Proposition 8 and The Danger of Positive Rights

Proposition 8, a hot-button issue on the upcoming California ballot, is one the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is actively engaged in.  Letters have been sent out to Mormon congregations, encouraging members to actively do all they can to urge the passing of this piece of legislation, which, as I understand, amends the California constitution to recognize only marriage between a man and woman.

Personally, I would like the government out of marriage.  I know this for some is fairyland, as government, for at least tax reasons, is inextricably entwined with marriage partners (and has been for decades) in what I consider to be invasive ways.

From this perspective, supporting Proposition 8 is surely an act of faith.  But there are rational reasons for me to support this expansion of government which I find consistent with my principles.  The problem with inaction?  Positive Rights.

Traditionally, Lockean government existed to protect individual negative property rights: my neighbor has no right to assault me, for instance, or steal my stuff, to use technical terms.  My rights are protected by government.

Positive rights are a different matter entirely.  Instead of the right to be protected from something, positive rights are the right to receive something, like health care, a “living wage”, home ownership, and the like.  This necessitates something being confiscated from someone else and given to you.  It is this mindset of entitlement which concerns me most about this proposition.

Implications of positive rights as applied to proposition 8 to me include messy litigation cases.  All it takes is one or two high profile lawsuits and the consequences could become very difficult.  These could tie up precious tithing money as the Church defends itself from accusations of discrimination.  They could result in LDS Bishops being unable to perform marriages to heterosexual couples only.  I see even parts of temple worship, like the sealing ordinance, could be at risk, perhaps not in the immediate future, but down the road.  I could see where, in the not-too-distant future, excluding practicing homosexuals from ordinances could be considered discriminatory.  These scenarios seem uncomfortably plausible and it would pain me to see the Church fight these type of unnecessary and destructive battles.

And so I urge anyone residing in California to support a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman, not to enlarge the powers of the state, but to prevent unwanted encroachments on private religious organizations.

By the way, for those interested, the Church posted an official commentary called “The Divine Institution of Marriage” on its website, which is quite interesting.

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43 Comments

Filed under Libertarian, Mormonism, Personal, politics, role of government

43 responses to “Proposition 8 and The Danger of Positive Rights

  1. I believe laws ought to be there for protection of safety or property. As no one is hurt by gay marriage, I see no reason why they can’t be married.

  2. mormonpaleo

    Thanks for your input loudelf. I can understand why on the surface it may appear that “no one is hurt by gay marriage” but in reality many are affected by the actions of two adults or even one adult. My brother’s reason for supporting the proposition because of the threat and impact leaving things status quo would have on the Church is a great example of how there are significant impacts by allowing the state to include gay marriage in their definition of marriage. In addition, many, including myself, would argue that this proposition to have California’s state constitution amended to define marriage as between a man and a women is for protection of safety. Our individual actions can have a profound effect on our families, children, neighbors, and ultimately the moral direction of society. Thus laws are made to prohibit and limit access to drugs, alcohol, pornography, prostitution, and other immoral behavior. It is important to understand as well that passage of this proposition will not deny benefits and recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships (for more information see preservingmarriage.org). Based on this understanding I would then ask why not pass the proposition?

    Nevertheless this ultimately is a question of faith and belief in absolute truth. The purposes why I support this proposition ultimately lie in my faith and commitment to the doctrines taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are moral truths that man did not establish nor should he push aside to create his own man-made truth to fit contemporary trends in society. For a more detailed faith-based explanation of these ideas see this blog post. The Church has posted their own descriptive explanation behind the importance of maintaining marriage as between a man and a woman on their newsroom website.

  3. I’m not sure that government is enlarged by defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. No new bureaucracies would be needed, no new law enforcement would be required. If anything, there would be less government involvement since there would be less people applying for marriage licenses and such.

    Frankly, I see this proposition as limiting the size of government in the general sense. Not a bad side effect (though not the central reason for my support of the proposition).

