‘Erotic liberty vs. religious liberty’? Not hardly

For a year now, state Sen. Josh McKoon and other supporters of a so-called “religious liberty” bill in the Georgia Legislature have insisted that it had nothing whatsoever to do with gay rights or gay marriage. Nor was it intended in any way to provide legal protection for discrimination against gay people. As they framed it, the issues simply weren’t related.

Strategically speaking, that was the wise approach. Times have changed, even in Georgia, and legislation perceived as anti-gay would have a much harder time being enacted into law today than a decade ago. But to be fair, it was more than that. McKoon has always struck me as an honest person, so when he told me that in his mind at least the bill had nothing to do with gay rights, I believed that’s the way he saw it.

But in the course of a few minutes this morning, McKoon’s whole approach was rendered null and void. The battle lines were drawn on the bill, clearly and publicly, and I don’t think there’s any way now to redraw them.

The Rev. Bryant Wright (AJC file photo, 2010)

The Rev. Bryant Wright (AJC file photo, 2010)

The agent of that change was the Rev. Bryant Wright of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, who was asked to deliver the devotional message this morning as the state House opened its session. Most members of the clergy honor that duty as apolitical, nonpartisan and nondenominational, but Wright took another course. The former president of the Southern Baptist Convention raised the issue of gay marriage in his sermon, warning legislators that they were going to have to choose between religious liberty and what he called “erotic liberty” and urging them to take the side of religious liberty.

Let’s deal first with that term “erotic liberty,” because it’s a clever little phrase that’s intended to disguise what’s really at stake. It takes the lifelong emotional, romantic, legal, social, spiritual and yes erotic commitment of marriage to the person whom you love, and in the case of gay marriage it attempts to reduce it to the question of how you’re going to get your jollies, so to speak. In short, there’s a whole lot of bigotry smuggled into those two simple words.

The novel formulation of erotic liberty vs. religious liberty apparently comes from the Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In an essay published last month on a seminary website, Mohler warned his readers of a rising conflict between liberties, a conflict that he said “will prioritize erotic liberty over religious liberty.”

“Over the course of the last several decades, we have seen this revolution coming,” Mohler writes. “Erotic liberty has been elevated as a right more fundamental than religious liberty. Erotic liberty, foreign to the founders of this nation, now marginalizes, subverts, and neutralizes religious liberty — a liberty highly prized by the builders of this nation and its constitutional order…. A liberty that did not even exist when the Constitution was written now supersedes protections that are explicit in the Constitution.”

I think Mohler’s wrong when he says that “erotic liberty,” as he calls it, did not exist when the Constitution was written. He’s wrong for reasons that he himself acknowledges in his essay. “We must remember,” he says, “that the framers of the Constitution did not believe they were creating rights within the Constitution, but rather acknowledging rights given to all humanity by ‘nature and nature’s God’.”

That’s right: The government does not create natural rights, nor does the Constitution. Natural rights existed prior to and independent of government. That’s why, in the Declaration of Independence, the founders wrote that “all men … are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It’s also why, in the Ninth Amendment, they made sure to point out that the listing of rights in the Bill of Rights did not in any way undermine the many other rights that human beings enjoy just by virtue of being human beings. Again, government does not create natural rights; it can only acknowledge and attempt to protect them.

So while the Bill of Rights did not say that we could marry whom we choose and love whom we choose, without discrimination, we have that right anyway. And as far back as 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court foreshadowed these arguments when it concluded that “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

The case in question was Loving v. Virginia, in which the court threw out state laws that made it illegal for black people and white people to marry. And although it’s convenient for some to forget it nowadays, religion played a prominent role in justifying and perpetuating that hateful law, as well as the bigotry behind it.
As a man named Leon Bazile wrote back then:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

And who was Leon Bazile? He was the Virginia judge who convicted Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter, sentencing them to a year in jail but suspending the sentence as long as they left the commonwealth of Virginia immediately. They would have to practice their “erotic liberty,” their defiance of the natural order as ordained by God, somewhere else.

loving

In his 1965 decision, Judge Leon Bazile of Virginia declared it the intent of God that races not be allowed to mix in marriage.

 

Reader Comments 0

454 comments
junebug2
junebug2

Sorry Professor Bookman.  In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court properly held that interracial marriage was constitutionally protected.  The Reconstruction Amendments to the Constitution plainly forbade racial discrimination, including laws against interracial marriage.  It is absurd to argue, based on Loving, that the Constitution now requires that the male-female definition of marriage be overturned.  Allowing interracial marriage did not redefine the institution, as advocates of same-sex marriage now argue.

BigTimeJacketFan
BigTimeJacketFan

So now Jay delivers a legal opinion.  When did you pass the bar, Jay?


Sorry, Jay, but I would regard a grocery shopping list from you as of dubious literary value, given your "body of work".


