Minister to K of C: Stop Inciting Hate
A Westville church is taking on the Knights of Columbus for boosting an anti-gay marriage initiative on next Tuesday’s ballot.
Rev. Sharon Miller (pictured), who directs the social justice committee at New Haven’s Metropolitan Community Church, has drafted a letter calling for Christians to speak out against the Knights’ funding in support of ballot initiatives designed to turn back same-sex marriage.
The influential worldwide Catholic fraternal organization has its international headquarters in downtown New Haven, in the Tootsie Roll-shaped tower at Church and George streets.
“Jesus communed with the marginalized,” said Miller, who recently graduated from the Yale Divinity School. “Why are we taking marginalized [people], and creating and inciting hate against them?”
On Oct. 10 Connecticut became the third state in the U.S. to legalize gay marriage, after Massachusetts and California. Now, in next Tuesday’s elections, the K of C is playing a starring role in the campaign to undo the decisions in Connecticut and California, which were made by Supreme Court justices.
The New Haven-based Knights have helped fund TV ads urging a yes vote on Question #1 on the Connecticut ballot, which calls for a constitutional convention. The convention could pave the way eventually for a voter referendum repealing same-sex marriage. (Click here for a back story explaining the process.)
The international group is also the single largest contributor in support of California’s Proposition 8, which would ban gay marriage in that state. The Knights donated $1.4 million to support that measure, according to the Associated Press.
The Knights of Columbus got involved in Connecticut’s ballot question after the state’s highest court legalized gay marriage, Knights spokesman Pat Korten said Wednesday.
“The Court made a decision without the people,” said Korten. His group believes marriage should be between a man and a woman: Heterosexual marriage “provides the optimal setting for conceiving children, allowing them to be born and raised in a family with a loving parents,” he said. “Every child deserves a father and a mother.”
After the Oct. 10 landmark court decision, the Catholic Bishops of Connecticut came out with a public statement in support of a convention:
“The Catholic Bishops of Connecticut and the Connecticut Catholic Conference are extremely disappointed in this close 4-3 decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court which imposes the recognition of same-sex marriage upon the people of Connecticut,” reads the message from the Catholic Bishops. “This decision is in direct conflict with the position of our state legislature and courts of other states and is a terribly regrettable exercise in judicial activism… Therefore, we will be calling on the Catholic people of our state to vote ‘Yes’ for a Constitutional Convention and the right of referendum on Election Day.”
Upon hearing that statement, the Knights of Columbus decided to get involved, said Korten. The group sent an email its members in Connecticut “indicating we have endorsed the bishops’ statement, and asking our members to support the constitutional convention.”
The K of C has spent money on new TV ads calling for a constitutional convention. (Click on the play arrow to see the ad.) Small print at the end of the ad shows it was funded by the Connecticut Catholic Conference.
The Knights of Columbus were partial funders of the TV ads, Korten said. He and Connecticut Catholic Conference’s Executive Director Michael Culhane both declined to say how much was spent. State campaign filings likely won’t be available until after the election.
Lobbying from the Catholic groups quickly gained more prominence than that of grassroots activists. John Woodcock from the Constitutional Convention Campaign, said his issue-neutral group did not have funding for TV ads — just lawn signs. He said he’d welcome support from the Knights of Columbus, but so far, “we have absolutely nothing to do with them.”
“Time To Say Good Knight”
Miller, a member of the clergy at the Westville church, heard about the religious lobby from a member of the Knights of Columbus. The member told her he supports gay marriage and was disturbed to find out the group was using its funds to fight it.
In a letter to the executive director of her international church group, Miller called on Christians to speak out against the Knights of Columbus’ political activity.
The Christian church, which includes members of various denominations, was founded as a welcoming place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The church is currently spearheading a campaign called The 21st Century Question: Would Jesus Discriminate?”.
Miller noted that the fraternal order was founded in 1822 to provide for Catholic families in times of need — families who had suffered from persecution.
“They’ve wandered from the message,” she charged.
“This is all about discrimination,” Miller said of the Knights’ anti-gay marriage efforts. She argues that GLBT people are discriminated against when they are denied the right to marry. “Someone needs to ask this Christian charity why they’re asking to discriminate.” She charged the group with “inciting hate” against gay people.
“I think it is time to say GOOD knight,” her letter ended.
Korten dismissed her charges.
“We don’t hate anybody,” he said. “That is an absurd notion.”
Of the content of her letter, Korten said, “I get emails like that from CA all the time.” He said disapproving of a behavior does not constitute discrimination against an individual. “It is purely a position on our part and on the part of the Catholic Church,” he said, that heterosexual marriage is “best suited to beget, raise, kid from birth to adulthood.”
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Posted by: east rocker | October 30, 2008 8:08 AM
I don't see the downside to a referendum. Shouldn't we be pushing for having the people of the state (or at least the adult voters) decide important issues rather than 7 judges?
I am currenty undecided on this ballot initiative but would certainly lean towards having the law determined by the people or legislators. Have the same people making the law and interpreting it (judicial) seems like a dangerous path.
If I'm missing something, please educate me - I'll be checking back with an open mind.
Posted by: Ned | October 30, 2008 8:11 AM
Let's have a "holy" war! It's about time that the KofC got publicly called out on it's support of homophobia. You'd think that with the Catholic church protecting child rapists, consorting with the mafia and promoting ignorance in general that they would have their hands full (well at least their not still torturing and burning people alive...). This is why religion and state must be kept seperate. The Pope, pastors, imams, preachers and all of the other religious nut jobs have no business interfering in the lives of others. The Bible, Koran, etc. are so full of make believe and nonsense that I'm always amazed that any adult with half a brain couldn't realize the stupidity contained therein.
Posted by: Deuce | October 30, 2008 9:01 AM
"I don't see the downside to a referendum. Shouldn't we be pushing for having the people of the state (or at least the adult voters) decide important issues rather than 7 judges?"
