2013 Legislative To-Do List [UPDATED]

The 2013 legislative session kicks off next week, and there’s a long list of things that the newly-minted Democratic majorities should look at as their top priorities.

#1:  Fix the budget.  It’s long past time for the folks in St. Paul to get on with it and take care of the structural problems in the state budget.  No more stalling, no more half-measures, no more one-time fixes or gimmicks to solve this year’s $1.1 billion projected deficit.  This means:

1a.) Get a plan in place to pay back the school shifts.  My talks with local school district officials indicate that they are more interested in certainty at this point, so we need not necessarily pay back the entire $1.1 billion still remaining (this is on top of the $1.1 billion deficit) in one budget cycle.  A bipartisan commitment, though, to repaying $275 million a year for the next four years should be sufficient.

1b.) Real tax reform.  The elements required here are pretty simple, but the devil is in the details.  First, broaden the base of the sales tax by removing distorting exemptions on some categories of goods and services — it should be possible to broaden the base, lower the rate, and still end up revenue-neutral to revenue-positive.  Second, recognize that the sales tax changes are regressive, so cut income taxes on lower- and middle-income taxpayers.  Third, remove unnecessary tax expenditures (credits and deductions) that essentially function as handouts via the tax code.  This should free up additional revenue that can be applied to across-the-board rate reductions in both the individual income and corporate income taxes.  And that’s all before addressing our overly complex property tax system.  It may be too much to ask legislators to fix that in 2013, too, but we can hope.

1c.) Accountability in state spending.  State government needs to do a much better job of measuring effectiveness of state programs, and requiring reforms for programs that don’t measure up.  Additionally, there are programs that just aren’t needed any more.  It’s time to end them, now.  That said, we should be wary of sound-bite proposals like legislative Republicans proposed last session that imposed across-the-board cuts without an analysis of the work required.

#2:  Improve the job-creation environment in the state.  An odd-year bonding bill seems unlikely at this point, but the Legislature can take some concrete steps to improve conditions for job creation in the state.  A commitment to infrastructure is paramount.  For starters, the legislature can begin indexing the gasoline tax to inflation in order to maintain its buying power. (Minnesota’s gasoline tax, even with the increase passed after the 35W bridge collapse, has less purchasing power than it did 20 years ago and our road and bridge construction needs are much more significant.)  Renewing our commitment to our public universities is vital as well.  Even though enrollment is up 23,000 over that time, funding for the University of Minnesota system and MnSCU has declined back to Ventura Administration levels.  This is a significant factor in the doubling of college tuition over the last decade.  In return, those institutions should provide concrete plans on how they can reform their operations and become more efficient.  The U of M, in particular, has some administrative bloat that needs to be addressed.

#3:  Support implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, required as part of the Affordable Care Act, is scheduled to go live in October to enable enrollment in plans starting on January 1, 2014.  It is critical that the Department of Commerce have the necessary resources to finish development and provide ongoing support for the exchange.

#4:  Government accountability, campaign finance and election reform.  There’s a gaping hole in the finance disclosures that our elected officials have to provide.  If they work as an independent contractor or consultant, legislators don’t have to disclose who they work for.  That’s a problem, as demonstrated during the campaign in the case of Senator David Hann.  Unlike some, I don’t have a problem with Hann chairing the committee with critical oversight on health insurance while being licensed to sell it.  But I do have a problem with not knowing who’s paying Hann’s salary outside of the Capitol so I can fairly judge his actions in the legislature.  Same goes for anyone else.  It’s time to require folks in those categories to disclose who they’re getting paid by (over a limit, say $2,500).  From a campaign finance perspective, it’s time to bring some additional sunshine into the process and require additional disclosures.  I would recommend moving to a four times per year model (quarterly in odd years, then Q1, pre-primary, pre-general, and year-end in even years).  Finally, even though the Voter ID constitutional amendment failed, there are things that can be done in the realm of election law to improve perceptions of fraud incidence and improve access to the polls.  Such provisions should include the introduction of early voting (how about the two Saturdays before Election Day), automatic voter registration of holders of drivers licenses and identification cards, and a close look at the electronic poll book concept as an alternative to voter ID requirements.

Certainly, these won’t be the only items that come up — social issues like a push for recognition of same-sex marriage will undoubtedly be discussed (and eventually, I believe it should and will be passed) — but these are what should be at the top of the list.

[UPDATE, 1/4]:  Let me clarify a few points regarding Hann’s relationship with Boys & Tyler Financial.  Hann has completed his licensing requirements with the state of Minnesota, but has not been enrolled as an agent by an insurance company.  Until that has been completed, Hann cannot sell insurance in the state.  Hann works on a contract basis with Boys & Tyler, and claims to earn no compensation for that relationship. (Under current law, Hann would not be required to disclose any income earned on a contract basis.)  This seems to be an arrangement designed to fight efforts at disclosure, and leads me to believe that all contract employment/consulting relationships should be disclosed instead of those surpassing the dollar limit originally indicated in the post.

