FIRST-PERSON: Civil rights becomes behavioral
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- The discussion over civil rights in the United States, until recent years, has been focused primarily on inherent, immutable characteristics like sex or race. Both are set realities at birth; they do not change.
Courts and legislatures have tinkered with the understanding of civil rights for a few years now by introducing the concept of behavior and self-perception to the discussion.
However, when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on June 26 that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, it took a giant step toward endorsing the concept of behavior as the basis for civil rights.
DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and is a federal statute that allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under other states' laws.
"DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy who authored the majority opinion in the 5-4 vote.
"DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others," Kennedy wrote.
That "differentiation," Kennedy wrote "demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects ... and whose relationship the state has sought to dignify. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples."
Kennedy makes it clear he believes people who marry because of homosexual behavior should be viewed no differently than people who marry based on the inherent characteristics of male and female.
It is clear that Kennedy and the four justices who joined him in declaring DOMA unconstitutional accept the premise that homosexuality is more than just a behavior; it is natural, normal, healthy and inherent.
However, it must be noted that, to date, there has not been one single, definitive, scientific study that has established homosexuality as genetic or biological. Not one. Thus, there is no scientific support for the justices' point of view.
The American Psychological Association once touted there was considerable evidence to "suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality." The APA in recent years has abandoned this position.
The APA has produced a brochure, which is available on its website, titled "Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality." In the pamphlet the APA states the following:
"There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors...."
America has seen a surge in homosexual acceptance in recent years. The Supreme Court's ruling in DOMA likely will encourage the trend. Two factors have contributed to this: One, the acceptance of the unproven premise that homosexuality is innate, and two, societal pressure to conform to politically correct norms.
Politically correct doctrine holds that all sexual behavior between consenting adults is appropriate and beyond judgment. If any individual or group deems to call any sexual expression immoral, they are to be castigated and shamed.
Kennedy makes it clear that he is guided as much by politically correct doctrine as he is by constitutional jurisprudence when he writes, "The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects...."
Taking Kennedy's statement at face value, we must conclude that any and all sexual choices made by a couple are protected constitutionally as civil rights.
While the Supreme Court did not rule specifically that behavior and self-perception will be protected as civil rights, it is the end result and will be the next step in the ever "evolving" understanding of the Constitution by liberals in America.
When it comes to marriage, there is now no longer a legal argument against any marriage arrangement or configuration. All moral and sexual choices are protected by the Constitution. If someone can imagine it, it will likely become a matrimonial reality. Anything goes.
Whereas civil rights discussion once dealt primarily with matters of race and sex, which are both inherent and immutable characteristics, going forward, the debate will focus more and more on sexual behavior and self-perception. The effects will be far-reaching.
If you take a public stand against the effort to mainstream homosexuality, you will be subject to attack. I know, because in many of my columns I dare to oppose the idea that homosexuality is natural, normal and healthy.
As a result of my position I have been on the receiving end of numerous letters and e-mails filled with vile threats. I was once even told to my face by an activist, "We will shut you [meaning conservative Christians] up!"
It seems the Supreme Court may have unwittingly given homosexual activists a leg up on silencing those who believe all sexual expression outside of marriage between one man and one woman is a sin.
In light of the Supreme Court decision on DOMA, followers of Christ and adherents to conservative philosophy have one of two choices: Remain silent in order to be accepted by society or speak the truth in love and, in all likelihood, be castigated by many in popular culture.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message, www.baptistmessage.com, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).