Friday, October 01, 2004

Ashamed to be a Buckeye

This is hardly a letter from a Birmingham jail, but as OSU announces tomorrow its new non-discrimination policy that's not, I felt the need to share not only some summations of the meeting today but also my own thoughts on the issue.

Notes from the meeting are in bold, my own comments are normal type.

Dean Davies ran the meeting, Dean Rogers connected via speaker phone. (Dean Rogers didn't say much the entire time, she was on a phone in the car).

VP for student affairs Bill Hall is the one who apparantly made the decision about the new policy.
Rich Hollingsworth associate v.p for student affairs also present.
Kim _____ from legal affairs present as well.
Hollingsworth didn't say much, while Kim spoke when Hall faltered and didn't know what to say.

The reason for meeting at late moment: announcement to be made tomorrow, didn’t want students to hear about this in the paper for the first time.
Ok, granted, that's a noble goal. So why did I have to hear about it from someone else? Why were "regular" students not told (i.e. those not in a leadership position, and those not in Outlaws? What is the admininstration afraid of? That heteros like myself would learn about this decision, and not agree???

Hall: the new policy was his decision, and he wanted to share reasons behind the decision.
Several hours later, still waiting to hear them, beyond "it was in the best interests of the university." Of course, what defines "the university" seems to be somewhat subjective, as I would personally believe that, oh, I don't know, MAYBE NOT DISCRIMINATING would be in the best interests of the university. But what do I know, I don't have a long fancy title behind my name.

Hall's Prepared remarks:
In essence the decision is that the new guidelines allow groups that have religious beliefs to adopt discrim policies that are in accordance with those religious beliefs. (WTF?!!!)


He claims to be personally and professionally against discrimination, but had to make this decision in the best interests of the university.

He’s aware of the discussion within the law school, but also aware and sensitive to religious beliefs that are strongly held.

Disagreement among the legal community, outside and inside OSU.

His job was difficult.
You'll have to excuse me if I fail to feel all that sympathetic for Mr. Hall. Bull Conner's job was difficult too.

His decision is supposed to be the best decision for the entire university.
Decision doesn’t represent a reversal of OSU policy.
So, we can summarize the OSU discrimination policy thusly: You can't discriminate, unless you really want to. Then you can discriminate. Makes sense, and I can certainly see how that's not a reversal of OSU policy.

Also, the policy only applies to student groups of people with strongly held religious beliefs.
Well gee, that makes me feel better. Certainly nobody with strongly held religous beliefs has ever done anything that's morally wrong. Ever.

A question asked if there was anything discussed about non-sexual discrimination issues…he claims that they’ll follow the law of the land.
I'm sure the Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King would be proud.

Student organizations can now be exempt from the discrimination policies

At this point I asked how we can be on the forefront of the discrimination issue if we're going to effectively step back and say "someone else make this decision, it's too hard."

Hall claims to be “on the forefront of the decision” now that the issue has been resolved at this time… That makes sense, in a Bushian kind of way. The war is going well because it's going bad.

Dean Rogers: other institutions are also currently facing that.

Yes, we know that, but are we freakin' Ohio State, or are we St. Mary's Sisters of the Blind and Poor University????

Someone asked why the decision was being made at this point in time.

Hill: he’s made his decision b/c student groups were requesting allocations of funds, he met with groups that requested to meet with him.

A student asked: is the suit still pending? Yes, it is.

Hall: “I’ve been supportive of LBGT rights in the past, I’ll continue with that, doing everything I can to fight discrimination.
Including passing a discrimination policy that allows discrimination. That fits, I guess.

Colker: I agree, I'm ashamed as well. There are no “unless the law requires otherwise” clauses in the policy, i.e. the race issue (Hill claims that under Title VI we wouldn’t be able to discriminate.

Hall just says “I disagree with your interpretation of the policy.”
His assistant says “you’re correct that the way the policy is drafted it applies to everything


At this point, I had to ask another question. I asked, in effect: So, as I hear the policy, if I were a member of the World Church of the Creator, Nathan Hale's Neo-Nazi church, [which believes that whites are superior to all others], and I correspondingly started a student group for that organization, if I really really really really really believed that blacks and asians were inferior and thus should be excluded, I could effectivly do that and even get student money!?

