Yes, I am in favor of civil gay marriage!

It looks like folks thought I was being coy in Sunday’s post about the knock-on effects of gay marriage.  In fact, I was trying to avoid having the “gay marriage: yay or nay” debate hijack the point I was making: that the advent of gay marriage has made people pause and ask exactly what marriage is instead of embracing or rejecting it in a knee-jerk way.  The argument I was making didn’t have the moral stature of gay marriage as a premise, and I wanted it to discuss something orthogonal to the usual, played-out discussion about gay marriage.

Unfortunately, the thread was instead hijacked by a debate on “shouldn’t this have been a post on ‘gay marriage: yay or nay’ instead?  Possibly with a side debate on whether the internet is vested with the power to throw Leah out of the Church?  So now you get to  have that fight in the comments thread of this post instead.

I live just over the DC-Maryland border, so I didn’t get to vote in the marriage referendum this November.  But, even though I get no personal credit for the outcome, you can bet I had an Election Night dance party anyway.  And here’s why:

 

Civil marriage =/= Sacramental marriage

Marriage in the Church is about both people making a positive committment to each other, to any future children, and to God.

Marriage administered by the State is about setting up protections for each person in the couple and any children who happen along

 

What the State does is important logistically, but is really a necessary but not sufficient way of talking about marriage.  Currently, since we’re talking mainly about what rights the State gives to which people, we’re talking a lot about what we’re entitled to, not what we’re prepared to sacrifice and what we’re giving it up for.  Those questions are partially addressed by the communities and traditions (religious or not) that shape our cultural understanding of marriage, but the way that purely civil marriage works does a lot to set expectations.

Here’s my one sentence, purely secular understanding of what marriage is about: You spur each other on to Virtue and you may want to spur children along in a similar way.

Not every gay couple queueing up is seeking that ideal, but plenty of them are.  And it’s sure not the case that every pair of straights is looking to that goal either.  And I believe that every marriage will benefit from putting that goal at the heart of the relationship, instead of thinking of marriage as something like your license to have sex without feeling guilty about it.

Now, my definition of secular marriage isn’t exactly foolproof.  If you don’t have to plan to have children, it’s not obvious what the difference between marriage and a really close friendship is.  (Perhaps it’s the explicit and irrevocable adoption of the beloved as a member of the family?  Though there are precedents for that in friendship, too).  But, then again, sexual frisson isn’t a prerequisite for marriage.  Josh Weed, the gay Mormon married to a woman, is pretty clearly part of a family, perhaps in a way not too different than someone in an arranged marriage might be.

 

When a society has systematically excluded, harrassed, and intimidated a particular group, the burden of proof for anything bearing even a casual resemblance to discrimination is higher, as it ought to be.  The great thing about the truth is that it’s out there to be interacted with.  If we overcompensate for past wrongs, eventually we’ll notice, but, given that right now the one thing we’re really sure of as a society is that we were really badly calibrated on how threatening or decadent homosexuality was, some epistemological modesty is appropriate.

If there’s a serious problem with the secular model I’ve outlined, by all means, the state should adjust the definition and the law, but we can wait to see how the data plays out (and make a strong pitch for Love and Responsibility-style romance-as-pedagogy in the interim).

 

So, in the meanwhile, I plan to keep phonebanking for civil gay marriage and throwing rice.  And I’ll keep gathering data (a discussion of What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense is coming, just as soon as I manage to find the time to read it).  The uncertainty that I’m most curious about is the fact that my most trad, natural law friends tend to agree with my most liberal, sexuality studies buddies that gender is way more central to identity than I tend to think (in my artless, until-recently-gnostic way) and that sexual desire is a much more important part of marriage than trebuchet-building desire.

But hey, I’m 23.  More reading, debating, and living, ho!

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as an Editorial Assistant at The American Conservative 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."

  • http://www.arsvivendiblog.com Inge

    I’m all in favor of a gay civil union as well. If they really want to do that, fine with me, as long as the Sacrament of Matrimony can remain the way it is. There aren’t a lot Catholics I personally know who would be against a gay civil union, but most of them fear that the Church will be forced to replace the Sacrament with a civil ceremony-style service.

    It’s like telling Vegetarians that they have to eat meat from now on, because that’s what most people do.

    • leahlibresco

      Except the Church has never had to marry non-Catholics, or non-annulled divorcees, or other people eligible for civil but not sacramental marriage.

      • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

        Yet. England is proposing criminalizing churches that refuse to marry same-sex couples. In America, photographers have been told they cannot refuse to photograph same-sex weddings. Etc.

        Have you ever read what the Catholic Church has to stay about this, Leah?

        • http://allpartoflifesrichpageant.blogspot.com James

          Which is why when our Founding Fathers broke away from that country, they put in the Bill of Rights:

          “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

          • Mr. X

            That would be nice, except that the current administrations seems determined to re-interpret this as “Congress will let people go to church on Sunday mornings, but any other time or activity is fair game as far as we’re concerned.”

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            Source/evidence?

            I have seen no evidence of the current administration making any law respecting the establishment of religion. You might be confusing “no longer blatantly privileging” for “any other time or activity is fair game”.

          • Mark G.

            Really Jake??? Perhaps you haven’t seen the News Lately,

            P.S., you ignored this part: “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            Yes, really. If you have a legitimate case of violation of the first amendment, we have a process for that. It will end up in the supreme court, and you will return to your fellow Churchgoers a hero of civil rights.

            If your reference to the news lately is about the insurance mandate, it is not prohibitting the free excercise of religion to require an employer to provide basic healthcare services to an employee. You can make your own moral decisions, but you can’t make them for employees. This is no different than the fact that Jehovah’s Witness employers are not allowed an exception for paying for procedures than include blood transfusions.

        • http://allpartoflifesrichpageant.blogspot.com James

          Have you read what Leo XIII said about civil marriage?

          As, then, marriage is holy by its own power, in its own nature, and of itself, it ought not to be regulated and administered by the will of civil rulers, but by the divine authority of the Church, which alone in sacred matters professes the office of teaching.

          • Slow Learner

            He also said it is “quite unlawful to demand, defend, or to grant unconditional freedom of thought, or speech, of writing or worship, as if these were so many rights given by nature to man”.
            Obviously it isn’t surprising that a 19th Century Pope is a theocrat, but it doesn’t look like he has much to contribute to debate in multi-faith secular democracies.

          • Andrew

            Bravo

          • http://allpartoflifesrichpageant.wordpress.com waywardson

            Yes, Slow Learner, my point exactly.

        • ACN

          The UK also has a state church.

          They climbed into bed with the state long ago, and have never been particularly interested in climbing out. I have very little sympathy for them.

          • Maria

            The Catholic Church is the one at risk of being criminalised here, and we are not the state church. That would be the Church of England, which is protestant.

        • Slow Learner

          ” England is proposing criminalizing churches that refuse to marry same-sex couples”

          Nonsense. It is firmly stated in the proposed law that no church will be compelled to marry anyone they don’t want to. Churches and religious organisations which wish to marry gay couples must opt *in*.
          The legal ban is on the Church of England marrying gay couples, and that’s difficult and complicated based on their status as state church.

        • Marco Luxe

          JoAnna: I suggest you look at original sources for that information, as you are being mislead by second hand reports. There are no criminal penalties for any church in England regarding marriage. Can you really believe such things? The photographer in AZ breached her contract at the last minute. The non-discrimination laws invoked there had nothing to do with marriage. She would have been in breach if she used any characteristic to get out of doing the job: race, miscegenation, religion, age, etc. And before you bring up Catholic Charities in Boston and adoptions, the archbishop there voluntarily shut down the services over the objection of board members [who resigned in protest] because the bishop wanted BOTH state money and the ability to disregard state rules that came with the money. His choice was state money OR Vatican politics, but he wanted both.

          • Erick

            I’m not one for this argument that the Feds are closing Catholic adoption centers either.

            The fact of the matter is that these adoption centers should not have been relying on government aid in the first place. It is a scandal of the first order that we Catholics do not sustain these services on their own… and our schools as well for that matter.

            I watch well-to-do people in Church day in and day out donate $1 at Mass. People need to search their conscience, because if you think we can run schools and adoption centers and food banks and homeless shelters and other services for the poor with such pithy offerings….

          • Bearing

            That isn’t accurate. In Boston, no adoption organization was to be permitted to operate unless it was willing to place children in homes with two fathers or two mothers. State money or no state money, didn’t matter.

          • Michelle

            Don’t judge those you see give a dollar, please. My husband and I give through automatic withdrawal and we also put one dollar in the basket every week so our young children see us physically putting something in.

          • Maria

            A conservative MP has proposed that churches who won’t perform gay marriages should be prohibited from performing any marriages, actually.

        • Josh Lyman

          No. “England” is not suggesting any such thing. ONE MP suggested it. It is not part of the Bill as has just been published.

        • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

          Here in Ma. once the State Supreme Court dictatorially legalized civil Gay “marriage” the Catholic Church had to get out of its adoption ministry because now it could not get a license to practice that ministry–money was available to continue the ministry, but could not get a license to do so. And when easily enough people signed petitions to get the issue on the ballot, it was blocked in some of the most corrupt acts seen in our corrupt legislature (the last 3 or 4 Speakers of the House have wound up in jail).
          As for the First Amendment, any reading of the debate at the C. Convention confirms that one of its purposes is to protect religion’s right to be in any public square debate and try to get a majority to agree with any proposals made by religious individuals or bodies. To read some people’s comments you would think Gay Rights groups or Planned Parenthood, or the NRA are the only type groups allowed to promote their point of view to be adopted by voters or their reps and THEN by our government.
          Our state is the perfect poster child for the evils of so-called civil unions (even kids in public schools are now being indoctrinated in only the Gay view of what is moral or immoral with regard to sex.)

          • ACN

            But at least the problem is self-correcting.

            Once all the gay-indoctrinated children all turn gay or whatever, they won’t be able to continue reproducing so y’all will get the state back!

          • Kenneth

            Running an adoption agency is not a free speech activity. When you act on behalf of the state’s laws and with the people’s money, you follow the laws in place for that activity, or you get out of the business.

          • Darren

            What we are really saying here is that we would rather that innocent human beings, children, who have been robbed of their most foundational supports, that it would be better for them to spend their entire childhood in an institution, dreaming and yearning for a home of their own, than for them to have a home with two moms or two dads…
            There is a _very_ simple solution. All the Catholics should just adopt all the orphans, then gay adoption disappears as a concern. There are 1.2 billion of them…

        • James Croft

          This is simply false. It’s a lie perpetuated by the opponents of equality to undermine the whole enterprise. The exact opposite is the case: churches are receiving explicit protection from their responsibilities under the law and are being allowed to discriminate.

    • Wladyslaw

      But gay people don’t want just a civil union. If a marriage administered by the state is only a civil union, why are most gays vehemently opposed to a civil union. “Aint the real thing,” they say. Obviously they do not just want the rights and privileges that a civil union could provide. They want the status and important meaning that marriage, which throughout most of history has meant a union of a man and a woman who want to have children and be bonded for life for their welfare. They do not want a civil union. They want to redefine marriage.

      • Bob

        The only objection they have to “civil union” is nomenclature. They don’t like the separate-but-equal connotation to the term civil union, even though, as I understand it, most or all civil unions were legally identical to marriage in every way except the terminology.
        What is the Church’s view of civil unions?

        • GFPchicken

          The Chuch is fine with civil unions if they are available to any same-sex people who want to have them, e.g. blood relatives — I can totally imagine a scenario in which two cousins want to live together in old age and want to grant each other inheritance/visitation/etc rights.

          • Dave Pawlak

            That is the civil partnership arrangement I favor. Why limit it to two people in a sexual relationship?

          • Kenneth

            That’s an assinine proposal that is raised in bad faith as a way to deny legal recognition of the life partnership and romantic relationships gays and lesbian have, which are unlike any arrangement held by two cousins (at least in my clan).

            That said, I think we should grant the Church’s smarmy wish and give domestic partnerships to any two relatives or drinking buddies who might want them. You’ll get to yank the rug out from under the gays. Of course this will generate billions in new tax breaks for these couples, so I think we’ll have to fill that budget hole by finally levying some taxes on the Church’s vast property and yearly income. If the Church wants to advance this brand new social good, it’s only fair they help support it materially….

          • Darren

            Sounds similar to the French domestic partnership, which has had the unintended consequence of cutting the hetero _marriage_ rate in half…

        • James Croft

          You understand wrongly: there are still significant differences in law between civil partnerships and marriage even in countries, like the UK, where civil partnerships have been legal for some time. These include non-trivial differences like differences in taxes and benefits, and differences in immigration opportunities.

          Further, there is nothing “connotative” about the “separate but equal” nature of a split between civil partnerships and marriage. They are quite literally “”separate and unequal”.

    • Josh Lyman

      Yes, of course the church will be forced to do that. Just like they were forced to do it for divorced people.

  • http://brandonvogt.com Brandon Vogt

    My first reaction was, “You need to read George/Anderson/Gergis’s new book, “What Is Marriage?” or their academic-paper precursor (available online free.)”

    Above, you say:

    “Now, my definition of secular marriage isn’t exactly foolproof. If you don’t have to plan to have children, it’s not obvious what the difference between marriage and a really close friendship is.”

    This is true and absolutely central to the marriage discussion. If marriage is simply a “committed, loving relationship between adults,” then what differentiates “marriage” from the relationships between two best friends, a grandmother and grandson, two college roommates, three celibate monks, or a man and a woman living together as friends? Such a distinction is crucial. Without it, all those other relationships can, in the name of “equality”, demand the government recognize them as marriage and bequeath the same benefits and incentives.

    Reading “What Is Marriage?” will clarify this and other significant problems for “same-sex marriage” advocates.

    • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

      OK, but is children the thing that separates marriage from other kinds of relationship.
      The most obvious problem with defining marriage as a child-rearing relationship is that there are lots of people out there who cannot have children; as far as I can tell, it is not the RC Church’s position, nor any other church’s that I’ve heard of, that they should not get married. And if you say, Well, they can adopt, then this means that biological reproduction is not necessary and then gay marriage becomes perfectly OK.
      More than this, though, I don’t see why marriage is necessarily about child-rearing. Paul, for instance, seems to think that marriage is about a place in which one can safely have sex. So there are other ways of talking about it than the child-rearing ones, and some of those other ways are espoused in the Bible.

      • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

        I’m sorry, I see I may have misread your comment. I somehow got myself thinking that you said it had to be children, but I may have conflated your contribution and another commenter’s. Mea culpa.

      • Mike

        I think that when a man and women can’t have kids it’s because there is something wrong with them. Either she has PCOS or his sperm count is low or she is too old or he is unable to get it working, but there is nothing wrong with 2 men or 2 women and yet they can’t have kids.

        • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

          See, I disagree entirely that there is something wrong with people who cannot have children. There is something that differs from the typical, but there is nothing wrong. There are no wrong bodies, only different ones.

          • Mike

            I am sorry but that just doesn’t make any sense. Believe me, when you have endometriosis, you cry, because there is something wrong with you and you can’t have a baby. And of course I mean you as in your body not you as in your soul or anything like that.

          • Mr. X

            I’m assuming that “wrong” is this context doesn’t mean “morally wrong” or “less valuable”, but “not able to carry out its biological function properly”. An infertile man can have sex with a woman, but he cannot conceive; hence there is something wrong with his reproductive organs. A fertile gay man, OTOH, might have perfectly functioning reproductive organs, but won’t have any children if he has sex with another man.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            But if you’re sticking with children as the basis for marriage, then even admitting infertility as something “wrong” with a person doesn’t solve the problem. All this says is that infertile couples should be prevented from marriage on the basis of biology just the same as homosexual couples.

            You can rightly claim that raising children is a big part of mostmarriages, but once you say it’s the thing that differentiates marriage from non-marriage, you’ve lost the ability to apply the word “marriage” to anyone that can’t or won’t have children.

          • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

            When I say that there can be no wrong bodies, I am saying that there is no way that a body is supposed to be. While it may hurt to have a particular bodies, while it may be hugely inconvenient in certain settings to have a certain body, while it may even be that certain bodies are self-destructive, there is no body that deviates from an Ultimate Standard of Bodies because there is no standard. (Pathogens might be a different story.) So you cannot base an argument on a “bodies as they are supposed to be” because there are no such bodies.
            As a result, you cannot remove bodies that “have something wrong with them” from an explanation of biological reproduction in relation to marriage. Bodies that cannot reproduce must be equally treated under your claims. Or, put differently, your theory must still make accurate predictions about different bodies in order for it to be a working theory at all.
            I realize that maybe you’re working from natural law, which seems to me to require some sort of Platonic Form for Male Body and Female Body. But as far as I can tell, that sort of thinking is discriminatory and not logically supportable.

          • Mr. X

            “there is no body that deviates from an Ultimate Standard of Bodies because there is no standard.”

            If that’s the case, what is it that makes us categorise all these things as “human bodies”? It seems to me that the only plausible answer to this question is “because they have a human-body-ness in common with each other”, which gets us back to metaphysical realism again.

          • Barbara

            Well that just throws the whole practice of medicine out the window. “Ma’am, that gigantic tumor on your lung isn’t an aberration. It’s the way your body is supposed to be. There is no body that deviates from the standard. “. I’m sorry, but how can you not see the absurdity in that idea.

      • Erick

        Christian,

        Yes, secularly, I do believe that children are what separate “civil marriage” from other relationships.

        If you take the view of the secular State, there really is no interest for them in the relationships their citizens engage in. The Federal US government does not care who is friends with whom. The true State interest is really just children. The State needs citizens continually produced, so they need children procreated. And the State needs these new citizens indoctrinated in the State system. Traditional marriage fulfilled this role in the past providing what the State considered the most stable children producing and indoctrinating social unit possible. Can SSM do the same? That’s my question. And my answer to the question is “No, I don’t think so.”

        • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

          Erick, I am almost convinced that what you say is true. Almost…but not quite. Thanks, though. That’s something I haven’t heard of, and I think you’re mainly on the right track re: the state’s interest in marriage. I suppose I imagine that a state could be something other than an entirely protectionist entity, though, and in that imagination the state’s interest in marriage would be different.

          • Erick

            What would the State interest in marriage then be?

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            How about governing a contract between two individuals?

            There’s a lot more to marriage than childrearing- there’s tax benefits, inheritence, splitting up assets upon divorce, joint ownership, visitation rights, social security ramifications, etc. So far as I can see, the only interest the state has in children is to act as the child’s advocate until that child turns 18- deciding where the child is place upon divorce or death of the parents, protecting the child from abuse, etc. The state’s interest is not in the family unit, but in the legal rights of all the individuals involved, and in particular the child, since the child is not of legal age yet.

            Marriage may well have been instituted for the reasons you posit (I am not an authority on the history of marriage), but in practice, society has a lot more interest in a marriage than “MAKE MORE BABIES!”

          • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

            Well, some anthropologists suggest that marriage has historical been about decreasing the destructive consequences of sexual rivalry. While this may not be why the state got involved, I can see this as a possible justification for it to do so. Simply contract law, as mentioned already, might be a reason. But I’m also imagining a state which likes to protect its citizen’s safety (rather than its own), and legislating marriage practices (and custody law) would be a part of that protection.

          • Erick

            Contract law cannot explain why other couple relationships are not covered. Why can’t a brother-sister engage in this contract law, why can’t two platonic friends….? It’s quite obvious that marriage isn’t simple contract law.

        • Marco Luxe

          Wow: Do you really believe people are here to support “the state” rather than the other way around? ["The State needs citizens continually produced, so they need children procreated."] That’s rather Orwellian of you. And do you think that there will be any changes when Joan and Jane exchange their civil union or domestic partnership paperwork for a civil marriage license? Since you think baby-making is the sine qua non of the state’s interest in civil marriage, wouldn’t the stability of the legal rights of a marriage encourage gay couples to have children [for the state's use]?

          My perspective is that the state exists to promote “well being” of its members, kind of what it says in the preamble to the Constitution. Allowing the legal recognition of the de facto families gay couples create would promote well being and would be a step toward our Constitutional ideals.

          • Erick

            MarcoLuxe,

            ==Do you really believe people are here to support “the state” rather than the other way around?==

            No. I do not believe people are here to support “the state” rather than the other way around. And that is not what I said.

            I’m talking about “state interest”. For example, states criminalize murder to protect citizens’ physical well-being; give tax exemptions to businesses to attract them to do business within their borders.

            Not everything in human life, however, is a state interest. For example, the US doesn’t care if a person likes basketball better than football, and hence no regulations on what sport athletes should play professionally.

            This question isn’t “why allow legal recognition of de facto gay families”… it’s “why allow legal recognition of any family at all”?

            Outside of children there is no state interest in legally recognizing any marriage, much less SSM. You think the US government (or French, British, Iranian for that matter) has an interest in whether Brad Pitt is married to Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie or George Clooney or remains single? The answer is obviously no.

        • JQ Tomanek

          I think this is a really good answer. I would also add that marriage laws protect women as well. The state does have an interest in the health of a family, in particular children. This is the reason that this particular argument really started with “no fault” divorce.

        • Darren

          Lucky for us in the US (and even more so for our more decadent European brothers), we have several more traditionally minded population sinks to draw forth hands for the mill.

          • GFPchicken

            I agree that the state cares about marriage because of the children that sex produces. The state has an obligation to protect children and take care of them if their family is not able. If two people are going to be doing something that can spontaneously bring forth children, it’s in the state’s interest that they stay together in a stable family. That’s why marriage comes with so many benefits.
            This does not apply to having children by adoption/surrogacy/etc, since there are other checkpoints in place for that. Hence, the state has no interest in recognizing marriage between two people of the same sex. You could argue that this means the state also shouldn’t recognize a marriage that will be infertile, but that’s not the case. First, few cases of infertility are completely final and sure (basically nothing short of a hysterectomy) and there are also issues with the state having access to people’s medical records. Also, this is something people could just lie about and it would be unproductive and outright impossible to track them down (of course we as Catholics know that there is a lot more fundamental difference between infertile couples and homosexual couples, but this is my attempt at an argument from a purely secular point of view)

          • Alan

            “First, few cases of infertility are completely final and sure ”

            Well the easy one is any woman after menopause – are you willing to say now that the state ought not recognize any marriages of the elderly since they have no interest in recognizing them?

    • James Croft

      Perhaps what you suggest will happen, Brandon. So what? Why is that an argument against extending the institution?

  • http://allpartoflifesrichpageant.blogspot.com James

    C.S. Lewis’s words on civil marriage and divorce express my position on the matter.

    “Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question-how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mahommedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.”

    That being said, I do think the Catholic Church has some real concerns about (1) religious freedom, although this is less of a concern in the USA than elsewhere, (2) same-sex adoptions, and (3) the social implications of holding a same-sex partnership is equal to a (heterosexual) marriage.

    I have voted against two anti-gay marriage amendments, but it doesn’t take any moral principles to oppose badly drafted laws pushed by out-of-state special interest groups. If I were absolute dictator, I would be for civil unions, but not quite civil marriage. But I do not see these distinctions as that significant. Both are civil, neither is holy.

    • Darren

      Nice!

      A pleasure to see Chesterton write something I can agree with! :)

      ” That being said, I do think the Catholic Church has some real concerns about (1) religious freedom, although this is less of a concern in the USA than elsewhere, (2) same-sex adoptions, and (3) the social implications of holding a same-sex partnership is equal to a (heterosexual) marriage.”

      1- The arguments will be, as they have been the past few months about this and the HHS mandate, the extent to which corporations have a right to the free exercise of (the owners) religion. So far, US law has not held corporations to have human rights. With the recent extension of free speech rights to corporate entities, though, this may change.
      2- You take state money, you play by state rules. Related to #1, but for the moment simply an extension of all the people a state-funded organization _cannot_ legally discriminate against. Just add married homosexuals to the African-Americans, Catholics, married heterosexuals, pregnant women, old people, immigrants, disabled, etc.
      3- Honestly, you will be surprised how quickly you get used to it and the issue goes away (which is precisely what the conservatives and Church are afraid of). We are in the secular homeschooling community, and there are a relatively high number of lesbian / gay families that I have known and spent time with. In my experience, whether it is intentional or not, these families tend to develop surprisingly traditional gender roles, though a bit muted. There is usually a designated-Dad and a designated-Mom, and again unintentionally, I find myself gravitating to the Dad, and my wife to the Mom. Whether this is just their adaptive behavior to the dominant paradigm or a reflection of some underlying feminine/masculine brain architecture, I cannot hazard a guess. I can say that in a very short time, their biological gender is quite forgotten.

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

        Well, the Supreme Court has been iffy about Corporations having the rights of persons for some time. However, this mostly came out in the economic sphere. The big change happened with the decision Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886. Although there is some dispute about the intent of the decision, it effectively has been used to apply 14th Amendment personhood protections to corporations. The Citizens United case was unsurprising because it follows exactly in that line of judicial thought.

        But at some point, the real differences between corporate entities and natural persons will have to be addressed. (This, as much as the abortion issue, is reason for defining “person” in a constitutional amendment.) Corporations do not have a natural life span or expectation of demise; they do not have geographical limitations, that is to say, a body; they do not have an independent mind or will; they do not necessarily consume goods; and so on. Therefore, the differences being real, they ought to be reflected in law.

        • Darren

          Robert, thank you for the education. I enjoyed the article.

      • http://allpartoflifesrichpageant.wordpress.com waywardson

        1. Corporations are merely associations of people. Therefore, I see no reason why a privately held corporation should have any fewer rights than those of its owners. Citizens United was rightly decided, although the implications are troubling. But fixing it is question of the limits of free speech, not the power of corporations.

        2. I think you are missing the point of the Church’s argument: The state SHOULD discriminate against gay couples who are seeking to adopt. Everything else being equal, a mother and a father are better than two mothers or two fathers.

        3. I have known several lesbian couples who acted very much like a male/female couple. The gender paradigm was so strong, I would not be surprised if the more “butch” woman had been born intersexed and made female (that’s what they did in the 1970s).

        The concern about promoting homosexual behavior is not as much for completely gay people, but the bisexuals: the Anne Heche/Cynthia Nixon types. A bisexual who wants to be in a monogamous relationship will wind up with either a same-sex partner or an opposite-sex partner. The Church teaches that only opposite-sex relationships will be truly fulfilling to the person, and thinking that same-sex relationships are the same is simply incorrect.

        And this is what is behind the Catholic Church’s opposition to gay marriage, the insistence that sex matters. That biology matters. That bodies matter. That men and women are different and not interchangeable.

        • Jack

          Lol, I know. I just love their Schizo notion of gender.

  • Erick

    Thanks for the clarity Leah! I am sure you will get a lot of hate for this post.

    I personally do not believe that your position is Catholic, but there are a couple of points you make that I happen to agree with:

    1) That we should really be discussing, as a society/community, what our definition of marriage is. The Catholic Church’s definition on this I think is clear. I am not sure the secular definition is as clear.

    2) That, for us Catholics, losing the battle over the same sex marriage political football is not an apocalypse for our values on marriage. We fight beyond the realm of Caesar; we can continue to witness on the truth of our values, and fight to ensure that an erosion of morality in our laws do not translate into an erosion of morality in the human beings who make up our society.

    That being said Leah, win or lose, I think you make the mistake of thinking that the separation of the secular means that you do not have to fight for the moral in the political question afloat.

  • Darren

    ”You spur each other on to Virtue and you may want to spur children along in a similar way.”

    Thus my continuing efforts to convince my wife that homeopathic medicines have no value!

    In all seriousness, your concept of marriage is noble and beautiful; were more of us to aspire so, marriage would be a better institution that it is.

    On a side note, and since I suspect you may be getting slammed soon, in the past I have asserted that, as a convert, you were obligated to swallow the entire teachings of the Church pill or give up and admit your mistake. In the full knowledge that I have not the slightest say in how you chart your moral course, I retract my earlier comments.

    Should you end up a Church-loving virtue ethicist Catholic who is yet a staunch social progressive, well, you will be in good company.

  • Kathy Schiffer

    What Brandon said. Robbie George has written some excellent things on what marriage is, and how civil gay “marriage” denigrates marriage for all, even for those who marry in accord with God’s law. Another great book to pick up is “Getting the Marriage Conversation Right: A Guide for Effective Dialogue.”

    Gay marriage, whether in an Episcopal church or in a courtroom, is a serious threat to society.

  • Mike

    I am not surprised, you are 23! :). Just kidding. No but seriously great post: honest, up-front, direct. I know where you’re coming from. I was once there too. I disagree with you but I respect your point of view.

    I too worry about the implications for people of good will who respectfuly dissent and for the poor, where fatherlessness is already a massive and growing problem.

    I guess what really got me going last time was the question of bigotry and whether you honestly believed that what the RCC was doing when it was defending the natural and I’d say real definition of marriage was bigoted.

  • Alex Godofsky

    Do you think gay people should avail themselves of civil gay marriage?

    Is this true if the alternative is living/sleeping together without marrying?

    Is this true if the alternative is breaking up and becoming a bachelor(ette)?

    Is this true if the alternative is breaking up and then marrying a person of the opposite sex?

    (“I’m not sure” is a reasonable answer to any of these, of course.)

    • victoria

      I’m friendly with a couple of gay families with children, and I know in both cases they would like to get married but our state doesn’t allow it.

      I guess I don’t see what the benefit is for anyone in their not being allowed to get married. Their living arrangements wouldn’t change at all if they got married, and the kids would be parented in the same way. The couple that is Episcopalian wouldn’t be any more or less Episcopalian, and the couple who are atheists wouldn’t be any more or less religious. The couple with a stay-at-home parent would still have a stay-at-home parent, and the couple where both parents work would still have that arrangement. From a day-to-day perspective their lives wouldn’t really change and the lives of their children would be what they are now.

      But if one of the partners died and they were married, then the other one would be entitled to Social Security survivor benefits, which is all to the good for the kids. There’d be more protection for the non-biological parents in these cases if they were married, in everything from hospital visiting to dealing with custody should the bio parent die or should the couples split up (just look up the Lisa Miller/Janet Jenkins case for an example here).

      Not allowing civil gay marriage doesn’t mean that you won’t have gay families with kids — it just means those kids have less protections than they otherwise might.

  • Ashley

    I mostly agree with your statement about marriage in the State, but this is wrong:

    “Marriage in the Church is about both people making a positive committment to each other, to any future children, and to God.”

    Marriage in and of itself is about one or more of those things. My wife and I made a positive committment to each other and to any future children. No church is required, even for many god-believers.

