Beauprez camp learns of sheep and men
by Linn and Ari Armstrong
The following article was originally published by Grand Junction Free Press on August 21, 2006.
Unlike the hysterical left, we're not overly concerned about Janet Rowland's comment about sheep. Rowland, a Mesa County Commissioner, is now Bob Beauprez's running mate. (Beauprez is running for governor, for those living in a cave.) We were even mildly amused to read in the Rocky Mountain News that John Marshall, Beauprez's campaign manager, referred to some who attacked Rowland as "bed-wetting, pampered liberals."
Frankly, we're more concerned about some of Rowland's other comments.
So what's the deal with sheep? Notably, last year when your younger author discovered that a tax-funded web page for public high school students linked to a poem titled, "The Problem of Lesbian Sheep" (Google "Wasteful Spending by Colorado Government"), the left either ignored the issue or found it funny. But when a Republican uses the word "sheep" in the same sentence as "alternative lifestyle," then that's "extremism," says Pat Waak, Chair of the state Democratic Party, reports the AP.
The AP reviews, "In a March 17 broadcast of the Rocky Mountain PBS program 'Colorado State of Mind,' Rowland said homosexuality is an alternative lifestyle, adding, 'For some people, the alternative lifestyle is bestiality. Do we allow a man to marry a sheep?' ...Marshall said Rowland regretted the remark and has apologized."
More recently, Rowland explained, "The question I posed is: Where do we draw the line? If marriage isn't between a man and woman -- which I and the congressman believe it is -- it can be between two men or two women. It can be between a threesome. It can be polygamy. I went on to give all the alternative lifestyles that people have a right to participate in. I probably stepped over the line by referring to bestiality" (as reported by Jim Spencer of The Denver Post).
Rowland was awkwardly making a slippery slope argument. And, insofar as she limits the discussion to human group romances, she makes a point. We have yet to hear a single one of Rowland's critics make a coherent case as to why gay marriage should be allowed but polygamist marriage should be outlawed.
Rowland went astray in including bestiality because marriage is a contract, and contracts are possible only to individuals with rights, and rights may be claimed only by rational people. (Thus, only those who argue that animals have rights could sensibly entertain the notion of sheep marriage, even to discount it. And we suspect that all of those people will vote for Bill Ritter.)
Where do we stand on the matter? We're for equal rights for homosexuals. Rights belong to individuals, not to groups. Every individual has the same rights, and every individual deserves equal protection under the law. However, we're not convinced that the state has to grant the title of "marriage" to a contract among homosexuals (or polygamists, for that matter). So long as homosexuals have all the same contractual rights of inheritance, hospital visitation, and so on, what does it matter if the relationship is legally called "marriage?" We're not even sure that the state should confer the title of "marriage" to heterosexual couples. Why not leave the state to record contracts, and let religious institutions and other groups declare marriage?
We are more disturbed by comments Rowland made in 2004 for a survey for Western Colorado's Christian Chronicles (as related by the Rocky Mountain News).
What about "faith-based initiatives?" Rowland answered, "I fully support it. I introduced faith-based programs into the Department of Human Services." In other words, Rowland believes it's okay to forcibly confiscate money to fund religious groups whose views may be anathema to those paying the bills. Yet that practice is a violation of freedom of conscience and rights of property.
Rowland also said that creationism should be taught in tax-funded schools, if evolution is taught. She answered, "All religions are welcomed in the schools except Christianity. This is wrong." Yet tax-funded schools should not promote Christianity.
How does Rowland "feel about the issue of 'separation of church and state'?" She answered, "It's not in the Constitution. We should have the freedom OF religion, not the freedom FROM religion."
Yet Thomas Jefferson indeed equated the "wall" with the First Amendment: "...I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
In a free society, we have freedom of religion as well as freedom from religion. There is no religious "freedom" to violate the rights of others. For example, Christians are not free to act on the Biblical advice to kill homosexuals.
Rowland's comment about sheep, by itself, is not worrisome. But, in the context of her theocratic sentiments, we indeed have cause to worry about Rowland's commitment to individual rights.