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Gay rights and all rights

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, September 29, 2005

It is a shame when the former head of Notre Dame’s College Republicans, Ian Ronderos, sheds all logic and reason and assumes the mantra of “if-you-are-against-gay-marriage-you-are-a-puritanical-fearful-fundamentalist” in his “Liberty for All?” column on Tuesday.

His attacks leave nothing sacred. I particularly enjoyed his line that stated, “All religions are human attempts to interpret the divine’s attempt to communicate, and mistakes are always going to be made … Desperately clasping a few phrases from the gospels and failing to acknowledge that these were written in the moral tradition of the Jews of the first century C.E., the fundamentalists fail to separate the divine from the human in the gospels.” Evidently, Mr. Ronderos has a straight connection to the “divine” and can tell us all that any attempt to interpret the Bible is a complete waste. (Call the Pope!) Why stop there? If anything, the Ten Commandments are even more worthless. They were written long ago, and in a tradition even more at odds with a modern pluralistic society.

He makes a seemingly reasonable claim, “every citizen deserves the exact equal rights as another under the laws of our land.” You should notice his sleight of hand. Homosexuals do have the exact same rights as heterosexuals. A man can marry a woman, and a woman can marry a man. The biggest canard used by Mr. Ronderos is that homosexuals do not have “exact equal rights” as heterosexuals. Homosexuals have the right to marry. What the gay rights movement is attempting to do is to create a new right. Redefining marriage to allow same sexes is to change the very definition of what marriage has historically been.

His overused analogy to the civil rights movement similarly fails. No new rights were created for African-Americans, just the continuation of a long process to extend the same rights enjoyed by others – the right for a man to marry a woman, and a woman a man.

Mr. Ronderos then turns his pen to the topic of “activist judges” and “majority rule.” He once again states an ostensibly rational claim that “a democracy [should] not be a tyranny of the majority” and subverts this for his own ends. By making this statement, he leaves no principled way for society to make any rules governing behavior. Why the folks at NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) want nothing more than the legalization of sex with 6 year old boys. (Caveat, I am not equating your average homosexual with a supporter of NAMBLA.) The issue is that the justification he uses for allowing gay marriage and rejecting the traditionalist argument leaves no principled manner by which the majority (including most homosexuals) could reject the claims of NAMBLA.

After all, Ronderos has established that any attempts to interpret and apply Biblical principles are a waste, due to human fallibility. Consequently, his arguments leave little room to codify any general moral understanding which could condemn any minority conduct.

We, the American majority, only wish that in the public debate our positions and beliefs would be taken with the seriousness and respect they deserve. Such self-righteous indignant attacks do not bring about any real discussion. Only when both sides reject the demagoguery of Ronderos, can we fully and respectfully address these issues.

Jacob ZipfelalumnusNotre Dame Law School Class of 2008Sept. 28