The Repentant Gingrich?

So Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife says that he asked for an open marriage while he carried on an affair with his mistress (now wife) Callista. Meanwhile, candidate Gingrich speaks with a straight face about the sanctity of “one man, one woman” marriage:

“I will support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification. I will also oppose any judicial, bureaucratic, or legislative effort to define marriage in any manner other than as between one man and one woman.”

His defenders from the religious right—including Rick Perry—claim that Jesus offers forgiveness and redemption to repentant sinners. Presumably, in their minds, anyone in a committed same-sex relationship counts as unrepentant.

But the distinction they’re trying to make between divorce and homosexuality doesn’t hold up, even on their own principles.

Yes, the Bible speaks of forgiveness and redemption. But if marriage really is “until death do us part,” then Gingrich is still committing adultery with Callista. Don’t take my word for it, however–take Jesus’:

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10: 11-12)

This double standard is worth pointing out, frequently, publicly and forcefully.

46 Comments for “The Repentant Gingrich?”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Stephen, I think that your are letting your disgust with the hypocrisy of right-wing Christians on marriage get the better of you, arguing relative morality. I think that’s counterproductive.

    There is a nexus between same-sex marriage and remarriage after divorce. Both are condemned by Christians as immoral, but one is universally recognized at civil law and the other not. Both should be.

    The argument is this:

    (1) Civil law is not, and should not be, based on a particular religion’s moral teachings, but on the common good.

    (2) Take remarriage after divorce, for example. It is condemned by Christians as immoral, but it is accepted at civil law. Why? Because we recognize as a society that our common good is best served when divorced people in relationships are in stable, legally-recognized marriages that protect the couple and the children of the couple. That’s why we encourage divorced people to remarry, even though remarriage is condemned by Christian teaching.

    (3) We should treat same-sex marriage in the same way, particularly in this day and age when 20% of same-sex couples are raising children. We should recognize as a society that our common good is best served when gays and lesbians in relationships are in stable, legally-recognized marriages that protect the couple and the children of the couple.

    Don’t fall into the right-wing Christian “morality trap”, letting NOM shape the argument. Instead, turn the argument to our advantage. Point out the similarities of the two situations, giving Americans a good reason to encourage same-sex marriage, despite the teachings of their churches.

  2. posted by Houndentenor on

    Haven’t you figured this out yet? The “sin” of people we don’t like is despicable while the “sin” of people we do like is forgiven or excusable. The Bible condemns homosexuality. It also condemns pre-marital sex, divorce, charging interest on loans and a whole host of other things that most of the anti-gay crowd conveniently overlook. They’re hypocrites and proudly so and are continually outraged that the rest of us won’t play their hypocrisy game. No thanks. I make my own choices and accept responsibility for the consequences of my actions. I expect others to do the same. And frankly, it’s hard to feel pity for a woman who had an affair with Mr Gingrich and then had him turn around and cheat on her like he did with his first wife. Karma is a bitch, as they say. But watching the religious right rally around Gingrich knowing that they would be demonizing a Democrat for doing much less is a disgusting spectacle, but hardly a surprising one.

  3. posted by BobN on

    An open marriage is when you agree beforehand that it’s OK to screw other people.

  4. posted by Reader John on

    I think Corvino blew this one. If I’m not mistaken about the chronology, it’s:
    1. Adultery with Calista
    2. Marry Calista.
    3. Join Catholic Church.
    If so, and assuming Rome treats converts as does Constantinople (Orthodoxy), I think the other marriages and the adulterous nature of the marriage to Calista went down the memory hole of baptism (or whatever rite Newt underwent when received).
    The bigger issue about the past adultery is that Newt is unchastely playing with fire by seeking the highest pressure job in the world after having a demonstrated propensity for adultery when he’s stressed out (by all he does for love of country).

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      It’s not so much that Newt is an adulterer. For all I know everyone on that debate stage is too. The problem is that he’s such a nasty SOB about it. And a hypocrite for attacking other people on their personal morality and then playing victim when the tables are turned.

      I said back in the 90s that the GOP would live to regret making private morality a political issue. “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Or colloquially “Karma is a bitch.”

  5. posted by Christoph Sipeleska on

    Living outside the U.S., it appears to me that any gay person who doesn’t vote for Obama, gets exactly what he/she deserves !

    • posted by Jorge on

      And what will we get?

      I read an article recently on Yahoo News that said the Health an Human Services Secretary recently ordered a new policy that religious-based nonprofit organizations now are going to be required to cover contraceptives, such as birth control pills, IUDs, and the morning after pill (which mainstream Christian religions, certainly the Catholic Church, consider abortion) in their health insurance plans.

      Now I’m not small-government rightist, and I’m not going to scream that the Obama administration is forcing religions to pay for abortions, but it seems to me that this is exactly what Obamacare’s opponents have been warning about when they’ve been saying a radical big government liberal president wants to remake society with the power of the government. I do not think there is any justification to trample so cavilierly on the sensibilities of religious organizations. Out of all the reasons why we need health care reform, lack and access and affordability for contraception is not one of them!

      This is but one of many reasons why gay Americans are well within reason to oppose the Obama administration and support the Republican candidate who can best stand against it.

  6. posted by Marriage For Me But Not For Thee - I Hate Paypal » I Hate Paypal on

    [...] Corvino, a philosophy professor, notes a potential complication for Newt Gingrich’s claim that he has repented, namely, that he continues to [...]