Hall doesn't know what to say...he starts to answer, stops, and then looks to Kim, his assistant. She stammers a bit, and then says, "Well, yes, as the policy is written."

I can hardly believe what I'm hearing at this point. I said something to the effect that if people 50 years ago had said the same thing, except in reference to blacks, where would we be today in terms of discrimination against blacks? We're doing the same thing now, and I cannot believe that I'm sitting here listening to the university say they're going to allow discrimination. I also said something to the effect that if we're training to be lawyer, and we're going to claim to be on the forefront of public institutions, we should be ones pushing the envelope.

At this point, Goldberger broke in and started to say that I didn't understand that there were two ways to look at pushing the envelope, and I didn't really understand the issue.
Well, with all due respect sir, I DO understand the issue(s). I'm firmly aware that a First Amendment freedom of religion exists in this country. I'm also highly aware that religous pretexts and Biblical support has been used for thousands of years by those in power to oppress certain peoples, whether it be Southerners who claimed that slavery was ok because it was in the Bible, to people who said that blacks were inferior to whites because that, too, was purportedly in the Bible, to the Spanish inquisition and the Crusades, effected because it was the good Christian's duty to go convert or kill the godless Muslums. Are you, Mr. Hall, willing to stand up in front of the student body of the Ohio State University and say that you accept the argument that blacks can be enslaved because their owners belived, very strongly, that there was a biblical and religious reason for such a situation?? We're not talking a First Amendment issue here, we're talking about a human rights issue, which transcends the First Amendment. So you'll have to excuse the fuck out of me I'm not willing to buy the "they should be able to discriminate because the Bible said so" argument. On a side note: point to me where, EXACTLY, Jesus condemned gay people, and then we can start this debate off on the same footing. Until then, as a Christian (i.e. a follower of Christ's teachings, as opposed to the Jewish power structure responsible for the Old Testament) how can you claim to so adamently against gays when Jesus never saw it as a "problem" that needed to be addressed. But I digress...although only slightly.

Someone asked: What does “best interests of the university” mean?
Hall: organizational allocation issues were coming up…a decision needed to be made.
Another student pressed him further. Hall responded: well, like [Goldberger] said, there are two sides of things.

The student pressed him further: what rights or criterion took precedent? He said basically that student groups with strongly held religious beliefs should be able to hold those beliefs.
Let me just say to this student, you rocked. You didn't get upset, you didn't get agitated, but when he refused to answer your question, you pressed him until he admitted that students' religious beliefs were deemed more important than not discriminating against another group of students. Hmmm...that sounds somewhat...discriminatory. You chose one over the other, bub.

The first student says “we need to put things in place to make sure that we don’t have a hostile environment here at the law school.”

Hall says “I agree, and think you summarized the issue well. We need to stop now.”



There were other portions of the discussion, of which I was largely involved, that I did not get written down, so my specific sequence of events, etc. may be slightly off, but this is the general gist of things.

