Friday, April 07, 2017
Alabama Set to Outlaw Marriage Licenses: 'The State Does Not Make Things Sacred'
An Alabama state senator who introduced a bill to outlaw marriage licenses said his proposal would solve the predicament of civil servants like Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who went to jail after refusing to sign a marriage license for a homosexual couple, despite the Supreme Court's legalization of gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. His bill would solve this problem by drawing a clear line between sacred solemnization of marriage and the state's legal recognition of it.
"It's my belief that the state cannot make any kind of contract sacred," state Senator Greg Albritton (R., Baldwin County) told PJ Media in an interview on Thursday. "That's not its place, that's not its purpose. It doesn't have that religious authority to make something sacred, but it can make it binding for the purpose of the parties."
Albritton's bill (S.B. 20) passed the state Senate in early March. He said his goal is to resolve a judicial controversy. Eight Alabama counties have refused to issue marriage licenses since the Obergefell decision in June 2015, due to concerns the clerks would be forced to violate their consciences by endorsing homosexual marriages.
"We get this passed, everyone in the state will be able to take care of their business," Albritton said. S.B. 20 would "eliminate the need for the ceremony and the signing of the minister," streamlining the process of getting married legally. All a couple would need to do is sign and notarize a document affirming their legal ability to get married, and the state would merely record it as a marriage.
"Sign it, notarize it, record it, you're done," the senator said. "The state would not be making the decision on who could or could not be married any longer."
This bill would reverse a legal process set up by Jim Crow laws, whereby probate judges can decide whether or not to issue marriage licenses. "Right now the law states that a probate judge may issue a license, but there's no requirement that they issue a license at all," Albritton explained. "Under my bill, they don't have an option."
But the fact that the judges don't have an option would free civil servants in Kim Davis's position. "It would remove her from that threat, real or perceived, of violating her principles, because this is no longer a matter of her approving someone getting married," the senator said. "All she's doing is recording the act that has occurred, that is outside her authority."
"Frankly, all of the judges in the state that I am aware of, who are in the similar position as Miss Davis, all feel that this would resolve their issues completely," Albritton added.
By eliminating the judges' freedom to endorse or oppose a marriage, the bill would separate the sacred celebration of a wedding from the official state recognition of a legal partnership.
"We don't need to have a state authority solemnize or make a religious ceremony of a state function," Albritton said. "We have come to a sense now that marriage is defined by the state as a contract, and yet religious ceremonies and religious teachings are different." Marriage is fundamentally "a religious rite, a sacred covenant," not a mere contract. "Those two do not go hand-in-hand and have not for some time."
S.B. 20 "makes that break clean." The bill "allows religious authorities to conduct marriages as they see fit, and allows the state to recognize marriages when they are established."
Some have attacked his bill, suggesting that the law would get rid of documentation for a marriage. The senator explained that this is a misunderstanding of what the bill would actually do. In practical terms, very little would actually change.
There would still be a fee, but it becomes a "recording fee" instead of a "licensing fee." Couples would still receive a marriage document, but it would not be a "license" but rather a "record." Even marriage licenses under current law are limited to a 30-day period, after which a marriage is either recorded by the state or voided. After the state records a marriage, the document in question technically ceases to be a license (which gives state sanction for an action) and becomes a record of what happened.
Furthermore, this bill would also free up judges' time and save taxpayer money. "The probate judge office will be less taxed in this regard," Albritton explained. S.B. 20 "will eliminate the need for an additional clerk because there won't be any need for that additional step."
The state senator told PJ Media he fully expects S.B. 20 to pass the House of Representatives and to become settled Alabama law. This is the fourth time Albritton has introduced this bill since a federal judge struck down an Alabama law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, in early 2015, World magazine reported. Each bill has passed the Senate but failed in the House.
During a special session in September 2015, the bill came up for a vote in the House, and a majority of members voted for it, but the measure failed because it did not pass the two-thirds threshold required to pass in the special session. Albritton told PJ Media he expects the bill to come before the House in a regular session and become law.