  4. plato04

    Connor,

    Though I do admire your optimism, I do not share it. I see the opposite possibilities of right-leaning individuals and politically-connected groups wanting to use government authority, bureaucracies, and tax dollars to see that this is “enforced” or “complied with,” i.e. by investigating cities, municipalities, and even churches and private organizations. I’m not sure that is imminent, but I see that as a possibility.

    We are surrounded by people who twist good things (like the “necessary and proper clause,” for instance) way out of control, and I admit I have my concerns along those lines.

    Loudelf,

    I think your views are commonplace. But I think this perspective completely ignores the question and potential pitfalls of positive rights (i.e. increased taxation, regulation, oversight, and intrusion into individuals and organizations) as applied to this scenario. That is a question that needs to be addressed.

  5. Well said – I share your beliefs on all aspects of this article.

  6. @mormonpaleo

    Access to alcohol and drugs is limited due to their dangers to either youth, while operating vehicles, or in general. Pornography is limited to protect children’s safety. I am for legalizing prostitution as it is a victimless crime.

    We can’t be in the business of legislating morality as this comes down to whose morality you legislate… yours?

    Straight couples have a 50% divorce rate. This causes a myriad of problems, and we can’t legislate against that as well. As we seperate church and state in this country, we need not to limit people’s rights because of some religious sensitivities.

    Again, no one is hurt or needs to be protected by gay marriage. That’s what I feel laws need to be in place for, and therefor, I will not stand in the way of gay marriage.

  7. mormonpaleo

    @loudelf

    What do you say in response to the pitfalls of positive rights in relation to proposition 8? Aren’t these potentially damaging and thus would warrant protection by amending California’s state constitution?

  8. ajax

    I don’t like the idea of Government defining marriage, as they may redefine it in the future. But this seems to be our best bet in the short term to fight off Liberal-activist judges. When the time comes that the people accept changing the state constitution to redefine marriage to include gay marriage….we’ll be pretty close to being doomed anyway.

  9. loudelf, I think I understand where you’re coming from, and I don’t have a problem with gay couples committing to love and serve each other.

    The problem, as I see it, and as we see elsewhere, like in Canada; is the legal aspect – and its implications. In Canada, for example, churches have been prevented from expressing their views on homosexuality, and individuals prosecuted for “hate speech” when they did express them. This NPR article outlines several infringements on religious liberty already happening in the US.

    That infringement is why I’m against changing the legal definition of the term, “marriage,” from the historically understood definition. It serves primarily as a way to quash the free speech of those who disagree.

  10. Carissa

    Well said Kannie.

    “We can’t be in the business of legislating morality as this comes down to whose morality you legislate… yours?”

    Morality is being legislated here whether we like it or not. As Dallin H. Oaks said, “a high proportion of all legislation has a moral base”. If we idly stand by and refrain from being “in the business” of it, someone else’s morality will be legislated upon us.

    “Again, no one is hurt or needs to be protected by gay marriage”

    James E. Faust said, “All immoral behavior directly impacts society. Even innocent people are affected…It simply is not true that our private conduct is our own business. Our society is the sum total of what millions of individuals do in their private lives. That sum total of private behavior has worldwide public consequences of enormous magnitude. There are no completely private choices.” Ensign, May 1987, 80

  11. ed42

    Rats! Chris, I usually looked forward to and agreed with your postings. I think you blew it big time on this.

    Let’s apply your same logic to slavery, to inter-racial marriage, to just about anything that prevented the full expression of rights in the past – does your logic hold?

    The question in my mind is: “Am I ever justified in doing an evil today (to X) that MIGHT prevent (Y from doing) an evil tomorrow?”. Should I deny rights to X because Y MIGHT attempt to use government to force me to do something? I can only answer no, I am not justified.

    What “positive rights” will ‘marriage’ allow over that ‘civil unions’ allow? (so far as I can tell the LDS church is not against civil unions of gays). Are we just arguing semantics?

