The Gay Marriage Debate I’m Looking Forward To

The Modern Love column that appears this week in The New York Times is written by a woman who found that gay marriage did have a big change on her own marriage: it made her feel more married.  I’ll pull a few quotes, but pop over and read the whole thing.

For me, marriage-role terminology carried too much baggage of a history I didn’t want. Although I could imagine the pride with which a new bride might have worked the words “my husband” into every sentence 60 years ago, I couldn’t get there myself. The words “husband” and “wife” didn’t conjure cozy commitment and togetherness, the comfort of a partnership I could count on for all my days. Instead, “wife” smacked of “old ball and chain.” And don’t even get me started on the fact that the word “husband” had no negative colloquial equivalents.

…For years I tried alternatives, hoping to convey a modern sensibility. At various times I was a “partner,” a “co-parent,” a “best-friend-who-also-shared-his-bed.” But I always felt as if I were stealing — either from my gay and lesbian friends who were denied use of the words I was eschewing, or from braver, nonconforming straights.

…No one could accuse the gay community of being stuck in a tired paradigm or of following old habits and expectations. And yet here they were, claiming the old language. Using the lexicon of traditional marriage not as I had, to poke fun and create distance, but in the spirit of the vows they now got to speak. I watched in wonder as my friends claimed the words “husband” and “wife” with reverence and delight and gusto.

Language and names are a funny thing.  (And oh man will we be dwelling on that topic in the math-and-theology bookclub).  When I read this essay, I kept wondering how the different names this woman used changed the way she thought about her relationship.  She’s talking mainly about the way that more casual terms eschew the history and traditional baggage of husband-and-wife, but I also wanted to know what was encapsulated by “co-parent” that was left out of “best-friend-who-also-shared-his-bed.”

According to common sense and Nate Silver, it looks pretty likely that the answer to “Will the State license marriage between two people of any gender?” will be yes.  And some of the consequences of that are obvious and important — legal marriage changes taxes and hospital visits and the structure of splitting up.  But, while we’re focused on civil marriage, we’re mainly focused on the rights that go with marriage, not the responsibilities.

The NYT writer noticed that, in addition to giving her new legal rights, entering the category of marriage changed how she thought about her relationship.  We don’t have this conversation often enough.  It used to be that the definition of marriage was fairly narrow, and that cultural expectations were as clear (and occasionally constricting) as it feels.  Now, it’s harder to be sure that two people are talking about the same thing when they’re both using the word ‘marriage’ (which seems like it could be especially problematic if the two people are planning to get married.

When the pressure is off and we’re all less focused on the way the State shapes marriage, I think we’re going to have an easier time discussing how marriage shapes us.  The growing diversity of models of marriage is going to force us to get specific about what kind of relationship we’re about to enter and begin it deliberately and joyfully.

 

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as a statistician for a school in Washington D.C. by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • Rover Serton

    So, are You for or against SSM? The rcc is against it to no end. Your thoughts would be instructive. Thx, Rover.

    • Jack

      Obviously she’s for gay marriage.

    • Brian

      I think she accepts the inevitably of the legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” and is thinking ahead. Just to be clear, though: the Church teaches that, as a matter of justice, the State has a duty to protect the natural institution of marriage. That requires perserving the authentic meaning of marriage and standing firm against attempts to change it. The Church is so clear on this that it is impossible for a Catholic to hold an opposing view faithfully.

      The legal recognition of such unions may be inevitable now, but it it did not have to be. I think the moral case against same-sex “marriage” is rationally compelling, but practically unknown or very poorly understood. Many are also so psychologically opposed to it that it cannot be rationally considered. Those are obstacles that require time, but time has run out. We have to look to the future.

      • ACN

        “Authentic” = “the meaning I prefer, you know, the one that keeps those icky homosexuals for having a label for their relationships that’s the same as mine.”

        Just remember when you say things like this that 50ish years ago people were saying the same thing about ‘authentic’ marriages, except they were talking about miscegenation.

        Civil marriage is a civil right in a secular society. If the church wants to restrict civil rights on the basis of sexual orientation in their theocracy in the Vatican, they can go right ahead, but in my secular republic, they can take a walk if they want the secular government to bow to their religious opinions.

        • Brian

          Heh. I will re-quote what I wrote above:

          “I think the moral case against same-sex ‘marriage’ is rationally compelling, but practically unknown or very poorly understood. Many are also so psychologically opposed to it that it cannot be rationally considered. ”

          There is nothing further to say.

          • ACN

            Yes, we all understand how privileged you are, and how smudge you are about it.

            It must be nice being cis, straight, and taking the difficult political stance of denying civil rights to people who aren’t in the majority.

          • Brian

            lol, do I have to re-quote it again?!

          • ACN

            You probably have to. You know, what with how irrational those folks are. If they just calmly discussed it with you, they’d understand that you’re just trying to deny them civil rights for their own good.

            Yum, paternalism!

        • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

          Civil marriage is a civil right in a secular society.

          This is disputable, at best. A right is something that I may demand, that is owed to me. A civil right is something that I can demand from society, and in particular from government. But I cannot demand that I be married, not without the consent of another. I certainly cannot demand from the State, or require as justice from a court, that I be married. Moreover, not being married does not deprive me of anything with regard to civil society.

          Civil marriage is a set of recognitions and privileges afforded to some couples and not to others. There’s a great deal of discussion about which couples may be afforded the privileges. There’s not much discussion about why the privileges are afforded in the first place, and why the State is the one affording those privileges. I think there’s a basic assumption among those who argue for marriage as a civil right that the State is the foundation of society and community; but this also is disputable.

          Historically (in the West, anyway), governments have recognized the relationship of marriage, but only since the Protestant Reformation have governments licensed and recorded and enforced marriages. At the very least this implies that administering marriage is not a necessary act or duty of the State. It may be worth examining why and how and whether the State ought to be involved in marriage at all, when the meaning of the word and the practice of the relationship is so much in flux.

          • Joseph Feeney

            Robert,

            The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled 14 times that marriage is a civil right. It is not disputable.

          • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

            I am speaking philosophically, not legally. The Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over truth or justice; it has only jurisdiction over law – and only a human law which is changeable, amendable, dare I say: disputable.

          • Mark D

            @Mr. Feeney,
            Would you mind citing just a few cases where the Supreme Court called civil marriage a right? And then I would like a direct quote from each ruling. Frankly, I smell something that you read on Facebook.

          • Alan

            Mark D – how snarky and revealing. Frankly, your doubt seems more like something you picked up on Facebook because it certainly reflects a lack of constitutional knowledge. I’ll help you out starting with what is probably the most famous:
            Loving v. Virginia
            “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

            Meyer v. Nebraska
            “While this Court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men”

            Cleveland BoE v. Lafleur
            “This Court has long recognized that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”

            Zablocki v. Redhail
            “Although Loving arose in the context of racial discrimination, prior and subsequent decisions of this Court confirm that the right to marry is of fundamental importance for all individuals.”

        • deiseach

          Civil marriage is a civil right. Therefore, everyone has a right to be married. Therefore, everyone must be accommodated in their preference for marriage for what it means to them.

          So when are you starting up the polyamory campaign, and can you give me a good reason why marriage should be confined to two persons alone? What is this numerical bias based on?

          • Wladyslaw

            I have asked why gay marriage folks confine marriage to two people, and they consistently are unable to answer that question. Liberal websites refuse to even post that question. Answering that question undermines their position. I imagine no gay supporter will answer that question here.

          • MountainTiger

            Polygamy raises questions regarding the relationship of the participants (most importantly, are all members of the marriage married to each other, or are there multiple pairs between participants?) and their fiscal treatment that need to be answered before considering legalization. Same sex marriage has no such concerns, as American marriage law can deal with couples without difficulty.

          • Kenneth

            “I have asked why gay marriage folks confine marriage to two people, and they consistently are unable to answer that question. Liberal websites refuse to even post that question. Answering that question undermines their position. I imagine no gay supporter will answer that question here.”

            I’ll answer that. Polygamy is a separate issue to be considered on its own merits. Saying that does not undermine the case for gay marriage at all. The anti-SSM folks tend to see anything outside of their own little sphere of doctrine as some looming series of escalating evils that can only be held at bay with fierce legal strictures that chain gays, and anyone else they consider to be “more degenerate” than themselves. We, or at least I, consider gay marriage, polygamy, and any other arrangement you care to think of, as separate moral, legal and public policy questions.

            So I will concede that we may not be able to close the gate on polygamists from pressing their case. I don’t think we need to foreclose them from seeking what they want. With or without gay marriage, they will have to make their own case as to why legalization/recognition of multiple partner marriage is needed, and just and tenable. They will face some additional burdens that gay monogamists do not face in their struggle. Those burdens include the legal complexities of determining fair property distribution and parental rights in their situations. We as a society will have to determine whether or not the children and spouses in polyamorous situations (there are MUCH more than you would guess), are better served by our policy of abolition or by some system of legal recognition and protection.

          • Mr. X

            “Polygamy is a separate issue to be considered on its own merits.”

            But pretty much all the gay marriage arguments also apply to polygamy. It’s nobody else’s business is two men get hitched? Then surely it’s nobody else’s business if a man and two women do. You’re imposing your own definition of marriage on society? Well then, how is restricting marriage to two people any different? Etc., etc.

        • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

          No, “authentic” means real. A homosexual relationship is not the same kind of relationship as a heterosexual relationship; primarily because one is homosexual and one is heterosexual. A homosexual relationship, for instance, is unlikely to produce children through any natural means, whereas a heterosexual relationship, left to nature, almost certainly will. Marriage, as a natural institution, exists to protect those children from the tumult of life by providing them a stable home with their own parents, whenever possible.

          Homosexual “marriage” (and alas, so many modern actual marriages) have nothing whatever to do with any of that. That’s not smug. It’s an observation based on the simple and scientifically verifiable fact that a rectum is not a vagina.

          No amount of laws can make it so.

          • Val

            I take it you married a vagina, not a woman.
            Where did you put the ring?

          • Alan

            If you don’t know where the ring would go you aren’t getting out enough.

            As for “catholic” morals (and alas so many religions), they have nothing whatsoever to do with the scientifically verifiable fact that marriage is no more a natural institution than homosexuality and is much more a social institution that reflects the society in which it exists – and our society is moving towards inclusion of homosexuals rather than exclusion.

          • loveisreal

            Marriage is a social institution created by humans. It is not found in nature. Sex and procreation are found in nature. Sometimes they go together with pairbonding, sometimes not. Gay sex is also found in nature. There’s a species of lizard that has offspring only by parthogenesis; the only kind of sex they have is lesbian sex, since they’re all female.

            Some cultural institution similar to marriage is found in most, if not all, human societies. It is not the sole invention of any religion; every religion has their own version of it. Not all societies practice monogamaus marriage. Some of them have polygamus marriages. Some traditional societies have a form of same-sex marriage already. The Nandi tribe, for example.

            It’s up to us as a society to decide what marriage means to us. Since same-sex couples can form pairbonds which are as loving, as deep and as heartfelt as hetereosexual ones, and in that sense just as real, and since infertile people are not banned from marrying, there’s no good reason to deny the right to marry to homosexuals.

            Also, lesbians don’t generally use the rectum for sex, and neither does every male gay couple. On the other hand, there are heterosexuals who like a bit of anal. Why the fixation on the rectum?

          • Liz

            Can you clear up something for me? I’m a young woman dating a young man, and we would like to get married someday in order to make a permanent commitment to build each other up morally and help each other through life’s hurdles. Neither of us wants children. As I understand it NFP is only recommended for those who are “open to” children.

            What does Catholic doctrine say about my marriage? Should I marry but stay permanently abstinent? Or would that marriage be sinful too? It sounds like the answer is “yes” but I never hear the crusade against people like me undermining marriage.

