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Prop. 8 opponents seek to show link between religion, anti-gay discrimination [Updated]

Challengers of California's ban on same-sex marriage are trying to show at trial today that discrimination against gays and lesbians is rooted in religion and that churches have contributed to anti-gay violence.

Opponents of Proposition 8 called to the stand Ryan Kendall, who grew up in an evangelical Christian family in Colorado and was forced to submit to Christian therapy as a teenager to change his sexual orientation.

"I was just as gay as when I started, " Kendall testified.

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who is presiding over the marriage trial, permitted Kendall to testify over objections by Proposition 8's defenders, on the grounds they had argued sexual orientation was changeable.

Kendall, now a resident of Denver, testified tearfully about how his mother abused him after learning of his sexuality from reading his journal. He said he was called slurs and that his glasses were smashed while attending an evangelical school.

The therapy and his parents' reaction to his sexuality led him to contemplate suicide, and at 16 he went to a Colorado social service agency to ask for protection, he testified. His parents' custody was revoked.

Attorneys challenging Proposition 8 also presented videotaped testimony from two experts on religion who had been retained by the measure's defenders. They have since withdrawn from the case.

The experts agreed under questioning that gays and lesbians have experienced discrimination and that some religions have contributed to that discrimination. They also acknowledged that religion has been used to justify discrimination against African Americans and women.

[Updated at 2:09 p.m.: Challengers of the Proposition 8 presented documents this afternoon that the Catholic and Mormon churches were closely tied to the campaign to pass the measure.]

-- Maura Dolan at the San Francisco federal courthouse

 
Comments () | Archives (40)

If religion is the basis of anti-gay discrimination, then why are homosexuals heavily persecuted in places like China, which has been an officially atheist country for more than 60 years? They comprise almost 20% of the world's population. Christianity and Islam have never even had strong footholds in that country.

I too tried to change for MANY years. I tried to have girl friends, I prayed constantly and finally went to an ex-gay ministry. That was the real turning point for me! I was so excited. I could feel the liberation of no longer being gay and the ability to live a "normal" life. That lasted for about 3 meetings. Soon, I discovered that the local leader "slipped" into homosexuality as did the national leader. Soon, I discovered that the participants were regularly "slipping" (or backsliding if you wish).

Then, reason, after 20 years (since 13) of struggling took hold. I reasoned that my straight brothers did not "slip" and that I had better learned to accept myself as a gay man and learn to be happy and adapt.

It has not been easy. I fell in love with a guy in another country. He could not come here as he could not get a visa. Marriage was out unless I could convince a woman (I tried to get my sister to marray him) and so, with no other choice, I moved back and forth from the USA to his country for 4 years to be with him. My career was put on hold. The distance took it's toll and the relationship ended.

I truly have been a victim of discrimination. Imagine being forced to live in another country to be with your loved one. It is not fair and it is not American.

Though, I can successfully argue a point why homosexuality is unnatural in a secular language better understood by the unchurched without having to quote scriptures, I will comment in biblical language since this is what the article is about. The Bible does speak of homosexuality being a detestable behavior and an abomination act the same as speaking against any other sin like murder etc. No court anywhere in the world can overrule this ideology because GOD has spoken on this issue. Now, the public can allow themselves to be deceived by trying to use the courts to legitimize this behavior. Be assured, the courts of the land will not have the final say concerning homosexuality. GOD will have the final say and I am sure he will be looking forward to having all those who opposed his rule concerning homosexuality standing before HIM so he can set the record straight before sending them to their eternal damnation.

Of course Religion bears responsibility for the persecution of gays. Put simply, Religion, all Religion, is the most negative, the most destructive force in the world. Only when Religion is eradicated from the planet Earth will mankind be able to move forward to living in peace, justice, and harmony. Personaly Spirituality yes; Organized Religion no.

Ah, the old "religion did it" argument. I guess the hate campaign waged by the anti-prop 8 camp didn't exist then.

