more!) -- all had multiple wives. Most of them had concubines too.

Laini Taylor said...

Stephanie, thanks for those. It makes no sense to me how many Christians are totally unconflicted over so vocally wanting to enforce some parts of the Bible, and staying so silent on others.

Anyway, as I said in my last post, the Bible is not the governing text of this land -- the Constitution is. So it should be a moot point.

It really IS that simple.

Amber said...

Did you see the post I did for NO ON PROB 8 about a week or so ago? See, you are just so much more nice and well thought out than I am,Laini. lol! Really. I am just SO SICK of seeing Yes signs all over the place where I live! And in that post I mentioned how lame it is to take one thing from the Bible as The Truth We Should All Live By...and not all the other crap we totally blow off, like was mentioned above. Heeeeelllloooo? Can we understand that NO BODY knew anything about how the brain worked or developed back then? We have learned a lot. Catch up, people.

I just don't get it. Sorry. I can't BELIEVE all the energy that is going into this. I wish all these people who care SO MUCH about keeping people from being married, cared half as much about some other things! What if all this energy went into fixing our foster care system? What if it went into finding lost children? What if it went into fighting family violence? Rape?

This is just such an easy, pansy-ass "issue" to come out against. I would love to see some people put some passion behind something that matters.

As for the poligamy question, as a Christian and a conservative leaner, I have an answer for that... If polygamy were legal, it would be A LOT HARDER for people to use it to abuse children. It wouldn't be so secretive, for one. It wouldn't stay such a closed off society, where young girls are used and cut off from the world and help. FYI

And as a conservative, I have to ask these Yes people, why one would think they should be telling ANY adult what they can or can't do? Isn't the idea for government to get the hell out of our business?? You know, I wouldn't have a problem with polygamy, as long as it was a law that each wife could not collect welfare. Most things people put their nose into really boils down to money...will we have to pay for all the little kids some dude wants to have with eight wives? Because I think if he can support a large family-- hey! Have at it. If not, then turn to your church for help, not the public trough. As it is, right now because it is illegal, all these "wives" DO get welfare for all those kids, because legally they are "single mothers". Did you all know that?

Other than that, I don't care what people do. As long as I am not paying for it, and it is not hurting a child. (I told you it wasn't PC)



tone almhjell said...

What's next? Hopefully a safe, tolerant society with equal rights and opportunities for all, no matter what colour your skin is, or if you are a woman or man, or if you are Christian or Buddhist or non-religious, straight or gay.

That's what's next.

Melanie Margaret said...

I don't really like debate, but I had to just tell you Laini how much I appreciate all your political posts ~ and your other posts too ~ I always read your blog, but I especially like these political posts. I don't feel I have thick enough skin to write out my political beliefs on my blog.

I learn from your posts in many ways and from the comments too. I tend to surround myself with media and people who share similiar beliefs ~ and although daily I come across different views from mine, I often forget that there are huge segments of the population who really ~ whole heartily think so differently than me.

Preferences in how people view taxation and goverernment are understandable to me
it completely boggles my mind that someone could think being homosexual is a choice or that only a married man and a woman should be raising children or that it is OK to pick and choose what bible verses should be enforced by the government.

It is difficult to wrap my mind around stuff like that because it is so far from my world view, so far from what I know is Love.

Although reading comments from people who hold so tight to their disrciminating views can be frightening at first, I have hope and faith that we are moving towards an age of not just tolerance, but one of pure acceptance and love.
Thank again Laini for inviting such lively and important discussions on your blog!


Anonymous said...

I'm very envious of people like Tone who get to live in a country where Christians act like real Christians, with love, understanding, and acceptance, the way that Jesus certainly would have advocated. Instead, we are stuck here with minds like Hwalk who apparently would prefer children be raised in orphanages or with abusive but married parents rather than loving and gay parents and whom don't have the critical thinking skills to come to the conclusion that Sarah Palin is not qualified to run this country. Most importantly, again, its so deeply insulting that any American would want to enforce their religious beliefs on anyone else. If you can't honor our Constitution that upholds a separation of church and state, its not clear to me how you are to borrow a phrase from the creepy Sean Hannity, "a real American."

Anonymous said...

oh that was me, Alexandra, by the way!

Jen Robinson said...

I just wanted to say how much I appreciated both of your posts on this topic, Laini. I attended the wedding of two gay friends this weekend, and I just couldn't fathom how anyone could think that the joy that I witnessed was wrong. Personally, I felt privileged to be there.

Anonymous said...

Very eloquent. Thanks, Laini.

Tumble Fish Studio said...

