Archbishop Paul Coakley: The Future of Marriage Hangs in the Balance

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My spiritual leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, wrote a stirring letter to my diocese recently. I’m sharing it here without editing.

The Future of Marriage Hangs in the Balance

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

The recent media fascination with the “transition” of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn has highlighted the tragic confusion about gender and sexual difference in society today. Rooted in both natural law and divine revelation, our Catholic teaching affirms that men and women are equal and different. Together they are created in the image and likeness of God. Man and woman are designed by God in relation to one another to form a conjugal union that brings forth children. The consequences of this affirmation are far-reaching.

Sexual difference is essential to marriage and child rearing. Our bodies matter. We don’t just have a body. We are a body. Without this basis in sexual difference and complementarity, there is no limit to what “marriage” could mean.

Perhaps by the time this issue of the Sooner Catholic is published, and certainly by the end of June, the Supreme Court will have issued its ruling on two crucial questions dealing with the very definition of marriage. The questions the court is addressing ask whether the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a “marriage” between two people of the same sex, and whether the same amendment requires a state to recognize same sex “marriages,” which were lawfully licensed and performed in another state.

No matter how the court rules, it cannot change what marriage really is. Marriage by its nature remains the union of one man and one woman. It is a natural institution that predates and precedes governments and government regulation.

Every society has acknowledged that the sexual union of man and woman matters because it creates the next generation. While Jesus elevated Christian marriage to a sacrament, the complementarity of the sexes and the natural meaning of marriage can be known through reason even without appealing to Scripture.

Governments have long maintained an interest in protecting and preserving marriage. Society needs an institution that connects children to their mothers and fathers, and marriage is the only institution that does this. Every child has a mother and father and deserves to be loved and raised by them. Certainly, there are many circumstances that can hinder and prevent this, but marriage has always been the primary way that society protects this right of children to be raised by both a mother and a father. Both matter. Both are irreplaceable. Only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother. A child should not be deliberately deprived of either one. There are certainly wonderful single parents and others who make great sacrifices to raise children. They deserve our respect and support. But, every society ought to affirm each child’s basic natural right to come from and be raised in a loving home formed by his or her own mother and father joined together in a stable marriage.

Law is a teacher. A redefinition of marriage in the law teaches that one sex is interchangeable with another, and that either mother or father is dispensable as a parent. This ignores the wisdom of millennia of lived experience. It teaches that marriage is whatever consenting adults say it is and that these adults have a “right” to children they did not conceive. This is not only false, but it fails to take into account what is good for the child. Affirming the tried and true definition of marriage denies no one their basic rights. Rather it affirms the equal dignity and complementarity of men and women, and safeguards the rights of children.

Advocates for so-called “marriage equality” claim that the traditional definition of marriage unjustly discriminates against homosexual persons. Unjust discrimination is always wrong. But treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination. Protecting marriage is a matter of justice.

In addition to the devastating effect that a redefinition of marriage would have on children, there also are far-reaching religious freedom issues at stake.

It would change literally thousands of laws all at once. Marriage redefinition would immediately set the Church’s teaching and witness concerning the meaning and sanctity of marriage in opposition to the law of the land. This would result in countless conflicts between the state and religious institutions and individuals who adhere to the teaching of their faith and the judgment of their consciences.

So much hangs in the balance. What can we do? We can pray and we can fast for the protection of marriage and religious liberty. We can become advocates for marriage by our own witness to its sanctity and goodness. We can talk about the truth of marriage with patience and kindness and understanding. Who could have imagined that such common sense wisdom would become so counter-cultural in our time?

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2013 Favs: Massachusetts Schools Put Transgendereds in Restrooms, on Sports Teams of Their Choice

Massachusetts public schools have issued guidelines to require their public schools — get ready for this — from kindergarten to 12th grade to permit “transgendered” children to use the restroom of whatever gender the child decides they are.

In some schools, this would allow boys as old as 14 in public school bathrooms with girls as young as 5.

Now I ask you, what could possibly go wrong?

These guidelines also put school personnel in the position of raising the question with small children what gender they believe themselves to be. School personnel will be asking small children whether they are a a boy or a girl, with the concomitant implication that the teacher doesn’t know. I think that action alone, coming as it does from an authority figured and directed as it will be to very young children, has the potential to harm young children.

The new guidelines require schools to allow boys to play on girl’s athletic teams (and vice versa) if they decide that they feel like being a girl that season. I predict that once schools get over the shock, they will see that even a mediocre male athlete would be an all-star on a girl’s sports team and that all he has to do to play on that team is say he’s a girl for the duration of the season. However, instead of giving one girl’s team a winning edge over the others, this is bound to spread and soon reach the point that real girls (the ones with double x chromosomes) can no longer compete on their own teams.