  12. plato04

    Thanks for chiming in, kannie and ajax.

    ed42, sorry to disappoint. OK, I’m not that sorry.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. As in the past, many of your views have an anarchic flavor to them, whereas I am more of a minarchist. As I mentioned, I do have my hesitations with any possible increases in government power or scope. I’d rather have government out of marriage completely.

    But the threat from a perspective of positive rights is so great that not passing this is riskier than passing it. Churches, as kannie indicated, could be sued for “hate speech,” among other things, whereas passing Proposition 8 could serve as a protection from these type of (what I consider to be ridiculous) lawsuits.

    I don’t see this really as denying rights to anyone, except the right to have one’s union considered legal marriage as defined by the state. Could be a triviality, or an issue of semantics, as you put it. Considering the threat from those who believe in positive rights, however, I’d rather take the relatively innocuous step of passing the legislation than gamble on the imperviousness of our shaky court system. The positive rights I am most concerned with are those that relate to individuals and private organizations being sued for their beliefs and practices.

    Loudelf, while I am generally opposed to federal legislation of morality (meaning sexuality), I am not opposed to local governments being involved. For instance, I find nothing wrong with a school board banning a book for sexual content, for instance, or outlawing pornography or prostitution. I get more nervous when a state gets involved, but I find Proposition 8 to be relatively minimal. It’s largely a recognition of the already accepted definition of marriage, and again, a protection against encroachments pertaining to positive rights. While I understand your perspective, I still think the positive rights question is significant. I can not ignore it.

  13. socialist brother-in-law

    I don’t get the whole negative/positive rights thing. Well, I understand the distinction you’re trying to make and how it supports your philosophy in general, but I don’t think it fits necessarily with some founding texts of our nation: are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” negative or positive? They sound pretty positive to me.

    The worry about lawsuits is a distraction: lawsuits related to gay rights are going on all the time, almost all of them in places where traditional marriage is still the law.

    The concern that churches will be required to marry people they don’t want to marry seems a little unfounded as well. Catholic churches have never been required to marry people who have been divorced even though divorced people are allowed to remarry in California. Maybe divorced people aren’t as litigious as gay people—I don’t know—but you’d think it might have come up.

    There are reasons to vote for proposition 8, but as far as I can see they are pretty much limited to what can be found in the Church’s Proclamation on the Family: “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.”

  14. Carissa

    “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” negative or positive? They sound pretty positive to me.

    This discussion of positive vs negative rights is extremely important and it absolutely pertains to our founding texts. The governmental role in the rights mentioned above is not positive, in the sense that it has a role in providing them for you (sustaining your life for you, giving you your happiness, etc).

    The role of government is negative, in that it keeps other people from infringing on them (punishment for murder, theft, etc) so you have the freedom to live and the ability to provide happiness for yourself. You don’t have the “right” to receive your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness FROM the government. You already possess these rights (they’re inalienable, God-given, natural). Government is supposed to exist to protect them from infringement.

    How can any of us have an unalienable “right” to another’s respect or their services? We have a right to pursue those services (health care, civil marriage certificate) but no actual right to receive them if the other party does not wish to provide them.

    Where it seems to get confusing is when we enter into contracts. People feel entitled to services from the government when they are required to pay taxes for programs that offer services (welfare, public schools, health care). Despite the language used, these “entitlements” (one of which is to have our relationships recognized by the government) are not unalienable “rights”.

  15. socialist brother-in-law

    Carissa, I don’t know you personally, so perhaps you’re here more for the “paleo” than the “mormon”, but from previous comments it looks like both. So in response to whether the “right” to sustenance is God-given or not, I’d direct you to Mosiah chapter 4:16-19.

    16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

    17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

    18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

    19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

    Perhaps the government shouldn’t have a role—you can argue that—but I’m not comfortable saying that God has no interest in us providing for people’s basic needs. And while we’re legislating morality, this seems to me like some good morality to legislate, too.

