The Difficulty With Engaging Gay Marriage

UPDATE: This post may make more sense with this post as its partner.

Catholics are in a unique position in regards to the gay marriage debate, one ignored by Catholics themselves and those lobbying for redefinition. Granted, it’s a position more nuanced than the culture would like, and it may very well mean involving oneself in intellectual discussion that transcends Facebook profile pictures with all the influence of Kony2012, so beware. I’m going to try my best to express this position, with the full understanding that it will nevertheless be assumed into the nauseating, all-consuming Zoroastrianism of Us Versus Them.

First of all, no Catholic should hate gays. Hating people is a sin, and if a person refuses to repent of it, he’ll go to Hell for it. Of course, it’s no hatred of the human person to disagree with the attempt to redefine marriage into a genderless institution, a rather obvious fact nevertheless lost upon a culture insistent upon categorizing all philosophies between Agreement and Burning Fire Hate.

Secondly, when the Catholic speaks of marriage he refers primarily to the sacrament of marriage. The sacrament has nothing to do with the vague acknowledgment of unity by a government agency called civil marriage. It has everything to do with the erotic union of male and female, who — by the very reason of their difference — become one flesh. This comes from Holy Scripture, when Christ dishes out a stinging, clearly-not-hip-and-with-it, insensitive Rabbi-slap:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?

Thus marriage — leaving the father and mother to be united to a wife in the physical union of sex that creates another living, breathing “flesh” — is inseparable from being made “male and female.” “For this reason” says Jesus Christ, and how we wished that left wiggle room for other reasons, like marriage for money, convenience, politics, status, or tax breaks! As usual, God disappoints our modern sensibilities.

Nevertheless, the Church holds Christ’s reason-for-marriage as unchanging truth. If the sacrament of marriage were to change its definition, there would cease to be a Catholic Church, for such a change would indicate that the Holy Spirit has left the Church, and that what the Church binds as true on earth is not, in fact, bound in Heaven. A change-of-mind means she is not built upon a Rock, not safeguarded against the ever-changing tides of fashion and culture. She would be revealed as a merely human institution, flowing with the tide of the world.

To put it another way, those obedient to the Catholic Church, down to Pope Francis, would be obliged to accept lethal injection before changing the sacrament, for it is better to die than break a covenant with God, and to ignore the words of his Son, Jesus Christ.

I do not say this to try and convince you of the truth contained in the Catholic view of marriage. If anything, I imagine I’ll scare people off, because — for the sake of clarity — I need to draw lines in the sand. The Catholic is a person set apart in the marriage wars. He does not act of a knee-jerk sense of self-preservation. How can he? Marriage has been preserved by God. The question becomes far more nuanced: What is the Catholic’s relation to civil marriage, legal marriage — marriage as it is recognized by the state?

I speak only for myself, but it seems to me that I am already in opposition to our legal institution of marriage, regardless of whether it later becomes redefined into a genderless institution.

The state recognizes no-fault divorce and subsequent remarriage. The Church does not. If a Catholic spouse marries with the proper Canonical Form and with at least the semblance of the necessary intentions given through the marriage vows, their marriage bond cannot be dissolved, even if the civil government, through divorce, no longer recognizes that a marriage exists. This is not the place to explain the details of why the Catholic Church follows Christ’s teaching when he says “what God has joined together, let no one separate.” This is merely to point out that the Catholic faithful to the Church is already in opposition to the practice of civil marriage.

So too with prenuptial agreements. Entering into a marriage while planning for divorce is a contradiction in terms. From Canon 1096:

“For matrimonial consent to be valid it is necessary that the contracting parties at least not be ignorant that marriage is a permanent consortium between a man and a woman which is ordered toward the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.”

So again, I find myself already opposed to our culture’s current practice of legal marriage. To be clear, the love and commitment of husband and wife maybe awesome and true, but the government recognition of that awesome and true union amounts to an uncommitted tax break.

This bureaucratic nicety, this business transaction — I can’t support it anyways, regardless of whether the government later chooses to nod its abstract head in agreement to the marriage of three people, two men, a woman to her self, or a woman to a building. (As an aside, it also seems that, in general, something as awfully bad as the American government should bear no weight on the truth, goodness, beauty, fidelity, or worth of a marriage.)

So when the Catholic opposes the redefinition of marriage in the public square, he cannot act out of a desire to “maintain of God’s plan for marriage,” that bumper-sticker cry so many Christians are intent on yodeling. Not unless he simultaneously opposes — with equal vigor — a culture of kid-screwing divorce, prenupts, and contraception. Do we really think that if we maintained our civil definition of marriage as between “one man and one woman” we’ve saved the day and now we marry according to “God’s plan”? How little “God’s plan” respects God’s actual plan, the union of man and woman before Him, the intentional choice to become an icon of fruitful self-gift that reflects the love of the Trinity and the love Christ has for his Church, that others may look upon man, woman, and child and know there is a God, that he is love, and that he makes all things new!

So the Catholic is thrice set apart: He does not act out of an attempt to preserve his idea of marriage, for the sacrament of marriage has been assured. He does not act out of a hatred for lesbians and gay men, unless he desires to separate himself from God and his Church for doing so. He cannot oppose the redefinition of civil marriage simply that it might not become genderless, but rather, he opposes our conception of civil marriage as an already poor reflection of what marriage should be, as an uncommitted tax-break divorced from the idea of family.

(As another aside: I don’t think it’s a very good argument to say that if we redefine civil marriage so that it becomes a genderless institution, churches will be forced to perform gay marriages. It amounts to the heresy of consequentialism. That an action might have a bad effect is no proof that an action is bad in itself. All it means is that an action might have a bad effect. At best it’s a good reason to consider the possibility that an action is bad. All “they’ll persecute churches!” means is that the world will continue to expect the Church to conform to its standards, and will continue to persecute and martyr Christians for refusing to conform. What else is new?)

So why should a Catholic oppose the redefinition of civil marriage into a genderless institution? I try — and fail, usually — to take a page from the book of Pope Francis: In regards to the gay marriage debate, the Catholic should oppose the redefinition of civil marriage out of love for others.

For me — saved by Catholicism from the Adam-and-Steve argument, hatred, and all the rest — the question of redefining civil marriage ultimately boils down to this: Do children have the right to a mother and father? If the answer is yes, then I oppose the redefinition of marriage on the grounds that such a redefinition would restrict a child’s basic, human right. Genderless marriage means the creation of new, intentionally fatherless and motherless family structures. This is not a question of religion, nor a conservative position upheld for the sake of conservatism, and it certainly isn’t hatred. It is concern for human families and their children. It is a view shared by men and women who are gay themselves, proving — once again –that no matter how hard our culture tries to objectify gays and lesbians into emotion-driven creatures that couldn’t possibly think for themselves, they turn out to be — shock! — unique human beings who exist outside of our political brushstrokes.

Xavier Bongibault is an atheistic homosexual protesting a bill to legalize gay marriage in France, and if we’d actually listen to gay people who oppose gay marriage instead unleashing our vitriol and lambasting them as self-hating, we’d probably learn to respect each other a little more:

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Jean Marc, a French mayor who has lived with a man for 20 years, is of a similar mindset, saying that “the LGBT movement that speaks out in the media . . . They don’t speak for me. As a society we should not be encouraging this…The rights of children trump the right to children.”

From the same article we hear that:

66-year old Jean-Dominique Bunel, a specialist in humanitarian law who has done relief work in war-torn areas, told Le Figaro he “was raised by two women” and that he  “suffered from the lack of a father, a daily presence, a character and a properly masculine example, some counterweight to the relationship of my mother to her lover. I was aware of it at a very early age. I lived that absence of a father, experienced it, as an amputation.”

Closer to home, the article by Doug Mainwaring, I’m Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage says it quite clearly. Speaking of his homosexual lifestyle, he says:

I dated some great guys, and was in a couple of long-term relationships. Over several years, intellectual honesty led me to some unexpected conclusions: (1) Creating a family with another man is not completely equal to creating a family with a woman, and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both.

There are many gay voices speaking out against the redefinition of civil marriage and the subsequent degradation of children into things we have a right to, and this wouldn’t be surprising if we would stop treating people like the Platonic Form of Gay Man.

The study Xavier Bongibault refers to is Mark Regenerus’ “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study”, and it points out the flaws in the methodology of previous research that have claimed that homosexual parenting is the same or even better than other kinds of parenting, pointing out that you can’t get adequate samples by advertising for your study in lesbian bookstores, nor by using a grand total of 17 couples. The study has been well defended against a lot of emotionalism, but just to be clear, it’d be foolish to use it to make the claim that “this proves homosexual parenting is bad.” Regenerus claims no such thing. However, he does show that the claim that there is “no difference” between the children of mother-father parenting and father-father/mother-mother parent is a similarly foolish one.

What we do know points to the immense value of being raised by a mother and father. The study Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We Do about It? shows what common sense already comprehends: A mother and a father give themselves to their child, and the child thrives under the influence of both sexes. The excess of one, the lack of another — this is what makes the child’s life difficult.

We may very well require alternative family structures out of necessity, but this is not the same as the creation of alternative family structures out of desire. Such creation does not respect what I believe to be a basic right of children: The right to a mother and father. To defend this right must always and ever be an act of love.

