Alma Acevedo

Those ‘personally opposed…but’ politicians

Alma Acevedo
By Alma Acevedo
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September 17, 2012 (Mercatornet.com) - Along with the electoral season comes the inevitable “I am opposed to […], but it is a personal decision.” Just fill in the blank with abortion, euthanasia, surrogacy, or any morally contentious matter. The rhetorical finesse quenches the debate, bypassing the polemical minefield. As a media and public silencer, to save face and buy time, it is a mediocre but successful technique. As a meaningful proposition, however, it fails.

“I am opposed to […], but do not believe it my role to impose my personal views on others” is a kindred statement. The first clause appeals to the party base; the second, to the rest. With one stroke, candidates thus persuade the rank and file that their values are safely aligned, while appeasing the opponents’ concerns.

Besides, we would not want our political leaders to impose anything, would we?

Their affirmative counterparts run on similar linguistic tracks: “I favor [outlawing abortion, curtailing euthanasia, banning surrogacy,…], but will not impose my personal views.” The ostrich maneuver. Label it personal and the interrogation halts to an end. Yet, as with the ostriches’ legend, the rhetorical move escapes reality.

Momentarily imagine a candidate professing the following: “I am opposed to [incest, domestic violence, racism, sexism, human exploitation, ethnic cleansing, rape, bribery], but it is a personal decision.” No chance. The candidate would be (justly) booed all the way to oblivion and shame.

The difference lies in the object. When the issue is thought to be morally controversial (politically sensitive), it is labeled “personal”, as if personal simply meant subjective, private, or to be resolved by sheer individual preference. When its moral nature is socially settled (politically safe), the “but it is personal” defense is not invoked.

Why should contentiousness define what a personal decision is?

What is, then, a personal decision? Non-moral and moral decisions are both “personal” insofar as they are a human individual’s, and not a human collective’s. Decisions of a non-moral nature, having nothing to do with ethics or morality, are individual or “personal” in the lowercase letter sense, so to speak. For instance, whether to go shopping or to the cinema tonight, and whether to choose vanilla or chocolate, are matters of individual choice such as preferences, interests, and tastes.

Personal (individual) decisions may also involve issues of more consequence, such as whether to study economics or finance. They are, generally speaking, decisions relative to particular circumstances. The choices are based on conditions specific to the individual. “Personal” may also signify private reasons the person legitimately chooses to keep secret, such as when someone retires for “personal” reasons.

Moral decisions, on the other hand, are personal. They are not simply matters of individual (relative to oneself) choice, but spring from the very core of human personality: human intellect and free will. They are personal for they entail universal and objective normative principles linked to properly human goods. Individual circumstances may influence the degree of moral responsibility in specific cases. An ethical conclusion, however, is not merely a subjective “personal view” but a personal judgment stemming from right reason and free will.

G. K. Chesterton wrote in What’s wrong with the world, “most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules: it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.” Candidates must boldly stand for something; we must responsibly learn. Just as they do not confound as impositions their positions on economic affairs, their stances on major moral issues should not be thus construed.

These matters are not solely private or relative, but hold wide public repercussions, in terms of human dignity and the common good. That they are contentious does not preclude their discussion, but beckons it. Far from imposition, their responsible and reasonable discussion enhances free civic discourse and action. Conversely, the candidate’s reticence imposes an impoverished public debate, thus undermining the conditions necessary for a democratic society. Rather than tolerance, this silence may signal indifference, hesitation, deceit, or cowardice.

The “but it is personal” linguistic maneuver must be exposed for what it really is: a cheap electoral season pass whose political currency has expired. Because moral decisions are personal, candidates ought to tell us what and why. Because they are personal, we, the citizens, ought to ask and to know.

Alma Acevedo, PhD, teaches courses in applied ethics and conducts research in this field. This article first appeared at Mercatornet.com and is reprinted under a Creative Commons License.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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