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by Peterr

A Few Religious Objections to Hobby Lobby, et al.

6:45 am in climate change, Economy, Education, Energy, Environment, Health Care, Judiciary, LGBT, Military, Religion by Peterr

After reading through some of the recaps of the oral arguments at SCOTUS yesterday in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, it appears that some of the justices, and perhaps a majority, are willing to allow private religious objections to trump the laws, regulations, and ordinances enacted by local, state, and federal governments. Just so that no one is surprised later, I thought I’d lay out some of my strongly held religious beliefs now.

I have a strong religious objection to the death penalty, yet for the fifth time in five months, my state of Missouri has spent my tax dollars to carry it out. At the foundation of the Christian church — the Lutheran branch of which I am pleased to serve as a pastor — is the story of the execution of Jesus at the hands of the state and his resurrection three days later, through which God says “No” to the death-dealing forces of the world. My tax dollars are spent at the state and federal level to support exactly this system of vengeance, not justice, which all too often is administered in a way that is irregular at best and occasionally flat out wrong at worst.

I also have a strong religious objection to torture, yet my state and federal government continue to spend millions of tax dollars on that form of torture known as “solitary confinement,” and tens or hundreds or thousands of millions on “enhanced interrogations” and the hiding thereof from the oversight of the courts. Indeed, I have strong religious objections to NOT spending my tax dollars to bring the perpetrators and enablers of torture to justice.

I have strong — very strong — religious objections to the unequal treatment of people before the law, yet the Department of Justice seems bent on spending my tax dollars and the tax dollars of similarly-minded folks by the millions to chase the poor and powerless into prison while giving the wealthy and powerful sternly worded letters and a good talking-to. In the financial fraud around the housing market, homeowners are hounded and unscrupulous mortgage dealers are allowed to roam free. During the recent Lesser Depression, homeowners pushed underwater by the practices of their banks have suffered greatly (“We’re sorry, but your equity has disappeared because the property values have fallen so much because we crashed the economy”), yet the SEC and DOJ use my tax dollars to go to great extremes to settle civil litigation with the the banks in such a toothless fashion that the board of JPMorgan Chase gave Jamie Dimon a 74% raise after guiding them through with only a slap on the corporate wrist. And you don’t want to know how strongly I object on religious grounds to the failure of the DOJ to pursue criminal rather than civil penalties . . .

I have viscerally strong religious objections to sexual abuse, yet the military paid for with my tax dollars continues to turn a blind eye to the climate in the military that leads thousands of those in the ranks to not report the harassment, abuse, and rapes they have suffered at the hands of their colleagues and commanders, and that allows far too many of those against whom reports of abuse were filed to avoid accountability. Similarly, I have strong religious objections to NOT spending my tax dollars to do this on every US military base and port and outpost.

I have extremely strong religious objections using my tax dollars to administer the public law in secret, with secret judicial proceedings, secret decisions, and secret sentences.

I have powerfully strong religious objections to using my tax dollars to carry out executive decisions made on the basis of secret evidence to violate the sovereign territory of other nations in order to remotely execute those with whom they disagree, without allowing the accused an opportunity to know the accusations against them, to state their case, to respond to the allegations, or even to publicly confront their accuser. I especially object when such executions are carried out against an anonymous targets based on undefined notions of “suspicion” and “association.”

I have seriously strong religious objections to using my local, state, and federal taxes to provide a public education to my child and the children of my neighbors that is incomplete (such as abstinence-only sex education), or based on disproven science, pseudo-conflicts, and unproven beliefs. The earth is round, old, and getting warmer by the day because of human activity. There is no serious scientific objection to these concepts, and I strongly object on religious grounds to using my tax dollars to teach otherwise.

Read the rest of this entry →

by Peterr

Nomination Advice for President Obama

5:40 am in Elections, Government, Senate by Peterr

Scene: the Oval Office

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA and CHIEF OF STAFF JACK LEW are seated on the sofas facing one another, with a single sheet of paper in front of LEW on the coffee table between them. Neither looks happy.

