Catholic League’s Bill Donohue on the Purpose of Marriage: ‘It’s Not About Making People Happy; It’s Not About Love’

Who knows more about the Bible? The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue or Current TV’s John Fugelsang?

Or, to put it another way, the guy who makes a living as a self-proclaimed spokesperson for his faith, or the guy who makes a living asking questions?

Yeah, we all know where this is going…

Some of the highlights:

2:10: Fugelsang asks: “Shouldn’t the Christians be the ones leading the fight for compassion, and acceptance, and love?”

Donohue’s retort? “The whole purpose of marriage is to have a family. It’s not about making people happy; it’s not about love.”

It’s not? That’s news to… well… everybody except Bill Donohue.

But what about sterile people?

“Anatomically, they’re equipped,” said Donohue.

2:55: Fugelsang argues that children raised by gay or lesbian parents turn out just fine and Donohue somehow argues otherwise: “The data are so recent!”

3:55: Fugelsang asks where in Scripture homosexuality is condemned. Donohue’s answer: “Leviticus.”

Fugelsang: Do you follow Leviticus?

Donohue: What do you mean, “follow Leviticus”? Do I sleep with a man? No, I don’t! [Laughs] Never have, have no interest in doing so!

Fugelsang: You’re wearing a very nice shirt. Is it made of two different fibers?

Donohue: Uh, yeah.

Fugelsang: Do you eat bacon?

Donohue: Yes, I do.

Fugelsang: Do you work on Saturdays?

Donohue: Yes, I do.

Fugelsang: So you violate Leviticus just like George Michael!

Donohue: Well, I think there’s a little bit of difference between what kind of shirt I buy and two guys having anal sex, don’t you?

Fugelsang: … what I’m saying is you don’t follow Leviticus!

5:07: Donohue breaks out his ultimate argument against gay marriage: Mother’s Day. What do you say on Mother’s Day to a child who has two fathers? (Fugelsang: “You say Happy Father’s Day twice!”)

7:55: Donohue defends the Catholic Church by saying that fewer than “5% of any of these molesting priests were pedophiles; most of them were homosexuals.”

8:50: Donohue argues that inappropriate touching is not a big deal. Rape really isn’t a big deal in the church. And that’s why Bill Maher’s jokes against the Church are an outrage! (to which Fugelsang says what we’re all thinking: “… you’re more outraged about the scorn being heaped on the scandal than the actual scandal!”) Donohue admits minutes later that rape is, in fact, a bigger deal than Maher’s jokes.

10:37: Fugelsang asks what Jesus ever said about gay people. Donohue responds by saying Jesus didn’t say anything about it, but Jesus also didn’t say anything “about cheating on your taxes, either.” (Fugelsang: “He said to pay your taxes, right…?”)

Hats off to John Fugelsang for a wonderful interview. He held his own against a profession jerk and made Donohue look like even more of an ignorant bigot than he normally does — quite a feat.

But I guess we can all thank Donohue for helping us write the most romantic speech of all-time: “I don’t love you. And you don’t make me happy. Now, let’s get married and have babies. Screw you, gays!”

(Thanks to Mepper for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Remy Porter

    Well, he’s partly right- marriage isn’t about love, or happiness, or producing a family.

    It’s a financial arrangement. It’s a business decision. It’s a contractual agreement. Which makes requiring a monogamous hetero-normative definition of marriage absurd- imagine if your articles of incorporation could only include two stakeholders, and one had to be male and the other female?

    If marriage had anything to do with love, no thinking person would want the government handing out certain benefits or privileges based on its definition. That’d be terrifying.

  • LesterBallard

    Well, now who would marry Bill Fucking Donohue for love? The self-hate of the person who married Bill Donohue must be massive.

  • Brian Westley

    Bill Donohue is all about not making people happy.

  • onamission5

    Funny, I wasn’t aware that I needed the blessing of a legally binding state contract in order to have a family. Better go tell the kids they don’t exist. Also best go tell Spouse that we can never get married because A) we’ve got no plans to have more children and B) we’re happily in love. Two strikes against us.
    I guess my grandma’s second marriage wasn’t about her being in love with a guy she’d known for 30+ years and finally getting a chance to be happy but it was about a pair of 80 year old widows trying to make teh babies. ( I hope they tried like hell)
    /end assbackward logic

  • observer

    That’s why religion created forced marriages.

