Gay Rights Opponents Deliver Signatures: But Do They Have Enough?

Opponents of two recently passed Oregon equal rights bills have delivered over 60,000 signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State in order to force referenda on the two bills. However, there may not be enough signatures to block the bills from taking effect.

From the Oregonian:

Groups hoping to overturn two Oregon gay-rights laws delivered nine boxes filled with petitions to the Secretary of State Wednesday. But they may not have enough signatures to win a spot on the November 2008 ballot.

Marylin Shannon, a former state senator and spokeswoman for Defense of Marriage Again, said the groups had delivered nearly 63,000 signatures to overturn each of the two laws.

Opponents of the laws need 55,179 valid signatures from registered voters on each.

The 63,000 figure is a deceiving number because many of the signatures will be deemed invalid.

From Oregon Public Broadcasting:

Last week, Shannon said not enough signatures were coming in to qualify for the ballot. But in the last few days she says her office outside of Salem has been deluged with packages.

Marylin Shannon: "I’m cautiously optimistic that we will make it. I don’t want to say we will or we won’t but I’m very positive about it."

Shannon says her group has collected more than 60,000 signatures. 55,000 are needed, but campaign experts say a buffer is needed because the Secretary of State’s office tosses out invalid signatures.

John Hummel, with the group Basic Rights Oregon, is hoping the referendum campaign fails.

John Hummel: "You know I’m surprised. The threshold is very low and I would be surprised that they can’t do than just the bare minimum required. I think we’re actually encouraged that Oregonians are not interested in overturning our anti-discrimination laws."

Gay rights opponents in Oregon just aren't finding the support that they used to. We'll have to wait and see if the signatures are enough to force referenda for the two bills.

Discuss.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Is usual the invalid signature rate higher than 12% on most petition drives?

  • (Show?)

    Ugh.

    Is usual the invalid signature rate higher than 12% on most petition drives?

    Should read:

    Is the usual invalid signature rate higher than 12% on most petition drives?
  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    According to this Portland Mercury Blogtown PDX post, the best validity rate in recent history was Measure 36 at 86% valid.

    So they have a shot, assuming their baseline number of signatures is correct, but it will be very, very, nail-bitingly close.

    • Bob R.
  • Tyrone Reitman (unverified)
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    Yes. Usually around 20-30% or so. I believe it is usually lower for groups that use established social networks, such as churches.

  • (Show?)

    86% of 63,000 is 54,180 which would mean it would not qualify. Of course that 63,000 is a estimate of the number they turned in not a hard count. But even it they have 64,000 turned in, with a 86% valid rate keeps them off the ballot (barely).

    They would have to do better than any other petition with around a 87.5% valid rate and then they would just barely squeak onto the ballot.

    Nail-bitter indeed. Thanks for the link Bob R.

  • Bill Sizemore (unverified)
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    It is highly unlikely that Shannon et al gathered enough signatures to make the ballot, but that is not because there weren't plenty of willing signers. Successful signature drives are very much about organization.

    There may be a million willing signers out there, but if you don't put a petition in front of them, they never have the opportunity to sign.

    This drive did not appear to be well organized. I requested petition sheets a few weeks ago, so I could sign and get friends and neighbors to sign. The petitions never arrived. I have to wonder how many others had the same experience.

    So, when you make up your list of signers, so you can tell the world who they are, perhaps you would be kind enough to include my name. I would have signed, if I would have had the opportunity.

    I doubted from the beginning that this drive was organized enough to succeed. Frankly, they did better than I though they would. But it is highly unlikely that their validity rate is high enough to make it. In fact, they probably missed by a fair amount, what with your side counting the signatures.

    Validity has dropped from 85 percent or so (on the average) a decade or so ago to down around 70 percent or less under Bill Bradbury. The quality of signatures has not decreased. The legislature and secretary of state have accomplished that on their own. They have created a ton of new roadblocks and gotchas to invalidate perfectly valid signatures.

    Bradbury does plenty of bad mouthing of petition circulators and chief petitioners, including me, but if there is a crook or thief at work here, it is he.

    I feel sorry for those who worked so hard to get this issue on the ballot and probably fell short. This question should have been put to the voters, not shoved down our throats by a bunch of liberal Democrats.

    You holler at the religious right for trying to foist their values on everyone else and then turn around and do the same thing. I guess it all depends on whose values are being foisted, doesn't it.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    "You holler at the religious right for trying to foist their values on everyone else and then turn around and do the same thing. I guess it all depends on whose values are being foisted, doesn't it."

    Gay people haven't prevented you from marrying the one you love. You've done that to gay people. Get back to me when you're foisted into a gay partnership.

  • PDX Lesbian (unverified)
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    Glad to know that Bill Sizemore feels put upon because he may not be able to openly discriminate against the LGBT community anymore. Poor Bill! He didn't even get a chance to sign the petition. I know all of our hearts are breaking for him. I have news for you, Bill. Equality is not a value. It is a right.

  • liberalincarnate (unverified)
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    -Billy,

    You arrogant Satan worshiping slut! Take your money and sleeze and move out of the state. Go someplace where you are more welcome... Iraq, perhaps?

  • David (unverified)
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    I agree that they are probably toast, especially because, as revealed by the Nader failure in 2004, there are MANY MANY ways to invalidate a signature. They probably needed at least 70-75k to be safe, but we shall see.

  • (Show?)
    I requested petition sheets a few weeks ago, so I could sign and get friends and neighbors to sign.

    Good to know you are a bigot as well as a sleaze-ball (assuming this is the actual Bill Sizemore, sleaze-ball petition scam-artist, that is).

  • (Show?)

    "You holler at the religious right for trying to foist their values on everyone else and then turn around and do the same thing. I guess it all depends on whose values are being foisted, doesn't it."

    People fighting for civil unions, same-sex marriage, non-discrimination rules, etc. does nothing to you. You lose no rights, unless you actually think you have the right to discriminate against others.

    However, the religious community pushing its views against these issues does harm other people. It keeps them from having rights that are available to others.

    There's this whole thing about rights - you have them until they interfere with the rights of others. You can believe that same sex marriage or whatever is wrong. No one can stop you from believing that. But the moment you take action to keep people from having that, you're interfering in their rights.

    I want same-sex couples to have the same rights as me and my husband. I want people to not be discriminated against at work, with housing, etc. I want everyone in the GLBT community to be treated fairly and with respect, even if you disagree with their views.

  • (Show?)

    If the measure does qualify, one thing is for sure, it's going to be an ugly fight. Hopefully, as Mr. Hummel of Basic Oregon said, it won't make it. But then again, who knows.

    Two questions:

    1) When is the deadline?

    2) How soon after the deadline will we know?

    Just curious...

    D

  • raul (unverified)
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    Hey Bill,

    Get a real job and pay your back taxes. I find it amusing that someone who takes money from Loren Parks, famous for:

    Parks Medical Electronics Inc., which was founded by  
    Parks in 1963. The company, which employs about 50 
    people, sells electronic equipment that measures blood 
    flow, most notably a penile plethysmograph, which senses  
    male sexual arousal.
    

    doesn't want GLBT couples to marry. Why does all of this weird sexual stuff keep coming up in connection with big GOP types? Thank goodness there is finally a device that measures male sexual arousal ! All of this weird right wing repressed sexuality, and just some of the odd coincidences are quite amusing. I hope I don't see you in the men's room stall.

  • (Show?)

    The deadline was September 26th at 5 p.m.

    It'll take a few weeks for the signatures to be verified.

  • (Show?)

    Yes Bill, the problem with initiatives in the state MUST be Bradbury. Can't be you, can it?

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Loren Parks sells the "peter meter?" That was the tool used to find that homophobic men are aroused by gay porn.