So this is not to question the love a gay couple has for one another, nor do I seek to exclude a gay couple from an institution on the basis of them simply being gay, nor do I argue from the basis of religion. This is to join hands with gay people themselves in defense of the right of every child to have a mother and a father. If the world wants to annihilate this discussion and the gay voices leading it in favor of the tired dichotomy of Bigot vs. Abomination and Hater vs. Sinner — let them. I — speaking as a Catholic — return my ticket, for I am going to try, with every ounce of myself, to love everyone, and to desire for them their ultimate Good.

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  • Justin

    The entire debate is f’ing stupid. Conservatives draw weak lines in the sand and retreat. Homosexuality used to be one of the few sins crying to heaven for vengeance. Sodomy, and a capital crime. Now we can’t even call gay marriage abhorrent, much less the act of the sodomite itself. The modern world is pathetic. Maybe religious people should just say, “Screw the political process, I’m praying for the Social Reign of Christ the King.”

  • Justin

    By the way, it’s utter bullshit for the guy to say most gays want straight-only marriage. I’m sure a poll would reveal the opposite by about 95-5%.

    • Helpful

      Then why don’t you find a poll that says that?

  • tedseeber

    “I speak only for myself, but it seems to me that I am already in opposition to our legal institution of marriage, regardless of whether it later becomes redefined into a genderless institution.”

    You speak for me too. I’d rather see civil marriage be made illegal- for heterosexuals- than see same sex marriage legalized. Sacramental marriage will go on, even under threats of lawsuits and jail time for us bigots.

    • Martin Dillon

      Why should civil marriage be made illegal? You are saying that all non-religious people should not be allowed to marry at all? All non-Christian people? Non-Catholic people? I think you forget that Catholics are a minority in this country. So what happen’s when your Protestant brothers attempt to pass the same law, saying that only Protestant marriage will be recognized by the state? I think you’d bite your tongue.

      My opinion is that civil marriage should be the ONLY government recognized marriage, and Catholic marriage should be the ONLY recognized marriage within the Catholic church. Separating them is the only way the church may be completely protected from the government messing with a sacrament, and then anyone can do whatever they wish and the church doesn’t have to worry about recognizing or performing any of it.

      • tedseeber

        “Why should civil marriage be made illegal?”

        It’s the one thing the gay agenda gets right.

        Civil marriage, as currently constituted, is highly discriminatory and bigoted, and not just against gays. The government should have NO recognition of marriage at all. It never should have had, and wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for Queen Elizabeth I trying to stop Catholics from getting married 400 years ago.

        I’m saying only *churches* should be allowed to recognize marriages, and that in this day and age, tax breaks and other laws currently respecting marriage should be more targeted to the raising of children, which is the only part of marriage that the state has any interest in at all.

    • Claude

      Ted, Ted, establishment clause.

      • tedseeber

        Exactly. Thus due to the establishment clause, we should have NO laws respecting marriage at all.

  • Matt

    Gah! The Patheos server keeps timing out. Well, I already lost the comment I wanted to write, so I’ll have to be content with just posting this:

    Here is a defense of civil marriage written by an orthodox Catholic (me):

  • olivia demkowicz

    I have been waiting for someone to make the distinction between how the world views and has viewed “marriage” and how the Catholic Church views the Sacrament of Marriage, family, sexuality, etc. Thank you for posting this. As to your second point. I agree. No one wants to talk about it. I don’t think conservatives on the issue think this is a strong enough case, since for years now we have been allowing single people to adopt, single women to become impregnated by sperm donors, etc. If one mommy or one daddy is good enough then surely two can’t be any worse, and even perhaps better! But then no one wants to talk about how single parenting may not be the most desirable state in the first place, althouhg, as you ppint out, necessary at times.

    • StraightGrandmother

      Already in all 50 States single sexual minorities by law are permitted to adopt children. I think it is now 27 States deny unmarried couples from *jointly* adopting children, then of course they deny sexual minorities the right to a Civil Marriage. The effect of this is society is forcing children to have ONE legal parent instead of TWO legal parents. Now do you think really, this is what is best for children? This is the Michigan Case, for goodness sakes two NURSES are not able to jointly adopt their 3 children. One mother has adopted 2 of their children and the other mother has adopted the other child. Go ahead and read this article, see real people, with real children and how our unjust laws are HARMING, not helping, children.

      For all the people who worship at the “every child needs a mother and a father” throne you are acknowledging that a child is better off with TWO parents.

  • Olivia

    I have been waiting for someone to make the distinction between how the world views and has viewed “marriage” and how the Catholic Church views the Sacrament of Marriage, family, sexuality, etc. Thank you for posting this. As to your second point. I agree. No one wants to talk about it. I don’t think conservatives on the issue think this is a strong enough case, since for years now we have been allowing single people to adopt, single women to become impregnated by sperm donors, etc. If one mommy or one daddy is good enough then surely two can’t be any worse, and even perhaps better! But then no one wants to talk about how single parenting may not be the most desirable state in the first place, althouhg, as you ppint out, necessary at times.

  • Jodi

    “I speak only for myself, but it seems to me that I am already in opposition to our legal institution of marriage, regardless of whether it later becomes redefined into a genderless institution.”

    You can speak for me, too.

    • Andrew

      Be very careful not to fall in to the trap that many Catholics find to be “a way out” of this debate. Just because the civil/legal institution of marriage is deeply flawed, doesn’t mean we should just “accept it and ‘let them have’ civil marriage” as it’s not like Catholic marriage.

      Part of the importance of fighting its legalization is the deeply irreversible impact it WILL have on society and those who will be raised up in it.

      • MainlineP

        Marriage has to be discussed in the larger context of divorce, contraception and the “me” culture. Fixating on a community making up about five percent of the population does nothing to save either civil marriage or sacramental marriage. At the end of the day all of the plentitude of problems impacting hetero couples will still be there, unaddressed. Targeting the LGBT folks as the bogeymen is foolish and unproductive if improving the institutiuon is really your goal.

      • tedseeber

        Actually, the argument is entirely on the other foot. IF you accept the premise of the gay lobby that civil marriage as currently constituted is bigoted and unjust under the 1st Amendment, THEN you *must* remove marriage entirely from the laws. Civil marriage no, civil unions for heterosexuals, incestous relationships, pseudosexuals, child brides, homosexuals, yes.

        Race to the bottom of the heap and there in the valley you’ll find freedom.

        • QuePaloma

          ‘child brides’? that has nothing to do with same sex marriage. Children cannot sent. Two adults can.

          • tedseeber

            If we remove parental responsibility from marriage (which is what same sex marriage does), then consent has no reasonable meaning because marriage itself has no reasonable meaning. Why are you bigoted against Humong Cambodians? Or Islamics? Consent is no more necessary for civil marriage than procreation, and thus your insistence upon consent is a violation of the establishment clause of the US Constitution.

          • QuePaloma

            consent does have meaning. so even if marriage didn’t exist, would rape not be an issue? seriously? consent is important.

          • tedseeber

            ” so even if marriage didn’t exist, would rape not be an issue?”

            I see no reason under a morally relativist system to make rape illegal. For that matter, I see no reason under a morally relativist system to make murder illegal; and in fact, in some situations, we’re fine with murder (abortion, euthanasia) so why not rape?

            Note, I’m saying that it is entirely possible to interpret the establishment clause in such a way that NO human behavior is impermissible- it all falls under somebody’s morality and religious beliefs.

            I’m also limiting my subject to civil, rather than religious, law, on a strict separation of church and state.

            Under moral relativism combined with a strict separation of Church and State, the State has no reasonable interest in banning anything.

          • dangus

            That doesn’t follow. Procreation is not the *sine qua non* of marriage. Consent, however, is the fundamental basis of any actual relationship

      • Good Catholic GIrl

        Of course, it isn’t like Catholic marriage but then, not everyone is Catholic. For some, only a civil marriage will do (think of the people who flock to City Hall or the Empire State Building). Much as I would love to think everyone could be Catholic, I’m realistic to understand otherwise.

        Just what would be the “irreversible impact” on society? Is the issue that gay people will raise gay children? (Gay children are born to straight people so that can’t be the argument.) Or that the children of gay couples will grow up with no morals? Are people worried that gay parents cannot be loving and committed but instead, will be swingers or have multiple partners?

        • Maria

          No, the ‘irreversible impact’ will be a confirmation of the societal decay of any true sense of marriage — of the kind of marriage that’s committed, worth fighting for, and good for children and society.

          • Josephine Varsi

            I don’t even know that I favor gay marriage but I don’t think the sky will fall in if it is approved (it hasn’t yet in the states that recognize it), To my mind, civil unions serve the purpose and can be useful to other groups of society, not just gays. If societal decay is the issue than there are many more important things to consider than gay marriage. Abortion, corrupt politicians, and let’s not forget all the havoc our priests have brought sown on the Church in particular but also society at large.

            In my own area (NY/NJ/CT tri-state area), we recently had a priest who was not only gay but a cross-dresser who “entertained” men in the rectory and as a side job, was also a meth dealer! Talk about societal decay!

          • StraightGrandmother

            “civil unions serve the purpose” Fine, then you accept a Civil Union if you think they are so great. Go down to the Court House hand back your Civil Marriage License and exchange it for a Civil Union Agreement. Just be aware that your Civil Union is not recognized across State lines nor by the Federal Government.