POTUS: OK, you talked to Mitch McConnell first thing this morning. Where do we stand on nominations going forward?

LEW rolls his eyes.

LEW: Stand? As far as McConnell is concerned, we don’t stand anywhere. We’ve been kicked to the dirt.

POTUS’ eyes get narrow.

POTUS: Oh, really? (with an edge in his voice:) He said that?

LEW: Not in so many words, but it was pretty clear from the conversation.

POTUS: How so?

LEW shakes his head, and passes the sheet of paper across the table to POTUS

POTUS reads out loud from the paper: Richard Lugar for Secretary of State. John McCain for Secretary of Defense. (quits reading out loud, looks up) What is this?

LEW: That’s what I asked McConnell when he handed me that list of names. He just grinned, then said “Article 2, Section 2.” I looked at him, waiting for him to go on and explain his joke, and he didn’t disappoint me. He looked up at the ceiling and recited from memory: “He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.” Then he stopped, looked back at me, pointed to that sheet of paper, and said “here’s some . . . advice . . . from the Senate.”

POTUS (looks back at the paper, and begins to read again): Mitt Romney for Treasury Secretary? What — Phil Gramm wasn’t interested? Michele Bachmann for Attorney General. David Addington for CIA Director. Rick Perry for Secretary of Education. Todd Akin for Health and Human Services. (POTUS looks up at LEW) Beyond the ridiculousness of this list, some of the folks McConnell wants to replace aren’t even planning to leave, at least not any time soon. What an idiot.

LEW: I had a similar reaction, and McConnell’s grin got bigger. “They all serve,” he told me, pausing for dramatic effect, “at the pleasure of the President. If the President determines they should leave, they leave.”

POTUS (setting down the paper, humor turning to anger): He’s not just suggesting who I should nominate to replace Hillary, but he’s telling me to fire people?

LEW: Again, that was my reaction. I blew up at him, saying “elections have consequences” and he just laughed. “They sure do,” he said, and you and Ambassador Rice just lost.” (LEW pauses, then points to the paper) Did you see the last name on the list?

POTUS (looks down at the paper and reads): Jeff Sessions would still like an appointment to the Federal Judiciary?

The door to the Oval Office opens, and an aide enters.

AIDE: Your last appointment before lunch is here, Mr. President.

POTUS: Thanks. (to LEW) Jack, do you want to join me for lunch in about 20 minutes? (to the AIDE) What’s the soup of the day?

AIDE: I’m not sure. I think it’s Chicken and Rice.

POTUS and LEW look at each other and shake their heads.

LEW: Thank you, Mr. President, but suddenly I’m not all that hungry. Read the rest of this entry →

by Peterr

Is the GOP Serious Enough about the Debt to Stand Up to PhRMA?

6:25 am in Government by Peterr

The GOP is demonstrating their seriousness about the federal debt by holding the debt ceiling hostage, screaming “We’ve got to reform Medicare TODAY!” as a means for cutting government spending. But that’s talk — loud talk, to be sure, but talk nonetheless. How serious is the GOP really when it comes to trading cuts in Medicare spending for an increase in the debt ceiling?

One way to find out is simple: push for Medicare to be able to negotiate drug prices in the same way that the VA already does.

What would that save? According to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare [pdf, with emphasis added]:

Allowing the Secretary [of HHS] to negotiate drug prices has the potential to save billions of dollars ­ potentially up to $24 billion annually ­ assuming that the mean reduction in drug prices obtained through the limited use of VA’s negotiation techniques could be applied to the Part D program’s overall prescription drug cost of $49 billion. These savings are more than adequate to close the “doughnut hole” coverage gap, estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost $42 billion over five years. Savings in excess of $42 billion could be used to improve other Medicare benefits and reducing the deficit.