    The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia (W. W. Hudson & W. A. Ricketts, 1980). The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored. They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire (A. H. Buss & M. Perry, 1992 ). Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.
  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    I voted against the last anti-gay rights initiative. In a weird way, maybe it would be a good thing to get this one on the ballot. End the debate once and for all by shutting down this one also at the ballot box.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)
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    The obvious thing that has changed since a "decade or so ago" is how signatures are gathered. They used to be gathered by committed volunteers who had a personal investment in seeing the measure on the ballot. Now there are sleazy companies that hire less-than-savory people to harrass folks on the street.

    There have been many instances of paid signature gatherers copying signatures from one petition to another. There's no accountability. The gatherers get paid whether their signatures are valid or not.

    Initiative drives -- at least the right-wing ones -- have become a business. Signatures are the product and petitioners are the customer. I'm not surprised that, when the business model is "create more product (signatures) at lower cost," the quality of the product suffers. It's the same business model as Chinese toy manufacturers.

    And, Bill, if you disagree with the Sec. of State on the number of invalid signatures, you can do something about it. But you have to show that they invalidated valid signatures. Vague feelings of persecution and hopelessness are not enough -- though you may want to talk with your doctor to find out if Prozac is right for you.

  • David (unverified)
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    I suggest that Bill Sizemore spend his time satisfying all the court judgements against him that he has failed to pay. Didn't Oregon already stick a fork in Sizemore's butt and concluded he was done?

  • Bill Sizemore (unverified)
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    No, David, you may be able to stick a fork in me, but I am not done yet, as you will see next November. The OEA spent a million and a half dollars, stacked a Multnomah County jury, and even found a dishonest judge whose son is an OEA activist, to preside over their lawsuit, but that was not enough to force me out of politics. Heck, it's too much fun to quit.

    And yes, Bradbury does cheat. He is easily worse than any secretary of state in my memory. Go to www.billsizemore.com and read my article about when your signature doesn't count. The man has no conscience. Bradbury uses his office to further his own political agenda, plain and simple. That might be overlooked in some offices, but secretary of state? Even left wingers ought to demand integrity from that office.

    And what back taxes are you talking about, Raul. That's a pretty lame shot, since there are none. Personal attacks are the last resort of shallow people with nothing intelligent to say.

    There was at least one intelligent post on this thread. Jeni makes a reasoned argument. Just because I believe homosexuality is wrong does not mean others should have to live by my values. But the thing is, Jeni, this values war was not started by homophobes attacking gays. It was started by a militant gay and lesbian movement, which is trying to force society to give their lifestyle some official stamp of approval.

    There are valid societal reasons for resisting that movement and one can do so without being homophobic. You don't have to have animosity towards gays to oppose their politial agenda.

    I find it interesting that on those rare occasions I post on this or other liberal sites, the first thing that happens is the cheapshot artists begin their personal attacks. Such behavior is immature and pitiful. Some of you really don't have anything intelligent to say, do you?

    The question I pose to serious readers on this site is this: What is the source of the supposed right of gays and lesbians to have official relationships, adopt kids, etc? Why is this a right? Is it a right simply because they want to do these things?

    Is this one of those inalienable rights to which all men were endowed by their Creator? If so, what creator are you talking about? Certainly not the Christian or Jewish Creator. If this right does not stem from a creator, what is the authority for claiming it is a right, other than personal preference? And all of us want things and have preferences that are hardly rights.

    For your side to win this argument, other than by legislative fiat, you need to persuade society that there is now some basis for legitimizing behavior that has been deemed ill-advised, antisocial and immoral for pretty much all of human history, except near the end of a few collapsing civilizations.

    If you cannot do that, then you are going to have to be content with forcing your will upon the rest of us. But then, don't blame us for resisting.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    Is it too much to ask these people to just mind their own business and leave the people be? Why must they stick thier nose into something that really isn't any of their business to begin with? Why must they butt in? What they do in their lives is of no concern of me or others. We have no right to control these people.

    To call these people 'christians' would be hypocritical and fraudulant.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    The question I pose to serious readers on this site is this: What is the source of the supposed right of gays and lesbians to have official relationships, adopt kids, etc?

    Why, that would be the US Constitution, Bill (which you apparently confuse with the Declaration of Independence). The latter document does nevertheless bear quoting:

    all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    I voted against the last anti-gay rights initiative. In a weird way, maybe it would be a good thing to get this one on the ballot. End the debate once and for all by shutting down this one also at the ballot box.

    The "last anti-gay rights initiative" was Measure 36 - and it PASSED.

    Thanks to all those prejudiced Catholics, Mormons, and African American Protestants who came out in droves to deny basic civil protections to their fellow Oregonians because their evidence-free, imaginary gods and goddesses told them so...

    And thanks also to limp, pathetic Democrats who pander to these folks, and who still fail to acknowledge gays and lesbians as fully human, due the same Constitutional rights and responsibilities as they enjoy.

    I suspect it's much better if we are spared further voting on my family's equal participation in American life..! Who's going to stand up and speak for us this time? The Archdiocese of Portland? Hillary Clinton? Ted? Please...

  • Tom (unverified)
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    I thought Sizemore was a closeted gay - doesn't he live off his sugardaddy (the Oregon billionaire) Jeld Wen, down there in Klamath Falls?

  • Mary (unverified)
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    The reason the right-wing neo-con nuts didn't send Sizemore any petitions is because Sizemore is unwanted anywhere in Oregon politics; no grouip wants to be associated with him. And Sizemore's posting here shows that he is trying to stroke his own ego and feel important. The fact is that Bill Sizemore is a pariah in Oregon politics.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Bill S., the right for people who are gay to be treated by the government in the same way that the government treats people who are straight is derived from "All men are created equal." Note that the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the constitutionality of any "marriage protection" act. Rather, etched in stone above the entrance to the court are the words, "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW." The court has unanimously determined that "Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival."

  • Inthewoods (unverified)
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    liberalincarnate You move your A#$ out of this state, git, get out, we don't need you here. Bill S is what we need in this state, not YOU!!! Let me be the one to pay for the U-haul for you so you can MOVE out of this state...Hurry up now

  • (Show?)

    Wrong Inthewoods, we Oregonians don't need people like you or Sizemore shitting up our state.

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    It has been said before by me and others, but it bears repeating: Civil marriage is a right that is recognized even for terrorists (who can still marry), murderers (who can still marry), (heterosexual) child molesters (who can still marry -- even their victims after time), the "underage" in some states (who can still marry), the multiple-divorcees (who can still marry -- so much for "sanctity"), everybody. Just not gay people.

    • Bob R.
  • (Show?)
    Posted by: East Bank Thom | Sep 27, 2007 9:06:31 AM
    The question I pose to serious readers on this site is this: What is the source of the supposed right of gays and lesbians to have official relationships, adopt kids, etc?
    Why, that would be the US Constitution

    Yep. Specifically the equal protection clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. Which makes things like denying access to the legal instrument of civil marriage to same-gender couples a violation said couple's equal protection under the law because their genders are the same.

    This was part of what struck down sodomy laws in Lawrence v Texas back in 2003 when it overturned Bowers v Hardwick and as such laws treating same-gender couples unequally violated substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

    It seems people like Inthewoods and Sizemore have a real problem with treating everyone including non-heterosexuals equally under the law. Why they can't stomach the idea of everyone being equally protected under the law I can't say, but there it is.

    Most fair-minded people who aren't bigots or head-cases, when given honest information come to the conclusion that it is wrong to discriminate against non-heterosexuals. Only head-cases working through there own issues (or not working through them I should say) obsess about gay and bi people to the point where they want the law to discriminate against non-heterosexuals.

  • (Show?)

    I’d just like to say thanks to Mr. Sizemore for giving us some first-hand discussion of signature-counting in Oregon. There are probably few people who have as much experience with this topic, and I’m happy to hear the numbers he has to report.

    Aside from that, I’d merely like to offer that what I want is simply to be treated as human. What that means to me is that I would like to be treated with respect, equality and understanding when possible. The source for my claim is my humanity. That simple. My mom gave birth to me 30 years ago. I exist. Just like Mr. Sizemore. That’s it. For that reason, I try to treat others the same way.