This ongoing glorification of sin by the homosexual community will continue to cause and exacerbate many problems in our society.  God help us, please.

coj
coj

It's "erotic liberty" vs "religious tyranny." Religious liberty is code for: heterosexuals go to heaven, homosexuals go to hell.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Plumb Krazy: "Natural selection would eliminate  homosexuality as they have no natural purpose except lust of the flesh. "


First:  Since there are homosexuals all over the place, generally begotten by heterosexuals, it seems the premise that evolution has not eliminated homosexuality.  

Alas, this makes your conclusion suspect as well.  Although "lust of the flesh" is not restricted to homosexuals, it's actually pretty universal. 

kayaker71
kayaker71

Marriage  between two people is more of a a contractual experience than a religious one.  Just wait until the divorce where you show up in court to hash it out.  Not much religion involved in that, I can assure you.  And as long as gays are willing to accept the contractual part and abide by state law regarding the conditions of that contract, no one should have a say in that decision except the players. 

ByteMe
ByteMe

@kayaker71 Just wait until the divorce where you show up in court to hash it out.  Not much religion involved in that, I can assure you. 

Lotta abusing God's name, though.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@LeftisnotRight Probably the same, but maybe someone with more experience with Islam can answer this more fully. 

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

"warning legislators that they were going to have to choose between religious liberty and what he called “erotic liberty” and urging them to take the side of religious liberty."


(not sure if this has been mentioned yet)


If an Islamic Imam said the exact same thing, how many conservatives would be railing against accepting enshrining sharia law in this state? 


tireOfIt
tireOfIt

Not considering other people and their rights and beliefs at all is a key attribute of a "good Christian".

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

There's nothing in the Constitution that stipulates the right of sexual gratification or for that matter the right to marry. Same sex marriage should be a matter for the states to determine by a vote of the people without the intervention of activist non-elected federal judges. Its been long overdue for the Supremes to take up this issue and render a decision. Meanwhile if a theologian or anyone expresses their view on same sex marriage from a Biblical perspective so be it because there is this thing called free speech, which is in the Constitution. 

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Doggone_GA @Recon2/3 "There's nothing in the Constitution that stipulates the right of sexual gratification or for that matter the right to marry."


Wrong.  Reread.


Unenumerated rights.


The Constitution's not a list of what rights we have; it's a limiting document that spells out the powers that We, The People will allow the government to use in our name.


There's nothing in there giving government authority of marriage, so your argument's out the window.  Pumpkin.


Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@Tuna Meowt @Doggone_GA @Recon2/3 "There's nothing in there giving government authority of marriage, so your argument's out the window.  Pumpki"

That's not strictly correct.  Marriage is a legal contract and the government does have an abiding interest in the regulation of contracts.

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

@Tuna Meowt @Recon2/3 

No...I'll leave it to the Supreme court and the constitutional lawyers to argue. I don't believe you fit into either of those two categories. 

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@Tuna Meowt @Doggone_GA @Recon2/3 I never said anything about prohibition...I was addressing your statement that "There's nothing in there giving government authority of marriage" 

That is incorrect.  The government does have the authority of marriage, BECAUSE marriage is a legal contract.

But to address "prohibiting"...yes the government can do that too...if there is good and sufficient societal reasons.  For instance, and I don't know if this is still true, but for a long time people with incompatible blood types could not marry because of the danger to any future pregnancies.

HDB0329
HDB0329

@Tuna Meowt @Doggone_GA @Recon2/3 "There's nothing in there giving government authority of marriage, so your argument's out the window."......actually, you're wrong! Government states that a marriage contract performed in one state must be recognized by ALL 50 states.....and government states that ALL marriages performed in nations that the US RECOGNIZES via TREATY must be recognized by the US!!


(...from wiki...)

Currently 24 of the 50 countries and 4 of the 6 dependent territories in Europe recognize some type of same-sex unions, among them a majority of members of the European Union. Eleven European countries legally recognize same-sex marriage, namely Belgium,Denmark, FranceIcelandLuxembourg, the Netherlands, NorwayPortugalSpain,Sweden and the United Kingdom......


...and I think the US recognizes the preponderance of these nations via treaty...particularly the NATO ALLIANCE treaty.......

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

@Tuna Meowt @Recon2/3 

Well since its been argued in the federal courts and now the Supremes are weighing the possibility of hearing it I would guess that your interpretation of Constitutional law and those who actually practice it differs at least in this area.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Doggone_GA @Tuna Meowt @Recon2/3 "I never said anything about prohibition...I was addressing your statement that "There's nothing in there giving government authority of marriage" 


Scout is clearly equating regulation with prohibition, but legally speaking, they're not the same.  Power to regulate does not legally imply the power to prohibit.


And as far as there being societal reasons, that's irrelevant when the only reason being *advanced* is 'because it offends my religion.'


LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Recon2/3 " Same sex marriage should be a matter for the states to determine"


Well, Federal forms need to be updated too. So, it's a Federal matter, and equality under the law means that one state MUST recognize contracts (such as marriage contracts) from another state. 