          • TerryC

            Catholic teaching says that a marriage that is not open to children is invalid. As a matter of fact the refusal to be open to children is a cause the Church recognizes as a reason to declare a marriage invalid in annulment proceedings.
            Such a teaching does not undermine marriage because marriage by its very nature includes the openness to children. Despite what modernist would have you believe marriage finds its origin in Natural Law. Those that hold that all law is positive, that is based on human action do not hold that belief. However like all things which are based on truth, belief does not change the fact of a thing or institution. As Abraham Lincoln said, I can’t change the number of legs a dog has by calling its tail a leg. You can’t change what marriage means by calling something else marriage.

      • Marco Luxe

        Brian, your statement “I think the moral case against same-sex “marriage” is rationally compelling, but practically unknown or very poorly understood” is internally contradictory, and gives you away as a ….how do I put this?…. a “creative thinker” . [see, I can use irony quotes too]

        • Brian

          Perhaps you can point out the internal contradiction.

      • Joseph Feeney

        Your comments are simply wrong! Catholics have a moral obligation to be fair, compassionate, and kind. Gay people exist. It is not immoral to be gay. It is immoral to hurt gay families through systematic demonization and discrimination.

        • Frank

          It’s not immoral to have SSA. Acting on it is a sin. It can be forgiven but it is a sin. Absolutely o way around that.

    • Joseph Feeney

      All Christians have a moral obligation to be fair, compassionate, and kind. Gay people exist. It is not immoral nor illegal to be gay. It is, however, immoral to hurt gay families through systematic demonization and discrimination.

      • Thomas R

        Catholicism tends to feel “gay families” are not families as such. That families have both a father and a mother. This was the standard thinking in most cultures I know of to be honest. (Even the Nandi, or some indigenous people, would deem same-sex marriages to be opposite-gender marriages. Nandi women apparently went through an “inversion ceremony” to become a “husband.”)

        You switched it to Christianity generally, but Boswell aside acceptance of homosexuality is extremely recent among Christianity. I don’t think it occurs before the 1960s.

    • deiseach

      Catholics are permitted to have divergent opinions on civil unions/domestic partnerships/civil, secular, non-sacramental marriage. I could be convinced about civil unions as a matter of natural justice, seeing as how civil marriage has been so diluted by the acceptance of cohabitation, the liberalisation of divorce and the notion of marriage as being about personal fulfilment and growth.

      But what Catholics may not do is say that marriage is something we can invent and re-invent at will, and that same-sex marriage is exactly the same thing as traditional marriage and equal in every regard. It’s not; it’s an innovation, and it requires a whole raft of new legislation to cope with its introduction above merely saying “X and X can get married under the same conditions and with the same state benefits as X and Y”.

      In sum: Leah the citizen can have any opinion she pleases on state law. Leah the Catholic cannot say this relationship is a marriage when it is not.

      • Brian

        No, deiseach, Catholics are not permitted to have divergent opinions on those matters, at least not if one seeks to be faithful to the magisterium. I encourage you to read this article:

        http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2012/05/two-questions-about-marriage-and-the-civil-law/

      • Brian

        ah, deiseach, see, especially comment #56 to the above article.

        • http://last-conformer.net/ Gilbert

          Submission of will and intellect doesn’t mean the total impossibility of dissent. Of course it doesn’t mean one can just ignore the teaching either. See here, #23-31. That document is about theologians, but in doubt individual believers have more leeway than theologians.

          Assuming her opinions haven’t changed much since her April announcements, I think Leah is firmly on the good side of the Catholic obedience fence. To be clear, I also think she’s dead wrong.

          Really, it’s bad enough that all the atheists are reveling in their Borgish stereotypes of Catholicism, there’s no need for us to actually live up to those stereotypes.

  • mike r.

    When Maryland allowed same sex couples to be married this year my wife of 10 years and I experienced the same sense of renewed affirmation of our marriage.

    • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

      It’s funny that you’ve been married 10 years and haven’t noticed yet the difference between your wife and a man. I would think it would have been obvious to you, certainly on the night of your wedding. Presumably she hasn’t given birth yet, so the real difference between your union and a homosexual union hasn’t been driven home yet.

      When my great and beloved homeland, the State of Maryland, this fall legalized gay “marriage”, it only drove home to me how clearly and demonstrably detached our political and legal reality, not to mention cultural perceptions, are from objective reality.

      A rectum is not a vagina. The difference, surely evident to any three year old girl, is apparently lost on a lot of lawyers and politicians.

      • Alan

        It’s funny, no I mean sad, that you reduce the characteristic of the two people who are married to their rectum and/or vagina.

      • ACN

        Let me then say, as a fellow resident of Maryland, we won’t miss you if you want to leave.

        Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  • deiseach

    I also wanted to know what was encapsulated by “co-parent” that was left out of “best-friend-who-also-shared-his-bed.”

    The cynic in me says “Easy – co-parent means she decided to go off contraception in order to have a planned child or children”. The kind of person who dodges and dances around the very notion of using the term “husband” or “wife” is not going to just slip into accidentally becoming pregnant, you know! Besides, “best-friend-who-shares-his-bed” could be mistaken for “friends with benefits” (or a more pungent term which I’ll not use here, but I’m sure you all know), but does not carry the same connotations of being in a committed relationship – which she obviously felt needed clarification, or she wanted to emphasise that actually she was in a committed relationship with her co-parent and not just a booty call, which makes me wonder why she couldn’t just say “spouse” in the first place?

    I’m sorry, but this kind of article brings on a severe case of “wanting-to-slap-round-the-headitis” in me. It’s one of those chronic conditions which flares up now and again; hopefully, some NYT writer will do an article on it and make it trendy, hip and happening?

    If this

    • jenesaispas

      Pretty funny closer there. :)

  • Rover Serton

    Jack, explicitly where? Is that in accord to the RCC?

    Thx in advance.

    • Thomas R

      She’s kind of a new convert. I did/do wonder how she’ll reconcile that with her generally strong defense of LGBT rights issues. (For the record a really conservative Catholic I think could/would support all explicitly constitutional rights applying to gays. Right to form churches, magazines, own firearms, be tried by a jury of their peers, etc. By “LGBT rights issues” I mean those that emphasize homosexual and heterosexual relationships are equally valid, not just that the people in them are equal)

    • Jack

      Rover, is it obvious to you this morning that Leah supports gay marriage.

      Get used to her ambiguity. She writes that way when she’s acting contrary to the church.
      Expect many ambiguous post from her. Look at the name of the blog.

      • deiseach

        Gentlemen, thank you for providing a perfect example of what is meant by the saying “More Catholic than the Pope”.

        If Leah’s opinion on gay marriage means she’s not a real Catholic, then this guy’s opinion on condom use means he’s not a real Catholic either:

        “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.”

        Tsk! The kinds of people they allow to be Pope nowadays! Saying it’s perfectly all right to use condoms and to be a rent boy, to boot!

        Or you know, that may not be the point he’s making. Or the point Leah is making, about same-sex marriage.

        • Mike

          Oh geez, really? Come on. Either marriage is one man one woman or it isn’t, honestly! The RCC teaches against moral relativism remember. Why call yourself a Catholic if you think abortion is two different things depending on where it happens and who does it? Please, let’s be honest here.

          • Custador

            ” The RCC teaches against moral relativism remember.”

            Yes, whilst at the same time deciding that allowing priests to face secular justice for their crimes is a bigger affront to morals than child rape. Let’s not mistake what they say for what they do.

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  • Chad Myers

    It boggles me that the term “traditional marriage” is tossed around with the same sort of disdain as “Jim Crow law”. As though it were some barnacle of history that should be unceremoniously scraped off the side of the Ship of Progress.

    It seems few have ever stopped and asked themselves why this tradition exists even in cultures in the past where many different types of homosexual relationships were tolerated or even sanctioned by the state in their day.

    As G.K. Chesterton said of tradition: Before you go tearing down fences, be sure you understand why they were built in the first place.

    • Kenneth

      The defenders of “traditional marriage” defend the concept using exactly the same script, word for word, justification for justification, that was used to defend Jim Crow (and slavery).

      For all that, traditional marriage is not being outlawed, nor discarded. What IS being scraped off the side of the ship are laws which use state power to enforce sectarian religious doctrine on the public at large in a society designed for pluralism. The “Defense of Marriage” movement has no scientifically sound, secular evidence to justify such use of state power. None at all. They have lots of rhetorical shell games to suggest they do, but their reasons always ultimately boil down to a belief that all humans are Catholic/Christian whether they know it or not, and the state has a duty to help them live by that doctrine.

      The ancient provenance of a tradition does not establish its merits. Yes, the ancients held to hetero marriage, as far as we can tell, but they also held by lots of other dandy concepts like marriage by rape, marriages that would be considered pedophilia today, slavery, genocide etc.

      • Thomas R

        But a difference is “Jim Crow” was, at best, a new tradition. Jim Crow laws existed from the 1870s to the early 1960s. I know of at least one woman who was born like a year before the Emancipation Proclamation and died after “Brown v. Board.”

        Even anti-miscegenation laws were not that ancient of a tradition. They started around the 1660s and ended in 1967. That’s over three centuries, but in human history terms that’s not overwhelming. It was also far from universal. Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont appear to have never had anti-miscegenation statutes.

        At the very least laws against same-sex marriage go back to the fourth century. The idea same-sex couples can not be married is in diverse cultures, including those that were never monotheistic.

        • Custador

          Yes? And? So? What? Old does not equal correct, or applicable outside of its time, or relevant.

          • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

            But it does establish that “traditional marriage” (for lack of a better term) is not exclusively a Catholic/Christian invention. It does show that there may be other reasons besides “sectarian religious doctrine.”

          • Thomas R

            I simply meant it’s a different kind of tradition. Jim Crow was a specific culture with a legacy of race-based slavery. Opposition to same-sex marriage has pretty much always existed in Christianity. And so far as I know same-sex marriage didn’t exist in any major religion before the 1960s. (Roman pagan same-sex marriage was often pederastic. Until very modern times virtually all same-sex marriage was “temporary union between older man and teenage boy” or “individuals deemed to be of opposite gender but same-sex.” Permanent same-gender unions are mostly a modern invention)

            No old things aren’t necessarily correct. But they’re not necessarily wrong either.

        • Kenneth

          Slavery as an institution and tradition, and the justifications for it, were well in place thousands of years in the West before the first African was taken to the New World.

          • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

            True. And slavery still exists today, though usually under other names or without the cover of law.

            But racism, properly speaking, was pretty much nonexistent before the early modern era. Until then, slavery was the consequence of war or of economic inequality. The closest idea to racism was a sometimes xenophobic ethnocentrism which was a sort of home-team-spirit or patriotism carried into trade and war.

            The laws and institutions justifying racism were far from universal, and were of relatively short duration, especially compared to the idea that marriage involves a complete set of parents.

          • Thomas R

            That’s true. At the same time though people recognized ending slavery was a major thing that would change society. Advocates of same-sex marriage generally try to downplay or ignore the idea it could have major consequences at all.

      • Mr. X

        “What IS being scraped off the side of the ship are laws which use state power to enforce sectarian religious doctrine on the public at large in a society designed for pluralism.”

        Odd, from the way some people talk, you’d think it was just Catholics who opposed SSM, rather than literally every human society outside the twenty-first century west.

        Also, unless you’re going to demand that literally every relationship between any type of thing be called a marriage, why is it OK for you to impose your vision of marriage on society, but not for anybody else to do so?

        “The ancient provenance of a tradition does not establish its merits.”

        The fact that the overwhelming majority of humanity disagrees with you might suggest that your side isn’t as unarguably in the right as you seem to suggest. Unless you believe that you and a small band of like-minded individuals have alone in all of human history managed to discern the true meaning of marriage and that everybody else has been blinded by prejudice, which is prima facie a pretty unlikely idea.

