By Fr. George Welzbacher
March 6, 2011
This week I will offer no extensive commentary of my own on certain recent important events, events that have a moral dimension. I will offer instead the comments of several reputable authorities, which you may judge to be, or not to be, helpful.
* * * * *The New York Times
By: Sheryl Gay Stolbert & Charlie Savage
President Barack Obama, in a striking legal and political shift, has DETERMINED that the Defense of Marriage Act---the 1996 law [passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton] that bars FEDERAL recognition of same-sex marriages-is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and has directed the Justice Department to STOP defending the law IN COURT, the administration said Wednesday. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision in a letter to Congress. In it, he said the administration was taking the extraordinary step of REFUSING TO DEFEND the law, despite having done so during Obama's FIRST two years in the White House.
"The president and I have CONCLUDED that..." a crucial provision of the Defense of Marriage Act is "UNCONSTITUTIONAL."
Conservatives denounced the shift; gay rights advocates hailed it as a watershed; and legal scholars said it could have far-reaching implications beyond the marriage law.
'This is a great step by the Obama administration and a tipping point for the gay rights movement that will have ripple effects in contexts beyond the Defense of Marriage Act," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union....
But conservatives ... portrayed the Justice Department's abandonment of the Defense of Marriage Act as an outrageous political move that was legally unjustified.
"It is a transparent attempt to shirk the department's DUTY TO DEFEND THE LAWS passed by Congress, I said Rep. Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.
'This is the real politicization of the Justice Department-when the personal views of the president OVERRIDE the government's duty to defend the law of the land"....
While Obama has called for Congress to repeal the marriage law, in court his administration has supported [albeit half-heartedly] the constitutional right of Congress to enact such a measure. But his legal team was forced [sic] to take A SECOND LOOK at the sustainability of that position because of two recent lawsuits challenging the statute. The Justice Department must file responses to both suits by March 11....
While the Justice Department's lawyers will no longer defend the law in court, Holder said the administration WOULD ENFORCE the act unless Congress repeals it or a court delivers a "definitive verdict against the law's constitutionality"....
The lawsuits were brought by people whose same-sex marriages are recognized as legal by state law but who have been denied certain federal benefits granted to opposite-sex married couples. The plaintiffs represented by the ACLU and GLAAD--Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders-contended such treatment violated their right to equal protection of the law....
* * * * *
While I don't always agree with President Clinton's "take" on various issues of the day, I must tip my hat to the comment he made a few years ago, when he was asked for his views on the propriety of calling gay unions "marriage": "I always thought that marriage had something to do with having kids."* * * * *
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [USCCB] lost no time in denouncing the decision of President Obama and Attorney General Holder to refuse any longer to support the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] against challenges in court. The Bishops' Conference issued the following official statement on February 23rd:* * * * *
USCCB Decries Refusal to Support Defense of Marriage Act
Washington (February 23, 2011)--The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issues the following from its Office of General Counsel:
"Marriage has been understood for millennia and across cultures as the union of ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN. Today, the President has instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law REITERATING that definition of marriage, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic President just fifteen years ago. The principal basis for today's decision is that the President CONSIDERS the law a form of IMPERMISSIBLE sexual orientation DISCRIMINATION.
"This decision represents an ABDICATION of the responsibility of the Executive Branch to carry out its constitutional OBLIGATION to ensure that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed. It is also a grave affront to the millions of Americans who both reject unjust discrimination and affirm the unique and inestimable value of marriage as between one man and one woman. Support for actual marriage is not bigotry, but instead an eminently reasonable, common judgment affirming the foundational institution of civil society. Any suggestion by the government that such a judgment represents "discrimination" [and thus potentially indictable a "hate crime"] is a serious THREAT to the religious liberty of marriage supporters nationwide."