[State Capitol picture courtesy of Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services.]

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30 Responses to “2013 Legislative To-Do List [UPDATED]”

  1. “…recognition of same-sex marriage will undoubtedly be discussed (and eventually, I believe it should and will be passed)…”

    Imposing your beliefs on others. Classic.

    • More like preventing others from using big government tactics to limit the freedom of citizens over their own lives.

      • If you assert that marriage laws are a limit to the “freedom of citizens over their own lives”, are you advocating that Minnesota repeal MN Stat. 517.02 and 517.03?

        • Your assumed premise of comparing same-sex marriage to the other points in those statutes (age of consent to marry, prohibition against marriage of family members, etc.) is patently false in conception and execution. In the case of age limitations or prohibitions against marriage of a direct family member, there is a clear developmental risk, genetic risk, or a risk of coercion into marriage that is the root of those prohibitions. The concern over coercion or free consent can also be seen in 517.03, Subd. 2, which addresses developmentally disabled persons, and even there the assumption is to grant consent unless a clear reason to the contrary is presented.

          In the case of same-sex marriage between consenting adults, none of those factors hold. This comparison (if that is what you intended) is often used to scare people with the idea of a host of immoral standards being unleashed upon society. Unfortunately for that argument, it has been used many times before, and has no credibility given its history. Similar arguments were used against interracial marriages, and they were revealed to be without standing. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=A8JsRx2lois for a compelling comparison.)

          Thus my point, that the provisions against same-sex marriages are fundamentally different than the other provisions in law, in that they have no valid neutral purpose. They exist solely because people are uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex relationships, and have used the power of intrusive government to enshrine limitations to the rights of those people who are homosexual.

          A further illustration: if you took a marriage application from a same-sex couple that met all other legal requirements, and removed any gender references, what would inherently disqualify the marriage? There would be no risk to the public in any way or form, nor any risk to the people involved in the marriage. Thus, the only answer is that the lack of comfort and acceptance for that relationship is being used to limit the rights of the citizens.

          Which is why my original comment holds. The prohibition against same-sex marriages has no foundation to justify its existence, other than the discomfort felt towards the idea in itself. Thus allowing one group to legislate to limit the rights of another, just because they are not comfortable with a different point of view, is an abuse of the role of government, and a corruption of the premise of equality in America.

          • It is your assertion and that of Minnesota United to “Don’t Limit the Freedom to Marry”. I then asked you if, therefore, you are advocating the repeal of MN Stat. 517.02 and 517.03, which are limitations on the freedom to marry.

            You are clearly in opposition of marriages that lack consent or between people incapable of consent as it is currently in statute.

            Next, the question gets more difficult. You stated: “In the case of same-sex marriage between consenting adults, none of those factors hold.” True. What of, however, marriages between more than two consenting adults? Polygamous marriages? Polygamous marriages between both homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual persons, i.e. extended open marriages? Whose standard are you willing to adopt after the same sex marriage wall is breeched? At what point do *you* decide the law has gone down too far down that road of deconstruction and needs to stop?

            Where are you and Minnesota United willing to stop, or are you content with imposing *your* beliefs on the rest of us?

            You stated: “The prohibition against same-sex marriages has no foundation to justify its existence, other than the discomfort felt towards the idea in itself.”

            There is absolutely no foundation or basis for homosexual marriage in the entirety of Anglo-American jurisprudence, our culture, our civil society, or in the Judeo-Christian standards and moral framework of our society. It is made up. It is a rule with some exceptions that a male and female join together, consummate the marriage in the procreative act, establish a family, and raise the successive generation.

            It is a rule without exception that two persons of the same sex can *never* consummate a marriage and can *never* procreate. They can *never* bring to the family unit the different ways a father and a mother relate to their offspring. “Same same marriage” is inherently unequal to a normal marriage between a man and a woman.

            Marriage is a secular as well as a religious concern, and even the secular recognize that stable marriages of a man and a woman who engage in the procreative act are what is best for the continuance of a stable civil society.

            • As you stated yourself, the other statute provisions in 517.02 and 517.03 all have other foundations in the prevention of coercion. Thus, the comparison you initially offered about their repeal is invalid.