Those opposed to a YES vote must be opposed to "we the people" I guess. I thought liberal special interest groups would be in favor of democracy. Go figure.
Posted by: The Other East Rocker | October 30, 2008 9:09 AM
East Rocker -
Allowing for ballot initiatives will specifically take many issues out of the hands of legislators. As much as Hartford can often be a disfunctional place, our political system as it is does allow for a decent amount of debate, analysis of research and data, and thoughtful input from numerous points of view on any issue. Ballot initiatives are all about which side has more money to hire people to collect signatures and to pay for 30 second TV ads. That is the antithesis of thoughtful discourse and sensible public policy.
I am voting NO!! It is disappointing to here that the knights are behind those ads! Hmmm
east rocker I am not well versed on this yes no vote. But I have been hit by both sides. And both side are very attractive on what the vote means for us. So how to vote was very confusing. A yes vote may open some doors that I have tried to kick down, and I really would love to see it happen. BUT...and yes it is a BIG BUT, at the cost of what was the deciding factor for me. I would be able to get through those doors, but who else would come through them with me. Big Money! Which I the little guy does not have. Big Money can use this to take things away (the rights of Conn. people)! As you can see by this story Big Money is already stepping into the arena. Right to choose (gone!) Gay rights (gone!) Health care (gone!) the list of big money targets have nothing to do with the people! They want you to believe it is all about you so they can make changes that benefit them!
Posted by: juli | October 30, 2008 9:20 AM
if we vote yes for the constitutional convention, it allows for our entire constitution to be rewritten, essentially. special interest groups could flood money and misinformation toward single issues and push their objectives with voters rather than through legislators. this would erase the checks and balances in place to protect our democracy.
i am solidly against question one. i urge you to vote no as well.
Posted by: tom | October 30, 2008 9:23 AM
since when have majorities ever supported granting equal rights to minorities? how did equal rights for african americans come about? through "activist" courts. majorities never say,here let us share our power. and "judiciary" doesn't make the law, elected officials and legislators do that.
as a person who would be directly affected by the reversal of gay marriage, i see this as an effort to deprive me of my rights to equality. why don't people just mind their own business? is gay marriage going to have ANY affect on anyone's life other than the people who want to marry?
Posted by: another eastrocker | October 30, 2008 9:31 AM
I am voting no to question one for two reasons:
one, it will open up the possibility of conservatives attacking things like gay marriage and abortion. if the convention truly acted as a "voice of the people" that would be one thing, but the invitees will be special interest groups, lobbyists, and specially appointed delegates (as cedarhill said above, BIG MONEY.)
two, it will cost taxpayers. a lot. and considering Jodi Rell is cutting all these social programs because the budget is in crisis, spending millions on this convention seems like a poor decision. richard blumenthal and the rest of CT's elected state officials are vehemently against it, as is the Connecticut Education Association. the groups that are supporting the convention are all against same-sex marriage (especially the Family Institue for CT).
VOTE NO TO QUESTION 1!!
Posted by: K of C Catholic | October 30, 2008 9:51 AM
VOTE YES #1 ON QUESTION #1
VOTE YES FOR DEMOCRACY
I am tried of the spin people who supported the 4 activist judges on the Supreme Court who approved gay "marriages". First spin, a Constitutional Convention would cost alot of money. Second spin, it would be dominated by special interests (gee like the teachers union, planned parenthood, and gay "rights" organizations). Third spin, as it expands, is to attack people who want a Constitutional Convention, placing them in the "hate" camp and fear mongering. The Constitutional Convention is about democracy at its best.
If discrimination was really at the heart of the gay "marriage" political activity and political pressure, they received an answer in 2005 from the General Assembly. In 2005 the civil unions law went into effect, protecting the rights of those who wished the same protections that married people enjoyed. The General Assembly knowing their constituents mind, left the institution of marriage as it has always been: between a man and woman.
Four (4) people of The Connecticut Supreme Court usurped the legislative branch of our government, and went against the will of the people of Connecticut (and of the greater part of the United States). FOUR PEOPLE made this decision.
VOTE YES ON QUESTION #1 FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.
To the video of the Knights of Columbus. You will hear clearly stated the love we have for all, regardless of their orientation etc.... That is a Biblical, Christian, and is demanded of us. But if I really love someone, how could I conceal any part of the truth from them? To love always, to speak the truth with charity, I think that is what the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Church is doing.
Because someone offers a different and valid points that might be contrary to your views does not mean they are promoting hate. Consider all the evidence, opinions of experts, history, natural law, and in your conscience make a decision.
The reactionary element would like to now inject accusations of hate into the debate. As one of the descenting justices wrote, this is not a question of bigotry, but biology.
VOTE YES ON QUESTION #1
VOTE YES FOR DEMOCRACY
VOTE YES ON QUESTION #1, REJECT THE SCARE TACTICS OF THE SPECIAL INTERESTS.
DO NOT ALLOW FOUR (4) PEOPLE TO CHANGE WHAT OUR LEGISLATORS WERE ABLE TO DO WITH THE CIVIL UNIONS, PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF THE SAME SEX COUPLES, WHILE RESPECTING THE WILL OF THE GENERAL POPULATION OF CONNECTICUT AND THE UNITED STATES. MARRIAGE IS AND HAS ALWAYS BEEN BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN.
Posted by: robn | October 30, 2008 10:19 AM
The KofC and others are trying to remove equal protection from our law. Whether or not you support their pet issue of this. You could be next.
"As one of the dissenting [ed.] justices wrote, this is not a question of bigotry, but biology."
And as I pointed out several times before, Justice Peter T. Zarella has little understanding of what biology is - well, the kind scientists study anyway. Homosexuality is present in all social species, and is clearly evident in social apes (that's us, K of C, despite what your creationist biologists falsely assert). And for the record, marriage between one male and one female does not occur in any other ape species apart from our own. Chimps in gowns don't count!