The upshot of all this will almost certainly be increased sexual confusion on the part of young children and another round of the war on girls. It will make it even more difficult for parents to raise their children to be productive adults who are capable of marrying, having children of their own and raising them in stable homes.

It seems that providing a healthy environment in which we can raise children so that they can become productive and stable adults is the exact opposite of what the decision makers in our society are about. Based on their consistent actions I can only come to the conclusion that destroying our children is more in line with their goals.

As usual, all this began with a well-meaning but bad law which educators with an agenda have taken to its illogical conclusion.

I am very glad that I homeschooled my children. If it is at all possible for you to do the same, I would strongly advise you to consider it.

You can read the Massachusetts’s Public Schools Guidelines for Nondiscrimination on Gender Identity here.  The LifeSite News article describing this latest bit of educational “reform” says in part:

BOSTON, February 19, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester has issued orders to the state’s K-12 public schools requiring them to permit “transgender” boys and girls to use the opposite sex’s locker rooms, bathrooms, and changing facilities as long as they claim to identify with that gender.

Many elementary schools in smaller Massachusetts towns include children from kindergarten through eighth grade, making it possible for boys as old as 14 to share toilet facilities with girls as young as five.

Under Chester’s leadership, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released an 11-page document on Friday outlining this and other new guidelines giving “transgender” students special status and privileges in Massachusetts schools. Some family advocates are calling the document, which was prepared with assistance from homosexual and transgender advocacy groups, “the most thorough, invasive, and radical transgender initiative ever seen on a statewide level.”

The policy does not require a doctor’s note or even parental permission for a child to switch sexes in the eyes of Massachusetts schools. Only the student’s word is needed: If a boy says he’s a girl, as far as the schools are concerned, he’s a girl.

“The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student,” the statement says. “A school should accept a student’s assertion of his or her gender identity when there is … ‘evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity.’” That evidence, according to the document, can be as simple as a statement given by a friend.

That means, according to the newly issued school policies, that boys who say they identify as girls must be addressed by the feminine pronoun and be listed as girls on official transcripts.

They must also be allowed access to girls’ facilities and be allowed to play on girls’ athletic and club teams. The same is true for girls who say they are boys.

The document was issued to clarify the schools’ obligations in light of “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” a law that went into effect last July. That bill amended Massachusetts law “to establish that no person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of gender identity.”

However, Brian Camenker, spokesman for government watchdog group MassResistance, told LifeSiteNews the DESE’s new directives go far beyond what the law requires.

Camenker pointed out that the only requirement the Gender Identity bill imposed on schools was to add “gender identity” to their non-discrimination policies, alongside other protected groups such as religious or ethnic minorities. Under the DESE’s policy, however, self-identified transgendered students will have more rights than other students, including the right to access bathroom and changing facilities of the opposite sex and play on the opposite sex’s sports teams.

Not only that, but students who object may be subject to punishment under the state’s new “anti-bullying” law, which, like the new school policy, was written with the help of homosexual and transgender activist groups.

Under that law, any outwardly negative reaction against transgenderism can now be considered bullying, and subject to discipline and punishment, according to Camenker. (Read more here.)

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ACLU Joins Lawsuit to Force Medicare to Pay for Sex Change Surgery

I’m going to get roasted and toasted for this post. It would be hard to say anything more politically incorrect that what my typing fingers are about to type here on this blog.

Let me begin with a vignette from my daily life. A few days ago, I was in a committee meeting in which we were discussing amendments to Oklahoma’s advanced directive laws. Several doctors testified about this legislation. During questions and answers, one of them remarked, “A patient can’t come to a medical practitioner and ask him or her to cut off their healthy legs and have them do it.”

No one on the committee reacted to this statement because it is so obviously true. If I went to a plastic surgeon and asked them to cut off my nose, they would call for a psych evaluation. If I went to a orthopedist and asked him to cut off my hands, he or she would do exactly the same thing.

Why?

Because a persistent  compulsion to mutilate myself would be an indication of mental illness. 

However, if I went to a doctor and asked him or her to cut off my genital organs and then re-shape the stubby leftovers into the appearance of the genital organs of a man, and if I further demanded that I be given massive doses of hormones to force my body to mimic secondary male characteristics such as a deeper voice and a beard, the doctor and everyone else in our society would be forced under threat of being called a bigot to pretend that this was not a mental health problem, but “normal” behavior on my part.

