Published for Fathers Day last Sunday, Parade magazine asked President Obama to write a reflection on what fatherhood means to him. It is quite good, though it contains a disturbing contradiction. After sharing his personal experience of being raised without a father and coming to know the importance of a father’s role by its absence, he states the following:
That is why we need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one.
Did he just say what I think he said? If the life of that child and with it the responsibility of the father begins at conception, how does that fit in with his abortion rights advocacy? Exactly when does life begin? Above his pay grade? Seems like the President made a practical judgment here.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 1, 2009
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2009
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.
LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country’s response to the HIV pandemic.
Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.
The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.
My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.
These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Forty years ago this month, the gay rights movement began with the Stonewall riots in New York City, as gays and lesbians demanded an end to the persecution they had long endured. Now, after decades of hard work, the fight has grown into a global movement to achieve a world in which all people live free from violence and fear, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In honor of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and on behalf of the State Department, I extend our appreciation to the global LGBT community for its courage and determination during the past 40 years, and I offer our support for the significant work that still lies ahead.
At the State Department and throughout the Administration, we are grateful for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in Washington and around the world. They and their families make many sacrifices to serve our nation. Their contributions are vital to our efforts to establish stability, prosperity and peace worldwide.
Human rights are at the heart of those efforts. Gays and lesbians in many parts of the world live under constant threat of arrest, violence, even torture. The persecution of gays and lesbians is a violation of human rights and an affront to human decency, and it must end. As Secretary of State, I will advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Though the road to full equality for LGBT Americans is long, the example set by those fighting for equal rights in the United States gives hope to men and women around the world who yearn for a better future for themselves and their loved ones.
This June, let us recommit ourselves to achieving a world in which all people can live in safety and freedom, no matter who they are or whom they love.
By Rev. Robert Barron
It was with a great deal of dismay that I listened to the speeches given last Sunday at Notre Dame by Fr. John Jenkins the President of the University and Barack Obama the President of the United States. Both are decent men and both are eloquent speakers, but both, I’m afraid to say, are confused in regard to some fundamental matters. Fr. Jenkins wrapped himself in the mantle of humility and open-mindedness, protesting that he was standing in the great Catholic intellectual tradition of dialogue and conversation, and President Obama cast himself in the role of reconciler and peace-maker, discoverer of “common ground” between people who radically disagree with one another. When protestors shouted out during his speech and Notre Dame students began to chant the Obama campaign slogan, “yes we can” in order to drown out the offending voices, the President calmly passed his hand over the crowd and said, “we’re alright; we’re alright.” He seemed to embody the very principle that he was articulating. So why was I dismayed at such humility and equanimity?
It comes down to that slippery little word “dialogue.” I realize that to say that one is against dialogue is akin to saying that one is impatient with motherhood, patriotism, and sunny days. But the point is this: one should, in certain circumstances, be suspicious of dialogue. The great Canadian Jesuit philosopher Bernard Lonergan laid out the four basic moves that characterize the action of a healthy mind. First, he said, a properly functioning mind ought to be attentive, that is to say, able to take in the facts, to see what is there to be seen. Second, it ought to be intelligent, by which he meant, able to see forms and patterns of meaning. In the scientific context, this corresponds to the formulation of hypotheses or likely theories. In more ordinary cognitional contexts, it means conversation, the sharing of ideas, dialogue. It is at this stage that open-mindedness is a great virtue, because sometimes the most outrageous theory turns out to be right. But the healthy mind cannot stop at this stage. It must move next to what Lonergan called reasonability. This stage of judgment, the moment when the mind, having surveyed a variety of possibilities and scenarios, having listened to a range of perspectives, finally decides what the truth is. Many people balk at judgment, precisely because it is painful. The word “decide” comes from the Latin term “scisere,” which means “to cut.” The same words stand at the root of “scissors” and “incision.” All judgments, all decisions, are bloody, because they cut off a whole range of rival points of view. Then finally, having judged, Lonergan says, the mind must move to responsibility; it must accept the implications, both intellectual and behavioral, of the judgment that it has made.
What I sensed in both Jenkins’s and Obama’s speeches was a sort of fetishism of dialogue, an excessive valorization of the second stage of the cognitional process. The conversation, they seemed to imply, should remain always open-ended, the dialogue on-going, decision or judgment permanently delayed. But dialogue is a means to an end; it is valuable in the measure that it conduces toward judgment. G.K. Chesterton said that the mind should remain open, but only so that it might, in time, chomp down on something nourishing. The Church has come to the considered judgment that abortion is morally objectionable and that Roe v. Wade is terrible law, as bad as the laws that once protected the practices of slavery and segregation in our country. To suggest, therefore, that a Catholic university is a place where dialogue on this matter is still a desideratum is as ludicrous as suggesting that a Catholic university should be the setting for a discussion of the merits of slavery and Jim Crow laws. I would like, actually, to stay with these last examples. Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, the legendary retired President of Notre Dame, was mentioned several times in President Obama’s speech as a model of the dialogue and openness to conversation that he was extolling. Does anyone think for a moment that Fr. Hesburgh, at the height of the civil rights movement, would have invited, say, George Wallace to be the commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary degree at Notre Dame? Does anyone think that Fr. Hesburgh would have been open to a dialogue with Wallace about the merits of his unambiguously racist policies? For that matter, does anyone think that Dr. Martin Luther King would have sought out common ground with Wallace or Bull Connor in the hopes of hammering out a compromise on this pesky question of civil rights for blacks? The questions answer themselves.
Then why in the world does anyone think that we should be less resolute in regard to the heinous practice of abortion which, since 1973, has taken the lives of 43 million children? Why does anyone think that further dialogue and conversation on this score is a good idea? I think those questions answer themselves too.