"But if I really love someone, how could I conceal any part of the truth from them?"
In the past, I've tried to make a distinction between blind bigotry and someone's heartfelt good intent, but I've steadily grown tired of trying to do that. I'm sick of the stone-age book defense. The "natural law" defense. The "activist judges" defense.
The Knights of Columbus disgust me. Their love and charity comes at great cost to us all.
VOTE NO ON QUESTION #1 FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.
Appeal to reason, not prejudice guised as sympathy or patriotism.
Posted by: William Kurtz | October 30, 2008 11:07 AM
EastRocker, There are reasons to oppose a constitutional convention other than whether it's going to allow the KofC to attack same-sex marriage.
We really don't have a direct democracy in the U.S.; we have a republic in which we elect representatives to make laws. Those representatives are then accountable to the voters; if they don't respond to the will of the people, the people have the opportunity to vote them out.
Allowing a referendum allows any person or group with money, time, and a pet issue to put something on the ballot that, if enacted, will become law. This bypasses the deliberative process that, ideally, the state congress uses. It doesn't allow for compromise and consideration of the rights of the minority.
Let's take same-sex marriage as an example. If a group gets a referendum question that states, "should marriage be defined as a union between a man and a woman?" and it passes, then that's law. Okay, fine, some will say; it's the will of the people. But what happens next year, when the will of the people is asking the question, "Should Connecticut make provisions for same-sex civil unions?" and again, a bare majority of the minority of people who actually turn out to vote say "yes." Well, maybe we're getting a little further from the "will of the people" and a little closer to "the will of the Catholic church."
The legislature is charged with enacting what's in the best interests of all the people, even the people who don't vote (like it or not). I don't want to sound condescending or elitist, but sometimes what 'we the people' want in the moment is just not what's in the long-term best interest of the town, state, or country. Not that the legislature makes perfect decisions, but on the whole, the system works, even if it sometimes works slowly.
Anyone who's ever tried to order pizza with more than two people knows how difficult direct democracy can be.
That's why I'm voting no.
Posted by: DingDong | October 30, 2008 12:39 PM
"The Founding Fathers gave us a Constitution of checks and balances because they realized the inescapable lesson of history that no man or group of men can be safely entrusted with unlimited power. They framed this Constitution with its provisions for change by amendment in order to secure the fundamentals of government against the dangers of temporary popular passion or the personal predilections of public officeholders.
We regard the decisions of the Supreme Court in the school cases as a clear abuse of judicial power. It climaxes a trend in the Federal Judiciary undertaking to legislate, in derogation of the authority of Congress, and to encroach upon the reserved rights of the States and the people."
Guess what judicial abuse of power is being referred to? Guess what undemocratic activist cour that is?
This is a quote from the "Southern Manifesto" that was introduced in Congress as a reaction to Brown v. Board of Education.
We have a constitution because democracy means more than majority rule - it also means protecting the rights of minorities. There is nothing wrong with "unelected" judges doing so. That's precisely their job. That's why they are unelected.
Posted by: Bill | October 30, 2008 3:00 PM
There are about 30 states that already have initiative and referendum. I would say those states are much more democratic than Connecticut. It's sobering to realize how many people are afraid of democracy, that's why people like Hitler are able get power. People like to be led around by the nose instead of thinking for themselves.
Posted by: Ned | October 30, 2008 4:16 PM
"It's sobering to realize how many people are afraid of democracy, that's why people like the [Pope, preachers, gurus, Dalai Lama etc.] are able get power. People like to be led around by the nose instead of thinking for themselves."
Posted by: Ned | October 30, 2008 4:24 PM
Posted by: K of C Catholic | October 30, 2008 4:41 PM
VOTE YES ON QUESTION # 1
VOTE YES FOR DEMOCRACY.
The legislature provided protection for same sex couples under civil unions. Now we've played with language and taken another tack to go against the General Assembly to couch this issue of protection for same sex couples as a "rights" issue, when it has already been addressed. The wolf in sheep's clothing is a normalizing of a behavior and choice of lifestyle by giving it the name marriage.
VOTE YES ON QUESTION #1
VOTE YES FOR DEMOCRACY
Do not allow the naysayers to frighten you with their suggestions of "mob" rule. What we have is the tyranny of the minority and special interests.
Posted by: robn | October 30, 2008 5:11 PM
There is a democratic mechanism in place for State Constitutional amendment: that is a 3/4 majority vote in Legislature and then a ballot vote for ratification. Its perfectly democratic and has been used to amend the State Constitution 30 times, as recently as the year 2000.
Posted by: iwasthere | October 30, 2008 7:58 PM
If we vote yes it may allow us to repeal the income tax. Income tax was done behind closed doors. It is not just for voting for gay rights. It has been use in the past very well. This could be the change the state needs. We would have say not just our state reps or our judges. We would have say how our state is run.
Posted by: Ned | October 30, 2008 9:45 PM
Hey you could pass an amendment eliminating gay marriage and add a tax on Gay people. Then you could pass an amendment making it illegal for Gay people to work, own property and travel freely. Then you could pass an amendment for the death penalty for Gay people. Problem solved!
Posted by: Disgruntled Democrat | October 30, 2008 9:59 PM
According to the laws of our State, we are entitled to a Constitutional convention. Being the progressive minded beings that we are, we should embrace the opportunity to make our Constitution exactly as we wish it to be, without lobbyists paying off our elected officials to vote on their behalf and not ours.
I, like 50% of the people surveyed in an accompanying article, am voting YES. If something that affects me is changed, then it will be by a majority vote of my neighbors. I have chosen to live here and will accept the beliefs of those persons who live near me. If I want to push my own desires above theirs, and they are the majority, then I am not really for democracy.
I believe that all gay couples who have entered into a civil union should have the same benefits as hetero married couples. I do not believe in gay marriage, but that is not the reason I am voting yes for a convention. I am not going to throw the baby out with the bath water because of one special interest. Many things need to be addressed, and not just gay marriage, and my interest in the totality is more pressing than one singular issue.