  • trj

    Huh. So love doesn’t enter into the marriage equation. Seems to me that children raised by two people who don’t love each other don’t stand a very good chance of getting a good family life or a good upbringing.

    But hey, who gives a shit about the welfare of the kids, right? As long as the parents do their procreative duty.

  • observer

    See, “pro-marriage/family” advocates, is this really so hard? is it so hard to say that – for you people – marriage is about makin’ babies and NOT letting gay people be a part of society?

    Seriously, if every homophobe in America were this honest, we’d have equal marriage years ago. I can’t wait to see Donohue have a hissy fit when companies like AFA or NOM tell him to tone it down.

  • Paul Reed

    If you can’t view the video above, try this one:

  • randomfactor

    Donohue’s divorced.

  • Paul Reed

    OMG. Watching this, I noticed something that isn’t clear in the transcript above. Bill Donohue clearly stopped thinking by the 4 minute mark. When Fugelsang asked him “Do you follow Leviticus?” the actual reply was:

    Donohue: What do you mean, “follow Leviticus”? Do I sleep with a man? No, I don’t! [Laughs] Never have, have no interest in doing so!

    This adds a little extra gem. Quite apart from the point under discussion, Bill Donohue thought “follow Leviticus” meant gay sex.
    Sure, it’s probably an easy mistake to make in the heat of the moment, but interesting to see how his mind works…

  • ggsillars

    For Donohue, anything that contradicts his ultra-orthodox version Catholicism is an instance of anti-Catholic bigotry. By that definition, most Catholics in this country are anti-Catholic bigots.

  • C Peterson

    And I’d say that you’re only partly right, as well.

    The social institution of marriage is complex. It typically consists of personal aspects- love, happiness, producing a family. Often of broader social aspects- joining families, protecting wealth, creating alliances. And it is governmental- encouraging a social structure that benefits the state, and sometimes controlling people.

    Marriage in our society is a financial arrangement, but it isn’t only a financial arrangement or business decision. This is readily seen in the statistics that show formal marriage in decline, with informal “cohabitation” arrangements increasingly popular.

    It is worth remembering that for much of its history, the Catholic Church was the government, so it isn’t really surprising that Donohue still sees marriage almost exclusively through the governmental view, and leaves love and happiness out of his equation (love and happiness have, of course, never been very important to the Catholic Church- indeed, they have often been perceived as threats).

  • John Small Berries

    A divorced Catholic? What were those verses about “let no man put asunder”, and motes and beams?

  • C Peterson

    Catholic dogma does not seek happiness for people, except after they are dead. In many respects, it presents the position that temporal happiness actually stands in the way of eternal happiness. The religion considers suffering to be a positive thing.

  • Carmelita Spats

    Bill Donohue is crazier than an acre of snakes, two
    sandwiches short of a picnic and as confused as a cow on
    Astroturf…Inappropriately touching a five-year-old is no big deal? Bill
    Donohue needs an object lesson because he’s a “hands-on” learner…Donohue
    needs to be “inappropriately touched” by an angel: a guy named
    “Angel” serving a life sentence in Mexico’s Almoloya prison, who has
    hankerin’ for paunchy, balding, pasty, bigots that swallow a mouthful
    of Savior on Sunday. The issue is NOT the number of pedophiles in the
    Catholic Church (it’s epidemic if you include the number of pedophile
    priests in the Third World) but the COVER UP in which the RCC operates
    like an organized crime syndicate.

  • trj

    He’s divorced? Oh man, the hypocrisy of this guy.

  • Bart Mitchell

    He is right, that’s not what marriage is about. Marriage is about property rights.

  • arensb

    I love watching BillDo make a bloody fool of himself.

    The one bit where, I think, Fugelsang dropped the ball a bit is when BillDo said that the sex-abuse scandal is old news, that there hasn’t been a case since 1985, and Fugelsang expressed disbelief.

    Fair enough, but the abuse is only part of the scandal: the other part, and one that can fairly be laid on the church’s lap, is the coverup. And the coverup is ongoing.

  • Artor

    Let me be the first to express my appreciation for Bill Donahue. He does a better job of showing how horrible the Catholic church is than any atheist has ever done. We’ll all need to step up our game if were going to be anywhere near Bill’s league.

  • Conuly

    Donohue: Well, I think there’s a little bit of difference between what kind of shirt I buy and two guys having anal sex, don’t you?

