Obama Called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) ‘Abhorrent’ in 2004

CatholicCitizens.org | Oct. 19, 2008

Obama on Marriage: “As an African-American man, a child of an interracial marriage, a committed scholar, attorney and activist who works to protect the Bill of Rights, I am sensitive to the struggle for civil rights. As a state Senator, I have taken on the issue of civil rights for the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community as if they were my own struggle because I believe strongly that the infringement of rights for any one group eventually endangers the rights enjoyed under law by the entire population. Since 1996, I have been the sponsor or a chief co-sponsor of measures to expand civil liberties for the LGBT community including hate-crimes legislation, adoption rights and the extension of basic civil rights to protect LGBT persons from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment and credit.”

Today, I am a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Unlike any of my opponents, I have a legislative track record. No one has to guess about what I will do in Washington. My record makes it very clear. I will be an unapologetic voice for civil rights in the U.S. Senate.

For the record, I opposed DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] in 1996. It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor. I will also oppose any proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gays and lesbians from marrying. This is an effort to demonize people for political advantage, and should be resisted …

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Comments

  1. I’ve asked about this before, but I don’t recall ever getting an answer: should our civil laws reflect the Scriptural understanding of marriage? For example, should divorce be limited to infidelity only? That is certainly the only permissible Scriptural allowance for it (Luke 16:18).
    Should interfaith marriages be forbidden and should we ban civil marriage between Catholics and Jews (2 Corinthians 6:14, Malachi 2:11, 1 Corinthians 7:39).

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard or read such arguments by even the most ardent defender of the Defense of Marriage Act. Why? I must conclude, then, that using religious objections to deny civil marriages to gay couples thus seems a bit weak.

    Usually the objections are interwoven with suggestions that some form of ruthless silencing of those opposed to homosexuality will result if gay marriage will be enacted. Certainly, there are liberal extremists who can’t tolerate dissent, but I’m not certain why the fear of extremism by some who might benefit from a civil arrangement is cause alone to reject that arrangement to all.

  2. James K #1:

    For example, should divorce be limited to infidelity only? That is certainly the only permissible Scriptural allowance for it (Luke 16:18).

    This is nothing more than your personal interpretation. I have observed that you often pick a verse out of context, jump to a cut and dry conclusion, and run with it. I suggest that you read the passage more carefully and in context.

    The Orthodox Church disagrees with you. Divorce is not prohibited, although it is discouraged. In fact, Jesus even explains why divorce is permitted. In most cases, does divorce constitute a huge moral failing? Sure. Can remarriage be sinful? Sure, but sometimes out of human weakness more sin may be committed in the unmarried state than the married state, as indicated elsewhere in the New Testament. This is why some of the readings in the Orthodox service for a second or third marriage are penitential in nature.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard or read such arguments by even the most ardent defender of the Defense of Marriage Act.

    This is because your argument is rather silly. I notice you assume that a marriage is whatever the state says it is. But if you are incorrect then your comparison of homosexual unions with interfaith unions is invalid. A particular religion may disapprove of interfaith marriages, but the union of a man and woman still makes a marriage, by definition. The notion that two members of the same sex can be married, however, is contrary to all of history and natural law, not to mention the teaching of the Church. Simply, in fact, two men or two women cannot marry each other, even if the state declares the lie to be the truth.

    Usually the objections are interwoven with suggestions that some form of ruthless silencing of those opposed to homosexuality will result if gay marriage will be enacted.

    Actually, this is a separate issue. It is, however, related because the homosexual rights movement is one of the major parties pushing limits on free speech in the US. The state can and does attempt to silence opposition to homosexuality regardless of whether it recognizes homosexual marriage or not. Look at state-run college campuses and even some public primary/secondary school classrooms, now. Look at Canada and its “human rights” commissions as an example that some Democrats find appealing. There are similar commissions in Philadelphia and New Mexico.