Since all we hear from the progressive left is that everyone is entitled to vote, I cannot understand why the fear in opening up our Constitution. Is it that everyone is allowed to vote if they are voting in the manner in which you want them to?
With all of the fraud in most campaigns, I am relying on my neighbors common sense to see through the lies and vote their conscience and not be fooled by the special interests throwing money into misleading ads or propaganda, no matter which side is lying at the time.
Posted by: Dan | October 30, 2008 10:59 PM
There is precedent for a vote like this, across the country in California.
The most famous there is Proposition 13 in 1978, which restricted the state's property taxes. Thus, California was forced to find new ways to make money, which means higher sales taxes, income taxes, and other fees, and California's budget has been a mess under rule of both parties for the past 30 years. California's optimistic days are now long gone.
Public referenda means that anyone who gets enough signatures can get anything on the ballot. And, since most of the population is either uninformed or seriously short-sighted, voters may pass these referenda without knowing their consequences.
At least Massachusetts right now is on the path to defeating a referendum that would repeal its income tax, because people realize money has to come from somewhere and rather it come out of their paycheques than have to buy a $6.99 gallon of milk because of high sales taxes.
Besides, I'm all for letting the people we vote into office do the jobs they are paid for and make the laws themselves and then face the voters based on their actions. A referendum is an example of a direct democracy, but we must remember direct democracies have historically only worked well in small and controlled environments, and not in complex, diverse, and populous places.
Imagine if southern states had had referenda in 1964. What kind of laws would have been enacted then?
Posted by: Gary Doyens | October 31, 2008 7:15 AM
Vote Yes. Direct democracy is a good check and balance on a legislative process that at times goes wild.
For those of you who romance the deliberative process in Hartford, think again:
*High utility rates are a direct result of deregulation. Despite all the problems with dereg, nobody has moved to fix it.
*Brought us sales taxes on the sale of our home
*Despite pleas for tax relief, this process yields a double tax on a tank of gas; no car tax relief; and a change from a flat to a percentage tax on gas so the state gets a windfall in excess of $100 million a year.
*Constantly bends to the will of mayors, first selectmen and fellow government tax and spenders who fail to control their own budgets
Does voting Yes mean we will have to defend civil liberties and judgements of the courts? Maybe, perhaps even probably. But freedom and quality of life is always worth it.
Posted by: William Kurtz | October 31, 2008 7:58 AM
Disgruntled Democract, what neighborhood do you live in where everyone exercises 'common sense?' I would like to move there.
In this context the word 'democracy' is a little misleading; like I said earlier, the U.S. really isn't a democracy, it's a republic. The nation and the state are governed by constitutions that set appropriate limits on what the governments can do and--this is the important part--they're error-correcting, through the established procedures for amending them. The process is slow and deliberative--not so good when you want something to change quickly, pretty good if you want something to change slowly. The framers of the constitution--you know, those famous liberals Jefferson and Madison--set it up that deliberately to protect the interests of the nation from momentary whims.
I don't know what makes anyone think that lobbyists and special-interests would be any more excluded from the referendum process than the current one. The money to start those campaigns has to come from somewhere.
But even if the convention passes, it doesn't automatically mean we'll have a referendum. That still has to get written in.
While I entirely disagree with your point, I can see where you're coming from (except for your beliefs regarding marriage, which I cannot fathom). But just a couple of points for clarification:
"Since all we hear from the progressive left is that everyone is entitled to vote..."
Is this just a leftist assertion? And how far should the constitution be "opened?" You're really comfortable going down this road?
"If I want to push my own desires above theirs, and they are the majority, then I am not really for democracy."
I find this statement both glib and belittling. Isn't the ability for a minority population to address and affect majority rule critical to representative democracy?
Posted by: Gary Doyens | October 31, 2008 9:56 AM
One other note for a reality check:
Who do you think dominates the legislative process in Hartford now? The common folk or special interests, the well heeled and well connected? It's not the common folk.
The league of municipalities - the lobby group for all the cities and towns - they brought you the sales tax on your home and support massive state spending including the income tax. The Connecticut Education Association lobbies for the teachers; there are a lot more.
So, VOTE Yes! even if the K of C gets the right in the process to peddle their homophobic agenda even as they remain silent on much more important subjects, at least the ability for direct democracy will ensure a place at the table for everyday taxpayers and citizens of Connecticut. It sure as hell is not working very well now.
Gary, I'm unsure your opinions constitute a reality check. I remain unconvinced that a constitutional convention would do anything but allow people, common folk or not, to erode away the Bill of Rights. Direct democracy is a fantasy in the United States. 303,824,640 (July 2008 est) people strong, we are segmented, polarized, and awash in myriad competing agendas. I detest my own cynicism, but I have as little confidence in this illusory concept of common folk as I have in the lobbyists and legislators themselves.
I'll vote no, for the "[K of C's] ... right in the process to peddle their homophobic agenda" is reason enough for me.
Posted by: Patricia Kane | October 31, 2008 11:30 AM
As someone who was raised Catholic and chose to move on, I find it disappointing that the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Church are so un-Christian in their opposition to increasing human happiness by giving gays and others their civil rights. Some people make love differently, and I don't think it's any of my business. And I certainly don't think it should be the basis for discrimination on any level
CT has a wonderful constitution and it includes an equal rights provision. Surprise!
Marriage is a human right and a civil right. If churches choose to discriminate by not performing weddings, so be it. Let the families of gays and gay people themselves find a more welcoming place to practice their values.
In the long term, history is a witness to our stumbling march to social justice and maximizing human happiness. One day the regressive thinking that stigmatized gay people will be likened to the thinking that treated African slaves as 3/5 of a person.
You can't stop progress. Thank heavens!
Posted by: Fair Haven H | October 31, 2008 12:29 PM
Whatever happened to the separation of church and state???