Some observations:
1. What a chickenshit decision by a university that lost untold amounts of respect in my eyes today. Effectively what the university has said is this: We want to be a national university, we want to be a nationally renowned law school, we wanna play in the same sandbox as the Michigans and UVas of this country, but when the time comes for some heavy lifting to be done, we're going to tuck our tail between our legs and run home like a puppy that's been whupped with the paper one too many times. We turned tail and ran, and while you can spin it all you want, Mr. Hall, the fact of the matter is you made this decision to cover your ass; You claim you didn't know about the CLS suit, or that you didn't know the specifics of it or whatever, but I say bullshit.
2. This is a decision that was made to avoid the tough question of "If not now, then when? If not us, then who? When is the time NOT right to stand up against that which is wrong?" If you want another cliche, Mr. Hall: What is right is not always popular. What is popular is not always right. While this new policy may solve the problem temporarily (which it doesn't, as the suit still exists) and allow the almighty dollars to be shoveled out the door to those student groups clammoring for their $300 (it's nice to now that the going price for allowing discrimination these days is only $300), the policy also essentially moots the non-discrimination policy in the first place. What good is a non-discrim policy that says "you can't discriminate unless you really, really want to, in which case we'll let you." Why bother having that discrimination policy, then? What's to stop myriad other as-applied challenges to this policy, Mr. Hall? All this policy does is push the issue off onto someone else, and let someone else take the heat. Maybe it's time for some people to leave the kitchen...?
3. I'm embarassed today, I'm ashamed to say that I'm a Buckeye, and that pisses me off. Perhaps I was naievely optimistic that people with educations would understand the historical ramifications, both forward-looking and backward-looking, of this particular juncture in history. I guess I was wrong, and that's disappointing as well.
4. Like Law Dork said, this new policy, which says you can't discriminate unless it's very strongly held RELIGIOUS beliefs is rife with potential equal protection issues. I'll let him write more extensively on that (after all, it was his observation), but I agree that if one takes this to the next logical step, what's to stop someone from saying that they want to discriminate based on political beliefs, or strongly held beliefs about any number of societal issues?
5. Today was a very revealing day for me as a lawyer-in-training. Although I felt at times like I was just flailing (like Bush tonight!), others said that I was articulate and well-spoken but passionate (compassionately so?). I guess that's a good thing, that I didn't come across like a raving lunatic. On the other hand, drawing the direct parallel to other civil rights issues and given my history background, it makes me sick to my stomach to stand in the breach, so to speak, as history happens all around me and I feel powerless to stop it. I want to just scream sometimes, and say "These same arguments that people make, about how gays shouldn't be able to do this, or that, or that we should be able to exclude them from X..." are the same freaking arguments made decades ago. Just replace "niggers" with "faggots" and we're right back there again, having to fish Emmit Till (or was it Matthew Sheppard?) out of the river.

Just my opinion, I guess, but at the end of the day, I think Jesus is weeping somewhere, ashamed at what's being done purportedly in his name. He didn't hate, he didn't discriminate (except against the religous hypocrites), and he certainly didn't stand by and accept things as they were just so he didn't rock the boat. Mr. Hall, the boat's not rocking too much, so I'm sure Ms. Holbrooke will give you an attaboy, but from my chair, you and all the others who decided that discrimination was preferable to civil rights, you, sir, get a thumbs down. There is right, and there is wrong, and this time, Ohio State is wrong.

17 Comments:

At 1:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A major underlying premise of yours appears to be that Jesus doesn't agree with this and that real New Testament doctrine wouldn't discriminate against gays in the way that this policy does. Okay - but for sake of discussion - if Christianity/New Testament/Jesus did condemn homosexual behavior would your opinions about the policy be different? I understand your argument about the historical reference to slavery/civil war biblical justifications given for both sides of the issue and today virtually all Christians would certainly condemn the former justifications for slavery. So the possibility that Christians in the future will look back on this historically in a similar manner is certainly something that people should critically consider. However, I'm just wondering if your analysis of the issue would be any different if it were possible for you to be convinced that the current religious belief being proposed was correct?

 
At 1:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A major underlying premise of yours appears to be that Jesus doesn't agree with this and that real New Testament doctrine wouldn't discriminate against gays in the way that this policy does. Okay - but for sake of discussion - if Christianity/New Testament/Jesus did condemn homosexual behavior would your opinions about the policy be different? I understand your argument about the historical reference to slavery/civil war biblical justifications given for both sides of the issue and today virtually all Christians would certainly condemn the former justifications for slavery. So the possibility that Christians in the future will look back on this historically in a similar manner is certainly something that people should critically consider. However, I'm just wondering if your analysis of the issue would be any different if it were possible for you to be convinced that the current religious belief being proposed was correct?

 
At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My argument's premise isn't based on Jesus's view of homosexuality or the Biblical view of it. My argument is grounded in an understanding and a belief that discrimination in its many forms is wrong, and that this is a civil rights issue, plain and simple. I concurr that in 20, 30, 50 years from now, educated people will look back at things like the various DOMAs and see them as no different than Jim Crow..."What were those people thinking?"

I wade into the Biblical waters because that's where the CLS/First Amendment argument is to be found; that the religious teachings of Christ purport to prohibit homosexuality. This is a secondary, and, in my opinion, distracting argument, because it allows one to stop thinking rationally about the deep and very real pain caused by such discrimination, and to justify invidious discrimination "because God told me to do it." One need look no further than the statements on the floor of the House yesterday between Barney Frank and Tom DeLay: Frank asked: What are you so afraid of? DeLay answered, "It's for the children." Same idea: avoid the root issue of discrimination by bringing in a distraction, religiou in CLS's case, children in the Bug Killer's situation. Thus, the religious argument, for me, fails to be the determinant one, and as such letters from Paul, etc. would fail to persuade me that in 2004 respecting one group's civil rights is less important than following some non-existent prohibition in the Biblical text that also promotes slavery and genocide.

