Posts Tagged ‘Gender Ideology’

The Jurisprudence of Lies

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

I have often written about how our nation is no longer truly governed by our elected representatives, but is instead dominated by unelected, unaccountable Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Courts. By that I primarily mean the body of men and women who have received life-time appointments to the federal courts, and who use their enormous power to invent new principles of law that have either been rejected by the democratic process or never contemplated by it.

This judicial oligarchy has a long history. The fundamentally false concoction of abortion law is the perfect example — a body of alleged jurisprudence that declares that unborn children have no rights that born people are bound to respect. We saw the rash of lawlessness surrounding the redefinition of marriage, resulting in the intellectually incoherent stew of the Obergefell and Windsor decisions.

We are now seeing it in the infiltration of sexual orientation and gender ideology into the judicial mindset, resulting in a growing jurisprudence of lies. In the last two weeks, we have seen ample evidence. Both cases involve judicial re-invention of the plain, clearly-understood meaning of a federal statute — Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which in part prohibits discrimination on the basis of “sex”.

As one federal judge recently said, “In common, ordinary usage in 1964 — and now, for that matter — the word ‘sex’ means biologically male or female; it does not also refer to sexual orientation.” There really is no intellectually coherent way to understand Title VII as having anything to do with notions of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”. In fact, every “LGBT” organization understood it that way, since they have spent, and continue to spend, a great deal of time, energy and money trying to amend the law to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. But Congress has consistently rejected those amendments.

Now, in order to be valid and legitimate, any law has to have certain characteristics. St. Thomas Aquinas would define a law as “an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated.” So a law has to make sense and be reasonable. It has to be enacted through the proper process — in the United States, that means passed by a legislature and signed by an executive. It must be clear so that ordinary people can understand it, and it cannot change constantly or be subject to shifting sands of interpretation — it has to be predictable so that people will know what is expected of them.  It has to be made public so that there are no secret meanings that people will be held accountable for. If an enactment does not have these characteristics, it is arbitrary and subject to the abuse of power and the advancement of special interests rather than the common good. It is not law at all, but merely an imposition of power.

This is where our lawless oligarchic judiciary comes in. Last week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Ohio, ruled that Title VII isn’t just limited to discrimination on the basis of “sex”, it also bans discrimination based on “transgender and transitioning status”. Perhaps that was in the statute all along, but in invisible ink? The alleged basis for this decision was a prior Supreme Court ruling that a woman could not be penalized because she did not conform to some stereotypes of how a woman should dress and act. It’s important to note that the court was completely unimpressed by what the term “sex” was understood by everyone to mean when the law was enacted. They just blew right past that and re-defined the word to fit their own ideological agenda, turning the law into a lie.

By doing so, the court fell right into the utter incoherence of gender ideology. That bizarre body of thought rejects the male/female sexual binary, denies that biological sex has any significance to a person’s self-defined identity, holds that “gender” is an invented social construct designed to oppress sexual minorities, and maintains that a person can change their “gender identity” into anything they want. If that’s the case, then “transgender and transitioning status” clearly has nothing to do with “sex”, because it entirely rejects the normative relevance and value of sex. But by trying to shoehorn “transgender and transitioning status” into the term “sex”, the advocates — and the court they bamboozled — are trying to have it both ways by saying that “sex” is both irrelevant and a decisive factor. They want to eliminate “sex” but still benefit from it when it suits them. Talk about stacking the deck in your favor.

The second example of judicial usurpation took place earlier this week. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, based here in New York, overturned its precedents and held that Title VII’s term “sex” also includes “sexual orientation”. That’s quite an expansive word, isn’t it? Once again, the court just re-invented the word at the wave of a hand. As one of the dissenting judges said, “the majority misconceives the fundamental public meaning of the language of the Civil Rights Act… By prohibiting discrimination against people based on their sex, it did not, and does not, prohibit discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation.” To say that “sex” in Title VII means anything other than “male” or “female” is just a lie.

Our Church calls us to avoid any unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. But different treatment of homosexual persons is fundamentally not the same as discrimination on the basis of “sex” or even “sexual stereotypes”. Sex discrimination involves negative treatment against a person because of who they are — male or female — or whether they meet certain notions of how a man or woman should behave. Differential treatment of homosexual persons is not like that at all — it is based on disapproval of anyone, male or female, who has sexual attractions or engages in sexual behavior that is considered immoral or otherwise unacceptable. That may indeed be invidious discrimination in some cases, but it certainly is not what Congress meant, or what anyone understood, when Title VII was enacted. To treat such different legal concepts as if they were the same is just a lie.

In 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter in which he discussed his views about the proper role of the judiciary in the American constitutional system.  In his letter, Jefferson made a famous observation:

You seem … to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions;  a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.

Jefferson was a prophet.

Big Brother in Albany

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

The public policy environment of New York State is almost invariably depressing. When you combine a corrupt dysfunctional State Legislature with an arrogant unaccountable Governor who rules as if endowed with the royal prerogative, there’s little reason for pride in the way the Empire State is led. In fact, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine how things could get any worse.