    • Erick

      If you are a Catholic, then you are mistaken Ashley. Leah has it exactly right what a Catholic should be striving for in a marriage.

      For a Catholic, love and faith in God is always the goal. Marriage is simply the commitment to each other and to any future children that we will help each other love and trust God to the best our natures can offer. And if we do that then all the other goods we associate with marriage will come to fruition.

      • Ashley

        I am not Catholic, and that’s kind of the point. No church is necessary for “positive committments” to one another.

        • Erick

          Leah already addresses the non-Catholic definition of marriage. If you are not Catholic, then why disagree with the Catholic definition which doesn’t apply to you?

        • Unicorn

          I think you misunderstand what Leah is saying here. Nowhere does she say that church is “necessary” for positive commitments to one another and to future children in marriage. Nowhere does she say that these commitments are uniquely a feature of Catholic marriages, or that marriages such as yours do not involve these commitments.

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

        I think Leah misses one aspect of a Catholic sacramental definition of marriage: it is not simply the commitment of the couple to one another, it is also their union with and in God. God makes a commitment to the couple, and effects a real change in the relationship which binds them together in and with him.

  • http://reluctantliberal.wordpress.com Reluctant Liberal

    “my most trad, natural law friends tend to agree with my most liberal, sexuality studies buddies that gender is way more central to identity than I tend to think (in my artless, until-recently-gnostic way) and that sexual desire is a much more important part of marriage than trebuchet-building desire.”

    This is definitely true, but only with the caveat that the trad/natural law definition of gender is radically different from the sexuality studies definition of gender.

  • Pingback: Yes, I am in favor of civil gay marriage! | CATHOLIC FEAST

  • Kristen inDallas

    My big worry is that we do have a lot of unfairness and unnessecary burden built into our system and laws that, instead of correcting, we are trying to gloss over by expanding the category of people for whom the laws will work. Imagine two non-sexually coupled friends, who wish to cohabitate, helping each other out financially, assuming responsibility for eachothers debt, working together to rear children (or some other common goal), and caring for eachother when sick. Our current employment, insurance, taxation and fiduciary systems do not work for these people (unless they spend lots of money on lawyers to draft complicated contracts). I just don’t see how redefining marriage evertime we find a new class of relationship worthy of advocacy is going to help really solve the problem inherrent in the curernt system of laws and policies surrounding the framework of marriage. Either way we’re allowing certain people to self-designate their family units, but not others. Either way this designation has nothing to do with parenting or permanence (civil marriages don’t require straight couples to intend children or stay together either). So why these and not those? Why this kind of love and now this other kind of love too, but not “that kind” of love. There is no logical nexus, which I believe every good law should have.

    Now I’m not going to be one of those people who states definitively that redefining civil marriage will necesarily lead to religious discrimination and the inability to uphold standards in sacramental marriage. To be fair the RCC has never been successfully sued for failing to preform a marriage cerremony for remarrying divorces. However, being divorced is also not considered a protected class in any jurisdiction that I’ve heard of…

    • Erick

      Kristen,

      I agree with you.

      ==So why these and not those? Why this kind of love and now this other kind of love too, but not “that kind” of love. There is no logical nexus, which I believe every good law should have. ==

      Here’s my secular answer:

      From my own POV, I think the answer is that most people have a misconception about the relationship of “marriage” to the secular State. The truth is that the secular State has no interest whatsoever in the “area of marriage”. From the State’s POV, any kind of familial relationship should be permissible. The only reason the State would ever be involved is children! i.e. States get involved with marriage because States :
      1) require procreation for the continuation of the State’s existence
      2) require indoctrination of new citizens

      Traditional marriage was the most efficient institution in providing these services to the State in olden times. Is it any different now? I don’t think so. But that to me is the question.

  • Liz

    Orthogonally:

    “Here’s my one sentence, purely secular understanding of what marriage is about: You spur each other on to Virtue and you may want to spur children along in a similar way.”

    Thanks for that! Boyfriend and I really liked this formulation in your covenant marriage series and found that it’s a very helpful way of looking at things.

  • http://strikingroot.blogspot.com Benjamin Keil

    Hey Leah! I’ve followed your blog for a bit but figured now is as good a time as any to make my first comment. :) I know your opinions on the topic are still “solidifying” (if that’s accurate?) so I’d offer the following encouragement: As you know, the difficulty with moral principles is always with the “edge cases”, and particularly when it comes to something like marriage the edge cases are nontrivial.

    Given your (one sentence, hence almost certainly oversimplified) understanding of marriage as “spur[ing] each other on to Virtue and you may want to spur children along in a similar way”, have you considered the edge cases of incest and polygamy? Assuming (say) my brother is old enough to consent and we want to spur each other on to Virtue, can I civilly marry my brother? Or if multiple persons want to spur each other on to Virtue together (and all are mature enough to consent, etc.), could I have multiple (civil) wives and/or husbands?

    This is less of a “You need an answer now!”-type challenge; more of a “Eventually you’ll have to figure out the implications of your own view – and if you will prevent 2 brothers from (civilly) marrying, you’ll need to come up with some principled reason for doing so”. Also, I’ll echo the recommendations to read George et al’s “What is Marriage”. Required reading for anyone who wants to have an informed opinion on the topic, IMHO. :)

    Yours Sincerely,
    ~Benjamin

    • Darren

      To quote our heart-of-gold, 90+ year old neighbor on learning that her other neighbors were actually a lesbian couple with the same last name:

      “Well, goodness me! Why didn’t someone tell me sooner? All these years I thought you were sisters!”

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I couldn’t disagree with you more. It may not effect sacremental marriage. It effects society at large. It undermines a family unit.

    • Slow Learner

      My marriage is not going to be affected when my gay friends can marry. Will yours?

      If so, how exactly? Please be specific.

      • Mike

        Well for example what about a popular sports caster being fired for tweeting the only true definition of marriage is 1 man 1 women?

        • Slow Learner

          How does that “undermine a family unit”? I wanted to know how Manny thought that would work.

          The effects of corporate arse-covering on freedom of speech on the Internet, as fascinating a discussion as that can be, are not germane to my question.

          • Mike

            Losing a job is very destabilizing for a family. But the free speech implications are even more important.

            Re-defining the most basic building block of society has to have an effect on everyone, including your marriage, otherwise why push for the re-definition in the first place?

          • Slow Learner

            Allowing black people to marry white people makes no difference to my marriage – my wife and I are both Caucasian. Allowing people who know they are infertile to get married has no effect on my marriage – as far as we know, we are both fertile. Allowing people of the same sex to marry has no effect on my marriage – we are one man and one woman.
            Declaring that my gay friends are not as committed to one another as I am to my wife is discriminatory, un-evidenced and specious. Declaring that they cannot raise children as well as I could (adopted or otherwise) is likewise discriminatory, unsupported by evidence, and specious. All secular purposes for marriage are equally important to homosexuals and heterosexuals; therefore the secular institution of marriage ought by rights to be open to both. So, just as people of all races can marry, and people can marry whether or not they can have children, people should be able to marry someone of either sex. None of these rules will affect my marriage in the slightest, because my marriage is entirely between me and my wife; all of them are demanded by basic fairness.

        • Marco Luxe

          Why do you need inflammatory lies to support your position? See replies to JoAnna at 2:40. The broadcaster’s civil suit has not been resolve. He may just be claiming wrongful termination to gain publicity [achieved] and game the system. And I bet you would support the Vatian Radio firing a broadcaster for tweeting the opposite sentiment.

          • Mike

            Ok how about this:
            http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/01/24/jonathan-kay-on-canadian-campuses-its-open-season-on-christian-social-conservatism/

            And please remember I don’t think the sky will fall the day after ok :). What we are saying is that it completes eradicates sexual difference from the legal understanding of the basic building block of society and with it the natural tendency to produce children. That has implications. Now I am not saying they will 100% be all bad but I am persuaded that they will mostly hurt poor people and children. And no not because gays will adopt and abuse them but because the institution will go from one that is child focused at least nominally to one that is adult focused and that is not a good thing.

        • Kenneth

          When you take a high-profile (and high paying) job like that, you take on a responsibility for the image and well being of the brand and organization you represent. A hell of a lot of revenue and viewership etc. ride on how you choose to represent that organization as one of its most visible faces.

          You’re not paid to kick open hornet’s nests of controversial social or political issues on company time, and in a job like that, you’re always on company time. Additionally, journalism has a very longstanding tradition of barring news people from getting involved in partisan causes in a high profile way. I worked with those limitations for 15 years in the news business. I still believe the role of journalists and the public are ultimately well served by those constraints.

          A sportscaster has no more business enmeshing himself (and his organization) in the gay marriage debate than he would taking sides publicly on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It’s also worth noting that continuing to outlaw gay marriage will not change the underlying public sentiment which makes that sportscaster’s actions so controversial. The public support of gay marriage is the result of a fundamental way the majority views gay and lesbian people, and that’s not going to be turned back by denying them civil marriage.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        (1) It makes the definition of marriage arbitrary. Traditional marriage in part is definied by matching genetalia, and therefore not arbitrary.

        (2) Children require male and female role models in the complete formation of their psyche.

        (3) Marriage loses whatever religious component it has historically had. Even for those not religious, everyone understood that there was a blessing by a higher power associated with it. It reduces marriage to pure contract.

        (4) What’s next on the agenda, polygamy? bestiality? incest? The logic underpinning gay marriage would support those as well.

        (5) It creates a state of cognative dissonance. The notion that two people of the same gender are a married couple violates natural law and common sense, and we would be living in a state of confusion.

        • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

          (1) It doesn’t make the definition arbitrary, it just removes the single constraint of “married people must have mismatched genetalia”.

          (2) If you could prove this, that would go a long way toward convincing non-theists that gay adoption is a bad thing. Firstly, I’ve never seen such proof, and secondly, that would still not be an indictment of gay marriage (it would admittedly be difficult to prove, since “complete formation of their psyche” presupposes what their psyche is supposed to look like. If we agreed on something like “maximized happiness”, it might be tennable)

          (3) “Even for those not religious, everyone understood that there was a blessing by a higher power associated with it.” I don’t think “not religious” means what you think it means. Atheists do not, in fact, think there is any such blessing on a marriage, homo or hetero.

          (4) Only in the same way that the logic underpinning traditional marriage also supports miscegenation. The truth is each of these needs to be argued on its own merits, and for the purposes of this discussion, no one is arguing for polygamy et al, just as no one is arguing agains miscegenation.

          (5) It doesn’t violate my common sense, nor do I hold natural law to be a coherent thing, and yet I am not in a state of confustion. The same could be said for just about every other proponent of SSM.

          • Anonymous

            I love number four. You made a grammatical mistake (look up ‘miscegenation’), yet found a way to accurately described your opposition. On the other hand, you completely misrepresent the implications of your own theory (or simply want to stick your thumbs in your ears). While no one here may be arguing for polygamy, your theory almost certainly implies it. You simply want to sidestep defending it.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            Yes, I did make a grammatical error- I meant “works against” rather than “supports”. Good catch.

            On the other hand, you completely misrepresent the implications of your own theory

            Really? All I said was that gay marriage != polygamy. That doesn’t seem like devious trickery to me.

            While no one here may be arguing for polygamy, your theory almost certainly implies it.

            Funny, since of the two theories, only Christianity has a historical track record of supporting polygamy.

            I certainly don’t think SSM implies polygamy. Nor do most pro-SSM people that I know of. My view of SSM certainly doesn’t explicitly condemn polygamy in the same way as yours does- but then, my theory doesn’t really condemn anything the same way yours does. My theory simply leaves polygamy as an orthogonal issue to be argued on its own strengths and weaknesses.

            You simply want to sidestep defending it.

            Well of course I don’t want to defend a proposition I don’t think is correct.

            If you think I’m ducking the question period, then I’ll come clean: my position is that I honestly don’t know if I would support polygamy or not. It’s not a big enough issue that I’ve had to suss out my exact stance- it would involve weighing the factors of restricting the freedom of individuals to live the way they choose vs. the environment of abuse that we’ve historically seen created where pockets of polygamy arise. My gut feeling is that the cost greatly outweighs the benefit, but I would be open to data contradicting my viewpoint.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            Well, then we fundementally disagree. I don’t think you rebutted anything.

          • Mr. X

            “that the logic underpinning traditional marriage also supports miscegenation”

            The logic underpinning traditional marriage does indeed support miscegenation, which is why anti-miscegenation laws were arbitrary and wrong. OTOH, the logic doesn’t support same-sex marriage, which is why the two cases are completely different, and any attempt at setting up a false equivalence between the two won’t wash.

            “I certainly don’t think SSM implies polygamy. Nor do most pro-SSM people that I know of.”

            If they don’t think that, that’s largely because they haven’t properly considered the implications of their arguments. If it’s wrong of people to enforce the view that marriage must be between members of the opposite sex — well, why is it any better to enforce the view that marriage can only be between two people? If it doesn’t affect anybody else whether two men can get married, how does it affect them if a man and two women can? If current rules regarding marriage are “enforcing sectarian doctrine”, then given that polygamy has been far more prevalent throughout history than gay marriage, how much more sectarian is it not to give polygamous relationships legal recognition? Claiming that we can just stop at gay marriage is completely arbitrary; then again, given that the SSM side seems to insist that marriage is arbitrary anyway, maybe that doesn’t bother you.

          • Alan

            ” If it’s wrong of people to enforce the view that marriage must be between members of the opposite sex — well, why is it any better to enforce the view that marriage can only be between two people?”

            If it’s wrong of people to enforce the view that marriage must be between members of the same race – well, why is it any better to enforce the view that marriage can only be between two people?

            Claiming that we can just stop at interracial marriage is completely arbitrary.

            Yeah, slippery slopes are still logical fallacies.

          • Mr. X

            “If it’s wrong of people to enforce the view that marriage must be between members of the same race – well, why is it any better to enforce the view that marriage can only be between two people?”

            Well for one thing, I’m not a nominalist/conceptualist regarding marriage, as most gay marriage campaigners are.

          • Alan

            And that differentiates you from the anti-miscegenation crowd how?

          • Mr. X

            It means that I think the definition of marriage is independent of what any particular society thinks, hence various understandings of marriage can be considered more or less correct based on how closely they conform to that definition. Anti-miscegenation doesn’t conform to that definition; therefore, societies which pass laws against mixed-race marriages possess an inferior definition of marriage to societies which don’t.

          • Alan

            “It means that I think the definition of marriage is independent of what any particular society thinks, ”

            So did they. It conformed to what they knew to be the one true definition – one that exclude mixing of certain races. Therefor, they know that your definition which enables that mixing that is inferior to theirs.

            That you think you happen to know the one true independent definition doesn’t make you different or special or right.

          • Mr. X

            Actually, no. People might have believed that mixed-race marriages were immoral or inadvisable, but I’ve never come across anybody who said that they were logically impossible.

          • ACN

            I think we need to talk about what logically impossible means.

            Trisecting an arbitrary angle with compass and straight edge? Logically impossible.

            Two people of same gender getting marrid? Well, I’ve been to a ceremony for just that in a state that allowed it, so that dispels any notion of logical impossibility.

  • Mike

    One more point, or prediction if I may: I predict that gay marriage will have a deleterious effect on gay unity across classes and incomes.

    I suspect that just as we are now seeing marriage become an upper middle class pursuit, we will see wealthier more educated gays lock-in, so to speak, their partnerships for strategic reasons, if for nothing else and less well to do folks struggle to live up to a standard that they’ll claim reeks of privelege. Case in point: some gays are against marriage because they see it as too restrictive and oppressive and not the best fit for their lifestyles. There was also an article in the Wall Street J. I think, written by a lesbian who didn’t want NY to pass gay marriage because it would impose stricter standards on who she would be able to add to her insurance coverage.

  • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

    Very good post, Leah. I’m glad you wrote it; I was noticing claims that somehow you couldn’t be Catholic because you disagreed with other Catholics and I wanted to know how you would handle that.

    In general I agree with you (Leah). In the comments above someone said that gay marriage was a threat to society, and, frankly, I don’t want to be a part of a society that would be threatened by gay marriage. That strikes me as a problem with the society, not gay marriage. Let’s say you really believed that gay marriage is wrong; what kind of society that cannot survive vice can realistically survive at all? (I am taking as a premise that vice is omnipresent.) And since I do not think that gay marriage is wrong, well…

    I think I disagree with you in one respect, though: I do not think that marriage is a reified (or reifiable) thing. I think that there are a whole mess of customs and social institutions across history and geography that we have yoked (unequally?) under a single name–marriage customs–on the grounds that they look similar enough. This is not a travesty, incidentally, but just what language is and what social conventions are. So marriage has no telos, no central necessary definition. In other words, marriage, as with most things, is defined more by extension than by intension. That said, I do think that particular kinds of marriage are sanctioned by God as holy, and it is always possible that others are explicitly not-sanctioned (for instance, when one of the parties is pretending to be someone they are not). But this does not mean that they are not marriage, just that they are marriages outside the blessing of God. I am not Catholic, though, and based on the comments in the last several months I can see that I would find a lot of Catholic theology puzzlingly Platonist, so I suppose that I am speaking across many people here instead of to them.

    • Mr. X

      “Let’s say you really believed that gay marriage is wrong; what kind of society that cannot survive vice can realistically survive at all?”

      I think there’s a limit to the amount of vice a society can survive, though. Sure, parking on a set of double yellow-lines isn’t going to single-handedly bring down Western civilisation; OTOH, no society could survive is half the population went out raping and murdering every night. It’s all a matter of where you draw the line. Some people might think that gay marriage will be a tipping point; others might disagree.

    • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

      I am sure there are other ways of describing gay marriage as being harmful (and I’m sure I’d disagree with them), but I’m specifically addressing the one where it supposedly harms society.
      Rape, murder, pillage, and assault directly harm citizens; certain societies (for instance, mine and yours) can tolerate a fair amount of these things without actually dissolving. (In fact, in looks like certain cultures make a business of enacting those on foreign nationals. Anyway.) But the claims don’t tend to be “gay marriage does specific and direct harm to straight married couples,” but instead, “gay marriage destroys the culture in which we make our decisions.” So it’s not that gay marriage is violence; it’s that gay marriage destroys the society (that is, changes it for a new one), and presumably changing society does harm to its members. But I would say that a society that cannot tolerate acknowledging that marriage can be defined in multiple ways by different people does sufficient damage to its members already that whatever discomfort change would produce is less (and shorter-term) than the harm it is already doing.
      I’m not saying that we must and do not criminalize things that do direct and obvious harm. Obviously we do and must. I am saying that the harm must be to citizens or specific legal apparatus (so, no treason), not “society” or “culture.” Violence must be outlawed; vice must not be.

  • Darren

    Gender and Identity
    I fall firmly on the “gender identity is largely societally determined and to a great extent arbitrary” side of the debate. There are some statistical differences in brain architecture, but the error bars are _really_ broad on that.
    Gender models shift constantly, and vary contemporaneously from society to society, so if there is a hardwired gender role, bestowed by God or otherwise, we would have a hard time picking it out.
    Some gay marriage opponents point to the lack of two distinct genderroles within the same nuclear family as in some way damaging to children’s development. I’ll not convince them otherwise, but I propose that an honest look will show that they themselves have very different notions of the proper role of gender than did their parents, their grandparents, etc. It is only by viewing the past through the lens of the present that we convince ourselves otherwise.

    ”The uncertainty that I’m most curious about is the fact that my most trad, natural law friends tend to agree with my most liberal, sexuality studies buddies that gender is way more central to identity than I tend to think”

    Gut feeling is that it probably is a lot more important than we self-determined types would like to think, but only because we live in a society in which it permeates and reads on every other facet of our existence. It need not be so. Not everyone agrees that the content of my chromosomes, and the fidelity of my gestation, determines my fate. I get a say, too.

  • http://empiricismvsfaith.blogspot.com Empiricismvsfatih

    By this reasoning, are you also in favor of keeping abortion decriminalized?

  • Lukas

    “You spur each other on to Virtue and you may want to spur children along in a similar way.”
    This would work as a definition for the Girl Scouts or any number of other free associations.

    • Darren

      There a great many similarities between running a family and running a Girl Scout troop.

      • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

        Family sounds easier.

        • Slow Learner

          I dunno, with a Scout group you don’t love ‘em nearly as much, but you do get the odd day off!

  • SteveP

    What the State does is important logistically, but is really a necessary but not sufficient way of talking about marriage. Currently, since we’re talking mainly about what rights the State gives to which people, we’re talking a lot about what we’re entitled to . . .

    Hmmm. I think people are talking about to whom their entitlements can be assigned. For example, you may want to assign your Social Security survivor benefits to one of your housemates and assign privileged communication status to another of your housemate such that they cannot be compelled to incriminate you.

    Talking about the individual benefits civil marriage has accrued is sufficient. Calling pairings (or more) of men with men and women with women “marriage” has just muddied the water to no end.

  • Kenneth

    Leah captures the essence of the argument for civil gay marriage perfectly. Civil marriage is not a sacrament. It has never been a sacrament. The state, in America, has never once performed a “marriage” in the sense that the Church understands it. It does not administer sacraments in any form and never will.

    The way our government must weigh its treatment of gay relationships is governed by vastly different considerations under our Constitution than the Church applies under its doctrines for sacraments. People in our republic are presumed to have equal rights and are also presumed to have the freedom to do a thing unless a compelling and legitimate reason exists to justify state interference.

    Religious preferences are not legitimate reasons for doing so. Nor is it legitimate to repress the legitimate rights of people on the theory that they don’t like you and might one day act against your interests. Pre-emptive punishment ain’t self-defense, neo-con foreign relations theory notwithstanding.

  • Andrew

    Nobody has a right to do something that’s wrong.
    Unnatural union is absolutely wrong.
    So that’s why nobody has a right to it.
    Marriage is marriage. It means a man and a woman.
    “civil union” is an abomination… in a knee-jerk way.

    • Slow Learner

      Skipping over the bigotry, can you explain what “an abomination… in a knee-jerk way.” is meant to mean?

      • Mike

        Thinking that same-sex sexual activity is wrong (for the plethora of reasons one can come up with, STDs notwithstanding) DOES NOT = Bigotry. Please. If that were the case then every Buddhist and the DL himself would be a big B and so would probably everyone else who’s ever lived before like last tuesday. Some balance please.

        • Slow Learner

          I’d let him have “wrong”. It’s “unnatural” and “abomination” that push Andrew over into being bigoted.
          After all homosexuality is natural, it is found in hundreds of species in that natural world; and the word “abomination” speaks for itself.

          • Mr. X

            “Unnatural” in natural law speak = contrary to something’s telos, *not* never found in animals.

          • Slow Learner

            And a Catholic view of telos says homosexuality is unnatural; I would probably think something different, if I thought teleology particularly useful.

    • Kenneth

      The state has no business enforcing religious mores, even those that are dressed up so as to appear as non-sectarian, quasi-philosophical objections. Moreover, the “natural law” folks don’t seem to have a problem with the state legalizing the unions of hetero people who engage in all sorts of “unnatural union.” When you’re ready to accept state intervention to police non-procreative acts among your own ranks, then we can talk turkey about enforcing natural law on gays.

      • Mr. X

        There’s a difference between “enforcing X” and “not giving people official encouragement to break X”.

        • Kenneth

          Not when the rubber hits the road. By giving hetero couples carte blanche to live as they will with the benefits of civil marriage, you’re tacitly encouraging and acknowleging the expression of certain “unnatural” acts.

          • Anonymous

            The government does not prosecute obscenity (though there may be a sliver of constitutional authority to do so). That’s just another expression of speech. Suppose now that they want to promote children’s literature. Suppose further that it’s well-known that many children’s literature authors also create and partake in obscene literature. The gov’t takes grant applications or proposals. Can they choose to fund a proposal to write “Little Timmy Goes to School” while rejecting a proposal to write “The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs”? Would doing so be tacitly encouraging and acknowledging the expression of certain “obscene” acts, because the person who proposed “Little Timmy Goes to School” is given carte blanche to also publish obscene material as he will… all the while having the benefits of the children’s literature grant? It seems like tortured logic that doesn’t understand the concept of purposed encouragement.

            tl;dr Openly, personally stating that you will be performing unnatural acts (without prosecution) is different from an outside, statistical statement that you might perform unnatural acts (also without prosecution).

    • Josh Lyman

      Is worshiping a false god “wrong”?

  • Oregon Catholic

    Marriage between gays? Never.
    Civil union? Perhaps. But only if civil union applies to any 2 adults who want to form a union for financial and legal purposes, even purposes that have nothing to do with sex or raising children. Civil unions can’t just be marriage lite, they have to be something entirely different. But that’s where you will lose the gays – because it’s not about wanting a civil union that anyone can have (no matter how good the protections are), it’s about attempting to normalize a sexual relationship by taking on the trappings of real marriage.

    The further away the Church has gotten from insisting that marriage is about procreation and raising offspring, the more it has opened the door to these kinds of arguments for ‘whatever’ marriages, even among Catholics.

    • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

      Your argument applies much better to what the rules should be in the Vatican than it does to a secular, multicultral, religiously pluralistic society.

      The question is not whether Catholics think gay marriage is wrong; we pretty much all understand that you do. The question is whether you have to right to enforce Catholic morality on non-Catholics (you don’t) and whether or not you can muster a secular argument against gay marriage that holds water (more debatable, though every attempt I’ve heard fails for me and every other non-theist I’ve ever met)

      • Oregon Catholic

        As a citizen voter I have the right to influence the society I live in and I can do everything in my power to legally ‘enforce’ my personal moral vision on society – the same as anyone else. The fact that someone else doesn’t like it is of no consequence when they have the same right to force their moral views on me. That’s how this country works, so don’t tell me I have no right to impose Catholic morality on a non-Catholic if that is what informs my personal view.

        I’m sorry if you can’t understand the biological argument. I’d call that willful ignorance. You don’t have to believe in any higher power to know that intercourse is naturally between a male and a female. If you want to talk about unnatural intercourse and unatural marriage that’s another thing entirely. Just don’t confuse it with the union that has sustained life from the beginning.

        • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

          This is not even a little bit how the United States works. This is what the United States constitution and bill of rights were explicitly set up to prevent. They exist to protect the minority, not to enforce mob rule. The right to impose your moral views on others is not protected under the Constitution.

          It is true that all laws are, in some sense, legislated morality. However, this “legislated morality” falls under the authority of the constitution, which expressly prohibits the establishment of religion. You cannot legislate explicitly religious rules, full stop.

          What you can do is argue why a law ought or ought not exist from a secular perspective. If you can convice enough people that you’re right, and if that law does not violate the protections provided by the constitution, then you can indeed legislate your morality.

          I’m sorry if you can’t understand the biological argument. I’d call that willful ignorance.

          It’s not so much that I don’t understand it, it’s more that it’s demonstrably wrong. Of course, we’re not the only two to disagree on this point. My point was simply that non-religious people are overwhelmingly unconvinced that secular arguments against SSM are valid. It could be that non-religous people are wrong. But I think it more likely that your evalutation of the strength of the secular arguments is tainted by your religious views.

          You don’t have to believe in any higher power to know that intercourse is naturally between a male and a female

          Apparently you do. Atheists/Agnostics strongly support SSM (80% for to 16% against), while people who attend church weekly are overwhelmingly against SSM (24% for to 68% against)

          • Anonymous

            What you can do is argue why a law ought or ought not exist from a secular perspective. If you can convice enough people that you’re right, and if that law does not violate the protections provided by the constitution, then you can indeed legislate your morality.

            You need to convince precisely 270 people that a law ought to exist. They don’t need to explain a rationale. You need to convince precisely 5 people that you have compelling enough of a secular purpose to overcome scrutiny. The people who elect all those other people can do so based on whatever the hell criteria they want. There is no full stop restriction on voter motivation, whether it comes from religious or secular morality.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

            That’s as full stop as it gets in this world. If your argument is that our government does not always work the way it’s supposed to, then I concede the point. But if it’s a discussion of whether or not you have the “right” to legislate explicitly religious laws, then no, that is very much not a right that you have.

          • Anonymous

            You misunderstand my point. The people can support a law based on absolutely any reason they want. They can elect officials based on any reason they want. Those officials can pass laws without giving any reason. The only place anybody actually checks if the law is “explicitly religious” is SCOTUS. It would be pretty unwieldy if every vote cast had to have a complete, secular theory described which underpins it.

            Of course, we can easily find some proof in the pudding when it comes to whether gay marriage laws are “explicitly religious”. Let’s make a wager. Let’s assume both Perry and Windsor are ruled in favor of SSM (no action if they aren’t). I’ll set the over/under for the number of references to Ia in the opinions at 0.5. Of course, I’m not an idiot, so I’ll have to set the under at something like -10000. If you really believe SSM laws are “explicitly religious”, you’d only need to take the over and make a bunch of money. Would you do that? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t… because you know better.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            The only place anybody actually checks if the law is “explicitly religious” is SCOTUS

            The SCOTUS is only a last resort, when the voters and lawmakers have all failed to realized that a law contradicts the constitution. The intended function of voters and the legislature is not to pass as many laws as they can get away with for whatever reasons they want- setting up pins for SCOTUS to knock down, as it were. The constitutions says “Congress shall make no law yada yada yada”. It’s a rule aimed directly at lawmakers. The SCOTUS is only there to catch them when they transgress the law, not to be the sole group interested in the application of that law. The police are there to stop burglary- but that doesn’t mean it’s ok for people to burgle so long as they don’t get caught.

            If you really believe SSM laws are “explicitly religious”, you’d only need to take the over and make a bunch of money. Would you do that? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t… because you know better.

            Wait, what? Since when does believing something mean that you’re absolutely government officials will use a certain diction to describe it?

            I have no idea if the SCOTUS will reference God, Church, Natural Law theory, or anything else in the opinions- that doesn’t make me any less confident that SSM laws are a religious moral projection. Moreover, the data clearly indicates that religion (or lack thereof) is in fact an enormous factor in whether or not someone will support SSM.

          • Anonymous

            I agree on your theory of government… but it’s simply not the de facto operation. It is often a difficult task to determine whether a law is “explicitly religious”. If the data clearly indicates it to you, why don’t think that same data will clearly indicate it to the justices? Either the data is not that clear… or the rest of us simply have come to a different conclusion than you have.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            I agree on your theory of government… but it’s simply not the de facto operation. It is often a difficult task to determine whether a law is “explicitly religious”.