The major hurdle at the moment? Impeachment proceedings. S.B. 20 is in the House Judiciary Committee, the same committee tasked with handling the impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley. When it comes to the governor, the state senator told PJ Media that "politics has destroyed his life."
While S.B. 20 would protect the religious freedom of probate judges, Albritton explained that he refused to put religious liberty language into the bill because that would make it needlessly provocative. "All it does is create chaos and combativeness," and that's why similar legislation in states like Oklahoma and Michigan have failed. "I'm trying to take a less inflammatory methodology of accomplishing something that we need."
The real question is, will the House Judiciary Committee agree that Alabama needs this bill more than it needs to impeach its governor?
In the Wake of the Westminister Bridge Attack, What the Mice of Gough Island Can Teach Us About Islam
The British-built de Havilland Comet was the world's first commercial jetliner, placed in service in 1949. But in the early 1950s, several of the planes crashed. To prevent further loss of life, the fleet was grounded to identify the problem's source and correct it.
The ultimate cause was attributed to a design flaw-the square-cut windows led to fatigue cracks in the airframe. Resolving the problem required installing an oval-shaped window replacement.
By accurately identifying and addressing the problem source, air travel once again was made safe for Brits.
But today, another problem makes Britain unsafe for its citizens. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of a March 23 terrorist attack on Westminister Bridge, in which a Muslim jihadist ploughed a vehicle into a crowd of pedestrians, Britain's leadership refuses to identify the cause of the problem in order to appropriately resolve it.
In an exchange in Parliament after the attack, Conservative MP Michael Tomlinson naively asked Prime Minister Theresa May, "It is reported that what happened yesterday was an act of ‘Islamic terror.' Will the Prime Minister agree with me that what happened was not Islamic, just as the murder of Airey Neave was not Christian, and that in fact both are perversions of religion?"
As disturbing as Tomlinson's question was, May's response was even more so, saying, "I absolutely agree, and it is wrong to describe this as ‘Islamic terrorism;' it is ‘Islamist terrorism;' it is a perversion of a great faith." Playing semantics, she ignored a chilling reality about Islam.
As these terrorist acts only involved one or two Muslim attackers, the Brits, as do many Western authorities, sought to dismiss any linkage to Islam as the source of the perpetrator's motivation. Instead, they chose to identify an attacker as a "lone wolf" perverting the religion or claiming the terrorist's motivation may never be known-which was done in this most recent case.
Such dismissal of the motivational rationale is disingenuous. It promotes a naïve belief-i.e., Islam is not violent, therefore, any Muslim resorting to violence must not be one. But this ignores Islam's long historical record of violence.
Proponents of peaceful Islam fail to ask critical questions:
If Islam is peaceful and if those acting violently in its name pervert it, why has Islam experienced a 1400-year storied past of brutal violence? Should not such a history of Islam cause non-Muslims concern something inherently is wrong with the religion?
Is it not logical, therefore, non-Muslims be concerned Islam has existed for a thousand plus years and continues to exist as a burning ember, igniting generations of followers into action believing they rightly and justly are doing what the Quran mandates they do-impose their religion upon all others, using force if necessary?
What is incredulous is Western blindness, created by an era of outrageous political correctness, in failing to do what was done over six decades ago to save passenger lives in the aviation industry by identifying a problem and then acting to resolve it.
The danger today is we refuse appropriately to challenge an ideology promoting hatred, intolerance and violence, simply because it is packaged as a religion. How many "lone wolf" attacks by Muslims must we witness before reason dictates we acknowledge a pattern exists, linking such acts to Islam? Reason dictates, based upon Islam's 1400-year history of violence, we conclude we are not talking about a perversion of Islam causing terrorism-but about Islam itself.
Sadly, many of those declaring Islam peaceful have failed even to read the Quran to verify, for themselves, it is as they preach. Ironically, they simply give Islam a free pass, as an established religion, to co-exist with all other religions. But they fail to understand religious co-existence is not on Islam's mind. As the Westminister Bridge attacker and those before him represent, Islam's mandate is domination.