And then, earlier this week, the Governor veered frighteningly into the territory of the suppression of free thought and speech, and intolerance for religious freedom.

His press release trumpeted that the Governor had signed an Executive Order “banning all state agencies and authorities from doing business with companies that promote or tolerate discrimination” against “LGBTQ” people. At first glance, who could object to that? Discrimination is a bad thing, isn’t it? But read that statement again carefully. It doesn’t say “companies that discriminate”. It is aimed at companies that “promote or tolerate” discrimination. What in the world does that mean?

The answer can be found by reading further in the press release and the Executive Order. There it is made clear that the target of this new action is the very existence of religious agencies, and the intent is to suppress any deviation from the new orthodoxy of gender and sexual ideology. There we will find these nuggets (the original language is in italics and my comments are in regular text):

“Additionally, in October 2017, the federal government rescinded a contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act.” 

This is a reference to proposed new regulations that would finally end the interminable controversy over the HHS Mandate, which forced religious organizations to provide health insurance coverage for contraception and abortifacients. This was the mandate that caused the Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic institutions to fight for their rights all the way up to the Supreme Court.

This gives the game away right at the start. Those proposed regulations had nothing to do with discrimination laws or “LGBT” rights. They dealt solely with religious liberty and the HHS Mandate. By citing this completely irrelevant federal proposal, the press release inadvertently made clear that the Governor’s new order is rooted in animosity towards religious freedom.

“This action has permitted employers and organizations to claim broad exemptions from nondiscrimination laws, which has increased the vulnerability of LGBTQ rights.” 

This statement is absolutely false, misleading and incomprehensible. The Administration’s action on the HHS Mandate had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anti-discrimination laws, and it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with “LGBTQ” rights. It granted no exemptions of any kind whatsoever from non-discrimination laws, which the Executive Branch is not able to do anyway without an act of Congress. The idea that “LGBTQ rights” might be “vulnerable” (whatever that means) because of a decision relating to health insurance coverage of contraceptives is something that only an ideologue could believe.

This also gives the game away. This claim about exemptions from non-discrimination laws is the bogeyman raised by gay rights advocates to create a (non-existent but sympathetic) conflict between their interests and religious liberty. By parroting the advocates’ talking points, the Governor shows that the real intent of his Executive Order is to stigmatize religious freedom and threaten to penalize people for unacceptable thinking.

“With this executive order, New York reaffirms our commitment to protecting the rights of everyone.”

This is classic Orwellian doublethink — simultaneously believing in two utterly contradictory things. You cannot at the same time quash religious liberty and freedom of thought and still claim to be protecting the rights of everyone. This order is premised on the assumption that freedom is a zero-sum game with winners and losers — and the Governor has chosen which side he wants to win.

“Finally, the Governor announced that any school that refuses to protect transgender students will not receive state funding.”

Here is the unequivocal and direct attack on religious liberty. Note that the Governor’s order is aimed at “any school”, not just public schools. Catholic, Christian and Orthodox Jewish schools receive state funding for things like textbooks and computers as a matter of basic fairness to the parents of their students. They already protect all students from any kind of harassment or bullying or violence. But they do not and cannot recognize the idea of transgenderism, which is based on a false anthropology contrary to their religious beliefs. These faith communities continue to commit what contemporary sexual ideology considers to be an unforgivable heresy — namely, that God created every human person as male and female and that one’s “gender identity” must accept and conform to to the biological reality of male and female nature.

The amorphous language being used here — the vague undefined terms “protect”, “tolerate” and “promote” — shows that broad discretion is going to be given to unaccountable bureaucrats to police speech and thought as well as behavior. Who will decide what is sufficient to constitute “protection” and what standard will they use? Will it be enough to protect all students equally? Or will the state require Catholic, Christian and Jewish schools to violate their religious beliefs and treat some students in special ways that acknowledge the false notion of fluid gender identity? Does anyone trust this state government led by this Governor to act in a way that respects religious freedom as well as the rights to free speech, thought and association? Or are we witnessing the foundation of a Thought Police?

“Affected State Entities are hereby directed to amend their procurement procedures to prevent Affected State Entities from entering into contracts with entities that have institutional policies or practices that fail to address the harassment and discrimination of individuals on the basis of their gender identity, transgender status, gender dysphoria or any of the other protected classes enumerated above.”

This is the language of the Executive Order itself, and it carries much more weight than a press release. This is the directive that will be used by state agencies to come up with binding rules. If this language just spoke of banning companies that have been found guilty of actual acts of discrimination, then it would be one thing. Or if it dealt with government agencies subject to the Governor’s direct authority, that would make some sense.

But this Order is aimed at banning private companies “that have institutional policies or practices that fail to address” harassment and discrimination. This doesn’t seem to require proof of actual wrong-doing — that acts of discrimination have occurred or that the company failed to correct them. So how will we know if a policy “fails to address” discrimination? Who will decide that, and what standard will they use? Since our schools and institutions do not recognize the validity of transgenderism, are we per se guilty of this thoughtcrime because of our religious beliefs? Again, can we trust this state government led by this Governor to act in a way that respects religious freedom as well as the rights to free speech, thought and association?