            Should your Civil Union partner have greater Social Security benefits than you, because you only worked part-time most of your life while you were both raising a family, and should your Civil Union partner die before you, you will not be able to collect the MUCH higher amount of surviving Civil Partner Social Security benefits because that is a benefit reserved ONLY for MARRIED people.

            50 States 50 different flavors of Civil Partnerships, you think the Federal Government can sort through that mess to provide Federal Benefits? Do we have 50 different kinds of Civil Marriages? Do we? And you can’t come along and say that each State must conform to a Standard Civil Union contract because they have States rights to do whatever they want in their State.

            No, Civil Unions on the surface may sound like you are being gracious and magnanimous, all that it is, is attempting to create a “Separate but Equal” arrangement and we know historically that separate is never equal.

            In the words of Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP Julien Bond, “If you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t get gay married.”

          • Good Catholic GIrl

            Well – you certainly set me straight; honest didn’t know about all of these restrictions. As I also said, the sky will not fall in if gay marriage is approved across the board.

          • AtticusFinch

            I think all of you in this thread have professed intentions that are well, however, you are slowly straying from the point of the article you are claiming to defend. It is not for us to debate whether or not there will be some sort of “irreversible decay” or “if the sky will fall”. If you are a true believer in the faith, this is not your concern. However, if we preserve respect, dignity, courage, and fortitude, than we know we are in the right. The “right” here has to do with these preservations- not debating whether or not the movement of the world’s ways is forever damning. If we preserve the rights of our future (our children) and we respect what is natural and good in the world (the ability and opportunity to “create” a future), than God will take care of the rest.

          • dangus

            It is absolutely for us to debate. This is America, not Iran. You don’t get to force your religious views of what is “right” onto other people just because it’s your religion.

          • AtticusFinch

            “civil unions serve the purpose”- straightgrandmother- this is a classic fallacy. You are completely distorting the argument here. You took a piece of the context an elaborated on your own tangent. You disregarded a part of the sentence and the context before and after that sentence. You cannot be taken seriously if that is how you try make a point. I hope, goodcatholicgirl, that you were being facetious. straightgrandmother, you DO however bring some good points and facts, its just that they are misplaced and not relevant to the essence of your argument, nor what is IMPORTANT in this article.

        • Joey Odendahl

          Read the entire article. It doesn’t say we shouldn’t care about civil marriages. It says we SHOULD… Because, as Catholics, we should care about children. And about their inherent right to a mom and a dad. It’s not about religion. That was the article’s point.

          • Marty Sullivan

            If “The inherent right to a mom and dad” isn’t a religious argument, then where in the Constitution is it?

          • Joey Odendahl

            Well, I don’t wanna go into the whole birds and bees thing… but I don’t think religions invented sex, moms and dads. Hence, “inherent”… No law should be required for that which automatically comes with birth. The point is, if we care about kids, we should speak up. This notion that a Catholic must remain silent and let the government foul up the family is nonsense.

          • dangus

            It’s nonsense to say that there’s something that entitles a child to have a certain family a certain way. The idea of the nuclear family only dates back a few hundred years. In some societies even today, parenthood roles are completely different than in Western society. You’re assuming that a very narrow, Euro-centric idea of family is somehow ordained by god, with no reasoning whatsoever beyond your unfamiliarity with any other way of doing things.

      • dangus

        The only impact I’ve seen so far has been universally positive.

  • Brock

    “First of all, no Catholic should hate gays. It’s a sin, and if he refuses to repent of it, he’ll go to Hell for it”

    You might clarify that you mean the hater, and not the sinner in this instance.

    • greg araujo

      No, both the hater and the practicing homosexual are sinning and both are in danger of going to hell unless they repent.

      • Justin

        Absolutely correct. And it’s for God to judge what “hate” is. Merely pointing out the sodomy cries out for God’s vengeance does not make one a “hater” of persons. It is, conversely, very simple to judge the act of sodomy as mortally sinful. Unless we’re just going to rationalize it by saying they’re so addicted to gay sex they literally have no choice in the matter (which I’m sure many today, sadly, would say).

        • John (not McCain)

          As long as I don’t have to spend eternity surrounded by pedophile enablers like yourself, I’ll be very happy.

          • tedseeber

            If you are *either* homosexual *or* hate people merely for having an attraction they can’t control (but might not be acting on), then yes, you’ll be in the same hell as Cardinal Law.

          • Tom

            Was wondering where you were, John. Good to have you back!

        • felliott

          Pointing out that “sodomy’ cries out for God’s vengeance when that vengeance is understood to be a death penalty and when you have no idea how a gay man or lesbian lives his or her life is an incitement to ritual murder against innocent people. It earns you damnation.

    • Andrew

      As the Church teaches, it’s not a sin to be gay. It’s a sin to engage in homosexual acts. This conflation needs to end.

      • tedseeber

        Correct. There is no sinfulness in same sex attraction. It is what you do with that attraction that counts.

  • Renee

    In Massachusetts, as a member of the Bar (inactive), there is little to argue with. If you get gay marriage, the law will address the needs of families in new language. Because even if you can’t call it marriage, the state will always have the interest in a child being raised by biological kin in a stable environment.

    • tedseeber

      Well, that’s the entire question, isn’t it? DOES the state have such an interest? If not, then there’s no reason to stop Gay Marriage. If so, then there’s no reason to support Gay Marriage.

    • StraightGrandmother

      It is not as if gay couples are stealing the children of straight couples after all. What changes when gay couples marry? Straight couples still remain legal parents to their children when Sally and Sue next door get married. It is not as if a gay marriage changes anything for a straight couple and their children.

      • tedseeber

        When Sally met Adam, and had Charlie, then Sally Divorced Adam and got Married to Sue, Charlie lost Adam. It’s as simple as that. And as evil as that.

        • Good Catholic GIrl

          What? Have you never heard of shared custody? Why would you assume that Charlie “lost” Adam? It’s so simple . . .?

  • Gail Finke

    Justin: The young man in the video is, obviously, French. There seems to be a lot more opposition to “same-sex marriage” among gay people in France than there is here. But as numerous studies show, when it is legal very few gay couples choose to get married in any of the countries or American states when it’s been allowed. In France, where civil unions give almost all the same rights and benefits as marriage (except medically assisted reproduction) the vast majority of people entering civil unions are heterosexual. French politics aside, actual French homosexual people are not much interested in “marriage for all.”

    Marc this is an excellent piece but one thing to consider adding is not just that marriage gives a child a mom and a dad, but that marriage — even if it later ends in divorce — gives a child HIS (or HER) mom and dad. As you said, we have embraced way too many ways to generate children. But every child wants his or her own mother and father. Adopted children yearn for their “real” parents. Foster children yearn even for parents who beat, neglected, or abused them. Children conceived by sperm donors want to know their “real” fathers. It’s absurd to pretend they don’t. In the case of adopted or foster children, who want the impossible, the best thing for the CHILD is a stable, married heterosexual couple. It is not a single parent, or a same-sex couple. When it comes to artificially conceiving a child, whatever method, you are creating a child who is an orphan and can never know one or both of his/her parents. The whole thing is a travesty, which puts the wants of adults against the good of society and even against the good of their own children.

    • Justin

      There are over 76,000 homosexual marriages in the United States. How many states have legalized it? Nine? Considering probably 3-percent of the population is comprised of homosexuals, that is not a small number. You’re probably right in saying it is not a lot relatively speaking, but over a very small population group and a short period of time it’s not insignificant.

    • jdens

      I don’t long for my biological father and never have. The most I could I summon was some mild curiosity. I did fine without a father figure at all for the first 10 years of my life and now enjoy a close bond with the man who adopted me . . . you know, my Dad.

  • Obliged_Cornball

    “I speak only for myself, but it seems to me that I am already in opposition to our legal institution of marriage, regardless of whether it later becomes redefined into a genderless institution.”
    I am thankful that there are religious people out there who understand that civil marriage *in itself* is already a departure from the biblical model.

    I also much appreciate the point you make about the Regnerus study, which I feel like I should elaborate on more. The coverage of this study in the media has bothered me immensely because the nuances of the case are lost:

    “To be sure, those NFSS respondents who reported that a parent of theirs had had a romantic relationship with a member of the same sex are a very diverse group: some experienced numerous household transitions, and some did not. Some of their parents may have remained in a same-sex relationship, while others did not. Some may self-identify as lesbian or gay, while others may not. I did not explore in detail the diversity of household experiences here, given the overview nature of this study.”
    Basically, Regnerus’ groupings of “gay father” and “lesbian mother” households contain as much diversity as the various groups of heterosexual families (biologically-intact, stepfamilies, divorced families, adopted families, etc. etc.). Fortunately, these questions can be addressed in the future (as he rightfully acknowledges), but they are not addressed here and now. For this reason, there are many unaddressed confounding variables present in the populations being compared.

    This much so far I know we can agree on. But Regnerus makes an additional further point that you do not mention:
    “In short, if same-sex parents are able to raise children with no differences, despite the kin distinctions, it would mean that same-sex couples are able to do something that heterosexual couples in step-parenting, adoptive, and cohabiting contexts have themselves not been able to do—replicate the optimal childrearing environment of married, biological-parent homes (Moore et al., 2002).”

