Hot button ballot questions

In addition to President Obama’s decisive Electoral College victory tonight (popular vote wise, we remain quite split), voters in several states weigh-in on some interesting ballot measures:

For the first time in US history, voters, not the courts, approved same-sex marriage laws, with successful campaigns in Maine and Maryland, and a close contest still unfolding in Washington. In Minnesota, voters are considering a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. While most Catholic leaders and bishops largely sat out the contest this time around in Maine, many were vocal and active in the other three states.


In Massachusetts, voters appear to have narrowly rejected a ballot question that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide. A broad coalition formed to campaign against the question, including Cardinal Sean O’Malley and liberal lay Catholics including Vicki Kennedy and columnist E.J. Dionne. Interestingly, the Massachusetts Medical Society joined in opposition to the bill, citing not moral concerns but fear over potential abuse of the elderly or disabled. Given the close vote, it will be interesting to see if the backers of the ballot question work in those protections and try again.

Voters in California are considering abolishing the death penalty, where opponents ran a campaign based not on morality or ethics, but the extravagant cost to the state’s beleaguered budget. Early returns show the repeal effort faltering. 

Maryland voters approved by a large margin a version of the DREAM Act, offering in-state tuition rates to the children of undocumented immigrants. The Catholic Church in that state offered support for the question.

Another milestone in presidential elections: no white Protestant was on either ticket. Catholics who attend Mass weekly went for Romney 58%-41%, while those Catholics who attend Mass less frequently went for Obama 55%-43%, nearly the same rate as 2008 when Obama beat Sen. John McCain. Obama won 68% of Jewish voters, down from 78% in 2008. Latinos went for Obama 70%-30% and African-Americans 90%-10%. (See more on polls here.)

Finally, history was made in New Hampshire, where both US Senators, both members of Congress, and the governor will all be women.

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ed gleason
6 years 4 months ago
The noisy bishops lost big in this election.But they didn't lose western civilization . they just lost on some minor pesky issues.   SS marriage and BC insurance coverage won. These bishops should not have framed these issues as a hill the  laity should die on.
Being an 80 year old patriarch of a large extended family I would advise the bishops to never again use  "you're dead to me' approach in politics or with the wayward members in any clan. Think, Jesus reaching out to the wayward.
Fear  doesn't work and what families eventually do is put the cranky old goat into a home, and if he still complains there too much, the home  won't wheel him out to the front porch anymore where he bothers the others with his complaints about the younger generation. . Think Roman posts.. ,  
David Smith
6 years 4 months ago
The notion of morality is evolving rapidly in the West, broadening in some areas and tightening in others. Traditional Christian values are being discarded and replaced with new ones derived from social preference. It's pretty dramatic, and it's interesting to watch people like the Jesuits at America running around trying to keep up with the mob.
William Lindsey
6 years 4 months ago
Thanks for your response, David.

You're quite wrong, of course.  Slavery was abolished because the human community eventually recognized that it's immoral.  That recognition resulted from a coalition of faith communities and secular movements who appealed to the conscience of nations still permitting slavery-notably, the U.S.-and who eventually succeeded in pushing and cajoling those nations (sometimes violently so) to accede to the demands of morality and abolish the practice.

The same process occurred with regard to slavery's evil progeny, Jim Crow laws and legalized segregation.

As Martin Luther King constantly pointed out (drawing on his tutelage at Gandhi's hands), it's when people begin to see in some irreducible way the real-life effects of immoral institutions like racial segregation that they then begin to develop conscience and change the institutions.  This is why he masterfully staged his protests in places like Birmingham where cameras and reporters were on hand to document-for all the world to see-precisely what had been going on in the states clinging to laws permitting racial segregation up to the 1960s.

We can, of course, always play semantic games designed to insulate us from the recognition that moral awareness shifts and grows over the course of history.

But to any halfway awake observer of history, that's a self-evident recognition.  Even when the arc of the moral universe is long, it still bends towards justice, leaving behind those who resist the gradual development of new moral awareness in socieity about injustices we've long taken for granted.
William Lindsey
6 years 4 months ago
Thanks, David.
William Lindsey
6 years 4 months ago
@David Smith: "Traditional Christian values are being discarded and replaced with new ones derived from social preference."

I heard exactly that same argument, ad nauseam, from my fellow white Southern Christians during the Civil Rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.  

Turns out we were wildly wrong about what's "social preference" and what are "Christian values."

As are many of us Catholics nowadays who want to pretend that the human rights of LGBT persons are beyond the scope of "Christian values." 
David Smith
6 years 4 months ago
William, I beg to disagree.  That attitude was right then and it's right now.  Your southern friends were not on the side of the angels, as it turned out, but they were correct that it was social preference that brought about the change, not Christian morality. The moral code had, after all, been around for seventy generations. Nothing changed about the morality: it was social preference that finally ended de facto slavery.

I suspect that if you could live to be two or three hundred, you'd eventually find yourself stretched beyond your breaking point when this trend grows to encompass far more than homosexual marriage. I'll forgo the usual predictions, because, alas, I'm not a fortune teller, but I think it's likely you'll see present moral limits reduced before many more generations have passed away to encompass not a lot more than murder and battery and increased to encompass much more in areas we now see as basic freedoms.

If that sounds like mindless conservative rot, see your genentologist about doubling or tripling your expected longevity and sit back and watch.
David Smith
6 years 4 months ago
William, unless I'm greatly mistaken, we are saying much the same thing.


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