Those accepting Islam as peaceful do other religions a grave injustice. By failing to read the Quran, non-Muslims fail to grasp Islam's reality-i.e., our very existence is contrary to theirs with the Quran mandating their religion alone survive. It is an end to be imposed by force by Muslims if not embraced voluntarily by non-believers.
There is an uninhabited island, Gough, located in the South Atlantic Ocean, that has been a breeding ground for the albatross for centuries. The bird population has thrived, never knowing predators. This changed recently.
Several years ago, mice-possibly from a passing ship-made their way to the island. They now thrive by feasting upon albatross chicks. Amazingly, conservationists report, the mice attack live chicks-outweighing them 250 fold-while the chicks' parents do nothing to fend them off.
Environmentalists claim the parents are "ecologically naïve"-i.e., having never known predators before, they simply are blind to a threat to their very existence standing right before them. As a result, concerns exist, over time, the albatross may become endangered.
The question we need consider is whether democracy eventually will go the way of the albatross as a generation of Western parents, ecologically naïve about Islam's threat to their existence, fail to save their own "chicks."
Is Profiling OK?
By Walter E. Williams
Profiling is needlessly a misunderstood concept. What's called profiling is part of the optimal stock of human behavior and something we all do. Let's begin by describing behavior that might come under the heading of profiling.
Prior to making decisions, people seek to gain information. To obtain information is costly, requiring the expenditure of time and/or money. Therefore, people seek to find ways to economize on information costs. Let's try simple examples.
You are a manager of a furniture moving company and seek to hire 10 people to load and unload furniture onto and off trucks. Twenty people show up for the job, and they all appear to be equal except by sex. Ten are men, and 10 are women. Whom would you hire? You might give them all tests to determine how much weight they could carry under various conditions, such as inclines and declines, and the speed at which they could carry. To conduct such tests might be costly. Such costs could be avoided through profiling — that is, using an easily observable physical attribute, such as a person's sex, as a proxy for unobserved attributes, such as endurance and strength. Though sex is not a perfect predictor of strength and endurance, it's pretty reliable.
Imagine that you're a chief of police. There has been a rash of auto break-ins by which electronic equipment has been stolen. You're trying to capture the culprits. Would you have your officers stake out and investigate residents of senior citizen homes? What about spending resources investigating men and women 50 years of age or older? I'm guessing there would be greater success capturing the culprits by focusing police resources on younger people — and particularly young men. The reason is that breaking in to autos is mostly a young man's game. Should charges be brought against you because, as police chief, you used the physical attributes of age and sex as a crime tool? Would it be fair for people to accuse you of playing favorites by not using investigative resources on seniors and middle-aged adults of either sex even though there is a non-zero chance that they are among the culprits?
Physicians routinely screen women for breast cancer and do not routinely screen men. The American Cancer Society says that the lifetime risk of men getting breast cancer is about 0.1 percent. Should doctors and medical insurance companies be prosecuted for the discriminatory practice of prescribing routine breast cancer screening for women but not for men?
Some racial and ethnic groups have higher incidence and mortality from various diseases than the national average. The rates of death from cardiovascular diseases are about 30 percent higher among black adults than among white adults. Cervical cancer rates are five times greater among Vietnamese women in the U.S. than among white women. Pima Indians of Arizona have the world's highest known diabetes rates. Prostate cancer is nearly twice as common among black men as it is among white men. Using a cheap-to-observe attribute, such as race, as a proxy for a costly-to-observe attribute, such as the probability of some disease, can assist medical providers in the delivery of more effective medical services. For example, just knowing that a patient is a black man causes a physician to be alert to the prospect of prostate cancer. The unintelligent might call this racial profiling, but it's really prostate cancer profiling.
In the real world, there are many attributes correlated with race and sex. Jews are 3 percent of the U.S. population but 35 percent of our Nobel Prize winners. Blacks are 13 percent of our population but about 74 percent of professional basketball players and about 69 percent of professional football players. Male geniuses outnumber female geniuses 7-to-1. Women have wider peripheral vision than men. Men have better distance vision than women.