Up to $24B a year is a nice start if you’re looking to save money in the Medicare program.

It’s a fast legislative fix, because most of the language they would need to craft has already been written. Find the VA authorization language, translate it from Veterans Affairs to HHS, and you’re there. There’s no need for long negotiations or drafting and redrafting the language, because it was already done when the VA got the authority to negotiate its drug prices.

It’s quick financial fix as well, since Medicare spending on drugs would drop as soon as the negotiations take effect. How about a simple “Medicare will not pay more than the best price negotiated by any other entity of the federal government” plan?

If the GOP is serious about requiring Medicare spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, here’s a place to start. PhRMA might not like it, but we’ve all got to share in the sacrifices, right?

(“Money Pills 2″ photo h/t to Lisa Yarost, aka klynslis)

 

by Peterr

Scott Walker, Meet Robert LaFollette

8:37 am in Economy, Government by Peterr

Bust of Robert LaFollette (photo: Emily Mills, aka Lost Albatross via Flickr)

Once upon a time, a new Republican governor arrived in Madison, Wisconsin. The state was in debt, and their cash on hand was poor. The answer?

For Robert La Follette in 1900, it was simple: raise taxes.

He didn’t do it willy-nilly, but took careful aim at the inequity in corporate taxation that benefited the railroads at the expense of ordinary citizens, and the corruption in politics that enabled these corporate tax breaks to get so out of control. From La Follette’s Autobiography (see pp. 243-245):

The railroads at that time paid taxes in the form of a license fee upon their gross earnings. The report of the Tax Commission showed that while real property in Wisconsin paid 1.19 per cent, of its market value in taxes, the railroads paid only .53 per cent, of their market value (based on the average value of stocks and bonds) or less than one half the rate paid by farmers, manufacturers, home owners and others. Upon this showing we contended that the railroads were not bearing their fair share of the burdens of the state. The Tax Commission suggested two measures of reform. One of their bills provided for a simple increase in the license tax, the other provided for a physical valuation of the railroads and a wholly new system of taxation upon an ad valorem basis, measures which I had earnestly advocated in my campaign speeches, and recommended in my message. I regarded this latter as the more scientific method of taxation. The Commission stated that while they had so framed the bills as to err on the side of injustice to the people rather than to the railroads, the passage of either of them would mean an increase of taxes paid by railroads and other public service corporations of more than three quarters of a million dollars annually.

No sooner had the taxation and direct primary bills been introduced than the lobby gathered in Madison in full force. Lobbyists had been there before, but never in such numbers or with such an organization. I never saw anything like it. The railroads, threatened with the taxation bills, and the bosses, threatened by the direct primary, evidently regarded it as the death struggle. Not only were the regular lobbyists in attendance but they made a practice during the entire winter of bringing in delegations of more or less influential men from all parts of the state, some of whom often remained two or three weeks and brought every sort of pressure to bear on the members of the legislature.

Republican La Follette stuck to his guns, and eventually won passage of his proposals over the objections of the railroads, their lobbyists, and the political bosses.

The result of ending sweetheart deals and forcing corporations to pay their fair share of the tax burden? Let’s let La Follette tell the story (pp. 288-290)  . . .  Read the rest of this entry →

by Peterr

Obama May Want to Re-Read King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’

8:36 am in Government, LGBT by Peterr

photo: mplemmon via Flickr

At yesterday’s meeting with five progressive bloggers, Joe Sudbay at AmericaBlog asked a simple question that’s been waiting for a simple answer:

JOE: I was glad to hear that you and your staff appreciate constructive feedback.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that’s something we enjoy. (Laughter.)

JOE: We’ve been more than willing to offer that. We’ve certainly been more than willing to offer than from AMERICAblog, particularly on issues related to the LGBT community, which, you know, there is a certain amount of disillusionment and disappointment in our community right now.

And one of the things I’d like to ask you — and I think it’s a simple yes or no question too — is do you think that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unconstitutional?