              As for the red herring of polygamous marriages, no one has offered that standard. It is frequently used to support a slippery slope argument that doesn’t exist. The fact is that legal marriage is a contract recognized between two individuals. While religions may add additional requirements to their recognition of marriage for their followers, the denial of government recognition because of the imposition of religious beliefs is inherently an intrusion on the rights of the people. It adversely affects health benefits, hospital visitation and medical decisions, custody, and many other legal rights, without cause to do so. So the argument about polygamous marriages must be rejected as a distraction, a straw man used to drum up opposition to something that hasn’t been proposed at all.

              Furthermore, I noticed that you didn’t challenge the reality that there is no harm caused to society or to the participants of a same-sex marriage. And yet you insist that my beliefs are being imposed on you, when the reality is the exact opposite; it is your beliefs that are being imposed on others.

              You are free to reject homosexuality in your life, in whom you associate with, and in your personal beliefs. However, your argument basically claims that any recognition of same-sex relationships infringes on your rights, which is not true in any way, shape, or form. In fact, the insistence on denying equal rights to same-sex relationships robs these people of essential protections, solely because there are those who see them as unworthy of those rights.

              That argument has been used before, with slavery, segregation, women’s rights, and a host of other “traditions” of old, and has always been found to be wanting. (And on a side note: there is more to America than the Anglo-American tradition; while I’m sure it was not your intent, such a point narrows the definition of the American experience beyond reality, and excludes a significant portion of the population.) As the video I referenced earlier makes clear, the same arguments being used to oppose same-sex marriages were used to support slavery and segregation, almost word for word. However, the use of government power to summarily impose a tradition of inequality has always been an evil in our history; arguing that it was the norm in the past does not make it less of an evil in any way.

              As for your focus on procreation as the validation of marriage, that may be your personal belief, but that opens the door for a level of government intrusion into the lives of the citizens, the likes of which we have never seen before. After all, it was about 50 years ago when Connecticut passed a law barring married couples from using birth control, on the grounds that steady population growth would contribute to the strength and tax base of the state. Fortunately, such a standard was struck down; however, you seem to seek to reintroduce another version of that idea into our legal codes through the definition of a “valid” marriage. The concept is a fundamental attack on the privacy of the individual, and invites a monstrous and tyrannical trend. If the state has the power to require procreation to promote its agenda, then it may also have the power to deny conception along the same grounds. There is already legal precedent for this in Buck v. Bell, which allowed for mandatory sterilization for those the state deems to be mentally unfit for parenthood (as the majority opinion of the Supreme Court states, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough”). However, I’d rather not invite such a tyrannical overreach into my life, or the lives of others.

              We do not require fertility screening for people to get married. We do not arrest married couples for using condoms. We allow people to choose whether or not to have children; any other path would be a vicious intrusion on the liberty of the people. Thus to argue that the lack of procreation negates the rights of same-sex couples contradicts the standards that govern marriage under the law for all other people. Therefore, that argument in itself can only survive if homosexuals are deemed to not have the full rights of a citizen of America. Since there is no rational basis for such blatant discrimination, the point must be denied for lack of basis in fact or application. To claim otherwise invites a horrid and destructive standard of government intrusion into the most intimate and private elements of our lives.

              So we are back to the root of the problem: some people aren’t comfortable with same-sex relationships. So they don’t have to participate in one, just as they cannot be forced to attend church, join a particular political party, or read a particular book.

              Allowing others to do things that you would not does not infringe on your rights in any way; in fact, without that understanding there is no limit to the overreach of the government, and no foundation for individual identity. You obviously choose to live by a set standard, and that is your right, but I would be adamantly opposed to using the law to deny others the same right. A government, once empowered with such a false standard, becomes a burden to us all. It is not the American way.

  2. “As for the red herring of polygamous marriages, no one has offered that standard.”

    It was Minnesota United that offered that civil society should not “limit the freedom to marry”. Minnesota United’s *did not* specifically state “Don’t Limit the Freedom of Homosexuals to Marry”, the phrase was “Don’t Limit the Freedom to Marry”. Their words, the words of your beliefs, not mine. I am taking them – and you – and Mr. Olson – at your word this time, unlike the last time when the homosexualists spoke only of “tolerance” which has morphed into “acceptance” and “same sex marriage”.

    If the emphasis, as Minnesota United et. al. would have us believe – that’s it’s all about love, and you shouldn’t restrict marriage between two consenting adults, where do you propose this will stop? According to whom? Why you, and not Salafi Muslims petitioning for a polygamous marriage?

    “Don’t Limit the Freedom to Marry” is a comprehensive statement. Minnesota United is attempting to breech the wall. If it is breeched, whose standards apply? Yours? Minnesota United? Sean Olson? Since you are clearly rejecting Jewish and Christian moral standards, who are you then to impose *your* beliefs upon Minnesota civil society?