Happycrack

 
At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what if it weren't non-existent? What if it were clear that there was a Biblical basis for the discrimination? Would the organization on that basis then be able to discriminate in such a way that would allow them to only have members who supported their core values/beliefs?

I thought the whole point of having groups such as CLS was so that like-minded people could organize together. Why is religion an impermissible basis for discrimination in this context and how is it infringing upon anyone's civil rights? Where does a civil right to belong to a group that holds entirely different views come from? To some extent isn't every organization discriminatory -i.e. only certain majors can be in an academic group, etc. What is the point of having organizations if there is never an appropriate basis for discrimination and why aren't religious beliefs an appropriate basis for discrimination in a religious organization.

If you are a biology major in the bio. organization and someone isn't accepted into the org. because they're a sociology major this is because it goes to the heart of the organization. Why can't religious groups similarly discriminate on the basis of what goes to the heart of their organization?

(I'm not necessarily suggesting that I personally believe everything I'm saying fully- these are just concerns that I have and I'm trying to develop the argument to help myself figure out where I stand on this type of issue).

 
At 11:48 AM, Blogger Allen said...

I see your point, and at some point any time a decision must be made preferring one person over another (law school admissions? summer 2L associate positions). However, I guess for me the issue is this: I see a marked and substantial difference between discriminating by having certain criterion that one must have attained so as to join a group (bio majors vs. sociology majors gaining admission to a bio group), vs. discriminating against someone or some just based on an individual, immutable characteristic like one's sexual identity. I don't differentiate between sexual identity issues and being born with a certain level of pigment in one's skin. To follow this train of thought, however, one must first resolve the "it's a choice" vs. "it's just what I am" argument; and argument in which I happen to believe the CLS and others taking their point of view happen to understand incorrectly, and unthinkingly. Maybe not necessarily unthinkingly, but maybe thinkingly based on a text that has become so bastardized over the last 2000 years so as to be used to conveniently support just about any argument on any issue, on both sides.
Again, you raise some interesting points, but I just differentiate between discrimination based on subjective opinions, and discrimination based on objective qualifications, etc.

 
At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate your last post. It is very nice to be able to have a discussion where people can disagree (or possibly disagree anyway) and still see merit in parts of each others arguments.

To reciprocate I think you've made a very interesting distinction between subjective and objective charactersitsics as a basis for determining what is an acceptable basis for discrimination.

However, the concern I'm still left with is where does this leave organizations that are purely subjective in nature? If you see religion as subjective and subjective as a bad reason to discriminate then this means religous groups are forced to tolerate anyone and thus will be left with a membership that is not unified in its beliefs/mission. However more objective groups are able under this reasoning to have a group of members who are similar in relevant respects.

Alternatively, maybe it is possible to subjectively disagree about what religion means but still have objective criteria for any given group. For example, you could create a list of "requirements," such as you must agree with the values of the organization as defined by that group's beliefs/values of which a certain sexual orientation may or may not be a requirement. Then you can have more than one religious group sujectively disagreeing on the issues and therefore having different objective requirements.

Thanks again for creating a venue where these ideas can be discussed with intellectual honesty and open-mindedness.

 
At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One other thought - At this point do you think that the judgment of whether being homosexual is a choice or that they are born that way is a subjective judgment or do you think it is conclusively determined? Is it possible that you are suggesting that religious organizations can't discriminate on the basis of subjective religious doctrine but you are using subjective reasoning to determine whether or not the characteristic is immutable or one of choice?

I guess this means as a preliminary matter I agree with you that an appropriate beginning point in the analysis of all of this is determining where one stands on the choice/born that way issue and then I believe the second step will be determining whether or not this is an appropriate basis for discrimination (back to whether it is okay to discriminate on a subjectively held religious belief).