            These are fair objections. It often is difficult to determine whether a law is “explicitly religious” or not. For the record, I would expect anti-SSM legislation to be struck down under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, rather than under the freedom of religion clause of the 1st amendment. But that’s kind of the point- the only reason it exists as law in the first place is because of religious predilections, not because of good secular argumetns for it.

            why don’t think that same data will clearly indicate it to the justices? Either the data is not that clear… or the rest of us simply have come to a different conclusion than you have.

            I would be interested in the results of a poll that asked something along the lines of “Do you believe anti-SSM/pro-traditional marriage legislation is religiously motivated?” My expectation would be that the majority of people would say yes. My expectation would also be that if you asked this question after showing the pollee the relevant data, you would see an increase in the number of people who answered yes.

            Would you expect different results here? (It’s dawning on me that perhaps we have crossed wires- perhaps you’re arguing about whether the laws themselves contain religious language (AFAIK they don’t), and I’m arguing about whether the laws themselves are religiously motivated (AFAIK they are))

          • Oregon Catholic

            Jake, your arrogance is astounding. I can vote my mind and heart and conscience any damn way I want and I am sure you do the very same thing. It is the arrogance of the ‘tolerant’ moral relativist that can’t understand that. They would force their morality on me while telling me that I can’t do that to them. The fact that my moral conscience is formed by my Catholic religion in no way means that I am forcing my RELIGION on anyone else. It truly boggles my mind that so many of you don’t get that.

            Personal morality is personal (and protected) regardless of where it comes from. You anti-religion types need to get a grip on your fears long enough to be able to think it through. I am not imposing my religion on anyone by simply exercising my right to vote for laws and candidates that line up with my personal moral views. That is democracy and that IS exactly how this country works and what you would deny me IS exactly what you take for yourself every time you cast a vote.

            And if I want to spend my money and exercise my freedom of speech to influence public opinion and law making against SSM then I damn well will do so and I will demand others respect my constitutional RIGHT to do so even if they don’t respect my moral views.

          • Oregon Catholic

            You don’t have to believe in any higher power to know that intercourse is naturally between a male and a female

            Apparently you do. Atheists/Agnostics strongly support SSM (80% for to 16% against), while people who attend church weekly are overwhelmingly against SSM (24% for to 68% against)

            What does what atheists think have to do with the reality of natural reproductive biology? Unless of course you think that somehow your opinion can change the biological reality of mammalian reproduction?

            Get back to me when a male can impregnate another male through intercourse and we’ll talk.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            I apologize if I came off as arrogant. For the record, I fully support your right to believe, act, think, and speak in any way you so choose such that it remains within the constraints of law. And I agree that you absolutely have the right to vote your conscience insofar as it does not infringe upon the rights of others or the rules laid out in the Constitution.

            Where we seem to disagree is that when you make a prescriptive or proscriptive religious moral claim, and then attempt to enforce it on others via law, I don’t think that counts as excercising your freedom of religion- I think that counts as infringing on the rights of others to excercise their freedom of religion.

            There’s a substantive difference between forcing your morality on someone, and refusing to let them force their morality on you. I have nothing whatsoever to say about the way you live your life. I do not seek to enforce my normative moral values on you- you have my permission (as if you needed it!) to be as Catholic as you want. What you do not have is the right to force non-Catholics to live by Catholic morality.

            What does what atheists think have to do with the reality of natural reproductive biology?

            Oh, nothing whatsoever. Atheists could certainly be wrong. But your claim was that “intercourse is naturally between a male and a female” is knowable without a belief in a higher power. If by “natural” you mean strictly “occuring in nature”, then there are numerous examples of animals engaging in homosexual behavior. If (more likely, I think) by “natural” you meant somethin akin to “good, proper, right, well-ordered”, then the evidence suggests that people who do not believe in God do not agree with you on this point, and therefore you probably do have to believe in a higher power to “know” this fact.

          • Anonymous

            Jake,

            For the record, I would expect anti-SSM legislation to be struck down under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, rather than under the freedom of religion clause of the 1st amendment. But that’s kind of the point- the only reason it exists as law in the first place is because of religious predilections, not because of good secular argumetns for it.

            You have nearly exactly the point in your first sentence, but the gigantic whiff of a second sentence demonstrates that you’re far too attached to your narrative to bother even smelling your rhetoric before you spew it. I say “nearly exactly”, because your claim is that anti-SSM laws are merely religious laws. As such, you should be concerned with whether the reasoning is due to the establishment clause, not the freedom of exercise clause.

            The second sentence is just absurd on its face. The fact that something is found to violate the equal protection clause is patently not evidence that there are no good secular arguments for it… and even further from implying religious motivation. Otherwise, you’d have to magically find religious motivations (and magically remove secular motivations) in voting laws that have been struck down, environmental laws that have been struck down, taxation laws that have been struck down, etc. (There are a lot of equal protection cases…)

            I’m sure you can come up with a plethora of potential laws that have secular arguments behind them (maybe even arguments you like), have no religious motivation, and yet would likely violate the equal protection clause. If not, make friends with a law student sometime.

            Would you expect different results here?

            The public can be convinced of all kinds of things (just look at the trash that is their understanding of Citizens’ United… or science!). We were talking about whether the people whose job it is to distinguish “explicitly religious” laws would categorize anti-SSM laws as “explicitly religious”. If they wouldn’t, perhaps you should rethink your rhetoric.

          • Oregon Catholic

            Jake,
            I don’t know if you are being willfully obtuse or not but regardless it is pointless to dialogue with you any further

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            Now hold on a minute. Let’s review:

            Oregon Catholic: SSM is wrong for religious reasons
            Me: That’s fine if this were a religious government, but it’s not. You need good secular reasons, and there aren’t any.
            Oregon Catholic: No, I can use any reasons I want to vote for whatever I think is right.
            Me: No, you’re constrained by the Constitution. You can’t vote for explicitly religious laws.
            You: there are a total of 275 people you need to convince. If you can convince them, your reasons don’t matter. There is no full stop.
            Me: Well sure, technically speaking. But you don’t have the “right” to pass whatever you want if you brainwash 275 people- that’s a bug, not a feature.
            You: Well SCOTUS is the only one who bothers to check if you’re doing what you’re “allowed” to. If you think anti-SSM laws are explicitly religious, lets make a bet about the wording of the SCOTUS decision.
            Me: SCOTUS is the enforcer, not the only person who should be following the rules. I have no idea what wording they will use.
            You: Your view of government is reasonable, but not what happens in practice. If the evidence says anti-SSM laws are religious, why don’t you think it will be clear to the SCOTUS/public?
            Me: Agreed, government isn’t perfect. For the record, I expect a 14th amendment ruling instead of a 1st amendment ruling- that doesn’t mean these laws aren’t religiously motivated. And yeah, I do think the motivation of anti-SSM laws is clear to the public, Dont’ you? (btw, I don’t think the laws contain religious language. But I do think they’re religiously motivated)
            *Jake and Oregon Catholic argue*
            You: You’re irational and spewing nonsense. You claim that anti-SSM laws are merely religious laws. Just because something violates equal protection doesn’t mean there aren’t good secular reasons for it, much less that it’s religiously motivated. And the public can be convinced of anything- we were talking about the experts. If they don’t think anti-SSM laws are explicitly religious, you should rethink your rhetoric.

            That was kind of a major step up in agressiveness… I wonder if I’m dealing with the same anonymous? :)

            So to review the various claims I’m making:
            1) I do not think anti-SSM laws are worded so as to be explicitly relgious.
            2) I do think anti-SSM laws violate Equal Protection, and are therefore unconstitutional.
            3) I do think anti-SSM laws violate the Freedom of Religion clause (infringing on the religious freedoms of gay people), but that the argument there is much weaker than the one for the Equal protection clause, and therefore it is the equal protection clause that will be used to strike it down.

            Additionally, but not directly related to the question of anti-SSM constitutionality:
            1) You are not allowed to vote for explicitly religious laws (you physically can, of course, they’re just not constitutionally valid laws, and will be struck down)
            2) Anti-SSM laws are very clearly religiously motivated even if the wording isn’t explicitly religious, just the same way Intelligent Design is clearly religiously motivated even if the wording isn’t explicitly religious.
            3) You cannot enforce explicitly religious morality legislatively, as it violates the first amendment rights to other people’s free practice of religion.
            4) I agree with you that just because something violates equal protection doesn’t mean it’s religiously motivated. My claim is simply that there aren’t good secular reasons for anti-SSM legislation. The fact that such legislation has no good secular reasons in combination with its clear violation of the Constitution qualifies as Bayesian evidence that it is religiously motivated

          • Darren

            Oho, nicely argued, Jake!

            I was not paying close enough attention, as I did not get where you were heading. You have handily backed Oregon into a corner where he has to admit that he cannot vote his conscious, if his conscious relies upon explicitly religious conclusions even if they are not stated as such, and yet he has unconvincing secular arguments, thus he has to respect Church / State separation, which he, himself, has advocated.

            It is too much to expect him to be happy about it, though.

            Nice.

          • Anonymous

            Sorry for the “step up in aggressiveness”. Your statement was rather absurd, and it upset me that you would continue down the same rhetorical path without bothering to think about it.

            I do think anti-SSM laws violate the Freedom of Religion clause (infringing on the religious freedoms of gay people)

            Interesting… I haven’t heard this one before. Care to flesh it out? I know many amici briefs have been filed already (at least in Perry), so maybe you could link to anyone who has this as a secondary or tertiary argument?

            Anti-SSM laws are very clearly religiously motivated

            They might be for some people. They might not be for others. Remember, people don’t have to say. And (as I’ve pointed out) it doesn’t matter anyway! You started off the conversation claiming something along the lines of ‘you can only argue for a law from a secular perspective’. This is demonstrably false.

            You cannot enforce explicitly religious morality legislatively, as it violates the first amendment rights to other people’s free practice of religion.

            You mean “it violates the establishment clause”. But that doesn’t matter when we only have a possibility that the laws are only religiously motivated. You can argue that it’s a good thing (or moral thing) from whatever perspective you want. Explicitly religious perspectives can provide plenty of people with plenty of motivation… and that’s completely Constitutionally acceptable. The only thing that matters is that (at the end of the day) the law is not explicitly religious enough to be considered “establishment” and that there is enough secular justification available to overcome any individual rights based scrutiny it might encounter. You can have whatever motivation you want, and you can make any argument you want in comboxes. Some will be secular; some will be religious. Mere motivations simply do not matter Constitutionally. (Think for a while about possible laws where multiple large, very different religions comes to the same moral conclusion. Would such a thing violate Ia in Jaketopia? It’s be much harder (if not impossible) to establish establishment (lolz). You’d have to find that it’s actually prohibiting someone’s exercise of religion. I think you’re maybe trying to go down this path, but it’s profoundly unclear how you would continue or why no one else is doing so.) The data show that anti-SSM laws are not anywhere near close enough to being establishment. I welcome any actual data that it comes remotely close to a Ia violation.

            My claim is simply that there aren’t good secular reasons for anti-SSM legislation. The fact that such legislation has no good secular reasons in combination with its clear violation of the Constitution qualifies as Bayesian evidence that it is religiously motivated

            First, you haven’t looked very hard for secular reasons. There are plenty out there. I won’t spam the combox any more with a lit review.

            Second, we’ve already established that being a “clear violation of the Constitution” provides absolutely no Bayesian evidence for religious motivation (unless, again, you want to argue that an incredibly high percentage of all laws that are struck down were necessarily religiously motivated (which, trust me, you don’t)).

            tl;dr Your claim of religious motivation may or may not be true, but it wouldn’t matter anyway… because motivation isn’t Constitutionally relevant. You can argue for or against a law from absolutely any philosophical perspective you want (religious or secular), so long as the resulting law does not violate the establishment clause. Telling people to shut up because they can’t argue from a religious perspective displays both a misunderstanding of our Constitution and the rhetorical tactics of a schoolyard bully.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Jake,
            I like you. You argue politely and with nuance. That said, some disagreement:

            All the First Amendment seems initially to have called for is disestablishmentarianism, and that only at the federal level–neither Congregationalist Massachusetts, nor . Justice Hugo Black’s 1947 adoption of Jefferson’s “wall of separation” metaphor as the cornerstone of First Amendment jurisprudence in Everson, a decision in which Black, a former Klansman, ruled taxpayer support of school buses to Catholic schools unconstitutional in the course of incorporating the First Amendment’s protections against the states via the Fourteenth Amendment, is a pretty recent, and not uncontested, jurisprudential development. (Yes, there’s a lot of David Barton-esque right-wing crankery around this issue. But the disestablishmentarian point is still true, even if a wingnut pseudo-historian like David Barton happens to make it from time to time, when he’s not busy trying to convince the rubes that Jefferson was a devout tea-vangelical Baptist or something because he used “A.D.” in dating documents.)

            However, Black’s Jeffersonian wall is, at present, the law of the land. That conceded, I still think you’re too harsh on religously-motivated legislating. Abolitionism and the Civil Rights movement were both explicitly religious, even revivalist, in the language and imagery of their appeals to the consciences of voters. That’s okay. Looking abroad, the example of Gandhi is instructive: his ideology of nonviolent satyagraha, although uniting Indians of all faiths against the British to a certain extent, still had pretty Hindu roots. Of course, it was also inspired by the nonviolent politics preached in Tolstoy’s tract The Kingdom of God is Within You, and Dr. King, of course, was inspired by both Tolstoy and Gandhi. Religion isn’t some sort of cooties that has to be quarantined from the public square.

            I think part of the perplexity here is that you’re feeling like there’s a difference between liberatory invocations of religion (John Brown, MLK) and invocations of religion designed to “impose morality.” However, lots of prohibitory laws have moral/religious components. The ban on prostitution outside a few counties in Nevada, e.g., is pretty religiously motivated, but hardly unconstitutional. Dry counties and blue laws about Sunday liquor sales don’t run afoul of the First Amendment, either, although admittedly the 21st Amendment shields local blue laws to a certain extent, so it’s not the best example, since a First Amendment absolutist could just call it a carve-out, I suppose.

            TL;DR: Either be opposed to SSM or embrace it. But make your argument. Don’t just try to banish your opponents’ arguments because religion is supposed to be somehow an illegitimate motivator for policy preferences. That’s a very tendentious reading of the American constitution and of American politics and history.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            *Massachusetts nor Episcopal Virginia had qualms about ratifying it.

            Sorry about the typo.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            Perhaps I should back up and explain some of the ideology that leads me to the conclusion that particularly religious claims can’t be legislated.

            First and formost, I make a distinction between what is morally right vs. what should be legal.

            For example, I’m of the (rather odd) opinion that drinking alcohol is a morally wrong action (for a variety of reasons). Would I prefer a world in which no one drank? Absolutely. Do I think that would be a better world? I do. Is it within my rights to demand that other people stop drinking? Definitely not, for two reasons.

            First, because even if I think the choice is wrong, abrogating another human being’s freedom is much more wrong. I hope other people won’t drink, I’ll argue with them that they shouldn’t drink, but it is niether my perogative nor my desire to force them not to drink.

            Second, as a descriptive moral relativist (I think it can be demonstrably shown from history, anthropology, religion, literature, etc. that morality _is_ in fact relative, whether we would like it to be so or not), I have a starting assumption that what’s morally right for me is not necessarily morally right for other people. It’s morally right for me because the action of not drinking alcohol will optimize my happiness/wellbeing more than the action of drinking alcohol. This is not so for all people.

            Now there are of course exceptions to such a rule- drinking and driving is no longer a question of personal morality, but of public safety. How do I deal with those? I’m glad you asked!

            I think other people’s noses (and by extension, Uncle Sam’s shnoz) belong exactly nowhere other than where public health and safety are concerned. Further, “public health and safety” does not mean protecting me from making bad decisions, immoral choices, or having sub-optimal beliefs. It means that the government ought to act IFF I pose a clear, present, and direct danger to other members of society, or to provide a service that cannot reasonably be provided by private institutions (in practice, this still turns out to be a very wide net to cast.)

            Now, obviously Catholics will disagree with me here on several points- why should I expect them to vote in such a way that conforms to my ideology? I am free to think them morally obligated to do so, but what gives me the right to make it a legal requirement?

            My answer is the Constitution, as I attempted to outline above. My lay understanding of the Constitution supports the notion that if a moral question is religious in nature, and cannot be adequately addressed secularly (or if the secular answer is clear and in opposition to the prevalent religious answer), then legislating that religious answer counts as limitting the free excercise of other people who would seek to make a religious decision counter to that made by the majority.

            I sympathize with complaints about shouting down the free speech of others- that was not my intention, though clearly that’s the way I came across to several people, and I truly do apologize for that. However, when someone makes a claim that secular civil society ought to abide by a particular religious view _because religion X says so_, then it is fair game to challenge such thinking as both immoral and unconstitutional. I interpreted (and still do interpret) Oregon Catholic to be making just such a claim.

            Since this comment isn’t nearly verbose enough, I had a few points I wanted to respond to directly:

            Religion isn’t some sort of cooties that has to be quarantined from the public square

            This is most certainly true on a straightforward reading- religion deserves a place in public discussion precisely as large as the place it has in the lives of the populace. In a place like the US, we should not be afraid to discuss religion. We should, however, refuse to legislate it.

            The proper lens to look through, I think, is the kind of laws and protections you would want in place if Islam was the dominant religion. Would you want Sharia law enforced? I presume not (though I’ve been surprised by some people’s answers on this in the past).

            The point I’m trying to make is that the US is designed to be secular- not in an attempt to eliminate religion, but to be inclusive of all religions, and create an environment where they can coexist.

            The ban on prostitution outside a few counties in Nevada, e.g., is pretty religiously motivated, but hardly unconstitutional.

            But its very much supportable secularly- you can point to lots of demonstrable bad consequences that come from prostitution. Not so for homosexual marriage (or at least, I’ve never heard any that didn’t involve the words “disordered” and “God”)

            Dry counties and blue laws about Sunday liquor sales don’t run afoul of the First Amendment, either, although admittedly the 21st Amendment shields local blue laws to a certain extent, so it’s not the best example, since a First Amendment absolutist could just call it a carve-out, I suppose.

            Yeah, I would say those laws are a clear violation of the first amendment. They’re just not important enough that I care (plus, remember I’m not a fan of alcohol :))

            Either be opposed to SSM or embrace it. But make your argument. Don’t just try to banish your opponents’ arguments because religion is supposed to be somehow an illegitimate motivator for policy preferences. That’s a very tendentious reading of the American constitution and of American politics and history.

            Fair enough. My actual objection to anti-SSM legislation is both moral and legal. I am under no illusion about the Constitution- it is man-made, imperfect, and it’s current application may or may not be close to its intended application. However, the law of the land- which I vehemently support because I think it’s right, rather than because it happens to be the current law of the land- is that laws must be secular and not religious in nature. When someone tries to enforce religious rules for religious reasons, I think it _ought_ to be banished because religion is an illigitimate _basis_ for policy.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            also @anonymous:

            Second, we’ve already established that being a “clear violation of the Constitution” provides absolutely no Bayesian evidence for religious motivation

            My claim is that:
            P(A | (B & !C)) > P(A | (B & C))

            where
            A = Law X is religiously motivated
            B = Law X is unconstitutional
            C = Good secular arguments can be given for law X

            This does not mean that P(A | (B & !C)) is 1, nor does it mean that P(A | (B & C)) is 0.

            This is just another way of saying that all else being equal, an unconsitutional law is more likely to pass if you can come up with good secular reasons for it.

            In practice, my claim is a bit stronger than this, because I’m inplying “much greater than” rather than “greater than”. That is a point to be legitimately argued, but whether or not it counts as Bayesian evidence period is not really a matter of taste- everything counts as Bayesian evidence.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Jake,

            So, in the course of being at least a wee bit concise and hopefully stimulatingly argumentatively agonistic, I think I’m going to come off pretty snarky below. So please accept a preemptive apology, and a reiteration of my gratitude at being able to dialogue with as thoughtful an interlocutor as you.

            First and formost, I make a distinction between what is morally right vs. what should be legal.

            Sure. I do, too. I have a post up on my blog this morning about why I think there are good Thomistic reasons for ending narcotics prohibition.

            Second, as a descriptive moral relativist (I think it can be demonstrably shown from history, anthropology, religion, literature, etc. that morality _is_ in fact relative, whether we would like it to be so or not), I have a starting assumption that what’s morally right for me is not necessarily morally right for other people.

            Yeah, we’re in disagreement there.

            Now there are of course exceptions to such a rule- drinking and driving is no longer a question of personal morality, but of public safety. How do I deal with those? I’m glad you asked!

            So, are you saying that there is an objective moral need to protect public safety, or what? This is the kind of thing that makes moral relativism self-defeating.

            I think other people’s noses (and by extension, Uncle Sam’s shnoz) belong exactly nowhere other than where public health and safety are concerned.

            Sounds pretty libertarian. So, are you saying that libertarian assumptions about morally acceptable spheres of state action are objectively true, or that all morality is relative, but you just kinda sorta personally prefer libertarian ways of running the state? Because if it’s just your personal preference, well, there are 300 million of us and you get just the one vote.

            Further, “public health and safety” does not mean protecting me from making bad decisions, immoral choices, or having sub-optimal beliefs.

            Your personal preference is that public good not be considered to concern moral virtue, but only physical health. Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and others have had different preferences. Why does your personal preference determine the meaning of the words? Speaking of meanings of words, why be a “descriptive moral relativist” and yet be a prescriptivist about word meanings? Some sort of descriptivist/nominalist bundle of beliefs about word meanings seems like it would mesh better.

            It means that the government ought to act IFF I pose a clear, present, and direct danger to other members of society, or to provide a service that cannot reasonably be provided by private institutions (in practice, this still turns out to be a very wide net to cast.)

            This is not an unattractive vision of the role of the state. But “government ought to act”? Whence this “ought”?

            Now, obviously Catholics will disagree with me here on several points- why should I expect them to vote in such a way that conforms to my ideology? I am free to think them morally obligated to do so, but what gives me the right to make it a legal requirement?

            You’re getting ahead of yourself here. How can you think anybody morally obligated to do anything?

            My answer is the Constitution, as I attempted to outline above.

            Other than a Burkean desire not to upset established institutions, and the general warm glow surrounding it from American patriotism, I don’t, as a Catholic, have any special reverence for the Constitution. So, even if your interpretation of what the Constitution requires is correct, that doesn’t make it in my mind a source of moral obligation or “right.” It’s just positive law that I am obligated to obey insofar as I may licitly “render unto Caesar” obedience in the temporal sphere wherever Caesar doesn’t ask me to sin. Back when the Constitution countenanced slavery, the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (IIRC) denounced it, on objective moral grounds, as “a pact with the devil.” He was, in those antebellum days, literally correct IMHO, since American slavery was diabolical indeed. Where the Constitution has been immoral, a Christian stands toward it as Antigone to Creon: appealing to a higher natural law against the injustice of positive law. Not, of course, a relativist attitude. But how can you hold the Constitution to be binding on anybody without holding that *anything* is binding on anybody? I at least have warrant to obey Caesar wherever he doesn’t mandate sin, and to expect others to do the same. You don’t really have warrant, as a relativist, for enjoining anybody else to obey anything. Anyway, all this assumes that your interpretation of the Constitution is correct, which I dispute below.

            My lay understanding of the Constitution supports the notion that if a moral question is religious in nature, and cannot be adequately addressed secularly (or if the secular answer is clear and in opposition to the prevalent religious answer), then legislating that religious answer counts as limitting the free excercise of other people who would seek to make a religious decision counter to that made by the majority.

            Yeah, that seems to be a pretty common lay misunderstanding. A lot of my law school classmates seem to have gone into our first year Con Law class thinking something similar. The reality is more nuanced. Under contemporary First Amendment jurisprudence, the state and state-affiliated actors cannot mandate religious observances, endorse religious doctrines or institutions, or ban religious observances, doctrines, or institutions. That’s the main outline of the law. There are other, subsidiary matters (like providing adequate opportunities for religious practice in federal prisons) that aren’t really to the point. But that’s the broad outline.

            What the First Amendment does not require is that all legislation be enacted from secular motives. However, increasing numbers of liberal secularist Americans (generally of the “Team Blue” persuasion politically, as I am myself most of the time) seem to think it does, perhaps because they would very much *like* it to be true, perhaps because they’re blurring together their gut feelings about First Amendment law with experiences of arguing about whether there are non-religious reasons to ban abortion–which is an area of the law grounded (wrongly, IMHO) in Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection / Due Process “privacy” grounds in current jurisprudence, rather than in anything specifically about not mandating religion. To disentangle the concerns, imagine that the government wanted to ban abortion for entirely secular reasons–e.g., maybe the population was declining dramatically, and future deficit hawks are panicked about having enough young workers to pay into Social Security and Medicare. Under current (IMHO, murderous) abortion jurisprudence, banning abortion for such natalist demographic reasons would be an unconstitutional intrusion on women’s privacy right to bodily autonomy and self-determination. The secular motivation for the abortion ban wouldn’t save it.

            To return to the First Amendment: President Bush enacted PEPFAR, his African AIDS relief program, largely due to extensive evangelical lobbying. It was a religiously motivated policy. But it didn’t mandate or ban or endorse any religious practices, and was perfectly Constitutional. Now, I readily concede that there are also secular reasons for funding AIDS relief in Africa. But the *motivation* for the policy was, in simple fact, primarily religious. (Except from celebrity PEPFAR advocate Matt Damon, I guess. But definitely for all the evangelicals, and Bush didn’t pass it to please Matt Damon.) That didn’t make PEPFAR unconstitutional.

            Also, your distinction between questions that can be adequately answered with only secular reasons and those that are merely religious would be an impossible nightmare for courts to adjudicate. I gave you an example above of an ostensibly secular reason to ban abortion. It’s silly. But a court can’t just say, “these political arguments are smart, but yours are dumb so you lose.” That’s what elections are for, not courts.
            Similarly, there are plenty of wholly secular arguments against same sex civil marriage. For example, SSM opponents argue that because children flourish best with a mother and a father (as opposed to two mothers or two fathers), the state ought to valorize marriages between one man and one woman. Now, you might think that’s a poor argument. You might think most of the researchers who produce studies supporting that view are right wing hacks. Doesn’t matter. You, the voter, can make that decision. But a court can’t take an entirely secular argument like that and issue a decision that reads, in essence, “Your ‘kids need a mom and a dad’ argument is stupid, and all your other arguments are religious, so you lose.” Deciding that political arguments are stupid is what voters do when they elect legislators and the executive. Not a judicial function at all. Thus, there’s no scenario where a court rules legislation unconstitutional just because the secular arguments for it are stupid. And there are always secular arguments for laws, except laws specifically about worship/religious observance/etc. which are, in fact, what the First Amendment is about.

            So, a law mandating the teaching of Biblical creationism is going to be unconstitutional because it’s a state sponsorship of a religious doctrine. But if a law banning gay marriage is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court this year, it will be on equal protection grounds, *not* because the law has religion cooties. Frankly, from a strictly Con Law (as opposed to Catholic) perspective, I think the pro-SSM equal protection argument has some real merit. However, that argument has zilch to do with religion. It has to do with the idea that current marriage law is allegedly discriminatory, not that current marriage law has or doesn’t have primarily religious justifications. It’s really hard to think usefully about these things if the distinction between equal protection arguments and establishment of religion arguments isn’t kept in mind.

            I sympathize with complaints about shouting down the free speech of others- that was not my intention, though clearly that’s the way I came across to several people, and I truly do apologize for that. However, when someone makes a claim that secular civil society ought to abide by a particular religious view _because religion X says so_, then it is fair game to challenge such thinking as both immoral and unconstitutional. I interpreted (and still do interpret) Oregon Catholic to be making just such a claim.

            Well, you can’t challenge his thinking as immoral, because you’re a relativist, so he can think whatever he wants and he’s just a diverse little snowflake you can’t criticize in his specialness. As for “unconstitutional,” that is never a description of a thought, as you know. Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought.

            But the meat of the issue is this. Let’s say that a bunch more LDS folks move to Nevada to join the many Mormons already living in the Harry “I am too timid to properly reform the filibuster” Reid state. Let’s say the new Mormon majority votes for legislators eager to amend the Nevada state constitution to outlaw prostitution and gambling, entirely because they think it’s God’s will. Let’s say Oregon Catholic gets tired of all the “Portlandia” hippies, moves to Nevada, and votes the same way for the same reason. Well, guess what? There is nothing unconstitutional about outlawing prostitution or outlawing gambling. You might favor a harm reduction policy. You might think keeping/making these things illegal has only really dumb secular arguments in support. You might be right! Does. Not. Matter. If the state action in question (e.g., PEPFAR, abortion, heteronormative marriage laws, outlawing prostitution, outlawing gambling) doesn’t happen to be unconstitutional on other grounds (e.g., equal protection in abortion cases, and maybe SSM, too, depending on what Justice Kennedy has for breakfast the day SCOTUS hears oral argument) then the state law is constitutional despite the entirely religious motivations of all the stump speeches, all the voters’ votes, and all the legislators’ votes and the governor’s failure to veto. Religion cooties simply do not make otherwise constitutional state acts unconstitutional.

            [Rant: Thinking they do is like the MSNBC equivalent of Faux News global warming denialism: people who know law know (with a few academic exceptions on the left, I presume and preemptively concede) that it’s wrong, and it’s a weariness of the flesh for law-trained folks to keep coming across laypeople who just google the Constitution, read it, and think they can become instant Con Law scholars just because they read English. It’s like when us Catholics come across guys from “Bob’s Bible Shack and School of Agricultural Technology and Football Academy” who think they can do historical criticism of ancient Hebrew and Greek writers because, darn it, they’ve read the King James Bible from cover to cover, so there! Expertise exists. Climatologists, theologians, and lawyers all go to school for a reason. And yes, all three are real areas of knowledge and expertise, not just the science one, Dawkins’ know-nothing, global-warming-denier-idiot-esque “Leprechaunology” cracks about theology notwithstanding.
            /Rant.] (Sorry about the rant.)

            Since this comment isn’t nearly verbose enough,

            Oh, mine is now worse.

            This is most certainly true on a straightforward reading- religion deserves a place in public discussion precisely as large as the place it has in the lives of the populace. In a place like the US, we should not be afraid to discuss religion. We should, however, refuse to legislate it.

            Sure. No establishment of religion. Uncontroversial. But outlawing, e.g., abortion, SSM, gambling, or prostitution would happen in the context of secular arguments (however dumb you, Jake, think they are) being readily available. Make an equal protection argument or a due process argument. Religion is irrelevant, even if it’s the actual motive for voters and legislators, so long as secular arguments are available. Courts aren’t going to adjudicate whether the secular arguments are too dumb to count.

