Same-Sex Marriage

Posted by Censor Librorum on Aug 21, 2008 | Categories: Bishops, Lesbians & Gays, Politics

U.S. bishops, in New York and California especially, have had plenty to say about same-sex marriage in the last couple of months.

“Sexual intimacy between persons of the same sex does not pass muster,” Bishop William Murphy wrote in the Diocese of Rockville Centre newspaper. Homosexual relationships “do not serve the common good. They cannot do so because they contradict biological teleology and the natural law.”

The L.A. bishops added, “When marriage is redefined so as to make  other relationships equivalent to it, the institution of marriage is devalued and further weakened.”

But after pages of  obfuscating over benefits and gender, the bishops finally got to the main point of their objections: “…the movement for ‘same-sex marriage’ is less about such benefits than it is about societal acceptance and approval of homosexual relationships.” parentsgroupoutsidebest6-21-05_5x7_72ppi.jpg

They’re right. As society more and more accepts gay and lesbian couples and families as friends and neighbors, the church has less and less of a sure footing to ignore or condemn us.

This past spring, Governor David Patterson of New York signed an executive order directing state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries.

Patterson related to a NY Post reporter that most of the people who had come up to him to express their appreciation were not gay couples–but parents of a lesbian daughter or gay son.

The church is sunk.

While gay and lesbian couples made the issue visible, it is their parents, friends, siblings, neighbors and co-workers that are making these couples and their children a normal part of the family and community fabric.

The greatest adversaries the church will have to contend with are Catholic parents–the mothers and fathers, husbands and wives they have sworn to honor and defend.

How ironic.

One of the best statements I have read on gay marriage was a letter in Commonweal Magazine. Written by a man named Jim McCrea, it is prophetic in describing how legal and legislative  battles  will eventually transform the institution of marriage; not by making it inclusive, but separating its legal standing from religious vetting.

This compromise on same-sex marriage will not force the blessing of organized religion on gay couples or attempt to do so.   Instead, it will substantially reduce the legal and cultural clout of clergy and the institutions they represent on the issue of marriage.  

“The legal debate about same-sex marriage will be played out in voting booths and in the courts for a long time to come,” McRea begins. “Even if those of us who advocate same-sex marriage prevail, religious communities will not be forced to change their norms for marriage. If anyone attempts to force Christian communities to bless gay marriages, I and other Californians will vigorously oppose it.”

“Still, religious proscriptions masquerading as cultural norms should not be imposed on those who do not accept them. I have yet to hear a persuasive explanation on how my thirty-six-year relationship with my partner diminishes family stability or the value of anyone else’s marriage.”

“I recommend a familiar solution: Anyone who wants to get married should have to enter into a state-sanctioned civil union that confers all the legal rights and privileges that come with marriage.”

“After that, anyone who wants a religious ceremony can have one. This is what most of Europe has done for many years, and life as they know it has not come to an end.”  

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