  7. posted by Eric Rasmusen on

    The post is quite correct, and I think serious Christians have to agree that Newt is unrepentant. Just saying you regret something is not repentance. He has to put away his mistress.

    The Catholic Church does regard non-Catholic marriages as valid. I am told that Newt got his two previous marriages “nullified” by the Catholic Church. This means the Catholic Church has ruled that he wasn’t really married before— he entered into the marriages under false pretences or something. In practice, the American Catholic Church grants nullifications as, effectively, divorces to anyone with money, which is an embarassment to Rome.

    Similarly, it is dubious that a homosexual has repented if he has not stopped engaging in the sin.

    A harder problem for churches is when someone says he is sorry for a non-continuing past sin, e.g. drunken binges, but then repeats that sin now and then.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      Yes, you can still buy indulgences from the Catholic Church. Rich people donate enough money and can get their marriages annulled even if they have children from those marriages. How are we to respect such hypocrisy. Divorce is either moral or it’s not. Having different standards for different people makes a mockery of the church’s so-called morality. Or rather, it’s just another reason to scoff at any attempt by Catholic officials to claim any authority on moral issues.

  8. posted by TomJeffersonIII on

    I am less concerned about who is is sleeping with. Although the 2nd view interview seemed to imply that Newt has something of an open marriage with his then-mistress-future-wife. Something along the lines of ‘you want me all to yourself but this other woman lets me do what I want’. The level of hypocrisy is what should be the main issue at hand.

    Also, I a wee bit more interested in why a certain GOP candidate is still iffy about making his tax stuff public.

  9. posted by John Howard on

    Of course there are differences between allowing people to remarry and allowing people to marry someone of the same sex. Allowing people to marry someone of the same sex means officially allowing people to attempt to reproduce with someone of the same sex, it means approving of sex and procreation of offspring.

    We can decide to allow people to have sex and create offspring with someone of the other sex, even after they have previously already been allowed to do that with someone else, without saying, hey, that means we should also allow people to have sex and create offspring with someone of the same sex.

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      That’s a ridiculous argument. People marry every day who have no intention and even no ability to reproduce. Having children is not the sole purpose of marriage. It’s an argument that has been repeatedly discarded by courts all over the country.

      Moreover, no one needs permission to reproduce. They just do it. Married or not. What world do you live in where people ask permission to reproduce or have to be married in order to do so?

      The only arguments against same-sex marriage are based on religious beliefs. The same Bible that condemns homosexuality also condemns adultery and divorce.

      • posted by John Howard on

        That’s not the argument. The argument is: We shouldn’t approve or allow people to reproduce with someone of the same sex.

      • posted by John Howard on

        And marriage should continue to approve and allow sex and procreation of offspring.

        • posted by Houndentenor on

          You’re delusional. Gay people are having children already, both biologically and through adoption. That was happening before any states were allowing same sex marriage and will continue. There are also millions of heterosexual couples having children without marrying. They obviously don’t need anyone’s approval to procreate.

          • posted by John Howard on

            You’ve made all the irrelevant points.

            Adopting and using gamete donors and surrogates are not rights of marriage, as you note it is happening without marriage. Conceiving offspring together is the essential right of marriage, and we shouldn’t give that right to same-sex couples.

            There are labs working on artificial gametes and enabling postgenderism and same-sex conception. People are delusional to think that it would be a good idea to allow it, and it’s cruel to leave it unaddressed and confusing people. It is bad public policy, it is not a right and can and should be prohibited.

            Prohibiting it would enable us to enact civil unions that gave gay couples all the other rights of marriage because they would not be marriage in all but name.

          • posted by Houndentenor on

            One thing has nothing to do with the other. If you want to ban certain kinds of fertility treatments, then make that case. It has nothing to do with whether or not gay couples would be allowed to marry.

          • posted by John Howard on

            I don’t want to ban certain kinds of fertility treatments, I say we should ban all attempts at creation of people by any means other than through the union of a man and a woman.

            Do you agree that same-sex couples should not have procreation rights? Or put another way, do you think people have the same right to procreate with someone of either sex, or as either sex? I don’t think so, I think we only have a right to procreate with someone of the other sex. I think you are insisting on same-sex procreation rights, which is really obnoxious considering how existing families need protections, not science fiction.

            And all marriages should continue to approve and allow the couple to conceive offspring, with each other, using their own genes. You can’t say that being allowed to procreate has nothing to do with being allowed to marry without stripping procreation rights from everyone’s marriage.

          • posted by Houndentenor on

            This is so completely from left field I’m not sure I know what you’re arguing against.

            Let me see if I understand. You are against same-sex marriage because you think gay couples will try to have babies using some sort of genetic engineering technique rather than use a surrogate or adopt? Do you also oppose gender discordant couples doing the same?

            I don’t even know if I’m for or against the practices you describe. I haven’t actually heard much in the way of discussion pro and con. It’s not something I would plan on doing nor have I ever heard any gay couples express any desire to do so. Perhaps they would if the technology allowed, but it’s not something most of us have ever given much thought.

            Marriage is not just about procreation.

          • posted by John Howard on

            “Let me see if I understand. You are against same-sex marriage because you think gay couples will try to have babies using some sort of genetic engineering technique rather than use a surrogate or adopt?”