That and I'm wryly amused to see how if same sex marriage might be allowed how one could rightly deny polygamists their belief that marriage is a one to many thing. Oh, and lest I forget, good luck on getting Muslims to accept that same sex marriage thing. I guess the same sex thrill seekers might be game to go to Saudi Arabia or Iran and try and claim they are married. Fun times.

I’m sure one day the measure will pass. But in regards to religion, the message will always be the same, and families with moral values will continue to teach their principles. No one can change that. Personally, I don’t care if gays marry or not. I do believe it’s wrong, and will continue to stand up for what I believe in.

Religion may not be the only culprit, but it is a major contributor to the hatred as it is with many of the world's ills. What's the first thing most people pull out when voicing their anti-gay, anti equality opinions? "The bible says so..." Gays are persecuted in China because that's what the Chinese government does... persecute people.

What does that have to do with proposition 8? Why are we so shocked to hear that any religion sees homosexuality as a sin. Catholic, Mormon, Christians, Baptist are doing what they should do and that is to follow the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Any organized religion should call you to repentance and ask you to be a better person and live a Christ like life. If they are not doing that then they are just giving you lip service and asking you for money. I do agree many parents don't know how to act when they find out their child is homosexual. It is specially hard for those who are religious. We have learned a lot in the last 20 years and I believe tolerance not acceptance is the best any Christian person can give those who are homosexuals. It is not discriminatory to believe and testify that this behavior is wrong in the eyes of the Lord. Now if you don't want to feel bad and want to be accepted then don't go any church that will uphold the gospel the way God intended it to be. The true gospel will not bow down to the will of the people. It will not be shamed into acceptance of this what it is considered a sin. But this said why does the opposition think this benefits their case to overturn prop 8? The people spoke and the people went out and canvas the neighborhoods and put up signs and went to the polls to vote. Not the churches and the Mormon, baptist, catholic church are doing what they are suppose to do and that is uphold the commandments and God's laws.

The poster named Kristin brings up a valid point about China. As to the post by Douglas Miller, it seems to be clear by what you say that your beau could not come to the United States because he couldn't get a visa, not because he was a homosexual. And may I say how low can you go to try to get your sister to marry someone who was gay and dare I mention...not in love with her. Your comment illustrates how little the advocates of gay "marriage" think of the institution of marriage itself. You have not been discriminated against, as you write. You fell in love and loved a person you chose to love and the relationship ended because of stressors not having to do with prohibition of gay marriage. I am sorry but you do not seem to be seeing to clearly.

@ucl2: the "Bible" is a hodge podge of documents written by lots of people (many anonymous) over a long period of time. They were then put together after the fact and revised/edited by people who copied and recopied the manuscripts. Just as an example, the story of Noah is actually two different stories, two different documents, that were stitched together. As another example, the path to eternal life in the gospel of John (believe in Jesus) is different from the gospel of Mark (obey the commandments and give to the poor Jesus tells the rich man). Why, oh why, should people living today still be blindly following these ancient texts? And why should we be basing our laws on some verses (e.g., those against gays) while ignoring others (e.g., those that say divorced people cannot remarry)?

kristin: because discrimination comes both from religion and from ignorance, and the government of the PRC works overtime to keep the populace ignorant.
ucl2: I don't think God is "looking forward" to giving a smirky "I told you so" to anyone before condemning them to eternal damnation. That seems to be the God of a petty imagination. And by that I mean, yours. Furthermore, judging by your use of the English language, I doubt you can successfully argue that the Earth is round.
AnonC: no one expects ANY religion to accept same sex marriage. That's kind of the point. Any religion can impose its rules upon its believers. But this country was kind of founded on the idea that it shouldn't impose its rules on everyone else.
ILoveCA: Moral values aren't owned by the religious. Most of the worst, least moral people I've known in my life have been the most overtly religious, and most of the best people, from a moral values perspective, have been the least religious.