The answer he got was this:

It’s not a simple yes or no question, because I’m not sitting on the Supreme Court. And I’ve got to be careful, as President of the United States, to make sure that when I’m making pronouncements about laws that Congress passed I don’t do so just off the top of my head.

I think that — but here’s what I can say. I think “don’t ask, don’t tell” is wrong. I think it doesn’t serve our national security, which is why I want it overturned. I think that the best way to overturn it is for Congress to act. In theory, we should be able to get 60 votes out of the Senate. The House has already passed it. And I’ve gotten the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to say that they think this policy needs to be overturned — something that’s unprecedented.

And so my hope and expectation is, is that we get this law passed. It is not just harmful to the brave men and women who are serving, and in some cases have been discharged unjustly, but it doesn’t serve our interests — and I speak as Commander-in-Chief on that issue.

Let me go to the larger issue, though, Joe, about disillusionment and disappointment. I guess my attitude is that we have been as vocal, as supportive of the LGBT community as any President in history. I’ve appointed more openly gay people to more positions in this government than any President in history. We have moved forward on a whole range of issues that were directly under my control, including, for example, hospital visitation.

On “don’t ask, don’t tell,” I have been as systematic and methodical in trying to move that agenda forward as I could be given my legal constraints, given that Congress had explicitly passed a law designed to tie my hands on the issue.

And so, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think that the disillusionment is justified.

Now, I say that as somebody who appreciates that the LGBT community very legitimately feels these issues in very personal terms. So it’s not my place to counsel patience. One of my favorite pieces of literature is “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and Dr. King had to battle people counseling patience and time. And he rightly said that time is neutral. And things don’t automatically get better unless people push to try to get things better.

So I don’t begrudge the LGBT community pushing, but the flip side of it is that this notion somehow that this administration has been a source of disappointment to the LGBT community, as opposed to a stalwart ally of the LGBT community, I think is wrong.

Obama’s answer reads like someone who’s read a set of talking points from King’s letter, not the letter itself. To refer to the letter in the context of an answer that at its core tells LGBTs they are wrong for pushing for action and to wait and be patient is stunning.

Let’s take a look at some of that letter (full letter in an annotated form here), written by King to a group of local clergy who were upset with him for pushing too hard, too fast, and in too public and direct a manner:

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants–for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs.On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.

As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community.

Promises made and not kept?
Blasted hopes?
The dark shadow of deep disappointment?
The humiliating signs remained?

That sounds very, very familiar to the LGBT community. While the progressives in general were celebrating Obama’s victory in November 2008, LGBTs were mourning the passage of Proposition 8 that tried to reverse marriage equality in California. “Your kind need not apply” said Prop 8.

Two years has passed since then, and the Obama DOJ has consistently defended DOMA and DADT in court (sometimes with amazingly destructive language), the Obama political folks never pushed for EDNA, and now Obama think LGBTs should not view his administration as a source of disappointment?

That sounds very much like the local clergy to whom King was writing, not the person in the jail cell holding the pencil.

Here’s more from King’s jail cell:

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.

The LGBT community gets this. They’ve gotten very good at it, too:

They continue to lead a drumbeat of criticism of the inaction of the WH on DOMA, DADT, and ENDA.

They provided immediate pushback against Valerie Jarrett for her unthinking use of the language of “lifestyle choice” to describe the gay teen who committed suicide.

Dan Choi presented his very body, chained to the WH fence, and later walking into a recruiter’s office to reenlist in the military.

Kerry Eleveld offers constant questioning of Robert Gibbs on LGBT issues in the WH press room.

Direct action, growing stronger and louder over two years. And wonder of wonders, a week before the midterm elections the WH invites a group of LGBT activists into the WH for a strategy session on DADT, followed by inviting a major LGBT blogger to be part of an intimate sit-down with the President the next day.