    There is no legitimate answer you et. al. can give, because this is an attempt to abrogate American Judeo-Christian morality.

    “However, the use of government power to summarily impose a tradition of inequality has always been an evil in our history; arguing that it was the norm in the past does not make it less of an evil in any way.”

    Don’t believe for a second that your side is as pure as the driven snow. You will exercise your power through agents of the state to impose *your* morality upon dissenting Jews and Christians. There are already examples, some egregious.

    “We do not require fertility screening for people to get married. ”

    To reiterate: It is a rule with some exceptions that a male and female join together, consummate the marriage in the procreative act, establish a family, and raise the successive generation. This is a primary basis for marriage. It is an objective biological fact that you need a man and a women to procreate. It is an exception that a male and female are unable to procreate.

    “So we are back to the root of the problem: some people aren’t comfortable with same-sex relationships. So they don’t have to participate in one, just as they cannot be forced to attend church, join a particular political party, or read a particular book.”

    Jews, Christians and any other dissenters will be forced by law and the power of the state to accept what they cannot accept. Your side is attempting to forcibly compel me to accept your beliefs that are not based upon objective biological fact, cultural history, or legal foundation.

    • Let us start with the most egregious of your statements: “Since you are clearly rejecting Jewish and Christian moral standards, who are you then to impose *your* beliefs upon Minnesota civil society?” As pointed out above, this is utterly false, a scare tactic used when logic and compassion do not favor the position offered. No one is forcing you to be in a same-sex relationship, or to change your faith, or how you raise your children. However, we are recognizing that one person’s discomfort with a lifestyle that does them no harm does not justify institutional discrimination and injustice.

      Again, you failed to address the fact that the exact same arguments you are using now were used to justify slavery and segregation. The exact same quotes, the exact same adherence to the Bible, the exact same arguments about the doom of society. All of these were shown to be statements of fear, attacks against change at the expense of the legal rights of the citizens of America.

      It should also be noted when you say that “Jews, Christians and any other dissenters will be forced by law and the power of the state to accept what they cannot accept,” you ignore the millions of Christians that already accept same-sex rights in America, and the various churches that do not share your beliefs. In light of such evidence, why should we all be forced to live under your standards, just because that is the only vision of America you choose to accept? What right to lordship have you been granted over the Christians and American citizens of this land to claim such jurisdiction?

      As for the polygamy argument, your counterclaim is based on a grotesque misrepresentation of the opposing argument that ignores the very words I wrote about marriage being a contract between two people. The witch hunt down that path is therefore built on a falsehood, a dishonest representation of the other position, and there is no such thing as a Christian dishonesty. It is an argument that only you seem to be arguing. (It is also worth noting that the group most closely associated with polygamy in America is a Christian denomination.) Polygamy is invalid for separate reasons, none of which pertain to this discussion. To continue to offer it as a straw man lacks the necessary honesty of a just debate. Thus, that argument is rejected.

      —–

      As for this claim: “It is a rule with some exceptions that a male and female join together, consummate the marriage in the procreative act, establish a family, and raise the successive generation. This is a primary basis for marriage.” That argument is patently flawed on multiple counts, in that it is not founded in science, the Bible, or in law. First of all, if procreation is an essential element of marriage, then the progress of science has removed that hurdle for same-sex couples, so that concern is no longer valid, and becomes less valid with each passing advancement.

      Secondly, the various descriptions of marriage offered in the Bible do not support such a narrow vision. Throughout the gospel marriage is described in terms of commitment, sacrifice, honor, and true love. To solely focus on procreation as the basis of marriage denies the grace of what marriage truly is. Knowing how my marriage enriches my life, I would pity anyone with such a limited view of the potential of marriage.

      Finally, the legal side, to address your bizarre claim that there is no “legal foundation” for my position in this debate. That seems odd, given the fact that you made no attempt to address the specific cases and standards mentioned above. This is especially disconcerting, given that the consequences of such standards that you offer would invite state action into conception and childbirth, with potentially devastating consequences to the freedom and security of Americans.

      Furthermore, the 14th Amendment also presides here. Same-sex couples are citizens under the Constitution; therefore, they are entitled to the due protections and rights under the law. To abridge these rights without due process is thus unconstitutional; to bar recognition from other states that recognize these rights violates the Full Faith and Credit clause. Therefore, the legal foundations of your opposition are untenable, and must be denied as lacking standing.

      —–

      You have the right to your opinions, and to live the way you wish. However, arguing that you cannot accept another point of view does not grant the right to deny freedoms to others, so your views may be insulated from contradiction. Faith, as it is, requires the strength to stand against opposition. Using the power of the government to deny rights seems like a weak demonstration of faith, and is most certainly in opposition to the foundations of American society.