I could change my name to Regis, dress in a pinstripe suit, use the men’s bathroom and probably go on to demand the right to farm other women’s bodies for eggs in order to create a designer baby for me to raise, if I wanted.

Of course, what I wouldn’t be is an actual man. I would be a surgically and chemically mutilated woman with a serious mental health problem that was going untreated, but whose delusions were being played into socially and medically due to political correctness.

 

I have all the sympathy in the world for people who suffer from this problem, which is called “severe gender dyphoria.” It must be hell for them. I have witnessed it up close in the person of a member of the clergy at a church I once attended who “came out” as someone who had the body of one sex but felt a compulsion to live as the opposite sex and went through all these grisly procedures to achieve this.

I also am adamantly opposed to any violence or unjust discrimination against transexual people. I don’t want to harm them, but I don’t think that subjecting people to mutilating surgeries and hormone overdoses is treatment. I think it is yielding to social and political pressure to collude with them in the delusions which are a symptom of their real — mental — illness.

I don’t want to muddy the waters here with the small number of people who, through what I regard as birth defects, possess mixed chromosomes that are both male and female and who often also have mixed genitalia. That is something entirely different from what I’m talking about.

What I am referring to are those who are born with normal bodies of one sex, and for whatever reason, develop the belief that they are really the opposite sex and who also feel a compulsion to be surgically and hormonally mutilated to live their lives in accordance with this delusion.

I am also not going to weigh in on whether or not doctors should “treat” them by honoring their delusions and performing surgeries and administering the concomitant hormonal overdoses necessary for the person to look like the sex they are not. I will leave that to the physician and patient, as well as the hospital and insurance company.

What I want to address specifically on this blog is how far society and government should be compelled to go in this politically-correct assumption that this mental illness, is, in fact normal. The question for this particular post is, should medicare pay for sex change operations?

 

The ACLU has joined a lawsuit demanding that Medicare pay for sex change operations. I don’t know how much these surgeries cost, but I do know that there is talk of Medicare going broke. It seems evil to me that we have public officials, such as the former governor of Colorado, talking about how elderly people have a “duty to die” because they take up too many resources and put too much strain on our health care system and at the same time are being forced to consider funding what is an entirely elective and mutilating surgery to mistreat a mental illness.

The cost of these unnecessary surgeries and treatments would be enormous. Claims that these procedures are “safe and effective” are nonsense. No surgery is “safe.” Every surgery is a risk. This surgery is elective and it is massive. I do not doubt that there are many serious potential complications and that these would be magnified when the surgery is performed on elderly people. I also cannot imagine what years of hormone overdoses would do to a person’s health, but “safe” is not a word that comes to mind.

Claims based on what various associations of medical practitioners have voted to say about things like gender dysphoria have become meaningless, at least to me. I do not think these positions are based on science. I think they are based on politics and are a response to pressure from interest groups. I don’t think they mean much more than if the members of my book club had voted to take these positions.

I don’t know how the ACLU manages to shoe-horn this concern under the Bill of Rights. But from what I’ve seen, they can twist any trendy social experiment they are pushing to fit if they want to. At least, they can do it to their own satisfaction.

The ACLU press release regarding the lawsuit they’ve joined says in part:

 

LGBT Groups Challenge

Medicare’s Refusal to Provide

Healthcare to Transgender

Patients

April 1, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – Several national LGBT groups filed an administrative challenge last week to Medicare’s ban on medically necessary healthcare for transgender patients. Medicare currently prohibits all forms of gender reassignment surgeries regardless of the individual patient’s diagnosis or serious medical needs.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and civil rights attorney Mary Lou Boelcke initiated the challenge on behalf of Denee Mallon, a transgender woman whose doctors have recommended surgery to alleviate her severe gender dysphoria.

“Medicare’s categorical exclusion of this care lacks any scientific basis,” said Shannon Minter, legal director at NCLR. “Study after study has shown that these surgeries are the only effective treatment for many patients suffering from severe gender dysphoria.”

Mallon joined the United States Army when she was 17 years old and worked as a forensics investigator for a city police department after she was honorably discharged from the Army. She was later diagnosed with gender identity disorder, a serious medical condition that is characterized by intense and persistent discomfort with one’s birth sex.

“The American Medical Association, the Endocrine Society, and the American Psychological Association all support these treatments for transgender patients,” said Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. “These procedures have been performed for decades and are proven to be safe and effective.”

Medicare adopted the ban more than 30 years ago. Decades of extensive scientific and clinical research since that time have established that these surgeries are safe and effective. (Read the rest here.)

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