            Due to the mysteries of genomic imprinting and the known hurdles to creating opposite sex gametes from stem cells, I don’t expect that same-sex procreation will ever be possible or practical, so no, I don’t think gay couples “will” try to have babies that way. I just think there is much more to be gained by accepting that and prohibiting it, instead of leaving it legal as some kind of tantalizing legal abstraction. It confuses kids and distracts scientists. It should be banned, not equated to the right of a married man and woman. And certainly, it should be banned in case some crazy doctor goes ahead and tries it, even if that is unlikely. I just don’t want you to portray me as the delusional one here, I’m not the one claiming a right to try it.

            “Do you also oppose gender discordant couples doing the same?”

            You mean a man and a woman? Nice. I do oppose genetic engineering even if the intended guardians are a man and a woman, yes, and even if the majority of the genetic material comes from a man and a woman. I think genetic engineering of any sort would be a very bad door to open, bad for public policy, bad for the budget and environment, and destroys the basis of equality and liberty. I think it will be hard to allow genetic engineering but not allow same-sex procreation. But they are distinct questions, we could prohibit same-sex procreation without prohibiting replacement gametes and even modified gametes. One is about who we are allowed to procreate with, and the other is about whether we can use modified gametes. Again, I oppose all genetic engineering, and the law I propose would prohibit all genetic engineering, but it isn’t necessary to prohibit all genetic engineering to prohibit reproducing with someone of the same sex.

          • posted by Houndentenor on

            So, since you are against these practices for everyone, why do you oppose same-sex marriage?

          • posted by John Howard on

            Same-sex procreation requires genetic engineering. Male-female procreation does not.

        • posted by Tom Scharbach on

          Houndentenor January 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm: “So, since you are against these practices for everyone, why do you oppose same-sex marriage?

          John Howard January 24, 2012 at 1:32 am: “ Same-sex procreation requires genetic engineering. Male-female procreation does not.

          This exchange highlights both the Clockwork Orange essence and the logical weakness of John’s argument.

          Stripped of all of the pseudo-scientific yarp, John’s position is the nothing more or less than the Catholic Church’s most conservative “natural law” argument about the nature of marriage and procreation: (1) the purpose of marriage is the procreation of children, (2) all marriages must be open to procreation, and (3) procreation must be “natural”, that is, result from the union of sperm and egg within the sex act of married persons. John’s position slightly alters the Catholic position by hedging on reproductive techniques that separate the “sex act” from proceration: artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and surrogate motherhood. The Church holds these techniques to be immoral because the techniques separate the sex act and procreation. John does not appear to take so strong a stand.

          However, John’s distaste for such reproductive techniques runs clear throughout his comments in this post (e.g. “I think it is really disrespectful to withhold the approval and right of a married man and woman to have sex and conceive children together, and say that they had just as much of a right to do it as they had before they married, and just as much of a right to have children as a same-sex couple or people using sperm donated by someone they don’t even know.“). Distaste aside, John focuses his argument on “genetic engineering”.

          So let’s look at “generic engineering”.

          The Catholic Church (see “Instruction Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions”, CDF 2008) draws a distinction between genetic alteration of existing cells in the body to “restore the normal genetic configuration of the patient or to counter damage caused by genetic anomalies or those related to other pathologies” (that is, to cure genetic disease), on the one hand, and genetic alteration of reproductive cells, on the other. The former is morally licit in the view of the Church, that latter not. The rational appears to be primarily practical (“Whatever genetic modifications are effected on the germ cells of a person will be transmitted to any potential offspring. Because the risks connected to any genetic manipulation are considerable and as yet not fully controllable, in the present state of research, it is not morally permissible to act in a way that may cause possible harm to the resulting progeny.“) and, by implication, the Church remains open to genetic engineering of reproductive cells for the purpose of curing genetic disease.

          However, it seems clear that the Church will, conversely, hold fast against “genetic enhancement” (e.g. manipulating reproductive cell genes to enhance intelligence or change physical characteristics) not related to disease (see “The Charter for Health Care Workers”, The Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, 1995): “On the other hand, interventions which are not directly curative, the purpose of which is ‘the production of human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities,’ which change the genotype of the individual and of the human species, ‘are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being, to his integrity and to his identity.

          I agree, in general, with the Catholic approach to genetic engineering because it closely follows the origin and reasoning of my own religious tradition.

          However, I think that it is important to point out that the “genetic engineering” that John objects to is cut of a different cloth than the “genetic engineering” discussed above.

          First, in theory, a female-female couple can conceive without any genetic alteration, by removing the DNA strand from one partner’s egg and inserting it into the egg of the other, creating an embryo for a female child. Second, in theory, a male-male couple can conceive without altering “the genotype of the individual and of the human species” by flipping only the “Y” chromosome in one of the partner’s DNA to “X”, but otherwise leaving the genes of the child unaltered.

          John correctly points out that both are theoretical at this point, at best experimental and not “as yet not fully controllable”, but he is, I think, painting with too broad a brush when he says things like this: “Same-sex couples should not have that abstract public approval of offspring, because it is known to require genetic engineering and unethical experimentation and crosses the line into creation of impossible children created from engineered genes who are not created equal, a child of a man and a woman.

          In time, the techniques many be practical, common and risk-free. If and when that happens, John’s arguments fall apart, if they have not already.