            The proper lens to look through, I think, is the kind of laws and protections you would want in place if Islam was the dominant religion. Would you want Sharia law enforced? I presume not (though I’ve been surprised by some people’s answers on this in the past).

            Not sure how a moral relativist gets to mandate the “proper” anything.

            As to Sharia: where and when are we talking about? Compared to pagan Arabia, or to corruptly administered and confiscatory Byzantine taxation of the Levantine and Egyptian peasantry, early Islamic jurisprudence was progressive, even-handed, and a huge improvement. (Which is a subsidiary but still real non-conquest reason for the rapid early spread of Islamic rule that we Christians are almost totally oblivious to, for the most part. Which is a shame: it’s an interesting historical period.)

            In an imaginary Muslim-majority U.S., the Constitution would be an impediment to the enforcement of Sharia. That wouldn’t be a moral argument against it, though, just a fact on the ground. As to whether I, personally, would want Sharia implemented in the imaginary Muslim-majority U.S. if the Muslims called a new Constitutional Convention or otherwise got themselves a blank slate to write on, my views would be entirely a question of where Sharia mirrors Catholic social teaching, and where it doesn’t. IIRC, Sharia would ban abortion, which I’d favor. I think it might mandate a certain amount of taxation for the relief of the poor. It would probably decimate the investment banks due to its usury ban. I could get behind all of that. However, Sharia also seems to mandate capital punishment and amputation, both of which, as a Catholic, I would oppose. Similarly, given the Vatican II declaration of the human right to freedom of religion in Dignitatis Humanae, I would feel morally justified in objecting to the restrictions placed on my practice of Christianity by dhimmi status. As to being made to pay a jizya tax as a non-Muslim, I’d be unhappy about it, but willing to submit to Caesar on it, as Christians in pagan Rome and the Dar al-Islam have submitted to other not-sinful irritants over the centuries. In other words, it’d be a pretty case by case thing.

            On a broader level, I think the First Amendment’s disestablishment of religion has allowed a competitive religious ecology to flourish here in stark contrast to, e.g., the stricken religious monocultures of European countries with state churches, or the reportedly stifling atmosphere of Wahhabi Saudi Arabia and other Salafi states. So my prudential judgment would lead me to prefer the current U.S. system. But that doesn’t make me think that some Muslim guy in Michigan fantasizing about an Islamic U.S. is illegitimately appealing to religion in the entirely secular realm of political preferences. Instead, I think he’s entitled to have religiously motivated preferences, and I’m entitled to have starkly opposed religiously motivated political preferences. Atheists are allowed, of course, to have philosophically/metaphysically motivated political preferences, too, like their preference for the rest of us shutting up about religion in public. I think the Muslim and the atheist are wrong, but so what? Every citizen is a democratic peer.

            The point I’m trying to make is that the US is designed to be secular- not in an attempt to eliminate religion, but to be inclusive of all religions, and create an environment where they can coexist.

            The U.S. was designed not to have an institution like the Church of England. That’s all. Since then, First Amendment jurisprudence has very recently moved toward a more secular public square in areas like school prayer in the last few decades. The U.S. was not designed to exclude religiously motivated arguments from the public square. The abolitionists, the civil rights movement, and the pro-life movement, have all made religiously motivated arguments in the public square, and all have been in the American mainstream in so doing.

            But its very much supportable secularly- you can point to lots of demonstrable bad consequences that come from prostitution. Not so for homosexual marriage (or at least, I’ve never heard any that didn’t involve the words “disordered” and “God”)

            Believe me, there are lots of secular arguments against SSM. The fact that you haven’t heard them, or think they’re dumb doesn’t mean a court can rule them dumb. Nonjusticiable.

            Yeah, I would say those laws are a clear violation of the first amendment. They’re just not important enough that I care (plus, remember I’m not a fan of alcohol :) )

            The fact that you “would say” those laws are unconstitutional, and yet they have been on the books for decades despite the existence of wealthy liquor distribution firms that would happily pay large law firms to challenge them, may indicate that your hunches about what is and isn’t constitutional are untrustworthy. If your hunches lead you to think that longstanding laws are unconstitutional, then barring a groundbreaking SCOTUS decision (on SSM, e.g.), that just means your hunches are wrong, and you know less about the Constitution than you think.

            Fair enough. My actual objection to anti-SSM legislation is both moral and legal.

            How can a moral relativist have moral objections?

            I am under no illusion about the Constitution- it is man-made, imperfect, and it’s current application may or may not be close to its intended application.

            Agreed.

            However, the law of the land- which I vehemently support because I think it’s right, rather than because it happens to be the current law of the land- is that laws must be secular and not religious in nature.

            Clearly, you and a lot of my secularist teammates on “Team Blue” do think that’s right. But, as I’ve attempted to elucidate above, that’s not what the Constitution has ever said, and it’s not even what the rather secularist jurisprudence of recent decades reads it as having said. It’s not the law of the land. It’s just what you wish it was.

            When someone tries to enforce religious rules for religious reasons, I think it _ought_ to be banished because religion is an illigitimate _basis_ for policy.

            And I think neo-classical, laissez faire, Mont Pelerin Society, freshwater school, libertarian, Randian economics is an illegitimate basis for policy, because it’s barbaric to the poor, intellectually cramped, and morally bankrupt. But it’s not an unconstitutional motive for policy. It’s just annoying to me personally. Too bad. I have to argue against it. I don’t get to banish it from the public square by fiat.

            Similarly, you think religion is an illegitimate basis for public policy. Fine. So go out and register some voters, canvas for your candidates, engage in public discourses like this one, etc. Argue against the religiously motivated policies you dislike. But religious people and our arguments aren’t going anywhere. There are a lot of us, and we vote. Convince us to vote otherwise. That’s how you make change. Telling us to “shut up” because our religion cooties aren’t allowed in America’s awesome secular tree house is not. You’re a good guy, Jake. Thoughtful and thought-provoking. So I think you really know all this already.

            Pleasure dialoging with you. Cheers.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Programming note:
            Since this little con law convo is more than verbose enough to threaten a threadjack of this 400+ comment thread, I note that I have just reposted my entire last comment to Jake as a post on my blog. Jake and the rest of you wonderful Leah-readers, if you care to continue chatting about this over there instead, please feel most warmly welcomed.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            Quite agreeable- I shall trundle over sometime tonight to post a response, when I have several hours to devise a cunning and unbeatable rhetorical ploy :)

          • Anonymous

            I agree with everything Irenist said. Thank you for fleshing out Ia jurisprudence in detail. I lack the time to do such things this week.

            Jake, I think a problem comes from a lack of a realization of how small the set !C is. There may be cases where you don’t like the secular arguments, but that hardly counts, by virtue of your own language. Really, the only examples I can think of are completely explicitly religious laws about worship or other purely religious observance. In that case, whether this statement is true or not doesn’t really tell us anything… because we already knew where we were. Unless, of course, you’re just burying all your beliefs inside the “good” preface to “secular arguments” and trusting that it will neatly carve out the icky religious-sounding ones. Question begging isn’t really Bayesian updating.

            (Also, a nitpicky aside… I said that it provides “no Bayesian evidence for religious motivation“, not that it provides no Bayesian evidence in general.)

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            A link for those who just can’t get enough constitutional law discussion

        • ACN

          “That conceded, I still think you’re too harsh on religously-motivated legislating. Abolitionism and the Civil Rights movement were both explicitly religious, even revivalist, in the language and imagery of their appeals to the consciences of voters.”
          …..
          “Religion isn’t some sort of cooties that has to be quarantined from the public square.”

          You should be gentle with this brush, because you’re picking and choosing bits to make a rhetorical point.

          The other sides of the two movements you mention were also explicitly religious. The slaveholders beat their bibles at least as hard as the abolitionists, and the legacy of the civil rights movement has both buried much of the involvement of secularists under the shadow of Dr. King’s assassination, and swept over mountains of religious sentiments of “not rocking the boat”, “patience” etc etc.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com Irenist

            Fair point, ACN. However, whether religious arguments are right or wrong, they belong in the public square no less than others. Those of other faiths or none are of course entitled to discount them.

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

    Thank you for being honest. There are a number of factors between recent conversion and age, that I can understand.

    I hope my comments in previous posts on father absence will help understand the public policy views on marriage one man and one woman.

    Also Howard Law School had a good law review article “Portrait of a Marriage”, which maybe of help.

    I mentioned that I was a volunteer for the Department of Children of Families. One of the reasons was my experience with the Church’s sex abuse scandal. As much as I want to heal the Church, really it was about the children and abuse/neglect. I couldn’t just worry about Catholic children or my parish and their well being. I was being called to help any child.

    I live in a community with low marriage rates. I see and experience the consequences and fragile and broken families. Should I ignore it, because they are not Catholic.

    I was sadden by President Obama’s change considering he once sponsered a Healthy Marriage & Fathers bill back in 2006.

    I hope some of my thoughts help out.

  • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben @ Two Men

    It would help to turn down the emotional noise on this issue and look at the facts.
    Why is the government in the marriage business? Why don’t they hand out “best-friends” licenses?
    Does the government really care who you “love”?
    Would marriage exist if humans reproduced asexually? Marriage as one man and one woman matches how humans reproduce. Is this some sort of odd coincidence?

    The nature of male/female unions leads directly to the building blocks of a nation just like the cells of a body. The very idea that The State should NOT give incentive & recognize a procreative union as UNIQUE from other types of human unions boggles the mind.

    • Niemand

      Sigh. So why aren’t post-menopausal women or infertile men or women prohibited from marrying? Why aren’t women inspected for evidence of an IUD prior to marriage? Why don’t men have to surrender their condoms on marriage?

      Conversely, many gay and lesbian couples do raise children together. Some even have children together. Consider a lesbian couple where one partner is a MTF transsexual. Or a gay couple where one partner is FTM (pre-op, obviously.) If it’s all about reproduction, shouldn’t they be allowed, encouraged even, to get married?

      Marriage isn’t only about children. It’s about establishing a family, about being your partner’s legal next-of-kin, about social acknowledgement. A friend of mine (a married lesbian, as it happens), calls it “one stop shopping”: a quick and simple way to get social and legal acknowledgement of your relationship without having to make separate declarations for medical power of attorneys, insurance, wills, family gatherings…

      • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben @ Two Men

        What about infertile couples or couples who do not want children? This question brings a new debate. The debate becomes, should marriage be defined as any man and any woman or only a man and woman willing & able to have children. The question in no way logically justifies same-sex marriage.

        What about gay couples who want to adopt? So the definition of marriage should be changed for the entire society because some gay couples want to adopt? In the case of adoption, the child is already with us, so it’s not about procreation. Precreation is the rational basis for marriage laws, not romantic love. I know it sounds cold, but that’s why governments got involved.

        You will also ask; what about equal rights for all? Many relationships, other than marriages, have tremendous personal significance to those involved. The fact that we do not call them marriages is not evidence of bigotry, but recognition of reality.

        • Alan

          Actually property rights is the rational basis for marriage laws, not procreation nor romantic love. And yes, it is cold and traditionally involved payments in some form (whether as dowry, dower or brides price).

          • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben @ Two Men

            But keep asking “why?” Why should the government get involved in property rights because two people are in committed sexual relationship? Why should the government care who you have sex with? It relates to the establishment and protection of family units, which relates to procreation.

  • Mike

    Sorry I can’t help myself but I think Slow Learner is a slow learner :)

    • Slow Learner

      I picked the name as a prod to humility. It helps, sometimes.

      • Mike

        I actually figured as much. I guess I thought my one liner’d be funnier than it is. Don’t ask me why it was a long day at work.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      Agreed….lol.

  • Nicole Resweber

    Whoop! That is all.

  • Niemand

    FWIW, I’m in favor of allowing civil marriage between any two non-married, non-consanguinous consenting adults, regardless of gender, race, or other irrelevant details.

    I’m also in favor of letting the Catholic church and any other religious organizations out there refuse to marry any two people based on any criteria they like. For example, Catholics might refuse to marry two women or a man and a woman who had gone through divorce but not annulment or who weren’t Catholic. Likewise, a Unitarian church might refuse to marry two 16 year olds or a couple where one partner had an unexplained black eye.

    And, of course, I support the right of any individual to decide whether they want to give their time, money, and support to organizations that support prejudice or not. Because there is no way around it: being against the marriage of two loving, committed people who might well want to raise children together just because of your perception of their genitalia is nothing but a hateful prejudice. No matter how much you try to pretty it up.

  • JRA

    The problem, as I see it, is the civil authorities defining marriage at all. That is an inherently religious exercise, and thus not something that the state should be involved in. The problem doesn’t stop when the state stops short of taking on the Catholic Church’s position on the matter. It has simply adopted another religious view, albeit one not associated with an organized church.

    But as demonstration of that matter, other in this thread have raised the issue of friendship. Indeed, now that marriage in some states have stopped prohibiting gay marriage, aren’t they now discriminating against those who have non-sexual relationships? What about two elderly widows who want to pool their resources and form a household. Why do they not get rights to share medical coverage, tax benefits, rights of survivorship, etc? What about best friends? People who are asexual?

    One could easily argue that the only compelling state interest in any of this is fertility. Regardless of whether it will be used, the fact of its existence (unique to hetero and sexual relationships) presents a potential burden and existentially necessary capacity. Civil society has a big interest in making sure that fertility is fostered and yet not abused–someone has to produce, raise, love, educate and enculturate the next generation.

    Once that is not the basis for civil marriage, it’s not clear that there should be civil marriage at all. Why not do away with it altogether?

    • Niemand

      Asexual marriages are perfectly legal, as far as I know, except (oddly) for immigration purposes. Unless one is trying to get a green card, no one will check the bedrooms to make sure a couple is sleeping together.

      In fact, Dan Savage and a lesbian friend explicitly tested this. They went to the city they live in and asked for a marriage license. Initially, they were each trying to marry their partners. When this was refused, Dan asked if he could get a license for him and his friend. They explicitly stated that they had no interest in each other sexually, would not live together, would continue to live with (and raise children with) their current partners. They got the license. The state is ok with a loveless marriage. Just, in many places, not a marriage between a loving gay or lesbian couple.

      • Kenneth

        It’s perfectly kosher for a straight couple to marry for strictly financial or political reasons, or to put your best friend on your insurance, or as a business partnership to go into the porn business producing nothing but “unnatural unions” or to intentionally have a childless marriage where the very possibility of procreation is precluded by surgical sterilization. You can have a hetero marriage if you do so with the stated intent to conceive and then have serial abortions as some sort of sick performance art. But two gays are unacceptable no matter how noble and “family friendly” their ambitions might be.

        So anti-SSM isn’t about preserving or promoting any sacrosanct institution from outside defilement. It’s about marginalizing and punishing a set of people who you really wish you could stuff back in the closet or asylum or prisons. It’s the same sort of mindset we saw when desegregation became the law of the land before most people had quite internalized the spirit behind it. “I might have to live with you living next door, but damned if I’m going to call you my equal or let you join my country club.”

        • Anonymous

          Wait wait wait… we can’t encourage something because some number of people will abuse the legal mechanism? This abuse means that it wasn’t meant to encourage what it was meant to encourage in the first place?

          I think you need to start advocating for the repeal of every law ever… because someone will always be looking for ways to abuse legal mechanisms and have their results be “perfectly kosher” even though it’s not within the intent of the law.

        • ACN

          On point. Well said Kenneth.

      • Darren

        Knew many a couple back in my Army days that married so that they could live in couples housing or off-post with a larger housing allowance and a 2-bedroom apt.

        • Alan

          Funny enough, I was working on setting furniture standards (for procurement purposed) for Marine Core barracks and one concern that came up was the difference in quality levels between bachelor housing and what couples got and the poor incentives it created.

          • Alan

            Yikes, Marine Corps – that’s auto-correct for you.

          • Darren

            Speaking of, you would probably enjoy the movie, “The Pentagon Wars”, dealing with the development of the Bradley AFV (a machine close to my heart, being an old cavalryman, old enough that the M113 is even closer to my heart).

            Sadly, it is not available for instant view on Netflix, but they do have it as a physical DVD. You will especially enjoy the “Office of Ruminant Procurement”, I suspect, but I don’t want to spoil it…

    • Kenneth

      Civil marriage isn’t about “defining marriage.” It’s contract law, plain and simple. When anti-SSM folk say “why doesn’t the state just get out of marriage entirely”, what they mean is “let’s burn down the buildings and fields so the queers don’t benefit.”

      They don’t acknowledge the fact that eliminating civil marriage would also put hetero couples in the same position most gays face now, where they are legally strangers to one another but for a crazy quilt of legal documents which cost thousands to draft and which provide very spotty protection, at best. I doubt very much you or any other hetero couples would be willing to swallow the medicine you’re prescribing for the situation.

  • Curtis

    This makes me sick. Don’t post as a Catholic, if you’re not willing to embrace an follow the church and what the pope and her bishops are explicitly calling for! We are here to be a light to the world. It makes it kind of hard to do that when we support immoral things. Let alone unnatural. Let alone detrimental to traditional marriage and even more impactful in how it tares down the most basic unit of society. With gay marriage legalized we will become bigots, and our churches taxed. Our society will fail because the family will fail. No matter what you believe to be ‘civil marriage’. It is all interconnected, and it is a sin to promote it.

    • Kenneth

      I’m not posting as a Catholic, or even as a Christian. The legalization of gay civil marriage has no bearing on whether you are considered “bigots” or not. Your views have become considerably less popular as societal views have shifted. Barring gay marriage will not change that, and will probably aggravate the situation for you. Having freedom of speech in this country does not mean the government has to help maintain the popularity of those views.

      For the record, I do not believe opposing gay marriage makes one a “bigot.” Bigotry hinges on whether one harbors hate in their heart. Many anti-SSM people express themselves in ways that strongly suggest they’re bigots, but others just have a sincere belief that differs from mine. At the end of the day, I don’t care what motivates them. I have no illusions of being able to change their thinking, but I am committed to working toward what I see as the proper resolution of the issue and the underlying principle of separation of church and state.

      If indeed “the family will fail”, it is because those within families, overwhelmingly hetero, have decided to let it fail, not because the family happens to expand with gay families. If the concept of family life, or your sacramental notion of marriage or your religion are so fragile that they need state support to survive, then they should die. They have no organic strength or ability to persuade on their own merits. I do not believe that to be the case, but I find it rather sad that so many Christians seem to have so little faith in the power of their beliefs to survive outside of the greenhouse of state financial and legal support. It should give all of you pause that a pagan like me has more faith in the power of your beliefs to endure than you seem to…..

      • Erin

        No one said the church won’t survive – it’s society that won’t survive, simply because marriage is part of the divine Truth, a gift to us, and there is no changing objective reality. No matter how much you want to. The Catholic Church is the oldest human institution in history, by far, and there is no danger of her not remaining. This fact alone speaks to its divine guidance, for those with eyes to see.
        No, to me, Leah’s support of civil gay marriage and yet embrace of Catholicism is problematic in the same way children of same sex couples in my children’s Catholic school is problematic: at some point, the child of the same sex couple will be forced to choose between Truth and his parents. It’s an awfully cruel situation into which to put a child. Similarly, it’s a cruel situation to put your readers in, Catholic and secular alike, to allow them to think Truth is subjective or open to interpretation. Ok, more scandalous than cruel, and I realize your journey is at its beginning (long may it continue). But we are called to share this fullness of truth everywhere, because it’s true for everyone, in every place, at every time in history. And we’re also called to reject, with charity, untruth because true love means willing the ultimate good of the other. And the only ultimate good is God. To allow society to condone something prohibited by God shows a sincere lack of charity and love.

    • Darren

      And …a nicely written article about _why_ so many Catholics do support gay marriage.

      Why do so many Catholics support marriage equality?

      From what Leah has said of her budding spirituality and her attraction to the Church, she could have written this herself (must be a Yale thing).

      • Mike

        The National Catholic Report is to Catholicism what HuffPo is to balanced reporting.

        • Darren

          Good to know; I suppose I should have gone with the Bill O’Reilly’s piece…

          • ACN

            Now Bill, there is a serious journalist :)

        • Darren

          And, so it is. Here we have Bishop Finn yet again warning all right-thinking Catholics to stay away from the National Catholic Reporter.

          I especially liked the part where the diocese told the NCR to stop using the word Catholic, and the NCR politely declined (bugger off!).

          Did the RCC not trademark “Catholic”? Bad choice, that.

          Perhaps the National Catholic Reporter should change its name, though. I suggest the Naughty Catholic Reporter, which would be more in line with their editorial policy. They would even get to keep the initials and not have to change their stationary.

          Or, even better, the Dirty Vicar Review! (warning! lewd Monty-Python link!)

          (not really relevant, but it is Python, and a Friday for Goodness sakes!)

          • Mike

            But honestly, serious q, why don’t they change their name to naughty vicar? Seriously they obviously don’t like the magisterium so why not be true to who you really are? Otherwise they’re just being deceptive no?

          • http://onecatholicsstruggle.weebly.com Theresa

            Hey Darren, (hello again!)
            Just a side-note- it isn’t that the Catholic Church (which has many rites other than Roman) has “branded” or “copyrighted” the name “Catholic.” I’m no canon lawyer, but it is my understanding that Bishops (heads of diocese) have a canonical obligation to shepherd their flock. Bishops are supposed to be pastoral to even those within their dioceses that are not Catholic. I realize this means little to a non-catholic, but this is the perception of the Church. Within canon law, and again- I’m no expert and I don’t have reference numbers- sorry!- Bishops are also responsible for anything within it’s diocese that uses the name “Catholic” (specifically with a capital C). For example, a Catholic can decide to open up a book shop. They can call it any number of things, but they cannot call it a “Catholic Book Shop” without the permission of the Bishop (or the representative he has delegated to oversee such issues) even if it’s holy cards, bibles and rosaries galore inside! I have no idea about NCR’s status or anything like that so I can’t really say anything about that.

            No judge would (probably) deny an organization the option of using the word “Catholic” in their organization’s title- true. But if an organization wishes to remain in communion with the Church, than it would be internally motivated to abide by canon law. Therefore orders from a Bishop to not use “Catholic” would carry more weight for that organization.

            As an aside, I have a blog- well, call it a publicly accessible diary or journal if you will. I have virtually no readership- and I”m not complaining at all. But I use the word “Catholic” in my title and web address. Before I started publishing my blog, I did ask my bishop if I had permission to use “Catholic.” I was told yes, as long as I used a disclaimer that my views may not accurately reflect Church teaching. And thus my sidebar has such a disclaimer.

            Just thought I’d throw that out there… :)

          • Darren

            All very true. I should not have said that “I enjoyed” that part, that was a bit snarky and not really accurate. Rather that I appreciated the implications –see below.

            From my point of view, it boils down to who “owns” the Catholic name. Is it valid for a group of the Laity to use the name Catholic in describing their position? What if it differs from the official view? If not Catholic, then what name to use? I jokingly suggested Naughty Catholic, but not everyone shares my sense of humor…

            I sympathize with each view, nor do I begrudge the bishops mandate to defend the brand, so to speak. If Catholic means anything anyone wants it to mean, it means nothing.

            This is just the sort of thing that gave birth to Protestantism, but poor Catholics don’t really have that option, unless they want to be Anglican (again, joking).

    • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

      Let alone detrimental to traditional marriage and even more impactful in how it tares down the most basic unit of society.

      As a reductionist, I’m going to have to disagree. The most basic unit of society is Hydrogen. :)

      • Darren

        Ah, but what then is a Hydrogen if not the holy union of two ups, a down, a drunken half-brother of an electron and occasionally a freeloading ex-college buddy Neutron.

        • Mike

          Mocking your opponents: doesn’t it just reflect badly on the strength of your arguments? Seriously.

          • Darren

            Me? I was writing solely for the amusement of Jake, as he seems to be as easily amused as I.

            Mockery has its place, it can be a crutch if overused, but certain groups tend to think their ideas and beliefs are somehow privileged, that they have a different standard of evidence required of them, that they deserve deference by virtue of age or tradition.

            Considering that most of the arguments against gay marriage are grounded on Natural Law, which itself is a direct product of Aristotelian metaphysics and the Earth, Wind, and Fire wackiness therein embodied… Sure, I feel justified in poking some good natured fun.

            Homosexuality is against the Natural Order? OK, I have this bowling ball and this golf ball, lets climb yonder tower and make a wager on it. If the bowling ball falls faster, no more “Will and Grace” for anyone, if they fall at the same speed, then gay polyamorous incestuous bestiality for all.

            :)Me? I was writing solely for the amusement of Jake, as he seems to be as easily amused as I.

            Mockery has its place, it can be a crutch, but certain groups tend to think their ideas and beliefs are somehow priviledged, that they have a different standard of evidence, that they deserve defference by virute of age or tradition.

          • http://thoughtfulatheist.blogspot.com/ Jake

            I was also writing solely for the amusement of Jake, as he and I seem to have a simillar sense of humor.

            I confessed to being flummoxed by the prevalence of Platonic forms in religous discussion- or rather, flummoxed as to how they go so glaringly unquestioned. But mockery is not my forte- I make too many mistakes. Frivolity in the face of vitriol, though- that’s my wheelhouse.

    • jose

      Calm down. You guys used to think burning heretics alive was moral. Surely the church can make progress, yes?

  • House Baelish

    Completely agree with this article. The fact of the matter is that, when we talk about civil and sacramental marriage, we’re sort of using one word to convey two meanings. Saying, “We can’t legalize gay marriage; it’s not sacramental!” is kind of like saying, “I don’t like people who aren’t right-handed; their hands are wrong!!” Two men or two women having the legal status of marriage does not affect me any more than the remarriage of a divorced, unanulled person does. It’s a civil, not religious matter.

  • TheresaL

    Leah,
    Just pointing out that when you dichotomize marriage as Civil and Sacramental, you are leaving out marriages that are recognized by the Church as valid Catholic marriages, but non-sacramental, such as a marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized person with a dispensation from disparity of cult. Please don’t forget those of us who are truly “unequally yoked!”

  • deiseach

    “Possibly with a side debate on whether the internet is vested with the power to throw Leah out of the Church?”

    That made me look up the Code of Canon Law on who incurs excommunication :-)

    Now, if Leah is to incur latae sententiae excommunication, I think the heads under which it would fall would be these:

    “Can. 1364 §1. Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 194, §1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication; in addition, a cleric can be punished with the penalties mentioned in ⇒ can. 1336, §1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.

    Can. 1369 A person who in a public show or speech, in published writing, or in other uses of the instruments of social communication utters blasphemy, gravely injures good morals, expresses insults, or excites hatred or contempt against religion or the Church is to be punished with a just penalty.”

    Patheos counts as an instrument of social communication, right? Now, so far as I can find out with about ten seconds’ Googling, merely saying you support civil gay marriage does not incur excommunication (unless your bishop makes it a ferendae sententiae offence, which I don’t think any bishops have actually done yet). According to this canon law site:

    “As canon law reads right now, officiating at a ‘same-sex wedding’ does not result in latae sententiae excommunication. Green, “Table 1”, in CLSA Comm (1985) at 932. To the extent, however, that such action on a cleric’s part might constitute, say, “abuse of ecclesiastical power or function”—and I think that such an act would constitute abuse of Church office—he might well face punishment “according to the gravity of the act” and even loss of office. Canon 1389. Whether that punishment could, in turn, in the face of, say, clerical recalcitrance or repeat offenses, lay the foundations for later excommunication (Canons 1393, 1399, and/or by particular legislation under Canon 1315) remains to be seen.

    Individual Catholics attempting such marriages seem generally susceptible to a “just penalty” for simulation of a sacrament under Canon 1379.”

    So, unless Leah attempts to have a same-sex wedding as a religious ceremony as a Roman Catholic, or unless she impersonates a priest and officiates at such a ceremony, she is not excommunicated, is still a full member of the church, and sorry Internet, you don’t get to say different (the old German guy in Rome with the big hat is the one who does).

    • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

      Deiseach–you are correct in that the canons you mention would seem not directly applicable. What *would* apply, though, would be canons connected with giving scandal…this is serious stuff, and my prayer is that Leah publicly withdraws this emphatic support of enshrining evil in civil law.

      God bless,

      Deacon JR

      • Kenneth

        The Church should have the balls to formally excommunicate people rather than leaving it up to amateur speculation as to when someone might have incurred the penalty themselves….

      • Darren

        Oh, please.

        Over on Public Catholic we have Rebecca Hamilton explaining why they are not going to excommunicate Gov. Cuomo and some other ‘bad Catholic’ elected officials, I think the governors of Colorado and Washington.

        The more prickly laity and occasionally the priests or bishops like to trash talk excommunication, but the Church itself is more savvy than that.

        Sure thing, Deacon. When you are Pope, you go right-ahead and kick out the 70% or more of your own church that don’t meet your standards; the Episcopalians would be happy to take them off your hands.

        • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

          Darren–if by “deacon” above you mean me, please note that I stated that the “excommunication” canons did *not* apply here. This is not about meeting “my” standards, btw, but about public opposition to Church teaching….

  • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

    Dear Leah–you say “yes” you are in favor of “civil gay marriage”–then, sadly, you are no longer in favor of the fullness of the Catholic faith. And in proclaiming your dissent from the teaching of the Church, you are risking misleading others as well. Please read the quoted text below and reconsider. This is utter folly.

    God bless you,
    Deacon JR

    4. There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.(4)
    ….
    5….Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.
    In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.
    ….
    11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.
    …..The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience of March 28, 2003, approved the present Considerations, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered their publication.

    • Slow Learner

      “respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions”

      If you are saying that someone is inferior to you; that you cannot approve of or accept their behaviour; that you cannot legally recognise their equality with you – then you are not entitled to claim that you “respect” them.
      By all means campaign to keep mistreating gay people, but don’t claim to do it out of respect.

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

        Slow learner, what are you talking about? There is nothing inferior or unequal about homosexual persons. They have the same rights and responsibilities that *heterosexual* people have. They, too, have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex, consenting to all the rights and responsibilities involved in consenting to marriage.

        The objection surrounds the pretense that tries to make “marriage” mean something other than God intended. The *state* did not create marriage–God did. And the state exists to uphold the common good, which includes upholding the meaning of marriage. Homosexual civil unions are contrary to both the common good and the good of the people who participate in them. And that is why so many good *non-religious* arguments can be made against these unions–the concept, while contrary to God’s plan, is also quite socially disastrous.