  16. Carissa

    Are you trying to make the case that the poor have a “God-given right” to the generosity of the not-so-poor because it is a commandment?

    God DOES have great interest in us giving of our time and means to help those in need- thus the spiritual admonition you just quoted (which, of course, is in the scriptures and NOT the constitution). True charity must be voluntary and when done through taxation it isn’t. I’ve never understood how our duty to help the poor justifies socialism for so many Mormons. We also have a duty to spread the gospel, but that certainly doesn’t justify using the government to do it. Maybe you can enlighten me? I’m sincerely curious; I’ve never heard a good explanation.

  17. plato04

    Carissa,

    I think one reason that many Mormons view socialism as consistent with charity is the view, from scholars like Leonard Arrington and Brigham Daniels, for instance, that the 19th Century Mormon settlements, with their egalitarian bent, were borderline socialist, and that socialism is really an embodiment of this type of lifestyle. I completely disagree with that interpretation, but I think it exists, especially among the scholarly.

    Another reason is a very loose feeling of the importance of private property rights. You and I and ajax and connor and ed42 all feel we are entitled to the fruits of our labors, and that infringing upon that is a significant thing that undermines our personal liberty and political system.

    Socialists don’t see private property rights as all that critical, and don’t necessarily see a problem with a big government dispensing, regulating, and otherwise controlling things. After all, aren’t there market defects that must be remedied? Social injustices that must be rectified? They don’t necessarily see a large government with broad powers to confiscate and distribute wealth as a problem with respect to individual liberty. It may be, but it can be done properly to avoid problems. You and I and many others are skeptical of government in general. Socialists are more skeptical of the market, and are optimistic about the ability of the government to distribute wealth equitably and address inequities (and resolve them) that individuals acting freely, without duress, would not accomplish. Removing the profit motive and having a “public” aim seems more worthy and good in the eyes of a socialist.

    Libertarians (classical liberals) and 21st Century social democrats (liberals) look at the same sorts of problems: poverty, pollution, and war, for instance. Whereas libertarians are apt to blame the government for its intrusion, liberals blame the market for the same sorts of problems. For instance, the idea that the boom and bust cycle is an inevitable part of the market economy is perhaps the greatest reason to justify a central bank and a huge central economic planning apparatus. Libertarians see the boom-and-bust cycle as a result of government intrusion, however.

    Socialist-brother-in-law, feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

    I feel that understanding one another is certainly an important goal, and perhaps the most important thing to accomplish in a discussion such as this.

  18. Carissa

    Yes, I sincerely do want to understand especially given these facts:

    1. At least 5 LDS leaders/prophets have explicitly talked about how different the principles behind the United Order are from the principles behind communism and socialism (completely voluntary vs required, private vs communal ownership of property, etc).

    2. Protecting private property rights is mentioned in D&C 134 as an important role of government, “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual… the right and control of property”

    And yes, that tiny matter about individual will vs force really does makes all the difference:

    “In things that pertain to celestial glory there can be no forced operations. We must do according as the spirit of the Lord operates upon our understandings and feelings. We cannot be crowded into matters, however great might be the blessing attending such procedure. We cannot be forced into living a celestial law; we must do this ourselves, of our own free will. And whatever we do in regard to the principle of the United Order, we must do it because we desire to do it…”(Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses. Vol. 19, p.346, 349-350))

  19. socialist brother-in-law

    “Socialist brother-in-law” is the nickname given to me by plato04. You would probably consider me a socialist as well, but I consider myself a progressive democrat. I think our democratically elected government has a role to play in helping people. Communism and socialism, as generally viewed, are totalitarian systems, and I agree that they are a perverted version of the united order. They’re not systems of government I’m advocating.

    I think that democracies, on the other hand, have some legitimate rights to tax citizens. You may view this as involuntary. I view it as part of the social contract.