    Here’s what I have started to notice about myself: When a marginalized community has existed in a subordinate position within a power structure it seems that we absorb that power structure so completely that when we gain the smallest bit of power, we impose that familiar structure on others, believing that subordination is the route to what we want – that by making someone else small, we become greater. I just want to challenge that, mostly because I find myself falling into that trap on occasion and I have to remember why.

    One of the greatest things I’ve ever seen was at the Portland pride parade a couple of years ago where a number of protesters, holding signs and yelling slurs, rushed a group of queens. The lovely ladies encircled them, held hands and chanted “We love you. We love you.”

    So, Mr. Sizemore, thank you for your addition to this dialogue. I disagree with nearly everything you stand for. I will work diligently for those things that I stand for – including your humanity.

  • jeremy (unverified)
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    Sizemore,

    First, I apologize for the vitriolic, personal attacks thrown at you by my liberal cohorts on this site. I consider Tom’s post particularly distasteful.

    Second, homosexuals derive rights from the same source as heterosexuals: the U.S. and Oregon constitutions. Discrimination based on sexual orientation violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses) and Section 20 of the Oregon Constitution.

    Just because a law discriminates according to sexual orientation does not render it per se unconstitutional. Courts apply different standards of review to discriminatory laws depending on the importance of the interest involved. Thus, courts apply strict scrutiny (almost always fatal to a law) to the discrimination against homosexuals in the exercise of their political rights, as in Romer v. Evans. But courts apply only rational-basis review to discrimination with respect to less fundamental interests, such as adoption ( Lofton, 358 F.3d 804). Thus, when those of us who oppose discrimination based on sexual orientation argue that homosexuals have a right to adopt, what we are really saying is that to the extent that government permits adoption, it cannot discriminate against homosexuals because this discrimination is not rationally-related to a legitimate government interest. Most courts have disagreed with us on this point, but I am confident that our argument will ultimately prevail.

  • Joe Vardner (unverified)
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    The question I pose to serious readers on this site is this: What is the source of the supposed right of gays and lesbians to have official relationships, adopt kids, etc?

    Bill, as both a gay man and a jewish man, I can tell you I'm a believer that my religion does support me in relationships. If you want references, I can send you to a few Rabbis who agree. In fact, there are entire congregations that agree.

    It helps to know that when we talk about the generalities of equality, everyone deserves it (thank you James X). Yet, we're not treated equal. In over half the states of the union, I could be fired for simply being gay. Not for any reason of my performance. And with every serious, major medical study showing that this is not a conscious choice (trust me, it isn't), how can you stand there and say I'm not equal because of a decision I never made?

    The laws adopted by the legislature support the belief that the government can't treat differently people just because the government doesn't like them. Ironically, this is exactly what Bill's accusing Bradbury of.

    Yet I digress, the government can't stop committed couples from enjoying the legal benefits, tax incentives, and many of the other dozens of things that previously were only given to heterosexual couples. As well, the laws protect me from being fired simply because my employer disagrees with things that have no impact on my performance.

    Bill, if you wanted to fire one of your staffers cause he's gay, and no you can't because you have no other reason, then too bad. But you're still free to go hating anyone or loving anyone you want. That's your right, and I'll fight for your's, even though you won't stand up for me.

    p.s. I'm proud to be a progress democrat. So throw that word around as slander as much as you want, I'll wear it with the respect it deserves.

  • (Show?)

    Jeremy, thanks for introducing some nuance into the discussion of the 14th amendment. One of the reasons that a special woman suffrage amendment to the U.S. constitution had to be passed is that the Supreme Court decided in the 1870s that the 14th amendment did not apply to women's voting rights. It sounds like protection of political participation rights has gained importance since then, but we need to be aware of 14th amendment limits.

    Bill S., when Jefferson & Franklin wrote "endowed by their Creator," they probably were not referring to a specifically Christian or Jewish creator. Had they wished to do so very common language such as "endowed by the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus of Nazareth" was easily available to them. In the historical context, they made a deliberate choice not to do so.

    Both Jefferson and Franklin were deists, who spoke mostly about "Providence" -- a divine force that provides -- possibly modelling themselves on Roman Stoics who did likewise. For the Stoics the idea of Providence was very close to that of Nature and in some ways prefigures the Universalim that emerged in the 19th c. U.S. & merged with Unitarianism denominationally in 1959.

    Jefferson may have been less consistent about his deism than Franklin, though since he operated in Virginia rather than Philadelphia, where the Quaker doctrine of the universality of the presence of "that of God" in all persons tended toward liberality in religion, Jefferson's religious references sometimes have to be seen as affected by politics. Certainly also his political opponents in the early republic lambasted him as an atheist and profoundly unChristian.

    Franklin was quite systematic in his views, having been raised in Cotton Mather's starkly Calvinist Puritan congregation in Boston, and flirted with "free-thinking" (atheism) in his youth, before into a belief in a universal creative and providential force. He was agnostic about much further than that, e.g. Is that force personal -- taking the form of a person on whom humanity is modelled? Is the Bible literally true? Was Jesus divine? Does Providence operate through other religions than Christianity? Etc.

    In any case, the First Amendment makes it quite clear that the rights embodied in the Constitution do not depend on the specific Creator(s) envisioned in either Judaism or Christianity. Our rights cannot be properly interpreted or restricted by reference to Biblical texts.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Hooray... BlueOregon dialogue has achieved the intellectually-void "No YOU!" reasoning of NW Republican.

    Guys, please remember that the R's started quoting blogs on their direct mail last cycle. Pointing out their foibles and idiotic reasoning makes for fine sport... but shouting back insults isn't going to spark any measure of self-reflection and -- at worst -- colors the left as dim-witted moonbats.

    If you count Bill Sizemore as your foe, then relish the chance to see a little deeper into his [bizarre] thought process (with more than just a grain of salt, of course).

  • Sarah Wetherson (unverified)
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    Is this one of those inalienable rights to which all men were endowed by their Creator? If so, what creator are you talking about? Certainly not the Christian or Jewish Creator. If this right does not stem from a creator, what is the authority for claiming it is a right, other than personal preference? And all of us want things and have preferences that are hardly rights.

    Let's put aside, for the moment, the fact that the American system of laws is not a theocratic one. As a Jew, I take deep offense at your characterization of the Creator as one who did not endow us all with the rights that we are only too slowly now getting around to granting to gay men and lesbians explicitly through our laws. It takes a certain chutzpah for you to tell me what the Jewish Creator thinks.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks for the clarifcation on the deadline. I guess it's a wait and see situation to see if it qualified.

    I was overseas when Measure 36 was on the ballot (which I voted against) and when I checked the election returns online, I was shocked that it passed. I honestly thought it had no chance.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    I'm perfectly happy to see Sizemore come here. He can become a guest contributor. I just think some of his arguments are not fully reasoned, and I'm going to explain why I think that.

    And while I'm not a fan of name-calling and cheap shots, I'm not wary of the GOP quoting us, either. Someone could perfectly easily come here and post something just to use it in an ad against us. Oh well.

  • (Show?)

    Bradbury does plenty of bad mouthing of petition circulators and chief petitioners, including me, but if there is a crook or thief at work here, it is he.

    Tell it to the judge, Bill.

  • Misha (unverified)
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    The question I pose to serious readers on this site is this: What is the source of the supposed right of gays and lesbians to have official relationships, adopt kids, etc?

    While I appreciate Jeremy's thoughtful response, I really don't understand the question.

    What is the source of the right of gays and lesbians to have official relationships? The source of the right is a statute passed by the Oregon legislature last session, just like the source of the right for straight couples to enter into relationships recognized by the state is a statute (or, more precisely, a variety of statutes).

    In most states, gays and lesbians have no right to enter into state-recognized relationships. But they can still encourage the government to create such a right.