      • deiseach

        Yeah, Kenneth, you’re right. I want to restrict marriage to being between a man and a woman (one of each) and I also want to start buying and selling other human beings again. One flows inevitably out of the other.

        I also want to set up squads to make sure every married woman is pregnant every year until menopause, to burn witches, force Jews to live in ghettos, arm every single person from the age of two upwards to the teeth, enforce capital punishment for every crime more serious than parking offences, and declare war on the Reptiloids who have infiltrated the ruling family of the monarchy in our next-door island.

        Also, bring back forced conversions. Baptism by rounding up everyone and throwing them in the river saves time and is more efficient than pussyfooting around with discussion and leaving it up to the individual ‘conscience’.

        • Thomas R

          I think the idea is that as tradition/Christianity accepted or tolerated slavery, but now does it, that shows Christian thinking can change. I think the idea is flawed in many ways, but it’s rather late to get too into this.

    • H

      No-one is trying to get rid of traditional marriage. Men and women are still marrying each other in Denmark and Canada. The only difference is, gay people who love each other are able to marry too.

      People aren’t going to turn gay en masse just because gay marriage is legalised. Sexuality does not work that way! Gay people will probably always be a minority- the difference is that in Denmark and Canada they are a minority whose rights to marry are respected. In the USA (as a whole), they are not.

      How hard is it to understand? No-one is going to force heterosexuals to divorce or rip up their marriage certificates. Gay people just want their relationships aknowledged and included. By the State, not the Church. No-one is trying to redefine Church marriage either. Just secular marriage.

      • Thomas R

        I think the “threaten marriage” thing confuses people too much so that’s not really what should be said.

        Really I think the threat is more to ideas of gender and sexuality. Same-sex marriage pretty easily, and often does, lead to the idea the sexes are interchangeable. This is something I think Leah leans toward herself, this is not uncommon in bisexual women I guess, but as a bisexual man I don’t buy it. Leaving religion aside I just “know” my attraction to men is different than my attraction to women. That being in a relationship with a man would be different than a woman. Same-sex marriage, because there’s no way to exclude bisexuals from it, seems to make it all the same.

        And I said it was too late to type more so I’ll stop.

        • Custador

          “Same-sex marriage pretty easily, and often does, lead to the idea the sexes are interchangeable.”

          Sometimes there just isn’t enough “lolwhut?!” in the world… First of all: What the hell do you even mean? Second of all: Citation needed.

          • Thomas R

            It’s not unheard of for same-sex marriage efforts to be linked to dropping terms like “father” and “mother.”

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/25/france-mother-father-gay-parents-law-_n_1912606.html

            And if a woman’s relationship to a woman or man has the same term, marriage, than it means homosexuality and heterosexuality are legally the same. And that’s what many homosexuals, and some bisexuals, believe but I don’t. Even if I had no religion it would just seem illogical to me to think it’s the same. (Unfortunately equality often means identicality or trying to make things as identical as possible. In a discussion like this I once proposed a union that would be “fundamentally the same as marriage, but wouldn’t use the word ‘matrimony’ and would be placed with same-sex siblings in terms of adoption” to get rebuked with “what part of equality don’t you understand.” Heck at this point I think if I’d said “exactly the same in all respects, but without the word ‘matrimony’ as that involves motherhood” I’d likely also get “what part of equality don’t you get!!!!” Being deemed identical does seem a thing)

          • Custador

            I hear what you’re saying; equality of rights does not equal being identical. I think that has problems of its own, though: The term “different but equal” is very loaded, and using variations on it can cause offence very easily. To my mind, this is essentially a debate over a word. Where I live, Civil Unions exist which give gay couples the exact same rights as straight couples, yet for some reason they aren’t supposed to call it “marriage”. That’s not separate but equal, that’s maintaining separation. It is in every discernible way a marriage (and the world has not ended), so let’s just call it a marriage.

  • Joe

    The last sentence in the OP is overly optimistic. The culture will continue the Ho-Hum attitude towards marriage and family that we already see around us. Fathers will be created by “accident” at a more frequent rate and people will be left to drift off into relationship limbo were nothing matters and anything goes, completely without deliberation or joy.

    • :)

      Whatever you think about gay relationships, you gotta admit, creating fathers by accident is not a problem associated with them.

  • Nicole Resweber

    Y’all can argue if you like; Leah, thanks for sharing – this is beautiful.

  • GudEnuf

    The world according to Leah Libresco: God chose Peter to lead the church. Peter’s role was passed down generation to generation, until finally Benedict XVI became God’s chosen spiritual leader. Benedict XVI had some important moral teachings, but he bungled on of the biggest moral issues of our time. Instead of recognizing marriage of a civil right, Benedict told Catholics to reject civil marriage for gay couples.

    Fortunately, Leah Liberesco was smarter than the Pope. Despite having been baptized just a few months ago, Leah was able to spot the error that Pope Benedict and his 265 predecessors had missed.

    • J-Rex

      Smarter has nothing to do with it. I’d go with more moral, compassionate, and open-minded.
      You may see a leader chosen by God. I see a man in a funny hat dictating how people he doesn’t know should live their lives. The RCC has certainly got things wrong in the past. Why is it so impossible that they’re wrong about something now?

      • GudEnuf

        I wasn’t talking about my views on gay marriage, I was talking about Leah’s. And Leah clearly does not see the Pope as a “man in a funny hat”. If she thinks she understands morality better than the Pope, why should she believe that the Pope is God’s hand-picked spiritual leader?

      • Custador

        “The RCC has certainly got things wrong in the past.”

        I’m never sure whether to cringe or laugh at the semantic games they play to avoid admitting that, though. No, no! They weren’t wrong! Their proclamations just need to be re-interpreted! Rofl!

    • J-Rex

      “Because I’m not Catholic, and I’m not against gay marriage. What I am against is Leah claiming to be Catholic, and then advocating a political position that makes no sense if she’s Catholic.”

      Whoops, just read that.
      Now that we’re on the same page, then yeah, I agree with your statement. What’s the point of converting to a religion that you don’t agree with?? I know she likes the philosophy behind some of their beliefs. Well she is free to believe what she wants, but that doesn’t mean she should join up with an organization that does so much harm just because they agree on a few things.

      • Thomas R

        There’s something called the “Old Catholic Church” which recognizes much/most pre-Vatican I beliefs, but is fairly pro-homosexuality. One of their priests I think even has a gay nightclub act or something. It’s in Communion with the Anglicans, but is more “Catholic” in some ideas and last I checked it’s apostolic succession is still seen as valid.

        I sometimes think of encouraging liberal, particularly gay, Catholics to join it if there’s a congregation in their area. It started by the Dutch.

  • Custador

    1) The church had no involvement in the institution of marriage (except preaching against it) right up until the 12th century AD. Up until that point, it was recognised as a wholly civil contract, not religious or spiritual in nature.

    2) If you are heterosexual, the amount that same sex marriage is your business is precisely ZERO. Similarly, the measurable effect of same sex marriage on any person who does not wish to marry somebody of the same sex is ZERO.

    Seriously, I do not care if a paedophile enabler in a stupid hat tells you it’s wrong: Your religion is an excuse for bigotry, and an entirely transparent one. Gay marriage. None of your damn business, does no harm whatsoever.

    • Matt

      @Custador they don’t charge by the byte. Please include a reference for your 12th century statement it would seem contradicted by the pro-marriage references in the New Testament and Church Fathers (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09707a.htm). Of course point #2 is contradicted by the NYT article, this thread, and the fact that law requires those who object to changing the law to financially support same sex relationships.

      • Custador

        …And desperate reaching to justify bigotry. I love being right.

    • GudEnuf

      Are you talking to me? Because I’m not Catholic, and I’m not against gay marriage. What I am against is Leah claiming to be Catholic, and then advocating a political position that makes no sense if she’s Catholic.

      • Mike

        Exactly. At least, if nothing else, please Leah be consistent. You’ve managed to get this far, please don’t chicken out now.

        However, there is of course nothing inconsistent with saying you think it’s inevitable in many places. I think SSM is a mistake and not compatible with being a faithful Catholic. It’s a solution looking for a problem BUT I also think it’s inevitable.

        Can a faithful Catholic hold both views. Yes and No I think. Yes, you have to be pragmatic but no I don’t think you can honestly disagree with the RCC on the definition of this sacrament. If you honestly do you honestly might be a liberal protestant. I mean, of course you have plenty of Catholics who think they can disagree but I would hope that Leah is not just another faux Catholic. Just as the country doesn’t need two democratic parties the RCC doesn’t need another cafeteria Catholic.

        I would encourage her to state her opinion truthfully and forthrightly instead. She is on the Catholic channel so that should answer the question but perhaps she really is a better fit for the episcopalians or another liberal “church”.

        • Kyle S.

          What exactly does Leah have to gain by stating her opinion forthrightly? Besides half her readership, I mean.

          • Kyle S.

            That didn’t make any sense, did it? I’m a dolt. Here’s what I meant: if she answers the yes or no question, she’s going to alienate half of her readership. If she wants to continue writing to all of the people who have been following her work, she’s going to have to thread the needle on this issue. Rachel Held Evans has a different sort of readership, but she has to do the same thing. Take a pro-gay stance, lose your cred with conservatives. Call homosexuality a sin and lose the liberals.

          • Mike

            Imagine this: two men use a women for her womb, rent it essentially (feminists? hello, anybody out there?) but feel a pique of guilt about taking the child away from her mummy so petition the court to recognize their marriage to the mother for the “child’s best interests”. The court weighs the potential “damage” to be done and the child’s best interests and decides well of course 3 people can marry. If 2 of them are the same sex then therefore for the child we should recognize legally their 3 person relationship in order to protect the child. The media: “there you go you weirdo Catholics, now the child has it’s stupid mummy in it’s life, now can you lighten up and stop being so bigoted?” Faux Catholics say “ya what’s the harm?” and now you have 3 person marriage. Be honest and tell me this is impossible? It isn’t it’s coming! Maybe not for 100 years maybe not everywhere but why not?

            Anyway if people are too ashamed of being Catholic or disagree with it (like Anne Rice) at least be honest and SAY SO! Our culture needs MORE honesty not more conceit.

          • Kenneth

            If “threading the needle” and avoiding controversy is her thing, there’s no point in writing a blog that purports to engage interesting debates. Once you start telling people what you think they want to hear, you’re not a philosopher, you’re a politician.

        • http://branemrys.blogspot.com Brandon Watson

          Yes, you have to be pragmatic but no I don’t think you can honestly disagree with the RCC on the definition of this sacrament.

          Of the sacrament, certainly, but marriage as a civil contract is a distinct issue from the sacrament. Merely having a civil marriage doesn’t mean one has a sacramental marriage, and vice versa, even now. And the governing issues of each are different: whether something could possibly be a sacramental marriage depends on whether it can function as a particular kind of theological sign, but whether something can be a civil marriage depends on whether it can function as a particular kind of benefit for the community.

          It’s a perfectly legitimate position to argue that prying the two apart too far leads to inconsistencies, and also the additional position that same-sex marriage is precisely that; but conflating the two and suggesting that people who disagree are ipso facto not Catholic is a definite error in the opposite direction.

          • Mike

            Yes I agree. It does not mean you are ipso facto not a Catholic. But you probably aren’t a Catholic if you really do think the RCC is bigoted or sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong. See below about abortion. Again, the RCC is not a religious chat group or blog; it is evangelical, spreading the truth about ALL humanity! I think the state can re-define marriage of course. I just think that as a Catholic who is trying to be faithful it shouldn’t. I think it’s a bad idea. I can not see how you can compare re-defining marriage to imposing kosher laws and still not consider the RCC to be outdated or bigoted. Fine if you think it’s bigoted. I used to think it was too. Hey Obama wants to define down religious expression to freedom to worship. Is Leah also in favor of this? Putting all religions especially the big ol’ bad RCC in a tidy box? Many places have defined religion down to the privacy of your own home.