Although there could be an alternative - born that way + choice - there could be an argument that this is a fallen world and therefore a person can be born that way but still have the ability to recognize this is part of the fallen nature of man and is a bad thing (in the same way that being an alcoholic is bad or being chronically angry, etc) and can then essentially choose not to continue living that way. Then I guess the starting point really is whether it is okay to discriminate based on a religous belief that any type of behavior is bad.

But then we look at the KKK example - we are concerned with the KKK being able to be a group if they wanted to under this policy but at some level aren't we again making a moral judgment that these beliefs are wrong and therefore shouldn't be allowed. How is the decisionmaking different from saying homosexual behavior is wrong and shouldn't be allowed.

hmmm - I guess at some level there's a part of me that thinks that it should be all or nothing - either let anybody discriminate for whatever reason or say nobody can discriminate for any reason - however both seem clearly wrong so it just all goes back to a line drawing problem......

Okay - I believe I'm done thinking for one night now :)

 
At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright -well I can't help myself -one more thought and then this is really it for tonight (man I never knew I was so interested in this issue).

Okay - I think I might see a problem if immutable characteristics aren't an acceptable basis of discrimination at least in some cases. For example, what if it is conclusively proven that child molesters have a gene that they were born with that "forces" them to molest children. (I'm sure you wouldn't but just in case for anyone else out there- I'm in no way comparing homosexuals with child molesters - I'm simply trying to see where this reasoning will take us if we go to the extremes). Would this mean that it isn't acceptable to discriminate against known child molesters? Obviously this would be a horrible conclusion.

I think at some level this ultimately goes back to where as a personal/moral/religious matter you define (subjectively as it may be) what conduct is bad or undesirable for whatever you or your groups stated purposes are no matter whether the conduct was driven by something that was a born with characteristic or a choice. (Most people wouldn't care if the child molester was born that way - they'd still condemn the behavior).

So now I'm thinking maybe the whole debate is really about whether or not it is a correct conclusion that homosexual behavior is bad and maybe whether the person is born that way doesn't matter that much to the analysis...

(Although give me a minute and then I'll think that's the starting point again - it really seems like a lot of this is about how you frame the issue and you can reach different conclusions depending upon how you look at it)

Okay - now I'm really done

 
At 2:48 AM, Blogger Allen said...

Hmmm...again, you raise some interesting points that hurt my brain to ponder at 3:27 in the a.m.! But I'll give it a crack; I guess my initial train of thought is that in some ways, there is so much unknown about human sexuality that we retreat from our fears of that admittedly powerful topic and by so retreating, we withdraw to that which is comfortable and familiar, namely the church and the particular sacred text so associated. However, the problem with THAT is that those texts and those ideologies, in most cases, where developed and posited thousands of years ago when we knew EVEN LESS about human sexuality than we know now. If it was different (regarding sexuality or any other personal characteristic) it was bad. Witness the medical term for "left": sinestral. from the root "sinnister" i.e. evil or bad (the left hand was unclean, unpure, unworthy, etc.). So if we'll acknowledge that some people are just natural lefties, if those persons were transported back a few millenia, they would be (at the time, acceptably so) persecuted for their left-handedness.

I'm not gay, and so I will never know what that realization process is like (I have my own theories about a sexual "spectrum", if you will, but that's perhaps another conversation for another time). But I think that we are very likely missing the boat when we want to say "they chose it, so they're wrong, they're sinners, etc. etc. etc." That's like saying that some one living in Mississippi in the 1950's would voluntarily choose to be black and thus subject themselves to the utter worst in human nature.