    Bill, what do you believe to be the source of your right to enter into a relationship with your spouse? (I'm assuming you're straight. Correct me if I'm wrong.) If you think the source of your right to have the state recognize your marriage is God, then I'd ask you to point me to a passage in the Bible that discusses state recognition of marriage. (Being that the church did not consider marriage a sacrament until the year 1215 CE, and state recognition of marriage was an innovation of the 18th Century, I think you'd be hard pressed to find such a Biblical passage.)

    Even if the Bible did say something about state recognition of heterosexual marriage (which it doesn't), I wonder why that should have any bearing on the present discussion. The Bible doesn't say anything about the right of Hindus to get married, and yet we don't stop them from entering into state-recognized relationships. Conversely, the Bible does expressly sanction polygamous marriages (see, e.g., Exodus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 21:15), and yet we don't permit men to have more than one wife. So, to borrow a phrase, "What's the Bible got to do with it?"

    The whole discussion seems to be beside the point, Bill. Jeremy argues that there is a constitutional right for gays to enter into state-recognized relationships and for them to be free of discrimination. I think he's right. But even if he is wrong, so what? It is still good public policy for the legislature to provide these rights.

  • Recovering Straight Girl (unverified)
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    I also agree that we, as progressive people should not lower ourselves to a level of name calling and malicious remarks. There is always room for respectable debate, and a lot of that has certainly been shown here today. It's important that we stick to the facts, and I would suggest that Mr. Sizemore and his constituents do the same.

    The last time I checked, those "liberal democrats" who are "shoving this down our throats" were elected by the majority of Oregonians to make and pass laws on our behalf. It is unbelievable to me that a group of people who are obviously ignorant to the facts are able to delay my basic rights as a person. I don't have a "lifestyle," I have a life, and that life includes my wife and my children.

    My partner and I deserve the same protection under the law that I received when I was married to a man. No more, just the same.

    Why is that asking so much?

  • tl (unverified)
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    It's 3.5 years old, but this cartoon still is relevant as long as there are arguments about "defending traditional marriage" and who should or should not be allowed to marry or gain civil unions.

    Some of my relatives, US citizens by birth, who fought in WWII for the US while the rest of their families were placed in concentration camps were still not allowed to legally marry Caucasians in Oregon and had to cross over into Washington state to marry.

    -tl

  • Misha (unverified)
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    Also, let's remember that what Mr. Sizemore calls policies "shoved down our throats by a bunch of liberal Democrats" are actually policies supported by a solid majority of Americans.

    1. The Legislature passed a ban on employment discrimination against gays and lesbians. According to a May 10-13 Gallup Poll, a solid 89% of Americans support this policy.

    2. The Legislature passed a domestic partnership law, giving same-sex couples many (but not all) of the same rights as opposite-sex married couples receive. According to a Fox News poll from last November 4-5, a full 60% of Americans support either gay marriage (30%) or "a legal partnership similar to but not called marriage" (30%).

    So, Bill, think what you will about the merits of these policies, but let's not pretend they are part of some kind of radical agenda forced upon Oregonians by an out-of-touch legislature. These policies are well within the mainstream.

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    Posted by: Recovering Straight Girl | Sep 27, 2007 12:32:22 PM My partner and I deserve the same protection under the law that I received when I was married to a man. No more, just the same. Why is that asking so much?

    Come on.. admit it.. you also want the toaster oven that nefarious Gay Agenda™ gives out when you convert someone into being gay or bi (though you have to convert two people into being bi instead of just one if they are made gay).

    ;-)

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    you also want the toaster oven that nefarious Gay Agenda™ gives out when you convert someone into being gay or bi (though you have to convert two people into being bi instead of just one if they are made gay)

    Wait! They can get the toaster oven anyway, if they register for it when they get married!

    %^>

    Here's what I don't understand. How would my rights, or Bill Sizemore's rights, or any other non-gay person's rights, be infringed if the state of Oregon were to recognize civil marriages (not civil unions, civil marriages) between individuals of the same gender?

    Nobody proposes forcing the churches to solemnize marriages or other unions they do not approve of. We are talking about state law and an agency of state or county government. Where is the attack on anyone else's rights by simply extending the recognition to same sex couples? I just don't see it.

    It's not even like employment discrimination. Never mind how deeply wrong it is, I can theoretically ALMOST understand an employer saying, "Sodomy squicks me out! If I know somebody who works for me is committing sodomy, I can't even look at that person anymore!" (Well, above and beyond the fact that many straight people enjoy various flavors of sodomy from time to time, I can almost understand that.) But allowing same sex couples to get married need not even TOUCH the life of a committed homophobe. Where's the issue?

  • DanS (unverified)
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    Genesis 2:24

    Romans 1:26-32

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    That is what it always comes down to, isn't it? Thank you for at least being honest about it.

    Well, thankfully, DanS, we do not live in a theocracy ... YET.

    We are talking about civil rights under civil law.

  • Minny (unverified)
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    DanS--

    I just read those two Bible passages three times, and I can't for the life of me figure out what they have to do with allowing gay couples to file their income taxes jointly or allowing gays to visit their life partners in the hospital.

    Maybe you can explain....

    Also, maybe you can explain to me how we should give these Bible passages effect in the law: Deuteronomy 23:1 Deuteronomy 23:3 (Under those Biblical provisions, bastards and eunuchs are not permitted to get married.)

  • Recovering Straight Girl (unverified)
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    Or one of my favorites from Leviticus 20:9--

    "If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head."

    Perhaps we should use this to justify legalized infanticide?

  • David (unverified)
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    According to the SOS's website, 62,000 unverified signatures were turned in for both, meaning that the validity rate would need to be 89%, not at all likely.

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    Ever notice how much the haters love the Old Testament, and ignore as much as they can, Jesus' teachings about the downtrodden and the poor?

    It's ironic they call themselves Christians, because they're really the modern day Pharisees: people who claim to speak for God so that they can avoid confronting their own blackened, hate filled, souls.

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    DanS... so you are saying that those who are disobedient to parents are worthy of death and that should be the law of the land?

    Or just the fornicators?

    Better be careful there,.. Vitter (cough)... Gingrich (cough) ... Barr (cough)... might not like the idea they should be put to death.

    So are you suggesting biblical law should be the law if the United States of America or just here in Oregon?

    You really want to go down that road?

    Observe my regulations. Don't let your livestock mate with those of another kind, don't sow your field with two different kinds of grain, and don't wear a garment of cloth made with two different kinds of thread. (Leviticus 19:19) Don't round your hair at the temples or mar the edges of your beard. (Leviticus 19:27) A person who curses his father or mother must be put to death; having cursed his father or his mother, his blood is on him. (Leviticus 20:9) If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, that is, with the wife of a fellow countryman, both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10) The man who goes to bed with his father's wife has disgraced his father sexually, and both of them must be put to death; their blood is on them. (Leviticus 20:11) If a man goes to bed with a woman in her menstrual period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her blood, and she has exposed the source of her blood; both of them are to be cut off from their people. (Leviticus 20:18) A man or woman who is a spirit-medium or sorcerer must be put to death; they are to stone them to death; their blood will be on them. Leviticus 20:27) The daughter of a cohen who profanes herself by prostitution profanes her father; she is to be put to death by fire. (Leviticus 21:9) 21:17 Tell Aharon, 'None of your descendants who has a defect may approach to offer the bread of his God. 21:18 No one with a defect may approach - no one blind, lame, with a mutilated face or a limb too long, (Leviticus 21:17-18) 24:14 "Take the man who cursed outside the camp, have everyone who heard him lay their hands on his head, and have the entire community stone him. 24:15 Then tell the people of Isra'el, 'Whoever curses his God will bear the consequences of his sin; 24:16 and whoever blasphemes the name of ADONAI must be put to death; the entire community must stone him. The foreigner as well as the citizen is to be put to death if he blasphemes the Name. (Leviticus 24:14-16)

    Throughout Leviticus God states that these laws are to be followed forever. Hmmm.