          But the weakness of John’s arguments regarding “genetic engineering” miss the larger point.

          Civil marriage is not religious marriage, and our laws regarding civil marriage should not be based on any particular religion’s understanding of marriage, but instead on the common good. It is for this reason that we routinely recognize civil remarriage at civil law, even in cases, unlike Gingrich’s, where the Catholic Church admits no technicality on which to hang its religious hat. We have made a societal decision that the common good is served by extending the benefits and responsibilities of civil marriage to divorced and remarried couples, adulterers or not, and to their children. As Jon Rauch pointed out in his 2004 book on the subject, the common good is identically served by extending the benefits and responsibilities of civil marriage to same-sex couples, and to their children. It is on the common good and on our Constitution that we should hang our hat when we consider marriage equality, not on the teachings of the Catholic Church, or the teachings of other Christian denominations, or the teachings of Mormonism, Judaism or Islam, for that matter.

          • posted by John Howard on

            I think the Catholic Church is saying that it is licit in theory if there was some way to safely fix someone’s genetic defects in their gametes so that when they had sex naturally, they didn’t pass on a debilitating disease. But I recall they said that in practice, it would be impossible to do it without putting the child at risk of other problems and at least currently requires IVF or other intrusions on the link between sex and procreation and therefore is illicit in practice. That kind of makes sense, and I guess it isn’t evil to desire that your children do not inherit diseases, but I wish they had just said that any genetic modification was illicit.

            At any rate, I don’t make a religious argument, I’m not Catholic and find errors with lots of Catholic teachings. I am making a practical public policy argument, that it is bad public policy to allow same-sex procreation and genetic engineering, and much better public policy to prohibit those things. They aren’t rights, and they’ll be unsustainable expensive entitlements that will destroy the basis of equality and liberty and turn people into material products created by designers and owned by owners.

            And look into genomic imprinting of the egg and sperm. They are complementary, the same gene is “turned off” in the egg and “turned on” in the sperm, so that when they join, only one copy is “on”. It’s more than just the X and Y, there are epigenetic differences in all the chromosomes, the imprinting gets changed in the gonads from the way we inherited them from our parents, stripped of methylation and re-imprinted. While it is possible to join two eggs, the resulting genome has two copies of some genes “turned on” and some genes both copies are “off” resulting in problems like not forming a placenta and all sorts of other things, so they never join to make a viable embryo. To get them to join, one of the genomes would have to be stripped of methylation and re-imprinted as if it was a sperm. This is a very mysterious process and is untestable in animals, meaning that it will always be an unethical experiment and should never be allowed.

            There is simply no right to be either sex and reproduce as either sex, or with the same sex.

            If you stopped insisting on reproductive rights with someone of the same sex, or insisting that people don’t have reproduction rights with their spouse at all, then you’d be able to achieve Civil Unions for same-sex families in most every state very quickly, and federal recognition too.

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            I am making a practical public policy argument, that it is bad public policy to allow same-sex procreation and genetic engineering, and much better public policy to prohibit those things.

            The “practical public policy argument” you make (a) is tethered to the current state of technology and (b) ties civil marriage to the ability to procreate. The current state of technology is likely to change, and tying procreation and marriage together is unsupported by “practical public policy argument” and contrary to existing law.

            If you stopped insisting on reproductive rights with someone of the same sex, or insisting that people don’t have reproduction rights with their spouse at all, then you’d be able to achieve Civil Unions for same-sex families in most every state very quickly, and federal recognition too.

            Poppycock. Even if gays and lesbians were willing to accept “separate but unequal” citizenship, if nothing else is clear from our decade-long battle with the religious right over recognition of same-sex relationships, it is that compromise isn’t in the offing.

            Now John, it is time for me to pull the plug on this thread. You’ve had more than enough opportunity to hawk the “egg and sperm compromise”, and the more you do, the more convoluted it becomes, and the less sense it makes, at least to me.

            So I’m moving on.

          • posted by John Howard on

            It’s not (a) tethered to existing technology, the argument is that advancing the technology to the point of it being safe would be bad pubic policy, costing too much and cruelly confusing children and adults about their future. And it insults existing children of non-biological parents to say they are a second-best compromise while we work on enabling gay couples to have biologically related children they would supposedly be happier with. It’s just a freaking ridiculous thing to insist on. Also, even if we were to foolishly keep developing it until it is safe and inexpensive, it would be terrible public policy to stat making babies that do not come from a man and a woman and are manufactured engineered products. It would make it incredibly hard to stop genetic enhancements and other random things people want to do to create people.

            And (b) it doesn’t tie marriage to the ability to procreate, it affirms that marriage allows and approves sex and procreation but doesn’t require it. It’s not about ability, but about whether procreation would be ethical. That’s why siblings can’t marry, even though they have the ability to procreate.

            And sure, there are indeed people that reject giving even Civil Unions to same-sex couples, even if they are not “marriage in all but name” and not “stepping stones to marriage,” (here is part of an ongoing attempt by me to bring one such right wing moron to the table.) But the compromise doesn’t require getting all the right wing nuts to agree to it, it just requires getting Congress to agree to it. The majority of the public wants a resolution to the marriage debate, and they favor CU’s. It’d be easy to enact if just a few reasonable leaders on each side of the debate stopped being so radical in their demands. Demanding equal procreation rights is very radical and very dangerous, and you’re hurting actual families by insisting on it right now, when it isn’t even near possible or practical anyway.

