Three for the Road: Healthcare Mandates, Same-Sex Marriage, and Santorum’s 3-fer

I wanted to post something before I go out of town for a few days. Not having time or desire to delve deeply into any one thing, I was hoping to still come up with something timely & interesting. (Note: I’ve got a couple more installments of “The Pro-Life Position” in the queue, but they need a little tweaking, yet. Next week…) As I scanned through the various headlines and listened to the news for the past few days, I saw a common thread — or, at least, a connection — through three of the biggest stories. So, I figured I’d say a few words about each.

Obama administration vs religious institutions

HHS Secretary Sebelius with President ObamaIn the Obama administration’s latest power-grab and defiance of people’s rights under freedom of religion, Kathleen Sebelius and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) have now mandated that employer-offered health insurance policies are required to cover contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization. Churches have been given waivers, but other religiously-affiliated organizations (e.g., hospitals & clinics, schools & universities, charities) have not. This is a big problem for anyone — particularly Catholics — whose religious beliefs hold that some or all of these interfere with God’s work & will (via Nature) and are, therefore, forbidden. In other words, they see their use as morally, objectively wrong on religious grounds. So, why should they be forced to support & pay for it?

Some who don’t see a problem with the mandate will say that Catholics and other conservatives just want to control women’s bodies. Baloney! Some try to make this about the need for, or “right” to, birth control. It’s not. Some bring up Viagra and other things that may or may not be covered on some insurance plans. Irrelevant. I heard some lady discussing this with Sean Hannity point out that some Catholic priests molested children/youths. Even more irrelevant. I’ve heard a couple people point to surveys that say that 98% (or whatever) of Catholic women use contraceptives, anyway. Even if that’s correct (and I’m very skeptical), it doesn’t matter.

This is about one thing only: Big Brother/Sister sticking his/her nose where it doesn’t belong and forcing religious institutions to violate their policies and their collective conscience upon threat of fine and/or imprisonment. It’s part of a pattern with this administration that seeks to erode — if not trample underfoot — our religious liberties. It’s dangerous, unconstitutional, and they’ve got to be called on it. (Even some liberals, like Justice Elena Kagan and the Washington Post have expressed surprise at some of the administration’s audacity.)

Now, the White House is signalling that it may be willing to compromise. Don’t know how that could work, but we’ll see.

UPDATE: 2/10/2012 — The above was written yesterday. Today, Obama announced he’s got a solution! Namely, the insurance providers now have to provide the contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization services free of charge to employees of religiously-affiliated organizations! Yeah, like that‘s going to go over well. Some people are satisfied, but it’s just shifting the financial burden. I suppose some insurers may eat the cost, but most will compensate by raising premiums, so “we” end up paying for the controversial products & services, anyway. And what about other employers with religious objections? Why should they be mandated to pay for the stuff? This ain’t over….

Same-sex marriage victories in CA & WA

The same-sex marriage (SSM) battle was already underway in California when the ballot proposition California Marriage Protection Act (2008) — affectionately known as Prop. 8 –, which effectively banned same-sex marriage, was passed by popular vote (52+%), thereby amending the California Constitution. The state Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8 in 2009, affirming that the people have the right to write their own constitution. But, it was struck down in 2010, not surprisingly, by a San Francisco federal judge who turned out to be gay himself. This led to the appeal by Prop. 8’s supporters. And, earlier this week, a 3-judge panel from the (very liberal) 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down their ruling (2-1), which supports the previous ruling against the SSM ban.

“The people of California spoke clearly at the ballot box that they wanted marriage defined in the traditional manner of one man and one woman. And for a court, any court, to usurp the power and will of the people in this manner on an issue this fundamental to the foundation of our society is wrong. We need to have a Judicial Branch that acts within its Constitutional bounds.”  — Rick Santorum, responding to the news

From what I understand, there has to be a “rational basis” for instituting such a ban and it must show that there is a legitimate government concern, in order for government to get involved. The Court panel decided that Prop. 8 had no such rational basis for such concern. That was all they had to do. But, then they took further steps to make it sound evil and even more unconstitutional. They read malice & bigotry into Prop. 8, claiming that it merely serves “to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

Proponents of the ban now must decide whether to take it to a larger 9th Circuit panel or go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On a related matter, both houses of the Washington state legislature have now passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in that state. Governor Chris Gregoire will likely sign it into law next week. If she does, that will make Washington the seventh state — along with New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont — plus Washington, D.C., to pass such controversial legislation. Moral rebellion and confusion continue….

But, opponents of SSM vow to continue the fight with a ballot measure allowing voters to overturn the legislative approval.

Santorum’s 3-state sweep

Santorum and Romney pics spliced togetherHe’s not my first choice, but I gotta hand it to him; Santorum’s hard work in Minnesota, Missouri, & Colorado paid off. He trounced Romney in the first two and won by a narrower margin in CO. Even if the votes aren’t binding in MO, this serves as quite a boost for the Santorum campaign. Better yet, it takes some of the wind out of Romney’s sails. I think Santorum’s clear, conservative message serves as a nice counterpoint to Romney’s, er, shall we say, not-so-consistently conservative one. One of Santorum’s strong points is his consistently strong, conservative positions on social issues, and a lot of people resonate with and appreciate that. In fact, his victories — especially in CO, where he got 40% over Romney’s 35% (whereas Romney got 60% back in 2008) — are largely attributed to his “intense personal outreach to tea party groups and religious leaders,” which resulted in strong support by evangelicals and other strong conservatives.

That common thread I mentioned at the beginning? No big revelation here, but it’s that religious freedoms and socially conservative values are still very important in this culture and in political races — even if the BIG issue right now seems to be jobs, the economy, & fiscal responsibility. (Yeah, I know, that’s three things. Think of it as the three-in-one.) Some people are urging Republicans to de-emphasize or even concede defeat on the “social conservative” issues of pro-life vs. abortion rights, traditional family vs. same-sex marriage and the “gay agenda”, etc. Some want us to shut up and roll over on matters of religious liberty, as if religiously-informed positions don’t have validity or an equal right to be heard in the public square. But, I don’t think we can or should. Not if we want to remain true to our conscience, as informed by the Creator God who granted us our most fundamental rights — beginning with Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. On the contrary, we have a moral obligation to continue to fight!

Whew! That was longer than I planned.

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