    Another favorite:

    Concerning the men and women you may have as slaves: you are to buy men- and women-slaves from the nations surrounding you. (Leviticus 25:44)

    Does this mean I can choose between Mexicans and Canadian slaves?

    If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; also everything that she sits on shall be unclean. Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And whoever touches anything that she sat on shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If anything is on her bed or on anything on which she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening. And if any man lies with her at all, so that her impurity is on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.' (Leviticus 15:19-25)

    You women better stay inside when "aunt flo" is in town.

    Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woolen come upon thee. (Leviticus 19:19)

    Better check the tags in your WalMart purchased clothing DanS, your eternal soul may hang in the balance.

    Why do many people feel it's ok to cherry pick the laws they like from the bible and point to them when issues about not being discriminatory against non-heterosexuals, yet ignore others?

    I would suggest that maybe.. just maybe.. we might not want to make the edicts of a bunch of bronze-age semitic witch doctors to be the law of the land in the 21st century United States of America.

    Just a thought.

  • DanS (unverified)
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    1 Timothy 3:2, 3:12

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    DanS... can you help me decide on whether I should pick Canadian or Mexican slaves (it seems to be Kosher with the big sky-pixie according to Leviticus 25:44)...?

    I really wish you could have posted about these biblical laws last week because I was just in Vancouver B.C. this past weekend and could have maybe picked up a good one while up there.

  • DanS (unverified)
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    Colossians 2:8 & 2:13-15

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Our laws do not need religious rationale; Bible verses are red herrings. We can get as far off track as we like arguing back and forth about what Leviticus said or what happened in Gomorrah, but it is not pertinent to whether Oregon will allow bosses to fire employees for being "too faggy."

  • Scott in Damascus (unverified)
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    Dear DanS,

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your posts and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him or her that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to follow them:

    1. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    2. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

    3. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

    4. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't know. Can you settle this?

    5. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

    I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging, and we should do what the bible says.

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    You can quote and believe Bible verses all you like. However, that is not the law of the United States. The law here says we are all equal and have the same rights.

    I strongly believe we need to do away with "marriage" in the law entirely. We need to do what other countries do, which is to have some sort of civil union that is available to all. It carries all the rights that go with a legal union.

    To be recognized as a legal union, you need your license and you need the ceremony performed by someone who has licensed to do so.

    Whether we allow the religious ceremony and the civil ceremony to be done at the same time (which is what we do now) or have them separate (which is what is required in many countries), is something we need to look at.

    But religion is too firmly entrenched in the word "marriage."

    And before our resident right-wingers start bashing me as a lesbian and an atheist, let me say that I have been married to my husband for 10 years and am a Southern Baptist.

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    I don't disagree James X, I just find it amusing to call them on their bronze-age bullshit. As the classic scene in the West Wing episode "The Midterms" laid it all out:

    Jenna Jacobs: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does. President Josiah Bartlet: Yes, it does. Leviticus. Jacobs: 18:22 Bartlet: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. small chuckles from the guests Bartlet: She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, and always clears the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath, Exodus 35:2, clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important, 'cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes us unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Jenna Jacobs fidgets uncomfortably. Bartlet: Think about those questions, would you? One last thing, while you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tightass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits. Jenna Jacobs squirms in her seat but doesn't rise. Bartlet glares meaningfully at her. She finally rises out of her seat.

    That show rocked.

  • DanS (unverified)
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    1 Corinthians 10:23-26

  • Paul of Tarsus (unverified)
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    We can go on and on with the quote game all day! My favorite (for non-spiritual purposes) Bible quote:

    1 Kings 7:23 Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference.

    Get it?... Pi = 3, apparently.

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    Posted by: DanS | Sep 27, 2007 4:55:42 PM 1 Corinthians 10:23-26

    Isn't that where Ricardo Montalban got the leather for Chrystler Cordoba's back in the late 70s?

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Romans 13:9-10 En garde, DanS!

    (Disclaimer: "Paul of Tarsus" is my sock puppet)

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    Posted by: Paul of Tarsus | Sep 27, 2007 5:11:46 PM

    Maybe it was balloon shaped:

    Evelle: I got me some baby grub, baby wipes, diapers, them disposable kind. I also got a package of balloons. Gale: They blow up into funny shapes and all? Evelle: No, just circular.
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    Posted by: JHL | Sep 27, 2007 5:17:54 PM Romans 13:9-10 En garde, DanS!

    I doubt DanS will speak to you now, you spoke French which is verboten for FoxNews viewers. Hell, even "looking French" is bad enough to make you unfit for office in their mind (witness John Kerry looking "too french" in 2004).

    ;-)

  • Alan (unverified)
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    The question I pose to serious readers on this site is this: What is the source of the supposed right of gays and lesbians to have official relationships, adopt kids, etc? Why is this a right? Is it a right simply because they want to do these things?

    The source is concept of freedom and justice. In a free society, you have the right to do as you please, until it interferes with someone else's right to do as they please, at which point a negotiation ensues. In a just society, every one is treated as fairly and equally as possible.

    Gay marriage does not prevent straight couples from marrying. Narrow-minded religious bigots (which does not include all religious people fortunately!) prevent gay couples from marrying. That is not freedom.

    Freedom only has meaning if you apply it to things you don't approve of: the freedom to be or do only what others approve is no freedom at all.

    Or, as Robert Heinlein said well: “Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense. (Hurting yourself is not sinful - just stupid).”

    If you want a legal basis, rather than fundamental principles, how about the 10th amendment to the US Constitution and Section 20 of the Oregon Constitution. It couldn't be spelled out any more simply and clearly.

    I also find it interesting that the same people who decry "special rights" for those who are trying to get equal treatment are the same ones now calling loudest to keep the very real special rights they now enjoy.

  • Warner (unverified)
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    This argument is pretty intersting, but I really would like to hear from one of our Bible-believing fiends from the right how they respond to the argument raised several times above, that many of the laws in the Bible are completely ignored by even the most devout of modern-day Christians. I'm serious, I really want to hear a response to this. I assume they have one. This is not a new argument. I have heard it several times before. But I have never heard the Christian-right's response. It does appear to me that Christians are picking and choosing the rules they want to live by. If that is not the case, please tell me why this perception is wrong.

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    Posted by: Warner | Sep 27, 2007 6:22:12 PM

    In the past I have had some bible-thumpers try to argue that Jesus' coming to earth made all those OT cleanliness laws obsolete (never mind they sill bring up the OT laws all the time to bash-gays with them) and then point to Saul/Paul's gospels as proof that gays are sinful. Never-mind Jesus said absolutely nothing on the subject (but did have a word or two about divorce) and we only have the writings of Saul/Paul, who never even laid eyes on Jesus to go by. The same Saul/Paul BTW who wrote in his letters how you should promptly return an escaped slave back to his owners. Yeah, that's the guy whose moral compass and writings I want to embrace and see made into the law of the land.

    In short, they have a total of three passages (all written by Saul/Paul of the sunstroke on the way to Damascus fame), two of which are questionable he is even talking about homosexuality and not masturbation instead.

    That said, I would love to have some believer take you up on your challenge and answer (they hardly ever do) and come up with something to explain it. From my experience over the years engaged on the subject, they have nothing.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Bill,

    Why do you keep butting your nose into our business when you live in New York?

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Well, Christ did kinda do away with the "unclean" stuff... but keep in mind who Paul was and who decided to edit his texts:

    St. Paul was a Roman whose job it was to basically go around persecuting Christians because Rome thought that it wasn't the best idea to have them worshiping a God who didn't vouch for the Roman government.