    I support property rights, too, by the way (I didn’t like the Kelo decision at all, for example), but I think it’s fine for government to have a say in what I do on my property or to impose taxes on my property.

    Finally, I don’t think taxation removes my agency. In spite of the taxes I pay, I have many opportunities for charity. If I were in the highest tax bracket, I believe I would have still more ways I could be charitable.

    But at the same time, I would feel like I was abdicating one of the most significant ways I could help the poor if I were to advocate abolishing all government assistance. So I try to do both: give what I can myself, and vote to support a government that directs some of our tax dollars to help out, too.

  20. plato04

    Socialist-brother-in-law,

    Fascinating thoughts.

    You said, “I don’t think taxation removes my agency.” But you must admit that with respect to that portion of your goods which are confiscated, your right to choose (agency) has been removed. You no longer have control over what is done with that portion of your goods. It sounds like your point is that such a situation is something you can live with.

    I think your statement, “Our democratically elected government has a role to play in helping people” is representative of the mindset of most people in the world, whereas a libertarian or small-government conservative may say that only individuals should have that role, and that governments should be limited to keeping the peace.

  21. ed42

    Given: Marriage is a positive right
    Given: Government ought not discriminate.

    Conclusion: If government is going to grant marriage licenses it ought to be “blind” as to whom to grant licenses.

  22. ed42

    At one point the prophet BY taught that an inter-racial married couple (“mixed seed”) ought to be put to death. Are there any circumstances where you would support that statement? How about if he ‘commanded’ us to support a law that prevents inter-racial marriage? Could you support that? How about if the current prophet said the same?

  23. Carissa

    Okay “socialist”- I think we agree on all the things I have a problem understanding. As far as taxes being part of the social contract, I agree with that too. We are obligated to pay something in order to receive the basic protections the government provides us (those things cost money).

    It appears that we just draw the line differently of where those services should cease. When you say the government has a role to help people (beyond protection), where does the authority come from? Do you interpret the constitution (general welfare) to mean it, or are you not of the opinion that the things government does must be explicitly outlined in that document?

  24. Carissa

    “If government is going to grant marriage licenses it ought to be “blind” as to whom to grant licenses”

    So blind that it ignores or reinterprets the very definition of the word of marriage?

  25. Carissa

    ed42- could you please quote it and explain the context first, thanks.

  26. Carissa, government was never supposed to keep people from infringing on your rights. That, in an of itself is a positive right to protection, which is a violation of others’ negative rights to life, liberty, and property. The Bill of Rights was meant to keep the government from infringing on your rights, not for the government to be involved in protecting those rights when others attempt to infringe on them. The Constitution applies to the government, not to the rest of us.

    Socialist BIL, I never signed or otherwised consented to that social contract. I would be fine with ANY form of government, as long as everyone involved has explicitly consented to it.

    Prop 8 is not a violation of negative rights. Gay people would still have the right to get married; it just wouldn’t be recognized by the state. The right to be RECOGNIZED by the state as a married couple is a “positive right” (the state is granting recognition to a married couple). I don’t believe anybody should be given ANY positive rights (which is an oxymoron…there’s no such thing as a right, other than unalienable rights); therefore, I don’t believe government should have ANY involvement in recognizing who (or what) is married. Since I don’t believe government should be involved in marriage in any way (no positive rights for anyone), I much less believe that the government should be able to discriminate as to who will receive positive rights.

    If the government can’t give something to everyone, they should give it to nobody (which automatically invalidates all positive rights).

    Prop 8 may decrease the dessimination of positive rights, but more importantly, Prop 8 gives the government increased power to discriminate…it is an increase in power & scope, and a decrease in justice & equality, to which I am fundamentally opposed.

    By the way, without Prop 8, marriage is not defined in the state constitution; therefore, Prop 8 would be an increase in governmental discriminatory powers.