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            The majority of the public wants a resolution to the marriage debate, and they favor CU’s.

            John, what’s to say?

            A majority of Americans favor same-sex marriage according to the recent polls (AP/WP March 2011, 53%, CNN/Opinion Research, April 2011, 51%, Gallup, May 2011, 53%). The historic polling trends show public opinion moving in our direction.

            We have won marriage equality in six states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont). Marriage-equivalent civil unions exist in six additional states (California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington) without the limitations on contraception that you propose. Marriage equality bills have been introduced in three additional states (Maryland, New Jersey, Washington). We are almost certain to pick up Washington this year, and, perhaps, Maryland. We may well gain marriage equality in California in the 2013 SCOTUS term. In light of the trends in public opinion, more states will follow in a relatively short period of time.

            Why in the world would a rational person give all that up in favor of civil unions that are not marriage-equivalent, particularly when there is absolutely no evidence that gays and lesbians adopting the “compromise” as a strategy would result in any change in the political situation in any state or at the federal level. You make the assertion, over and over, but there is nothing to back it up.

            You have spent five years, according to your blog, advancing your proposal, talking to elected officials and others. You’ve even run for the Senate several times to give your idea a platform in the political arena.

            After all that, what is the result? Can you name a single Senator or Congressman who publicly supports your position? Can you name a single member of the Massachusetts legislature who publicly supports your position? Can you give us any examples of leaders of the anti-marriage movement (NOM, FRC, AFA, and so on) who publicly support your position?

            The only support for your idea seems to be coming from you. It is time for you to let it go.

          • posted by John Howard on

            Even in those six states (and NH might roll it back to five), married same-sex couples don’t have real security or protections because there is no federal recognition and there are so many other states that don’t recognize SSM or CU’s, meaning a marriage can be dissolved just by moving across the state line (which is terrible, marriage shouldn’t blink in and out depending on jurisdiction you’re in, it should be recognized everywhere). And if DOMA is overturned or repealed and people in every state have to recognize SSM at the federal level, at the level of their country, then we will surely see a divisive FMA campaign that certainly might pass (it only needs 38 states, which is less than 44). My proposal would avoid an FMA battle, and make it much easier to get CU’s passed in every state, giving gay couples much more security and consistency. And these CUs would certainly have all the other rights and protections of marriage because they would be defined that way, as marriage minus conception rights.

            I’ll believe that a majority of Americans favor same-sex marriage when a viable presidential candidate favors same-sex marriage. As of now, being for same-sex marriage is a losing position. Couples need protections now, not in 8 or 12 years Also, the polls on marriage are done on an ignorant public, if they knew that they were saying that labs should be allowed to make babies for same-sex couples, or that marriage shouldn’t protect the couple’s right to have sex and conceive offspring, a lot fewer people would favor that. And more and more people are becoming aware of the research and demand for artificial “female sperm” and “male eggs” in spite of the American media blackout on the subject. So I suspect the support for marriage is peaking right about now, and that it isn’t really as high as polls say, there is a Bradley Effect going on here, when people pull the curtain closed and don’t have to worry about being harassed as a bigot by their friends and family.

            As for NOM, I think they are paid by the Koch Brothers not to bring up same-sex procreation, and don’t want to prohibit genetic engineering. They are trying to separate marriage from procreation rights, because they want to make money off of the marriage debate while making sure it doesn’t stop genetic engineering. I think they are a fraudulent group putting up a false defense of marriage and trying to shut out other arguments. They, and those other groups, are so jealous and defensive of their message and their donations, they don’t want some guy coming along and resolving the marriage debate and ruining their scam.

            And I know that my proposal is the only acceptable resolution. Allowing same-sex procreation or stripping marriage of the right to procreate are unacceptable, and I will keep trying to achieve the best resolution, even if it takes another five years.

  10. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    The argument is: We shouldn’t approve or allow people to reproduce with someone of the same sex.

    Granting or withholding civil marriage equality will neither permit nor prohibit reproductive techniques. If you want to achieve your aim, then ban cloning and genetic engineering. You’ve riding the wrong horse if you want to get to where you trying to go.

    • posted by John Howard on

      Well we have to prohibit genetic engineering of course. I suspect that is where your disagreement is, right? Do you agree that we should prohibit same-sex couples from trying to conceive offspring or not?

      Anyhow even if we did prohibit it, and didn’t also prohibit same-sex marriage, then it would mean marriage no longer approved and allowed sex and the conception of offspring. It’d equate the right to procreate of a man and woman to a same-sex couple, when one is a basic civil right that should be protected and the other is not a right at all and should be prohibited.

      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        Well we have to prohibit genetic engineering of course. I suspect that is where your disagreement is, right? Do you agree that we should prohibit same-sex couples from trying to conceive offspring or not?

        Never presume. It’s snotty.

        For the record, I believe genetic engineering is immoral. I’ve spoken out against it on this list, and elsewhere, for many years. I am appalled that Christian theologians are advocating genetic engineering in any circumstances.

        But those are my personal views. I have not yet decided whether we should attempt to use the law to ban genetic engineering, and in what circumstances. I haven’t given it enough thought, and I hope that our society will have an open, and rational discussion about the ethics of genetic engineering before proceeding one way or the other.

