Thursday, October 30, 2008

VOTE for me???

Please don't forget to VOTE on Tuesday, November 4th. This is a very important election for our country. Let your voice be heard.

Also if you live in California, please read up on Proposition 8. Please help us keep marriage between one man and one woman. It will affect more than you think. My friend Carrie sent me this amazing article, and it really explains how I feel about Prop 8. Please read it and decide for yourself.

Prop 8: It's Impact: GREAT by Susan Noyes Anderson

"I'll begin by affirming that I have no bias against gay individuals or groups per se and that I respect them as friends and associates. Neither do I oppose domestic partner statutes affording them any and all legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples in a marriage relationship. (Family Code 297.5) What I do oppose, specifically, is changing the legal definition of marriage to anything other than between a man and a woman. Here's how I see it. Domestic partnership is a newer status, engendered (and rightfully so) to support/protect the rights of same-sex couples. Marriage, on the other hand, is an ancient institution with well-established parameters developed more years ago than any of us would want to count and supporting/protecting not just the relationship between a man and a woman but the children that naturally result from the biological nature of such a union.

It is my deeply held belief that marriage is ordained of God as a sort of three-way contract with Him, made by a man and a woman who wish to welcome God's spirit children into their home. It is also my deeply held belief that no man or woman has a "right" to expand or redefine an institution as set forth by God. His law is not ours to change. We have no authority, as the California Supreme Court apparently believes it has, to "legislate from the bench."

Of course, I understand that not every American or Californian agrees with me, and I have no problem with that at all.
There are many, however, who do agree. A number of people in our country (myself included) view marriage as a sacred estate whose purpose, at base, is procreation. Countless more, while not seeing this as a religious issue, are simply opposed to the idea of making marriage an umbrella category for every type of pairing entered into by committed individuals.

In their purely secular view, marriage is marriage and domestic partnership is domestic partnership...historically, two different things. Indeed, why imbue an already established word, "marriage," with new definitions? It becomes confusing. Such new definitions, arguably, are best served by an equally new word. Should an e-mail address have the same nomenclature as a url? They are both internet addresses, but the dynamic, the process, and the end result of their use differs. Specificity in naming them, therefore, makes sense.

Other groups who support Proposition 8 are concerned about the manner in which a liberal state Supreme Court stepped in to overturn a law voted on and put in place by the people of California. Furthermore, a number of legal experts feel that the Court's ruling has established gay individuals as a "protected class." This status would likely make it difficult for individuals who are not gay to prevail in lawsuits where religious rights and gay rights come into conflict. Recently a doctor, whose personal religious views and conscience did not permit him to inseminate a lesbian woman, was sued by her and lost, even though another doctor agreed to perform the procedure. She had alternatives, in other words, but she was not satisfied with them. This suggests to me that the purpose of her suit was to satisfy one thing and one thing only: the need to see her rights as a gay person prevail over this man's right to freedom in practicing his religion according to his conscience. In all fairness, whose rights would be most violated here? Does his choice keep her from being inseminated as a lesbian woman? No. Does her choice to sue him (and win) keep him from practicing his beliefs (and medicine) as a religious man? Yes. She has other options. He does not. And yet, her rights prevailed...a harbinger, many people believe, of things to come. At the very least, a legal precedent has been set.

Another potential problem has been seen in Boston, where gay marriage is already legal. Catholic Charities has closed down operations there because it cannot arrange adoptions for same-sex couples and still maintain integrity with Catholic beliefs. Even though same-sex couples could have used other adoption agencies, the operative agenda was to see a gay person's right to adopt win out over the Catholic church's right to practice its religion and manage its adoption agencies in accordance with its core beliefs. Once again, religious rights lost the battle where there should be no battle at all. In essence, the right of gay couples to adopt at ANY agency they might want to approach was deemed more important than the right of an agency (run and based upon the Catholic religion and its tenets) to self-determine in accordance with its core beliefs. The Church was forced to either surrender its own rights or shut down. In this instance at least, gay rights trumped the rights of a religious group or individual. Where is the justice in that, especially if it becomes the national precedent? Where is the justice in having schools (at best) validate and (at worst) present ideas of marriage and family that are directly contrary to parents' religious beliefs? Should churches be sued if they refuse to allow same-sex marriages in their religious buildings that are open to the public? These are all concerns of mine.

More than a few opponents of Proposition 8 label any person who supports the idea that only a man and a woman should be eligible for marriage as a "hater." Those who espouse same-sex marriage too frequently view those who oppose it as (best case) homophobic and (worst case) bigots who want to deny the rights of fellow citizens simply because their lifestyle does not agree with more traditional views. Both of these assumptions are patently unfair. What's more, they worry me, for they suggest that views based upon religion are now being classed with views based on racism, ageism, or other prejudices. Religion is not a prejudice, it's a right, as valid and sacred as any other. Yet, opinions based on religious belief have become suspect, and the right to exercise religion is becoming somehow "less worthy" than other rights. People do have a right to act in accordance with their religious beliefs, and those beliefs should be respected, not suspected.

Contrary to (some) popular opinion, it is entirely possible to believe that men should not "marry" men and women should not "marry" women without bearing any malice at all toward the men and women in question. I fully support their right to form loving, committed unions under the protection of fair and equitable domestic partnership laws. For me, supporting Proposition 8 is simply about believing that marriage as an institution is ordained of God, between a man and a woman, with procreation as its greatest end. Period.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Family is Forever

Thank you for your concern and your prayers on my father's behalf. He is doing better. He will be released from the living facility today and go home for the first time in three weeks. He is excited to be home. He is still very weak, but doing better. I am flying to Utah to take care of him over Halloween. I'm so excited to just sit and talk with him. I will update you on his health after I spend some time with him. For more information on how he is doing, go to Phil Brown Updates in my family section. My sister Nikki and my family in Utah update that regularly.

Casey and I were fortunate to go to Utah in August for a Phil Brown Family Reunion. As soon as we heard of Dad's Stage 4 cancer, we knew we needed to get together. We wanted to spend time with him and get a family picture. The last family picture we took was the day after Casey and I were married three years ago. Yes, that's right, Casey and I had to come to a family gathering the morning after our first night "together". Awkward. Well awkward seeing my Dad, but just funny when everyone else, including my little nephews, were making fun of us. The photographer had problems with his camera that day, so we got a good shot, but it was fuzzy. We took this opportunity to spend time with our Dad and to get the last big group shot that we will ever take. You can't possibly imagine how hard it is to get everyone together. For the first time in ages, we had every single member of the Phil Brown family present and accounted for in this picture.

It was definitely a memorable experience trying to get one sick grandpa, eleven kids, eleven spouses, thirty-four grandchildren, and one grandchild-in-law into one photo with everyone smiling. The pictures turned out great. We were so happy. The photographer has not finished cleaning them up and we haven't picked the large group shot yet, but here are some samples of how good they were.

Here are the people that I am going to spend forever with. I love them all so much.

Phil Brown Family 2008

Dad with his 11 kids

All 11 siblings from oldest to youngest

The Patterson Family 2008