    Additionally, I believe, if government is given increased power to discriminate, then it could eventually lead to an increase in their ability to control religious rights (infringe on negative rights). Power breeds power. If people can vote on who should get certain positive rights, then what’s to stop them from voting on who should retain certain negative rights?

    It’s possible that, if we can keep government from defining marriage now, then eventually, the government will be unable to discriminate against ANY type of marriage, and government-recognized marriages will become illegitimized by the freak-show variety of marriages, which the state is forced to recognize. The end result could be the elimination of state involvement in marriage. Isn’t that what we all eventually want…the state to remove itself from recognizing any type of marriage (the elimination of all positive rights, related to marriage…no government involvement)?

    MormonPaleo (and others), What would be your stance on Prop 8 if the church had never taken a stand on it?

  27. ed42

    From http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2002_Dispelling_the_Black_Myth.html

    Oh, and speaking of intermarriage? Brigham Young said,

    Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. [Ostling and Ostling, Mormon America, 101.]

    Which comes from “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot.” [JD 10:109, Brigham Young, March 8, 1863]

  28. ed42

    “So blind that it ignores or reinterprets the very definition of the word of marriage?”

    Who gets to say what the definition of marriage is?
    Do words change over time? Is the word “marriage” the sole property of religion?

  29. Carissa

    I don’t believe BY was talking about marriage here, since it would have been illegal. It is more likely that he was referring to rape (which was very rarely prosecuted at the time).

    Governments did not invent marriage, they simply began recognizing it and giving it benefits. If the institution is up for a re-definition, I think it’s entirely appropriate that the voice of the people should should be heard on the matter rather than government (judges) simply re-defining it for everyone.

  30. ed42

    Why use the race terms “white” and “black” if he advocated the murder of rapists? Did it matter their skin color?

    Of course Governments didn’t invent marriage. Which “voice of the people” should determine it’s meaning? Should the people of San Francisco determine it’s meaning for themselves? (And the people of Sacramento determine it’s meaning for themselves?) What’s magic about a line in the dirt as to whom should be included/excluded as to the meaning of the word marriage?

    I really abhor the idea that the definition of a word should be determined by the barrel of a gun.

  31. socialist brother-in-law

    Plato04, I choose to pay taxes rather than have my property confiscated, but I think I understand what you’re getting at. I really don’t think that taxation significantly reduces my agency. As I have said before, I believe I have some input in how my tax dollars are spent. Even though I have given some fraction of my assets to the government, I still exercise my agency by voting. And in matters of doctrine, I am quite certain the amount of money I have—before or after taxes—has no relationship to the agency I need to exercise. If the church stopped preaching the gospel in Europe because Europeans didn’t have sufficient agency to be a part of the plan of salvation, then I might be worried.

    And Carissa, yes, I think the constitution allows the federal government great latitude in how it defines “general welfare.” Most Americans seem to agree, as did the supreme court more than 70 years ago. But I recognize that you and others have different opinions, and I have no problem with you arguing for a reversal. Personally, I’m still upset about even older supreme court statements.

  32. plato04

    Socialist-brother-in-law,

    Thank you for at least acknowledging that some people do view taxation as an infringement.

    I still hold that government economic intervention reduces options and possibilities for individuals of all stripes and backgrounds, thereby reducing agency. Is this agency necessary for salvation? Perhaps not. But could receiving more individual agency help individuals exercise more accountability and receive greater individual blessings (including material and spiritual)?

    And certainly, some agency is necessary for salvation, and certainly, governments in the past (and present) have trod on rights which have infringed on the ability of individuals, families, and other private organizations to worship how, where, or what they may. To me and others this infringement, even in the U.S., is still a possibility. Some may view it as a reality.

    I don’t really view America, as it was originally intended, as a democracy. Instead, I think it was intended to be a democratic republic. There’s a difference there. (Perhaps now it is more of a corporatist oligarchy, with appointed bureaucrats like Bernanke and Paulson wielding disturbing amounts of power, and defense spending continually increasing as the economy sputters.)