KofC get out of my government. You are not wanted or needed.
Posted by: Disgruntled Democrat | October 31, 2008 12:48 PM
Mr. Stephen Peter Ross,
The reference to voting was in regards to ACORN and other "non-partisan" federally funded groups that push voter registration only in regards to a liberal agenda. This not only violates the rules in regards to accepting federal funding, it is belittling to the tax payers that might not agree with their ideology yet must subsidize this behavior.
In regards to my stance on marriage, throughout the ages it has been a religious institution, whether Christian or pagan, and always between a man and a woman. When regulation came into play, then the courts were involved, the need for marriage licenses followed, etc. If a non-traditional couple gets the same societal benefits from a civil union as I have from my marriage license, then I do not feel that I am discriminating by stating that my religious beliefs lead me in a different direction that you. If, however, civil unions were not an option, then I feel that gay couples would be discriminated against and the matter should be addressed. I would welcome a federal recognition of civil unions, but would be completely opposed to any form of same sex marriage.
I have family members that are gay and we have these discussions all the time. I will not change my opinion, because of my religious beliefs, and they won't change theirs, due to their lifestyle. I am not a Cafeteria Catholic when it comes to my beliefs and it seems many of the people posting here aren't either.
Last, a vocal minority can work (emphasis on work)to change the majority's stance on issues. That is what democracy is about, not imposing (emphasis on imposing by activist judges) their minority beliefs on the majority. Therein is the difference. And if these issues come to a vote, I will accept whatever the majority decision is, whether I like it or not.
Posted by: John Wysolmerski | October 31, 2008 2:40 PM
I have to agree strongly with Mr. Kurtz on this issue, and I would advise everyone to vote No on this initiative. In no way do I pretend to be an historian, but it seems pretty clear that the issue of how much direct democracy we should have goes right back to the founding of our republic. And like now, John Adams and Thomas Paine got pretty hot under the collar about the issue. But the genius of the founders' compromise has allowed us (with some tweaking along the way) to have a robust voice in our own governance along with the protection of minority rights and the protection against "mob" sentiment. It may be an unpopular fact, but part of our electied representatives' duties are to protect us against our collective worst selves. So, as you may have guessed, I am not at all in favor of direct ballot initiatives. When I was out in California looking at a job a few yars ago, discussing buying a house was a real eye opener. The bizarre nature of the property taxes and the resulting fundamental unfairness and chaos to especially the local school systems was a real turn-off. So for those who are not familiar with the issue, as it was explained to me taxes can only be reassessed when a property turns over. So you and your neighbor can be paying radically different taxes on houses that are essentially of the same value. It must make planning municipal budgets a nightmare, and forces all kinds of other regressive taxes. I am sure that someone would try to do something similar here or better yet try to get rid of the income tax. Anything like this would not adress the kinds of problems that New Haven or other cities in CT face with evening out the revenue/services gap with the suberban towns. Plus, it seems that states that have these initiatives are always having to spend time, energy and money fighting battles that pit residents against each other over emotional pocket book or social issues. What a waste of resources. It also seems that there is always some organization with a national agenda trying to hijack local politics to pursue their particular vision. Why would we want to open ourselves up to this?? Look at the situation with the KofC. As a practicing catholic who spent a lot of time in my hometown KofC hall growing up, it pains me to see them disregard the potential collateral damage to CT as they pursue their one or two issue agenda. So, I say vote No to protect our democratic process from what would be the deluge of unintended bad consequences and headaches from direct ballot initiatives.
Posted by: Disgruntled Democrat | October 31, 2008 4:39 PM
Separation of Church and State was designed to ensure that all people could practice (or not) the religion of their choosing, and so there would not be an officially designated Church (such as the Church of England). Our forefathers wanted to ensure that there would be freedom of religion for all, without anything sponsored by the State.
It never was intended to remove God (or your particular recognized religion) from the equation. Whether you read the letters sent between the authors of our federal Constitution (especially between Jefferson and Adams) or the Federalist Papers, all come back to relying on Divine Providence to lead the nation. That is why Congress, to this day, is led in prayer before the sesion begins, why we have "In God We Trust" on our currency, etc.
I define what is "Christian" by the words of the Bible, and not what I presume them to be, nor what I wish them to be. Same sex couples are not being discriminated against by having equal rights. The fact that 70% of the people in this country believe marriage is between a man and a woman should be respected by those in the minority as we respect their success in obtaining equal protection under our State Constitution.
Posted by: THREEFIFTHS | October 31, 2008 8:25 PM
Bring back concubines!!!!!
Posted by: Rev Ray Dubuque | November 1, 2008 12:14 AM
Despite its best efforts, having failed to impose its will on our state through either the legislature or the Supreme Court, the Roman Catholic hierarchy is now trying the "rabble rousing" route.
THEY say, "you can't trust your legislators or your judges". Let's tell them what they need to hear, "The people we can't trust are Catholic bishops and knights who can't keep their own "houses of worship" in order."
We have fine government in Conn. Let's KEEP IT THAT WAY and hand these "High priests" a resounding NO !
Posted by: Josh Smith | November 1, 2008 2:21 AM
It's hilarious to hear opponents of gay marriage say "marriage has always been between a man and a woman". Just because it's tradition doesn't mean that it should or shouldn't be changed, or that it's right or wrong. That's just how it's been for a while. Would you have been for slavery back before it was abolished because "that's how it had always been"?? Absolutely not. Please stop telling other people how to live their lives, because they might not share the same religion as you do, and, as far as they and their religions (or lack thereof) are concerned, that makes your points/quotes/etc. about God, Christianity, and the Bible invalid. Or maybe they do share the same religion, but they're from a different denomination that is friendly and open to gays (like UCC, for example). Personally, I'm a straight Libertarian, and I support freedom to do as you please, so long as you don't hurt anyone else, and some gay people getting married are definitely not going to hurt you. For all the gay people out there -- keep fighting for your rights. Justice and equality will prevail, and some day we'll look back at this and wonder how on earth some people could have been so disgustingly hateful.