States having different rules for marriage is not the way for this country to run smoothly.  Gay marriage will happen, just like interracial marriage happened.  

pt10101
pt10101

It sounds like someone is trying to justify a lack of something. Something sexual perhaps.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Recon2/3 @Tuna Meowt "Well since its been argued in the federal courts and now the Supremes are weighing the possibility of hearing it I would guess that your interpretation of Constitutional law and those who actually practice it differs at least in this area."


Actually, not at all.


The SCOTUS would be deciding that Separate But Equal question at the Federal level.  And just as I've indicated, Separate But Equal's already been found unconsitutional.


The only question now is how much of a legal pretzel Justice Scalia's going to tie himself into trying to evade Stare Decisis (a previous decision) and argue against Separate But Equal.


Recon2/3
Recon2/3

@Tuna Meowt @Recon2/3 

Like I said I'll await the experts. No personal offense intended but blog lawyers are a dime a dozen on here, however opinions are acceptable.

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

@Tuna Meowt @Recon2/3 

I'm sure that Dr. Wright isn't the least bit concerned with the intolerance of those who dislike his religious beliefs.

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

@ByteMe @Recon2/3 

Mostly as a result of non-elected activist judges that overturned the vote by the people. That's why it should be heard by the SCOTUS, which hasn't heard arguments therefore it isn't decided. Maybe you're unaware of where the case actually stands. If I enlightened you no thanks is necessary.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Recon2/3 " Same sex marriage should be a matter for the states to determine by a vote of the people without the intervention of activist non-elected federal judges."


Wrong.  That's called "Separate But Equal," and that's been found unconstitutional by the SCOTUS.


If you want marriages to be something that states can selectively permit or deny, then let's put ALL marriages up for individual vote.  Nobody can get married unless and until the population of the state says they can.


That work for you?


Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Recon2/3 @Tuna Meowt Like I said, write my opinion down.


Blog lawyers certainly are a dime a dozen, but you won't find many who have *taught* the subject under discussion.


Paul42
Paul42

@Recon2/3

You missed the whole "natural rights" section of Jay's essay?


ByteMe
ByteMe

@Recon2/3 And thankfully, not for you to decide.  Turns out the Supremes have already decided or haven't you noticed that gay marriage is the law in 36 states now?

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Doggone_GA @Tuna Meowt @Recon2/3 "That's not strictly correct.  Marriage is a legal contract and the government does have an abiding interest in the regulation of contracts."


Regulation of.  Not *prohibition* of.


Insert quarter, try again.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Recon2/3 @Tuna Meowt @Doggone_GA "You're correct pumpkin and that's precisely why it's a state issue to be decided through a vote by the people."


Nope.  There's no overriding state interest, so it's a matter for the people themselves to decide.


As the Constitution itself says, those powers not granted to the Federal government are reserved to THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES, or to the States.


So convince me that the state should have *any* say whatsoever in who someone can marry, Pumpkin.


Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Recon2/3 @Tuna Meowt "No...I'll leave it to the Supreme court and the constitutional lawyers to argue."


They already have, and have settled the matter.  You can't have separate but equal justice in this country.


"I don't believe you fit into either of those two categories."


Actually, I did teach Constitutional Law for a while, so don't be too sure of yourself, Pumpkin.


Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Recon2/3 "Meanwhile if a theologian or anyone expresses their view on same sex marriage from a Biblical perspective so be it because there is this thing called free speech, which is in the Constitution."


Said theologian can say what he wants all day long.


Doesn't mean he's going to get it or that he's going to escape criticism for it.


coj
coj

@Recon2/3 @Tuna Meowt Of course he thinks that If his beliefs infringes on my rights, you're darn tootin', he wouldn't be concerned. That is what religious "intolerance" means, infringing on the rights of people who are not part of their religion.

Paul42
Paul42

@Recon2/3

Oh, okay...  I'll point it out for you:

"The government does not create natural rights, nor does the Constitution. Natural rights existed prior to and independent of government. That’s why, in the Declaration of Independence, the founders wrote that “all men … are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It’s also why, in the Ninth Amendment, they made sure to point out that the listing of rights in the Bill of Rights did not in any way undermine the many other rights that human beings enjoy just by virtue of being human beings. Again, government does not create natural rights; it can only acknowledge and attempt to protect them.

So while the Bill of Rights did not say that we could marry whom we choose and love whom we choose, without discrimination, we have that right anyway. And as far back as 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court foreshadowed these arguments when it concluded that “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

straker
straker

Corey - "your faith does not bestow upon you the right to demand to be the center of the universe"


Fundamentalist Christians say "BLASPHEMY"!!!!!!!


Corey
Corey

Even prostitutes are seen as whole human beings. Why can't some people get beyond only seeing gays as walking sex acts thus stripping them of their rights to make their own decisions. Enough of the foolishness already. if secular laws are not good enough for the holier than thou crowd they can try Saudi Arabia. News flash! Your faith does not bestow upon you the right to demand to be the center of the universe.