    Congressional Democrats have stated their intent to enact “Fairness Doctrine” legislation to regulate political speech on the radio and to extend such regulation to cover political speech on the Internet. The clear goal will be to squelch political dissent. Will Obama veto such legislation? In light of his Marxist tendencies and prior statements, I seriously doubt it.

    James K, can we count on you to stand up for unabridged free speech, even for speech you may disagree with, if such legislation is considered?

  3. The notion that two members of the same sex can be married, however, is contrary to all of history and natural law, not to mention the teaching of the Church.

    You make a distinction here between “natural law” and “the teaching of the Church.”

    By “natural law,” do you mean to say that homosexuality does not occur in nature, or that we should base civil laws on the processes of evolution?

    Or are you being redundant, by using “natural law” to refer to a specific religious concept, and then adding that it is, “not to mention,” against the teaching of the Church.

  4. Note 2: “James K, can we count on you to stand up for unabridged free speech, even for speech you may disagree with, if such legislation is considered?”

    The rights of free speech and free expression on public property and airwaves must be protected as almost absolute rights (with a few exceptions). There should no fear of legal recriminations for voicing one’s opinion, nor should private organizations be compelled to entertain or appear to endorse opinions that are not theirs. These rights extend to people like the Westboro Baptist Church, perhaps one of the most extreme groups (cults?) in the nation. If you check out their blogs and website, you can find page after page of the most unbelievable vitriol imaginable (well-buttressed by their interpretation of Calvinist theology, by the way). However, they should have the right to express those views as they do in public places with those picket signs of theirs, even if the majority of humans with any sense of decency find their views abhorrent.

    Again, this is when these views are expressed publicly. I think things become a bit more dicey when talking about expression within the workplace or within an educational setting where order must be kept. Employers should have a certain degree of flexibility in determining whether someone has expressed themselves in a manner that creates a hostile or unpleasant work environment.

    Generally speaking, however, I tend to be classically liberal in terms of protecting the rights of free speech for broadcasters and private citizens in most venues. Besides, I like to be challenged by the opposition, and as one Chinese general once said: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” It’s good to know what even the outer fringes of society are thinking and saying.

  5. Michael Bauman says:

    It is not about parsing Holy Scripture or other people’s words. The whole homosexual agenda leads to three outcomes that are a vast re-ordering of social and cultural wisdom as well as religious teaching–not just Christian teaching. The three outcomes: 1)a redefinition of what it means to be human; 2) demeaning and suppressing of masculinity; and 3) destruction of feminity.

    The male-female pair bonding is essential to all life. Destroy it, as the homosexual activists wish to do and replace it with a sterile, mocking counterfeit and we loose a lot more than free speech.

    But James and Phil will not understand because they persist in the delusion that God is created in man’s image not the other way around–the product of our imagination as we somehow arose from a primordial ooze to our current ‘exalted’ state. That is why they are incapable of understanding the nature of sin and refuse to acknowledge the transcendent. They judge God by the failure of those who claim to follow Him and reject all evidence of the transformation of those who actually do follow God. Nilhism at its finest.

    Law reflects the beliefs of the people who make it and agree to live by it. If we were a Christian people we would have Christian laws. Trying to Christianize the law in a non-Christian nation is folly. We need to make Christians. We need metanoia Real transformation, not the ugly, hypocritical lies the politicians promise and never even intend to deliver. Even if they have deluded themselves into thinking that can really change anything, the lie prevails.

    We cannot expect our politicians to do what we refuse to do.

  6. Destroy it, as the homosexual activists wish to do and replace it with a sterile, mocking counterfeit and we loose a lot more than free speech.

    The reason so many people fear zealots, Michael, is because they speak in needlessly violent terms.

    Here, for example, you present a false dichotomy: society must either restrict all coupling to male-female breeding pairs, or we will destroy all life.

    That’s just goofy. Gay couples aren’t trying to “destroy” marriage. They’re trying to participate in it. Society need not choose between gay and straight marriages. They can coexist, unless bigots feel that the minority must be suppressed at all costs.