It sure looks like the LGBT community and its supporters have managed “so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”

Does Obama get that he’s on the wrong side of what King wrote about?

<crickets>

More from King’s letter, on the basic question that Joe asked:

How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? . . . Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I-it” relationship for an “I-thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. . . .

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

How can Obama praise these words and then immediately pivot to tell Joe Sudbay that the LGBT community is wrong in considering the Obama administration a disappointment when it comes to dealing with the segregation faced by LGBTs?

The phrase “shallow understanding” comes to mind.

One last piece from Brother Martin — the section that speaks of the neutrality of time mentioned specifically by Obama:

Such an attitude (about being in too great a hurry, because change is inevitable) stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

When is the time to do right? Now.

No excuses like “after health care is passed.”
No delays like “after the banking system is back on its feet.”
No holding off “until the midterms are over.”

This is the kind of ineffective use of time by people of good will to which King referred.

The time is always ripe to do right.

Obama may want to re-read one of his favorite pieces of literature, and then try again.

(photo h/t mattlemmon)

by Peterr

Michael Gerson’s Grasp of Evangelicals is Slipping

6:40 am in Conservatism, Culture, Government, LGBT, Military, Religion by Peterr

To judge by his column in today’s Washington Post, Michael Gerson has little grasp of the evangelical world.

It is true that evangelicals are generally not libertarian. They admit a place for government in encouraging values and caring for the needy. Yet they do not believe that governmental elites share their values or have their best interests at heart. Among conservative Christians, government is often viewed as a force of secularization — a source of both bureaucratic regulation and moral deregulation. By identifying with expanded government, Obama fed long-standing evangelical fears of the aggressive, secular state.

Michael, here’s a news flash. Evangelicals may make common cause with libertarians from time to time, but overall they are about as far from libertarians as you’re going to find. Their concern is that the state is too secular, not that it is too aggressive.

Instead of a limited government, evangelicals want an expanded government. They don’t simply want it, but they’re working hard to make it happen:

  • Abortion? Get government into every woman’s womb, as soon as possible.
  • Sex education? Force states to teach ‘abstinence only’ and don’t talk about contraception and STD prevention via condoms.
  • Evolution? Require schools to teach creationism alongside it.
  • Homosexuality? Use all the power of government to stamp it out and otherwise express disapproval of it — DADT, DOMA, laws/constitutional amendments to sanction discrimination based on perceived sexual orientation, etc.
  • The Military? They want to turn it into a literal Army of God, spreading the Good News at gunpoint.

To say that evangelicals fear big government is laughable. They love big government — as long as they get to run it.

If this column is any indication of Gerson’s grasp of religion and politics, his new book should be on the fiction table.

by Peterr

No, Cardinal Mahony, Judge Walker Got it Right

3:26 pm in Judiciary, LGBT, Religion by Peterr

Dear Cardinal Mahony,

I saw your recent blog post entitled Judge Vaughn Walker Got it Wrong, in which you wrote:

[Walker's] decision fails to deal with the basic, underlying issue–rather he focused solely upon individual testimony on how Prop 8 affected them personally. Wrong focus.

There is only one issue before each of us Californians: Is Marriage of Divine or of Human Origin?

Judge Walker pays no attention to this fundamental issue, and relies solely upon how Prop 8 made certain members of society "feel" about themselves.

Those of us who supported Prop 8 and worked for its passage did so for one reason: We truly believe that Marriage was instituted by God for the specific purpose of carrying out God’s plan for the world and human society. Period.

That may be what you and many others believe about marriage, but that belief has no standing in court. Judge Walker was not placed on the bench to decide whether laws and conduct in the United States match up to the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, or other religious writings. His job is to measure the disputes that come to his courtroom against the laws and constitution of the United States of America.

Period.

Maybe even Exclamation Point.

The sacred text for Judge Walker is the US Constitution, and nowhere in the Constitution and its twenty seven amendments is God mentioned. Nowhere. Not even once.