Regarding whether it must be a zero-sum game i.e. either no discrimination period, or no allowance for religious beliefs, I guess in some ways I come back to the Boy Scout cases. I know that's not always the most popular way of viewing things in the LBGT community, but acknowledging that "everyone's entitled to their own first amendment-guaranteed freedom of religion" no matter how wrong those religiously-based views may be (see e.g. Jimmy Swaggert this week saying that if any man looked at Jimmy in a "gay" sort of way, Jimmy would kill that man and "tell God he died." Of course, Jimmy later remedied that horrible statement by explaining that it was all just a joke. I found it rather humerous), I have to respect those who feel they have to discriminate from their own social organizations and groups. However, what I've referenced on LawDork and other places is the following: I have a tremendous problem with any of own $$ being used to fund and support such groups. Now, one might argue, well, what about CLS members having a problem with their own $$ being used to support Outlaws...but the distinguishing factor there is that Outlaws is NOT discriminatory, while CLS still is. As one of my professors put it, it's almost a kind of conscientious objector situation, akin to refusing to pay a certain amount of your income tax (usually the aprox. % that would go to paying the Pentagon's share of your tax return). Except in this case, my money isn't disappearing into some invisible Pentagon program, my money is being spit back out from the OSU machine to fund, in part, CLS and their exemption from the policy. Sooo....to sum it up: CLS should have the legal right to cling to their (in my view, antiquated and biggoted) views on gays, subject to their "firmly held religious beliefs." While I may try to persuade those who hold such beliefs of the error of thier ways, they're still guaranteed the right under the constitution to do as such. (and for that matter, so does the KKK, in my opinion. But again, as a caucasion, perhaps my perspective would be altered somewhat where I black instead) However, what I DO think is appropriate is to raise some very strong, very loud objections to my $$'s being given to CLS to function and operate while simultaneously discriminating.

I'm sure there are holes in my logic along the way, but that's what discourse and debate is for, in the ideal at least.

 
At 9:01 AM, Blogger Allen said...

Hmmm...again, you raise some interesting points that hurt my brain to ponder at 3:27 in the a.m.! But I'll give it a crack; I guess my initial train of thought is that in some ways, there is so much unknown about human sexuality that we retreat from our fears of that admittedly powerful topic and by so retreating, we withdraw to that which is comfortable and familiar, namely the church and the particular sacred text so associated. However, the problem with THAT is that those texts and those ideologies, in most cases, where developed and posited thousands of years ago when we knew EVEN LESS about human sexuality than we know now. If it was different (regarding sexuality or any other personal characteristic) it was bad. Witness the medical term for "left": sinestral. from the root "sinnister" i.e. evil or bad (the left hand was unclean, unpure, unworthy, etc.). So if we'll acknowledge that some people are just natural lefties, if those persons were transported back a few millenia, they would be (at the time, acceptably so) persecuted for their left-handedness.

I'm not gay, and so I will never know what that realization process is like (I have my own theories about a sexual "spectrum", if you will, but that's perhaps another conversation for another time). But I think that we are very likely missing the boat when we want to say "they chose it, so they're wrong, they're sinners, etc. etc. etc." That's like saying that some one living in Mississippi in the 1950's would voluntarily choose to be black and thus subject themselves to the utter worst in human nature.

Regarding whether it must be a zero-sum game i.e. either no discrimination period, or no allowance for religious beliefs, I guess in some ways I come back to the Boy Scout cases. I know that's not always the most popular way of viewing things in the LBGT community, but acknowledging that "everyone's entitled to their own first amendment-guaranteed freedom of religion" no matter how wrong those religiously-based views may be (see e.g. Jimmy Swaggert this week saying that if any man looked at Jimmy in a "gay" sort of way, Jimmy would kill that man and "tell God he died." Of course, Jimmy later remedied that horrible statement by explaining that it was all just a joke. I found it rather humerous), I have to respect those who feel they have to discriminate from their own social organizations and groups. However, what I've referenced on LawDork and other places is the following: I have a tremendous problem with any of own $$ being used to fund and support such groups. Now, one might argue, well, what about CLS members having a problem with their own $$ being used to support Outlaws...but the distinguishing factor there is that Outlaws is NOT discriminatory, while CLS still is. As one of my professors put it, it's almost a kind of conscientious objector situation, akin to refusing to pay a certain amount of your income tax (usually the aprox. % that would go to paying the Pentagon's share of your tax return). Except in this case, my money isn't disappearing into some invisible Pentagon program, my money is being spit back out from the OSU machine to fund, in part, CLS and their exemption from the policy. Sooo....to sum it up: CLS should have the legal right to cling to their (in my view, antiquated and biggoted) views on gays, subject to their "firmly held religious beliefs." While I may try to persuade those who hold such beliefs of the error of thier ways, they're still guaranteed the right under the constitution to do as such. (and for that matter, so does the KKK, in my opinion. But again, as a caucasion, perhaps my perspective would be altered somewhat where I black instead) However, what I DO think is appropriate is to raise some very strong, very loud objections to my $$'s being given to CLS to function and operate while simultaneously discriminating.