  7. Phil #3:

    By natural law I do not mean simplistic analogy to things that happen in the animal kingdom.

    James K #4:

    I appreciate your support for free speech. Action in support of free speech will most likely be required very soon.

  8. D. George,
    So, when you refer to “natural law” and “the teaching of the Church,” you are actually referring solely to two different teachings of the Church? You’re not using a scientific definition of “nature,” as the statement seems to imply, but to a specifically church-defined teaching about what is natural.

  9. D. George, I must take issue with one of your earlier statements, though please take my comments as nothing more than a quibble.

    “Divorce is not prohibited, although it is discouraged.”

    This is where it seems you are taking Scripture in a similar vein as the liberal Episcopal theologians who insist the Scriptural mandates against homosexual conduct can be discarded due to a growing spiritual “awareness” of Christians or because of some previous cultural considerations that are no longer applicable to today.

    Mark 10:11
    “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.”

    Exodus 20:14
    “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

    While I don’t pretend to be the most theologically sophisticated person, I don’t see any way around these passages. To me, they’re as clear as day, and any other interpretation besides the most obvious one would seem to require some very clever exegetical tap-dancing.

    Having people in my family who have been divorced and remarried whom I care deeply for, I’m very reluctant to level charges of adultery against them. If they are because of their divorce, I wouldn’t condemn them as I’m fully aware of the situations that led them to it and how they didn’t consider it a trivial matter. Herein lies the “concession to human weakness” that I think you were referring to that even the Church understands. Despite Scripture’s clear mandates against it, people can remarry within the RCC and Orthodox churches while their former spouses are still alive. I don’t think this is a bad thing: on the contrary, I’ve seen second marriages thrive in ways the first could not due to emotional or spiritual immaturity. However, we mustn’t pretend Scripture says something when it does not: divorce is condemned in almost all circumstances as is homosexuality.

    That being said, I think “tolerating” gay marriage would be such a similar concession: even the most dedicated of those who seek to change their orientation rarely succeed, and if the alternative is a life of total and complete celibacy until death, I would think encouraging fidelity and selflessness even among gay couples would be a preferred alternative. Besides, what heterosexual would eagerly embrace the notion of living the vast expanse of human life completely and utterly devoid of companionship until they die alone? Not many, that I am aware of.

    I realize I’ll be skewed for thinking this way, but there you go.

  10. Michael Bauman says:

    Phil, you took my comment far beyond its intended scope. Interesting however. Aside from the fact that I see nothing violent or fanatic in what I said:

    Would you not agree that without procreation, life ends?

    Would you not agree that except for single-celled organisms and a few other species than can reproduce asexually, it takes a male-female pair bonding of some type to create new life?

    Homosexual partnerships are sterile, would you not agree?

    If everybody maintained a homosexual orientation, we would soon cease to exist, would you not agree?

    There is a principal in economics: “Bad money drives out good”. The principal extends, in this fallen world, to every area of human endeavor. Counterfeits tend to drive the legitimate out of circulation. Homosexual ‘marriage’ is a counterfeit of the real thing.

    There is left the word ‘mocking’. Take as meaning derisive imitation. There is no question that homosexual activists mock not only genuine marriage, but hetrosexuality in general and especially Christianity. They would like to see us not exist. I have no desire to hurt homosexuals, or punish homosexual acts except against children and those unwilling. The Holy Scripture commands us to leave homosexuals alone as long as they are willing to not press the issue. However, when the attempt is made to overturn millenia of cultural and spiritual wisdom, to not only ignore sinful behavior, but give it equal status with virture, a stand must be taken.

    What you take as violent fanaticism, I find to be a simple rendition of the facts and the Christian norm. However, as I’ve pointed out often, facts have to be interpreted and one’s interpretation always depends upon one’s faith (or unprovable assumptions if you will). Perhaps you feel that any opposition to an obvious civil wrong (your faith) is unjustified? Perhaps you believe that unless I agree to ignore a sinful and enormously damaging behavior and agree tacitly that it should be OK, I am a fanatic?