  3. You wrote:

    Let us start with the most egregious of your statements: “Since you are clearly rejecting Jewish and Christian moral standards, who are you then to impose *your* beliefs upon Minnesota civil society?”

    There is nothing wrong with my accusation. The imposition of a new social order is exactly what you and Minnesota United et. al. are proposing. If there are Christians, Jews, or others who are County Recorders or Clerks who refuse to assent to the farce of “same sex marriage”, they will be forced from their positions as it already has occurred in New York State. You will use the power of the state to enforce your beliefs upon the entire population. That is an inescapable, objective truth about the relationship between the state and the citizen who is subject to its laws.

    “As pointed out above, this is utterly false, a scare tactic used when logic and compassion do not favor the position offered. No one is forcing you to be in a same-sex relationship, or to change your faith, or how you raise your children.”

    Forcing someone from their job because of their religious faith is a violation of Article I, Section 16 of the Minnesota Constitution and it is against the various civil rights laws. Forcing parents – who cannot afford to send their children a private or religious school – to have their children indoctrinated by a government school to believe that homosexual behavior is acceptable, and that men can marry men, such ideas to being contrary to their religious or moral beliefs and damaging to their children, using funds forcibly extracted from their paychecks and property taxes – is a violation of their Rights of Conscience under the Minnesota Constitution and is a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

    This is, of course, continent on you and Minnesota United convincing enough DFLers and other social anarchists in the State House to abrogate objective biological fact and the understanding a normal family in civil society: that a male and female join together, consummate the marriage in the procreative act, establish a family, and raise the successive generation, with both a father and mother in an intact family unit being the best way to raise children. Two males and two females can not possibly give to a child what a real Father and Mother can – the normal family consisting of a man as a Father and a woman as a Mother. This used to be intuitive and self-evident. I am still trying to understand how people can think like you. It doesn’t make any sense to me because…it doesn’t make any sense.

    I wrote: “It is a rule with some exceptions that a male and female join together, consummate the marriage in the procreative act, establish a family, and raise the successive generation. This is a primary basis for marriage.”

    You replied: “First of all, if procreation is an essential element of marriage, then the progress of science has removed that hurdle for same-sex couples, so that concern is no longer valid, and becomes less valid with each passing advancement.”

    With that rhetoric, you stepped over the line. Males cannot impregnate males, and females cannot impregnate females. It is biologically impossible. This is where this discussion ends.

    Notwithstanding the Reform, “Conservative” and Rescontructionist Jews who wish to adopt latter day Hellenism (see: Chanukah), Torah remains as a standard for society, based upon G-d’s words and the experience of thousands of years of history. There was a reason why homosexual behavior was condemned: it was as destructive to a civil society then as it is being attempted today. I trust G-d and the experience of the Jewish people, our learned men, our sages, more than I will ever trust someone who espouses some application of Critical Gender Theory.

    I assert the following: the rejection of core Jewish family morals by you, by Mr. Olson, and by Minnesota United is an expression of raw anti-Semitism. I will let the Christians speak for themselves, though by the behavior of your movement across America against Christians, the appearance is that of no less than common bigots.

    • Calling someone anti-Semitic based on their opinion on this issue is an inflammatory charge that I don’t think is warranted based on what has been said here. Cool it or else move such accusations elsewhere.

      Besides, if you’re going to call me anti-Semitic, at least have the courtesy to spell my name correctly.

      • It is your stated belief, Mr. Olsen, to have same sex marriage passed, and that is a repudiation of Jewish family morality and belief. This condemnation of Judaism, especially by non-Jews, is an expression of anti-Semitism, as such a condemnation of Christian family morals would be anti-Christian bigotry.

        What offends you more – the charge, or that some one dare not to recognize the presumption of enlightenment and tolerance your side claims?

        • Suggesting that civil law need not conform to the exact contours of a particular religious belief is not bigotry towards that religion.

          I think you know that, and are purposefully being overly provocative in a debate between you and Drew which had been rather civil. As I said, cool it or take it elsewhere.

        • I will take the time to issue a civil reply… it is most unfortunate that this conversation would degrade into slanderous and demeaning comments. However, it is interesting that Sean posted your reply in respect of your ability to express your point of view, given the fact that you wish to enshrine laws that prohibit others from doing the same.

    • Let us start with the most flawed of your claims: “I assert the following: the rejection of core Jewish family morals by you, by Mr. Olson, and by Minnesota United is an expression of raw anti-Semitism.” Besides the totalitarian logic and malicious tone, your argument fails because it fundamentally and deliberately misrepresents the beliefs of the majority of American Jews in a rather obvious fashion.