    Because adoption, step-parenting, cohabitation, divorce, etc. are all confounded within Regnerus’ “gay fathers” and “lesbian mothers” groupings mentioned above, you can’t even say that the different outcomes are even causally connected to homosexuality. For all you know, you could simply be observing the effects of all these other negative influences mingled together. So while this study is important for understanding what groups are associated with better and worse outcomes, it really can’t be used to support the claim against gay marriage as a whole.

    The best you could possibly hope for from this data is a claim against IVF for lesbian couples, but because of the aforementioned confounds, even this is difficult to sustain. The “LM” group, despite its lack of homogeneity, comes up deficient in almost the same categories as other “adopted” and “single-parent” households, and the “GF” group actually looks better than all three (see Table 2). So you couldn’t appose adoption rights for gay couples on the grounds of this study *even if* the results weren’t confounded.

    So ironically the situation plays out in your favor, because future data could still potentially show that homosexual parenting produces some effect that is not accounted for in adoption, divorce, or the myriad of other variables falling under the “LM” and “GF” groups. Perhaps once you are able to stratify homosexual family environments in the same fashion as heterosexual ones instead of lumping them all together, then real deficiencies will become apparent. I admit that I do not suspect this will be the case. If it is, then I will join you in opposition of civil same-sex marriage. If not, I will remain completely okay with it as a secular institution. In any case, further analysis is required until the specific case of homosexual child-rearing is settled empirically.

  • rose sweet

    Marc – kudos again. However, and i know this is an “aside”, please consider rewording this about marriage: “If a Catholic spouse marries with the proper Canonical Form and with at least the semblance of the necessary intentions… their marriage bond cannot be dissolved…” This isn’t exactly true. The outward appearance of necessary intentions does not create valid consent, only authentic necessary intention does. But since no one knows for sure except God, not even the other spouse, valid consent therefore must be presumed until proven otherwise. In the canonical process of determining invalidity, it is often quickly and easily proved that the necessary intentions were never there despite outward appearances. Better language might be, “their marriage bond is presumed to be valid and, if so, is unable to be dissolved.” thanks and keep up the good work for the Truth.

  • Alex Abuyuan

    What I love about the one true Church of Christ, the Catholic Church is the total congruency. Analogous approach can be argued against female priests. Contraception and every single one of the Protestants in Catholic clothing make in wanting to “reform” the Church. The ark of the covenant needs no reforming when it comes to faith and morals. There are plenty if Protestant sects that they may choose to join that will be more in line with the error that they perpetrate. We must continue to pray hard for their conversion of heart, even if they continue to receive the Eucharist in disobedience to the Pope and the Magisterium. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us

  • Anon

    I respect the belief that kids should have a mother and a father, but I find that the complaints about single parenthood are disconnected from reality. Rather than preaching what is good for the children, we should DO something about the complex social problems connected with broken families, each with their own unique story. These outnumber deliberately single moms by far. Do you think that even during biblical times, every child had the picturesque reality of one mommy and daddy?

    • tedseeber

      Why? By the arguments of the gay marriage advocates above, children simply don’t matter.

    • GoodCatholicGirl

      Some children are raised by a single parent because their mother or father died. Why does everyone assume that every single parent started out that way?

  • Anon for this

    I am grateful the author seems interested in approaching this issue fairly, and for differentiating between the realms of the religious on the one hand, and the civil/secular on the other.

    That having been said, this article seems to suggest that gay marriage = gay parenting. From what I can tell, these issues, though related, are distinct. A state that allows gay couples to adopt need not allow gay couples to marry, and vice versa. I might also suggest that the social science data are not so complete or conclusive as seems to be suggested here.

    It is clear that, biologically, every child MUST have a mother and a father (although, that may not always be the case: creating an embryo with two sperm or two egg cells is not very far off now), but when we speak of the “right” for every child to have a mother and a father, that is another issue altogether. Otherwise we would be discussing the forced remarriages of widows/widowers to provide children with the parents they have a “right” to. It would be wonderful if all children had access to healthy food and clean water too, but, well, we’re still working on that.

    In any case, thank you for engaging this issue thoughtfully and without rancor.

    • wineinthewater

      “That having been said, this article seems to suggest that gay marriage = gay parenting.”

      That does show the Catholic bias. From a Catholic perspective, marriage does pretty much mean parenting. From the Catholic perspective, marriage exists *because* of parenting, and if not for procreation there would not be marriage. All of the non-procreation benefits of marriage exist to serve the fundamental purpose of marriage: the creation of children. Again, from a Catholic perspective.

      But this raises a fundamental question: if marriage isn’t about parenting then what legitimate purpose does the state have in being involved at all. If it is just recognizing and legitimizing a romantic relationship, well, what’s the point?

      • GoodCatholicGirl

        Legal protections? Taxation?

        But if marriage is for the sole purpose of raising children, does that mean that the Church would not marry the elderly or the infertile (including post-menopausal women)?

        • savvy

          I think he means a mother and father. Biological or otherwise. The elderly or infertile still are sexually complementary as man and woman. This does not change the fundamental facts, that a marriage as a genderless institution would.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            I’m not understanding the term “genderless”. Man or woman, both are genders whether they are gay or not.

          • savvy

            “Man or woman, both are genders whether they are gay or not.”

            There are people who would disagree with you. Genderless means that the differences between men and women are simply not valid or just imaginary. Nueroscience has already called their bluff.

          • tedseeber

            Genderless means allowing regardless of gender. But that’s not enough if you believe the gay argument that heterosexual monogamous marriage is a violation of the First Amendment. If that is true, then marriage must not only become genderless, but speciesless and consentless as well.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Never heard that gays think heterosexual marriage is a violation of the First Amendment; rather, I think they believe that not allowing gay marriage is the violation.

          • tedseeber

            If not allowing (gay marriage) is the violation in the legalization of (heterosexual marriage) then not allowing incestous marriage is the violation in the legalization of (heterosexual and homosexual marriage), and then (heterosexual and homosexual and incestous marriage) is discriminating against interspecies marriage. No matter how you restrict marriage, you are *discriminating* and by the arguments already given by the gay agenda, that makes you an evil bigot who is going against the First Amendment- unless of course you get rid of civil marriage entirely.

            “Don’t legislate morality” is a huge stick that will beat down all of civilization if we let it- but maybe, just maybe, a government centered civilization is not an adequate replacement for religion.

      • StraightGrandmother

        The States interest in Civil Marriage has always first and foremost been about the couple. Not that tieing children to their parents is not important because it IS, but the States Interest has always been, even when we just had 13 colonies, the States PRIMARY intrest in regulating Civil Marriage has always been to establish stable households to more easily govern.

        This was testified to by Dr. Nancy Cott PhD, Harvard University Professor of History. Dr. Cott researched Civil Marriage from the State’s point of view (as opposed to the experiences of couples) she researched the History of Civil Marriage in America and wrote THE authoritative peer reviewed book on it. TEN years of research. She was cross examined and not impeached.

        You can read her testimony here, just like our Supreme Court Justices will. You read it just like they will read it. We have a terrible history of using Marriage Laws to Discriminate against unfavored classes of people. You won’t believe the awful discrimination we have put into our Civil Marriage laws from the very start of our country, that continues to this day. Just read it.

        Not to put to fine a point on it but the States interest has never PRIMARILY been about pro-creation it has always been about establishing stable households for the State to more easily govern, and couples who are sexual minorities are just as capable as straight couples of creating stable homes.

        • tedseeber

          Looks to me that page 9 of that testimony wiped out your entire pont. She’s only an expert on marriage in the United States, not globally. And what Catholics are claiming is that marriage in the United States is a pale imitation of the global sacramental marriage we believe in.

  • George

    Only, the fact that single people are allowed to adopt almost completely invalidates the argument against gay marriage on the basis that a child has a right to both a mother and father, don’t you think?

    • Tom

      As Marc stated in his last paragraph: “We may very well require alternative family structures out of necessity, but this is not the same as the creation of alternative family structures out of desire.”

      • jcon526

        Still, doesn’t that mean Catholics should be against single people adopting children?

        It’s one thing to be a single mother who had a baby out of wedlock, but it’s quite another to be a single person who desires to adopt a child.

        • tedseeber

          I’m pretty against single people adopting children. They’re usually doing it for the wrong reasons.

          • jcon526

            What are the wrong reasons? To adopt children is a noble undertaking. Is it better that a child has no parents than one? This logic is too odd to be acceptable.

            If anything were to be referred to as “wrong reasons”, I would be against American couples going to Asia to adopt children as opposed to the orphans in America because they want “cute” kids as opposed to black or other children of color, etc.

            However, I wouldn’t make it a policy or try to fight those who do so, because it’s their right to choose whom they adopt, and willingly taking care of children is a noble effort.

            Using children as a reason for gays not to marry (and thus the reason why singles shouldn’t adopt) comes across specious and disingenuous.

            It’s like having a veteran employee that you personally dislike, so you arrange to have them fired, citing the reason being that they didn’t have a graduate degree.

            It appears that this article is saying, “Well, I don’t want gay marriage in civil law either, and the reason is … oh, the children. That’s it. See, I am being noble.”

          • tedseeber

            Adopting a child as a status symbol is a wrong reason. Adopting a child to gain free labor would also be a wrong reason. Adopting a child and then neglecting them to get tax benefits would be the wrong reason.