            I really don’t want to come off as rude but look at Anne Rice. She thought she could be faithful but realized she couldn’t and left. I want HONESTY! not CONCEIT! It’s the worst thing!

          • http://branemrys.blogspot.com Brandon Watson

            What you want is simply not of importance at all in the question, though; particularly since your way of identifying what counts as ‘honesty’ and ‘conceit’ seems a bit idiosyncratic at best. If you think Leah at any point has made a provable error in stating Catholic doctrine, or that in particular proposal she has made is provably inconsistent with Catholic doctrine, you are certainly free to point it out in the forum of reasoned argument. But questioning people’s honesty and faithfulness simply because they aren’t approaching the issue the way you think they should is just not reasonable; neither honesty nor faithfulness work that way.

      • Jack

        “Are you talking to me? Because I’m not Catholic, and I’m not against gay marriage. What I am against is Leah claiming to be Catholic, and then advocating a political position that makes no sense if she’s Catholic.”

        Given this post and many others similar to it, I’m beginning to think it’s a case of an atheist trying to enter the largest Christian denomination to change it.

        • Mike

          Might be, if it is, good luck :)

          • Jack

            I Know. Still, if I ran Patheos Catholic, I would boot her off the channel.

        • Kenneth

          So your’re not even Catholic, but you’ve decided to become a freelance bishop and do a bit of pastoral guidance in your spare time? That puts your authority, and credence, about on par with the Kardashians…..

      • Custador

        This is why I found Leah’s conversion to be troubling; in the few blog entries I read from her before she did, I thought she seemed like a fairly liberal, progressive feminist. And then she got baptised in a church which is essentially a paternalistic control-cult, which has ideas on equality and social justice which at best could be described as Medieval, and which is currently headed by a paedophile enabler who used to be in the Nazi party. And it ain’t like the RCC is a democratic organisation – Darth Pope says it = It’s the law. The cognitive dissonance is a bit overwhelming on that one.

    • Mike

      If it’s none of my business it isn’t yours either. So don’t have me fired or my business shut down and my family kicked out on to the street if I respectfully say I simply don’t think people of the same sex can marry. Quid pro quo.

    • Mr. X

      “1) The church had no involvement in the institution of marriage (except preaching against it) right up until the 12th century AD. Up until that point, it was recognised as a wholly civil contract, not religious or spiritual in nature.”

      Untrue. There are several passages in the New Testament which deal with marriage and its spiritual dimensions. Even if the Church wasn’t involved in the legal side of the marriage (property rights, inheritance, etc.), saying that it was “a wholly civil contract, not religious or spiritual in nature” is just wrong.

      Also, even assuming that your argument is correct, how come nobody had same-sex marriage before the big bad nasty Church got involved? The Greeks and Romans weren’t notable gay-bashers, but none of them seemed to feel that two men should be able to get married.

      “2) If you are heterosexual, the amount that same sex marriage is your business is precisely ZERO. Similarly, the measurable effect of same sex marriage on any person who does not wish to marry somebody of the same sex is ZERO.”

      If two gay people want to live together and call themselves married, there’s nothing to stop them doing so at the moment. If they start demanding all these government benefits for doing so, it ceases to be their own business.

      • Custador

        ” If they start demanding all these government benefits for doing so, it ceases to be their own business.”

        Bullshit. Their taxes pay for YOUR marriage to attract benefits from the government, and you don’t want your taxes to pay for THEIR marriage to have the same benefits. You want to have your cake and eat it. You want government money to be given exclusively to straight people, not gay people. Ergo, you are a bigoted homophobe, hiding behind your religion.

        • SteveP

          I’ve not yet heard a good argument as to why a man ought to have a right to another man’s Social Security in the form of survivor benefits. Perhaps you can offer one.

          • Custador

            I’ve not yet heard a good argument as to why a woman ought to have a right to another man’s Social Security in the form of survivor benefits. Perhaps you can offer one.

            Fixed. Now, you go first.

          • SteveP

            While it may rankle you to realize that Social Security survivor benefits and their antecedents might be a fulfillment of a commandment to care for widows and orphans, you are right to question the basis of survivor benefits: a secular country cannot be doing things for religious reasons. Further the much touted Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act has abolished lifetime earning limits encountered by women; again survivor benefits ought to be examined as they seem to be a legacy of inequality.

            Why is it, again, that a man has the right to another man’s Social Security survivor benefits?

          • Custador

            Because a woman has a right to her man’s Social Security survivor benefits. It really is that simple. If we live under a secular government, every adult has to be treated equally in the eyes of the law, and that includes the right to marry the consenting adult of your choice, and receive the same benefits as any other marriage between two consenting adults. As it happens, I don’t think there should be any government sponsored financial incentive to marry anyway – I’d rather see straight couples lose privileges than gay couples gain them, but I’ll accept it the other way around in the interim so long as there is equality.

          • SteveP

            If I understand your assertion of what equality is, then a parallel example would be the WIC program where a pregnant or lactating female can receive nutritional support, then if a male thinks he is in the same physical condition stipulated by the program (incomes and demographics factored out), then the man ought to be able to receive the same benefit?

            Did I understand your point correctly?

        • Mr. X

          “Bullshit. Their taxes pay for YOUR marriage to attract benefits from the government, and you don’t want your taxes to pay for THEIR marriage to have the same benefits. You want to have your cake and eat it.”

          First you were saying “Gay marriage doesn’t affect you at all”; now you seem to have changed to “It’s only fair that if you get benefit X, everybody else who wants benefit X should get it as well.” So which one do you want to defend? It might be rather hard to have a discussion if you keep switching arguments like this.

          ” Ergo, you are a bigoted homophobe, hiding behind your religion.”

          Grow up.

          • Custador

            It doesn’t effect you at all. It won’t change the tax that you pay in any measurable way whatsoever. Which particular married couples benefit from that tax is none of your business. “Grow up”? Um, no, I think I’m going to reiterate my earlier point that you are, in fact, a bigoted homophobe, hiding behind your religion. If that little statement of truth is upsetting to you, the fault is yours, not mine.

          • Mr. X

            “It doesn’t effect you at all. It won’t change the tax that you pay in any measurable way whatsoever. Which particular married couples benefit from that tax is none of your business.”

            Erm, what? The idea that citizens ought to have a say in how their tax money is spent has been an accepted principle of democratic government for centuries, if not millennia. If you want to argue against it, that’s fine, and I’d genuinely be interested to hear what you have to say on the matter; but just asserting that it’s none of the electorate’s business how the government spends money and claiming that only bigots could disagree with you just won’t wash, I’m afraid.

      • Custador

        “There are several passages in the New Testament which deal with marriage”

        …And the woman (when it is just one woman) is essentially property being traded, in every single one. Is that the “traditional” definition of marriage I hear so much about?

    • Arizona Mike

      As a plankholder in this ongoing experiment that we call the U.S. government, I certainly can and will register my approval or disapproval of changes in the law or Constitution.

      Those who have decided within the last few years that homosexual marriage is, quite suddenly, a moral imperative (a conclusion with which even the president disagreed, until the vice-president recently forced his hand) should presumably understand that the Law of Unintended Consequences is always in play and is never repealed, and that the “simple” legal recognition of the right of two men, or two women, to have a wedding ceremony, will inevitably have an outsized effect on other people’s rights, and that the (rather imposing) power of the state will then inevitably be used against those who express a moral objection to the new state orthodoxy. Should Catholic adoption services not receive grants from the state because they will not participate in the adoption of children to homosexual couples? Should military chaplains be denied the right to criticize homosexual marriage in church services on federal land? If the state must take a blind eye to all the participants in a joint custody battle, should women lose their traditional custody preference as the biological mother of the child to the biological father’s boyfriend’s claim of custody? Can a professor who publishes research finding deleterious effects on a child raised by same-sex couples be denied promotion or tenure? Can a mayor or a city council member deny business licensing if the CEO of a corporation disagrees on the issue of homosexual marriage? Should a Catholic wedding hall owner lose his business license for not allowing his property to be rented for a homosexual marriage reception? Should a a Catholic high school be cited by the Human Rights Council for failure to institute a state-mandated gay-friendly club? Should a Catholic parent be denied the right to home-school her son because of the fears of the State that she will not include a state-mandated module on gay rights and history?

      Laws that are passed for high-minded purposes (i.e., “we should not discriminate against those who have a sexual attraction to the same sex, and should treat them with compassion”) become bureaucratic imperatives (“no one will be allowed to hold a view that homosexuality is immoral”) in the hands of those who exercise power. It should be a concern to those on both sides of the divide.

      • Alan

        Yeah, yeah and the Nazis won’t be allowed to march in Skokie, and the Phelps can’t protest funerals… oh my you are such poor persecuted people here in the US. What whiny drivel.

        “Should Catholic adoption services not receive grants from the state because they will not participate in the adoption of children to homosexual couples?”
        Yes, just as they shouldn’t if they refused to participate in the adoption of children by Jews

        “Should military chaplains be denied the right to criticize homosexual marriage in church services on federal land?”
        No, for the same reason the court found in Rigdon

        “If the state must take a blind eye to all the participants in a joint custody battle, should women lose their traditional custody preference as the biological mother of the child to the biological father’s boyfriend’s claim of custody?”
        Yes, they should have anyway as both the father and mother should enter custody considerations on equal footing.

        “Can a professor who publishes research finding deleterious effects on a child raised by same-sex couples be denied promotion or tenure?”
        Probably, the school has significant discretion.

        “Can a mayor or a city council member deny business licensing if the CEO of a corporation disagrees on the issue of homosexual marriage?”
        Nope

        “Should a Catholic wedding hall owner lose his business license for not allowing his property to be rented for a homosexual marriage reception?”
        They should be sued for discrimination in any state which includes sexual preference as part of its public accomodation laws – whether gay marriage is legal or not is irrelevant

        “Should a a Catholic high school be cited by the Human Rights Council for failure to institute a state-mandated gay-friendly club?”
        What state-mandated club is that? More of your tinfoil insanity?

        “Should a Catholic parent be denied the right to home-school her son because of the fears of the State that she will not include a state-mandated module on gay rights and history?”
        Not any more than an Evangelical parent should be denied the right to home-school their son because they teach them that dinosaurs and humans lived together in harmony – we live in a country that is comfortable enough to give Evangelical and Catholic parents plenty of room to poison their children’s knowledge.

        • Arizona Mike

          “Should a a Catholic high school be cited by the Human Rights Council for failure to institute a state-mandated gay-friendly club?”
          What state-mandated club is that? More of your tinfoil insanity?

          No, monsieur..c’est YOU! It is YOU who wears this Hat of Tinfoil!!!

          http://www.canada.com/news/Ontario+Catholic+schools+face+over+straight+alliances/6092298/story.html

          ““Can a professor who publishes research finding deleterious effects on a child raised by same-sex couples be denied promotion or tenure?”
          Probably, the school has significant discretion.

          Even if the research was accurate? Au revoir, academic freedom.

          “Should military chaplains be denied the right to criticize homosexual marriage in church services on federal land?”
          No, for the same reason the court found in Rigdon

          Really? Because Catholic military chaplains were ordered not to oppose the anti-contraception portions of HHS mandate from the pulpit, so we seem to have a precedent. President Obama seems to be saying that his administration will not follow an enacted law in the national defense authorization bill in this regard (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/03/statement-president-hr-4310.), as Section 533 states: “the religious views of a soldier cannot be “the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination or denial of promotion, schooling, training or assignment,” and that chaplains cannot be forced “to perform any rite, ritual or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs of the chaplain.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/03/statement-president-hr-4310.

          ““Can a mayor or a city council member deny business licensing if the CEO of a corporation disagrees on the issue of homosexual marriage?”
          Nope

          Rahm Emanuel wants to have a talk with you.