        Anyhow even if we did prohibit it, and didn’t also prohibit same-sex marriage, then it would mean marriage no longer approved and allowed sex and the conception of offspring.

        You’ve made yourself clear enough, John, but it is utter nonsense.

        Civil marriage has never been tied to procreation, or even the possibility of procreation, either to allow it or not to allow it, and should not be. Marriage equality would no more “mean marriage no longer approved and allowed sex and the conception of offspring” than allowing infertile couples to marry, which we have done for centuries without any damage to marriage.

        You don’t think that we should permit same-sex marriages. Fair enough. But don’t bundle that question with an unrelated question.

        • posted by John Howard on

          So, you think same-sex couples should be allowed to try to procreate, and you don’t think married couples should have a right to procreate. Got it.

          And that guy didn’t seem to be talking about genetic engineering so much as things like diet and environment during pregnancy. That should be legal, but there should certainly be a law against genetically modifying an embryo for any reason, whether to make it more intelligent or make it straight or whatever.

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            So, you think same-sex couples should be allowed to try to procreate …

            Of course I do. I have four children myself, all young adults now.

            Procreation is a fundamental human right. Neither sexual orientation nor marital status should define, confer or limit that fundamental human right.

            … and you don’t think married couples should have a right to procreate.

            I think that procreation is a fundamental human right, and married couples should be as free to procreate as anyone else. I don’t think that married couples should have any special right to procreate that is denied anyone else, if that is what you mean.

            Got it.

            Where you get stuck is that you conflate civil marriage with procreation. I don’t know whether you would have the government prohibit or penalize procreation outside of civil marriage, but whatever you may believe about that issue, civil marriage is not “license to procreate”, on the one hand, and the intention or ability to procreate is not a precondition to civil marriage, on the other.

            In my opinion, that is how it should be. I see no reason why infertile couples should be prohibited from entering into civil marriages, and I see no reason why fertile couples should be required to enter into civil marriage before procreating. And that goes for both straight and gay/lesbian couples.

            The question of whether or not we should permit cloning or genetic engineering in furtherance of procreation is distinct, and, in my view, should be addressed independently. I think that you create a logical mess when you try to tie civil marriage and procreation together.

            To be blunt, I think that the proposal on your website is daft. First, to have the federal government create “civil unions that are defined as ‘marriage minus conception rights’ ” is an unwarranted government interference with a fundamental human right. Second, your proposal to “affirm in federal law the right of all marriages to conceive children together using their own genes” is unnecessary and dangerous. It is unnecessary because all human beings have a fundamental human right to procreate, and that includes married people. It is dangerous because it implies that the government has the power to confer or withhold the right to procreate.

            You really need to rethink.

            And that guy didn’t seem to be talking about genetic engineering so much as things like diet and environment during pregnancy.

            You are wrong about that, John.

            Both Reverend Mohler and Reverend Fessio are expressly and specifically addressing prenatal intervention to remove or modify “undesired” genetic traits, either through hormonal intervention or genetic manipulation.

          • posted by John Howard on

            Tom, my proposal wouldn’t change the law on gays adopting or using surrogates or however gays have children today, it would only prohibit attempts at same-sex reproduction and genetic engineering, by limiting creation of people to joining unmodified gametes of a man and a woman.

            You are insisting on a right to do something that isn’t even possible right now, and might never be practical, instead of thinking how to best help the thousands of same-sex couples who have no legal protections and no federal recognition if they do. My proposal wouldn’t even rule out same-sex procreation forever, it would just be a law that Congress could repeal if in the future we decide to allow GE or SSP. Of course I doubt we would,seeing as how expensive and unethical it would be, and I’d fight that change, but if you want to treat it separately, that’s the way to do it. Give same-sex couples CU’s now, and fight for marriage and procreation rights later. Stop trying to insist on an equal right to procreate right now.

            I’m trying to protect marriage from being stripped of procreation rights, you are saying that it’s OK if married couples are prohibited from procreating with their own genes, which is really scary. People with some bad gene could be told they must use donor or substitute gametes and not have their own children. People could be forced to have GE done to improve their children’s intelligence. It would be ridiculously intrusive and expensive. People are already feeling pressure not to reproduce. That must be stopped by affirming in law that marriage in all states protect the right to procreate with the couple’s own genes. You shouldn’t be equating a marriage’s right to procreate to a same-sex couple’s, or to a brother and sister. They do indeed have a special right that you shouldn’t snottily dismiss.

          • posted by Tom Scharbach on

            Ah, we are finally down to the nub of your argument. And you are riding the wrong horse tying marriage to procreation and reproductive techniques.

            Let’s look at your concerns, each in turn:

            (1) STEM CELL TO SPERM/EGG ARGUMENT.

            You argue that gay and lesbian couples could use forms of genetic engineering that use stem cells to produce an egg or a sperm (or the recombinant equivalent) to procreate, and that this should be prohibited.

            Without addressing the question of whether or not that reproductive technique should be prohibited, I would point out that neither the need for nor use of the technique is dependent on either (a) the sexual orientation of the couple or (b) marital status.

            The sexual orientation of the couple is not relevant because a straight couple could need and use the technique, as in the case of a couple where the man is incapable of producing sperm, or the case of a couple where the woman is incapable of producing an egg. In either case, the technique would allow the couple to procreate where they otherwise could not, just as is the case with gay and lesbian couples. So why the distinction based on the sexual orientation of the couple?