Well, I didn't expect the first comment I leave on your blog to be a politically motivated one . . . it is not so like me to leave such a comment in public (I'm a whatever floats your boat kinda gal) anyway. I really did come to look at your art and art journey. And, here I find myself wanting to say something though I offer it humbly and probably with great ignorance and faltering. I am ashamed of my comfortable and familiar apathy and am stretching to write what I feel. I leave this comment partly for you, partly for the universe that reads such blogs and its comments as a warm and loving invitation to consider another perspective, a very difficult thing to do and a task only for the bravest of humans. I am 42 years old, married to my husband, Kent, for over 20 years, and enjoy and love two beautiful and intelligent teenage kids (one son, one daughter, sophomore and junior). I grew up in the midwest, in a conservative Christian upbringing, and have lived in the Los Angeles area for most of my marriage. 1o years ago I was called into the office at school when my daughter was 5 because she was standing on a table at snack-time telling the other kindergartners it was okay for a girl to marry a girl. She is very much heterosexual, a boy crazy teenage girl. Why at age 5 did she feel the need to defend and support the rights of others, especially when she herself was not part of the group she was defending? It was not our intentional doing - we never had in depth discussions about such things at her age at the time. We have not been public advocates for many things. I've wondered about that so often. Is it so basic that our children get it and we adults don't? I don't know - I have asked my daughter many times why she did what she did and she doesn't remember doing it at all but says she would do it again for reasons she knows now. I think personally, we as parents, have stressed to our kids that a good life, a christian life in our context, is one lived without judgment of others and with great love for all humankind, all of God's children, every creation, and no child is better than the other in God's eyes, no sin "better" in His eyes and none of us are without "sin", none of us are perfect except in His eyes, in his perfect creation of the imperfect. Who is anyone of this earth to say their sins are okay and my supposed ones are not as acceptable? So consider, what of the sanctity of marriage? What is the current divorce rate? What is the statistical data on adultery? What is the average number of sexual partners before marriage amongst straight people? What about polygamy and the Mormon religion? How many elected officials, our supposed leaders, have strayed from their marriages? Why aren't we fighting relentlessly to outlaw pornography to protect the sanctity of marriage? Why isn't divorce illegal to protect marriage? If straight people were better at the sanctity of marriage, I might see the glimpse of an argument. I think the sanctity of marriage should have been called into question long before this ballot measure. The human race in general has taken marriage quite frivolously for centuries. So, this whole "yes on 8" campaign to me is hypocritical and reminiscent of the civil rights fight for African Americans, especially in the bullying and scare tactics used in the commercials and spin stories regarding law suits and public education, suggesting punishment for association. And, we are at the same time spending millions upon millions of dollars and thousands of lives to attain and maintain the civil rights of citizens in foreign lands who believe in doctrines and principals and religious philosophies the majority of our citizens do not and we are not willing to do the same on our own soil. Have we learned so little? And lastly, the presumption that with the defeat of this measure that a grand-daughter might marry her grandmother is only as ridiculous as thinking she might marry her grand-father if the measure passes. And as for marrying non-humans, how silly. Should there be a clause for what gender the animal is? Can a man now marry a sow if so desired? That's just nonsensical. I believe in human rights. I believe you have a right to believe what you like and practice the religion you wish to practice as long as it doesn't harm anyone else. I do not believe I should be limited by your beliefs as long as I don't hurt anyone else.

Did I make any sense? Ooh, it's scary to get involved but . . . convince me otherwise.

Laini Taylor said...

Marsha, that was beautifully said. Thank you for commenting!

Tumble Fish Studio said...

Thank you, Laini. I came back to see if anyone landed in the middle of me so it was nice to see your reply. Thank you, too, for letting a little voice talk on a big subject. A little victory over apathy.

By the way, just discovered you and your work recently and that is why I really stopped by - beautiful and impressive and a successful author to boot! I wish you continued success and I happily join your fan club . . .

Unknown said...

I'm not one to normally get into this kind of thing, because I hate conflict of any kind, and this seems to be a very argumentative subject, not only for you, but for most people. I just wanted to say a few things.

firstly, I really want a box full of Laini's Ladies.

secondly, the mormon church does not force thier beliefs on anyone, in fact this is in direct violation with the basic principle of the gospel that part of the Plan of Salvation, which was laid before we even came to earth depends on freedom to choose for ourselves.

third, I feel like there are a lot of people, myself included that live thier religion quietly and respectfully of what others believe. The thing is, we're QUIET and RESPECTFUL about it, which naturally goes unnoticed. So maybe you could be a little more careful about putting all religious people into that catergory.

fourth, my child got sent to the priciple's office for saying Jesus Christ when another child asked about her beliefs. This was when she was in first grade and she was accused of swearing. She wasn't swearing, however, but resectfully using the name of a being that she believes to be the son of God. Most of her classmates do not know what they believe in and most of them do not attend church. She is not allowed to talk about her beliefs at school. It seems like the system has taken out the meaning of diversity to me, (living a few miles outside of MA) that they can hand out "diveristy packets" that talk freely of many lifestyles, but my daughter's lifestyle is not allowed to be broached because God and religion have been strictly forbidden in schools. That hardly seems balanced to me. If a first grader can read in booklet about a same sex marriage and have it okayed in the name of diversity, then why should the beliefs of one who lives thier own religion quietly and respectfully toward others not be included within the "diversity" spectrum that is supposed to be good for all people to be accepting of? From my perspective it is not me who is limiting the voice of diversity, but my voice which is being quieted and called wrong.

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Brittany, that's a good point, and I agree that politcal correctness gets taken to an absurd extreme sometimes. The example about your daughter would be comical if it wasn't so sad. But I still see any stifling of Christianity as being miniscule in contrast to the stifling perpetrated BY Christianity. Still, two wrongs don't make a right.

And I want to say, in case you didn't see it in the original post, that I did point out that there are some Mormons speaking out against their church's very vocal involvement in this issue. I only mention Mormons specifically because the original post I was responding to was written by a Mormon, and most subsequent comments came from that quarter. I know very very little about the Mormon faith and have absolutely nothing against it, apart from its leaderships' attempt (as part of a coalition of other religious groups) to urge followers to discrimate against the gay community :-(

dinner jacket said...

Yum! nice i love eating cake and I want to eat first the strawberry toppings.