          My point here is not simply to point out that there are as many obtuse, fascist clowns on your side as there are on mine. But religious freedoms are clearly covered under the Constitution, a constitutional “right to marriage” is somewhat less clear, if it exists at all (clearly, many forms of marriage would be, and are illegal). If the proponents of gay marriage rights do not respect the rights of others to respectfully be able to voice their opinion in the marketplace of ideas, why should they be surprised if many don’t wish to credit any of their arguments in return?

          • Alan

            “No, monsieur..c’est YOU! It is YOU who wears this Hat of Tinfoil!!!
            http://www.canada.com/news/Ontario+Catholic+schools+face+over+straight+a

            Here i thought we were talking about the United States.

            “Probably, the school has significant discretion.
            Even if the research was accurate? Au revoir, academic freedom.”

            How is that any different from today? The schools have always had such discretion and always will – academic freedom is doing just fine.

            “Really? Because Catholic military chaplains were ordered not to oppose the anti-contraception portions of HHS mandate from the pulpit,”

            I shouldn’t be surprised that you missed the resolution of that situation – you know, with the Secretary of Army noting the original order was an unconstitutional mistake.
            http://ncronline.org/news/politics/military-chaplains-told-not-read-archbishops-letter-hhs-mandate

            “Rahm Emanuel wants to have a talk with you.”
            No, he wants to meet with you at Chik Fil A’s second Chicago location when it opens this summer.

            “But religious freedoms are clearly covered under the Constitution, a constitutional “right to marriage” is somewhat less clear, if it exists at all (clearly, many forms of marriage would be, and are illegal). ”

            The Supreme Court has recognize marriage as a fundamental right for over 120 years – it is fairly clear. And, while many forms of marriage are illegal so are many forms of religious practice (like snake handling, various drug uses and Mormon polygamy).

            “If the proponents of gay marriage rights do not respect the rights of others to respectfully be able to voice their opinion in the marketplace of ideas, why should they be surprised if many don’t wish to credit any of their arguments in return?”

            Who is surprised that (the decreasing) opponents of gay marriage don’t wish to credit their arguments in return? But, as seems to happen in this great experiment of a Nation, eventually the arguments for extending civil rights tend to win out over those trying to restrain them.

          • Custador

            “If the proponents of gay marriage rights do not respect the rights of others to respectfully be able to voice their opinion in the marketplace of ideas, why should they be surprised if many don’t wish to credit any of their arguments in return?”

            You can voice your opinion all you like, and people like me will do our best to shoot you down and voice our own opinions back. Thus, through attrition, progress is made.

            What you can’t do (with any legitimacy) is this: Claim that you are being persecuted when the legal cudgel you’ve been using to beat on people you don’t like is removed.

            This debate is asinine, really. Homophobic religionists are told that the law will no longer be a conspirator or enabler of them treating homosexuals as sub-humans, and the response of the homophobic religionist is to claim they’re being persecuted.

            Do you know what “Christian Privilege” is? It’s the complete blindness you have to all of the ways that the Western world bends over backwards to accommodate you and discriminate in favour of your beliefs. It’s the cognitive blind spot that allows you to honestly think that because the state decides to stop withholding human right from a group of people just because you don’t like them, the state is persecuting you. It’s the Orwellian double-think that allows you to to sincerely believe that Christians in the Western world are in any way the victims of persecution and/or discrimination, when they are in fact the single most privileged, favoured, positively discriminated for, demographic on the planet.

  • SteveP

    leahlibresco: Margot Page wrote “No one could accuse the gay community of being stuck in a tired paradigm or of following old habits and expectations.” I’d imagine it’s a bit like this Monty Python vignette showing how a State recognizes an individual changes the individual – it is no longer just plain old muck but “There’s some lovely filth over here!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Xd_zkMEgkI)

    • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

      While we’re on Python, albeit tangential to the current topic:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFBOQzSk14c

      • SteveP

        That clip is a better commentary: Margot Page might have written about stealing childbearing from those to whom it is denied and now that the right to bear children is to be acknowledged as a universal, inalienable right she can “live into” her own childbearing.
        Very excellent, Robert King, thank you.

  • Jack

    In spite of her attempted ambiguity Leah is not threading the needle on this issue.
    It’s clear she’s in favour of gay marriage.

    • Mike

      I fear you’re right, but if so, what’s the point of the blog? Seriously. It’s like this: abortion is killing real babies if you’re inside of a Church, but if it happens in a hospital and it’s secular it’s poping a pimple. Which is it? What does the science tell us about the facts of early physical life? Likewise, what does biology tell us about human pro-creation? Can two men ever pro-create unite their bloodlines and become one body? If EVEN ONE of the 16 billion or so people who has ever lived on planet earth came to be as a result of two men or two women coming together I would dissent but alas we all know the truth. Marriage is either the union of one man and one woman, the parts fitting and all, or it isn’t. If Leah honestly believes the latter, then fine but be honest with yourself: the RCC is not a community centre with cool lights and funny hats! Although I believe her that she is not an atheist I suspect she is really a liberal protestant.

      • Kenneth

        The Anti-SSM movement likes to quote science in their arguments, but the fact is you ignore any science that contradicts or adds any complexity to your assertions. Not only is homosexuality widely found in nature, it appears to serve evolutionary roles, improving the fitness of some animal lines which have “gay” aunts and uncles. Some studies in humans show that homosexuality also correlates with female reproductive fitness. That is, the families which tend to produce gay men also have women who bear more children.

      • Bob

        Mike, the reason you’re so baffled by the “point” of the blog is that you can’t fathom a purpose to marriage other than to procreate. Since two people of the same sex can’t procreate together, they “can’t” be married. So for you, the state giving gays the right to marry is like the state giving me the right to flap my arms and fly, on the theory that it’s not fair that birds can do it but I can’t.
        So, I see where this drives some folks crazy. That’s the same point that Mr. Rectum/Vagina is making.
        But first, what you’re arguing is not even strictly true in a sacramental sense, since the church has no qualms sanctioning a marriage between two older folks beyond the age of fertility, for example, nor would it declare invalid a marriage that produces no children due to infertility.
        And your argument is certainly irrelevant in the civil-law sense. In civil law, marriage is nothing more or less than a legal construct, period.
        As for the authenticity of Leah’s faith, I can’t say.

    • http://www.cappadociainlowell.blogspot.com Renee

      She isn’t supporting gay marriage, but what the conversation should be if you live in a state that has gay marriage.

      I live in a state that has had gay marriage for ten years. I still support marriage, as a man and a woman, within our public policy. I keep noting the clear and obvious problems, in which our legislature are unable to address.

      How does one promote fathers in the home, if we can not recognize the one man/one woman domestic unit as a matter of public policy? All the research shows fathers matter, specifically one married to the mother of his children.

      I posted them on a different comment below.

    • Liz

      It’s totally possible — I’d say intellectually respectable — to hold one position while appreciating and discussing the arguments for the other side. Absent a post called “Why I think gay marriage should be legal” I would say we don’t know what Leah thinks about that question.

  • GudEnuf

    There’s no ambiguity about Leah’s position on SSM. Back in June (the same month she announced her conversion), she clearly stated that she supported legal recognition of same-sex marriage, contrary to what the Vatican believes.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked/2012/06/a-little-about-the-queer-stuff.html

    “As to the larger political question: civil marriage is different than sacramental marriage. If people can’t muster a convincing argument against gay marriage that doesn’t depend on the revealed truths of the Catholic Church, then asking the government to ban it is like expecting the State to enforce kosher dietary law on everyone (or even only secular Jews). *I still support civil gay marriage.*”

    • Mike

      So does she think Catholic adoptions that deny same sex couples are also bigoted?

      • Darren

        You take state money, you play by state rules.

        That means no excluding women, jews, african-americans, christians, old people, etc.

        Adding homosexuals does not make a new rule, it just adds an extra category of those who are eligible.

  • Jack

    Well this is convenient. Jack the married Catholic will not cheat on his wife, but when Jack walks through the magic portal into Jack the citizen the state will look the other way.

    • Mike

      YES! Exactly! The RCC disagrees with moral relativism, does Leah? Either marriage is man/women or not. It isn’t complicated. Either the truth applies to all people equally (remember thousands of gay men have been married to women and vice versa in the RCC) or it doesn’t. Hmm. Yeah suspect she’s got some serious thinking to do.

      • Darren

        There are two types of people in this world: those who think there are two types of people, and those who don’t.

    • David

      That is the law, isn’t it? At least in the US. There may be criminal anti-adultery laws still on the books in some states, but they are completely unenforced and unenforceable, because adultery falls into the category of things that most Americans don’t think the state has any business getting involved in. If you all think the state must enforce all Catholic moral teachings, why aren’t you advocating for laws enabling the prosecution of all people who commit adultery (or the enforcement of those laws to the extent they still exist)? At least there you’ll have a strong consensus in favor of your moral belief, which you thankfully now lack on the gay marriage front.

      • Mr. X

        “If you all think the state must enforce all Catholic moral teachings, why aren’t you advocating for laws enabling the prosecution of all people who commit adultery (or the enforcement of those laws to the extent they still exist)?”

        For one thing, there’s a difference between “prosecuting somebody for doing X” and “not encouraging somebody to do X”.

        • Bob

          True, Mr. X. Still, if I’m cheating on my wife, shouldn’t the state at least suspend my driver’s license? That would at least make it more difficult for me to cheat on my wife.

          • Darren

            Or put you up for election as President?

          • Mr. X

            If you say so, Bob. Although I’m pretty sure the government shouldn’t give you a car to allow you to commit adultery more easily.

  • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

    I think this woman is completely confused. We love confusion. If there is anything you can say about modern love is that we hate knowledge. We don’t want to found our relationships on solid truths. We are totally uncomfortable with it. We want to question everything.Then we wonder why we are not happy.

    We celebrate couples like this who live together for 20+ years and yet know nothing for certain about their relationship. It is sad for her. It is sadder for a society that does not know there is a better way.

    It really shows how right the Catholic church has been. The prediction was that the change in marriage would be massive, it would be negative, and it would be universal. That is it would effect all marriages and not just same-sex marriages. Much of it is not caused by the same-sex change. It is made worse by it but the confusion about marriage also flows from our acceptance of divorce, contraception, pornography, etc.

    Still we are seeing the one flesh union between husband and wife become more and more rare. That is a bad thing. It is bad for human happiness. It is bad for society. It is bad for the raising of children.

    It is even bad for our understanding of God. Understanding marriage is central to understanding God’s relationship with his covenant people. Just look at last Sunday’s readings. An solid understanding of fatherhood and motherhood is just as important. If we pervert those ideas in society then we will pervert our theology. When we say the church is the bride of Christ we don’t just mean they share a bed. We mean a relationship of love and submission and self sacrifice. We need that picture to be right in our minds.

  • Brian

    Hey, Mike. Leave the poor woman alone.

    • Mike

      Sorry Leah if it’s getting complicated. These are not easy questions but then again remember that the RCC isn’t a debating society. It’s a public oath that you are on a particular side and while that does not mean you have to agree 100% it may mean you are possibly being called to another Church or your understanding is incorrect either of the RCC and its purpose or your philosophical underpinnings.

      Ok say you honestly think abortion is ok if a women is stressed out. You can still be a faithful Catholic if you are honestly confused by the teaching but if you honestly understand it and disagree which is your right then you are probably not meant to be a Catholic. There’s nothing wrong with that. (I mean nothing in the secular sense; there is plenty “wrong” with it.)

      Keep this in mind if the RCC said it would not marry a man who it found out had lived his life as a gay man and had sex with men for 40 years but for the last 2 years say has been chaste and now wanted to marry a women he loved I wouldn’t argue with it or try to covertly change it I would leave. It’s that simple.

      • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

        Life is not that simple. I am a convert and I took a while to be totally comfortable with many Catholic teachings. I think Brian is right. Charity requires we don’t push her. When she wants to discuss things we discuss them. Still if she makes statements that we don’t feel a good Catholic should make we need to tread very lightly. We are not the orthodoxy police. That is a good thing.