To really capture the import of the Governor’s new policy, just consider his own words: “I can tell you that any school that refuses to protect transgender students will not receive a penny of state money and then they are out of business.” No subtlety to that threat. The only schools he could be talking about are religious ones, and everyone knows that means Catholic, Christian and Orthodox Jewish schools. The message is clear — conform or be destroyed.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in a case named Trinity Lutheran Church v. Missouri. It involved a religious school that was denied a government contract that was generally available to anyone else. The Court said,

The State has pursued its preferred policy to the point of expressly denying a qualified religious entity a public benefit solely because of its religious character. Under our precedents, that goes too far. The Department’s policy violates the Free Exercise Clause.

The Supreme Court saw clearly that our Constitution recognizes the fundamental human right to think and believe freely, and that government cannot penalize persons or organizations solely because of their religious beliefs. The Court rejected the fundamentally totalitarian idea that all private entities must be forced into harmony with the government’s ideology.

The Supreme Court sees what Big Brother in Albany does not. The future of freedom in our state is not looking good.

Liberated by the Truth

Friday, September 1st, 2017

I recently was asked to give a class on gender ideology. I’ve written about this many times before, but I was once again struck by how nonsensical gender theory is. It is a soup of very strange ideas — my biological sex is irrelevant to my self-determined “gender identity”, the “male/female binary” is oppressive and must be eliminated, there are an infinite number of possible genders, and everyone’s choice of gender identity must be accepted and affirmed by the government and other people.

Gender ideology is a symptom of a significant modern intellectual disorder — a rejection of objective truth. This is so severe that it affects not just theories of sexuality, but it infects our political dialogue and is a serious problem within the Church. The need to hold firm to the truth is more important now than ever. Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, wrote in the 17th Century something that so clearly applies to our own age:

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.

Two recent news items exemplify what happens if we aren’t fully dedicated to seeking the truth.

This week, a group of Evangelicals issued a document called “The Nashville Statement”. It is a re-statement of very basic Biblical values about marriage, sexuality, homosexuality, and gender theory. It re-affirms that God’s basic plan for humanity is that we are male and female, that sexuality is designed to be expresses solely within a marriage between a man and a woman, and that homosexuality and transgenderism are not consistent with God’s plan. The Statement was nothing earth-shattering, in that it was really just a brief summary of Christian Morality 101 as the Church has always believed, just applied to the hot issues of the day. All orthodox Christians — Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox — should have little difficulty assenting to it.

Of course, nothing in Christian Morality 101 is uncontroversial in this age. Many liberal Protestants and some Catholics denounced the statement as judgmental and un-Christlike, and claimed that its tone is antithetical to the need for dialogue and inclusiveness. One even called it “evil”. A satirical religious website aptly skewered the flap with a story entitled “Progressives Appalled As Christians Affirm Doctrine Held Unanimously For 2,000 Years”. This is what happens when the truths that have been handed down to us become optional.

The second news item was a wonderful op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Cardinal Robert Sarah. It was titled “How Catholics Can Welcome LGBT Believers” (the article is unfortunately behind a paywall, but you can read a decent account of it here and here). If a piece with that title had appeared in the New York Times, written by any of the usual suspects, it would have said all of the tediously usual things — dialogue, acceptance, affirmation, a rejection of allegedly “hurtful” statements in the Catechism, bridge-building, etc., etc. The notions of sin, immorality, repentance, and conversion would have been conspicuously absent.

But Cardinal Sarah’s op-ed offered a refreshingly different approach. His theme was that God loves all of us and wants us to be happy. The most loving thing that we can do for our “LGBT” brethren is to present them with the full and unalloyed teaching of the Church and to encourage them to live lives of chastity. He also stated plainly what the Church has known forever, namely that sin is bad for us but living according to God’s will brings us fulfilment and joy.

In other words, the truth is the best medicine for what ails all of us, including homosexuals and transgenders. Our disordered desires lead us to the slavery of sin rather than the liberation that comes from a life in Christ. And the desire to act against God’s will is not, and cannot be, a gift — it is a curse.

This is the reason that we are so insistent on defending our religious liberty and freedom of speech against all threats. We are seeing bills that would impose criminal penalties on those who fail to use a transgender person’s favored pronouns, school policies that restrict students’ ability to speak about their faith, and laws that seek to punish businesses that don’t want to participate in same-sex “marriages”. We have to resist such measures, so that we can share the truths that will allow people to live according to God’s will and to be set free to a life of joy.

Both the Nashville Statement and Cardinal Sarah make a crucial point. Living a life of chastity is undoubtedly difficult, especially since we will have to act against some deeply-ingrained inclinations and desires. But the grace of God is sufficient for us in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9). It offers us forgiveness and healing and will enable us to live in accord with His holy will.

God’s grace helps us to love and know the truth.  Which, we have on good authority, is what will set us free.