        • Slow Learner

          JR, that is akin to saying “Look, what are those Muslims complaining about, they can worship as they please! Why, we’ve got a Presbyterian church, a Catholic church, even a synagogue, and they can take their pick from any of them.”
          In that situation a Muslim and a Presbyterian are not being treated equally. Unless the Presbyterian converts, the Presbyterian may worship freely and conduct a full spiritual life. The Muslim may not. That isn’t the Presbyterian’s fault – unless they are opposing the Muslims getting together to build a mosque – but nonetheless the Presbyterian is privileged, and the Muslim discriminated against, in that context. It is saying that a Presbyterian person is a first-class citizen, and a Muslim a second-class citizen, and making Muslims inferior to, and unequal to, other groups.

          “The objection surrounds the pretense[sic] that tries to make “marriage” mean something other than God intended.”
          If God intended it a certain way, get him to show up and argue his case. Marriage has been around in human society since well before Judaism, let alone Christianity, so I’m afraid you can’t claim prior art on a human institution.
          And we allow the state to regulate or modify things which it did not create and which existed before it; in supporting a new by-law for the beautification of a beach, I am not declaring that the local council created it.
          So, marriage is neither primarily, originally or exclusively Catholic, Christian, or Judeo-Christian. As it is a topic for society at large, it is appropriate that the decision-making structures we have mutually accepted for our common weal (viz the State) set the boundaries for legal recognition. Private organisations may hold more restrictive definitions for their own members, but not less restrictive, and may not apply their definition to non-members. All of this is entirely just and sensible.

          Finally,
          “Homosexual civil unions are contrary to both the common good and the good of the people who participate in them.”
          The very idea that a civil partnership or marriage between two people of the same sex is harmful to the two of them is laughable. On what possible grounds?

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

            Actually, I would point out that your argument is akin to saying that marriage is *already* multivalent like religion is and therefore should be treated that way and accepted that way by everybody. And this of course is demonstrably false. Rather, *this* is the battle over whether marriage *should* be defined in more than one way. People who believe it’s divinely instituted will of course say no, while people who believe it’s a purely human institution will likely see little problem with re-definition. As it i,s the Church clearly has a significant reason to uphold the dignity of marriage as planned by God.

          • Slow Learner

            Marriage already is defined in more than one way. Every sovereign state has slightly different rules on what marriage is, how it can be entered into, how it can be ended.

          • Brandon Jaloway

            I would just like to point out that marriage is a natural, human institution. It is not an institution created by religion. It is not an institution created by the state.
            After it exists, religions bless it. After it exists the state puts up laws around it.
            As something natural, it is not open to being defined in more than one way. You cannot define “tursiops truncatus” in more than one way because it is natural. Similarly, you cannot define marriage in more than one way because it is natural.

        • ¬_¬

          No-one can prove that God exists, nevermind what he intended.

          If God didn’t want people to fall in love with and have sex with other people of the same sex, he shouldn’t have made them capable of same-sex attraction. So, if he’s all knowing and all-powerful, he must have know that some gay people would fall in love with each other. So, to say he didn’t intend it seems strange- he supposedly had the foresight to know it would happen and the power to prevent it from happening and yet allowed it to happen. Surely then, in some sense, he intended it to happen? Except that he’s probably imaginary and didn’t intend anything.

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      I’m inclined to agree very strongly with Leah, but the text DeaconJR cites to seems pretty important and gives me pause–since they’re the Magisterium and I’m very much not. Any chance we can take a break from arguing about what Catholics ought to think (we all know who thinks the Church is bigoted, we can take it as read) to hash out what Catholics *may* think on this issue? Is it *licit* to think something like “I of course agree with the bishops on morality, but I prudentially question whether their views on what ought to be legal are the right way to meet our shared goals for society”?

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

        Hi, Irenist–the answer to your question is pretty easy–no, a Catholic who is obedient and faithful to Church teaching may *not* agree with and support a secular effort to redefine marriage. Catholics who do agree with and support the redefinition of marriage are, by definition, dissenting from an irreformable and immutable teaching of the Church.

        • Irenist

          Thanks, DeaconJR. That’s what I had suspected. May a Catholic licitly support efforts to get the state out of the marriage business entirely? After all, I would prefer that the current no-fault-divorce morass that goes by the name of “marriage” now just be defined as a “civil union” or something anyway, since it’s awfully far from the sacramental definition of marriage.

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

            Not sure about that angle–it seems the “civil” aspect of the state recognizing presumably valid marriages is beneficial to the common good. However, one might, I’d suspect, licitly support efforts to get the state out of the *divorce* business without getting out of the marriage business. I’d have to ponder that some more! God bless, Deacon JR

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

          Hey, I used to be the resident arch-reactionary here. Now you’re overtaking me on the right and I have to disagree, sounding like a liberal. I resent that!

          Seriously though, I think the Catholic obedience requirements aren’t that strict. This is fraught territory, because if you say that some people in some circumstance may with difficulties disagree with some non-infallible teachings while still maintaining obedience to and solidarity with the magisterium and remaining open to reexamination and sincerely trying their best to close the gap, then people who want to understand it that way will hear it as “the non-infallible stuff isn’t important and can be safely ignored”. But I don’t think either Irenist or Leah are looking at it with that attitude and on a purely factual level the no disagreement ever line is simply wrong.

          Look, for example at Donum Veritatis, ##23-31. That document is about theologians, but theologians don’t get any special disagreement powers, on the contrary they have a special vocational obligation. So I think we wouldn’t get too liberal by applying those rules to laypeople.

          Partial extract (but it would be best to read the whole thing):

          24. Finally, in order to serve the People of God as well as possible, in particular, by warning them of dangerous opinions which could lead to error, the Magisterium can intervene in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements. It often only becomes possible with the passage of time to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent.

          The willingness to submit loyally to the teaching of the Magisterium on matters per se not irreformable must be the rule. It can happen, however, that a theologian may, according to the case, raise questions regarding the timeliness, the form, or even the contents of magisterial interventions. Here the theologian will need, first of all, to assess accurately the authoritativeness of the interventions which becomes clear from the nature of the documents, the insistence with which a teaching is repeated, and the very way in which it is expressed.(24)

          When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies. Bishops and their advisors have not always taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of a question. But it would be contrary to the truth, if, proceeding from some particular cases, one were to conclude that the Church’s Magisterium can be habitually mistaken in its prudential judgments, or that it does not enjoy divine assistance in the integral exercise of its mission. In fact, the theologian, who cannot pursue his discipline well without a certain competence in history, is aware of the filtering which occurs with the passage of time. This is not to be understood in the sense of a relativization of the tenets of the faith. The theologian knows that some judgments of the Magisterium could be justified at the time in which they were made, because while the pronouncements contained true assertions and others which were not sure, both types were inextricably connected. Only time has permitted discernment and, after deeper study, the attainment of true doctrinal progress.

          25. Even when collaboration takes place under the best conditions, the possibility cannot be excluded that tensions may arise between the theologian and the Magisterium. The meaning attributed to such tensions and the spirit with which they are faced are not matters of indifference. If tensions do not spring from hostile and contrary feelings, they can become a dynamic factor, a stimulus to both the Magisterium and theologians to fulfill their respective roles while practicing dialogue.
          [...]
          27. Even if the doctrine of the faith is not in question, the theologian will not present his own opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions. Respect for the truth as well as for the People of God requires this discretion (cf. Rom 14:1-15; 1 Cor 8; 10: 23-33 ) . For the same reasons, the theologian will refrain from giving untimely public expression to them.

          So some disagreement and even public expression thereof (though not untimely) is possible, though it’s not to be taken lightly. Basically what is required is not total agreement in everything (though that would be ideal if possible) but respecting the ordinary magisterium as a very important, real, and relevant authority and keeping solidarity with the Church.

          And in this case there actually are some prudential questions not explicitly addressed, like what to do if the state fulfilling its duty to protect marriage isn’t a politically viable option and the choice is only between different failure modes. (Getting the state out of marriage entirely would be a harder case to make, because there is lots of oft-repeated teaching about the state being obliged to protect the subsidiary units of marriage and family. Basically libertarianism is a very hard sell in the context of Catholic social teaching.)

          This doesn’t mean anything goes.

          For example, I think it would be clearly wrong to join a public campaign in the function of an undermining example, the kind of person the campaign can point to to explain that even Catholics can disagree about this so it can’t be a serious problem. So if Leah keeps “phonebanking for civil gay marriage and throwing rice”, she’d really better not do so in her function as a Catholic. But so far I don’t see her crossing that line. Likewise, the tired “those celibate guys no nothing about sex so ignore them”-line is clearly beyond the pale. If disagreeing with the magisterium becomes a standard thing rather than a difficult exception, that clearly is bad. And probably someone agreeing with their political tribe against the magisterium in one question would do best to emphasize the points where they agree with the magisterium against their political tribe, like, for example, Irenist sharply condemned abortion on his blog a few days ago.

          So basically hard questions abound here, but it’s not as simple as disagreement being totally impossible. And of course that makes every individual case more complicated than a bright-line rule would, but that’s because life is that messy. And I really don’t see either Leah or Irenist being in real trouble on that front.

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

            Hi, Gilbert–check out the 1990 Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, as it relates to *public* versus private “dissent.” My point would be that public statements of support for things like this, which are completely contrary to the Church’s clear teaching, are highly problematic and not in the same category as a person (or specifically a theologian) who privately wrestles with the truths involved while acknowledging the authority of the Church to teach clearly on these things. That is, a public show of support for so-called “gay marriage” is different from a person accepting a teaching obediently while striving to better understand it privately.

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

            Actually that is exactly the document I linked to above, and it just doesn’t say that.

            That document does indeed make a distinction between (legitimate) difficulties and (illegitimate) dissent, but that difference is not simply in keeping quiet about it.

            For example, as I quoted (#27),

            Even if the doctrine of the faith is not in question, the theologian will not present his own opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions. Respect for the truth as well as for the People of God requires this discretion (cf. Rom 14:1-15; 1 Cor 8; 10: 23-33 ) . For the same reasons, the theologian will refrain from giving untimely public expression to them.

            So looking at what it doesn’t say, timely expression remaining open to arguments is (sometimes) possible.
            Dissent, contrariwise, is not only defined by being public, but also largely by an attitude. As it says in #33:

            Dissent has different aspects. In its most radical form, it aims at changing the Church following a model of protest which takes its inspiration from political society. More frequently, it is asserted that the theologian is not bound to adhere to any Magisterial teaching unless it is infallible. Thus a Kind of theological positivism is adopted, according to which, doctrines proposed without exercise of the charism of infallibility are said to have no obligatory character about them, leaving the individual completely at liberty to adhere to them or not. The theologian would accordingly be totally free to raise doubts or reject the non-infallible teaching of the Magisterium particularly in the case of specific moral norms. With such critical opposition, he would even be making a contribution to the development of doctrine.

            That is very different from even public disagreement on a single prudential point of in a spirit of general obedience.

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

            Then try Humani Generis, Pius XII, 1951:

            But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.

            Obviously, the “question” regarding “whether” same-sex civil unions should be permitted or endorsed *has* been answered by the Pontiff’s ordinary papal magisterium as expressed somewhere above in the CDF document on this topic. As such, the application of much of what you’ve quoted in the 1990 document is not applicable here. This is *not* an “open question” or among those things over which different theologians might disagree. Rather, this is not a question “open to discussion among theologians.”

          • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

            And, Gilbert, you seem to be asserting #33 as the document *affirming* this attitude which it refers to as “theological positivism” and this notion of “total” freedom of theologians to reject non-infallible doctrine–but that’s wrong. This is the paragraph in which it describes the “illness” (theological positivism), but there’s more to follow, in which it is quite clear that this view is to be repudiated, not affirmed…..

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Many thanks to Gilbert and DeaconJR for giving me a great deal of thoughtful reflection to mull over!

    • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

      >>Dear Leah–you say “yes” you are in favor of “civil gay marriage”–then, sadly, you are no longer in favor of the fullness of the Catholic faith.

      This is just flat-out wrong, and since your ordination to the diaconate may lead some to think your words have a measure of authority in the church, you need to walk this back or it is, in fact, you who are causing the scandal.

      The Considerations of March 28 2003 do not rise to the doctrinal or dogmatic authority necessary to bear your claim. As the document says: “The present Considerations do not contain new doctrinal elements; they seek rather to reiterate the essential points on this question and provide arguments drawn from reason which could be used by Bishops in preparing more specific interventions, appropriate to the different situations throughout the world, aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of marriage.”

      You not only have no grounds on which to make that judgment that Leah is out of favor with the Church; you have no authority, and it is in fact quite scandalous, as is much of your hectoring behavior in the comboxes.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Forgotten here seems to be the fact that history and health don’t seem to like sexual intercourse outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage. It is bad for a society and bad for the individuals who practice it. The fact of the matter is that the breakdown of marriage and fidelity among heterosexuals is destroying more people –especially children of divorce–than just about any other pathology in our society. And now some want to add the pathology of secular gay marriage to the pile of moral sicknesses turning our society into the type society that self-destructs from within. Sadly, the situation is like with many cancers in the human body–the (moral) tumors ignored, rationalized away, denied until there is nothing any doctor or medicine can do for the patient except join in the death watch.

    • Kenneth

      Actually, monogamous sex between two homosexual people is no more medically unsafe than their hetero counterparts. To the extent that marriage tends to encourage monogamy (though far from universally in hetero or gay situations), I would think you would encourage gays to settle down, get out of the cruise scene and set up house with a white picket fence in suburbia. It seems you would rather keep them in the bars and bathhouses while you tell yourself they could pray their way to straight if they really wanted…..

      • Mike

        Stop you can’t believe that. Honestly.

        • Alan

          Which part can’t he believe?

          • Mike

            Gay men have much higher rates of anal cancer and other health problems associated with their sexual activities. It’s documented by gay rights orgs.

          • Mike

            Forgot to add: gay rights orgs. doc. this because they petition for more gov. funding so it’s totally objective. I don’t want to get into this bc it’s very personal to ppl but can we also with respect not discount the role of aids/hiv. A report just out in england says now 1 in 20 gay men has hiv. If that doesn’t worry you what would? Serious question.

          • Kenneth

            “A report just out in england says now 1 in 20 gay men has hiv. If that doesn’t worry you what would? Serious question….”

            How does that argue for banning gay marriage? Much of sub-Saharan Africa has a similar incidence of HIV among its hetero population. Does that mean they should bar Africans from marrying? There is no sexual practice gay men or women do that is not also carried out, and in vast quantities, by the hetero population. Unsafe practices are not inherently more dangerous based on the gender of the partners involved. HIV achieved the critical mass it did in the gay male community in this country primarily because it landed there first and because gay culture in past decades encouraged patterns of behavior that entrenched the epidemic among that demographic.

            Social marginalization of gays had a lot to do with that as well. People rejected completely and viciously by the parent culture don’t feel much of an attachment to that parent culture’s values. These were also generations of men who had no role models for healthy relationships, a shit-train of mental pathology and self-loathing ingrained by our society and no options whatsoever for legally recognized lifelong stable partnerships even for those who were inclined toward that.

            So in the same breath you’re griping about gay men’s health issues brought on by promiscuity and anchorless living, you’re also demanding that we withhold their access to the one institution that fosters responsible living and monogamy. This only makes sense if: A) You believe that HIV is God’s special punishment for the “un-naturalness” of gay men (and apparently Africans, but strangely not lesbians), OR if you believe that gay men will just suddenly quit being gay if we stop encouraging their aspirations of marriage…..

          • Mike

            WOW ok I DO NOT BELIEVE AIDS IS GOD’s PUNISHMENT! PERIOD.

      • What about the lesbians?

        Sex between lesbians is actually lower-risk than between heterosexual couples. Lesbians are less likely to get AIDS, because they have less penetrative sex. Being a lesbian is most likely safer for a woman. There are studies that suggest that lesbians are better parents than hetreosexual couples too, because they make more time for the child.

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

    The canon law questions and papal documents aside. There is a bigger question of what is the role of ecclesiastical authority in your thinking? When the church makes strong statements on an issue and you have strong feelings the other way what should you do? That is hard. At the end of the day we need to be open to correction from God. That is what being a Christian involves. The question you need to ask is what would that look like? If God was really trying to tell you that you are wrong on this issue how would He do it?

    As Catholics we expect Him to use the church. We particularly look to the pope and the bishops. Clear statements from the pope and a strong consensus from the bishops should be a big red flag. This is especially true when the position they have taken is counter-cultural. That is they have seen the very arguments you are accepting advanced by society many times and have still rejected them.

    At the end of the day the only question that matters is between you and God. Can God ask for and get your obedience on even the hardest questions? I know I struggled with that big time. I had my pet beliefs that I was not willing to surrender. It took me years. It boils down to letting God be God. There is no bigger issue than that.

    • Erin

      Amen

    • http://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com Florentius

      Bingo. Well said.

  • http://thenewevangelist.com Fr. Terry Donahue, CC

    Leah, I’d suggest reading the following:

    What is Marriage? by Robert George, Sherif Girgis & Ryan T. Anderson – http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/marriage/mf0139.htm

    Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html

    • http://thenewevangelist.com Fr. Terry Donahue, CC

      Originally published in Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the What is Marriage? essay resulted in much debate by scholars and activists. The essay has since been revamped and expanded into a 110-page book: http://www.amazon.com/What-Is-Marriage-Woman-Defense/dp/1594036225

  • Octavo

    Given that:

    “Marriage in the Church is about both people making a positive committment to each other, to any future children, and to God.
    Marriage administered by the State is about setting up protections for each person in the couple and any children who happen along”.

    Do you think that same sex couples in the church should be permitted to have a civil marriage without getting cast out of the church? Or do you think that same sex relationships are contrary to Christian virtue?

  • Bentiron

    “Marriage administered by the State is about setting up protections for each person in the couple and any children who happen along”.
    We live in a secular nation not a theocracy so there is a separation of Church and State. We who are Christian do no have a greater right to dictate what is and what isn’t marriage than the homosexual community. I have had too many homosexual friends who in the past half century lived together as a married couple faithful to one another for thirty or more years and one of them dies and the other been completely shut out of the funeral, inheritance by the partners family because they remaining one was “gay” and gays were not welcome at the funeral. These were what I though were good Christian folk acting without compassion towards a “wife” left without his beloved companion, stripped of his home, possessions, everything, even the family cat and dog. So yes, the State needs to offer protection to gays with a law that offers civil protection and if the gays want to call it marriage that’s fine with me but it never will be marriage before God because he finds the homosexual act an abomination but it doesn’t keep us from show kindness to gays when the loose a loved one does it?

  • jose

    I don’t see how this post refutes the church’s position, so I assume you aren’t doing that and you still consider gay marriage immoral. But I can’t imagine why you’d be in favor of immoralities. Especially given you got into religion because of the church’s moral framework, which was so akin to your own. Color me confused.

    Next thing you know, you’ll be supporting the right of battered women to have a divorce, too. The horror.

    “my most liberal, sexuality studies buddies that gender is way more central to identity than I tend to think”.
    No shit. It’s almost as if we lived in a patriarchal culture which enforced strict gender stereotypes in all of us since before we are born. But important doesn’t equal valid, reasonable or justifiable.

    • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

      Jose–the title of the blog post alone is a refuation of the Church’s position homosexual civil unions. That’s the problem. The Church teaches against such legalization. It’s a “non-negotiable” of the Church’s moral teaching…

      • jose

        It goes against the church’s position, but going against it doesn’t mean refuting it. The post doesn’t explain why the church is wrong, that is, why gay marriage is moral. I see practical considerations, pragmatism, which is something else entirely.

      • Slow Learner

        A “non-negotiable” which a plurality of US Catholics support. If you can’t persuade the rest of your Church, who presumably are open to your theological and religious arguments against, what chance do you have when reduced to your secular arguments discussing it with the rest of the world?

        • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

          If you can’t persuade the rest of your Church, who presumably are open to your theological and religious arguments against, what chance do you have when reduced to your secular arguments discussing it with the rest of the world?

          Actually, most Catholics don’t really listen to the theological or religious arguments, to say nothing of the secular arguments. Most people, period, don’t listen to any arguments whatsoever, and the advance of gay marriage has not been made by powerful, thoughtful arguments.

          It’s been, in large part, people reacting to social and culture forces that they rarely dwell on at any length. The fact that you apparently think that all the Catholics polled have heard Natural Law arguments or the like – or even know what they are – is just so damn adorable.

          • Slow Learner

            Well, if a hierarchical organisation with a huge staff can’t get the word about what they think and why out even to their own faithful, they deserve to lose the argument. Especially when they continually speak publicly about how vehemently they disagree with the trend in the wider culture.

      • Kenneth

        The Church is free to declare the issue “non-negotiable” and to chastise its own members accordingly. It has no power to enforce that position on the society at large. The Church is not a fourth branch of our government, nor does it hold any special veto over public policy or debate. It has no power in our government beyond the collective votes of the individual members.

  • A Philosopher

    A little challenge for fans of the George/Girgis/Anderson piece: give a reconstruction of their “comprehensive unity” argument that avoids the conclusion that it’s in the nature of a marriage that the husband nurse from the lactating breasts of the wife.

    • Brian

      Change your name to A Sophist.

      • A Philosopher

        Not a wholly convincing reconstruction…

  • Wallenstein

    “Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” -Isaiah 5:20

    Support of civil gay marriage implies endorsement of sodomy, a sin which the Church teaches “cries unto God for vengeance.” Moreover, the use of the word “marriage” to describe a homosexual union devalues the word and what it is meant to represent. Marriage is a recognized union of a man and woman for the purposes of procreation and mutual help. It cannot be applied to gay unions, other than as a Wittgensteinian family resemblance concept.

    • Slow Learner

      A large majority of the people who engage in sodomy are straight; something like 40% of straight couples have anal sex with varying regularity, while only around 10% of the population are gay (+/- figures vary). It really shouldn’t be a major factor, unless you can persuade straight people to go for lights-off socks-on unprotected missionary position exclusively.

      • Mike

        40%!? That’s just gross.

        • Slow Learner

          I’d give you a cite, but I’m at work, and I think searching for “rates of anal sex in heterosexual and homosexual populations”, or similar, won’t go down too well!

        • Alan

          “40%!? That’s just gross.”

          Yep, that pretty much sums up the immaturity of the position – it really is simply about it being gross for you.

          • Mike

            But what if I honestly find it gross or repulsive? Should I be ashamed? Again serious quesiton. Are prudes not allowed anymore, even atheist prudes?

          • Alan

            Prudes are allowed, but they aren’t allowed to make their prudishness the basis for restrictions on others.

        • ACN

          My goodness, you mean to tell me that humans express their sexuality in ways other than through the designated birthing orifice???

          *faints*

          • Wallenstein

            The 40% stat for heterosexual couples engaging in anal intercourse is probably yet another discredited statistic trotted out by an agenda-driven study such as the Kinsey Report. (Alfred Kinsey, for those readers unfamiliar with him, was a highly degenerate, bisexual “sex researcher” of the 1960s who claimed to have uncovered evidence that certain sexual perversions were more prevalent than commonly thought. In conducting his studies, he also personally engaged in wife-swapping and orgy hosting with members of his research staff, in addition to masochistically perforating his own testicles and sticking items up his urethra.)

            Regardless of the dubiousness of the 40% statistic, the percentage of heterosexuals engaging in anal sex tells us precisely nothing about that act’s objective immorality. Similarly, 40% of United States households engaging in slaveholding in the mid 19th century would tell us nothing about the moral status of slavery.

          • Alan

            Yeah, you know you just can’t trust the CDC.

            Am I detecting a little sourness because someones wifey won’t let him try the back entrance?

          • Darren

            “Alfred Kinsey, for those readers unfamiliar with him, was a highly degenerate, bisexual “sex researcher” of the 1960s who claimed to have uncovered evidence that certain sexual perversions were more prevalent than commonly thought. In conducting his studies, he also personally engaged in wife-swapping and orgy hosting with members of his research staff, in addition to masochistically perforating his own testicles and sticking items up his urethra.”

            They should put that on the book jacket… I think he also invented the Clitoris so that women could be unnaturally pleasured…

  • GudEnuf

    Next week she’ll be telling us she wants abortion to remain legal, even though she’s “personally opposed” to it.

    • Mike

      Eek!

    • Kenneth

      The week after that, she’ll be telling us that abortion should be mandated, and nationally televised. It will only accelerate into darker evil from there. Three weeks hence, she will say something complimentary about Obama, and before a month has passed, she will be telling us that those orange marshmallow circus peanuts are as good as any other candy….. I fear she is firmly in Satan’s grasp!

      • Mike

        Doesn’t mocking your opponents arguments just reflect poorly on the strength of your own?

        • Alan

          Not necessarily, you can both provide amusing mocking of your opponents weak arguments and strong arguments of your own – the context of when and how you wield them will drive what they reflect.

        • Kenneth

          Doesn’t accusing one of your Church’s most spirited and highly intelligent converts of being an amoral nihilist undermine your position?

          • Mike

            But nobody has done that. Notice how many character attacks were lobbed (is that spelled right?) at her when she announced her conversion and how many people on here have simply said YOU ARE WRONG, strongly yes but that’s it really. Some have attacked her position or reasoning or said you are in danger of inadvertantly becoming something other than a Catholic but nobody has said someting like I pity you.

          • Kenneth

            Presuming that she will advocate abortion because of her stance on gay marriage is, in Catholicese, calling her amoral and comes pretty close to suggesting she is an inveterate heretic.

      • Darren

        Just so long as she does not end up supporting “Guido shoots first” on the grounds that the change made Han into a more suitable heroic figure: being guilty, then, of only the venal sin of greed (of which he was ultimately redeemed) as opposed to the mortal sin of murder.

        I just think I couldn’t take that…

        • ACN

          I just can’t take Greedo being mis-remembered as Guido. :)

          • Darren

            D’oh!

            Oh, see, I was thinking of second season “Jersey Shore”… my bad.

  • Mike

    Leah,
    I am wondering something: how do you now reconcile your belief that your gay friends, that their relationships, justify the re-definition of marriage for everyone, which is saying alot about how you feel about them, with your belief that inspite of all of that these same relationships are still totally and unequivocally ineligible for marriage inside your Church?

    Aren’t you kind of just throwing them a bone by saying ya you’re good enough for civil because your relationship is no different than any other etc. etc. and on the other hand, but oh, no, not for inside my Church, see we take different view of marriage and as it so happens the only difference that we see is we think the two people have to be of the opposite sex, kind of the way civil marriage used to be. It seems to me that there is a real problem there. IMHO if I honestly thought gay relationships were equally valid I’d have to leave the RCC and join up with the liberal protestants – my conscience would permit me nothing less.

    PS Please don’t think I want you to leave the RCC. I just think your positions are incompatible.

  • Wallenstein

    Jose:
    Girls and boys are exposed to disparate levels of androgens in utero; male babies receive significantly more testosterone than females. Scientific evidence suggests that this has a profound effect on the development of the brain and accounts for many sex differences. A father of three informed me that his untaught boys have a propensity to pretend almost any kind of object is a weapon. That’s the testosterone talking.

    Society’s patriarchy is simply a concomitant of human nature. You can either accept that, or attempt a program of transhumanism involving the mass genetic alteration of human embryos.

    • jose

      Patronizing. Why do everybody automatically goes into teaching mode, anecdote included, when somebody disagrees with the current belief that gender roles are biologically determined? I’ve done my homework, thanks.

      Concomitant hell. Humans were egalitarian before agriculture. There are egalitarian societies all around the world. The standard nuclear family model that people think is natural became the norm in modern societies just a century ago, before that it was exclusive of the economic elite. And you catholic folks believe a man who had been dead for 3 days came back to life and was just fine, so don’t you come talking biology at me.

      • Wallenstein

        Jose writes, “The standard nuclear family model that people think is natural became the norm in modern societies just a century ago, before that it was exclusive of the economic elite.”

        It was indeed common in the past for extended families to cohabitate, and oftentimes the eldest family member, whether male or female, would act as the leader. Nevertheless, even in societies where this kind of living arrangement was prevalent, men almost always held the positions of civic and religious power. Perhaps a small tribe or two could be found where this was not the case, but, in any event, such instances were surely rare; emasculated men and sexless women simply cannot help being overrun and conquered. The fact is that the world has never seen an advanced non-patriarchal society. Nor will it, so long as human nature abides.

        Liz writes, “The variance within genders dwarfs the difference between a typical man and typical woman.”

        This is factually untrue. As Dr. Eric Vilain recently wrote in the New York Times, “[T]here is practically no overlap between normal male and female ranges of endogenous testosterone levels.”

        Liz writes, “patriarchy is not biologically determined; there are and have been lots of non-patriarchal societies.”

        Please name a single advanced non-patriarchal society. Patriarchy is a universal norm among advanced societies on account of male brain development (more testosterone exposure in the womb, and greater physiological reception of testosterone, make men more assertive and less emotionally-driven in their thought patterns) and body composition (significantly greater upper body strength, even when controlled for body mass, and a narrower pelvis contribute to greater strength and speed for warfare).

        • ACN

          The Iroquois League had joint governance by a male and female councils of elders that had checks and balances on each other.

          It was hardly a patriarchy, and they were a large, stable government that may still have existed had they not had the unfortunate luck to run across a bunch of christians with guns and smallpox.

        • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

          “Please name a single advanced non-patriarchal society.”
          The Nordic countries?

          • Darren

            Really? Do tell. I had been hoping we would get your thoughts sooner or later.

            :)

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Well, the whole Just-So Stories evopsych neurological/hormonal justification for “patriarchy” leaves me cold: anyone who has ever observed hedge funds and day traders knows that prudence and testosterone are not always found together. As for the broader argument about same sex civil marriage, I’ve been meaning to blog about it myself, but have been lurking here to see what develops. My position is largely Leah’s, except that I think the Vatican document cited by DeaconJR potentially limits my ability to licitly hold such a position. So I’m just kind of watching and waiting.

          • Darren

            ”My position is largely Leah’s, except that I think the Vatican document cited by DeaconJR potentially limits my ability to licitly hold such a position.”

            That seems very fitting for you. I applaud your intense thoughtfulness and sympathize that your empathy and your convictions are at cross purposes.

            Someday, when you are in the mood for a rambling personal story, remind me to relay how I had to reason my way _out_ of being morally obligated to assassinate abortion providers… :)

        • jose

          “Patriarchy exists because of human nature.”
          “Look at all these humans who don’t fit in your view.”
          “The humans that live in patriarchal societies are the only ones that comply with human nature.”