        As far as gay marriage goes her quote indicates she is still thinking of it as a matter of civil rights. I get that. The church says that same-sex marriage is not good for society. That is a different angle to look at it from. Not what is the extent of someone’s freedom to be wrong but what is best for the health of the nation. Is every Catholic compelled to look at the question from the second angle? I think that question is properly answered by her priest and her bishop. Catholics are not compelled to obey every guy on a blog who claims to know what the church teaches. There is an authority structure.

        • Mike

          Yes, totally agree.

      • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

        Take it easy. There’s a reason they call it the catechumenate and not the professoriate. Leah digs for truth. It will continue to find her.

  • http://branemrys.blogspot.com Brandon Watson

    Reading the comments over, I find them highly ironic. The whole point of the post is that there is another kind of question, distinct from the one usually debated but equally important (and she is certainly right about its importance), that needs to be addressed but is not because people have fixated so much on their usual debate topic that they never get around to it. And part of what we find in the comments thread is a bunch of people so fixated on their usual debate topic that they are incapable of detaching from it even temporarily or as a hypothetical matter in order to address any other relevant question — indeed, so fixated on it that even attempting to recognize the existence of another relevant question as also important was attacked by some people on both sides as morally suspect ‘ambiguity’, despite the fact that it is neither morally suspect nor ambiguous, but simply ordinary rational forethought.

    • Mike

      I agree, like “those” icky people fixated on children being allowed to be loved by their mums and dads: weirdos! It’s like they actually care about something important, ugh gross! Who cares if a child created in a rented womb for two men will never feel his mommy’s soft skin and smell the scent of his mommy’s breath or be cuddled by her arms and have her eyes to find solace in, who cares? What’s important is two men being able to buy what nature dictates they can’t have.

      If a Catholic wants the state to recognize other relationships then by all means he can say so and be faithful. For example, why discriminate against sons who take care of their elderly mothers and live with them. Why not allow them to enter into some sort of legally protected union? How about elderly brothers who love each other, who hug and kiss each other at night but who have no one except themselves? Why not allow them into this legal structure?

      Which gay rights advocate would deny two elderly sisters the right to legal recognition of their bond? How about best friends, who hug, tend to each other, care for one another, why shouldn’t their rights be recognized? The reason why is because there is something strange that happens ONLY when 1 man and 1 women become 1 body that NEVER ever happens any other time…any guesses what that might be?

      PS This is also about civic rights of thought.
      Leah would you be for full robust thought protections for faithful Catholics who work in secular jobs? How about Christian marriage counselors? Photographers? If you want to separate the two then you must at least be in total support for cival protections for objectors no?

    • http://branemrys.blogspot.com Brandon Watson

      If you have nothing intelligent to say you should probably not say it; the question on which people are fixated is stated quite clearly in the post, and the alternative question is also clearly identified in the post, so you don’t have to make up completely new ones that are not at issue. Leave the actual argument on the subject to people who are capable of sticking to the actual point at hand.

      • Mike

        huh?

  • Mike

    PS This is a silly debate anyway. In Holland gay couples still don’t “marry” at anywhere near the rate of straight people and they divorce much much more. All children still have only 1 mum and 1 dad no matter what Elton J. says. Ethical non-monogamy is compatible with so-called gay marriage and polygamy is openly practised. This is about POWER to coerce. Nothing will ever change the underlying reality. Billions of years of evolution aren’t going to be wiped out of existence by some silly politicians. And no amount of propaganda will ever change what little children all know: mommies and daddies make babies. The only thing this will do is eradicate mommies and daddies officially and force people into saying the sky is green while looking up at the bluest of blue skies.

    • Kenneth

      It will also lead to dogs and cats living together and chemists to abandon IUPAC nomenclature to start naming substituent groups in whatever the hell order they please. With no moral structures left in place, it is only a matter of time before we see country western stars singing about their Prius, Birkenstocks and down-home vegan cooking. We are playing with the natural order of things by accommodating the homosexual lifestyle, and we will live to regret it!

    • ACN
  • http://unhappilyagnostic.tumblr.com/ Unhappily Agnostic

    How about people try to have the above discussion without using the word “marriage”? Because the word is so subject to debate now it seems kinda useless. So we can taboo our words (http://lesswrong.com/lw/nu/taboo_your_words/)

    I.e., instead of saying “I support gay marriage,” someone could say, “I support certain tax benefits x, y, z, for any two people who choose to undergo legal responsibilities a, b, c.” and/or “I support shared government benefits such as pensions, social security, etc., between any two people who choose to undergo legal responsibilities a, b, c. ” and/or other similar statements. (Imho, “gay marriage” in some cases makes ‘sense’ when rephrased thus [vis-a-vis hospital visitation, for instance] but in the majority of cases makes less sense. But whether or not I am right about the substance, my procedural suggestion still stands.)

    I would be interested in seeing Leah go through and state her beliefs (or even current assigned probabilities) without using the word “marriage”–and preferably without using the word “love,” either, as that’s also a bit of a conceptual tangle.

    Of course, Leah already said this with “the growing diversity of models of marriage is going to force us to get specific about what kind of relationship we’re about to enter and begin it deliberately and joyfully.” It is ironic that the conversation above does seem to focus much more about the word marriage than anything else, while the ambiguity in the word is precisely that which Leah mentioned, a bit obliquely, at the end of the post.

  • Alexander Anderson

    Well, this got off topic and missed the point rather quickly. Seriously, guys, there are literally thousands of other places to have the gay marriage debate. As far as the post goes, I agree with Deiseach. “Partner” and “person-who-not-creepily-but-consentually-shares-your-bed-in-a-definite-sexual-way” both seem inadequate and shallow because they are.

    I see no problem with husband and wife. It shows intimacy, commitment, and sacrifice, which are things that late modern man is rather uncomfortable with. The language is fantastically counter-cultural. I didn’t realize the same sex married people were using that terminology. I guess, you get worn out thinking of alternatives you have to fall back on the traditional terms. It’s still strange. Kind of a microcosm of the bizzaro theater that these sort ceremonies are. To sum up, I’m not sure how much gay marriage will affect how we think of real marriage, but mostly because I’m not convinced the fad will last very long.

  • Don Altobello

    Frequent reader but first time poster. I’ll reiterate what some have said here…I wish some of the posters would not be so quick to jump on Leah whenever she discusses something like gay marriage. Like another poster said, we are not the orthodoxy police. And this is not a post attacking the church’s teaching.

    For the most part, that ought to be left between one and a solid spiritual director. A final thought–this blog seems to be unique in that you have a mix of secular minded people as well as Catholics posting. Why not think of that as an opportunity? How else will those conversations (and inroads, even?) take place if articles like this aren’t posted? The real challenge that I see is how to evangelize in a modern/post-modern world.

    • Mike

      I agree but somethings are prudential judgements while others are not. Marriage is what it is. It wasn’t invented by the RCC but recognized. The Church is a messenger not an editor. Basic biological reality is what it is. There are a million things to be “open minded” about: re-defining marriage to suit the hurt feelings of a tiny group of people is not one of them. If it happens so be it. But will we still be able to say it is wrong in public? Can you tell your co-workers you think it is immoral w/o being fired and losing your home? I honestly don’t think you could.

      • Don Altobello

        My post was not about making the church’s teaching on sexuality negotiable, Mike. So she has doubts and differences? What is gained by coming down on someone every time they post something a little liberal on sex? All I’m saying is that a person’s requisite level of assent or obedience is not a matter for us to work out here, especially when it is an article, not a dabble in internecine church warfare. Just let your argument stand on its own.

      • 388

        You can say gay marriage is immoral as much as you want, just like you can say inter-racial marriage is immoral if you want. Just be prepared for people to shun you in disgust, or at least roll their eyes and sigh. It’s unlikely you’d get fired for it unless you work in the wedding industry and say it to the face of a gay couple who are your company’s clients. As for losing your house, that’s just crazy.

  • Arizona Mike

    Leah: When the pressure is off and we’re all less focused on the way the State shapes marriage, I think we’re going to have an easier time discussing how marriage shapes us. The growing diversity of models of marriage is going to force us to get specific about what kind of relationship we’re about to enter and begin it deliberately and joyfully.

    Leah, leaving aside the issue(s) of why we should give the State the power to shape marriage, or indeed why it should have any role in formally recognizing a sexual relationship from which children cannot issue, in what way do you see a secular recognition of homosexual unions (or other forms of union that may be recognized by the State in the future) altering how a young couple should get specific about the type of relationship they will enter? Are you referring to agreements on children (whether to have and how many, responsibility for family planning, education (religious and secular)? Sexual issues? Commitment? Integrity? Long Term Planning (e.g., where will we live, what do we do if one us us has to move)? Betrothed people generally have had these kinds of conversations for millennia before the idea of homosexual marriage was advanced. How will the State’s (presumed) recognition of homosexual marriage force changes in these kinds of things?

  • Val

    Fixations indeed. The home team here is so committed to their ideology that Leah’s basic point – that the strengthening of someone else’s loving relationship might actually reaffirm one’s own – is simply impossible to treat with anything but something like moral terror. Because, y’know, that’s what Catholicism is evidently about… not love, just The Rules (derived, supposedly, from what is laughingly and regularly referred to as The Truth).

    What inhumane, inhuman rot.

    Not, of course, that the situation is helped any by Leah’s coy refusal to take a ‘brave’ stance on anything since her conversion but football injuries.

  • Link
    • Kenneth

      Gay marriage hasn’t destroyed any country or state where it has been implemented. In the conspiracy theory logic of the “save marriage” coalition, that’s ironclad evidence that something bad WILL happen.

    • Thomas R

      Not everyone who’s turned against the idea (I was originally neutral or positive) takes the position it destroys everything. I think many opponents are way too melodramatic, but something could be a bad idea without being cataclysmic.

      Let’s say the government declares that the decimals in pi repeat after the 10,000th digit so no digit after that ever needs to be mentioned again. I’m pretty certain that would not change how we measure anything in the physical Universe. So life would be basically unaffected except we’d look stupid and some math classes would be weird. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

      Or if we declared that a dog’s tail should now be called its “fifth leg” or what have you.

      • Custador

        That’s a hell of a lot of false dichotomy you’ve shovelled in there. In reality, Pi is always going to be Pi, regardless of what the government says. A dog’s tail is not a leg; doesn’t really matter what the government says. And a marriage is still a marriage, even if it’s between two men or two women or a cis and a trans or any other combination. What religions define marriage to be is not the same as the vast majority of Western society defines marriage to be. That lack of ability to keep up and stay relevant is a big part of the reason why religion is on the wane here.

        • Mr. X

          “In reality, Pi is always going to be Pi, regardless of what the government says. A dog’s tail is not a leg; doesn’t really matter what the government says.”

          And marriage is always going to be between a man and a woman, regardless of what the government/society says.

          “What religions define marriage to be is not the same as the vast majority of Western society defines marriage to be.”

          What Western society defines marriage to be is not the same as what the vast majority of human beings throughout history, including the majority of philosophers, have defined marriage as. Which perhaps ought to give Western society pause for thought on this issue.

          “That lack of ability to keep up and stay relevant is a big part of the reason why religion is on the wane here.”

          Then how do you explain the fact that those denominations which try to stay “relevant” are generally on the wane, whereas more traditional denominations are either shrinking more slowly or increasing in size?

          • ACN

            “And marriage is always going to be between a man and a woman, regardless of what the government/society says.”

            “In reality, Pi is always going to be Pi, regardless of what the government says. A dog’s tail is not a leg; doesn’t really matter what the government says.”

            Gahhhhhh do you not understand Custador’s point? In a secular society, marriage is a social contract, it can be whatever the society and the government agree that it is. If everyone loses their minds tomorrow and decides that marriage will be the institution of pair-bonding one man, and one horse, guess what, that’s what marriage is.