      You stated that “Notwithstanding the Reform, “Conservative” and Rescontructionist Jews who wish to adopt latter day Hellenism” as if these are small fringes, but indeed this is the core of the Jewish population in America, and they overwhelmingly support gay marriage (81% of all American Jews, according to a poll as reported by the Jewish Daily Forum; http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/154171/poll–of-jews-back-gay-marriage/).

      Indeed, the conservative branch of American Judaism has adopted formal structures for gay marriages as part of their practices, and have wide support for their use (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/06/01/conservative-jews-approve-gay-wedding-guidelines/).

      Even in Israel, a majority of the population backs gay marriage (http://hiddush.org/article-2107-0-_Israelis_support_gay_marriage.aspx).

      According to your logic, all of these Jews are anti-Semites and bigots who are deliberately trying to destroy Jewish culture and rights in America and around the world.

      Think about how utterly preposterous, illogical, and demeaning such a proposition is. Also, note that with this considered, the one launching an attack on the beliefs of the Jewish majority is you, good sir. Indeed, your demand that same-sex couples can never be equal infringes on their beliefs and how they choose to worship, especially when you declare anyone who shares their beliefs to be full of hate for the Jewish faith and traditions. The sure ridiculousness of the idea is beyond understanding.

      Forgoing the continued presentation of evidence, the exposure of this contradiction fundamentally and fatally undermines the credibility of your core argument. Your whole claim was that allowing same-sex couples to marry or be treated equally infringes on your religious rights; yet in order to present that claim you had to revoke the right of the vast majority of Jewish Americans to their beliefs. On this alone, your position is untenable, and must be denied.

    • Addressing your legal theory is interesting, because according to your logic, government endorsement or funding towards any act or standard that violates your beliefs is inherently unconstitutional. However, I noticed that you conveniently only apply your standards in this consideration, or the Judeo-Christian values you endorse. Let us apply your standard universally, and look at the destructive effects it will have on faith and society in America.

      Since Jehovahs Witnesses object to the Pledge of Allegiance (as a violation of the Ten Commandments), the pledge should not be said in any school, because it would infringe on their rights.

      Since Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadam, schools, government buildings, hospitals, and any entity that receives tax funds should not serve food during that time period. Otherwise it is a fundamental attack on their faith that one of the five pillars of Islam is being violated right in front of them.

      Since Hinduism (or at least certain sects of Hinduism) values the lives of various animals, then government funding or regulation should not be used to promote the slaughter of those animals.

      Here’s a tricky one: since one of the fundamental tenets of Christianity is the acceptance of the divinity of Christ, then any entity that receives federal aid in any form, including disaster relief in any form, must acknowledge that divinity, since not doing so would fundamentally violate their beliefs on the nature of Christ for all of the Christian taxpayers.

      How about some of the Old Testament standards? Shouldn’t all federal services of any form (including national parks, emergency services, veteran’s hospitals, etc.) be shut down on any day that qualifies as a sabbath, since not doing so would mean using taxpayer money in a way that requires people to work on that day?

      And of course we cannot forget that military tattoos cause an issue, but beyond that is the issue with football, and any tax discount or subsidy to a sport founded on the handling of pig skin.

      And what about the various churches who insist that interracial marriage is an abomination to God, and have their own interpretations of the Bible to back it up? Does this mean that the federal government cannot provide spousal benefits through Social Security to interracial couples, lest we violate their religious tenets and be called bigoted by them (ironically)?

      And while we’re going through things, what about other religions? I don’t know enough about Wicca or other faiths, but I’d imagine they have some fundamental beliefs that would also need to come into play.

      If it isn’t clear by now, the standard you offer is utterly ridiculous. It would lead to a cluster of laws from every faith, all intruding into the lives of people who don’t share those beliefs. In many cases, some of these examples would violate your faith or others, so the whole system would fall apart. Instead, we should allow for faith to remain as a private practice, and treat all people equally under the law. That means occasionally your money pays for something you disagree with, or someone lives in a way that you would disagree with; that’s just reality. Thus, your argument fails to meet even the basic legal standard.

      By the way, I’m still waiting for your answer to the 14th Amendment issue, and the Full Faith and Credit issue, which is far more clear, and far less reliant on one person or group enforcing their beliefs on others.

    • On the scientific note: you stated that “Males cannot impregnate males, and females cannot impregnate females. It is biologically impossible.” However, that ignores much of the scientific advancements of the modern age (the term “test tube baby” has been around for quite a while, after all). Simply put, there is significant research and advancement into the potential for the genetic haploids of any two partners to be combined through DNA extraction, and then implantation and development. This isn’t part of some radical agenda; the research is fueled by the need to support heterosexual couples who cannot have children through regular efforts. Thus your claim can easily be reversed as science continues to progress, which makes it far too weak a standard to base fundamental human rights upon.