    At some point, Paul meets a bunch of Christians, and the following exchange (or something like it) ocurrs:

    Christians: Oh noes! Are you here to persecute us? Paul: Nah. I was going to, but I had a vision of Jesus! Christians: Really? Did the guys travelling with you see Him too? Paul: Umm... no. He was invisible. Except to me. Christians: Cool! What did He say? Paul: Umm... He said that I'm going to be setting Christian policy from now on. Christians: That's odd... but if Jesus said so... Paul: Yup. And he wanted me to tell you guys that Rome is totally awesome! And also to pay your taxes on time. Christians: That doesn't sound like Jesus... Paul: Well, he also told me a whole mess of ways to make sure that your soul isn't damned forever... but if you're not interested in hearing them, I guess I'll just-- Christians: Oh wait! Tell us! Tell us!

    Yeah... that's a slightly less reliable source than Christ Himself.

  • Recovering Straight Girl (unverified)
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    Personally I think that Saul/Paul was a closet case himself. And if we're going use Paul's words, there are a whole bunch of crazy things that he said. Paul wasn't that big on marriage for anyone. He was pretty sure that the end of the world was just around the corner.

    Still waiting...

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Paul's wacky biblical laws...

    • Don't marry (1 Cor. 7:1, 1 Cor. 7:38
    • Don't get divorced (1 Cor. 7:11)
    • Don't get circumcised (1 Cor. 7:19, Gal. 5:2)
    • Don't seek freedom from slavery (1 Cor. 7:21, Tit. 2:9)
    • Don't worry about eating food sacrificed to idols (1 Cor. 8:4)
    • Don't have long hair [men] (1 Cor. 11:14)
    • Don't wear gold, braids, expensive clothes (1 Tim. 2:9)
    • Don't let women teach/have authority over men (1 Tim. 2:12)
    • Don't give welfare to women under sixty (1 Tim. 5:9)
  • JHL (unverified)
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    Well, apart from the first one, it kinda sounds like the Republican Party platform.

  • DanS (unverified)
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    I'm absolutely amazed that none of the many Christians that read this site on a daily basis haven't stepped in with comments on the posts below. If you are Christian, you should be troubled by your liberal brothers and sisters posting such attacks on the words that you believe and live by. Some of the more troubling, and in some cases blasphemous are listed below:

    Posted by: lestatdelc | Sep 27, 2007 4:28:16 PM

    DanS... can you help me decide on whether I should pick Canadian or Mexican slaves (it seems to be Kosher with the big sky-pixie according to Leviticus 25:44)...?

    Posted by: East Bank Thom | Sep 27, 2007 9:24:02 PM

    Paul's wacky biblical laws...

    Posted by: Recovering Straight Girl | Sep 27, 2007 8:48:55 PM

    Personally I think that Saul/Paul was a closet case himself. And if we're going use Paul's words, there are a whole bunch of crazy things that he said.

    Posted by: JHL | Sep 27, 2007 8:10:47 PM

    Yeah... that's a slightly less reliable source than Christ Himself.

    After I see some liberal believers in Christ and his word refute some of the non-belief parading as a real response, I will gladly refute each and every post.

    May the Lord bless all of you that put your faith above your politics.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Besides numbers, these things should have to have regional diversity. Has anyone been approached to sign this petition? I have never, which seems incredible in this town...

    If anyone ever was approached, where was it?

    Guess I'm just disappointed. Would have enjoyed that discussion.

  • Jack Hobbes (unverified)
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    " After I see some liberal believers in Christ and his word refute some of the non-belief parading as a real response, I will gladly refute each and every post.

    What an American! Ignorant but willing to take all comers! You sound like a 16 year old that's learned to drive an automatic transmission and thinks they can race at Daytona!

    I'll gladly have the debate with anyone that can read the damned text in the Greek! How can you debate every little nuance as divinely inspired, when you have a tranlator in between? Sure there are good translations, but it's somebody else's interpretation. I read both. Believe me, it's very different.

    Koine Greek is the most gutter of common gutter dialects ever spoken. Anything that makes it sound otherwise is inaccurate on the face of it. Then you have books like John, that seem to be trying to set a record for puns. All Greek puns, quoting somebody that didn't speak Greek. Yeah, that's what He said. Want to limit it to what we KNOW Jezus said? That would have to be the ONE LINE where Aramaic is written phonetically in Greek, "Eloi, eloi lama sabaxthani", as a direct quote. So, if you want to fantasize that your living His Xtianity, your only reliable starting point is that sentence, "Oh God, why have you abandoned me?" That's it. Want to quote Him? Go around saying "Why has God abandoned me". The rest is Pauline marketing.

    You can't even take the bible literally. It's filled with contradictions. Doing so makes it meaningless. Obvious literal commands included. Do you eat pork? Do you think women should be confined to the home during their menstrual periods? Read it again, SFB, that was a MUCH, MUCH more imporant deal for them than being gay.

    It's too bad the little "epilogues" never made it into scripture. If you go to original, untranslated manuscripts- not copies, the real thing- you will often find some little bits of the author's personal wisdom attached. Theories of physics, life, you name it. Kind of like one person having a conversation like this one with themselves. What I find interesting is that they are never right. Worse, they're not even good guesses. These need to be published as well. Statements about moral behavior sound better if you don't say later, "and by the way, I've figured out the physics of sound propagation. when the tongue strikes the air, it prouduces a remote effect, which is actualized by the passive intellect. the air is a vacuum, which is why it reacts to being struck. And, I've reviewed the relevant scriptures and find homosexuality to be a mortal sin, unconditionally". Maybe you'd start to see this as the interpretations of not very bright people, instead of divine truth.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    If the government interferes in our lives to the extent we cannot control and choose our most intimate relationships, relationships that are at the very core and essence of each of us as a person, are we free?

    The Constitution guarantees our freedom. If we are not allowed to marry who we want, are not allowed to control our own reproductive processes, are we free?

  • Recovering Straight Girl (unverified)
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    What's wrong with saying Paul was a closet case?

    He was.

  • Bill Sizemore (unverified)
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    People who quote Old Testament verses as a basis for condemning homosexuality do have a problem. There are in fact many other deeds that are listed side by side that must also be condemned, if the Law of Moses is the basis for condemning homosxuality.

    The same is true for capital punishment for murder. If your authority for capital punishment in modern times is the Law of Moses, then you have to support the death penalty for such things as adultery and even gathering firewood on the Sabbath.

    However, those who point to those "outlandish" Old Testament verses to reinforce their defense of homosexuality are in way over their heads. They know just enough about the Bible to be dangerous to themselves and to those to whom they offer their counsel.

    God did not change or mature or grow up between the Old and New Testaments. He made no mistakes back then. How could He? He lives in eternity, not time, so for Him there was not a then and now, not a Bronze Age and an Information Age. Then and now is all the present to Him.

    There are very solid explanations for what seems to some of the writers on this blog to be contradictions in the Bible. There are good reasons why God dealt with people differently in Old Testament times than He does now, but how does one explain that to people who are not looking to learn about Him, but deny Him or want to remake him in the image they prefer or fit their preconceived notions.

    The Bible is a spiritual book. In it, it says that without faith it is impossible to please God and He who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him. If you do not start with faith and diligently seek Him, you will not find Him and you will definitely not understand the Bible. Rather you will be as many who write on this blog, arrogantly and mockingly quoting scriptures that they are not even remotely close to understanding.

    One can make a coherent argument that notwithstanding the Bible's clear denunciation of homosexuality, the laws of this nation can permit civil unions for gays and lesbians. States can allow such agreements and amke them like any other civil contract. You can even make an argument that such contracts are automatically legal absent a law prohibiting them.

    I am not sure that is what frightens most social conservatives.

    I think it is more along this line: In Canada and in Europe, Christian ministers have been jailed for preaching that homosexuality is wrong, something they believe deeply. We fear that happening in this country.

    Churches and church camps have been sued and sanctioned for not agreeing to allow civil unions to be performed on their properties, even though such practices violate their beliefs and conscience.

    The fact that militant gays are intentionally instigating these crises tells us that the real goal is not to live and let live as they claim, but to force society to endorse their life choices and punish those who dare disagree with them.