            And adopting a child merely to claim marriage benefits for a gay couple would most certainly be a wrong reason.

            I suppose you’re one of those liberals who think that nobody is ever devious or sinful.

          • jcon526

            Wow, tedseeber, … “one of those liberals”. That’s one of those (wrong) assumptions that you didn’t need to make to state a counter-point.

            I’m not an expert, but I’m fairly certain that it’s at the orphanage’s discretion whether a person is adopting for the wrong reasons, right? Background checks, evaluating the would-be parents, their environment, not to mention a pretty long waiting period, etc.

            However, that’s not the point being made here. The idea is if people say gay marriage shouldn’t be instituted because children need two opposite-sex parents, it is (1) disingenuous because it’s not a consistent counter-argument that has been offered against gay marriage before, (2) it assumes that gay couples must be adopting children, and (3) it pretty much says that single people shouldn’t be allowed to adopt either.

            Not only does this argument seem like a low-blow attempt to be against gay marriage for manufactured “noble” reasons (think of the children!), but it unnecessarily puts up stumbling blocks for would-be adopters.

            Do we really need to throw up another barrier for willing people, being non-married, to adopt orphans, despite the risk that they’re doing so for the “wrong reasons”, which should *ALREADY* be thoroughly vetted by authorities, just to make an argument against gay civil marriage?

            Ironically, think of the children!

          • tedseeber

            1) I’ve offered it for over 15 years now. 2) What it assumes, is that the ONLY LEGITIMATE INTEREST OF GOVERNMENT IN MARRIAGE IS CHILDREN. Has nothing to do if they are gay or not. And 3) Yes. We need to put up some stumbling blocks for would be adopters who are adopting kids for the wrong reasons. Including heterosexual ones like these folks:

          • jcon526

            1) You are one person, and not the entire anti-gay marriage movement. This is the first instance I’ve heard of using the adoption of children as a basis against gay civil marriage. The major arguments offered in the past decade against gay marriage didn’t have to do with the adoption of children. Additionally, it’s a weak argument because it presumes that people who get married have an interest in bearing or adopting children, and that is simply not the case.

            2) Saying that would-be adopters must be married is a ridiculous stumbling-block. You accept that single parent households are a necessary reality, yet your logic is that a child is better if he or she remains at an orphanage than stay with a single parent.

            3) Providing a link that proves that people adopt for the wrong reasons is ridiculous. I guess with that logic we shouldn’t do a lot of things because bad things might happen.

          • felliott

            Having a child because you wanted sexual gratification, but had no intention of raising a child is far worse and more common than any of the reasons you list. If your concerned with the welfare of children, you should focus your efforts on heterosexuals.

          • tedseeber

            I do for the main push- to get young men to understand that sex takes 35 years.

          • felliott

            You should also oppose Catholic institutions having custody of orphans since they have a demonstrated history of abusing and even enslaving them.

  • AJP

    Please remember that the Church didn’t have much to do with marriage until the Middle Ages. Certainly it is referenced in Scripture and writings of the early Church etc., but the lines of argument that you are attempting to trace in your discussion do not go as far back as you insinuate. It is this type of gap in knowledge that often frustrates me regarding certain aspects of Catholic moral teaching.
    The journey of the Church is full of examples of both culture and historical context influencing belief. Unfortunately, many Catholics either do not understand this aspect of Church history or choose to ignore it for the sake of argument. Much of Catholic moral teaching regarding regarding sexuality is rooted in a Medieval mindset rather than the words of Christ. Unfortunately, the Church continues to back itself into a theological corner by confusing this Medieval mindset with the Gospel.

    • Jason

      This is actually completely false. If you read documents from the early Church this was a constant debate-people were talking about marriage vs celibacy, about the goods of procreation, about the necessity of sex, etc. If you are looking for some places to start you can go to St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, or St. Jerome. They were wrong about many things, but to say they weren’t involved in it at all and had no moral teaching is crazy. The Church has always been involved in Marriage as a Sacrament, and has always had moral teachings on sex and sexuality.

      • Prometheus

        “The Church has always been involved in Marriage as a Sacrament”
        Actually, the Church didnt recognize marriage as a sacrament until the 12th century…..

        • Jason

          There is a difference between the Church believing and recognizing something and something being explicitly defined. Augustine talked about Marriage as a sacrament, but the explicit understanding of its sacramental nature came later, as did many things. They were present from the time of the early Church (for instance, St. Paul) but their understanding of sacramentology was not explicitly defined yet. This doesn’t mean the Church didn’t believe it, just that it had not yet been explicitly recognized.

          • AJP

            I agree that marriage has been an ongoing subject of discussion throughout the life of the Church. That being said, the emphasis of my post was meant to call attention to the fact that not all Catholic moral teaching has been static throughout history. Too often, in my opinion, Catholics either believe or have been taught the opposite. Much of Catholic sexual morality is rooted in both Greek and Medieval (often related) philosophy. I recognize that the personalism of JPII (Love & Responsibility / Theology of the Body etc.) seeks to illustrate the Church’s modern perspective (by affirming the body in a way that the Greeks and Medievel thinkers did not), however, this is still a relatively modern approach and not something that has been passed down through the ages.

          • savvy

            Dogma is fixed, doctrine develops, discipline changes.

            Development of doctrine takes what already exists, but has not been declared official. This is very different from ice your own cupcake Gospel.

        • savvy

          Actually, they always did recognize marriage as sacred and reflecting the image of Christ and the church. They did not have public weddings. There is a difference.

    • wineinthewater

      This is a tired canard. There are two things going on here.

      One is the Church’s developing sense of what a Sacrament is. The apostles didn’t write down a list of seven sacraments. However, the Apostles and the early Church Fathers did describe what we now understand as the Seven Sacraments, and described them in terms of how we now define Sacraments. Medieval theology with its focus on systematization fleshed that understanding out and drew bright lines between what was and what was not a Sacrament, but the Sacraments themselves existed from the beginning. In that process, marriage was one of the more challenging issues. It was always spoken of the way the Church spoke of Sacraments, but state involvement in marriage and Christianity’s oft-preference for celibacy complicated the issue. In the end, the history of the Church spoke clearly for the Sacramentality of marriage and dismissed the objections and doubts finally.

      The other issue is that the Church did not really *regulate* marriage much until later. But that was because the Church’s early interventions in marriage – no plural marriages and no divorce – had become a part of the empire’s definition of marriage. Therefore, there was really little need for the Church to do much to regulate marriage. She blessed marriages that were valid, which was most of them. With the fall of the empire, the regulation of marriage became one of the civil responsibilities that the Church took increasing responsibility for.

      The reality of Christianity’s view of marriage is bolstered by history, not undermined by it.

    • MainlineP

      The author of this blog article touches on, but then backs away from (understandably) the fact that for most of western civilization’s long history marriage was a property/dynastic/clan/arranged entity. Flowery love as a basis for the relationship was largely a Victorian invention. Thus this false elevation of the arrangement to something eternally noble and edifying is ahistorical and of recent origin. Yes the church fathers sometimes said wonderful things about it but not always, particularly when they blessed 14 year olds marrying 12 year olds. The church has also turned a blind eye to male infidelity when the offender was of “noble” lineage.

      • Gregory Peterson

        Ah, the good old Biblical days, when a marriage was usually a contract negotiated between two men over the price of delivering a virgin 12 year old for exclusive sexual services and submissive servitude to her husband.

        Love, consent…who needs it, though love sometimes happened. It was about producing “legitimate” male heirs for a family’s position on the social hierarchy…. which is why slaves didn’t get socially/religiously/legally recognized marriages. They had no need of legitimate heirs as they had no family, except informally.

        Usually a father or guardian would buy a virgin to be his son’s wife, but sometimes a man would save up for years to buy a wife. In one of the first marriages in the Bible, a young man indentures himself to his future duplicitous father, and who has to indenture himself for a new contract to get wife he wanted…leaving him with two wives, neither of which were asked to consent to marry him.

        In one non-canonical gospel (James?), 12 year old Mary if foisted off by the priests on protesting Joseph who does not want to marry her, but is threatened with a severe divine smiting into doing so. He drops her off at his house and then leaves her with his slaves for a long period because of a construction contract. He comes back…she’s pregnant. Uh Oh! Such a soap opera.

  • ibelieveinliberty

    this garbage makes me sick to my stomach.

    I literally cannot believe that educated Americans think this is logical reasoning.

    • Tezz

      Would you mind pointing out the illogical reasoning for those of us that can’t see it?

      • Martin Dillon

        I believe the reasoning is that:
        1) There is no proof that same sex parents make bad parents. Any claim suggesting so is pure conjecture until more research may be done. Even the article linked by the author acknowledges that the study was not done with same sex couples.
        2) Parenting does not equal marriage. The two are separate things; married couples do not need to have children and children are not taken away from unwed, divorced, or widowed individuals. You can argue that children are better off with two parents; those studies have been done, but it is unenforceable.

        • tedseeber

          For 1) to be true, then there needs to be no gender difference between male and female brains, thus it is false. For 2) to be true, well, I guess you can make the word marriage refer to macaroni and cheese if you want to, but that’s not what I mean by the word married, and I believe along with most Catholics that unwed parents are shameful and divorced parents are actively harming their children.

          • Gee

            Huh? What do brains have to do with it?