      Additionally, it applies a standard to one segment of the population that is not applied to the whole, thereby violating the Equal Protection clause. You may see marriage as being founded on sex and procreation, but the government does not have the right to force people to bear children for its benefit (a point based in case law as stated above, that you have yet to address).

      Finally, denying same-sex marriage rights doesn’t force these couples to have children with others (at least I hope you would be opposed to such a violation); therefore, your approach does not contribute to the population growth or continuation of society, nor does recognizing same-sex marriages inhibit it.

  4. We’re having that fabled “open, honest discussion about race”, except that it’s about “same sex marriage”.

    You haven’t explained what offends you more – the charge, or that some one dare not to recognize the presumption of enlightenment and tolerance your side claims?

    Drew wrote:

    “it is most unfortunate that this conversation would degrade into slanderous and demeaning comments.”

    I’m being honest – you and Mr. Olsen may not be able to deal with it. Maybe you have never talked to anyone outside your comfortable world, I have no idea. That’s my theory, though.

    I will give Mr. Olsen credit: he has at least allowed my side to be presented and my opinions expressed.

    • Indeed he has… even when you grossly misrepresented the views of the majority of American Jews to launch a baseless attack in what was a civil forum (see above). (Also note: I’ve reached out to some Jewish friends and colleagues, and while I’m not sure if they’ll have time to respond to this forum, I wonder if you will call them anti-Semitic for supporting gay rights, too.)

      It’s also worth noting that you have yet to deny that the very same arguments you are using are the same ones that were used to support segregation and slavery. The exact same ones about how recognizing the rights of someone else somehow lessons your existence; about how the only way to preserve civil society was to continue the traditions of inequality and injustice.

      To be honest, I would not want to define the richness of my marriage through the ability to deny such happiness to another; it seems to demean the value of such a sacred gift in that manner. Knowing what would be taken from me if my marriage was denied due to someone else’s fears, I find the whole idea cruel and unjust.

      Indeed, throughout this discussion I have reiterated that you have the right to your beliefs, to teach those to your children, and to observe them in your life. Up until it infringes on the rights of others, and forces others of varying faiths (and many of the Jewish faith, for that matter) to abandon their own free will so they can live under your restrictions. I would think someone of the Jewish faith, a faith that has known oppression and persecution throughout its history, would know the evils of such a standard.

      • Drew – are you Jewish?

        • No, never claimed to be… however, I did have a chance to share this with some colleagues who are, and do not share your belief. They agreed that you have a right to your beliefs, and that there is debate on the meaning and application of the various texts… however, they did not appreciate your broad categorization of antisemitism being attached to supporting gay rights (one called it “cheap”, mainly because it diminishes anti-semitics and their bigotry by using it that way, as a tool to demean others in a political discussion).

          I don’t claim to know all of the tenets of the Jewish faith. However, the support for gay rights in the Jewish community in America is fairly well known, so claiming that supporting same-sex marriages makes one antisemitic makes no sense at all.

          Now, you could say that it violates your beliefs, or that it fundamentally contradicts more orthodox beliefs, and that would be a reasonable assertion of opinion. But to claim bigotry or a mass conspiracy against the Jewish faith on this issue… there is no way that is founded in fact. Period.

          In searching online, I came across this article: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/a-jewish-perspective-on-samesex-marriage-8203886.html

          Yes, the author favors gay marriage… but many of the commentators do not. This shows a division of opinion. To claim that the only way to respect the Jewish faith is to reject gay marriage ignores that diversity of opinion, especially when the majority of American Jews support same-sex rights.

  5. Due prior restraint, I guess that’s it for an “open, honest discussion”.

    • I’m sure the host of the forum would welcome your opinions… as long as they are not accompanied by unfounded accusations of racial or religious intolerance. If you want to find those, read the comments section of any major news web site, and you will see a plethora of ignorance from all sides, driven by those who find it more important to yell over others than to discuss an issue.

      You do not endorse same-sex marriages, and that is fine. However, to accuse others of discrimination against a religion because of this, especially when the majority of the American population of that religion does not share your view, is a position that is untenable. Additionally, while you cite examples of how legal recognition of same-sex relationships would be awkward for someone of your beliefs (including situations involving government posts), you did not address the gaping intrusion this would allow into all beliefs by removing the neutrality of government action, as I cited above. In the end, this type of intrusion has the greater potential for harm by giving government the ability to select which religious standards to enforce, and forcing them on all people regardless of their beliefs.