Posted by: Fedupwithliberals | November 1, 2008 7:51 AM
Anyone who thinks that elected officials are accountable to their constituency need only look at our glorious mayor to see why the people have to take our government back. If you have enough money and goons to drag incompetents out to vote or supress dissent, nothing ever changes.
Posted by: Rev Ray Dubuque | November 1, 2008 4:22 PM
Are the Knights of Columbus in control of THIS BLOG?
Does one have to be a Catholic to post here? As a "protestant" clergyman I posted something unflattering to the Catholic hierarchy and my post was DELETED!
It's not enough that the Knights have a multi-million dollar budget of their own to promote the interests of the Catholic Church, which has BILLIONS at its disposal, but a poor clergyman like me can't get a word in edgewise on a supposedly "Independent blog" regarding an article about a non-Catholic clergy person's battle with the Catholic Church!!!!
Posted by: William Kurtz | November 1, 2008 11:34 PM
You're half right--the First Amendment does ensure that there will be no state-sponsored religion, but at the same time, it also protects the state against the influence of any religion, in the sense that 'religion' can be defined as a earthly, human institution.
Jefferson was a Deist; while references to what he called 'nature's god' abound in his writings; he explicitly rejected the idea that Christianity, as it was practiced by churches, could be used to guide the creation of a secular state. In fact, he even edited a version of the Bible to remove all the accounts of miracles in the life of Jesus, and keep only the moral teachings of the New Testament. And while I'm not a biblical scholar, I don't think Jesus ever speaks about homosexuality in the Bible.
The ceremonial references to 'God' in government were added well after Jefferson's time; In God We Trust, for example, doesn't appear on a coin until 1864.
I admire your integrity to your faith and willingness to maintain your beliefs, but the simple fact of the matter is, the founders of the country never intended Christian beliefs to be the basis for law in this country. The fact that 70% of Connecticut residents might think same-sex couples shouldn't be allowed to marry (and I'm just quoting that statistic from you; I haven't looked up any polls) simply has no bearing on whether the law should prohibit them from doing so.
It's also worth noting that no law anywhere requires the Catholic church to perform or recognize same-sex marriages. They're free to pursue whatever social policies they want.
Personally, I would like to see the government get out of the marriage business altogether. If marriage is so sacred, then government has no business being involved at all. How about if the government grants civil unions to any two consenting adults who want them, and the clergy of different faiths can marry whoever they see fit.
Posted by: Fedupwithliberals | November 2, 2008 6:42 AM
"I'm a straight Libertarian, and I support freedom to do as you please, so long as you don't hurt anyone else"
So, polygamy and prostitution okay with you?
Posted by: K of C Catholic | November 2, 2008 7:48 AM
Rev Dubuque, you seem to forget that the Church is not just the hierachy.
The Church is not a blind monolith of ignorant followers of the hierarchy. We are the laity, the unordained, who slog it out everyday to provide for our families and to raise our children to be faithful citizens. The call to faithful citizenship is not for us an every 4 year event.
I have never heard a priest or a bishop attack a person who is attracted to the same sex. Nor a particular candidate for office. Rather, I have heard clear teaching about compassion and to distinguish always between the person and their actions.
To align ones faith with political distinctions of conservative or liberal, misses the point of being in the world but not of the world.
It is not up to the hierarchy, but me and my sisters and brothers in the Church to work for the common good. I have chosen to associate myself with the Knights, because they provide, a tleast in my council and parish, a good environment to grow spiritually to be a better man, husband, and father, deepening my commitment to Christ and his Church.
I will VOTE YES on Question #1, not because someone told me to, but because in my conscience I must. You and others must follow what in your conscience you know to be right.
I will VOTE YES ON Question #1 for a Constitutional Convention, because I believe democracy works. The judicial activism of 4 people and ignoring of the protections provided for in the civil unions law, needs to be addressed.
Posted by: Disgruntled Democrat | November 2, 2008 7:57 AM
Homosexuality has been around longer than the three major religions. The fact that all three condemn it, rather than accept it, should make it obvious as to their respective stances on the subject. When creating the texts of their specific religions, they had the opportunity to address the issue, and have done so. Now that we have arrived, we can assume that we understand what they meant and that everyone else for the last three milennia was wrong.
The fact that many people who oppose gay marriage are happy that those non-traditional couples now have equal protection should speak volumes as to our "hate" and "discrimination" of our neighbors.
I am neither threatened nor improved by the acceptance of gay marriage. As mentioned earlier, I have family members and friends who are gay. I support their quest for equality in States unlike CT that haven't passed civil union legislation.
I have seen personally the devastation that unequal protection can cause to a couple and think that civil unions should be adopted in every state. That being said marriage will be defined as between a man and a woman until a majority says otherwise. I will vote my conscience as will you, and whatever the majority decision is, that is what I will accept. I will not accept activist judges changing what a majority of the populace, or our elected representatives, have said is state law for what they wish it to be.
I do not call you names because you do not agree with me, and do not presume to pidgeon-hole me as a discriminatory bigot because my principles differ from yours. Name calling is the typical tactic when all else fails.
I don't presume to know more than the prophets, but am certainly glad that we have some enlightened individuals on this blog who can lead us out of our ignorance into eternal bliss.
Posted by: Disgruntled Democrat | November 2, 2008 9:25 AM
If it could only be as simple as civil unions for everyone, then equality would finally be achieved. If you propose it, I will most certainly endorse it. Thanks for the great commentary and hopefully one day we all can be treated as equals and leave theology for the theologians and living our lives to the rest of us.
I'm sorry that I haven't responded to your post earlier; I very much respect your candor and your thinking on this topic, even if I still cannot accept your position.
Posted by: William Kurtz | November 2, 2008 2:42 PM
Should the convention occur, and should a provision for referendum be enacted, I wonder how hard it would be to get a referendum on whether all references to the word 'marriage' should be stricken from state law?