            I would like to add that every major child health and welfare organization (the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children, to name a few) have supported gay parenting for years.

          • savvy

            Studies have shown that men and women parent differently. Why should a child not benefit from this?

          • Gregory Peterson

            Children are not isolated from all other children, adults and relatives (unless maybe all of the relatives of the parents are disgusting bigots who have disowned them.). We’re an intensely social species, and children have plenty of male and female (in some societies, Third Sex) role models, which they meet wherever life takes them, school, friends, the parent of friends, church, grandparents, teachers, neighbors…on and on. I had a friend in school who was being raised by his mother and grandmother. Last I heard, your children should do as well as an adult.

          • savvy

            Yes, but none of these people are a replacement for their own parents.

          • tedseeber

            “Huh? What do brains have to do with it?”

            Differences in brain structure in human beings promote different forms of parenting.

            “I would like to add that every major child health and welfare organization (the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children, to name a few) have supported gay parenting for years.”

            Yes, following the bribery and outright un-scientific work of Dr. George Weinberg to label normal people as mentally insane.

            I find their work to be highly biased and gravely suspect.

        • Gregory Peterson

          Not to mention that one wonders about the morality of people who would even presume that the average, law abiding, tax paying member of a minority group would likely be incompetent at raising children. It’s not technically racism. but it’s certain very much like racism.

  • Francis

    Marriage does not belong to the Catholic church. Jewish people marry, protestants marry, atheists marry. Marriage has evolved into a legal entity and it is this modern form of marriage that the supreme court is debating. No one will force Catholic priests to hold gay marriages. This is about letting two people who love each other walk into a courthouse and receive a piece of paper that says they are no longer second hand citizens. Also, its poppycock to suggest gay people are against gay marriage Your lone source is one american man, and two french people, who live in an entirely different situation than what gay people experience here.

    • Tom

      “its poppycock to suggest gay people are against gay marriage”

      Except, you know, the people Marc just showed you. But they must be brainwashed, right? They were just reading from a script. Give me a break. The fact that they even exist should give homosexual activists pause. Ironically, those gay people who oppose same-sex “marriage” are being more oppressed and silenced that those who support gay “marriage”

    • Tom

      Also, 2 things: if marriage is only a piece of paper, why should the government have any say in it whatsoever? Why do I need some outside entity to acknowledge the love I feel towards another person, if “two people who love each other” is all that constitutes marriage?
      Second, If “marriage has evolved into a legal entity”, why can’t it evolve past just two people? Why not let it evolve further into, say, a three person, or five person, or animal-human, or human-inanimate object institutions? And at that point, would marriage still mean something?

      • GoodCatholicGirl

        Everyone who gets married, regardless of religion, has to obtain a marriage license so the government is always involved. That doesn’t mean that marriage is nothing more than a sheet of paper, even if the couple aren’t eventually married in a religious ceremony. I’d like to give people more credit than that! They marry because they love each other and fully intend to commit to each other. Yes, a religious marriage is so much more than that but even a civil marriage “means something”.
        And really – animal-human? Human-inanimate? Let’s be serious!

        • Tom

          Human-inanimate has already happened, as has a marriage to yourself, as Marc showed above. So yes, I’m being serious.

          More to the point, if marriage, as you have said is “because they love each other and fully intend to commit to each other”, why is the government involved? The same thing is accomplished at any wedding ceremony. There is no need for the government to come in and issue a license, if that is all marriage is.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            A woman who falls in love with a tower and adopts it’s name? The same woman fell in love with lance? This is a joke! As for the woman who “married” herself (not really – she “committed” to herself) is just as nutty as the friends and family who attended the ceremony. Please! Neither of these “marriages” were legal in any sense.

            Licenses do serve a purpose especially in cases of divorce and
            medical issues, such as a wife making a decision for a dying husband.

          • Tom

            Very true, they weren’t legal marriages. But then again, neither were or are gay “marriages” a few years ago, yet I’m sure there were gay couples who performed “commitment” ceremonies with each other. Now that has progressed into asking for legal recognition of their “marriage”. Why is this progression reasonable for gay couples, but not for those who want to marry objects or themselves? “..just as nutty as the friends and family…” That sounds awfully bigoted against autosexuals. If one person loves themselves, why shouldn’t they get married to themselves?

            Why do they serve that purpose? If marriage is solely a government recognition of “love and commitment”, as you previously stated, what does medical decision rights, tax breaks, and child-rearing rights have to do with that? All three of those things could be decided without government intervention (or done away with, in the case of tax breaks).

            The fundamental question is this: What is the government’s role in reference to marriage? If it is simply to recognize “love and commitment”, then you are left with two options: either the government recognizes ALL marriages, including object marriages, self marriages, etc; or the government recognizes NO marriage, as it becomes meaningless.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            I think you misinterpret my words – I don’t think that marriage is nothing more than a government recognition; as stated earlier, everyone, no matter their religion is required to obtain a marriage license. There are many religions in our country. Do you suggest that each religion have their own rules governing inheritance, alimony, medical decision making? That would be asking for chaos.
            Please, drop the object marriage and self marriage issues. They are nothing less than ridiculous. I may be a devout Catholic and damned proud of it but I’m also a realist. Not everyone is Catholic or even profess an religious affiliation so I recognize the necessity of civil marriages/unions.

          • Tom

            Perhaps I was misreading your statements. Previously you had stated ” They marry because they love each other and fully intend to commit to each other”. My question was that if this is all marriage means in a civil context (to love each other and commit to each other), why is it necessary? If I was wrong in interpreting what you meant, I do apologize. But the question remains: What then, does “marriage” in the context of the government, mean? What does that marriage license mean? Why is there a necessity of civil marriage?

  • Andrew

    Marc – I appreciate you ending the post with the explanation of why one (although they may “already be in opposition to our legal institution of marriage…”) must fight to defend civil marriage in our modern society.

    It’s too easy for many Catholics to say “Well….let them just have civil marriage. I mean, the institution is so messed up anyways, and besides, it’s nothing like Church marriage anyways”.

    People don’t realize the effect of even a secular/civil marriage institution being changed to allow two men or two women will have on society as a whole. Regardless of the faith that one is raised in at home, growing up in a society where there is no social or secular understanding of marriage will deeply wound any young person, whether they realize it or not.

    • tedseeber

      Sometimes, the best way to save something from the government is to destroy governmental interference in it.

  • TeddyT

    I appreciate this attempt to seriously address all arguments toward the issue and coming to reasonable conclusions. The fact remains, however, that the “children has a right to a mother and father” argument for *legally banning* gay marriage is just inadequate. It implies that a successful nationwide defeat of gay marriage would logically lead to a campaign against adoption and artificial insemination by single people, gay or straight. It also ignores the reality that many gay couples are raising children that were the product of opposite-sex relationships, that many gay couples do not choose to have children and that many states simultaneously allow gay adoption and ban gay marriage. All of these issues would have to be addressed to justify a gay marriage ban with your argument.

    The notion itself that children have a “right” to a mother and a father is also completely specious from a legal standpoint. Reading such a right into the Constitution would be nearly impossible, especially given the reality that society is comprised of many normal, fully-functional citizens that were the product of single-parent and gay households. Saying children have a right to a mother and father is like saying children have a right to a stable household income, nutritious home-cooked meals, and a good Catholic upbringing. While we might think these features *ideal*, defining them as rights would necessitate an intrusive system for categorizing parents. From a legal standpoint, the only way to justly label a “bad parent” – that is, one requiring state interference – is one that is a direct threat to their children. The standard for good parenting is not that which is capable of producing ubermensch.

    It’s also disheartening to hear a seemingly reasonable person propogate the well-covered glaring weakness of the Regnerus study. The study compared apples and oranges: Heterosexual households were defined as those where a child is raised by the same married heterosexual couple for their entire childhood. Homosexual households were defined as any household where a child lived with a parent that had, at any time, been in a homosexual relationship and included broken households. Included were only 2 instances of a child being raised by the same committed same-sex couple for their entire childhood.

    • Marty Sullivan

      beautifully said

  • Mook

    Marc, I understand your reluctance to support civil marriages, as they are fundamentally different in kind from what Catholics (and I assume all Christians) mean by the word “marriage.” However, what we’re dealing with, regardless of what side of the debate you’re on, is whether a same-sex interpersonal relationship should be subsidized by the state or federal governments. If we believe that what our state currently defines as marriage is worthy of government subsidization (that is, it is in the best interest of the state—and that can be spiritual interest, if that’s your voting priority), then I think a Catholic can rightfully take a positive stand for civil marriages (of a man and a woman, obviously). I think there is room for orthodox Catholic disagreement on this issue (except for subsidized same-sex unions, which all Catholics should agree is not in the best interest of society).

    • tedseeber

      Given the establishment clause and the arguments the homosexuals have brought up, I have grave doubts that marriage is worthy of government subsidization under the First Amendment. At all.

  • Y. A. Warren

    War kills fathers and children, while making orphans of so many. Let’s stop making orphans for the sake of “God,” then discuss how much the church does to stop one-parent families from being formed. Let’s also stop turning a blind eye to IVF that leaves many children unadopted. A child needs security and love, from a loving community. “God” bless the committed couples, whether gay or straight, who are willing to share their hearts and homes with the most vulnerable members of society.