            The marital status of the couple is no more relevant than the sexual orientation of the couple. Human beings reproduce without regard to marital status, and will use the technique without regard to marital status. So what purpose is served by the distinction based on marital status?

            You argue that the distinctions must be made because the technique will be banned, and, therefore, gay and lesbian couples will be unable procreate as a couple. I suggest to you that infertile straight couples would be in an identical position.

            So why is it that gay and lesbian couples should be singled out? Is it that you intend to allow straight couples to use the technique but not gay and lesbian couples?

            Apparently so.

            You seem to ban the technique except in cases where a man’s stem cells are used to create sperm and in cases where a woman’s stem cells are used to create eggs.

            Why do I believe that is what you suggest?

            First, your ban (“Stop genetic engineering by limiting conception of children to the union of a man and a woman’s sperm and egg.“) does not address the case, leaving the window open.

            Second, your explanation above suggests that the window is intentionally left open: “I’m trying to protect marriage from being stripped of procreation rights, you are saying that it’s OK if married couples are prohibited from procreating with their own genes, which is really scary.

            If you are suggesting that the reproductive technique of using stem cells to produce sperm and eggs should be banned selectively — that is for gay and lesbian couples but not straight couples — then I strongly disagree with you. If the technique should be banned, then it should be banned for all.

            If, on the other hand, I am wrong in reading between the lines, and you are suggesting that the ban should apply to everybody, straight and gay/lesbian, married and unmarried, alike, then you don’t need to make distinctions about the sexual orientation of the couple or the marital status of the couple. That is the nub. It the technique is banned, then nobody should be able to use it. And if nobody is able to use it, then there is no need to make either distinction.

            So let me ask you this:

            (1) Should the reproductive technique (using stem cells to produce sperm and/or eggs) be banned for same-sex unmarried couples?

            (2) Should the reproductive technique (using stem cells to produce sperm and/or eggs) be banned for same-sex married couples?

            (3) Should the reproductive technique (using stem cells to produce sperm and/or eggs) be banned for straight unmarried couples?

            (4) Should the reproductive technique (using stem cells to produce sperm and/or eggs) be banned for same-sex married couples?

            When that’s out in the open, then we can move the discussion forward.

            (2) GENETIC MANIPULATION ARGUMENT.

            In your most recent comment, you add another dimension: “People with some bad gene could be told they must use donor or substitute gametes and not have their own children. People could be forced to have GE done to improve their children’s intelligence. It would be ridiculously intrusive and expensive. People are already feeling pressure not to reproduce. That must be stopped by affirming in law that marriage in all states protect the right to procreate with the couple’s own genes.

            I don’t know if laws are needed, because government attempts to force genetic engineering on any couple would be an intrusion on personal privacy so unprecedented as to be clearly unconstitutional. If you think that laws are needed, that’s fine with me, but don’t limit the application of the law to married, straight couples. If protection is needed, it is needed by all.

            You shouldn’t be equating a marriage’s right to procreate to a same-sex couple’s, or to a brother and sister. They do indeed have a special right that you shouldn’t snottily dismiss.

            Snotty or not, I believe that the right to procreate is a fundamental human right that is not dependent on marital status.

          • posted by John Howard on

            (1) Should the reproductive technique (using stem cells to produce sperm and/or eggs) be banned for same-sex unmarried couples?

            Yes. The ban would be on creating a child by any means other than joining a living man and a woman’s unmodified gametes. So same-sex couples would publicly be banned from attempting to create a child by any method. Also, the simple point of the law is to prohibit people from attempting same-sex reproduction, that’s the way most people would understand its effect and purpose.

            Remember that our sex is public, a matter of record, and is intended to be the sex that we could most likely reproduce as using our natural gametes, if we were healthy and developed as we probably should have. In cases where a person’s legal sex doesn’t match the sex they most likely could reproduce as, then they are privately infertile, like any other man or woman who is unable to procreate with someone of the other legal sex.

            (2) Should the reproductive technique (using stem cells to produce sperm and/or eggs) be banned for same-sex married couples?

            Well, this is the conundrum, because doing that would mean that marriage didn’t protect and affirm the couple’s right to conceive offspring together. It’s hard to say which is worse, stripping procreation rights from marriage or honoring procreation rights of marriage and therefore saying that we should not ban same-sex procreation. The two should either both be legal, or both be illegal. Can you justify them not both being the same? It makes no sense. Zablocki already addressed that kind of discrepancy and said it made no sense.

            (3) Should the reproductive technique (using stem cells to produce sperm and/or eggs) be banned for straight unmarried couples?

            I think so, for both practical purposes (it’d be hugely expensive and would lead to people jiggling their genes around, designer babies, etc. But assuming we were only talking about creating replacement gametes, indistinguishable from the gametes that a man or woman would have if he were healthy, then it might be considered medicine and become a right to attempt, and a question of medical privacy and marital privacy. I don’t think it is a right to use artificial stem cells, or to use any form of laboratory technology to facilitate pregnancy, so I would advocate prohibiting all that stuff. But you are correct that, between the lines, I accept that there could be a right to create replacement gametes, and am careful not to merge the call for prohibiting genetic engineering and same-sex reproduction with a call to prohibit anyone from using medicine to enable them to procreate with their spouse using their own genes.