    Not according to God, it’s not! And if I thought that God was real and following the rules was important in determining my eventual fate, you can bet I’d follow that shit to the damn letter! I wouldn’t try to second guess whether bacon is worse than gay sex or worse than mixed fibers, because, damn, that’s not my job in this little god/human deal we call religion. Your deity makes the rules, you follow them, and afterwards you find out if it was all worth it.

  • Greg G.

    In 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, Paul says widows and the unmarried shouldn’t marry. He thinks Jesus is coming soon so there’s no point in reproducing. The only reason he can think of to marry is if you burn with passion and can’t control yourself. Paul thinks marriage is just to legitimize sex.

  • William Bell

    It is especially funny because Jesus didn’t approve of cheating on taxes; “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and all that.

  • JET

    I completely agree. Marriage is a contract between two people whereby they agree to be considered as one entity by the government. They may decide to enter into this contract because they love each other, it makes them happy, or they wish to make their children “legitimate”, but none of those conditions are required to enter into the contract. And it is certainly not necessary to be married in order to fall in love, be happy, or have children. Contractually marriage is simply a business agreement.

  • Timmah

    It’s always funny when you point out that Leviticus also says don’t wear blended fabics, eat shellfish or pork along with other “abominations” people come back with “Oh well those are JEWISH laws.”

    REALLY, so why are you getting so amped up about something under the “Jewish laws”? Also why do actual Jewish people not seem to care about it nearly as much?

  • JET

    Well, he probably got his marriage annulled by the church as well. I know a woman who, after 40 years of marriage, got a divorce. She then had her marriage annulled by the Catholic Church because, you know, she didn’t want to be sinning or anything… I never was able to understand how she dealt with technically having had six kids out of wedlock since according to the church, her marriage never existed.

  • Ders

    I love when he uses the phrase, “anatomically equipped,” when talking about how sterile people can still get married. This is in the context of certain things coming from the father and certain things coming from the mother. He must think that we get most of our personality and character traits from our genitals. I guess that should make me feel better when people say I have a “big” personality.

  • allein

    So what if the woman has had a hysterectomy? She’s no longer “anatomically equipped” to have kids…can she still get married?

  • allein

    I guess that’s why when think about gay relationships all they see is sex…why else would they want to get married?

  • Hemant Mehta

    Ahhh! I didn’t catch that. Fixed in the transcript. Thanks!

  • Ders

    I’d like to ask him to be specific about what anatomy is required. I’ve got a twenty on that he can’t say the word, “penis,” out loud.

  • Karl Wieser

    That’s not so surprising, nothing in Catholicism seems to be about love and being happy.

  • Edin Villalobos Mora

    7:55: Donohue defends the Catholic Church by saying that fewer than “5% of any of these molesting priests were pedophiles; most of them were homosexuals.”

    I read the “John Jay Report” about the catholic priest abuse, and THE tergiversation about that report is that quote of Donahue. In no place of the report is written that most of the molesting priests were homosexuals, the researchers never asked sexual orientation to the priests.

    Most of the victims were male children, and that were called “homosexual pedophile” with the clarification this term mean a child preference, no adult preference: it never meant to link adult homosexuality with pedophilia, it’s only a similar choice of words.

    But Donahue and the Catholic Bishops never cared about that nuanced difference, if they can defend themselves and hit the gays at the same time, they do it.

  • busterggi

    If any video could be made mandatory to view by law….

  • Paul Jackson

    Is it just me or does this guy sound just like Archie Bunker?

  • C Peterson

    Donohue’s divorced.

    Doesn’t that mean we can stone him, or something?

  • observer

    Yet it’s homosexuals who are trying to “perverse” marriage.

  • Max Bingman

    I believe it was Bill Mahr who pointed out the Catholic League is more of a mailing list than an actual league.

  • LesterBallard

    I’m guessing she initiated.

  • LesterBallard

    I’m guessing she initiated.

  • WallofSleep

    That despicable waste of flesh an bones consistently runs defense for pedophiles. Anything further I’d have to say about Donahue would likely get deleted.

  • WallofSleep

    “Also why do actual Jewish people not seem to care about it nearly as much?”

    IIRC, Jewish people view their religious laws as only applying to them, and those who choose to convert to Judaism. The rest of us non-Jews are not bound by the covenant.