    It is easy to use the more extreme crazier elements of the social conservative side, those with the "Burn Gays" signs and signs with quotations from Leviticus, to attack the more thoughtful conservatives and lump us all together. But there are lots of us on this side of the fence who understand this issue a lot better than you apparently think.

    In spite of what some on our side claim, Leviticus is not binding today and should not be quoted in this debate. God's reasons for stating what He did back then are no longer relevant. But God had a point to make and knew when He spoke the prohiitions that you would judge them the way you are today, 3,500 years later. He obviously didn't care what you would think.

    I am going to say one more thing that may be a waste of key strokes, but so be it. God is who He is. He is not who we want Him to be. In our tiny mental capacities and frame of reference, we might think we can judge His actions at some time in history and conclude that we are wiser than He or more loving than He and are somehow better than He is. But how foolish such a position is.

    He knows the thoughts of every person who ever lived and even those we have not even thought yet. Yet we dare judge Him or believe we know better. But it has always been this way.

    Here's how Jesus explained why men reject Him: He said, "Light is come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." Many read the Bible in the same way. They hate the Book because it condemns their choices. They prefer the darkness of their own judgments.

    In one story in the Gospel of John, Jesus watched a huge crowd walk away and follow Him no more because of something He had just said. He had just told them that unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood, they would have no part with Him.

    Any Jew knows how blasphemous that sounded. Jesus made no effort to stop them from leaving and even asked His disciples if they would leave also. When they decided to stay, He told them that the words He spoke were spirit and they were life. In other words, the point God is making is not always waht it appears, but to see that requires spiritual insight.

    Many today try to juxtapose the words of Paul with the words of Jesus and both of those to the words of Moses in the Old Testament and point out apparent contradictions. In reality, these men never disagreed. They were all inspired by the same Spirit and their words go together perfectly. How that works is not necessarily apparent to a novice, but it is so. The words of Moses and the words of Jesus are from the same omnicient, eternal God.

    I have studied the Bible for more than 40 years and don't know of one contradiction, but I don't expect casual observers to know that.

    Back to pure politics. I doubt the Constitution guarantees a right to civil unions. In those times, the founders would not have carved out such a thing anymore than they would have seen the 1st Amendment as protecting pornography, as some courts do today. However, I believe it is within the pervue of states under the 10th Amendment to enact laws allowing civil unions and Oregon has done so.

    I see no basis for claiming that such contracts are basic rights and find nothing I have read here to be persuasive. But Oregon has chosen to elect enough liberal Democrats to make civil unions the law and our side failed to gather the signatures necessary to force a referendum, so the rest of us will have to live with that until the law is changed.

    FYI, I try to ignore the fools who resort to name calling, but am happy to discuss issues with the thoughtful ones who sometimes comment on these threads.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Actually, the argument is circular.

    The bible wasn't compiled until Constantine needed an instruction manual to let all his new converts know what he was converting them to. Just like today, there was a professional consensus about who were the mainstream and who were the fringe element.

    Only those that agreed with the a priori conclusions the bible was to have were invited. There are scriptures which contradict all this, but they weren't included, because these political choices had already been made. If you believe it is God's will, then you believe that Constantine was ruler by divine right and direct inspiration.

    Marriage is a legal term. Justinian is the author of marriage, in our culture, not God. As Roman law defined it, and Constantine implemented it, gay marriage does destroy the institution of marriage, because that's how he defined it.

    It's just another debate between the status quo and the progressives about change and stasis. The stasis people either don't know what they're defending, or know it's just resisting change, which they never feel comfortable admitting. Why not? Better than teaching everyone that the Bible is a load, trying to use it to answer a question that had a different social meaning at the time.

    Let's have some quotes from the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel according to St. Peter, the Apocalypse of Moses and the Fourth Book of Baruch as well!

    Start with Thomas' gospel. Talks about two Xtianities, before Paul's big takeover at the Council of Jerusalem, one run by his family, and the other by Paul. After his success, Paul just had all the others killed. James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, was their leader.

    Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the right are continuing Constantines conquest. "Under the sign of the cross, you will conquer". That was Constantine's inspiration/motto. Maybe that's what it's about, what the right are still doing. "Under the sign of the cross you will get your way politically".

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Bill, you mentioned something very telling that illustrates the split between modern-day social conservatives and Christ:

    "Jesus watched a huge crowd walk away and follow Him no more because of something He had just said. ... Jesus made no effort to stop them from leaving and even asked His disciples if they would leave also."

    Why did He make no effort to stop them from leaving? If Christ was more like modern-day social conservatives, the quote may have run like such:

    "Jeebus watched a huge crowd walk away and follow him no more because of something he had just said. ... Jeebus asked his disciples to bring them back and sit them the hell down, but found it was outside the scope of law to do so. So Jeebus set up a political action committee that lobbied Pilate to alter the law and force the people to listen to him and live according to his teachings."

    It's pretty shallow-minded to think that just because someone doesn't share your political beliefs means that they don't cherish the Bible as much as you or they must have not understood it.

  • DanS (unverified)
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    The silence from the left is very loud. I wondered if anyone who reads this, that considers themselves a lefty and a Christian, would take up the comments I highlighted and put forth by your fellow political warriors.

    I especially though Jenni might have something to say about Lestatdelc calling God the "big sky pixie". But, to no avail. Just silence.

    I'm disapointed. If I ever see a conservative make comments about God, or his word, I would be the first to tell them I disagree with their logic and their words.

    "...and they exchanged the truth with for a lie.."

  • ws (unverified)
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    Well, I've got to say, Bill Sizemore is quite an eloquent bible story teller. In the end though, the conclusions of the stories told ultimately come down to the same degrading conclusion: that any person not assimilating and extolling the literal dictates of the bible are inferior to those that do.

    A long, long time ago, before his life and purpose was twisted, warped and exploited by zealous so called "followers", I think Jesus was probably quite an extraordinary, inspired fellow with some good ideas that could perhaps make everyones life better. In fact, for all intent and purpose, I continue to think that's the case, but not because of much the bible has to say about him. That adulterated book and many of those that pitch it long ago led me to realize that they were far less concerned with the welfare of others and what "god" intended for everyone than they were about expanding their powerbase and imposing a lifestyle exclusively favorable to their own limited interests upon a widely diverse land.

    I think wiser ones will hope, and pray if you will, "god" willing, for something far better than that. Letting people that love and commit themselves to each other share the same rights across equally across the land, is a good place to continue the work that has been so far.

  • Misha (unverified)
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    Mr. Sizemore,

    What I don't understand is: Even if everything you said in your post was correct -- and I do not concede that it is -- still,

    Why should the government privilege your religious views to mine?

    You obviously have strong opinions about The Truth according to God. So do I. But why do you believe the government is justified in constraining the rights of a minority group based only upon your faith?

    I think that is the fundamental disagreement. People on the left believe government should be neutral as between divergent religious worldviews. And, unless you would want a Mormon majority to ban caffeine and alcohol or a Jewish majority to outlaw conducting business on Saturdays, I think you probably agree with the left on this most of the time.

    So why is the issue of gay rights any different?

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    May the Lord bless all of you that put your faith above your politics.

    So are we talking about "faith" in Zeus? Buddha? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Jebus? Mohammed? Hera? Shazam? The Big Sky Pixie?

    It always come down to: my imaginary friend (fill in the blank), whom I have complete and utter faith in (i.e., I have absolutely no evidence for whatsoever) tells me that you're bad and evil and less deserving of basic civil protections than I am...

    And therefore we must limit, qualify, and do away with our powerful, human, Enlightenment agreement (an agreement amongst people, who actually exist) to guarantee EVERY American equal, civil rights.

    An old and very American story (Blacks, women, interracial couples; praise Jebus, he hated them all at one time or another) - but the arc of history is long, and it bends towards justice...