I wholeheartedly believe that religion, no matter what kind, has no ethical, moral or legal right to dictate to anyone, how to live their lives, who to love, what and how to worship, where to live, how to raise your children, whatsoever! And what is the bible anyways? It's a book based on heresay, by so-called prophets who claimed to have been in the presence of a "higher power." So tell me, if Adam and Eve were the first humans, who was there to record their "sins?" I thought that the cave man was the first man? There are waaaay to many contridictions and the bible, or any religious book feeds on peoples' fears and phobias to get them to follow them. It called "capitalism" You religious terrorist nuts should watch a George Carlin piece on his take of religion, I promise you, it will have you second-guessing your own way of life. Too many Christians and not enough lions. Religion, the root of all evil!

If I recall correctly RELIGION is what formed this great country. The idea than some great men wanted the freedom to practice religion without persecution. Sadly enough it seems that we are now waging that same fight today. As people are being persecuted for standing up for what they believe. Religion has been around since the begining of time in some form or another. It has ALWAYS been the basis for people deciding laws, rules, etc... This same principle stands today. People voted this way because the stood up for what they believe is right and true.

Yes ALL churches were closely tied to this campaign. Why because their members were asked to stand for what they believe. Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Budhists, and JW's all stood together. This isnt discrimination against gays, its people following GODs law!! Religion has and always will be the basis of why people vote a certain way. Sadly enough shouldnt it be against the law to attack, slander, and assualt religious people because they dont want what Gays want... Seems like reverse HATE CRIMES to me!!

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion. -Steven Weinberg

To Kristin, religion is the basis of anti-gay discrimination in America. Why are gays persecuted in other countries? For pretty mush the same reasons: fear, propaganda, and superstitious beliefs. Just here, we give it a name, religion.

Also, although the country of China may officially be atheist (note that our country also does not endorse any religion), people still hold to their beliefs, practices, and superstitions.

To ucl2:

"Though, I can successfully argue a point why homosexuality is unnatural in a secular language better understood by the unchurched without having to quote scriptures, I will comment in biblical language since this is what the article is about."

I know this article is about religion, but I would love to hear your secular argument against homosexuality. Please state your credentials as well so we can understand why you are a trusted source on the topic.

By the way, please keep your superstitious beliefs out of the government.

Kristin - China may be an "officially atheist" country but official policy doesn't acknowledge the fact that millions upon millions of Chinese practice some form of religion. The US is "officially secular" but that doesn't seem to prevent the bigots from using their beliefs to spread hatred. UCL2 - GOD has spoken? I could care less what YOUR GOD has to say about anything. At one time or another you would be making the same statement regarding slavery, interacial marriage and chaining women to the kitchen sink...Keep YOUR beliefs in the church where they belong.

Prejudice exists. Against gays, blacks, hispanics, asians, religions, athiests...on and on. The US constitution doesn't prohibit prejudice. But it does prohibit prejudice from legislating violations of human rights. Some religions do significantly contribute to anti-gay prejudice. Some don't. Not all anti-gay prejudice derives from religion. But some religions are using their numerical and financial strengths to legislate homophobia. That is the point the court is addressing.

Honestly, Religious Right Folks!! (neither religious or right) Since when did denying gays the right to marry stop their behavior? (as if you hope) Besides, marriage has more to do with the entanglement of finances than love. You think you marry for love in a church; but when divorce occurs, it is always about the money in the courts. Since marriage is really a civil contract that the state permits the church to perform, gays should be allowed to marry in a church that allows them.

@ Kirstin ...

Imho, what happens in china doesnt matter. What does matter for this trial are the reasons for discrimination in the US. Not in China.

And the reasons are probably the same. Religion. Even though China is in theory a "atheist" country (which i am not really sure about btw) its religious tradidtion is very healthy and getting stronger again.

I dont know the stance on homosexuality confuzianism holds, but i can guess that its not much different from the stance any other major religion holds so far.

Plus as in every controlled society, being different and being allowed to be different is dangerous for the state itself. If gay men / woman can be different ... why cant i be different ...

In case anybody's forgotten, our system of government is not a theocracy. Our laws are not based on the Ten Commandments; only two of them have any bearing on the penal code. And the claim that this country was founded on religious--specifically Christian--values tempts the response "Yeah: greed and entitlement."