I'm sure there are holes in my logic along the way, but that's what discourse and debate is for, in the ideal at least.

 
At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree someone doesn't chose to be black/white/whatever. I'm not convinced either way on the sexual orienatation issue on this point (I've heard good arguments either way). But what I am convinced of is if you really think about it we don't "chose" any of our characteristics - you might even trace personality traits like shy/outgoing back to genetics. So again, I'm trying to find what the appropriate times would be to discriminate.

The difference I see between discriminating based on sexual orientation as opposed to skin color is that while we don't chose who we are, genetically speaking, we can chose how to act. Discriminating based on skin color is solely a genetic trait and not a behavior. Practicing homosexual behavior is a behavior (even if chosing to have that orientation is not). Therefore, it seems like we need to determine what behavior is good and what behavior is bad and thus an appropriate basis for discrimination. Again if we link something to genetics such as criminal behavior we are likely still going to want to discriminate against that person in certain contexts even if they couldn't help that they felt inclined to commit criminal acts.

So, again part of the debate goes back to how do we determine the appropriate way to determine what behaviors are bad/good? I think religion is an appropriate source for answering this question. Although, I definitely agree with you that this can lead to a LOT of abuse. So, discrimination based on purely genetic traits (like skin color) that isn't behavioral at all to me seems off limits entirely - I think this puts a limit on how far the religious argument can be taken. However, discrimination based on a behavior that the religious group feels is not compatable with their religion seems appropriate to me.

You do raise great points about the funding issue (even early in the morning :) ). However, at this point I'm leaning towards thinking that as long as a religious group is basing their discrimination on something that is related to their religious beliefs and is based on a behavior that they deem problematic instead of a purely genetic trait this should be allowed. Otherwise I'm not able to distinguish in my mind how it would be acceptable to discriminate on any other supposedly genetic based desire and this isn't something I'm comfortable with as discussed above in the criminal context.

Thanks again for your thoughts!

 
At 2:16 PM, Blogger Allen said...

A point I would quibble with here: if the CLS discriminatory policy were a blanket, across the board on sex, period, I would be ok with that. Well, not really, because that creates a whole lot of repressed, sexually frustrated people! But the point here is that while the CLS prohibits premarital sex, which is certainly their religious beliefs prerogative, they effectively preclude ANY sex by a gay person. It's the perfect catch-22: Gay people shouldn't have unmarried sex. Gay people can't get married. Ergo, gay people should just shut it, not have any sex, and quit bitching about it. I don't think that's realistic. Are we "practicing" heterosexuals? Why, then, are gay people who choose to be in long term relationships with a person who happens to be of the same gender expected to refrain from intimacy with that person? Likewise, if a gay person is promiscuous, the same behavior that wouldn't raise an eyebrow in the hetero realm is all of a sudden a shameful, dirty, disgusting, sinful thing. I just don't understand the double standard. Let's alter the terms of the debate a bit, for argument's sake: let's say that males who engage in sexual behavior are allowed and encouraged to be officers of a given group, while women who likewise act on their innate sexual urges are prohibited from such responsibility. No difference in the behavior, only a difference in who is engaged in such behavior. Would such a differentiation likewise recieve condemnation? Aside from the hypocritical elements in our religious society, most people would condemn such different standards as unfairly discriminatory (and rightly so). Discriminating against gays based on sexual activity is no different. (on the same note, the proscription on pre-marital sex in the CLS constitution should be deviously sufficient to prohibit gays who engage in ANY sexual behavior from attaining officer status in CLS, given the state of officially sanctioned gay marriage in our country. Not saying THAT situation is right, only that the specific, enumerated proscription on gays is rather redundant and serving of no purpose other than to be deliberately overt in what class of people CLS chooses to discriminate against.)

 
At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Extremely interesting last post! First, I'll just briefly address what I disagree with so I can move right along to the really interesting points you raise. So, I disagree that all sex for homosexuals is banned b/c in the Christian view the behavior of sex is separated from the person - it's getting back to the choice argument. If you believe that a homosexual can choose whether or not to live this way then you also believe that they could chose to have sex w/in marriage between people of the opposite sex. Then if they don't want that they can remain abstinent just like the premarital sex situation. Obviously debatable but moving along...