February 23, 2011
Anthony R. Picarello, Jr. General Counsel
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
By now is there any driver in the U.S.A. who is NOT aware that gasoline prices are heading for the moon? Some experts speculate that by the end of the year some parts of the country will be paying "five bucks a gallon for regular."* * * * *
Because of current governmental policy we have become much MORE dependent on FOREIGN OIL, even as we are DENIED permission to exploit OUR OWN natural resources. The following editorial appeared in the Wall Street Journal for February 24th.
An ILLEGAL Drilling Ban
Wall Street Journal: February 24, 2011
Remember the BP oil spill and its aftermath? Folks remember it on the Gulf Coast, where late last week a federal judge ruled that the Obama Administration is imposing a defacto BAN on deep water drilling that is "unreasonable, unacceptable, and unjustified."
Federal Judge Martin Feldman ordered the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to act on five pending deep water permit applications within 30 days. The case was brought by Ensco, an offshore driller whose permits have been under review for as long as nine months.
Since finally lifting its blanket ban in October, the Administration has failed to issue a single permit, blaming strained resources and new regulations. Ensco believes, as Judge Feldman wrote, that the "government's continuous delays are INTENTIONAL," part of an effort to use last year's BP oil spill as an excuse to LIMIT fossil fuel extraction.
Judge Feldman wrote that permits had been approved within two weeks PRIOR to the spill, and he dismissed the notion that Interior lacks the ability to issue permits expeditiously. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, he wrote, is up and running, the spill has been contained, the new regulations "are no longer new," and the threat of rigs leaving Gulf waters [for foreign seas] becomes "more forceful each day"--all of which means that "nearly a year after the spill occurred, delays, particularly those of the length at issue here, become increasingly UNREASONABLE."
The judge also dismissed the Administration's "cramped statutory reading" that Congress supposedly gave it carte blanche to decide permits on its own "unchecked whim" Such an approach, he wrote, "would produce autocratic discretion at best" and threatened Ensco's operations with "endless disability."
Judge Feldman struck down the Obama Administration's first drilling moratorium and earlier this month ruled Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in contempt for imposing a SECOND moratorium that showed a "flagrant" disregard for the FIRST ruling. The administration seems to think he's kidding. We recall a famous op-ed in which President Obarna promised to do something about needless regulations that HURT the economy . How about starting by following the law?
The eyes of the nation these past few days have been watching the events in Madison, Wisconsin with interest and perhaps with some apprehension. People of a certain age or those who through their reading are familiar with the history of Europe in the 1920's and 30's may be feeling just a tad uneasy. One of my heroes, FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt-yes, I know he made some big mistakes, but I also think he saved our country from a revolution and he won decisively our massive two-front war against Germany and Japan-REFUSED TO ALLOW those who worked for the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to form UNIONS [whose chief choice of weapon is the strike]. These are his words. "ACTION looking toward the PARALYSIS of government BY THOSE WHO HAVE SWORN TO SUPPORT IT IS UNTHINKABLE AND INTOLERABLE." And George Meany, the AFL-CIO's much esteemed first president, had this to say: "It is impossible to bargain collectively with the GOVERNMENT." The principle, I should think, applies with equal validity to state and local government.* * * * *
As a tidal wave of political unrest is shaking the foundations of dictatorial rule throughout the Middle East, the incredibly brave young people of IRAN have ONCE AGAIN been marching in the streets of Teheran and other major cities in that tormented land to protest the reign of the mullahs, not as massively (by the millions) as they did in June of 2009 but with impressive numbers nevertheless (some tens of thousands). Yet, as in June of 2009, so now again: the SILENCE of our government-that was almost hour by hour publicly calling the shots for Egypt-with respect to the uprising in IRAN is DEAFENING. Contrast this "hands off' policy with our government's public and clandestine support for Poland's Solidarity Movement back in the 1980's, support that helped to lead eventually to the collapse of the Soviet Union.* * * * *
Writing in the Journal's political Diary e-newsletter on February 23rd, Anne Jolis had this to say:
... Egypt's and Tunisia's uprisings have breathed new life into the IRANIAN resistance....After a year of lying low, TENS OF THOUSANDS of Green Movement protesters marched through Iran's streets on Sunday and last Monday. Whereas in 2009 they called for fresh elections, they are NOW calling to OVERTHROW the government and to END the country's "religious dictatorship."