      And again, I point out that having a same-sex couple be recognized does nothing to lessen your marriage or your life. Indeed, it changes nothing about how you live, while the standard you present forces your interpretation of religion and society into their lives in ways that denies them rights, regardless of their personal beliefs. There is no massive conspiracy, no global plot to destroy society, just a recognition that this contradiction is untenable.

      • It’s Mr. Olsen’s blog, he can “moderate” the comments as he wishes. That does not, however, excuse him fully discussing arguments he has likely never heard in his socio-political world that makes him “uncomfortable”.

        You wrote:

        “And again, I point out that having a same-sex couple be recognized does nothing to lessen your marriage or your life. Indeed, it changes nothing about how you live…”

        Obscurantist rhetoric. The law will be enforced with the full power of the state including the schools and in every part of our lives to the detriment of normal marriages and our civil society.

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        • There’s nothing else to “fully discuss”. Your argument is inflammatory for the purpose of being inflammatory, and I have already given you a response to the substance of it.

        • Your comments and rhetoric fundamentally undermine your claim of pursuing an open and sincere discussion. While no one has accused you of a narrow or isolated world view (even when your anti-semitic claim was wholly discredited), you seem to rely on such comments (“That does not, however, excuse him fully discussing arguments he has likely never heard in his socio-political world”). These comments are without basis in fact, and appear to be solely meant to offer a personal insult in place of discussion. It is a false assumption, offered in place of the points you seem unwilling to address, and only does injury to your argument. (It also makes no logical sense; if the host of the forum was trying to insulate himself from contrary views, your comments wouldn’t have been posted at all.)

          As for your obscurantist claim, such an argument cannot be sustained in the presence of the points I addressed above. The goal is not to force same-sex marriages into churches or people’s homes, but to maintain government neutrality and due process, which in this case requires an examination of our positions in this matter and the full consequences of those standards.

          Your position relies on the argument that any government support or rights granted in opposition to your moral beliefs is unconstitutional; however, I noticed that you did not address the devastation this would cause to religious freedom in America, as I noted above. The argument you offer would invite any religious standard to take the full weight of government authority, and would do more to damage religious liberty in America that any argument I have offered. What will you say when that premise is used to legally pursue elements of Sharia law? Will your argument rely on your personal interpretation of history and faith being more valid than others, and if so, are you willing to deny others the freedom over their own lives to elevate your standing and assuage your discomfort? Would such a totalitarian standard ever be just?

          I also note that you still haven’t addressed the degree in which your arguments mirror past arguments that were used to openly discriminate against women, African-Americans, Catholics, Asians, Jews, and a host of other groups. As an example, Prince Edward Schools in Virginia closed their public schools rather than end segregation in the wake of Brown v. Board, and shifted the money to “scholarships” to private schools that maintained segregated facilities. While you have said nothing that would indicate a racial bias on your part (and to be clear, I do not mean to imply such a bias), the arguments the district and community used to support such discrimination mirrors the arguments you have presented against same-sex marriage.

          They argued that racial integration would destroy the fabric of society, that it was against the natural order and God’s will. They argued that it was government intrusion into their beliefs, and that it would force those working for the government and schools to do something the found to be immoral (just like you said above, “The law will be enforced with the full power of the state including the schools and in every part of our lives to the detriment of normal marriages and our civil society.”) In every aspect, their arguments mirror the ones you are using; and in every aspect, in both cases the arguments are wholly invalid and morally suspect. This isn’t a massive attempt to undermine society; such an argument is utterly absurd, and is only offered as a dodge to avoid the inconvenient holes in your premise. Instead, it is a realization that inherent discrimination must be challenged, that government power cannot be used to insulate those who must affirm their beliefs through the negation of other points of view.

          Thus your argument is a repetition of a failed history that has already been exposed as flawed. Indeed, your position offers the greater intrusion into the freedom of others, by requiring the institutionalization of discrimination to protect your beliefs from challenge. That is not a valid legal standard, nor a righteous American standard. Thus, until you can address this inherent contradiction, your argument is fatally flawed, and without standing.

          • Ok, so you have the last word. Since I cannot fully argue my position, I consider this discussion concluded.

            • What is holding you back from arguing your position? The only restriction placed was that unfounded accusations and blatantly false charges could not be used; are you unwilling to forgo such statements in order to participate in the discussion?

  6. 42 billion dollar state budget. They ought to be able to handle your wish list. Not sure where they get the money though….

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Behind on his taxes, Leidiger finds money for anti-gay marriage organization | Brick City Blog - January 25, 2013

    […] One has to wonder where Leidiger is obtaining the resources to repay his taxes and make political donations.  His current Economic Disclosure Form shows no sources of income, nor any investments or property he could be monetizing for those purposes.  This only serves to highlight the continuing need to strengthen disclosure rules for state legislators. […]

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