    • Andrew

      The irony of your response is that the Church is against all those things, too, and has consistently been very outspoken about them.

  • Steven Bradshaw

    Well, whether or not fundamentalist Catholics (or any other kind of Catholic, or Protestant, or Christian, or non-Christian, or anyone really…) agree with equal civil marriage, it’s a reality that will soon be upon most of us who live in the Western world. And just as the world didn’t end when civil divorce and remarriage were legalized, it won’t end now.

    It’s impossible to accurately predict the long-term effects of equal civil marriage on society as a whole. The reality will probably fall somewhere in between the doom-laden prognostications of most of the contributors here and the “so what?” attitude you see over on the Progressive Christian and Atheist channels. Equal marriage has been around for so little time that any statistics we have from countries where it’s currently legal are difficult to extrapolate: a couple of years of a falling heterosexual marriage rate can always be spun into dire threats of a long-term trend, but only time will tell if it’s just a blip or if straight marriage, or indeed marriage as a whole, really is in terminal decline.

    My own view is that it probably is, but that this has more to do with an overall rejection of traditional Christian values throughout society rather than with gay marriage in particular. Take religious compulsion out of the equation and life-long monogamy becomes completely optional, so it stands to reason that marriages will be shorter, divorce rates higher and that the overall percentage of people who decide that informal cohabitation is a perfectly acceptable way of life will grow. None of this means that marriage is doomed of course. There will always be people for whom it’s essential. But it’s conceivable that it may become a minority institution, although as my crystal ball is notoriously unreliable, I wouldn’t want to bet money on that.

    One thing I am pretty sure about though is that with or without equal marriage, overall marriage rates will continue to decline and divorce rates will continue to grow. They have been for so long that the trend is established and rearguard actions by the Church haven’t reversed it. Like it or not, fewer people are getting married and of those who do, more are getting divorced. If the Church had taken the effort it’s putting into negative messages about gay marriage and focused it on positive messages about straight marriage, would things be different? Who knows? Perhaps they would.

    • savvy

      Divorce and re-marriage did not alter the fundamental nature of marriage. It was still between a man and a woman. Marriage rates have already gone down in countries where gay marriage has been legalized. Once you redefine marriage, people no longer see the significance of it, and hence see no point in getting married.

      There also cannot be legal equality, where there is no natural equality, in this case, the sexual complementarity of men and women.

      • jdens

        “Once you redefine marriage, people no longer see the significance of it”

        Actually, savvy, I think the converse is true for a lot of people. Marriage means less when it excludes the love of same-sex couples. It is narrower and meaner.

        • savvy

          Marriage also excludes polygamy and polyamory currently and group marriage. If marriage were only about love, there would be no restrictions placed on it.

          You also do not need a piece of paper to love.

          • Gregory Peterson

            Think of the divorce arrangements in a polygamous or group marriage if all of the spouses decide to split without any prenuptial agreements. That would be fun to gossip about.

            Polygamy was usually a luxury status symbol unavailable to the average Joe, who could barely afford to buy one virgin from her father.

            Though in Tibet, there is one women who marries brothers marriage, an arrangement apparently about keeping ownership of scarce tillable land from being split up into unsustainable little parcels.

            You do need a piece of paper for various marital benefits from many private and government employers. I have a friend who’s legally married husband can’t be put on his health insurance plan, which results in extra expenses.

          • savvy

            Then be honest and admit this is about legal benefits, not love. Civil unions would give them the same rights. This is about re-defining marriage and trampling on what millions of others hold precious.

        • tedseeber

          Civil Marriage has nothing to do with love, and everything to do with eugenics.

  • Joe

    Xavier Bongibault is an awesome name

  • Boze Herrington

    Thank you.

  • Alex

    Who says that children NEED to have both a mother and a father? Children raised by a single parent turn out just fie. Don’t hide behind a veil of ‘doing it for the kids.’

  • Ben Carpenter

    Could we allow same-sex marriage but ban same-sex married couples from adopting? Would that satisfy you?

    • tedseeber

      No, because that discriminates against interspecies couples.

  • Gregory Peterson

    I guess that I was under the mistaken impression that Gays had genders like other humans. But apparently they’re some sort are genderless creatures and aren’t really human at all! Learn something everyday…if only about the writer, Marc.

  • StraightGrandmother

    The author leads us down through a list of diffrences between Holy Marriage and Civil Marriage and says well even though Catholics don’t agree (divorce as one example) we still participate in Civil Marriages. He concludes with one final point, “What about the children” Children need Mommy+Daddy.

    For this point he pulls up the Mark Regnerus study as “proof” that having gay parents is harmful to children. I would like to ask the readers here a question. What if the Mark Regnerus study was retracted by the publisher with cause? Would that change your mind? See this is the only study *in the world* that purports to show that children if their parents have ever had a same sex romance, that that harms children. What if this study was retracted? Now what do you base your opinions on?

    Would you still hold firm to basically your “intuition” that children with same sex parents are harmed in some way? Would you ignore the 60 other studies that show the children turn out just fine? See this is the way science works on small populations. It is really really hard to do random sampling, and Regnerus admits he did not find now adults raised by Mommy+Mommy, on small populations. So you have to do a convenience sample, go where your subjects to be studied are. What happens is a lot of small studies build up the evidence that in this case, show that having same sex parents makes no difference to children.

    I think Dr. Charlott Patterson out of University of Virginia did a very good study, she compared 3 different family structures, of parents who had adopted children, Mommy+Daddy, Mommy+Mommy, and Daddy+Daddy. It is random in the fact that they people did not voluntere she went to adoption agencies and had them poll families who had gotten a child through the adoption agency asking people to participate in a study. So yes this is a small study, but it is still a good study and when this study is added to the other 59 studies it tells the story, or provides the evidence if you will, that what counts for children is being raised in a loving home with parents who love each other and love the child, and that have adequate financial resources. Here is the study please do read it.

    So again my question to the readers is, IF the Regnerus study was retracted by the Publisher with cause, now what do you think? What then is your reason for denying a Civil Marriage to two women or two men?

    *Note just to be completely transparent. There is one other study Sarantakos out of Australia in 1996. However Sarantokos, most researchers agree was done to show how bullying harms children. Sarantakos did a very good study of children with true same sex parents (not like Regnerus who only found 2 people who were raised by 2 mothers). Sarantakos meticulously documented the bullying these children with same sex parents experienced. He went out in the field and went all over Australia to schools and interviewed the teachers and the parents. The children were bullied by their classmates, and they were bullied by parents of their classmates. In fact Sarantakos said n his report that he should really go back and do a study of the teachers and measure their level of anti gay approval. So there is *one* other study but it does not say what anti gay people want it to say.

    • Tom

      Here is what you said: “For this point he pulls up the Mark Regnerus study as “proof” that having gay parents is harmful to children. ”

      Here is what Marc ACTUALLY said: “The study has been well defended against a lot of emotionalism, but just to be clear, it’d be foolish to use it to make the claim that “this proves homosexual parenting is bad.” Regenerus claims no such thing. However, he does show that the claim that there is “no difference” between the children of mother-father parenting and father-father/mother-mother parent is a similarly foolish one.”
      I would like to ask you a question: What if you actually read what Marc and the study he cited actually said?

      • Monika Lund

        How about looking into how Regnerus came to his tentative conclusion that there is such a difference (namely negative for kids supposedly raised by “same sex” parents)? Here, I’ll boil it down for you.

        In order to get adequate numbers of kids from mother-mother (MM) and father-father (FF) households, Regnerus stretched the criteria to include not just kids who were actually raised by same-sex parents for significant portions of their lives, but also kids who THOUGHT that their parent had a same-sex relationship at some point in the kid’s life (and it didn’t matter at all if the same-sex partner had raised/lived with the kid). Any kids that had both a mother and a father who supposedly had same-sex relationships were grouped into the FF group (but not the MM group) due to how low the numbers for FF were. Of course, these MM and FF groups would include not only committed same-sex parents, but also divorcees, single parents, dead parents, extramarital affairs of opposite-sex marriages, etc.

        Now, the above is already a bit dicey, but it’s not the worst part of the study. What’s the worst part is that Regnerus then proceeds to compare the MM and FF groups to a group of opposite-sex households that consist ONLY of committed opposite-sex parents who are STILL TOGETHER and have raised their own BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN (selective much?).

        You’d think that at the very least Regnerus would compare the MM and FF groups to a matched group of opposite-sex households that include the above mentioned problems of divorce, single-ness, dead, cheaters, etc. Sure, Regnerus later claims that his study does not necessarily “prove homosexual parenting is bad”, and even admits that there are a lot of confounding factors (ya think?).

        But then why the heck was he doing the blatantly biased and invalid comparison in the first place? Well, judging by how his work is being used by the anti-gay crusaders, I guess it was to be able to state somewhere in the paper (for quoting purposes, of course) that it disagrees with those other studies finding no difference in kids raised by same-sex parents and opposite-sex parents. And that’s all people like Marc need in order to prop up their bigotry.

      • StraightGrandmother

        I find these two sentences irreconcilable”t’d be foolish to use it to make the claim that “this proves homosexual parenting is bad.” Regenerus claims no such thing.”
        However, he does show that the claim that there is “no difference”
        between the children of mother-father parenting and
        father-father/mother-mother parent is a similarly foolish one.”

