1.SUTHERLAND HOSTS LEGISLATIVE BRIEFING ON IMMIGRATION FACTS
On Oct. 29, Sutherland hosted its second Legislative Briefing, titled “Undocumented Immigrants in Utah: A Civil Conversation about the Facts.” Dr. Pamela Perlich, economist and demographer at the University of Utah, and Dr. Charlie Morgan, sociologist at Brigham Young University, responded to questions from Paul Mero, president of Sutherland Institute.
This informative 60-minute question-and-answer session reviewed the facts and data regarding undocumented immigrants in Utah. Dr. Perlich is an expert on the demographic and economic characteristics of Utah’s immigrant community. Dr. Morgan has conducted significant research on undocumented immigrants in Utah’s prisons and jails, and he discussed some of his most recent research on the topic.
To view the forum in its entirety, visit http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=A886D9B609F9E9EE&ref=nf.
2.THE LIMITS OF INCLUSION
by Paul T. Mero
While people who self-identify with homosexuality, and their supporters, continue to express discontent over anyone in disagreement with them, others of us are left to wonder what – short of total approbation – would mollify them.
Most Americans mind their own business. We give people great latitude to work out their lives, and, generally, we are ready to help others with the trials of life. This is especially true in Utah. We are very tolerant of those privately working through the difficulties and mysteries of their own lives.
Regarding homosexuality, there are myriad stories of personal struggles. Many of these stories are poignant and often involve deep soul-searching and familial discord. After all, the mere subject of homosexuality begs the question of what it means to be male and female. It forces us to define sexual pathology – in other words, what is normal, natural or healthy – and it compels us to face the purposes of human sexuality.
Among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is an added layer of complexity: Homosexuality is incompatible with the faith’s Plan of Salvation. This incongruity is palpable, substantive and, without a change in doctrine, unavoidable.
These struggles, questions and dilemmas represent only the personal side of this debate. It is one thing for activists to call on the LDS Church to amend its Plan of Salvation; it is quite another thing for them to call on all Americans to change the laws and culture of their civilization. Any church can speak for itself. The voice of a civilization is an entirely different creature.
Similarly, the LDS Church, as any church, may set the terms of inclusion within its faith. Mercifully, it may issue palliatives from the pulpit designed to mitigate the impact of hard doctrines upon struggling souls. But law and public policy are different – neither can long endure palliatives masquerading as principles. Neither should capitulate to anything less than reason. In the public square, inclusion should be earned.
Yes, society is a patchwork of many sentiments, and rightly so. But reason remains its threshold for action. For instance, reason dictates a societal – even governmental – recognition of marriage between a man and a woman and stable families. We know the benefits to society from these cornerstones of life. We don’t know whether there are societal benefits from “gay marriage” or even from homosexuality. We hear the claims, but a claim isn’t a reason, and a baseless claim should lack standing in law and policy.
The cry for inclusion should be justified and reasonably explained. What are we being asked to include? If we are being asked to include “sexual orientation” among our laws, a reasonable person can be expected to ask its meaning and should expect to receive a better answer than “it means being ‘born that way’ ” – especially when no replicable scientific or medical proof exists demonstrating that claim. A reasonable person can be expected to ask why “sexual orientation” ought to replace a common understanding of “human orientation” (i.e., that people are born male or female with moral agency). A reasonable person can be expected to question why “sexual identity” ought to replace “human identity” in our civilization’s lexicon. In other words, a reasonable person can be expected to challenge any abstract idea about individual sexual behavior (homo, hetero, or whatever) seeking to replace a tangible, long-standing, universal meaning of personhood.
Any argument is specious that calls for inclusion of homosexuality within law and policy simply because it exists, or that famous poets and statesmen have behaved this way, or even because a parent’s heart aches for a confused or anguished child. None of these observations explains in any compelling way how homosexuality confers benefits on society, such benefits being the gold standard for the government’s imprimatur.
Does homosexual behavior make a man more inclined to follow the law? Being a man married legally to a woman does. Does homosexual behavior make a man more likely to abstain from self-destructive behaviors? Being a man married legally to a woman does. Does homosexual behavior among females make a woman less likely to engage in domestic violence? Being a woman married legally to a man does. Though many apologists dismiss these questions as irrelevant, there is a reason why so many of them are hard at work conducting social research to address exactly these sorts of questions.
Private individuals and private institutions have great latitude in a free society to include what or whom they may in their limited circles. The price of including homosexuality within the broader context of American law and policy should be steep. It should take more than hopeful but repeatedly empty research. It should take more than a child’s struggle or a parent’s anguish. It should require an argument more compelling than “this guy clearly doesn’t understand the difference between orientation and behavior,” especially when the former cannot be proven. The price of inclusion, in this case, requires human reason that transcends emotion and personal angst. It requires a showing of true benefit to society.
Paul T. Mero is president of Sutherland Institute.