  • SteveS

    If you let someone talk long enough they will reveal important truths about themselves. Bill has told us he has no capacity to love someone, no capacity to understand anyone who does, and no use for people who are not organized according to Leviticus. What a vile, pathetic old sociopath!

  • Alex Summers

    No religion in history had endorsed same sex marriage?There are several. Of course the Christians named them all pagans and wrote them off. The Church of Satan has no such stipulations and is a nationally recognized religion. Now stop pressing your antiquated morals on others by trying to make it a federal law. Either TAKE marriage out of state and federal recognition or move along.

  • Rwlawoffice

    More directly to the pointing I believe Donahue was making, for the state, its interest in marriage is not based upon love or making people happy. The states interest doesn’t care if you love the person you are marrying. However, when the definition is changed to be based only upon love and what makes you happy, the stats has little ability to stop any type of “marriage” that people propose to enter into.

  • sGs

    I was disturbed talking with my family about marriage and love and he was very sad to see that I think marriage should be about love and healthy relationships.

  • severalspeciesof

    Ahh yes, this business of ‘natural law’, which every Catholic priest is expected to break by being celibate. NO other species on this planet willingly goes without sex.

  • TheBlackCat13

    The ironic thing is that humans are one of the few mammalian species where this isn’t true. For most mammals, sex is only possible when the female is able to conceive, and in others it is clear when females are ready to conceive.

    For humans, this isn’t the case, there is no clear sign when women are ready to conceive and no relationship between ability to conceive and the timing of sex. In other words, humans are one of the only mammals, probably the only species period, where sex is not directly related to having a family.

  • TheBlackCat13

    It doesn’t even make sense. Being “anatomically equipped” has absolutely nothing to do with having a family. In fact, by that logic bestiality would be legal, since other animals are “anatomically equipped” as well.


    Exactly right.


    I suspect if Bill Donohue lived in a world that had never heard of the Catholic Church, he would be the same person. He would just be defending some other excuse for his inability to think for himself.

  • Stev84

    Have you checked out Bonobos? They are our closest simian relatives (in the same genus as Chimps). And they have very, very interesting sex lives. Generally, they use sex for conflict resolution and social bonding. They are the only animals who have face-to-face intercourse, tongue kisses and oral sex. Same-sex activity is also very common, especially among the females.

    But, yeah if sex were only for procreation humans would have estrus cycles.

  • Carpinions

    Oddly enough this is about the only exchange with BD I’ve ever seen where he isn’t milliseconds away from causing himself an aneurysm. The debate he had with Hitchens (14 years ago now, I think) in front of a Catholic-friendly crowd in a Catholic venue had BD reading CH the riot act for basically inhabiting the same room. Same goes for pretty much every cable news segment BD has ever been a part of.

    His blatant whitewashing of the sex abuse scandal is just unreal. 10 cases a year for the years 1965-1985? If I heard him right that is. That’s still 200 cases, which were, as shown by hard evidence, to be protected by the patriarchal hierarchy within the Vatican. But we know it’s not quite that easy and BD probably more than anyone is plenty biased in favor of his religion. No, I’m sure there’s no way he could be tamping down those numbers to save face…

    Boy how the sale of indulgences and 10 Hail Marys prescriptions as payment enough for all the sexual abuse, trafficked babies, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, etc. rings so hollow…

  • Carpinions

    Well, you would probably be right in that Jewish laws only apply to Jews. But then, technically that’s the case for all religions, because it’s not like the most moral atheist in the world suddenly got singled out by the Abrahamic god for entry through the pearly gates…

  • Remy Porter

    I would argue that the rise of cohabitation arrangements demonstrates that marriage largely is not about love. If it were, we would expect those individuals to get married, would we not? But they don’t- they retain an informal status and thus avoid the legal and financial complexities of marriage.

  • Shane Smith

    And that’s why Bill Donahue’s a moron. He doesn’t want the Catholic Church to liberalize. Because, to him, liberalized religious systems = bad. Bad = dead society.

    Also, marriage is about happiness. If you try marrying someone for other reasons, you’ll break. My cousin Jenna married a total rich prick who abused her – and she got out of it fast – so don’t tell me that marriage should just be about stupid reasons.

  • Mairianna

    Or “vagina”!

  • Holly

    Then why does the Catholic Rite of Marriage include love in it, CAPTAIN CATHOLIC?

    “I, (name), take you, (name), to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
    “(Name), take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”