        Being as how Regnerus only found 2 people who had truly grown up in an intact same sex parent home how do you reconcile these two sentences? See you gotta kinda put a stake in the ground and either read the study one way or the other. The author tries to play it both ways. Remember sexual minorities are not demanding the right to enter into a Mixed Sexual Orientation Marriage, they can already do that. Remember sexual minorities are not demanding a right to be a single parent, they can already do that. Sexual Minorities are demanding that their right to a same sex marriage AND the right to two parent their children.

        This part is the line I have trouble with, “no difference”
        between the children of mother-father parenting and
        father-father/mother-mother parent is a similarly foolish one.”” Because Regnerus did NOT find these people and the author of this article, by writing that line, is saying that he did. So even though he denies that this would be the basis of his claim “it’d be foolish to use it to make the claim that “this proves homosexual parenting is bad.”” he nevertheless contradicts himself and then makes the claim he said would be foolish to make.

        In the final analysis with absolutely no justification he states a BELIEF, “I believe to be a basic right of children: The right to a mother and
        father. To defend this right must always and ever be an act of love.”

        What about the sexual minorities who want a Civil Marriage and do not want children? What is the basis then of denial? Sexual Minorities adopt thousands of children that straight couples pass up. Biological parents who the Courts remove because hey biology alone doesn’t make you a good parent, are NOT better parents than many loving same sex couples.

        Basically what this argument boils down to is the same old tired, pro-creation, pro-creation, pro-creation argument. Against all evidence to the contrary that children with same sex parents thrive just as well as children with opposite sex parents, we come back to Genetics Tops All. I at least come to my support, not by a BELIEF, but at least by evidence.

        Here is a good article I just read today, and do click on the links in the article

        • Monika Lund

          Thanks, StraightGrandmother, for pointing out the flawed logic of Tom’s claims regarding what Marc wrote. *(^o^)/*

          It’s kind of the same way that articles supporting the Regnerus study tend to ignore the implications of the comparison of the mish-mashed same-sex groups to the narrowly defined ideal opposite-sex group (seriously, why so narrow!?).

          Even when the articles bring up that specific criticism, they just go on to praise the study’s use of a big “randomized” data set (or whatever) and never discuss, counter, or mention the criticism again.

      • Monika Lund

        Just to be clear, in my previous comment, what I meant by “bigotry” is not about the religious beliefs of Marc and others that homosexual acts are sinful, but to the use of such flawed studies and arguments by Marc and others to demonize gay people in general with no regard for looking deeper at the sources.

  • VinceL

    Marc, I am so glad someone is at least talking about this subject! As a Catholic I’m flummoxed by the lack of any real discussion on this by prominent Catholic leadership (i.e. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Pope Francis…). I feel like we catholics are being steamrolled on this issue and all the rest of the hot-buton issues like abortion, contraception etc. You have a great command of this issue and make tones of sense. Keep up the great writing.

  • David Szaks

    No offence, but it would seem that your problem lies in the semantics. That is to say you are not against two people possibly receiving civic benefits for combining assets but that such and arrangement is referred to as marriage by the state. The word marriage is the problem because you understand that word in a very specific way. For example if it was instead called a combined asset management contract it would be OK. If you wanted to enter a CAM-C (as i’ll call it) you could go see a lawyer. And if you wanted to get “Married” you would go see a priest. Because, even now if you want to get married in a catholic church you have to go see a priest. With this everyone could get what they want. Gays could get equal rights under the law, and you could maintain your viewpoint on what constitutes a marriage.

    There is however a caveat. This would make ‘Marriage’ a entirely religious matter. (As it clearly is seeing as how you have to go see priest to get married) And under the first amendment protecting the freedom of religion a gay person could still be married (that is married religiously since marriage would no longer be part of the law) by any religion that didn’t have such a stringent viewpoint as yours. Could you live w/ that? Would it destroy your religion and your world view if was that way? Because news flash its been that way already for a really, really long time. People have always had different views of what marriage is and what it means. Despite what you may call marriage nowhere were (Catholics or any religion) given the rights to DEFINE what Marriage is to others. Marriage existed long before the founding of the Catholic church and in places that have never even heard of your God. While it may help you form your world view and your religion, what Marriage means to you is really irrelevant to what it means for others. For me Marriage is much more a state of mind between two (or more, I don’t hate) people who love each other than some contract w/ a religious organization.

    I guess my point is. If you, and by extension the Catholic Church (or any other religion) Don’t want to recognize gay marriages – that’s fine. Don’t. But don’t try and force your religious beliefs onto others or into laws. There’s a word for that, Theocracy. And that’s exactly what people came to America to get away from in the first place.

  • DPPC1957

    I love you, and admire you. I also agree with everything written here. With one exception. Throughout, you seem to sneer at our non-Catholic brothers and sisters who object to the redefinition of marriage for what you seem to judge as less sophisticated reasons than our Church has bequeathed to us. Perhaps their arguments are less sophisticated but, I contend, understandably so. People with common sense have been caught flatfooted in the hitherto unimaginably absurd notion that western civ could devolve so quickly and so absolutely. Those Christians who reject science when it comes to our creation, must marvel at the gleeful celebration of the unnatural, the flouting of biological…dare I say it?…health . A redefinition of marriage as generational Darwin Award.

    You seem to throw these Christians under the bus in the hopes you’ll find common ground with whom? The evangelical Christians the I know are AT LEAST as loving as my Catholic family and friends. The world hates these “unsophisticated” Christians for the same reason they hate us. Don’t deny our “slow” brothers and sisters the same love we owe the progressives.

  • DPPC1957

    By the way, there is nothing “special” about homosexual sin. The sky has already “fallen”. We are in mid-fall.

  • Dagnabbit_42

    Every child has an unalienable human right to be fathered by his father, mothered by his mother, brothered by his brothers if any, sistered by his sisters if any, grandfathered by his grandfathers if living, grandmothered by his grandmothers if living, and family-ed by his intact nuclear family as a household.

    Those are not the only unalienable human rights of a child, but they stand among them, alongside life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, (justly-aquired) property, due process, free exercise of religion, and the rest. None of these rights are given by a government; they are intrinsic to the dignity of the human being as a human being. Just governments forcibly defend and indirectly promote them; unjust governments fail to defend or actively suppress them.

    To the extent that a child is deprived for his or her unalienable rights to mothering, fathering, et cetera, by death or other misadventures unchosen by any human being, that’s no crime; merely a tragedy.

    But to the extent that this becomes impossible because some human adult took action which foreseeably deprives the child of his or her rights, the result is no mere tragedy, but a crime and a human-rights violation.

    No-fault divorces of couples with children stands alongside slavery among the institutionalized human-rights violations of our civilization. We’ve eliminated the latter; when will we eliminate the former?

  • John

    Sigh – once again we hear about the research done by Mark Regenerus that is latched onto by conservatives but has been dealt blow after agonizing blow by the scientific community at large. This research you mentioned does not nullify or negate any of the previous and even more recent research that continues to suggest that children actually do as well with same sex parents as they do with opposite sex parents. You wonder why you have trouble communicating with people on the other side and its because of comments like this that don’t really take into account the full breadth of studies that have been done on this issue. YOu don’t try to be fair and balanced about this issue, but rather, like Fox News, you distort the truth to further your own ends – and lets be fair, the reasons you say such things ultimately has to do with your own personal religious beliefs – not because this is what the science actually says.

  • John

    Hey Marc, how about we choose to agree on this instead, since the number of gay people who are against gay marriage is far less than the number of straight people against the entire institution of marriage, or who advocate open marriages etc… – how about we choose to join hands with each other in love and agree that children have a right to two loving parents who will give themselves to their child and put them first in their lives – and further lets agree that they have a right to a stable home life, something which is not guaranteed simply because they have a mother and a father. If we can agree on these things and not suggest that children have a right to a mother and father simply because the two people are different sexes, this would be a real place from which to start to build bridges and make progress.

  • ye.

    You are a champion. Thank you.

  • slow down

    Nice post. I think you keep it to the kind of basics that speak to most people. I like the concrete references to gay voices that oppose the trivialization of mothers and fathers as such. As a secular-public issue, the de-gendering of marriage should mostly be about the way we impose on a child’s symbolic construction of the world, and specifically it’s symbolic construction of its own place in the world. No matter how “high functioning” a child might turn out who is designed (and it really is designing) to be fatherless or motherless, it cannot think about its existence in the same terms as a child who is claimed and raised by the people who made it, the people whose two “fleshes” it literally makes one. The symbolic richness of this living poem is bottomless, and it is only humane to recognize its value. And of course, a child’s best interest always trumps the desire of adults.

    Of course children will continue to be raised in all kinds of circumstances, but to propose that the biological family is not an ideal worthy of public recognition–and the definition of marriage is what does this–does not help anyone, including the children in alternative situations. We are basically pretending that children (who are enormously perceptive) won’t care about origins, that they won’t have any complex emotional reactions as they come to understand the ambiguity of their place in the world. I do not accept the argument that redefining marriage is somehow in the interest of children living with same-sex parents; that involves circular logic, because it presupposes that these children perceive biological origin to be irrelevant, which is only possible (if it is possible, which I thoroughly doubt) through some serious indoctrination.

  • newenglandsun

    Is that a Greek Catholic wedding? They have crowns.