    I emphathize with your frustration with Supreme Court decisions.

    ed42, as Joseph Smith taught, a prophet is not always a prophet. Is it possible that some of BY’s teachings were in fact opinions? Individuals may receive their own personal revelation regarding items of importance. Each of us could seek out inspiration to know what our involvement in Proposition 8 should be, for instance. Or we could seek out the will of the Lord with respect to interracial marriage. In any case, we need not (and should not) follow leaders blindly.

    I think that if government grants marriage licenses, then there should be an understanding (from the government’s perspective) of what is being granted and to whom.

    I, like you, wish that government was out of the business entirely. But they are not, and will not be for the time being. And so a decision must be made, and as Carissa said, it is better for individuals to select the commonly-accepted definition than allow one individual to select and impose their definition. And, as I said before, this is something that if important, the humble seeker of truth may receive his or her own answer as to its importance and personal relevance.

  33. plato04

    Crusty Ambulance Driver,

    Thanks for your thoughts on positive vs. negative rights.

    While the scenario you describe at the end is possible, I think that in order to transform society from the welfare-warfare state into a minarchial type of state, the mindset has to change. I am concerned that increased government acceptance and toleration of all forms of marriage would lead to more breakdowns in the fundamental societal unit: the family. I really don’t want the government, for instance, to grant tax privileges and publicly-funded adoptions to “freak show marriages.”

    I’d much rather have individuals understand the impracticality and immorality of the welfare-warfare state, and reject it outright, rather than one small piece of the pie, while embracing, or even tolerating, the rest.

    I admit my faith and belief in the teachings of the Church does lead me to support this proposition. I have faith that the consequences from Prop. 8 not getting passed would be worse than if it was passed. I do believe in prophets and the ability of God to reveal and direct and guide, and feel I should be open and willing to follow that guidance.

  34. Plato04,

    Why not, instead of putting your time, money, and energy into voting “yes” on Prop. 8, which is an increase in government power, fight for the elimination of all government involvement in marriage? You could put signs in your yard that say “Eliminate Government Involvement in Marriage.”

    I really would like to know how active, faithful members of the church would answer the question I asked before, “How would you have voted on Prop 8, if the church had never gotten involved?”

  35. plato04

    Let me try to answer the question, “How would you have voted on Prop 8, if the church had never gotten involved?”

    Quick Answer: Not sure.

    As I said before, my faith does affect my decision here. Without direct guidance, I admit I would not be nearly as ardent a supporter as I am now. I would be more pessimistic and skeptical of an increase in government. Would I support it? Not nearly as much as I do now. Would I support it at all? Hard to say. I’d certainly be sympathetic to its causes, but in the end, I don’t think I could say whether I would vote for it or not. There’s still a part of me that gets uncomfortable with the same-sex marriage situation in California, Masschusetts, and other places, and would prefer this type of legislation to inaction, Church involvement notwithstanding.

    As for my energy, again, this is largely a faith-based decision, not necessarily one based wholly on my own rational beliefs and principles.

    I’d prefer a sign in my yard that says, “Dismantle the welfare-warfare state.” As I said before, government involvement in marriage, while increasingly intrusive, is but a small slice of the pie. It’d be near trivial to remove it while leaving the rest undone.

  36. Carissa

    Crusty Guy- I’m trying not to laugh at your name, it made my day 🙂

    I just barely saw your first comment:

    “government was never supposed to keep people from infringing on your rights. That, in an of itself is a positive right to protection, which is a violation of others’ negative rights to life, liberty, and property”

    But of course you know that people don’t have a “right” to murder or to steal. I understand how this basic protection can also be viewed as a positive right, but it is necessary for the negative rights of life liberty and property to be held inviolate. Government wouldn’t be fulfilling it’s most basic functions without this protection.

