Update on Proposition 8 and Other News

From the latest mailing from No on 8, the group that is coordinating the efforts to preserve equal marriage rights in California:

Yesterday, donors and supporters of Equality California began receiving threatening letters for their support of the statewide organizations efforts to protect LGBT youth and seniors from the “Yes on 8” campaign leadership.

These letters threatened to “expose” the donors listed on Equality California’s website if they don’t donate to the “Yes on 8” campaign and refrain from supporting LGBT equality in the future….

The letter, sent on their campaign letterhead, was signed by four members of the group’s executive committee and suggests our donors withdraw their support for their own good. It demands an equivalent donation or else:

“Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. You would leave us no other reasonable assumption. The names of any companies…that choose not to donate…to ProtectMarriage.com…will be published….We will contact you shortly to discuss your contribution.”

It is signed by members of the Yes on 8 campaign executive committee:

Ron Prentice, campaign chairman
Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference (the Official Voice of the Catholic Community in California)
Mark Jansson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Andrew Pugno, lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com.

Now, if the Mormon and Catholic churches sincerely believe that gay marriage is forbidden by the Bible, they have every right to tell their members not to enter into or support such marriages. But I’m outraged at the spectacle of churches spending millions of dollars solely to take away secular, civil rights from all Californians whether or not they accept the teachings of those religions.

This proposed legislation confers no benefit on anyone. Its effect is entirely to impair the rights of one group of citizens. Not a single heterosexual marriage will be saved by it. That’s right, the church is not spending your money on marriage counseling, child care, mental health services, domestic violence prevention, criminal justice reform, or anything else that would actually help families overcome the stresses that lead to divorce (not to mention the financial barriers that prevent marriage in the first place).

So, if you’re reading this and you don’t support gay marriage, at least consider redirecting your Sunday morning collection plate dollars to an organization that provides positive services to families in crisis.

In other gay legislative news, the Human Rights Campaign reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is considering regulations that might allow health-care providers to discriminate against GLBT patients:

The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) recently issued a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (PDF) proposing new regulations that would give health care providers the right to refuse service to patients for religious or moral reasons. The proposed regulations claim to clarify three federal “religious refusal clauses” related to abortion and sterilization. One of the statutes contains a section that states that a person may refuse to participate in any part of a program or activity that “would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

The HHS’s proposed regulations extend this section beyond its original intent to allow a health care provider to refuse to provide any health care service or information for a religious or moral reason. Extending and broadening this “religious refusal clause” could impair LGBT patients’ access to care services if interpreted to permit providers to choose patients based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or family structure….

Under the proposed regulations, a doctor may refuse to administer an HIV test to a patient because he is gay. In fact, the doctor could not only refuse this service, but decline to tell the patient where he would be able to obtain testing. Clearly, this puts the health of the patient, and potentially that of others, at risk. The proposed regulations would also allow counselors to refuse to counsel same-sex couples or allow a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription for hormone replacement therapy for a transgender customer.

Again, I have to ask, how is this a Christian way to behave? I think I remember an old story about some upright fellows who considered religious purity an excuse to opt out from helping a sick man. As I recall, one of them was a priest, and one was a Levite…

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