Double standards - I couldn't agree with you more that there are double standards involved. I'm quite certain that every member of CLS or any Christian for that matter has their own "vices" that if you are probably not being treated in the same way. Back to Paul's letters - homosexuality is contained in a list of vices including things like anger/lying/etc. I'm quite certain members of CLS aren't polled on whether they get angry in a sinful manner in such a way that is a continual course of behavior or if they are monitoring whose drinking too much too often. Furthermore, I've belonged to many churches/christian organizations throughout the years and I've never been questioned as to whether I'd engaged in premarital sex as a requirement to joining. So at least initially it seems that there is a huge problem if there is one standard for one group and not another - unless there is some sort of explanation.

Now - I will freely admit that I am not satisfied that in practice this is carried out as evenly and fairly as it should but I do believe there may be a basis for distinguishing the types of things I mentioned previously from homosexuality or at least there may be a way to still discriminate on the basis of homosexuality and make the process more evenhanded overall....

First, maybe the vices such as drinking to much or lying too much, etc, on occasion versus openly admitting to a practice that is against the beliefs of the church indicates to the group who they believe is a Christian and who they think isn't and if being a Christian is a prerequisite to membership then maybe this is the best way they can determine who fits this requirement. Everyone is a sinner and everyone makes mistakes so there would be nobody left in a christian organization if perfection was required. So if someone has premarital sex once then "repents" then this can be viewed differently than a person who admittedly wants to be a practicing homosexual and believes there is no sin in this behavior. So in this sense, a person admitting to this lifestyle is providing information to the leadership that leads them to conclude they aren't Christians and this is the basis for discrimination whereas people who make isolated mistakes are still Christians but simply aren't perfect.

Now - what about those who are engaged in continual practices that are against the Christian beliefs - such as those continually engaging in premarital sex? I think there are a few ways to analyze this. First, maybe the Christian groups actually view this exactly the same way as they view practicing homosexuals and if they were told that a person was doing this and saw nothing wrong with it then they would likely conclude this person really wasn't a Christian, didn't share the beliefs of Christianity, and therefore should be excluded from membership/leadership. I actually think this is quite plausible - the problem is that as mentioned before it is sometimes difficult to discern who fits this category from a person who commits isolated acts and repents and even to discover that this sin is ocurring in the first place.

A different perspective (and a scary one at that) would be that the Church is indifferent to certain behaviors that it really should be excluding people as a basis of but because of whatever social or personal reasons are accepting those behaviors and yet discriminating against homosexuals. I certainly hope this isn't the main basis for the double standard, although I'm sure this is the case for some people. This means we have a choice - get rid of all discrimination for Christian groups and allow anyone in no matter whether their beliefs are consistent with the organization/religion or not OR make the requirements harder and more consistent across the board. However, this may be difficult b/c it can be problematic trying to distinguish between what is a continual act of sin versus isolated incidents.

Also, what the organization doesn't know about it's members it can't do anything about. Therefore, there is an under/overinclusiveness issue here. By only focusing on excluding people who obviously disagree with certain beliefs you will most certainly be including people who practice beliefs inconsistent with the organization who should have also been excluded.

So we're left with an extremely unfortunate discrepancy in how different sins/groups are treated. The important issue for me is what is the basis for this difference and if it is unacceptable then how do we fix it. I personally believe that the distinction is that homosexuality presents a situation where it is obvious that a person disagrees with the values of the organization and that if it were obvious that a person continually engaged in premarital sex and believed this was perfectly fine this would equally be at odds with Christianity but as a distinguishing factor this is much harder to detect. However, I am concerned that it is possible and probably occurs in some instances that Christian groups discriminate for less than savory reasons and in these cases I fully agree that there is a double standard that must be addressed for the organization and its members to be in accordance with their own beliefs....

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger Allen said...

Some interesting comments, to which I'll respond, as soon as I can knock off this stupid cyberlaw paper...

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger gt said...

What I think I'm hearing:
OSU = state action, yes?
OSU giving $300 to religious organization, yes?
OSU engaging in establishment of religion, in manner violating your civil rights, yes?
And thereby committing a federal felony 17 usc 241?
And thereby violating ethical guidelines for future and current lawyers? And does that leave you with an ethical obligation to report the behavior?
I'm guessing there are some relevant state constitutional provisions at stake as well.

 
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