            (4) Should the reproductive technique (using stem cells to produce sperm and/or eggs) be banned for same-sex [un]married couples?

            Yes, the ban on creating people by any means other than joining a living man’s unmodified sperm and a living woman’s unmodified egg would apply to everyone regardless of marital status. But if it was applied to married couples it’d strip marriage of reproductive rights.

          • posted by John Howard on

            don’t limit the application of the law to married, straight couples. If protection is needed, it is needed by all.

            But couples that are not allowed to marry certainly do not have protection of their right to reproduce together, right? Shouldn’t we prohibit a man from reproducing with his daughter, or with his step mother?

            And I don’t think unmarried couples should feel they have a right to reproduce together, they should feel that they should marry to feel they have a right to reproduce together. Not that it’s so terrible for unmarried couples to have kids that it needs to be policed and punished, but it should certainly not be equated to the right that married couples should feel.

            Snotty or not, I believe that the right to procreate is a fundamental human right that is not dependent on marital status.

            I think it is really disrespectful to withhold the approval and right of a married man and woman to have sex and conceive children together, and say that they had just as much of a right to do it as they had before they married, and just as much of a right to have children as a same-sex couple or people using sperm donated by someone they don’t even know.

            If you started respecting married couples and male-female couples that are eligible to marry by recognizing that they had a right that same-sex couples just didn’t have, it’d be a big breakthrough and I’m sure would be reciprocated by the other side, enabling passage of CU’s in most states and enabling federal recognition. That’d help actual families much more than insisting on equal reproductive rights.

          • posted by John Howard on

            Darn, I think the last combination was supposed to be straight married couples:

            Yes, it should be banned for straight married couples. But note that doing so (and after ending SSM) wouldn’t affect the rights of any married couples at all: All married couples would retain the right and official public approval to have children together, even if they are prevented from attempting to use replacement gametes derived from stem cells.

            Prohibiting the use of replacement gametes does not publicly rule out and nullify their right to procreate together, because they would still be allowed and approved to procreate together in the abstract, if not naturally then by some other legal method such as IVF. They could get healthy someday and their privacy means we should treat them as if they were healthy and give them the same abstract rights and affirmations and approval of children that we give all married couples. Marriage does not guarantee a right to have children successfully, or have children created for you, but it does convey the public approval of offspring even if they don’t arrive, which is something valuable and deserving respect. Same-sex couples should not have that abstract public approval of offspring, because it is known to require genetic engineering and unethical experimentation and crosses the line into creation of impossible children created from engineered genes who are not created equal, a child of a man and a woman.

            As I said somewhere else, one is a right, one should be prohibited. Equating them is impossible.

        • posted by John Howard on

          btw, all married couples are approved and allowed to procreate even if they are infertile and unable to. Same-sex couples should be treated like a brother and sister and prohibited from procreating, whether they can or not doesn’t matter.

          and also, I think that as long as same-sex couples are allowed to attempt to procreate, then of course we should allow them to marry. Only if we prohibit same-sex procreation should we simultaneously prohibit same-sex marriage. Also I support CU’s defined as “marriage minus conception rights” to give same-sex couples equal protections in all other areas without stripping procreation rights from marriage.

  11. posted by Rick Sincere on

    Does anyone know how Newt Gingrich was received into the Catholic Church when both of his ex-wives were still living and he was cohabiting with his mistress/third wife?

    Did he get both of his earlier, valid marriages annulled? Or did the local church authorities simply ignore his bigamy and fornication?

    • posted by Houndentenor on

      It’s a good question and it shows how lazy the American media is that no one seems to have asked these questions.

    • posted by Jorge on

      Most likely the latter. Many Catholic churches does not recognize marriages from outside the Church.

      I had to concede a debate on marriage to my mother on this point.

      • posted by Rob T on

        “Many Catholic churches does not recognize marriages from outside the Church.”

        They may not, but they’re supposed to, as long as the man and woman marrying outside the Church weren’t themselves Catholic. From http://www.catholicmarriagecentre.org.uk/marriagefaq.php#k

        ” If both parties were non-Catholic, and married outside the Catholic Church (they wouldn’t of course marry in a Catholic church anyway), their marriage is assumed to be valid. Marriage is said to ‘have the favour of law’ that is, it is assumed valid until it is legally proved otherwise, therefore the woman would not be free to marry again, even if the marriage ended in a civil divorce; as she would still be married in the eyes of God and the Church. I quote from the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church No.349: ‘The Church, since she is faithful to her Lord, cannot recognise the union of people who are civilly divorced and remarried. “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her: and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). “

  12. posted by Rob T on

    Oh, lord, now John Howard is posting here, the man who wished death on a woman’s unborn baby because he didn’t approve how long she waited to have children.
    http://www.ruthblog.org/2011/08/19/taking-the-opportunity-to-speak-freely-while-it-is-still-legal/#comment-26025

    • posted by John Howard on

      That was a good thread. Comments are closed there now, even on new diaries.

      I never wish for IVF to reward the crass materialist consumer with a baby. When it does, it reinforces a terrible belief about babies that people can have them later, through technology if they want them, and that we don’t need to protect or respect natural fertility. IVF has resulted in health care costs skyrocketing and harmed marriage. The more it fails, the better.

Comments are closed.