Religion gets only two mentions in the Constitution. Article VI says there can be no religious test to hold office, and the First Amendment restrains Congress from establishing an official religion and abridging the free exercise of religion. That’s two mentions of religion, and both in the negative.

If the defendant-intervenors in the Prop 8 case tried to raise the issue of the divine institution of male-female marriage, any federal judge would have been right to throw the argument out. Judge Walker summarized this in two sentences in his decision (pdf p. 10), distilled from two of the most on-point Supreme Court cases:

A state’s interest in an enactment must of course be secular in nature. The state does not have an interest in enforcing private moral or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose. See Lawrence v Texas, 539 US 558, 571 (2003); see also Everson v Board of Education of Ewing Township, 330 US 1, 15 (1947).

The state is not in the business of making religious judgments — and I’m surprised that you, the soon-to-be-retired Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles and a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic church would want a secular judge to be passing judgment on whose religious views are correct. You and your brother bishops seem very passionate about claiming that kind of authority only for yourselves.

Cardinal, if you don’t like Walker’s ruling and want someone to blame for it, you might look in the mirror. It was likely money from Roman Catholic and Latter-Day Saints individuals and institutions that paid for the work of the defense-intervenors, and from where I sit, they did a pretty poor job.

Judge Walker gave them every opportunity to lay out a non-religious rationale for their position, and they failed. Miserably.

They did not build a case on facts, but merely asserted that one existed. They did not put forth credible expert witnesses, they did not bring forward peer-reviewed scientific studies, and they did not put forward a single convincing secular purpose for the kind of discrimination Prop 8 sought to enshrine in law. Wrote Walker (pdf p. 11):

[Prop 8] proponents in their trial brief promised to “demonstrate that redefining marriage to encompass same-sex relationships” would effect some twenty-three specific harmful consequences. Doc #295 at 13-14. At trial, however, proponents presented only one witness, David Blankenhorn, to address the government interest in marriage. Blankenhorn’s testimony is addressed at length hereafter; suffice it to say that he provided no credible evidence to support any of the claimed adverse effects proponents promised to demonstrate.

That’s the sum total of the case put forward by the defenders of Prop 8. One witness, and not a particularly good one at that. Walker weighed that poor excuse for a case against the strong, vigorous, and well-supported arguments of the plaintiffs, and (surprise, surprise) sided with those seeking to overturn Prop 8.

Indeed, your blog post proves the wisdom of Judge Walker’s ruling. You declare that there is one and only one reason you and others backed Prop 8 — your religious beliefs about the divine institution of marriage. Indeed, by the end of Walker’s decision, he seems to agree that this *is* what the case is about. After dismantling the six purported rationales for Prop 8 put forward by the DIs, Walker writes (pdf p. 134):

what remains of proponents’ case is an inference, amply supported by evidence in the record, that Proposition 8 was premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as opposite-sex couples. FF 78-80. Whether that belief is based on moral disapproval of homosexuality, animus towards gays and lesbians or simply a belief that a relationship between a man and a woman is inherently better than a relationship between two men or two women, this belief is not a proper basis on which to legislate. See Romer, 517 US at 633; Moreno, 413 US at 534; Palmore v Sidoti, 466 US 429, 433 (1984) (“[T]he Constitution cannot control [private biases] but neither can it tolerate them.”).

Walker believes that you and your fellow Catholics believe that gays and lesbians are "objectively disordered" and sex between people of the same gender is a "grave depravity." He’s read the materials put out by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (see Finding of Fact #77, points i and j on pdf p. 104). By the end of his decision, he agrees with you that this is why you want to enshrine this belief in law.

Thank God, however, that he believes this is "not a proper basis on which to legislate."

You may be free to discriminate against gays and lesbians within the Catholic church as a matter of faith, but the state of California is not free to do the same as a matter of law.

Thank God.

Your brother in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Peterr