The bottom line is that people differ significantly by race and sex. Just knowing the race or sex of an individual may on occasion allow us to guess about something not readily observed.
Beware the barge of bullies trumpeting diversity
Comment from Glenn Davies, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney. Sydney diocese stays close to scripture and flourishes as a result
There is only one upside from the recent attacks and unprecedented abuse directed at an academic and the directors of Christian organisations: people are beginning to wake up and take notice. They are starting to understand that the campaign for same-sex marriage is not sailing on a raft of rainbows but on a barge of bullies.
Last week there was the IBM executive whose position was questioned because he was a director of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute. He was the subject of attack in his previous employment as well.
Then there was the Christian academic who had not even entered the same-sex marriage debate, whose university was pressured over his employment which, it was claimed, conflicted with its membership in the so-called Pride in Diversity campaign. What kind of diversity is so monochrome that it does not allow differing expressions of opinion in the debate?
Not only has this minority view tried to swamp the public debate with its introspective, authoritarian denial of free speech, it has struck at the heart of Australian democracy and the freedoms that we all cherish.
This narrow-minded, freedom-restricting carping is what the same-sex marriage campaign has come to. At the beginning, the promise seemed to be innocent enough — change one word in the marriage legislation and there would be equality for all. Now, as people start to digest the magnitude of such a social change and the ramifications that would follow for families and the rest of the community when marriage is cut adrift from the significance of gender distinctiveness (the Safe Schools Coalition program is only one of these side effects), other voices are starting to speak up.
But, just as quickly, they are shut down in the name of diversity. I was one of the Christian leaders who convened a meeting of church leaders in Sydney last year, to be held at the Mercure Hotel. No sooner had we set the venue than staff were subjected to an ugly campaign of harassment and threats.
For the safety of staff and guests, the hotel cancelled the booking. Were we not harangued by political leaders opposed to a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, that such a debate would incite hate speech from those defending the traditional definition of marriage? Yet this has not happened. On the contrary, it is those who have been frustrated by the government’s determination to adhere to its election policy to allow the citizens to have their say who have taken the opportunity to harangue, marginalise and ostracise those who do not support a society where gender is interchangeable.
Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous was taken to the brink in Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Tribunal for espousing views on marriage that accord with Australian law, let alone being the view of his church, as well as all churches and that which civilisations have held for millennia. The avant-garde opponents of these time-honoured mores had hoped to silence him.
What kind of a society calls someone before a tribunal because they are defending the law of the land? What kind of state legislation allows such a travesty of justice to occur? Has our society been that deprived of common sense and love of freedom that a carefully articulated defence of commonwealth legislation can be deemed offensive merely because someone wants the law changed and is offended because their views are at odds with the current law?
It was revealed this week that the real fear on this issue is not “homophobia”, which has become a slur against those who hold a different view from this regressive minority, but “plebiphobia”, fear of the people: the fear that a popular vote may be lost.
Now the corporate world has been press-ganged into that same cause. It is a regrettable state of affairs that executives of some the large public companies have been too weak-kneed to resist the attacks of a strident minority via social media platforms. The way it has been presented is “diversity”.
Just a quick look through the diversity policies of the companies that wrote to the Prime Minister on same-sex marriage recently shows focus on gender, cultural background, disability and sexual orientation. Spot the gap: faith. Such a large part of the lives of millions in our multi-faith country is nowhere to be seen.
This contrasts sharply with the US. In a 2015 survey, 36 per cent of US workers reported experiencing or witnessing workplace religious discrimination. In response, many US companies have signed up to the Corporate Pledge in Support of Freedom of Religion or Belief.
In what kind of “diversity” do we as Australians really believe? I want to live in a land that respects the individual, that allows freedom of expression and freedom of faith. I want to be able to be free to convince my fellow Australians that Jesus Christ is Lord of all creation and that true freedom is only to be found in him. I also want to live in a land where others can contradict my views and espouse their own beliefs without fear of persecution or intimidation. That is true diversity. That is true freedom of speech and freedom of religion of which we ought to be justly proud and that I would happily defend with my life.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.