Posted by: robn | November 2, 2008 3:14 PM
If you'd like to deepen your committment to Christ, you could start by following his example and showing compassion for the marginalized.
TO OTHERS who insist that democracy is best served by ballot intitiatives, I ask the question, " if voters' intent has, as ou've argued, produced ineffective legislators, how is it logical that voter's intent, in a future with ballot initiatives, will produce good laws?"
Maybe its just the case that in a Republic we all have to comprimise once and a while and accept imperfect lawmaking. Speeding up the process by direct vote isn't neccesarily the answer and is definately susceptible to the corruption of slick marketing ...not to mention overheated emotion.
Posted by: Disgruntled Democrat | November 2, 2008 4:24 PM
I think that if a few of us started the initiative we soon could have a good deal of interest. There is too much division within our country to let semantics get in the way of good public policy. You can count on my support if and when the time comes.
Posted by: Disgruntled Democrat | November 2, 2008 5:23 PM
Mr. Stephen Peter Ross,
Likewise. I rather enjoy discussing important societal topics with persons such as yourself, Mr. Wurtz and others who can state their beliefs without belittling those who don't share the same views. The sharing of ideas should help create the center and eliminate the extremes that have for too long been a part of our politics and allow all of us to become more comfortable in the world we share. I personally detest radicalism, whether from the right or left, and am willing to learn from others who share dissimilar ideas than my own.
Posted by: Josh Smith | November 2, 2008 7:40 PM
Polygamy and prostitution are NOT okay with me. Polygamy hurts the multiple women (or men) involved in the relationship, as there's bound to be jealousy involved in that kind of situation. It hurts the people involved emotionally. Prostitution spreads diseases to both involved persons, and also hurts the prostitutes, the johns, and all of their families emotionally.
Therefore, I stand by my logic that you should be able to do whatever you want without hurting anyone else. Those two things you mentioned are examples of things that hurt someone, so those things should not be legal.
Oh, and hey everyone, guess what? According to his or her logic, "Fedupwithliberals" thinks polygamy and prostitution don't hurt anyone! There, how do you like a taste of your own medicine? Think before you accuse someone of something, before it blows back into your face. Now you know what it's like to have someone attack you personally just because you stated your opinion. Now imagine what it feels like when you sign your real name to your opinion, and you'll know how it feels when you do it to me.
Posted by: Rev Ray Dubuque | November 2, 2008 10:24 PM
K of C Catholic,
You are right that "The Church is not a blind monolith of ignorant followers of the hierarchy."
But that doesn't mean the hierarchy doesn't do its best to influence as many of its more docile sheep to vote as they would have them vote, i.e. for Republicans who share their conservative views rather than for liberal Democrats who don't.
You say, "I have never heard a priest or a bishop attack a person who is attracted to the same sex." I'm sure no Catholic bishop instructed the faithful in Germany to gas as many of their Jewish neighbors as possible. But after preaching contempt for the Jews for 15 centuries, that is what Catholics did. The hierarchy didn't like the way Hitler treated the church one he became a dictator, but one reason they didn't oppose him more strenuously early on is that like so many other of his fellow conservative Catholics, he shared the church's contempt for Jews, for homosexuals, and for women who had abortions.
Would you deny that the "conscience" you are following as a member of the K.of C. has been formed by your church's leaders???
There are more Catholic dollars in this whole Question 1 campaign than any others. Why are the hierarchy hiding their involvement behind names with no hint of their involvement?
Posted by: MissMooreen | November 3, 2008 2:42 AM
The single largest provider of HealthCare and Social Services in this state is the Catholic Church.
Yes, Jesus find room for everyone. He forgave the sinners.
Really, NED. Mafia,homophobes et al. You just sling all the mud and crap you can think of to see what sticks.
As a divorcee Irish American woman, who cannot join the fraternal order of the Knights, they darn well better live up to the moral obligations to the widows and orphans as Fr. McGivney invisioned over a 100 years ago.
Jesus set let nothing come between the man and his wife. Certainly during the Greco-Roman era there was knowledge about homosexuality. That particular concept of sexuality does not predate all three major religions.
You may PROTEST all you like but the RC Church is not based on consensus. There were certain laws that were handed down from GOD himself.
The Bible states that God created Man - Adam and then he took a rib and fashioned Eve. And every man who has walked on this earth since Adam has had a MOTHER.
Posted by: Deuce | November 3, 2008 8:27 AM
Even the liberal messiah is against gay marriage:
Posted by: Fedupwithliberals | November 3, 2008 8:32 AM
"Polygamy hurts the multiple women (or men) involved in the relationship, as there's bound to be jealousy involved in that kind of situation."
You are imparting your own biases into a polygamist relationship which is a choice that people make of their own free will. I'd refer you to the Eldorado TX story this past year where all parties happily returned to their family units after having been raided and traumatized by jackbooted thugs based on trumped up bogus information. Those families seemed very happy, much like children who were adopted into gay families. And I think that there are jealousies even in conventional heterosexual and gay relationships as well.
"Prostitution spreads diseases to both involved persons, and also hurts the prostitutes, the johns, and all of their families emotionally."
Don't know about you, but I think that homosexual fueled AIDS has killed more people and disrupted more lives than heterosexual sex transactions. And most if the STDs are curable. So I think that my logic stands up to your blind acceptance of certain liberal lifestyles.
A lifestyle choice is a lifestyle choice be it homosexuality, supporting yourself in the sex trade or polygamy.
Posted by: K of C Catholic | November 3, 2008 12:24 PM
The freedom of religion clause of the US Constitution, is, as the founders saw it, not just freedom from imposing religion on others, but that religion is free to participate in the public square. (Curious to note that the only official religion in CT was the Congregational Church, until the 1845, when the constitution was reformed.)