Tehran has responded with swarms of armed guards, firing into the crowds and beating protesters with steel batons and chains, witnesses tell the Wall Street Journal. Opposition leaders Mihossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroub have been under house arrest for more than a week....
Why aren't we doing everything we CAN to HELP these young protesters with public verbal support and with secret subsidies for their courageous opposition to a nuclear-ambitious, highly dangerous enemy of the United States. Having missed a unique opportunity to swell the opposition to the tyrant mullahs in 2009, why are we following this same policy of silence and non-interference once again? Whose side are we on?* * * * *
Onetime Abortionist Who Joined Other Side* * * * *
Bernard Nathanson 1926-2011
Wall Street Journal
February 22, 2011
Bernard Nathanson estimated he was responsible for 75,000 abortions before he changed his mind and became a leading anti-abortion activist.
He was director and narrator of the 1984 documentary "The Silent Scream" that showed abortion in graphic detail, helping to galvanize abortion opponents.
Dr. Nathanson, who died Monday at age 84, was a Manhattan gynecologist. In 1969 he helped found the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, with the aim of making abortion legal.
A onetime self-described militant for abortion rights, Dr. Nathanson in 1969 picketed a New York City hospital and pushed for passage of the New York state act legalizing abortion the following year. He acted as a spokesman for NARAL in its early years, calling for increased access to abortion for the poor, and became director of Manhattan's Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health.
"We're interested in the poor people who have had to use the back-alley butchers in the past," Dr. Nathanson told the Christian Science Monitor in 1970.
Yet within a few years, Dr. Nathanson, at the time a self-professed "Jewish atheist," became convinced by ultrasound and EKG imagery that the fetus was a human life.
"There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy," he wrote in 1974.
Dr. Nathanson's conversion brought with it a denunciation of his former allies, whom he accused of "moral myopia" in his 1979 book, "Aborting America."
He accused pro-abortion crusaders-including his former self--of outright lies about the number of women killed by illegal abortions, said by supporters of abortion rights to be 5,000 to 10,000 a year. The real number, he wrote, was far lower.
"It was a useful figure, widely accepted." he wrote. "So why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?"
While "Aborting America" was tendentious, it made its points with rational arguments. "The Silent Scream" made its argument in a visceral fashion, showing a series of ultrasonic stills to depict the abortion of a 12-week-old fetus. Dr. Nathanson described the fetus as appearing to cry out in pain.
The film became a favorite in the Right-to-Life movement, much of which had based its arguments on religion. New York Archbishop John J. O'Connor hailed "The Silent Scream," and pointed out that Dr. Nathanson "actually admits that he's an atheist."
Joan Andrews Bell, a Catholic anti-abortion activist who has served time in prison for blocking access to clinics, said, "He knew what the other side was thinking, but he also humanized the other side for us."
A New York City native, Dr. Nathanson was the son of an obstetrician/gynecologist who sent him to Hebrew school, although the family was secular.
He attended McGill University Medical College in Montreal, and became an ob/gyn in the U.S. Air force. In his autobiography, "The Hand of God," he wrote of how an early girlfriend underwent an illegal abortion.
After rejecting his past as an abortionist, Dr. Nathanson continued to practice as an ob/gyn and was chief of obstetrical services at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan.
Dr. Nathanson retired from Saint Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan in 1993, but continued to be active in the anti-abortion movement.
In 1996, he was baptized a Catholic at St. Patrick's Cathedral by Cardinal O'Connor. "I have such heavy moral baggage to drag into the next world," he told the Washington Times that year.