          But then we’re used to catholics arbitrarily asserting some feature or another is what makes people truly human, so this glaring chauvinism is hardly surprising.

          What’s next? Claiming that the browns don’t have souls? :)

          • Wallenstein

            Please note that I was referring specifically to the nonexistence of advanced non-patriarchal societies. Now although the Iroquois were certainly one of the more civilized Native American tribes, they did not have a written language, a feature which most anthropologists would probably agree is a conditio sine qua non of societal advancement.

            As for the modern Nordic countries–i.e. Sweden and Norway–although they are certainly non-patriarchal now, suffice to say that their national histories have strong patriarchal antecedents. In many respects current Scandinavian societies are running on inertia; it remains to be seen whether these decidedly non-patriarchal cultures can survive eventual upheaval in light of massive immigration coupled with reproduction below the replacement rate.

          • ACN

            Saying that a group of people with a highly developed culture and system of government are “uncivilized” or “insufficiently advanced” because they don’t have a written language is a form of de-humanization. I find claims like this to be pretty silly, especially since it would seem that they were pushed from their lands, massacred, and intentionally ravaged by disease by parties who you would argue are MORE civilized or MORE advanced.

            Let me press you harder. From Gary Nash’s “Red, White, and Black:
            “No laws or ordinances, sheriffs, or constables, judges and juries, or courts or jails – the apparatus of authority in European societies – were to be found in the NE woodlands prior to European arrival. Yet boundaries of acceptable behavior were firmly set. Though priding themsevles on the autonomous individual, the Iroquois maintained a strict sense of right and wrong…He who stole another’s food or acted invalorously in war was “shamed” by his people and ostracized from their company until he had atoned for his actions and demonstrated to their satisfaction that he had morally purified himself”

            The Iroquois owned and worked land in common. The concept of private ownership of land was foreign to them, and they had no paupers, no debtors, and no disreputable loan sharks either. While they lacked a written language, they had laws, poetry, a rich oral history, an extensive spoken vocabulary, dense population, and far more egalitarian social/political life than Europe.

            Also your comments about immigration and replacement rate reproduction in the Nordic countries are thinly veiled racism.

    • Liz

      Sure, men and women seem to be mentally different *on average*. But that doesn’t mean that society should be structured to support different roles for the genders (and no, patriarchy is not biologically determined; there are and have been lots of non-patriarchal societies). The variance within genders dwarfs the difference between a typical man and typical woman. Two-traditional-gender-roles marriage works for some people and does not for others. I can provide plenty of anecdotes about career-minded female hockey players and men who cry at every movie, if you like.

      To take a parallel example, there’s (controversial) research that men are more likely to be geniuses. If that’s true — so? Do we track men into math research and female mathematicians into research assistant roles? Or do we give everyone equal access to education, regardless of gender, and let the chips fall where they may?

    • Slow Learner

      If men and women were naturally different, we wouldn’t need to teach them that “men do this, women do that”.
      The fact that we do so, all the time, shows that any biological difference between men and women is a lot smaller than the one we see in society at present.

    • Darren

      …and some pretty interesting research showing that fluctuations in these androgen levels have a great deal of influence on whether a female fetus develops into a lesbian and a male fetus grows into a gay man…

  • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

    Is the metric really, “Will the Church be defeated or persecuted?” Well, no. The measure of the measure is in how it affects everyone else. It will formalize the existing debasement of marriage already popular. From a Catholic evangelical standpoint, this of course poses clear problems and obstacles, but there is another angle that might find more traction.

    More pragmatically, it clouds not just the natural good of natural marriage, but clouds all goods of the natural law by the mere fact of increasing our deep dependence on human artifice, in this case the modern state. This is something different than lightbulbs and jet airplanes, something different than growing an ear on a mouse. It is like deciding, as a society, and writing it into law, that mouths are not for talking and kissing but for walking. There is a serious problem here in the modern American understanding of the human person, and the last thing we need is a law to set it into precedent.

    Because laws really do have a teaching effect. What a proposed law for normalizing gay unions would do — this is positive law and innovation, mind — is simply teach that gay unions are not just normalized but absolutely ontologically equal. Why else would the gay unions get the same civil rights as everyone else? Clearly, they have no meaningful, practical difference than natural marriage.

    • Alan

      “There is a serious problem here in the modern American understanding of the human person, and the last thing we need is a law to set it into precedent.”

      Actually, what is being revealed and increasingly understood is that there is a serious problem with the Catholic (though not exclusively theirs) understanding of the human person, and we do need laws to undo the damage that centuries of said misunderstanding has caused.

      What really has driven the change in opinions on gay marriage, much like racism before it, is the increasing interaction with openly gay people and the recognition that they are just as human as the rest of us and their relationships are just as meaningful as ours are and are, and ought to be treated as, equal to ours.

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

        While a true homophobia has strong parallels to racism, opposition to same-sex marriage is not even close to homophobia. There is a marked, meaningful difference between the best possible relationship between two men and the worst possible relationship between a man and a woman because it is kind, not degree.

        Thirteen Theses on Marriage is a handy primer. Published also are responses.

        • Alan

          “There is a marked, meaningful difference between the best possible relationship between two men and the worst possible relationship between a man and a woman because it is kind, not degree.”

          I disagree that they are different in kind but really, suggesting the worst possible relationship between man and woman is different in a better way that should preclude recognition of the best (or even really just average) relationship among homosexuals is why you are losing the argument among the public. It is obvious to those not blinded by, if not conscious at least sub-conscious, homophobia that is absurd.

  • Solarcat

    I want to add the following story to the discussion, told by a MA folk singer while on tour in my area. She has been in a committed, same-sex relationship for many years and told us that she had always felt there was no need for them to get married. For many years that wasn’t possible, then the state of MA started allowing same sex couple marriages. Mostly they would be Civil, but a few churches (UU’s in particular), starting performing in church ceremonies. As she told us, she felt, so what, what’s the big deal.
    Well her partner felt she would like them to get married now that it legally possible, so, being a loving partner, she agreed and they went through the ceremony. To her surprise, she found, it was really wonderful being married, it met a lot more to her and their relationship than she had ever expected. She would not have been able to have that delightful experience if Civil marriages for same sex couples weren’t allowed.
    For me, I’ve always felt there was a significant difference between being committed and living together and taking that next step and getting married. It feels different and more of a commitment.
    Adding to that, marriage as a sacrament, as the Catholic church does, adds even more to the marriage experience and commitment of the couple.
    There is a humanity in the secular world, that it would be nice if the powers that be, in the Catholic church could see. Many of its members do without it hurting their faith.

    • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

      Well, no, many Catholics indeed hurt their faith by dissenting from the Church’s teaching on marriage. Whether via contraception, divorce-remarriage, or this issue, many people woefully misunderstand the truth about marriage. But this doesn’t change the truth about marriage–rather, it may change the *culture* for the worse, and may represent a grave need for conversion, particularly on the part of Catholics themselves. But at the end of the day, the truth remains true.

      • Alan

        “the truth remains true.” and blinded Catholics like yourself fail to see it – even as more of your coreligionists do.

        • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

          Alan–there is a tremendous amount of joy in being what you term a “blinded Catholic”. But it is a joy that comes from and through the obedience of faith in Christ and His Bride, the Church. If it seems out of place to be concerned that a Catholic neophyte such as Leah, who is publicly putting distance between her views and the obedience of faith, then I’m sorry. But I hope you recognize that that is where I’m coming from–concern for a sister Catholic. God bless you, Deacon JR

          • Erick

            Agree with you DeaconJR.

            I’ll put this in a non-religious way.

            There is something really wrong with what Leah is arguing for. She says she is Catholic, but she supports a non-Catholic position. Leah’s position is akin to being a member of the NRA and voting to repeal the second amendment of the US constitution.

            While it might be true that legalization of same-sex marriage will not affect the sacramental marriage within the Church:

            If Leah really has faith and trust in God, then she would work to bring about a sacramental society in the world, not just within her Church.

            If she really has faith and trust in God, then she would work to have the values she considers to be “good” to be enacted in her community’s laws.

            As Christians, our mission is to spread the Good News to all peoples (including homosexuals and atheists), not to allow others to wallow in ignorance or sin.

            Basically, Leah has stopped striving for goodness with this position she has taken. It’s a sign that she only believes up to a certain point. She has not reached the point of surrender to God (as the Muslims would put it). She still holds on to her possessions (mental, secular ideals in this case) and refuses to drop everything for God.

  • http://ayearoflivingadventurously.wordpress.com Emily

    OK, I tried to read all the comments but if I’m saying something that’s already been said, forgive me:
    1) As to the question of benefits: Insurance companies ALREADY DO THIS. My father works for Nationwide, and when I’ve asked him about this, he has told me that there are policies in place for people who are not married. You can get them. You do not need to be married to get them. The argument that we need civil marriage for same-sex couples because of “benefits” is moot.
    2) AS far as the hospital visitation thing goes: As a very frequent hospital flier, I can tell you, I have NEVER had anyone deny me who I wanted in my room, or even in ICU. My boyfriend was there when I was in ICU. Sure, at the time, we were afianced, but other people visited me as well. I cannot believe that people are being denied visitation rights at a hospital. Now, this might happen, but in the 21st century? Really? I cannot imagine a hospital doing this BECAUSE of same-sex relationships or whatever. I mean, if I wanted my sister with me, she could be there. I really doubt hospitals care THAT MUCH about who the heck is visiting you, as long as they’re not doing anything illegal (or it’s flu season…)
    3) The Catholic Church does NOT just see marriage as a way of procreation. Yes, it is the only approved, moral way (If you’re Catholic!) to engage in sex. And yes, one of the points of sex is the procreation of children. Catholics do not believe in IVF or any other sort of conception means other than man/woman–MARRIED man and woman. (CCC 1603, 1604–start of the whole marriage section). But, the Church ALSO says: 1654 “Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.”
    So, yes, even if you are infertile, you can get married in the Church, and the Church sees it as good.

    • Kenneth

      So what you’re saying is you never actually walked in the shoes of a gay person, but you know what it’s all about and can vouch that it’s not that bad. You clearly have no clue about the dimensions of the hospital issue. The problem isn’t what the hospital wants regarding visitors. The problem arises when, say you, are in a situation where you are unconscious or cannot speak for yourself at the moment. If your family hates your boyfriend, they can have him barred from your room. He has no organic right or standing to be there. He’s just some dude off the street. You can fix that problem via marriage. Gays can’t, in most jurisdictions. There are work-arounds like power of attorney documents etc., but they don’t always work, or work in time. The way this tragedy often plays out in the real world is, to be morbid about it, when people are dying. You might have been with your partner for 40 years and have a family that hasn’t spoken to you in that long, but they can come in, and purely out of spite, turn your life partner out of the room. It happens.

  • http://ayearoflivingadventurously.wordpress.com Emily

    Whoops, sorry lots of caps. Didn’t mean that! I can’t figure out how to bold.

  • http://onecatholicsstruggle.weebly.com Theresa

    I’m 27 so not that much older. Until the last 2 or 3 years, I was also in favor of legalizing same-sex civil marriages. (I’m a cradle-catholic and when I was in a debate class in high school, I argued for legalizing the adoption of children by homosexual couples. ) But here is my “logical” progression on the subject. Civil marriage not only allows for the couple to exercise certain rights and privileges, but also requires society to recognize those marriages. Well, if marriage requires such recognition from society as a whole, is it a right or a privilege? I argue privilege. One cannot force somebody to marry somebody else so it stands to reason one should not be able to force their marriage on a society. By the way, I also believe that marriage for two persons of the opposite gender should not be a right- all marriage is a privilege. But once a marriage is recognized as legal, that civil contract between the couple and the society must be recognized- discrimination would be wrong. Take for example the situation of homosexual couples having children. Again, I don’t believe a person has the right to have a child because that is a person not a thing (which is my non-religious reason for being anti-direct-abortion). But should an adoption agency be allowed to deny a potential family the opportunity to adopt based solely on the gender of the couple if they are legally married? That would seem like discrimination to me. Should children have the right to have a mother and a father, specifically their own mother and father? We deny children that right all the time, but it doesn’t make it right. Is surrogacy a form of exploitation? Do ways of creating people, like IVF, deny individuals the rights that should be awarded them by virtue of their personhood (regardless of how the laws are written)? This is where moral and civil law overlap in a really sticky way. Entities that exist with a foot in both worlds will have to face the sticky situation of not being able to exercise their right to freedom of conscience/religion/whatever but still having to respect the rights of a married couple. And if you’re talking about rights- actual rights and not privileges, than it is wrong to deny anybody the free exercise of their rights.

    Marriage, civil or sacramental, has to be more than whether two people love each other and want to be together. It also has to be about what impact it will have on society or the Church.

    • http://ayearoflivingadventurously.wordpress.com Emily

      Like this. Very much.

    • Kenneth

      So your rights are real rights, and the rights of those you consider a bit ickier than yourself are just privileges, to be granted or withheld at your sufferance? How very 1963 State’s Rights of you!

      • http://onecatholicsstruggle.weebly.com Theresa

        I’m so sorry I gave you that impression by what I wrote. I wasn’t in the least trying to suggest that certain people are “icky.” To the contrary, I’m trying to avoid any kind of discrimination. I just see certain things as being more appropriately called privileges. A parallel (though probably not the best one) would be driving. Not everybody should be granted a driver’s license- and the reasons for not permitting somebody to drive are vast. But once a driver’s license is issued, the rights and responsibilities of the driver have to be respected. And I think more than a sincere desire to get from point A to point B has to go into permitting somebody to get a driver’s license. It’s in that spirit that I think the discussion should not be about whether a certain subset of the population has a right to get married, but rather is getting married a right at all? Again, sorry to have caused offense.

        • Darren

          Theresa, thank you for clarifying. It can be difficult to distinguish between discussions of what is allowable in a civil society and what an individual person may find appealing or repugnant. We should take your word that you harbor no personal ill will.

          To claim that marriage is a privilege and so we are under no obligation to extend it to one and all as we would for, say, representation in court, ability to own property, freedom of religion, etc., is to overlook the many _benefits_ extended to married individuals, and married individuals alone, which are quite apart from any conceivable religious affiliation or tradition.

          What in the Catholic sacrament of marriage entitles me to pay a lower income tax rate than a gay couple in otherwise identical circumstances?

          What religious reason is there for my step-daughter to inherit from me up to a million dollars, tax free, while a child of a lesbian couple has no such exemption?

          Why does my wife have the use of my health insurance? True, _some_ employers extend such benefits to same sex couples, but this is by no means common, and one of the biggest insurers of all, the Federal Government, is forbidden by law to do so.

          Why does she collect my pension in the event of my death?

          What religious reason exists for married military spouses to have special accommodations, while gay spouses, even when legally married in their home states, have no such consideration?

          Though my wife and I were married in Nevada, in a civil ceremony, why is our marriage acknowledged by every state and nation, yet the legally binding marriages of gay couples in, say, Canada or Massachusetts are _uniquely_ disqualified by the Federal government and forty some-odd states? And this despite _long_ established legal precedent that a marriage in one state counts as a marriage in any (see the anti-miscegenation ruling of 1968)?

          All of these are, in fact, privileges extended to married couples. I never _earned_ them by being a good husband or father. Certainly there is nothing implied in a priest incanting “I know pronounce you…” that should impact one’s tax filing status or pension benefits. Yet, we as a society extend these privileges to some, but not others.

          Where is the fairness in that?

          • http://onecatholicsstruggle.weebly.com Theresa

            Sorry to be so delayed in my response, but I’ve been giving your comments a lot of thought. You definitely raise some fair and valid questions. I certainly don’t have all the answers.
            I think the goals of civil marriage are different from the goals of a sacramental marriage. I’m sure one can argue which is the proverbial chicken and which is the egg wrt to civil and sacramental marriages. It seems to me that the overlap in the goals of a civil and a sacramental marriage are what allow both to be legally binding- although a civil marriage is not necessarily recognized as a sacrament. Sacramental marriages include the goal of getting you and your spouse to heaven and there are expectations of at least being open to children and things like that. The overlap in the goals of the sacrament of marriage and the goals of a civil marriage seem to me to be in terms of what benefits such a union offers to society. Civil marriage is intended to bring a source of stability to society and allow for people to be happier and healthier. In the marriages that have children, there is an understanding that these homes will help raise children to be productive members of society. Now, I completely understand that we have divorce (so essentially there goes the permanence sought in the stability part) and lots of children are conceived/born outside of marriage (so there goes the children in marriage part). But it seems to me the goals of a civil marriage are still intact even if the practical application of it isn’t all there. In exchange for a couple deciding they are willing to come together to help build society (enter into a permanent contract of marriage, do their darnedest to keep their kids from being delinquents and have a positive effect on the health and welfare of their community) the government says, essentially, “we are so gosh darn grateful for this service you are providing to our country/community and we understand that you will want to make certain decisions to best reach these goals. So, since we, as a society, have faith in you as a couple to appropriately meet the goals of marriage, we would like to offer these rights/responsibilities to you.” And thus we have our tax codes and inheritance laws etc.
            I really don’t think the “love” part of marriage is totally essential in its definition because look at all the perfectly intact arranged marriages throughout the world and history- though don’t get me wrong, love is a fantastic element to have in a marriage.
            WRT the fairness questions, I think as a society we have tried to expect the same outcomes (output) for a variety of situations (input) and it doesn’t make sense to me. Many of our laws concerning beneficiaries and taxes have evolved to include circumstances that don’t involve marriage- more or less because we think “fair” is synonymous with “equal,” and vice versa, and that isn’t always true. I don’t think it is fair for children to be denied inheritance when they have no say in who their parents are.
            So- to sum up (sorta- and sorry to be so long-winded), I don’t think it is because of a Catholic definition of marriage that we extend certain rights to civilly married persons. I do think that marriage should be defined as a privilege extended to those who can reasonably be expected to achieve the goals of marriage.

          • Darren

            Theresa;

            A nicely thought out answer, thank you.

            “we are so gosh darn grateful for this service you are providing to our country/community and we understand that you will want to make certain decisions to best reach these goals. So, since we, as a society, have faith in you as a couple to appropriately meet the goals of marriage, we would like to offer these rights/responsibilities to you.” And thus we have our tax codes and inheritance laws etc.”

            And here we are in complete agreement!

            Here also I see nothing particularly mandating opposite naughty bits, though.

            Perhaps, to up the social good, we _require_ every married couple, gay or straight, to legally adopt a needy child. Woman/woman household may not be as good as Man/Woman (arguably), but it is a darn-site better than languishing in an orphanage for 18 years…

        • Kenneth

          The road test for your concept, and the only way it holds any credibility, is this: Would you be willing to have YOUR rights treated as privileges in the exact same fashion you envision for gays? That is to say, if marriage is in fact a privilege, yours could be revoked at any time in the future if the majority decides it’s not in the public interest for you to have that privilege. It’s not inconceivable that an atheist regime in the future might decide that Christians or Catholics ought not to be eligible for civil marriage. They might decide to put you in the same position gays have now. If you can tell me you would consider that fair game, and walk a straight line, then your position has some merit to it. If not, you’re preaching a position that is no more noble or American than apartheid….

          • http://onecatholicsstruggle.weebly.com Theresa

            This answer will make a lot more sense when read in light of my answer to Darren.

            Legally, I have not been denied the opportunity to marry. I have not walked a mile in those shoes. I have, on the other hand, been denied the opportunity to marry in the Catholic Church- not because I had a previous marriage or was being pressured into a bad situation or any of the usual arguments for a Catholic being denied marriage. The simple reason was that the priest did not feel that my fiance and I were well equipped to take on the responsibilities that come with the package deal of a sacramental marriage. Not a fun chapter in my life to be sure, but something I grew to see the wisdom. So that’s my personal road test…

            Now, again, I’m not arguing that marriage be denied to a subset of people simply by virtue of their orientation alone. I think there are plenty of circumstances where a heterosexual couple should probably be denied the chance to marry. (Really, this will make a lot more sense if you read my other answer.) I think it would be most unfortunate if such an atheist regime came to power and decided that Christians could not get married- especially if the religious views of those couples is their only reason. I’m really not a fan of discrimination. I think it is a privilege to get married, but a right to stay married. I’m not advocating the legally binding homosexual marriages be undone.

            Now, maybe I’m completely misunderstanding your attitude, but I’m really not bigoted. It would be a lot easier for me to engage you in a respectful discussion of views if you weren’t coming off like such a jerk. I have apologized for giving you hurtful impressions- not even with a “piss on your head and call it rain” apology of I’m-sorry-you-felt-hurt. I’m sharing my honest perception of what marriage is and I haven’t thrown any cliche (overused) arguments like “biblical principles” or “one man and one woman” or even suggested gay couples should be satisfied with, what I’m sure only gets to be insulting after a while, a “civil union.” But really? “At your sufferance” and “apartheid”… Work with me here!

          • Kenneth

            Whether you’re “bigoted” or not is utterly meaningless to me. I knew a number of older folks growing up who were racist to the bone. Many of them were the nicest people you’d ever know, and swore up and down they bore no animosity toward blacks. I believed them, as I believe your claim that you are not motivated by malice. To my mind, it makes no real difference if the outcome is bigotry. It makes no difference if one travels there by way of hate or ignorance, except that ignorance allows for change.

            The arguments you put forward, whether well meaning or not, are intellectually dishonest. I have seen them a thousand times before by anti-SSM people, some obviously bigoted, many who swear they’re not. This set of arguments tries to paper over the fact that you have no real secular argument against gay marriage. The position says “well, gays don’t need marriage anyway. They have everything they need for civil rights.” That’s an ignorant statement, and a demonstrably false one. Whether it’s invincible or willful ignorance, the result is the same.

            You may well not realize this, but your “privilege” argument employs a very old tactic used to sandbag other civil rights in the past. You set up a system which excludes the people you wanted to exclude, all while maintaining a sort of plausible deniability of intent. You define marriage as a “privilege” in such a way that you will qualify by default, and gays will qualify under no circumstances whatever. It’s the same as the “grandfather clause” used to deny blacks their voting rights during reconstruction and Jim Crow times. They created all sorts of impossible tests that you had to pass to vote, UNLESS your ancestors had been eligible to vote pre-Civil War (aka white boys). They would then say the rules weren’t “aimed” at anyone. “It’s just the system we have and it pains us that some folk don’t make the cut.”

            If I come off like a jerk on this issue, it’s because I’m tired of engaging arguments that fundamentally lack integrity, put forward alternately by cynical manipulators and well-meaning people who may not know any better.

            Assertions that gays have nothing to complain about, and that domestic partnership is no different than any two platonic or sibling relations, or that arbitrary discrimination is not really arbitrary discrimination, are not arguments that come from a place of intellectual integrity. As such, I cannot respect them, no matter how nice the person making them might be. I can respect an argument which says “our society ought to be governed by MY religion.” I can’t agree, but it’s honest. I can respect the honesty of someone like Fred Phelps, who hates gays with every fiber of his being. I find it repulsive, but honest.

            It may (or may not) interest you to know that I am also not some angry gay guy with outsider’s rage. I’m married to a woman because I happen to have that golden ticket under your definition of “privilege.” I oppose the denial of civil gay marriage because it is repugnant to the best tradition of what our country stands for. It is not what I vote and pay taxes for and not what my ancestors fought for or invested their lives in a new land for.

  • Jack

    “Possibly with a side debate on whether the internet is vested with the power to throw Leah out of the Church?”

    Yes, whoever is running Patheos Catholic should boot you out of this blog for promoting any kind of gay marriage, and for your many posts that refleect the incoerent babble that comes out of atheists mouths.

    • Slow Learner

      Because Patheos Catholic channel should clearly be nothing but a string of press releases from the Vatican, clearly…

      • Jack

        Beacause A should clearly be nothing but everthing and anything, “clearly”…..

        • Slow Learner

          Excuse my awkward phrasing. My point was that it seems appropriate for Patheos to host as “Catholic” blogs any blog run by a confirmed member of the Catholic church. Trying to brush dissent in the church under the carpet doesn’t do anyone any good, not even the Church.

          • Mike

            Yes but within reason. If Leah comes out and say the RCC should be pro-choice I would relegate her blog to the dissident Catholic channel if one exists or to the CofE or something like that.

  • Arnobius of Sicca

    It is a pity that you feel you can hold such a position and not accept the fact that no government has the authority to decree marriage as being anything other than a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman.

    It’s also a pity that you seem to think that objections to so-called “gay marriage” are merely religious in nature.

    Consider: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/so-called-gay-marriage-a-dialogue

    I pray that you’ll some day realize the error of your position.

  • Seraphim

    After reading through the comments, and without focusing on my personal opinion, I want to point out one thing:

    A common strategy of pro-LGBT individuals is to compare the fight for SSM to the fight for interracial marriage. From the Catholic perspective (as I understand it) that a person’s eyes are shaped differently, or their skin is lighter or darker than their spouse, has nothing to do with the key sexual aspect of marriage and thus is completely different than opposing SSM. Denying two people the privilege of marriage because one happens to be black and the other white would be akin to denying two people the privilege of marriage because one has freckles or one has curly hair. For this argument to work, one has to hold that sex is no more central to the institution of marriage than ethnicity.

    • Seraphim

      Since it is related, for those who are interested I have been following a blog written by a gay, celibate Catholic in which he explains why he remains celibate and why he believes it to be the moral thing to do. Here is the link:

      http://beatushomo.blogspot.com/

    • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

      “The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships….” ( http://www.americancatholic.org/News/Homosexuality/default.asp )

      Of course, in the hierarchy of truths, the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage is not on the level of dogma. It’s more on the level of authoritative doctrine, I would suggest, meaning that there is the possibility of error regarding this opposition to same-sex marriage.

      • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com DeaconJR

        Agnikan–your statement is quite false–opposition to homosexual civil union is based upon the dogmatic truth of what marriage really is and what human persons are–absolutely unchangeable. There is no possibility whatsoever that the Church will change her view.

        • Alan

          There may be no possibility that the church will change its view (though of course history tells us the church is more than capable of changing its view) – but that wouldn’t be because it is based on what marriage really is and what human person are. It is based on dogma though, that is for sure.

        • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

          Lots of teachings are based on dogma, without being dogma.

    • Alan

      “From the Catholic perspective (as I understand it) that a person’s eyes are shaped differently, or their skin is lighter or darker than their spouse, has nothing to do with the key sexual aspect of marriage and thus is completely different than opposing SSM. ”

      Right, and from the perspective of those who opposed interracial marriage the mixing of races was wrong and the kids that resulted from that were unnatural in the eyes of their lord. So while that may not have been the Catholic position regarding races, it is the same in type to the Catholic position regarding same sex marriage. It doesn’t matter that their particular objection doesn’t apply to interracial marriage – it is that any objection that result in unequal treatment of individuals with regard to the fundamental right to marry is equally suspect.

      • Seraphim

        “It doesn’t matter that their particular objection doesn’t apply to interracial marriage – it is that any objection that result in unequal treatment of individuals with regard to the fundamental right to marry is equally suspect.”

        Well, technically speaking, the law does treat individuals equally. All men have the same right to marry a consenting woman of their choosing and all women have a right to marry a consenting man of their choosing. It just so happens that some men and women have no desire to exercise this right and instead want a change in the current law so that any individual has the right to marry any other individual regardless of gender.

        • Alan

          Yes, and technically speaking anti-miscegenation laws treated all individuals equally. All blacks had the same right to marry consenting members of their race as all whites did. It just so happened that some blacks and some whites have no desire to exercise that right and instead wanted a change to current law so that an individual of any race can marry any other individual regardless of race.

          In fact, that was the exact argument made in defense of those laws. Which is why it is fair and accurate to compare you to the people who defended those laws and opposed interracial marriage (even though racial discrimination doesn’t happen to be the particular target of your discrimination).

        • ACN

          Hint: If your discussion of equality under the law includes you smugly remarking that two groups are “technically equal” . They probably don’t actually have equality under the law.

          Hey, blacks and whites are technically equal because both of them have a right to a public education. They just don’t have the right to said education at the same schools.

      • Alypius

        >>>”So while that may not have been the Catholic position regarding races, it is the same in type to the Catholic position regarding same sex marriage.”

        Well… It may have been the similar in terms of the logical structure of the argument, but it certainly was not the same in terms of the CONTENT of the premises used. I’m talking here about the distinction between an argument’s “logical validity” and its “soundness”. This is what makes all the difference.

        The fundamental question in the first instance was whether race similarity was an essential component of the relationship we identify as “marriage”. The fundamental question in the second is whether gender complementarity is. And the only way to determine the answer to either of those is to properly determine the answer to the question “what is marriage?”.

        To imply, as you seem to here, that discrimination can be assumed in the second set of arguments simply because there is discrimination in the first is to beg that very question of what marriage is. And let’s just admit that your working definition is different from the definition that the Catholic Church has been publicly defending, and both of those definitions are different from the one that was assumed when anti-miscegenation laws were drawn up.

        • Alan

          “The fundamental question in the first instance was whether race similarity was an essential component of the relationship we identify as “marriage”. The fundamental question in the second is whether gender complementarity is. And the only way to determine the answer to either of those is to properly determine the answer to the question “what is marriage?”.”

          Yes that is the question – and the answer in our society is shifting towards one that include same sex couples.

          “To imply, as you seem to here, that discrimination can be assumed in the second set of arguments simply because there is discrimination in the first is to beg that very question of what marriage is”

          No more or less so than in the context of interracial marriage. A definition of marriage that includes avoidance of the mixing of races is as much a possible answer to the question as one that defines it as one man, one woman (or one man as many woman as he can bag, or one man and no more than four women, or one man and one man etc.) even if it is one almost no one today would defend because they find it discriminatory.

          “And let’s just admit that your working definition is different from the definition that the Catholic Church has been publicly defending, and both of those definitions are different from the one that was assumed when anti-miscegenation laws were drawn up”

          I don’t think anyone is denying that. And just as the definition of marriage assumed by those who outlawed interracial ones fell by the wayside in the name of equality it seems the clear trajectory is the same for the definition being defended by the Catholic church.

          • Alypius

            >>>”And just as the definition of marriage assumed by those who outlawed interracial ones fell by the wayside in the name of equality it seems the clear trajectory is the same for the definition being defended by the Catholic church.”

            I won’t disagree with you on the current trajectory of the culture, which seems pretty obvious, at least in the short term (who the heck knows what things will look like 100 years from now?). But I will simply point out that that fact does not in any way settle the question of which definition is accurate. That trajectory may be the correct one or it may not; but the “correctness” of that definitional change has to be decided on some factor other than “it is happening”.