    D&C 134:2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life

  37. Carissa

    How would you secure the rights to life liberty and property without some sort of “positive” protection against their infringement?

  38. Carissa

    Socialist- thank you for expressing your views. They seem very reasonable.

    My interpretation of the general welfare clause comes from what the definition of welfare was at the time. In 1828, Webster’s dictionary listed 2 definitions. The first said it was applied to persons and the second was applied to political bodies (states). The second definition was this:

    Exemption from any unusual evil or calamity; the enjoyment of peace and prosperity, or the ordinary blessings of society and civil government.

    Taking into account the 10th amendment and the fact that the constitution is a positive document of enumerated powers, I believe that whatever qualifies as general welfare should be limited by the powers the constitution outlines. If we want to add to the powers we would need an amendment to do so properly.

  39. Carissa

    Ed- my understanding is that during the mid 1800’s, the raping of a black woman by a white man was rarely prosecuted and actually considered acceptable by some people. I don’t claim to know exactly what BY meant. I am only trying to his words by taking into account the context of the world at that time.

    I’m not sure how practical it would be for each city to decide their own meaning of the word? It seems like it would be a legal headache for the state.

  40. mormonpaleo

    @Crusty

    To answer your question, “How would you have voted on Prop 8, if the church had never gotten involved?”:

    I have no idea how I would vote. I am not ashamed to say that my church membership and commitment to the doctrines of the restored gospel are intertwined with my motivations in this cause. To divorce my religious commitment would not be true to who I am. Thus, my brother and I are Mormon Paleoconservatives, not just paleoconservatives.

    The idea that passing this proposition will increase government power and scale seems on the surface plausible but I would submit that to not support proposition 8 will lead to increased government involvement in our lives, homes, and families. In other words by supporting this proposition I feel that we are defending against increased government involvement in our private lives. I recommend reading this official document, The Divine Institution of Marriage, published by the Church for further help in understanding the consequences of standing back and not voting in support of this proposition. Here is a quotation from the document that clearly explains this:

    “Finally, throughout history the family has served as an essential bulwark of individual liberty. The walls of a home provide a defense against detrimental social influences and the sometimes overreaching powers of government. In the absence of abuse or neglect, government does not have the right to intervene in the rearing and moral education of children in the home. Strong families are thus vital for political freedom. But when governments presume to redefine the nature of marriage, issuing regulations to ensure public acceptance of non-traditional unions, they have moved a step closer to intervening in the sacred sphere of domestic life. The consequences of crossing this line are many and unpredictable, but likely would include an increase in the power and reach of the state toward whatever ends it seeks to pursue.”

  41. ed42

    Thanks everyone for being civil.

  42. I’m glad you blogged about this. You can also look at the issue this way: The people decided something (passage of Prop. 22 in 2000). 4 judges overturned it. The people use what legal mechanism they have to reassert what they originally decided. This is Proposition 8. The will of the people will prevail and we will have to live with the consequences of whatever decision is made. The consequences are much better known if Proposition 8 passes. It’s how we’ve always lived until the past year.

  43. Son of Jefferson

    Socialist, I read the post on Oct 16th, and am amazed. The war in heaven is what our choices should be judged against. The choice of homosexuals to marry is against what God has indicated as correct. Saying that, I know that most others feel the same about drugs and alcohol. I beg to differ, and here’s why. There were no cities in the plains of the middle east named Budweiser and Coors. There were, however a pair of cities named Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were destroyed by God for the very acts that the California judiciary was attempting to force upon the citizens of that state.

    And there it is again-FORCE-what God implicitly does not want us to do to each other. “But, aren’t we forcing homosexuals to not get married?” No, we are saying that the relationship that they are in is not marriage. It is a civil union. Marriage is a covenant between man and God. Civil unions are contracts between men (or women). The no-8 group do not want us to remember this distinction. It doesn’t fit within the plans of Satan. It doesn’t fit within the plans of his earthly minions.

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