  • Anon (unverified)
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    "so the rest of us will have to live with that until the law is changed."

    In what way do you "have to live with that"? Are you being forced into a civil union against your will? Is anyone else? Absent that, what possible difference does it make to you?

    Prior to the first civil unions or domestic partnerships in the United States, what was the divorce rate? 50%? Higher, even? Weren't there significant problems, therefore, precluding gay marriage/civil unions/domestic partnerships from being taken into consideration in any respect whatsoever, when discussing the current state of hetereosexual unions? Yes - it is emprically the case that gay marriage/civil unions/domestic partnerships have no effect -- and certainly do no harm -- to the general institution of marraige.

    So you, Bill, have no supportable argument, and therefore no reason to complain that you have to "live with it". You are not harmed in any way, shape or form. Neither is any other person, or any other intangible institution, value or belief. You simply cannot make, support or prove your case.

    Living in a society means you have to put up with other people doing things "you don't like". There are plenty of things going on that I don't like either. But if simply "don't like" was the standard for passing laws and legally regulating behavior - that would be insane! Don't like it? Too bad. Don't live here. Oh that's right - you don't!

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    Jack Hobbes,

    Thanks for your most interesting and informative commentary. Just one question: my understanding is that there are not any extant "original" Christian gospel writings, but only copies dating, or inferred to date, from various lengths of time after inferred approximate dates of composition, those approximate dates being inferred from internal evidence and from observable influences of certain texts on later composed or finalized ones. I believe the earliest are some of the writings of Paul, inferred to have been finalized ca. 80 CE, and the gospel of Luke, inferred from ca. 90-110 CE. But the earliest extand texts postdate those dates considerably I think. Am I wrong?

    Bill S. -- My understanding is that certain of the Christian gospels show Jesus not so much rejecting the old Law as saying that to be true to it, one must try to understand the spirit behind it and fulfill that. In a way this seems to be a criticism of taking the older texts to literally, in effect turning them into fetishes or idols, not carved in stone, but marked on papyrus or vellum. My understanding of how my liberal Christian relatives and friends come to support full equality for LGBTQ people, including same sex marriages, is that they believe that their faith and (inherently imperfect) efforts to follow in Jesus' footsteps requires them to take the same view of biblical passages that appear not to comport with Jesus' central message of lovingkindness as the ground of moral and ethical life. It is not just a matter of cherrypicking, both sides can do that. It is a more profound question of not turning chapter and verse into fetishes and idols.

    This view of course will be a problem for those who affirm the truth of the Bible as the literal, inerrant, revealed word of God. But that seems to me to create a paradox that is very hard to escape. If God-outside-of-time reveals his Word in time to imperfect mortals, imperfect in part due to their temporality, and then reveals more of it or another expression of it in another time, including the injunction that His Word is to be read for its spirit, not its literality. For Biblical literalists, this in part takes the paragraph on needing to believe literally in a message not to take literally a large part of the holy texts they also believe they are commanded to take literally.

    A partial way out of this conundrum is to say that due to human imperfection, the holy must still be interpreted within temporality as best as possible by humans in their punyness. You yourself say as much when you say that the concordance of Moses, the gospels and Paul is not transparent, but requires extended meditation and reflection on how to interpret them. Yet the confrontation of the eternal with the temporal implies that any and all temporal interpretations by our puny beings will be inadequate.

    Which is why I say this is only a partial way out of the paradox. Under it, you can have the holy texts as the revealed and perfect Word of God. But it seems to me that you can only have inerrency in a partial, limited, imperfect sense. That is, you can have the texts as inerrent as far as they go, but you can't have them as the complete Word of God, limited both by their temporality and their address to humans. And you can have literalness only in an even more limited sense: that these literally are God's Words, but not that their meaning is transparent or that they are to be taken literally by imperfect human interpretation.

    It seems to me that your own account of multiple interventions or revelations by God in human temporality, with different ones addressing different temporal circumstances, would tend to support this view.

    For myself, this then raises the further question of temporal error and even invention introduced in the process of writing and redaction of what previously had been oral testimonies, codification of approved forms of given texts, and choices about inclusion and exclusion of various texts in the received canon. Ultimately reflection on these matters leave me open to the possibility of holiness of some sort in these texts, perhaps even a great preponderance, but not to complete innerency and even less to literal truth of the texts.

    <hr/>

    On to more temporal matters. You say we should not take the "burn Gays" sociopaths as representatives of all conservative Christians. Fair enough.

    But the same point applies to your expressed fears of repression like that supposedly carried out in Europe and Canada. (I wouldn't mind some cites about the jailings -- I am aware of jailings of Holocaust deniers in Germany, but that is the closest thing).

    Here in the U.S. we have the First Amendment, which in my view makes what you fear unlikely in the extreme. It protects freedom of speech, and if anything religious speech most strongly of all, since jailing a pastor or priest for religious moral teachings would violate both the free speech clause and the establishment clause. Liberals, who I suppose you would see as the most likely candidates to press for such prosecution, instead have a record of defending the free speech rights of Nazis, who are much worse haters than than conservative anti-gay haters.

    With respect to forcing religious bodies to either perform civil unions or marriages against their beliefs, or to allow their facilities to be used, again that just is not going to happen in the U.S. Even laws written to forbid discrimination on the basis of religion contain exemptions for actual religious organizations and places -- e.g. George Fox University, an evangelical Quaker institution, regularly advertises that an evangelical Christian commitment is required for employment there, and does not break the law in doing so.

    I actually wonder if the cases you cite, if true, occur in countries with state religions, like perhaps Norway?

    If anything, the shoe is on the other foot, with a few conservative Christians, like the judge in Alabama (?) with his huge Ten Commandments edifice, seeking to turn secular public places into particular religious ones.

    <hr/>

    You still have not said how civil marriages, much less civil unions or domestic partnerships with fewer attached civil rights, threaten the marriages of heterosexuals or religious people who would not recognize such marriages in their faiths.

    If marriage is a sacred relationship that enables non-sinful sexual activity, and your faith considers homosexual sex sinful so that you don't want to bless it, the solution is to make a universal civil union the basis of civil rights for couples who form such a union, and keep marriage religious. Of course, other faiths might bless same sex marriages. But even today civil marriage does not bless marriages, so that it cannot "sully" particular faith marriages with their conception of sin.

    This already exists for Catholics in a way. A legally divorced Catholic is divorced under civil law, and may remarry under civil law without committing bigotry. But to the Catholic Church, that person remains married to the first spouse until death of one partner. A Protestant church probably would recognize the divorce and be willing to bless the remarriage, though.

    <hr/>

    At the end of the day, you still want to hurt my friends and relatives and fellow citizens, and you want to allow others to do so as well. You want to do this out of hatred. The impulse runs completely against what I have understood as the underlying principle, the spirit that goes beyond the letter, of Jesus' message as to how we should live our temporal lives, and that of other well worked out moral and ethical systems. I know and love and respect Christians whose faith is every bit as true and substantial as yours or DavidS's, who conclude their faith requires love (caritas, I'm spacing on the Greek word) toward LGBTQ people along with all others.

    While I respect your right to your faith, I respect the content of theirs more, for it seems the better interpretation for reconciling contradictory elements of scripture, both in terms of how scripture itself tells us to deal with literal texts (the spirit beyond the letter), and in terms of which ethical principles are most important.

    In any case, your right to your faith doesn't extend to a right to hurt my family and friends and fellows in society. You can hate if you want, but don't pretend its anything different.

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    Oops, I meant that divorced and remarried Catholics don't commit bigamy under civil law, not bigotry.

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    the preview function appears to be telling me that I've fixed my error due to previous failure to use preview (sorry!) but it's been lying. Hope this works.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Italics OFF... OFF I say!

    (We could always pray to St. Isidore of Seville to turn off the italics for us... he is, after all, the patron saint of the Internet.)

  • Anon (unverified)
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    <h2>italics off did that work?</h2>
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