            What exactly was it that made anti-miscegenation laws wrong? Was it that they were based on a definition of marriage that was “incorrect” or because the definition was viewed as “outdated” by society? The correct(!) answer, of course, is “incorrect”.

            I guess my point in speaking up here is that, if the current culture is adopting a new definition of marriage, the validity of that change has to be established on its own merits and not with reference to other historical situations that, superficially anyway, look similar. Just because one prior definition was incorrect and discarded does not necessarily mean the current definition should be discarded as well. And I think it also goes without saying here that “majority opinion”, while helpful, is never a guarantee of epistemological certainty on ethical issues.

          • Alan

            “I guess my point in speaking up here is that, if the current culture is adopting a new definition of marriage, the validity of that change has to be established on its own merits and not with reference to other historical situations that, superficially anyway, look similar. ”

            Of course, to suggest otherwise is just a slippery slope fallacy. Which is also why those who suggest that if you argue for same sex marriage than you might as well be arguing for polygamy, bestiality and NABMLA have left logic behind.

            And I don’t see anyone saying that same sex marriage should be allowed because interracial marriage was – there arguments are based on their own merits.

  • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

    Leah, may your species increase.

    • Mike

      Huh? Like the Borg?

      • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

        Marcus Borg?

  • Val

    Thank you.

    • Mike R

      Seconding that.

  • lucky louie

    You all are thinking too small.

    What is really needed is for the state to sit by and analyze from the ground up what its legitimate interests are in regard to domestic arrangements. Then the state can determine what types of domestic privileges and responsibilities it wants to encourage in the populace. Then the shape of civil partnerships or whatever will emerge naturally from that.

    The Church and the various other religious bodies can then be free to recognize and practice traditional marriage or any other arrangement they desire … but separately and without the connection to the governmental entity.

    I would like to see civil partnerships entirely severed from presumed sexual activity. An example dear to my heart would be an expanded definition to include any two single adults … I think a lot of elderly people with single children could benefit from having a recognized domestic partnership with said child … it seems it would be more convenient than the currnet “make sure you have all your powers of attorney updated” situation.

    I’m sure you can think of other examples outside the current box.

  • Bob

    Just want to thank you, Leah, for writing this. As someone who thinks as you do, it can be quite exhausting to be told that I am, for example, betraying Jesus when I don’t vote the way Bishop So and So wants me to. I grew up in the church but bolted some years ago precisely due to this attitude. I can;t say that the attitude is changing (well, not for the better anyway). But it’s refreshing to hear someone, at least, offer an intelligent, unapologetic articulation of a view that differs from the Catholic hierarchy, especially when that someone clearly has earned the respect of the laity’s self-appointed shamers, and finger-pointers and church purifiers.

  • DoctorD

    Leah, remind me again why you joined this silly, hateful, club?

    • Pope? Nope

      I agree. I don’t understand, even after reading this blog for months, why Leah is Catholic. I understand that she thinks love is a person, but why would that lead to Catholicism? There are so many other Christian denominations to choose from, that allow free thought, that promote equality. Quakers, for example. Or Baptists. Any denomination that allows freedom of conscience would be better than this dogmatic, authoritarian version. Then there’s all the other possibilities- reform Judaism, Sifism, Hinduism, some kind of Neo-paganism. Almost anything would be better than Catholicism, except for fundamentalist Islam, the Westboro Baptist Church, Mormonism or Scientology.

      • ACN

        After a similar period of reading, I still don’t understand either.

        • Val

          I think it’s because she’s in love with the quality of argument. Simple answers are boring to her.

        • Kenneth

          Well, look, we all did things when we were young that seemed like a good idea at the time. When I was her age, I though journalism, cheap booze and monogamy were good ideas. We live and learn! :)

          • Alan

            Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself you got one out of three right.

          • Darren

            Journalism?

          • ACN

            I was going to say “cheap booze” :)

          • Alan

            Yeah I was thinking cheap booze as well

      • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

        I think it’s because she thinks Catholicism is actually true.

        • Val

          I think that it’s because she thinks *Christianity* is actually true, and that the logical conclusion of that belief is Catholicism.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            I think there’s a lot to that, Val. Certainly, I’ve encountered plenty of converts whose thinking has been something like: There is a God –> The God of Christianity is that God –> Catholicism (because of its history, the papacy, whatever) is the most plausible Christianity.

            However, I think for someone steeped in Platonism and concerns about objectively grounding (an Aristotelian-style virtue ethics account of) morality (as I take Leah to be), the situation may be a bit different. For an atheist with Platonist/Aristotelian inclinations, what Feser calls “the God of classical theism” (as opposed to the Deist or Protestant God, e.g.) will often seem to emerge from prior Platonist/Aristotelian assumptions, much as Aquinas’ Five Ways appeal to Aristotelian assumptions. The trip from Plotinus to Augustine, or Aristotle to Aquinas, long seems to have been a natural one for lots of folks.

            If Leah’s journey was more like that, then the situation is sort of like that graphed by friend-of-blog Yvain/Scott here: http://squid314.livejournal.com/337475.html?thread=3020611
            In my version of his graph, atheism, Deism, and Protestantism would all be subsets of “modern mechanistic” worldviews, and Catholicism, (Neo-)Platonism, and Aristotelianism would all be subsets of “classical theist” worldviews. Once an atheist Platonist/Aristotelian (like, perhaps, Leah) realizes that her worldview implies classical theism, Catholicism becomes an option in a way that Protestantism, e.g., just doesn’t. As for Orthodoxy, I’m told it doesn’t go in for quite the same logic-chopping as Catholicism. So for someone in that position, Catholicism is what James called a “live option” while the rest of Christianity really isn’t. In that case, the thought process might go: The God of classical theism exists –> Catholicism is the most plausible classical theism, without any intermediate “Christianity” step between theism and Catholicism.

            One outcome of the latter thought process is that those of us who convert because of it may at once find ourselves in occasional and occasionally despairing agreement with Doctor D’s diagnosis of our Church as at times feeling like a “silly, hateful club” and yet not really feel like the attractively progressive denominations/religions are really a live option, since however silly and hateful it may feel at times, it’s true in a way that other theisms just aren’t.I think there’s a lot to that.

        • Alan

          I’m not sure I agree with that. Based on her past statements it seems as (if not more) likely that she thinks Catholicism is true because she converted to it (for reasons having to do with the similarity between their ethical map and her own) as she converted to it because she thinks it is true.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            That’s an intriguing suggestion, Alan.

  • Jack

    “Yes but within reason. If Leah comes out and say the RCC should be pro-choice I would relegate her blog to the dissident Catholic channel if one exists or to the CofE or something like that.”

    The dissent channel would be fun to watch, if it could ever be maintained.

    • Darren

      I vote for a Discordian channel!

      • Jack

        What? A channel that would collapse on itself?

      • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

        How do you know all of Patheos isn’t the Discordian channel, cleverly disguised to sow maximum chaos? Fnord.

  • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

    Fr. Massingale, a professor at Marquette, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee during Archbishop Dolan’s tenure there, wrote a newspaper editorial against the proposed marriage amendment to the state constitution which would have denied same-sex marriage/civil unions. His basic argument was that one can support traditional marriage, without denying the human dignity of homosexuals; and that the proposed amendment in fact denied such dignity. Archbishop Dolan did not criticize Fr. Massingale’s statement:

    “Archbishop Dolan has said all along that he values respectful discussion in the church,” [Fr. Massingale] said. “My essay was not challenging the authority of the bishops in any way. It was looking at our Catholic tradition and trying to deal with a dilemma that many people with good conscience feel when faced with this amendment.”

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/29216494.html

    • Jack

      Ditto for discussion like dissent.
      I read that article and saw nothing but assertion. Plus it doesn’t follow from being our brothers and sisters that they shuld continue being homos.

      • Jack

        or get married

  • Jack

    Anyway, I ain’t discussing this.

    Leah needs to get thrown out of the Catholic and Christian channels ans sent back to raving with those atheist idiots.

    • Alan

      Yeah because Catholic idiots like Jack don’t think you are pure, dogmatic or unthinking enough to be part of their blinded view of the conversation on faith. Go back to where you belong…

      • Jack

        Because incoherent nutjob atheist “morality” comes down to “whatever I say”.

        • Alan

          Because incoherent nutjob Catholic “morality” comes down to “whatever the pope says make believe god says”.

          Thanks, this is much easier than responding to thoughtful people.

          • Jack

            My pleasure, thanks for displaying your retarded made up trash about yourself and the church.

          • Alan

            You mean displaying the retarded made up the trash of the church – happy to fixt your grammatical error there

  • http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html dmw

    Have you read the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s document, “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons”? I think you need to. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html

    • http://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com Florentius

      Yes, she does. The Church is never going to change on this issue.

  • Edward

    I guess I would take issue with the notion that a gay marriage could be a spur to virtue. Virtue is the repeated choosing of a good (or for the good) either natural or supernatural. In the context of gay marriage we see people not choosing good, since the natural goods of sex (procreative/ unitive) are not present and what is present (sodomy) would neither be a natural nor a supernatural good. There are no doubts goods present in a gay marriage (friendship, love, spurring the other onto moral excellence) sure, but those goods are not marital goods but rather the good that we see in a friendship. On that basis, it seems that from the perspective of virtue, we should not endorse gay marriage.

    I guess you could escape that by saying that sodomy is a natural good, but I am not sure what would be the motivating reason for declaring that. I guess I am mainly interested in a response of how you see gay marriage as a specifically virtuous act (as you seem to in your post, unless I am mistaken).

    • http://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com Florentius

      Indeed. If you can’t say that sodomy is a virtuous act, you can’t say that marriage between homosexuals will help lead them to virtue. That’s the crux of the problem. To quote St. Thomas Aquinas (whose feast day was yesterday, btw), “It must be said that charity can, in no way, exist along with mortal sin.” Thinking that it can is one of the great errors of the current zeitgeist.

      Will anyone here take the position that sodomy is ever a virtuous act?

      • A Philosopher

        Of course sodomy is sometimes (often, even) a virtuous act. Even Catholics should agree that there are virtuous elements to the act.

        But it just isn’t true that If you can’t say that sodomy is a virtuous act, you can’t say that marriage between homosexuals will help lead them to virtue. Even if people sometimes do something viceful during a process (and even if the viceful thing is an essential part of the process), it doesn’t follow that the process can’t help lead them to virtue.

        (Aquinas’ argument from De Caritate 6 is flawed by assuming without argument that something cannot be both against and promoting of virtue.)

        • http://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com Florentius

          The second we include sodomy among acts which may be considered virtuous, the concept of virtue ceases to have any meaning at all. Of course, as a Catholic, I would argue that this was the Enemy’s plan all along. But hey, what do I know?

          • A Philosopher

            The second we include sodomy among acts which may be considered virtuous, the concept of virtue ceases to have any meaning at all.

            Well no, it doesn’t. Why would it? I’ve still got a perfectly meaningful virtue concept.

          • ACN

            Seriously, what is your obsession over the ethics of consensually putting penises into anuses?

            The only people I know who spend this much energy talking about the morality/ethics of someone else’s consensual sexual activity are the fantastically closeted.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            ACN:
            Sodomy can include oral activity as well. Either is a vice. Also, you seem to spend an awful lot of time in the comments of this very blog debating this very issue. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

        • Edward

          @A Philosopher-

          A pair of points:

          1st – What is it that you mean when you say “there are virtuous elements to sodomy? or that it is sometimes/often a virtuous act” That seems… untrue on first examination, but you have reasons and I thought that I might let you explain them.

          2nd- No. If sodomy is not a virtue (or at least a natural good or morally neutral act), then the act of a marriage based on that sexual act cannot be virtuous. Basically, because of the principle of double effect, but also because if the act is evil at its foundation, than, no, it cannot be good/virtuous in its execution.

          ——————–

          @ANC- The Question is a simple one, about any action at all, from the perspective a disciple of virtue ethics. Is sodomy a natural good or not? I cannot say that I am obsessed, in fact, usually it has very little bearing on my day to day life. However, when debating the ethics of something like “Homosexual Marriage” than it becomes an important issue to consider.

          • A Philosopher

            Edward,

            Re 1: the virtuous elements of sodomy are more or less the same as those of other sexual activities. Creation of unity, expression of love, and causation of physical pleasure are all at least pro tanto virtuous elements.

            Re 2: Note that the claim that I’m defending that a process containing viceful elements can help lead to virtue, not that it can itself be virtuous. That’s a causal, not a normative, claim, so the issues you raise are irrelevant.

          • http://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com Florentius

            @A Philosopher said: Creation of unity, expression of love, and causation of physical pleasure are all at least pro tanto virtuous elements.

            No, my friend, they are not. Virtues are things like purity, temperance, self-control, moderation, and cleanliness. Such things have been universally considered virtues across cultures for ages and nearly all civilizations consider sodomy a gross violation of all of them.

            And beyond this, sodomy is utterly lacking the principal element that makes human sexuality virtuous–fruitfulness. The marital act, even among those who are sterile, carries the form and nature of the activity necessary for the begetting of children. Sodomy never can and never will. There is a reason that the act has traditionally been called “the Greek vice” and not “the Greek virtue.”

          • Darren

            ”…And beyond this, sodomy is utterly lacking the principal element that makes human sexuality virtuous–fruitfulness. The marital act, even among those who are sterile, carries the form and nature of the activity necessary for the begetting of children. Sodomy never can and never will…”

            And there we have it, the difference between vice and virtue: how good is one’s aim in a darkened room.

            ;)

          • Darren

            AKA

            “How far is it, the distance between Heaven and Hell?”

            “About 2 ½ inches.”

            Thank you; tip your waitress!

          • Alan

            Here I was reading into it was that the difference between vice and virtue is the use of a strap-on

          • Darren

            I don’t think the employment of a suitable ‘marital aid’ would itself be a sin, so buckle up, cowboy!

            While we are exploring the margins, so to speak, I am not so sure that bisexual females would get quite the same Natural Law stink eye as lesbians or bisexual men. So long as the activity did not “…frustrate the natural end…” of the marital act, we should be good. So, threesomes…

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            A Philosopher,
            That sex acts failing to be procreative in kind may still contain the goods of a unitive act no more relieves them of being vicious than the goods of pleasure and nutrition relieve gluttony of being vicious. As C.S. Lewis used to follow medieval tradition in pointing out rather often, sin is usually a disordered, disproportionate craving for or use of some good, not the absence of some good. The presence of the unitive good of sex in disordered acts does not render them rightly ordered, it just means they are disordered precisely in being expressions of the actor’s disordered relationship to that very unitive good. (Which is disordered, of course, because it is decontextualized from the procreative.)

          • A Philosopher

            Irenist: I agree completely that the presence of virtuous elements doesn’t prevent the whole from being vicious (although, of course, we likely disagree about the particular case). I was just responding to Edward’s question about what the virtuous elements were.

            Florentius: I don’t know if we have enough shared ground for a profitable discussion if you think that cleanliness is a virtue but creation of unity and expression of love are not. But I do think you’re at odds with traditional Catholic thinking there. (That sodomy doesn’t have the good of fruitfulness, of course, is irrelevant, since the point under discussion is whether it had virtuous elements. There are many things with good elements that lack the good of fruitfulness.)

  • David

    On a different but somewhat related matter, a shift is afoot, slight but significant. It is not that he has not reflected on this problem before, but this time he has gone a step further.

    http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/01/26/pope_to_roman_rota:_lack_of_faith_may_hurt_the_validity_of_marriage/en1-659270

  • Bad MF

    What if there was something about the quasi-sexual acts which go along with SS relations that was detrimental to the persons participating? What if it was addictive, and it darkened the mind, making it less likely for God to be able to penetrate our already thick skulls? What if it decreased the capacity to love as God loves, as does fornication? What if it was a dead end road of which many said, “Just keep going, happiness is over there!” 
     I genuinely do not seek to offend. I have been down the road of sexual sin. You can’t see your folly until you are removed from it, by grace, as much as people involved think otherwise. The Church is the only place that proclaimed truth.   That is our mission- To be set apart and to proclaim the truth.  People can choose to listen or not to listen, and we still love them, and desire what is best for them.  We should never force anyone to comply, it is simply offered.
    However, to bless SSM, even in its civil form, is to be part of the group that says happiness is down that dead end road.   It is cruel, even though it feels kind. 
    Why not read more from people who have left the lifestyle?  It is out of genuine concern for the person that we should act.  Perhaps you might see how wise the Church is, and how sorely she is needed for those who are ready to hear.

    • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

      I don’t think every same-sex attracted person has had the same negative experiences with same-sex sexual activity.

      • Bad MF

        I don’t think correlation between disordered (not ordered toward God) sexual activities and its spiritual effects is always, or even often, obvious to the persons involved. Sometimes, the activities have to cease and/or they may have to ask for help from God, or sometimes life just has to play out before one can gain the perspective needed. I understand how this sounds like a load of pooh. I would have thought the same.  I do not know all of the answers, but if it wasn’t for the guidance of the Church, and for God’s generous graces, I would not have been able to connect the dots.  I would still be perusing aisles of self help books and blaming myself for being inadequate, all the while oblivious to the cause of the pain I felt.  If anyone is interested in reading perspectives from SSA Catholics, this is a collection of short ones : http://couragerc.net/Courage_Home_Page/testimonials_2013   Also, I have read some wonderful things by Melinda Selmys, Dawn Eden, and Steve Gershom about sexual sin, chastity, and SSA.

        • O

          You’ve been brainwashed into hating yourself. Sad to see.

          God doesn’t exist. Get out and live your life while you still can.
          There are many gay people who have gay sex for years with no harmful effects. Catholic sources are obviously biased against homosexuals. Read some pro-gay stuff for a change. Listen to that voice in your head that tells you what you believe now is all pooh, because it is.

          • Bad MF

            Not brainwashed, seduced. :)
            “You seduced me, LORD, and I let myself be seduced”
            But not into hating myself. Into breaking out of a cycle where all I thought about was myself (this is my personal experience, and it is not the same for every person) and how I could get what I thought I needed. My world has become larger and more lovely by turning to God. The occurances in life have context and meaning, and what we do or do not do is important, sometimes cosmically. Stupid, pitiful human beings are actually precious to our Creator and each of us has value. Each of us are called by Him, invited to taste and see.
            The teaching of the Church doesn’t cause people to hate themselves. The Church doesn’t promote hate (hatred). Every person is unique and unrepeatable, and LOVED, as they are. Church teachings are guideposts to help us back to God, and to try to keep us from being our own worst enemies. I posited the What ifs in my initial post because I am guessing that Leah is inclined to support same sex marriage because of her affection for her friends. I wanted to present the possiblity that the Church is right, and actually is Divinely guided, AND is suggesting something that is truly beneficial to the persons affected.

        • http://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com Florentius

          God bless you, Bad MF. Yours is a difficult road but one which will bear an abundance of fruit. The affliction you struggle with will, if offered up as a sacrifice, result in the salvation of many others. Please continue to speak boldly as prompted by the Lord. I will pray for you.

  • http://www.patheos.com Deacon Tom

    Leah: As the relatively new, but well-read Catholic that you are I am deeply troubled that you would take a public stand contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church and counsel of our collective bishops. There are many, many rational reasons to assert that same-sex marriage will have significant negative impacts on the common good and religious liberty of those who believe that same-sex acts are disordered and that marriage is only between one man and one woman. The Catechism of the Church and many documents by the teaching magisterium of Catholic Church explain the logical reasons for the Church’s position. I am disappointed you would take a strong position contrary to Church teaching and then so cavalierly note:

    “So, in the meanwhile, I plan to keep phonebanking for civil gay marriage and throwing rice. And I’ll keep gathering data (a discussion of What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense is coming, just as soon as I manage to find the time to read it). The uncertainty that I’m most curious about is the fact that my most trad, natural law friends tend to agree with my most liberal, sexuality studies buddies that gender is way more central to identity than I tend to think (in my artless, until-recently-gnostic way) and that sexual desire is a much more important part of marriage than trebuchet-building desire. But hey, I’m 23. More reading, debating, and living, ho!”

    • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

      Would you claim that Leah is a heretic?

      • http://www.patheos.com Deacon Tom

        No. I would not claim she is a heretic. I would suggest to her that as a visible, public voice on the “Catholic Channel” of Patheos she is creating a risk of “scandal” as that is defined by the Catholic Church. “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.” I realize this does not mean much to SSM advocates, atheists, humanists, or even some other faith traditions, but it should mean something to Leah.

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

          Scandal is certainly a serious issue, but for something to be scandal in the proper sense it has to be the kind of action that by its nature would induce another to sin — that is, the very sort of thing that leads another to do evil. In this case we would have to be talking about indirect scandal; but I’m not convinced that simply saying honestly that one supports civil (and only civil) gay marriage but is nonetheless continuing to study the matter and will be open to discussion on the subject in the future can seriously be regarded even as a candidate for indirect scandal, precisely because of the explicit study-and-discussion part. (Of course, to the extent that your comment is a worry about sounding too cavalier on the issue, it stands regardless.)

          I think, incidentally, there are two different views of what Patheos that keep clashing in these comments: on one view being a member of the Catholic Channel means somehow being a direct representative of Catholic doctrine to the world, whereas on the other view, being a member of the Catholic Portal simply means being a Catholic trying to discuss Catholic ideas. I think this becomes an issue here; the only way in which Leah’s being part of the Catholic Channel could be relevant to the issue of scandal is if it is assumed that participation implies the first (otherwise, it wouldn’t matter where she did it). But I don’t think one should simply discount the second. Modern Catholics need these issues discussed and explained (Leah is far from being the only Catholic in the West who has difficulty on this point), and raising the issue in public allows deacons, priests, lay theologians and other knowledgeable Catholics to clarify common misunderstandings or propose useful ways of looking at things.

  • http://abbey-roads.blogspot.com/ Terry

    Leah – it’s pretty cool to be Catholic, huh? God bless!

  • Karla

    As a Catholic you have to view homosexual relationships as disordered and sinful. To be them personally okay with people having civil unions to confirm a disordered sinful relationship does not make sense to me

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      The relevant question isn’t whether homosexuality as disordered and homosexual sex acts as sinful (please keep the distinction). The question is whether gay civil marriage increases or decreases the problem. See Pope Benedict re: condoms for a better explanation of this line of reasoning.

      The problem is that absent a proper discussion of what civil marriage is, we don’t have any way to answer the question posed above. We haven’t had the preceding conversation so we just don’t know and our ignorance is a tragedy.

  • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

    In normal public policy, we identify an issue, research present law and its effects, project what future proposed changes would do, and if it all looks good, adopt said changes to form a more perfect union. This looks nothing like what is happening in the gay civil marriage debate.

    I have yet to see a proper discussion and resolution of what civil marriage *is* before we start monkeying with it. So what we have here is bad policy making process before we ever get to questions like the actual merit of the policy. Good government people should be all over this. But they are not, for reasons I decline to waste my time digging up. I’m just dealing with the fact that they’re betraying their ideals.

    I’ve done a partial analysis and, frankly, the case for gay civil marriage is weak. Now there may be statutes that I haven’t found that, added to what I did find would make me change my mind. Gay marriage advocates would do better to actually do the analysis *which they have not* than to double down on the bigot name calling, which seems to be a big part of their strategy.

  • http://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com Florentius

    It’s very sad to see you putting this out there, Leah. It should go without saying that a true convert does not publicly proclaim that she had a “dance party” after the legalization of homosexual “marriage”–a cultural fad that the Church opposes in the strongest terms. One would think that even if you disagreed with the Church on this issue, you would be more discreet and thoughtful about your disagreement.

    That said, I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are simply speaking from a lack of information and from an emotional response to individuals in your own life who are engaged in disordered same-sex relationships. In my experience, that is why most people can’t bring themselves to oppose the homosexual lifestyle–out of a misplaced desire to show compassion to those who are afflicted with same-sex attractions. Unfortunately, one does no good at all by enabling a friend’s disordered sexual behavior. It is simply the easier path to take because many such friends or family members will not long tolerate someone who refuses to affirm their attachment to vice–and that goes for any vice, be it same-sex attraction, pornography, sex outside of marriage, addiction, etc. But the more challenging path is one that we MUST take if we hope to remain brothers and sisters in Christ. Choosing the other path is choosing the way of Mammon over the way of God.

    I do realize how hard it is for a young person to disconnect themselves from all the baloney, emotional blackmail and fallacious logic pumped out in mass quantities by our degenerate culture. I would ask you, however, to try. Recently, the Holy Father called homosexual “marriage” and abortion “the most insidious and dangerous challenges that today confront the common good.”

    Now I ask you–when something that the Pope considers “insidious and dangerous” is legalized and promoted, is that really something to be having a dance party about? Or is it possible that you are just going along with the zeitgeist and not giving sufficient thought to why the Catholic Church will NEVER accept disordered sexual relationships as the moral equivalent of marriage or anything other than sinful behavior?

    I would prayerfully ask you to reconsider. By taking this stance, you are leading others away from the Truth and that is a very grievous sin indeed.

    • Val

      Bosh. The only thing disordered about me is my hair.

      • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

        Well, nobody’s perfect. Although people who use the word “bosh” are pretty darned close….

  • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

    Richard Gaillardetz’ “By What Authority” distinguishes four levels of Church teaching:
    1. Dogma
    2. Definitive Doctrine
    3.. Authoritative Doctrine
    4. Provisional Applications of Church Doctrine, Church Discipline and Prudential Admonitions

    Does anyone know at what level exists the current teaching of the Church regarding same-sex civil unions?

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

      Particular details of Gaillardetz’s understanding of these categories are very controversial, and Church teaching generally does not come parceled out this way, but as Gaillardetz denies that there are any dogmas concerning morals (because contexts and facts, and thus what one ought to do, change considerably over time), nothing said on the subject could be higher than a definitive doctrine. Where Gaillardetz would classify this particular teaching would depend crucially on details of the documents in question, but without looking at them all, I suspect that he would put claims particularly concerned with same-sex civil unions in the fourth class. Most specific moral and political teachings that are not directly tied to things like sacramental theology end up in this class on Gaillardetz’s account (although there are arguably important exceptions). To be definitive doctrine, they would have to be directly required by Christian charity or dogmatic theology; to be authoritative doctrine, there would have to be some (defeasible) reason to think that they were at least indirectly required (and not merely, say, fitting well with them).

  • Darren

    Assuming we stay on the current trajectory – always dicey, remember that triump of tolerance (decadence) Weimar Germany that was overthrown by the evil (traditional family values and morality) National Socialism? But, assuming we stay on the current trajectory, how does the Church get itself out of the corner it has painted itself into?

    Most of the Laity rejects the Church authority on contraception, that is old news, but it is also easily hidden (goodness, we only have four children, well, I guess the Lord just has not blessed us as much as others). Gay marriage, though, may well be the law of the land for every first world nation and it will be difficult for the Church to function with the current level of hostility. It is also appears that, as things stand now, the generation of Catholics poised to move into leadership over the next few decades has been largely convinced by the SSM argument.

    I posit, 20 years hence, and again assuming no reversals in course, that Gay marriage will be an issue on the level of civil divorce – adulterous, not in keeping with Catholic dogma, but not anything to risk a lawsuit by refusing to rent a KofC meeting hall over.

    Thoughts?

    • Ann

      The problem is the civilly-divorced, remarried, adulterous Catholic can still pass, because he is attached to a woman. Sure, people will know she is his second wife, but most parishes/organizations won’t go so far as to probe whether or not an annulment was obtained before the marriage, etc. The gay couple is not able to pass in that manner. In summary, I’m not sure this is an option.

    • Ann

      I meant to add…same for your example re contraception.

      • Darren

        An excellent point, Ann.

        I was wondering, though, how a church leadership two decades hence might save face and continue to function effectively in the first world, while still maintaining, officially if quietly, that SSM was a sin.

        Assuming SSM becomes the law of the land, I project that, for example, Catholic hospitals will not be denying access to SS spouses any more than they currently do for divorced-remarried OS spouses. They can still _morally_ object, but it would be the Christian Charity thing to do…

        • http://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com Florentius

          You make the mistake of assuming that there will be such a thing as Catholic hospitals in what used to be known as the first world 20 years hence. Massive shifts in cultural paradigms (eg. from Christian to post-Christian) often have a multitude of unfortunate unforeseen consequences. Now, I would argue that the push toward homosexual “marriage” by our degenerate elites is more a symptom of that shift gaining momentum than a cause. But those who think that first world society 20 years from now will retain the same veneer of civility and virtue that it has from 1960-present–just with homosexual “marriage”–are in for a rude awakening.

          • Val

            Fake nostalgia is not persuasive.

          • Darren

            Amusing.

            Christians have been predicting the end of the world since 33 CE.

            I guess the Cardinals 20 years from now will have to figure out how best to backpedal without you.

          • ACN

            “degenerate elites”

            Oooooo scary words.

        • Ann

          “I was wondering, though, how a church leadership two decades hence might save face and continue to function effectively in the first world, while still maintaining, officially if quietly, that SSM was a sin.”

          I think you’re right, there are two routes to go…find a way to compromise, or withdraw from many parts of secular society. The RCC is not going to be able to have it both ways. I don’t know what the answer is there, but I can see some sort of third way wherein they separate out official Church stance (i.e. they will never marry two men or two women) versus how things are handled in their many affiliated institutions.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            I think that’s exactly right, Ann. America, like Europe before it, is heading toward being, at least in public, a largely post-Christian culture. Not just post-Christendom, but post-Christian. After SSM triumphs in civil law (as it will throughout the developed world), the Church is going to have some perilous navigation ahead.

          • Kenneth

            They could tend to their own knitting and quit trying to force their doctrine on the rest of us who don’t believe it and will not be made to follow it, ever.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com Irenist

            Kenneth, I can think of abortion and SSM as areas where you’d perceive the Church as trying to force others to abide by Her moral teaching. Are those the main irritants for you, or are there other areas where you find the Church to be trying to force you to follow Her? Thanks.

          • Kenneth

            It’s not just about abortion and SSM, or only about the RCC. Abortion is not really my issue. Like the gun debate, I think it’s driven by nuts on both end of the spectrum and therefore beyond productive debate. I find that the Church does have an agenda of trying to deny access to contraception for the general public, and not simply in the context of not having to pay for it via the HHS mandate.

            I also find that there has been and continues to be an instinct among several Christian sects in this country to force their beliefs onto the rest of us through public policy whenever they have an opening and the political capital to do so. The Church and other groups have, well into modern times, sought to control what people read and view, what they eat or drink, what they wear, who they sleep with and their medical decisions (well apart from abortion).