            The government can claim that Pi is a rational number (repeating decimals are rational) but passing a law has no power over mathematics. The fact of the matter is that regardless of the government/society’s opinion:
            a) it’s utterly trivial to show that pi is irrational from the continuous fractional expansion of tan
            and
            b) there is no algebraic equation with integer coefficients whose solution is pi (worse, it’s transcendental)

            Now, perhaps you’d argue in a similar way that regardless of government/societal opinion, marriage is whatever god/your church said it is. To which I (and likely Custador) would reply that in a secular society, marriage is a social contract that no one is asking for your deity’s involvement in. If you want to live by your deities opinion, and that opinion is also consistent with our society’s social contract, enjoy/mazel tov/etc. But you DO NOT have the right to decide that everyone else has to live by that opinion.

          • Alan

            “What Western society defines marriage to be is not the same as what the vast majority of human beings throughout history, including the majority of philosophers, have defined marriage as.”

            If you want to argue for polygamy than just go ahead and say so. Geeze, I get that monogamy isn’t for you but on some things our society differs from other throughout history and as a society it is up to us to decide what marriage means for us – that we have settled on monogamy despite its prevalence throughout history is ok and that we are moving towards settling on including homosexual marriages as well is also ok even if you prefer polygamy.

          • Custador

            “And marriage is always going to be between a man and a woman, regardless of what the government/society says.”

            Nope. In your mind, maybe. In the fevered rants of Darth Pope, almost certainly. In the real world? Nope. The thing about the definition of a word is, it’s whatever most people think it is. To a growing majority of people, “marriage” is not a gender/sexuality specific word. It means “a mutual social contract between two adults which affirms their commitment to each other, as well as granting legal rights to each other”. Now, you can sit there in amongst your tiny minority wailing and stamping your feet and shouting “NU-UH!” all you like, but ultimately all that will achieve is making you look like a bit of an idiot.

            tl;dr – Progress is happening, you’re participation is not required, deal with it or don’t, it makes no difference.

          • Custador

            Then how do you explain the fact that those denominations which try to stay “relevant” are generally on the wane, whereas more traditional denominations are either shrinking more slowly or increasing in size?

            Not where I live, they’re not (Christianity down by 4 million, atheism up by 6 million), and in case you haven’t been following Faux News’ little diatribes just lately, not where you live either (I’m assuming you’re American).

          • Mr. X

            ACN:

            “Now, perhaps you’d argue in a similar way that regardless of government/societal opinion, marriage is whatever god/your church said it is.”

            My argument against gay marriage is based on natural law theory. Which, last time I checked, wasn’t explicitly religious, and could be done fine without bringing God into the equation.

            “But you DO NOT have the right to decide that everyone else has to live by that opinion.”

            Unless you want to open marriage to literally everybody who wants to get married, to whatever thing and in whatever combination, you’re going to be making other people live by your opinion. Why is it magically OK for gay-marriage advocates to do this, but not for their opponents?

            @ Alan:

            I have literally no idea what you’re talking about.

          • Mr. X

            @ Custador:

            “The thing about the definition of a word is, it’s whatever most people think it is.”

            Just because people use the same word to describe two different things, it doesn’t follow that they are in fact the same thing. A “mouse” can be a small rodent or a piece of computer hardware, and those things don’t have much in common apart from their names. Moreover, computer mice and rodent mice would continue to be different things, even if everybody in the English-speaking world became metaphysically confused and decided that because they have the same name they must therefore be fundamentally the same thing. Language describes the external world with a greater or lesser degree of accuracy; it doesn’t shape that world, and a thing will remain what it is no matter what people call it.

            “Now, you can sit there in amongst your tiny minority wailing and stamping your feet and shouting “NU-UH!” all you like, but ultimately all that will achieve is making you look like a bit of an idiot.”

            I would rather defend what is right and be thought an idiot than win the respect of others at the cost of embracing falsehood.

            “tl;dr – Progress is happening, you’re participation is not required, deal with it or don’t, it makes no difference.”

            *your
            Also, all that march of history stuff might be more rhetorically effective if movements which employ it didn’t have such a propensity to end up rejected and discredited, although usually after causing considerable evil.

            “Not where I live, they’re not (Christianity down by 4 million, atheism up by 6 million),”

            First of all, it’s bad statistics to conflate “atheism” and “no religion”. Secondly, since your quoted statistics don’t compare any Christian denominations, they’re completely irrelevant to my point.

          • ACN

            Mr. X:

            “My argument against gay marriage is based on natural law theory. ”

            I explained that marriage is a social contract/convention. If all (or most, or enough, or whatever) of of the members of a society agree that the contract/convention should change, it does. You seem to be claiming that marriage isn’t a social contract, that it’s some sort of mystical, platonic, idealized form, that one can learn about through “natural law”.

            This seems like a pretty dubious claim to me (which should be obvious, since I’m claiming that marriage is a social convention/contract) and I think you should explain yourself. I have a funny feeling you’re going to get tied up in an equivocation between descriptive and prescriptive laws.

            And remember, you said you could demonstrate this without mentioning god or, presumably, any sort of divine revelation. Good luck!

          • Darren

            All due respect to Mr. X, but some of us have noticed a peculiar similarity between the conclusions of Natural Law and the tenants of the Catholic Church.

            “My argument against gay marriage is based on natural law theory. ”

            There are possible explanations. It could be pure coincidence. It could be the Catholic Church has been rather scrupulous about conforming itself to the conclusions of natural law. Or Natural Law could be to Catholicism as Intelligent Design is to Creationism…

          • Alan

            Mr. X – I am shocked you couldn’t figure out what I was talking about. As someone using historical prevalence to determine the meaning of marriage surely you understood you were talking about the prevalence throughout history (and the continued widespread application today) of polygamy as the accepted form for marriage. Clearly, what you are arguing for is the legalization of polygamy in this country as the authentic definition of marriage.

          • Darren

            Alan;

            ”Clearly, what you are arguing for is the legalization of polygamy in this country as the authentic definition of marriage.”

            Have mercy! One wife is quite enough, thanks!

          • Mr. X

            @ ACN:

            “I explained that marriage is a social contract/convention.”

            You’ve asserted it. You haven’t given us any real reason to accept your argument, though.

            “This seems like a pretty dubious claim to me (which should be obvious, since I’m claiming that marriage is a social convention/contract) and I think you should explain yourself. I have a funny feeling you’re going to get tied up in an equivocation between descriptive and prescriptive laws.”

            Oh, it’s quite simple, really. If a custom or behaviour is found in an extremely wide variety of cultures and time periods, we’re justified in supposing that this custom or behaviour is an innate part of human nature (defined here as the set of behaviours, attitudes etc. which humans tend to display regardless of social conditions). If, on the other hand, a custom is only found in a particular society, that custom is not part of human nature, but socially determined. Since heterosexual marriage is found in an extremely wide variety of cultures, and gay marriage isn’t, it’s clear that heterosexual marriage is part of human nature, whereas gay marriage is socially determined. The two behaviours have different sources, and hence cannot be the same, no matter what the government or society at large says. And given that the statement “There’s no difference between gay marriage and heterosexual marriage” is false; that government legislation for same-sex marriage (at least in the UK; I imagine it’s the same in America, but I might be wrong) involves giving this false statement official promotion and approval; and that it’s generally wrong to promote falsehoods; it therefore follows that it’s wrong for the government to legislate for same-sex marriage.

            And, as you see, the above argument didn’t mention religion once.

            @ Darren:

            “All due respect to Mr. X, but some of us have noticed a peculiar similarity between the conclusions of Natural Law and the tenants of the Catholic Church.

            First of all, I think you mean “tenets”, not “tenants”. Secondly, lots of theologians in the Catholic Church have supported Natural Law theory, so it’s not really surprising that lots of the Church’s teachings are based on Natural Law. Thirdly, how exactly is this supposed to be relevant?

            @ Alan:

            “As someone using historical prevalence to determine the meaning of marriage surely you understood you were talking about the prevalence throughout history (and the continued widespread application today) of polygamy as the accepted form for marriage.”

            Polygamy was never as prevalent as heterosexual marriage. Monogamy was never as rare as gay marriage. Your entire analogy is a false one.

          • Alan

            “Oh, it’s quite simple, really. If a custom or behaviour is found in an extremely wide variety of cultures and time periods, we’re justified in supposing that this custom or behaviour is an innate part of human nature ”

            Oh very simple, like polygamy, slavery, prostitution and virgin sacrifices – all innate parts of human nature. Actually, those fit your sentence better than marriage which as a formal institution is generally a socially constructed contract – not some sort of natural occurring phenomena.

            “And, as you see, the above argument didn’t mention religion once.”
            No, you just constructed a subjective argument to fit your religious conclusions and asserted it was a ‘natural law’. You don’t have to mention religion to see its there.

            “Secondly, lots of theologians in the Catholic Church have supported Natural Law theory, so it’s not really surprising that lots of the Church’s teachings are based on Natural Law.”

            Actually, lots of theologians in the Catholic Church use the language of ‘natural law’ to construct post-hoc rationalizations for their theology.

            “Polygamy was never as prevalent as heterosexual marriage. Monogamy was never as rare as gay marriage. Your entire analogy is a false one.”

            So whats the magic number? What percentage of the world has to have had polygamy as part of their concept of marriage for it to be enough? I bet you the percentage of polygamous cultures is a lot higher than you think – and of course much higher than those that have been monogamous.

            My entire analogy isn’t it a false one, it ably highlights the absurdity of the premises you use to deduce what is ‘human nature’. You conveniently dismiss that which you already concluded you don’t want to conclude and accept only the premises that lead to your preconceived notions of what ought to be ‘natural’.

          • Alan

            Darren – “Have mercy! One wife is quite enough, thanks!”

            Tell me about, concubines I can understand but a second wife…

          • Mr. X

            “So whats the magic number? What percentage of the world has to have had polygamy as part of their concept of marriage for it to be enough?”

            Close to 100%, I’d say. And none of your supposed counter-examples have got anywhere near that figure.

            “Actually, those fit your sentence better than marriage which as a formal institution is generally a socially constructed contract – not some sort of natural occurring phenomena.”

            Society regulates marriage =/= marriage is a social construct. Society regulates what food you’re allowed to eat as well, but it doesn’t follow that our desire to eat is socially constructed.

            “Actually, lots of theologians in the Catholic Church use the language of ‘natural law’ to construct post-hoc rationalizations for their theology.”

            First of all, that’s an ad hominem, and so logically fallacious. Secondly, how do you think that the Church got most of its theology, if not by philosophical reasoning? Thirdly, you’ve present no good reason whatsoever for us to accept your characterisation of Catholic theologians.

          • http://last-conformer.net/ Gilbert

            Darren,

            There are possible explanations. It could be pure coincidence. It could be the Catholic Church has been rather scrupulous about conforming itself to the conclusions of natural law. Or Natural Law could be to Catholicism as Intelligent Design is to Creationism…

            Your third hypothesis is out, because we were talking about natural law before people thought only secular reasons for laws were valid.

          • Darren

            Mr. X – by all means, make all the Natural Law arguments you wish; I’ll listen. I’ll even refrain from further Chicken and Egg commenting, but be prepared that not everyone views the two as quite so independent as you implied.
            So far as I am concerned, framing the Gay question in Natural Law terms suites me just fine. In fact, let’s stop using the PC / Left-Wing euphemisms of “gay” and “homosexual” and call a spade a spade: sodomites.
            Gays are sodomites and they expect to convince us that they are in any way normal and that their disordered nature (NL) / depraved sin (RCC) somehow qualifies them for special accommodation before the law. We used to castrate them and throw them into prisons back when America was a more God fearing land, now look where our Modernism has landed us…
            Of course, Mrs. Suzy America who decides to pop off with the Mr. and have a bit of a frolic, and maybe treat him to a [whisper, whisper] on account of it being his birthday and all. Well, she’s a Sodomite too, and let’s not pretend she’s any better than they are.