    There is no basis for those assumptions in reality.

  11. Jim Holman says:

    Michael writes: “Homosexual partnerships are sterile, would you not agree?”

    I would say that they are sterile, but no more or less sterile than celibacy. In other words, if homosexuals remain celibate, no children are produced; if they don’t remain celibate no children are produced.

    Michael: “If everybody maintained a homosexual orientation, we would soon cease to exist, would you not agree?”

    Yes, in the same way that we would cease to exist were everyone celibate. Of course, no one is arguing that everyone should be homosexual — or celibate. Or more precisely, the religious right is arguing that all homosexuals should be celibate — or perhaps marry heterosexuals in what would properly be called “counterfeit” marriages.

    The standard argument against same-sex relationships seems to go something like this: same-sex relationships produce no children. Thus, they are unnatural. The solution is for homosexuals to remain celibate. The problem is that if not producing children is unnatural, then by that criterion celibacy is also unnatural.

    Michael: “Counterfeits tend to drive the legitimate out of circulation. Homosexual ‘marriage’ is a counterfeit of the real thing.”

    A counterfeit is a copy of something made with the intention to deceive or defraud. With same-sex marriage there is no deception — you can agree or disagree with it, but everyone knows what it is; there’s no secret.

    As far as I know, in every society throughout history there is always a small percentage of the population with homosexual orientation. I don’t think the institution of marriage will be damaged if a subset of homosexuals end up getting married. And by the way, it’s not the homosexual couples who are getting abortions, producing crack babies, and having large families where everyone ends up on food stamps.

  12. D. George says:

    James K. #9:

    I agree that there is no way around those verses. But I don’t think I am reading the Scriptures too loosely, either. Read Matthew 19:1-10. Divorce is permitted. Why? Not because it is good, but because the hardness of hearts. So you are right, divorce constitutes a moral failing in many cases even if it is granted. But it still may be granted. I’ve heard, as one example, that it is that it is better to grant a divorce than to have someone so frustrated that he/she kills or abuses his spouse, for instance. Which would be worse? Murder or divorce?

    Now, would tolerating gay marriage be a similar concession? I doubt it. First, the concession above was granted by God. Any “concession” of homosexual marriage, on the other hand, would only be granted by us. It would also fly in the face of the understanding of marriage as understood by the Church, and as generally understood throughout history. Even in pagan Greece and Rome, while at times homosexuality was prevalent, there was no such thing as homosexual marriage. This is because marriage is, de facto, a union of a man and a woman.

  13. Michael Bauman says:

    Jim, your “standard argument” is simply you creating another straw man. It is certainly not the arugment that has been put forward here by anyone. It is not the sterility alone that is unnatural, it is the whole complex of behaviour homosexuality entails. It damages the soul.

    However, part of the argument against homosexual ‘marriage’ is that intentional sterility in marriage is wrong. The Church does not look on those who get married with no intention of having children (as long as they are capable) as entering into marriage properly.

    Celibacy is not a sin. Undertaken properly, it is an ascetic discipline. Simply refraining from sex is not celibacy, just as simply not eating is not the same as fasting.

    Homosexuality will always be with us as will all sin until Christ returns–we are fallen. It is not so much the sin that is troublesome, it is the concerted attempt to force normalization of the sin and the concomitant idea that hetrosexuality monogomy is abnormal. Add the twisting of the male and female idenities into simply different modes of laciviousness (ploymorphous perversity), etc., etc. etc.

    Even the attempted normalization cheapens real marriage in many people’s minds as simply a blessing of sexual activity, coupled with the idea that all sexual activity is a ‘human right’ (as happens) and we have a real mess.

    I would argue that the attempt to make homosexual behavior a norm is the deception that makes homosexual ‘marriage’ a counterfeit. The lie that that the activists put forth that they only want what everyone else has, is a deception, lies piled on lies.