And ucl2's smug assertion of being able to explain in a secular context "why homosexuality is unnatural" brings up the old joke about the old woman who's asked what she has against homosexuality: she fluffed her wig, adjusted her bifocals, turned up her hearing aid, poured a little nondairy creamer into her decaf, ran her tongue briefly across her dentures, then placed one hand over her pacemaker and the other hand on her plastic hip before finally answering "It isn't natural."

"If religion is the basis of anti-gay discrimination, then why are homosexuals heavily persecuted in places like China, which has been an officially atheist country for more than 60 years? They comprise almost 20% of the world's population. Christianity and Islam have never even had strong footholds in that country. "

Stalinist Communism, which remains the official governing philosophy of the Peoples Republic of China, is as much a dogmatic religion as any other. Religion doesn't have to worship sky beings.

Religion HAS A VERY BIG PART IN THIS.

Just look at the "Emergency Offering" that Pastor Dave Prather @ Central Christian in Lancaster took a few weeks ago.

He came running on stage with an "Emergency" right at the end of service that needed the Congregations Financial Support.

This wasnt support to help some needy memeber or homeless person. This support was needed to fund a group of Lawyers who want to take this fight to the Federal Court.

If this isnt the Church fueling the fire, than I dont know what is!

I for 1, cannot believe that the GOD I know would want to collect money to make someone elses life harder.

The Churchs stance and involvement in this issue is 1 that does need to be investigated and have Light shown upon.

Doing the work of GOD isnt hiring Lawyers to make someone else's life hard or less equal. In fact, doing GODS work is the exact opposite of that. Its about Showing Love and Compassion to EVERYONE. Not just people like yourself...

Its time to wake up people

Jeremy: if you're going to buy into the whole "religion formed this great country" fable, at least be honest enough to admit it was formed by people who wanted to be free to worship, believe and live as they wanted to, not as the religious authorities would force them to. Just as gay people would like to be free of the authority of the "Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Budhists, and JW's" today. You say: "Sadly enough shouldnt it be against the law to attack, slander, and assualt religious people because they dont want what Gays want". If I can glean the meaning of that borderline illiterate sentence, you're suggesting it should be illegal to attack, slander or assault someone for not wanting a gay marriage. (I'm not sure how "sadly enough" enters into that sentiment, but whatever.) Fine. You don't want a gay marriage? Don't have a gay marrige. Have a straight one. Or no marriage at all. See how that works? Working for the human right to be married to the person of your choice isn't attacking, slandering or assaulting anyone. But when YOU decide that YOUR religious beliefs must control how everyone lives, then you're exactly the same as the religious establishment the Puritans fled.

"Religion may not be the only culprit, but it is a major contributor to the hatred as it is with many of the world's ills."

How is this any different from saying, "gay people are not the only culprit, but they are a major contributor to the nation's hatred of religion, as they are a major culprit of many of the world's ills (pornography, promiscuity, spread of disease, broken families)."

"By the way, please keep your superstitious beliefs out of the government."

How is this any different from saying, "By the way, please keep your immoral gay beliefs (or atheistic beliefs) out of the government"?

One comment made by user Eleanor irked me a bit. I would like to point out to her that had Douglas been straight, and had the individual he loved been a woman, it would have been easier to get the visa because the two could get married once they are both in the US. Marriage can be a factor in the process of obtaining a visa, and the fact that Douglas could not marry the love of his life so that they could live peacefully and happily in the US is simply an example of discrimination. How is this not depriving them of the right to the pursuit of happiness outlined in the Constitution?

Now here's where I get really irritated. Eleanor states the following:

"You fell in love and loved a person you chose to love and the relationship ended because of stressors not having to do with prohibition of gay marriage."

I'm sorry, but how does someone choose who they love? Assuming you're married, what if a majority voted to eliminate the marriage between you and your husband? Would you say "oh well" and choose someone else to love and marry under the approval of others? Or would you see such a vote as a violation of your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? If the Supreme Court used your argument in 1967, they would have maintained the ban on interracial marriage by telling the Loving couple to suck it up and find someone else of the same race to love and marry. I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like a good argument to me. Now why don't you deal with your own marriage (assuming you have one) before telling Douglas how to live his life.

 
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