          • Darren

            Sorry… other than most of my personal conception of what amounts to Natural Law coming from Aquinas, who would be pre-Enlightenment. So, perhaps I do understand?

          • Alan

            “Close to 100%, I’d say. And none of your supposed counter-examples have got anywhere near that figure.”

            Well that really depends on when you are taking that snapshot to ascertain human nature. In the mid-20th century 84% of societies had polygamy as part of their marriage structure – I bet if you took that snapshot in say the first century it would be well into the 90s and close to 100%. Slavery will definitely be close to 100% throughout most of human history and prostitution probably exists in 100% of human societies today.

            But of course natural law isn’t the same thing as human nature and it isn’t derived by asking what is human nature anyway.

            “Society regulates marriage =/= marriage is a social construct. Society regulates what food you’re allowed to eat as well, but it doesn’t follow that our desire to eat is socially constructed.”

            No, ‘marriage’ is a contractual arrangement that codifies a relationship. As with all other contractual arrangement and contracts themselves, it is just a social construct.

            “First of all, that’s an ad hominem, and so logically fallacious.”

            No, it isn’t an ad hominem. You don’t seem to understand logic (now that is an ad hominem). Stating that they use the language of natural law for post-hoc rationalization is an observation on how they employ it that is an argument in itself – not an attack on the church per se.

            “Secondly, how do you think that the Church got most of its theology, if not by philosophical reasoning?”

            So you do think theology is a branch of philosophy? Well that explains plenty. I think the Church got most of its theology through arbitrary codification of habits, rationalization of mythologies and assertion. The use of philosophy to explain theology of the Church begins long after the theology was established so it would be difficult to assert that they got there through philosophical reasoning.

            ” Thirdly, you’ve present no good reason whatsoever for us to accept your characterisation of Catholic theologians.”
            That is true, I haven’t presented any reasons in this thread. But since I have no illusion of convincing you of it I don’t really see the point of going down that road in a thread focused on gay marriage alone.

          • Mr. X

            @ Darren:

            “but be prepared that not everyone views the two as quite so independent as you implied.”

            If that’s the case, I invite these people to show how my argument depends on a prior acceptance of theism/Catholicism.

            @ Alan:

            “Well that really depends on when you are taking that snapshot to ascertain human nature. In the mid-20th century 84% of societies had polygamy as part of their marriage structure – I bet if you took that snapshot in say the first century it would be well into the 90s and close to 100%. Slavery will definitely be close to 100% throughout most of human history and prostitution probably exists in 100% of human societies today.”

            Firstly, who said anything about “taking a snapshot”? Secondly, “I bet” and “probably” aren’t actual arguments. Thirdly, my argument isn’t “everybody does X, therefore X must be right”.

            “No, ‘marriage’ is a contractual arrangement that codifies a relationship.”

            Yes, a contractual arrangement that codifies a relationship desire for which is part of human nature. Gay marriage, on the other hand, is a contractual arrangement that codifies a relationship which people only ever think about, much less take seriously, in a certain highly specific social and metaphysical context. There’s a difference between those two things.

            “No, it isn’t an ad hominem.”

            Either it’s meant to make us reject Catholic teaching, in which case it’s an ad hominem; or it’s not supposed to have anything to do with the wider conversation, in which case it’s a red herring. Either way, it’s fallacious.

            “Stating that they use the language of natural law for post-hoc rationalization is an observation on how they employ it that is an argument in itself – not an attack on the church per se.”

            If the observation isn’t supposed to affect how we think about Catholic teachings, what exactly was your purpose in making it?

            “So you do think theology is a branch of philosophy?”

            Yes I do, as have several prominent thinkers before me. Again, relevance?

            “I think the Church got most of its theology through arbitrary codification of habits, rationalization of mythologies and assertion. The use of philosophy to explain theology of the Church begins long after the theology was established so it would be difficult to assert that they got there through philosophical reasoning.”

            For one thing, you clearly don’t know much about the history of Christian doctrine: many Church teachings were only settled in the fourth century or later, long after Christians started doing philosophy. Secondly, this has no bearing on the logical validity of their arguments, so I don’t see what you’re getting at by bringing it up.

        • Darren

          Gilbert –
          A good point, I think, not being conversant on the history of Natural Law and what it might have been pre-Enlightenment (to which I assume you are referring).

  • Darren


    Gay Marriage = Women’s Suffrage?

    I am admittedly late to the debate, but had a thought.

    The opponents of gay marriage would seem to be correct in their assertion that extending the right of marriage to same-sex individuals is a significant shift in the definition of marriage. Whether one agrees or disagrees that this is a positive, beneficial, or just change, it is still a sizeable shift.

    The change is sometimes compared to the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, but I wonder if this is the best comparison. Arguably the civil rights movement, for all that it was contentious and an heroic achievement, was really securing for African-Americans the rights they had already been ceded by law, if not by undisputed consensus.

    The debate over gay marriage I propose is more akin to extending the franchise. With marriage, we have a civil institution with a long and established history and settled criteria for eligibility. We are now arguing about whether those criteria are quite so settled.

    Is this not more akin to, say, extending to women the varied legal rights which were equally divisive of the late 19th and early 20th centuries? I am thinking of the right to vote, the right to own property independently, the right to testify in court against a husband, the right to inherit property. All of these were existing institutional rights, just not rights women were eligible to exercise. Each of these were areas wherein the Founding Fathers likely never intended for women to operate, each of these was divisive and accompanied by hyperbole and apocalyptic pronouncements should those rights be ceded…

    I would be curious what those more knowledgeable in the study of female suffrage have to say about the comparison.

    • Thomas R

      I think that is a better analogy, yes.

  • http://www.cappadociainlowell.blogspot.com Renee

    As a volunteer with the Department of Children & Families, it is crucial that social workers have the resource of the child’s father to have a positive outcome for the child. Dads are equally important to addressing a child’s needs as moms. Children need their dads. It’s unfortunate the President or any of my elected officials are incapable of acknowledging this issue through marriage public policy.

    Who needs to supplement the support of fatherhood with marriage, when we can have government programs to chase down every father to make sure he is being a dad?

    The right is tied to a responsibility as a matter of law. Why have a law, if there wasn’t a public policy interest in the matter. The law was tied to a behavior, not an orientation. Of course I didn’t married my husband’s reproductive organs for personal gratification. I married him, the whole person. The state expects him not just to be a husband, but be a dad to the children he created with his reproductive organs.

    Why does the state care about our sexuality? What interest does the state have? We can redefined words, and eliminate the social expectation that a mother and father should raised with children under one roof. Who cares about all the social research on absent fathers. Why bother redefining marriage, and just eliminate all marriage laws that would be equal and just as well.

    No where in the law says we MUST have marriage.

    http://www.fatherhood.org/media/consequences-of-father-absence-statistics

    Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families.
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Children’s Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2011, Table C8. Washington D.C.: 2011.

    In 2008, American poverty rates were 13.2% for the whole population and 19% for children, compared to 28.7% for female-headed households.
    Source: Edin, K. & Kissane R. J. (2010). Poverty and the American family: a decade in review. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 460-479.

    Even after controlling for income, youths in father-absent households still had significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds.
    Source: Harper, Cynthia C. and Sara S. McLanahan. “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration.” Journal of Research on Adolescence 14 (September 2004): 369-397.

    A 2002 Department of Justice survey of 7,000 inmates revealed that 39% of jail inmates lived in mother-only households. Approximately forty-six percent of jail inmates in 2002 had a previously incarcerated family member. One-fifth experienced a father in prison or jail.
    Source: James, Doris J. Profile of Jail Inmates, 2002. (NCJ 201932). Bureau of Justice

    —-

    Should we ignore this?

    Even gay atheists have a mom and dad.

    • Darren

      Renee;

      Thank you for posting specific studies, that always helps.

      These would appear to be comparing children raised in single-female households with a Father “out there”, but providing limited to no support to the children (financially or otherwise) .vs. the archetypal two parent Man/Woman family.

      Is it a fair comparison: Single Mom with no external support .vs. double parent households where those parents are biologically both female or both male (whatever gender roles they may adopt)?

      It might be more informative if we had Man/Woman, Man/Man, and Woman/Woman comparisons.
      Do we have, for example, studies showing Gay divorce rates .vs. hetero divorce rates?
      Do we have studies showing delinquency of child support payment rates by gay Dads .vs. hetero Dads?

      There are studies showing significant income variances between woman/woman households .vs. man/man, how might that play into our results?
      You are absolutely correct that our social policy should be informed, perhaps even driven, by outcomes as much as fairness.

    • Custador

      You absolutely should NOT be doing the job that you do if your religion clouds your judgement and interferes with your actions in the way that you are implying it does. You live in a secular state where religion should have absolutely no bearing on what government and government employees do. Maybe you didn’t notice, but Obama swore to uphold the constitution, not the Bible.

      • http://www.cappadociainlowell.blogspot.com Renee

        How is my faith impairing me, when I working with a child?

        In Massachusetts social workers must equally reach out to fathers and mothers in services, our goal is to stabilize and reunify the family. Adoption is only a goal, if parents/family are not capable/available. We take parental rights and responsibilities pretty seriously.

        For too long we ignore the dad in this equation assuming he maybe a dead beat. When we reach out on the father’s side, we might get in touch with the paternal grandparents aunts/uncles and such. We always prefer kinship care over stranger care. Wouldn’t you?

        Sometimes we reach out and the father who has been pushed out of the child’s life, is running down to the Department’s office to get the child. At times of course there are fathers who want nothing to do with their children, and the responsibility of the child is placed on the state to find kinship/foster/forever family.

        It may not be a parent, it may be another biological family member. That family member may be gay. The child may be from a previous heterosexual relationship, but now the parent is openly gay. I don’t discriminate against any of them them., they’re biologically related.

        Older children, who are unable to be reunited with any family member, might actually need the stability of male/female home. Some children may do better a single male household, if bio-mom is still around and maybe unable to care for mental health issues and no abuse/neglect. A child may have been sexually abused by a man, and rather not be in a home with any men in it.

        It isn’t about your rights, it is about the child’s needs and preferences. Just because one can apply to be a foster parent/adoptive parents, doesn’t means you have an absolute right to a child of your choosing. In reality it is they who are choosing you.

        • Darren

          Custador;
          That seems overly harsh for what Renee has described. We can insist on equal protection under the law, and we can insist on honest discussion when debating policy, but a person’s private faith, or not-faith, and how it may motivate them in being a good person is really none or our concern.

  • Maiki

    “It used to be that the definition of marriage was fairly narrow, and that cultural expectations were as clear (and occasionally constricting) as it feels. Now, it’s harder to be sure that two people are talking about the same thing when they’re both using the word ‘marriage’ (which seems like it could be especially problematic if the two people are planning to get married).”

    Yes, this. I find it is one of the reasons it is hard to marry young/younger in diverse circles — these people might not have the same definition of marriage and are not even thinking about all the potential pitfalls of different definitions. And to stay married. You can’t just randomly look for someone in your circle of acquaintances who you are both attracted to, and is looking for a long term commitment, and you get along with and is willing to work at it with you. So many things one assumes are in the definition of marriage for everyone, aren’t. Permanence? Fidelity? Monogamy? Gender Identity/Expression? Fertility? And those are just the more obvious ones.

    I think this is a reason why online dating sites are popular and successful. The right ones get a lot of these expectations out from the get go so you don’t have to ask painful questions once you realize you *really* like someone, and might need to break up over issues of very different semantics about what you meant by commitment.

    I’m not sure it is a change for the better, though, frankly. And a reason why I think it makes sense so many annulments get granted — people really *don’t* intend the same thing when they get married (much less intend what the Church means), a lot of the time.

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