Author: Ramon Luzarraga

Symposium on Same-Sex Marriage: The Debate We Should Be Having

The debate the Catholic Church in particular and our society in general should be having concerning whether two persons in love with one another and who possess a homosexual orientation should marry was, for a brief, shining moment had in the pages of America Magazine eight years ago.  (I reject the phrase “homosexual person” or “gay person” in favor of my admittedly inelegant description because those two phrases serve as a shorthand that imply that one’s sexual orientation defines primarily or completely who a person with that orientation is; a risible contention which metes an injustice on people, an injustice few seem to notice.) Monsignor Robert Sokolowski, a professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America well known for his work in phenomenology, launched the debate in the June 7, 2004 issue of America with the blunt title, “The Threat of Same Sex Marriage”.  Stephen Pope, a professor of theology at Boston College and a leading Catholic ethicist known and respected by many who read and contribute to this blog, published a direct rebuttal to Sokolowski in the December 6, 2004 issue with the question “Same Sex Marriage: Threat or Aspiration?”  Unfortunately, their exchange did not signal the advent of a full-fledged debate on the topic.  However, both Sokolowski and Pope did meet the essential prerequisite needed for any authentic debate: they agreed on what people ought to disagree on and how to go about airing their views.  Their exchange remains markedly superior to...

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A Cross Removed?

A New York Times article that appeared on Good Friday caught my attention because of the topic it covered and how it contrasted with the day on which it got published.  If a Times editor wanted to quietly make a point with the timing of the article’s release, I would not be surprised.  Given the intelligence of the Times staff and their readership, I am reluctant to chalk this up to coincidence. The article carried the title “Seeking an End to an Execution Law They Once Championed”.  It reported on the efforts of two men, a California politician and a prosecutor who in 1978 lobbied for and won a campaign to expand the death penalty in California.  Thirty-four years later, these same two men are campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty in that state.  Fortunately, California is not alone in proposing such legislation.  Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky and Washington have similar bills before their respective legislatures to abolish capital punishment. Connecticut’s assembly, at this writing, will likely pass its bill and their governor Dannel P. Malloy has promised to sign it into law.  New York, in 2004, saw its death penalty law ruled unconstitutional by its supreme court and their legislature has not attempted to introduce a new law to restore it.  New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007, followed by New Mexico in 2009.  How appropriate that on...

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Bankruptcy: just another tool for business?

Two weeks ago, AMR, the parent company of American Airlines filed for bankruptcy reorganization. With this move, American became the last of the legacy carriers (companies who helped pioneer American air travel and existed prior to the 1978 deregulation of the industry) to use the bankruptcy law to restructure its business to lower costs and become more competitive with its rival carriers, including the new breed of low cost carriers who have entered (and exited) the market since deregulation. Observers of the industry will likely call this move of AMR’s inevitable. They will chalk it up as the latest move by the legacy carriers in their painful transition from a business model which worked during the era of regulated markets, where high fixed costs — including a unionized labor force — could be covered by a government regulated route and fare structure, but now must give way to a structure resembling a low cost carrier. Low cost carriers, the exemplar being Southwest Airlines, focus on charging the lowest fares the market can bear. To remain profitable, such carriers depend on frequent flights, no frills (or extra charges for things like food and drink), and often employ low-cost, non-union labor. Federal bankruptcy law has become a popular tool for legacy carriers to get out of labor contracts, force labor concessions on salaries, benefits, and work rules for new contracts, get...

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