Catholics offer their faith experience for the common good. Why we would not advocate for our positions as others do for theirs? Whether it is on the question marriage, welfare, abortion access to minors without parental consent, death penalty, the economy, war (remember those letters of the US Bishops), as well as a host of other issues, all have a singular underpinning, the dignity of the human person. To be faithful citizens, we must follow a consistent ethic of life.
My Catholic faith is mine. Yes the Bible, Apostolic tradition of the Church, teaching of bishops, theologians, science, my personal experience of life, play a role, but in the end I am the one responsible and accountable to God for my words, actions, and omissions.
You may be surprised to know that I am democrat. It is a question of conscience for me of who I will vote for. But it will not be because someone told me to vote for a particular candidate. Mr. Anderson has been very forthright about the position of the Knights in the aspect of life. But the bishops, as a whole, have cautioned against single issue voting.
As Miss Mooreen stated, the Catholic Church is the larger provider of health and social services in the state. But I also believe that we will not end poverty and the lack of Health Care, if we do not vigorously defend life and the most vulnerable. Who is more vulnerable than a baby in its mother's womb? The widow, orphan, elderly, and immigrant are all at risk. But charity is not simply feeding the poor, but to ask why they do not have enough food? Why must some have such an abundance, while others have so little.
Miss Mooreen correctly points out that what we Catholics believe and act upon, are not simple whims but are of divine command to love God and neighbor.
IN GOOD CONSCIENCE, I WILL VOTE YES ON QUESTION #1.
IN GOOD CONSCIENCE I WILL VOTE YES FOR DEMOCRACY.
IN GOOD CONSCIENCE I WILL VOTE YES FOR THE COMMON GOOD.
From the very article you cite:
'I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that's not what America's about."
"Usually, our constitutions expand liberties, they don't contract them," [Obama]added.'
Come on, man. He's making the same god-damned point.
As for Obama: he's a politician, a centrist, and his stance on gay marriage is flawed.
But it's not as flawed as McCain's or Palin's.
"The sharing of ideas should help create the center and eliminate the extremes that have for too long been a part of our politics and allow all of us to become more comfortable in the world we share."
If we were to meet, DD, I'm certain you'd find my personal views extreme (I find liberals and democrats to be too far right for my tastes), but I vehemently agree with the quote I pulled from your response. While these boards elicit some great commentary, they also highlight a serious lack of decorum, tact, and temperance. Despite this, NHI is a great step in the right direction! (no pun intended.)
Posted by: Bill | November 3, 2008 1:43 PM
There was a Connecticut constitutional convention in 1965. This is another process in place to change the constitution just as the founding fathers created more than 1 way to change the US constitution.
The more democracy the better.
Vote YES for democracy!
Posted by: JMS | November 3, 2008 10:38 PM
(Warning... very long run-on sentence alert)
Anyone who attmepts to apply anything they have read in an old crusty book about a bunch of dudes who did unto eachother on thing or another... or heard about it in a big room with row seating and fancy colored windows from a dude in a dress and a funny hat... anyone who actually attempts to apply this stuff to the lives of others who choose NOT to participate in their particular flavor of idol worship needs to back away from politics and remember to keep that stuff to themselves. I don't have a problem with any of it... just keep it to yourselves.
Freedom FROM religion trumps freedom OF religion ALL DAY LONG. This is the very essence of America. It is the foundation upon which our country was created.
I mean evolved.
(Scopes Monkey Trial humor)
PS. VOTE FRIGGIN' NO!!!!!!!!
Posted by: Deuce | November 4, 2008 8:27 AM
JMS, be happy you didn't live in New Haven in 1640.
"By 1640, the town's theocratic government and nine square grid plan were in place...At the time, the New Haven Colony was separate from the Connecticut Colony which had been established to the north focusing on Hartford. One of the principal differences between the two colonies was that the New Haven colony was an intolerant theocracy that did not permit other churches to be established while the Connecticut colony permitted the establishment of other churches".
I'm voting YES by the way, and I hate religion.
Posted by: JMS | November 4, 2008 4:48 PM
Good for you.
Good thing we have moved past these issues of religious intolerance. I'm very happy I didn't live in New Haven in the 1640's... I would probably have been burned at the stake a dozen times over. But I am very happy to have grown up here and live here in 2008.
Can I ask... if you "hate religion" are you not at least a little leary of all the bible thumping support for your "yes" vote? Whatever your logic or motivation may be... ironically you are in good company of those you claim to disagree with.
Posted by: Ned | November 4, 2008 8:35 PM
If only "we [had] moved past these issues of religious intolerance". Why should anyone have to "tolerate" some church or religious fanatic [or in some way, even worse - a religious "moderate", aka "enablers"], interfering in one's personal affairs? If I wanted the Catholic church or the Taliban to run my life, I'd become Catholic or Moslem. Henry the VIII didn't need the Pope's permission to marry and neither should anyone else.
Posted by: JMS | November 5, 2008 9:07 AM
Thank god THAT's over.
Posted by: Josh Smith | November 5, 2008 7:22 PM
I have a feeling we're going to see a lot of people moving here from California if Prop. 8 isn't struck down by the justice system over there as being an illegally-added piece of their state constitution. Maybe they'll move to New Haven, where a good number of us are tolerant of different beliefs and ways of life.
Posted by: William Kurtz | November 6, 2008 11:38 AM
Perhaps this could be Connecticut's chance to reverse the brain drain?
Combine that with that new tax incentive for film companies and we could be the Hollywood of the East.
Posted by: Josh Smith | November 7, 2008 7:25 AM
Think of how long the Knights of Columbus could have funded the New Haven homeless shelters with $1.4 million. Think about how much they could have fed starving people, or how many school supplies they could have purchased for local children.
Instead, they blew it on a campaign in California to make gay peoples' lives miserable. So much for "love thy neighbor" and "do unto others..." I'll make sure the K of C never sees a dime of my money if they're just going to waste it on discrimination/hate campaigns.
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