            They have tried to make their religions the de-facto state religion and demanded exclusive ownership of the public square for display of their symbols and texts. They have sought, aggressively, to proselytize students and to insert their sectarian prayers into public schools.

            None of it is legitimate under our system of governance, and I am glad to be alive in a time when a changing cultural and legal environment is breaking their grip and returning us to the vision of autonomy and freedom of conscience that our founders envisioned.

      • Darren

        So, I think if Leah can just hold out for another two decades, she will find she is not such a horrible Catholic after all… :)

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      I posit, 20 years hence, and again assuming no reversals in course, that Gay marriage will be an issue on the level of civil divorce – adulterous, not in keeping with Catholic dogma, but not anything to risk a lawsuit by refusing to rent a KofC meeting hall over.

      Very plausible scenario, Darren.

      • Darren

        …I hope so…

        That is _not_ me gloating, not in the slightest. I know all too well the pain of being pulled between conscience and faith.

        • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

          “I know all too well the pain of being pulled between conscience and faith.”
          I believe it. You’re a good egg, Darren.

          • Darren

            Jeeze, gonna make me blush.

            While we are at it, it is thanks to Catholics such as you, deiseach, Iota, et. al that I no longer “worry” about Leah being a Catholic. If she ends up like you, for all that we may still disagree, I will consider her in good company.

  • Jack

    “You mean displaying the retarded made up the trash of the church – happy to fixt your grammatical error there”
    Atheist “reasoning”: We know we got nothing so we’ll try tu quoques to try and distract people from that fact.

    • Alan

      Ah honey, I’m not calling you wrong for being a hypocrite, I’m calling your beliefs trash.

      Silliness such as “Leah needs to get thrown out of the Catholic and Christian channels ans sent back to raving with those atheist idiots.” doesn’t warrant a reasoned response and silly people who say it aren’t open to reasonableness anyway…

      • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

        Will you two just get a room already? All this sniping is wearisome.

        • Jack

          Why aren’t you sniping atheists?

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Alan’s a theist? News to me!
            (Also, vitriol that makes the Church look bad is a far graver scandal in my eyes than atheists’ antics. If we’re to take part in the New Evangelization, we should, you know, behave.)

        • Alan

          I apologize, sometimes I just can’t help myself.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Fair enough. Sometimes opportunities for snark are like Hilary and Everest: Why did you have to? “Because it’s there!”

      • Jack

        Yeah cupcake, keep asserting and tu quoquing until you’re blue in the face. By the way, let’s see Alan’s humanist manifesto. The chuckels i get from Darren’s aren’t enough.

        • Jack

          Passing over the looking bad part, i’m not sure if you noticed but they’re happy where they are and they don’t want to change their mind

        • Jack

          Passing over the looking bad part, i’m not sure if you noticed, but they’re happy where they are and they don’t want to change their mind

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Sure, trolls enjoy trolling. But there are a lot more readers than commenters, Jack. What kind of impression does sniping make on them? Also, you know, Christian charity. Believe me, I’m far, far, FAR from perfect on this score. But it seemed like some deescalation might be called for here. Please pardon the self-righteousness of a fellow sinner.

        • Alan

          Isn’t it adorable when kids find nouns they don’t really understand on the internet and turn them into verbs – I know trying to sound intelligent can be tough for you jack but the chuckels are appreciated.

          • Jack

            Isn’t it adorable when all you got is an uneccessry spell check after you’re all out of tu quoques.

  • Jack

    Where’s your manifesto. Here let me help you start, alan says so…………

  • Momofthree

    OK…this is hard to state without sounding profoundly uncharitable–please know that is NOT my goal—but I would be interested in Leah’s view on why we as a society consider some sexual orientations or habits to be deviant or “wrong”. It seems to me, as a biologist, that we consider an orientation deviant or strange if the person involved cannot (in the general sense) fruitfully reproduce with that person or object of desire. Thus, it is considered deviant in the extreme to be stimulated or attracted to prepubescent children, not merely because they would presumably be mentally harmed by any actions taken, but more so because they do not possess primary or secondary sex characteristics that would provoke a response. Hence, the attraction is a sign of something seriously amiss with the grey matter. Likewise an attraction to elderly women, animals of other species, plants and even other inanimate objects that do not resemble fertile adults. Consanguineous parings are also considered out of bounds because they predictably produce problematic, deleterious genotypes. Therefore, is it not entirely curious that a person of one gender would be sexually stimulated by the sight of primary and secondary sex characteristics of a person of the same gender (to the total exclusion of interest in the opposite sex)? I find it so. I know it is a very real phenomenon, but still….very curious.

    This says nothing of the psychological and social attractions that might form between the psyche’s of any two persons of any gender, but the biological conundrum should give pause to anyone considering the prudence of sanctioning any such unions under the auspices of the state, particularly elevating them to the status of heterosexual marriages.

    Secondly…it seems that the sperm banks and egg donations are in full throttle as gay couples line up behind straight ones to pay for the services of a person wholly unknown to them. We are intentionally creating a whole generation of children who do not know their parents (ON PURPOSE) and a legion of parents who do not know their children because they sold them for money when they were young and needed cash. Why is prostitution illegal while this is legal? I cannot fathom the reason.

    • Alan

      “It seems to me, as a biologist, that we consider an orientation deviant or strange if the person involved cannot (in the general sense) fruitfully reproduce with that person or object of desire.”

      So 50 year olds having sex are deviants? Society thinks masturbation is strange or deviant?
      Be honest, that isn’t your view as a biologist, it is your view as constructing (or inheriting) their own moral framework – a biologist would recognize that other animals use sexual acts for other social reasons beyond mere reproduction and there is no reason to think humans are different I mean if female bonobos naturally mutually masturbate is there really any good reason to think the inclination is naturally occurring in human populations as well?

      • Kenneth

        As a biologist, I can say that anyone staking their anti-SSM argument on their credentials as a biologist clearly hasn’t been reading any modern research which shows that homosexuality in nature is vastly more complex a question than what momofthree posits. It is widely observed in many species and actually seems to confer an overall survival advantage under certain circumstances. In humans, gene sets that are strongly associated with male homosexuality also seem to correlate strongly with higher fertility and childbearing success in female relatives of such families.

        Arguing against SSM from science is a very risky business these days, and quite likely to hoist you by your own petards sooner or later (probably sooner). Scientist who continue that argument in the face of mounting evidence will wind up painting themselves into a corner where pseudoscience will be their only refuge, like the Young Earth creationists….

        • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

          Arguing against SSM from science is a very risky business these days, and quite likely to hoist you by your own petards sooner or later (probably sooner).

          Very much agreed. A lot of these arguments seem like Creationism in their obscurantism. There are plenty of exclusively homosexual animals in the wild, AFAIK. Same sex (and opposite sex) sodomy is “unnatural” in the “not conducive to the flourishing of a creature with the essential nature of a rational animal” Natural Law sense, but not at all from the modern sense of “non-artificial / found in nature” sense of “natural”. IMHO, Thomists and similar thinkers need to (and can) argue that a predilection toward sodomy is like a genetic predilection toward alcoholism: an entirely “natural” (in the modern sense) toward unnatural (in the antique “not conducive to the flourishing of a creature with the nature of a rational animal” sense) vice.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            That should say “predilection” before “toward.”
            Also, I realize that the Thomist position here is flabbergastingly offensive to lots of readers of this blog. Without withdrawing the substance, I nevertheless apologize for the very understandable offense.

          • ACN

            So you’re ok with calling someone’s consensual sexual preference the equivalent of alcoholism, but you’re sorry if they’re offended by that?

            I get that you’re really into civility and politeness, but something can be deeply offensive even if you say it politely and then apologize for offending afterwards. If you stand by the substance of your claim (it wasn’t, for example, the product of anger or frustration and not really reflecting of an attitude/opinion that you actually hold) then own it.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            As a Thomist, I hold it to be a matter of simple fact that sodomy is a vice. As a person of largely liberal sensibilities, I wish it weren’t, and hate, hate, hate the pain that the idea causes to so many decent, kind gay people and straight allies. I think the obverse might be, ACN, if you were spending a lot of time in a really wholesome, friendly community with ultra-traditional religious values. You’d sincerely believe that you’d be doing them a favor by telling them how stultifying you believe their values to be on any objective/secular view, but even though you’d know you’re right, you might still feel pained at hurting them by saying so. Or maybe not. Don’t want to assume a lot about your views or how you feel about them. But that’s where I’m at with this. If someone built their whole personal identity on jumping off cliffs, I’d be wrong not to tell them how the law of gravity is going to kill them if they don’t knock it off, but I’d still be less than happy about having to go after someone’s identity like that.

          • ACN

            You’ve made it very clear how broken up you are about viceful homosexuals are. It is easy to be (or appear to be) contrite when you’re in the priviledged position.

            I hope you recognize how lucky you are that the shoe isn’t, and likely will never be, on the other foot. If it were, I’d still be arguing that consensual sexual expression is not anything like a disease. I’d gently invite you to consider what position you’d be defending in such a case.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com Irenist

            You’re right. Being straight is a position of privilege, and the struggles of gay people are known to me only second hand. OTOH, it would be a lot less unseemly to hold the Catholic position in this area if, by being gay, I had earned it, so to speak. But that’s a moot point. I would welcome your guidance on this:
            If you held the Catholic view on this issue, how–if at all–would you express your views in Leah’s threads on SSM?

          • Kenneth

            Akin to alcoholism? Oh my. I wonder if Dr. Drew is up to the challenge of treating so destructive an addiction. Perhaps we need to have roadside enforcement checkpoints.

            “How many rounds of sodomy have you had tonight?”
            “Umm….just two, but that was hours ago…”

            “Sir, step out of the vehicle…..”

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            To review:
            1. I concede that my side is wrong to use biological arguments, and that Kenneth is making a valid point. I clarify where I still disagree, and apologize for any offense.
            2. Kenneth engages in mockery.

      • momofthree

        But last I checked female bonobos happily copulate with males and offspring as well. I am talking about human sexuality.

        “In humans, gene sets that are strongly associated with male homosexuality also seem to correlate strongly with higher fertility and childbearing success in female relatives of such families.” I have read this one study and was intrigued, but I have not read more…can you point out more work on this?

        • Alan

          Oh, so you are okay than with bisexuals just not homosexuals, got it thanks for the clarification.

        • Kenneth

          The Campiero Ciani study is the main work I know of in this area. It’s preliminary to be sure, but it casts serious doubt on the concept that homosexuality is some sort of hideous maladaptive aberration in evolutionary biology. It exists widely in nature. It is determined in some measure by genetics, and its presence in no way dooms a species or even a “gay lineage” to extinction simply because particular gay individuals don’t happen to produce offspring of their own.

          So this is the one study I know of that addresses this one specific link of male human sexuality and fertility. There is a much bigger and growing body of evidence which points to some genetic basis for sexuality and adaptive value in other species in certain circumstances.

          There is also no evidence or rational basis to suggest that legal recognition of gay rights has ever induced previously heterosexual people to “change sides” and thereby abandon reproduction. Nor do most of the fetishes and paraphilias you refer to. They are not (except for pedophilia) generally considered disordered, and they are usually held by people who marry and have children “the usual way.” I know from long experience that most of the people into the weirdest things are, for the most part, outwardly ordinary “family men” (and women). These things are usually a side interest or stress reliever for them.

          • Momofthree

            Where is your evidence that paraphilias are not considered disordered? I guess I need a review of the DSM. Are you going to tell me that zoophilia, necrophilia or an obsession with inanimate objects is not considered disordered?

            I realized that much of S&M has now sickly invaded our culture where it is considered somewhat “normal”, but I think there is nothing good and positive about celebrating pain and brutality. In fact, the recent popularity of 50 Shades (have not read it and do not intend to) is a sure sign that legions of “otherwise normal” women, are woefully lost. Where is their common sense? What the heck is wrong with them?

          • Kenneth

            In DSM V, last I knew, paraphilias were not defined as psychiatric disorders unless they cause distress or impairment to the individual or harm to others. In the extremes of bestiality and necrophilia, there are clearly considerations of serious criminal prosecution and violation of other (surviving family member’s dignity in the case of the dead). I know many many people in the BDSM community. Not really my thing, but I’ve studied them at some length, and they’re no more inherently disordered than anyone else. Many who engage in this sort of thing are fully consensual and negotiate their boundaries and treat each other with respect and ethical considerations. Inanimate objects? No harm no foul. As long as they’re you’re objects and you don’t engage in any sort of public or criminal action with them, not a problem. If it’s a disorder, it’s a very common one. The global sex toy industry is something like a $15 billion/year business.

      • momofthree

        “So 50 year olds having sex are deviants? Society thinks masturbation is strange or deviant?” No…all the outward signs of physical fertility might be there, and this causes arousal….i am assuming when people stimulate themselves they are viewing or thinking about humans with the physical features of a fertile person of the opposite gender.

        Don’t you think it is fundamentally odd that a person would be exclusively interested in sexual activities with a person who has no outward signs of fertility for that person? Sex is first and foremost about propagation of genes. If a person is interested in juveniles it is likewise totally biologically pointless.

        • Alan

          “No…all the outward signs of physical fertility might be there, and this causes arousal”

          So hormones play no role in arousal and hormonal changes caused by loss of fertility don’t impact the nature (or at least existence) of sexual desire? Wouldn’t that indicate to you that sex is first and foremost about something other than propagation of genes?

          • Kenneth

            Even in the most conservative Catholic construction of sexuality, it does not have to be directed toward reproduction or limited by that consideration. It has to be open to that possibility, but it doesn’t have to be the sole focus or only legitimate reason for sexual expression. There is not, as far as I know, any prohibition on a young man marrying a post-menopausal woman….

          • Momofthree

            This is a reply to Kenneth…the thread was stopped…
            Can you point to a single example of a young man marrying a (clearly) post menopausal woman? (I am not talking about a man who is close in age to this 55 plus gal).
            Perhaps the Catholic Church realizes that this is as unlikely as snow in the Amazon.

          • Momofthree

            Alan, I am sorry I read it twice and don’t understand your premise. Do you mean hormones in the person desiring or the person being desired?

            Of course hormones in the person desiring play a strong role, but lots of men are aroused by graphic images of young women they can gaze upon without being in any proximity to detect hormone levels from that actual person. Sex is absolutely primarily about the recombination of genes and the propagation of those genes. There are certainly many secondary roles in social groups for it (bonding and stress relief) but these are WAY down the list. The reason the drive is soooo strong is that it is about gene propagation. One’s genes are literally trying to force one to pass them on. With exclusive homosexuality this is not the case, and it is puzzling.

            With regard to bisexuality, I am no expert, but at the very least, we can understand how that person’s genes still allow for a direct method of propagation. Still strange. Why waste your sexual energy on persons with whom you can not reproduce? Yes, today most people don’t aim to reproduce most of the time they are sexually active, but to understand the drive you need to view it in light of the crucible of evolutionary fitness.

          • Alan

            momofthree – well actually both. It is true that auto-arousal through other than hormonal triggers happens, but the hormonal triggers of the object of arousal certainly impact the desire. But of course, that sexual desire is rampant whether or not the object of desire is capable of gene propagation is strong evidence against your assertion that “sex is absolutely primarily about the recombination of genes…” Since that is not the most common outcome of sex, nor the most common motive of those engaging in it at any given time it would seem odd by any normal use of language to consider it the ‘primary’ purpose.

            Maybe part of the problem here is you are ascribing motives to evolutionary outcomes that have none. For example, the use of the word ‘literally’ in “One’s genes are literally trying to force one to pass them on” is literally incorrect. Genes are not ‘trying’ to force anything. And statements such as “Why waste your sexual energy on persons with whom you can not reproduce?” and “still allow for a direct method of propagation” seem to show an ignorance of inclusive fitness that belies your claim you are reaching these conclusions as a biologist and not as someone who is bending biological concepts to fit a pre-ordained conclusion.

          • Kenneth

            Can I find a single example of a young man marrying a post-menopausal woman? Without working too hard, I should think. I found some 2009 study which showed that about 1.3% of women are marrying men 10 years or more younger than them. Clearly not all of them are in the exact situation you mention, but I’m sure some are. When I was in my 30s, I dated women one side or another of 50, and there are one or two of them I would have married in a heartbeat had I the sense and had they been willing.

  • dhabibi

    Just to clarify for all the “Catholics” in name only. You can not cooperate with evil, period. Taking a wishy washy position, agreeing with the civil, but not the sacramental is lying to yourself. You are still cooperating with evil by encouraging homosexual behavior. Don’t forget we sin by what we do and what we fail to do.

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      What’s your position on the fact that civil marriages recognize no-fault divorce, dhabibi?

  • http://gloriaromanorum.blogspot.com Florentius

    You got an entire Rosary out of me yesterday, Leah. Will continue to pray for you going forward.

  • picklefactory

    Look out, Leah, they’re going to pray you into bigotry. :D

    • Darren

      When someone prays for you, that is very kind.

      When someone _tells_ you they are going to pray for you… it’s pretty much an “Up yours!”…

      • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

        Gotta disagree, Darren. In the following exchange, e.g.,

        “My kid is really sick.”
        “Oh no! I’ll be praying for her.”

        the intention is entirely salutary.

        • Darren

          Sorry, sorry, knew I should have put that qualifier in there.

          If one has a genuine need and someone announces they are praying for you / your need, then also = kind. Saying it to express solidarity with a person in a time of trial also = kind. Lots of people doing lots of praying for all the right reasons; no argument and you are right to point out my mistake (oughta be a paying job…)

          I’m just being ruffled by the use of “praying for you” as a passive-aggressive backhand… Didn’t like it when I was in the club, don’t like it any more now, I guess.

          • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

            Well, that’s a fair point. And, to be honest, I suspected that’s the point you were making. I’m just an inveterate quibbler….

      • picklefactory

        What it means is: “I’m praying that you will do what I think you should do, rather than what your conscience tells you to do.”

        • Andres Riofrio

          How about “I’m praying that you will do what my conscience tells me you should do, rather than what your conscience tells you to do”? Of course I’ll want you to change your mind and work to change your actions, if my conscience tells me what you are doing is wrong!

          Admittedly, what is missing from this interaction is “I’m also praying for myself, that my conscience will conform to whatever is true, even if it’s not what I currently consider true.”

          • picklefactory

            If my conscience tells me what someone is doing is wrong, just saying that you’re praying is pointless. Why not make an actual attempt to convince them of that? “I’m praying for you” just means that you believe you have the direct line to God to do all the conscience-directing.

            I like your second point.

  • madeline

    Just what Christ needed – a celebrity slut contradicting Church teaching.

    • Bad MF

      J’accuse! My BS meter just shot through the roof. I’m accusing you of trying to imitate an angry Christian. Nice try. Wrong forum.

  • Hans-Georg Lundahl

    1) When the state recognises your union as a marriage, even if it be a civil one, it takes some redtape to divorce;
    2) But gay couples should sometimes break up so that one or both can marry (each?) a woman, for instance if one of them has children with a woman and she is not married, and such a decision should not be hampered by unnecessary redtape:
    3) Ergo, the state should not recognise gay unions as marriages.

    • Alan

      1) When the state recognizes your union as a marriage, even if it be a civil one, it takes some redtape to divorce;
      2) But couples should sometimes break up so that one or both can marry another, for instance if one of them has children with a woman and she is not married, and such a decision should not be hampered by unnecessary redtape:
      3) Ergo, the state should not… recognize any marriages? impose redtape on the divorce process? prohibit bigamy?

      I really hope you didn’t think your post presented some sort of coherent logical argument against gay marriage.

  • Wallenstein

    Alan:
    That sexual desire is ultimately motivated by a drive to reproduce one’s genes in progeny does not preclude this desire’s being triggered by or directed toward a non-reproducing “thing.” This explains why dogs exhibit the embarrassing habit of mounting human legs, or why sodomites confuse some other orifice for a vagina. The genes which drive human reproduction are “designed” to allow the carrier to pass on his genetic material to his offspring; they serve no other evolutionary purpose.
    Also, the use of anthropological language to describe genetic function is perfectly acceptable; it has been the purview of evolutionary biology for over a quarter century (cf. The Selfish Gene).

    • Alan

      The use of the language may be acceptable so long as you don’t confuse it with the common everyday meaning of the language. For example, the genes aren’t ‘designed’ at all let alone designed with intent and purpose to pass themselves on. And sexual desire isn’t motivated (in the common sense of motivation), sexual desire is caused by certain stimulants and the drive to reproduce one’s genes isn’t one of them for most animals (humans may be an exception there as we have evolved to the point where we consciously choose to have sex for the purpose of procreation – though we also choose to have sex explicitly not for that purpose as well).

      Unfortunately, misunderstanding how evolutionary biology actually works and confusing the loose use of language with the actual mechanisms has become a way to justify discrimination.

    • ACN

      ” or why sodomites confuse some other orifice for a vagina. ”

      Oh come on, at least do everyone the courtesy of understanding that no one is mistaking other orifices for vaginas.

      The choice to use them for stimulation (often for both parties!) is intentional.

  • B. R. Lind

    “… my most trad, natural law friends tend to agree with my most liberal, sexuality studies buddies… that sexual desire is a much more important part of marriage than trebuchet-building desire.”

    I’ve been thinking about this and have come to the conclusion that your sex life with your partner is, in fact, a trebuchet that you build together.

  • Wladyslaw

    Leah,
    It seems that your basic position finally is that state sponsored marriage is fundamentally a civil union– called marriage by all, but a civil union. I never heard a couple married by the state say I”m in a civil union. They say they are married. But you say they in reality are only civilly united.
    You then justify homosexual civil unions by saying that they’re just civil unions and should be permitted.
    You may think that state marriage are just civil unions, but homosexuals surely don’t.. All of our society recognizes your everyday state marriage as marriage, not civil unions. Marriage by the state–a civil union by your definition–are regarded by all of society and by government as a marriage.
    No matter if state marriages are really only civil unions (according), everyone married by the state today is considered married.
    If i we allow state marriage for homosexuals, we have just changed the definition of marriage forever

    • Alan

      Odd, I didn’t see the word ‘union’ once in her post – I guess if re(mis)characterizing her view is what you need to do to discard good for you.

  • Kewois

    Hi Leah:

    Do you know what The Pope said about gay marriage???
    ————————–
    Pope Benedict used his annual Christmas message to denounce gay marriage, saying that it destroyed the “essence of the human creature.”

    The Pope has said that gay marriage, like abortion and euthanasia, is a threat to world peace.

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/pope-denounces-gay-marriage-annual-xmas-message-article-1.1225960#ixzz2KL2W793a
    —————

    And other of your new fellows:

    http://www.catholic.com/tracts/homosexuality
    - Homosexual desires, however, are not in themselves sinful.

    Have you read the Cathecism???

    The Catholic Church thus teaches: “Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357).

    homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered
    homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered
    homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered

    http://www.americancatholic.org/News/Homosexuality/default.asp
    The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, but teaches that homosexual persons deserve respect, justice and pastoral care. The Vatican and Pope John Paul II are speaking out against the growing number of places that recognize same-sex marriages.

    and:
    http://www.catholicbible101.com/homosexuality.htm

    So.. which other catholic beliefs and or dogmas and which (infallible) claims from Popes are you going to say are wrong???

    Kewois

    • Andres Riofrio

      She has not (at least explicitly) rejected the claim that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. Her claim is more like “still, homosexual acts shouldn’t be illegal” in a similar way that self-mutilation, an intrinsically disordered act (albeit in a very different way), should not be illegal. Furthermore, she seems not to be convinced by claims that homosexual acts harms people not directly involved in the act any more than other disordered but legal acts do. I hope Leah can correct me if I misrepresent her.

      I do wish to emphasize that I am not saying homosexual tendencies or association with gay culture is intrinsically disordered, especially not in the way that self-mutilation is intrinsically disordered. Furthermore, I am not saying that homosexual acts do the same kind of harm as self-mutilation does. I (and the Church) are simply saying that, if they are both morally wrong, its because of the act itself, and not because of the context. Doing schoolwork instead of listening to a friend in need can be morally wrong, but not because of the act itself, since in some circumstances it can be a morally acceptable (or even morally necessary) course of action.

      • Kewois

        Andres:
        >She has not (at least explicitly) rejected the claim that homosexual acts are intrinsically >disordered.

        Leah is in favor of gay marriage and if you became married you are going to have sexual relations with your partner, so admitting gay marriage is admitting the normally occurrence of acts that the Church consider to be INTRINSECALLY DISORDERED.
        She does not accept only a gay marriage without sex

        >I am not saying homosexual tendencies or association with gay culture is intrinsically >disordered,

        Not you. The Catholic Church, the EX Pope, The Cardinals, The Bishops, The Catholic Catechism say that.

        The Church says that being homosexual is neither sinful nor wrong but you have to remain cast and pray to overcome temptations.

        Kewois

  • http://www.catholicbandita.com Lisa Graas

    The civil government did not recognize marriage to begin with because politicians are romantic and sentimental. It was recognized to protect the rights of children. Children have a right to a relationship with their mother and father. When a child is orphaned, it becomes the duty of the state to make sure that child is well cared for. That is why government recognized marriage. The idea that civil marriage is “for people in love” is just silly. It also ignores, even TRAMPLES, the right of children to a relationship with a mom and a dad….and even possibly, given some circumstances, the right to a relationship with their OWN mom and dad. When you reject the whole reason marriage was recognized by civil authorities to begin with, you lose me. Either kids have a right to a relationship with their mother and father, or the civil government should ignore the institution of marriage altogether.

  • Eduardo

    Leah, I really like your blog and your opinions, but this time I need to disagree. A good action, as the Church teaches, needs to be good in intent, in the mean and the results. Civil gay marriage has good intentions, the means are good, but the results maybe be bad. Think about of the thousands of children adopted by these “couples” and the psychological damage that we would see for 10,20 years from now? we have to think about it and discuss. There are several reports of adults raised by gay couples who had serious psychological problems. God bless you and help you in your walk in the Church and St. Augustine may ask for you!

    • Darren

      ”Leah, I really like your blog and your opinions, but this time I need to disagree. A good action, as the Church teaches, needs to be good in intent, in the mean and the results. Civil gay marriage has good intentions, the means are good, but the results maybe be bad. Think about of the thousands of children adopted by these “couples” and the psychological damage that we would see for 10,20 years from now? we have to think about it and discuss. There are several reports of adults raised by gay couples who had serious psychological problems. God bless you and help you in your walk in the Church and St. Augustine may ask for you!”

      Well, there is a very simple solution to this dilemma, Eduardo. Just go and adopt some orphans. In fact, all the Catholics go out and adopt all the orphans; problem solved.

      Because what you are saying, otherwise, is that you, and the RCC, would rather have a child live in an orphanage, lonely, dreaming of a real home and someone who loves them; that you would rather they live out their 18 years there, than have them grow up in a home with two moms…

      Any idea the damage _that_ does to a kid?

      The real issue is political. The Church knows that for every child that grows up in a SS household, that is one more adult that will _not_ view SS relations as anything other than just another way for families to be. And not just that one adult, but dozens of others, the schoolmates, friends, neighbors, who see this family as “normal”.

      It is a huge threat, and the church knows it. It is just too bad that the political position of the RCC has to be paid for by the lives of orphans…

      • Eduardo

        His argument sounds good, but is not so good. If we want to solve the problem of thousands of children in the orphanage we need to allow gay adoption, then why dont allow adoption by pedophiles couples? or couples with suicidal tendencies? or couples who practice sadomasochism?. The fact is, you didnt refute my argument that there are so many registered cases of adults raised by gay couples that have suffered and still suffer psychological damage. Not to mention that gay marriage will end with the almost entire civil law, where it has 3000 years or more. I dont have any preconception against gays, but the society needs to discuss it. We have the right to discuss it. Im discussing this, personally, with no religious passion. Believe it.

        • Darren

          You want to quote peer reviewed studies showing children raised by SS couples fare worse than OS couples, then you go right ahead. That’s data and anybody gets to quote it.

          You personally want to go adopt some orphans, then you get to have an _opinion_.

          • Eduardo

            When you implicitly mention the SS that who is against adoption by gay couples being Nazis, should I reprimand you. In many countries it is a crime to call someone a Nazi without evidence. Be careful with your observations. I still say that we should study the researchs about adults raised by gay couples, because we need to protect our children from bad decisions made. I could be wrong, maybe it is good to allow gay couples to educate children, but nobody seems to make this fundamental question: what is the consequence if the governments allow this?

          • ACN

            Eduardo:

            SS = same sex.

            OS = opposite sex.

            No one is calling anyone a Nazi.

            To be completely clear, we should deconvolve the presuppositions about gender identity and sexuality that labels like SS/OS bring to the table, but there was absolutely nothing in Darren’s reply that looked like an accusation of being a national socialist.

          • Darren

            OK, _that_ was funny.

            The “SS” makes a tiny bit of sense, (though why _I_ would be the one calling gay couples Nazi’s makes no sense) but I am not sure what the “OS” couples would be. Man, people accuse you of dropping the N-bomb at the drop of a hat around here…

            To ACN’s point, I suppose we could use SG .vs. OG, but the traditionalists would likely balk at dividing gender identity from dangly-bits, and the US law is pretty firmly based on dangly-bits (i.e. p-e-n-i-s, y’all).

            But, to the point, Eduardo, you have said that I failed to refute your arguments. This is because you have yet to make an argument. You have made an unfounded assertion based on some unsourced “research” that adult children raised by Same Sex (SS) couples suffer severe, or at least significant, psychological damage as a direct result of their family life. You then enjoin me to go and “…study the research…”

            No.

            You make the assertion that SS parents are in some manner inherently damaging to the mental wellbeing of children entrusted to their care, _you_ provide the data showing this to be true. You show that being raised by two married lesbians is worse that living one’s whole life without parents, that it is worse than being raised by a single parent, that it is worse than being raised by a grandparent, or Brittany Spears and Kevin Federline for that matter.

            Once you do that, then we can argue the merits of the data. Until then, you are just making stuff up to suit you.

          • ACN

            They can balk all they’d like, but it won’t force someone’s psychological sense-of-self to line up with their chromosonal arrangement or whatever bits they may or may not have dangling off of them.

          • Darren

            Well, this is the Roman Catholic Church we are talking about. The same worldview that looks at 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, 14 billion years of cosmic history, and an all-knowing all-powerful God beyond that, and yet the _second_ most important thing in all of creation is whether or not a particular human happens to have a penis or not, and if so, exactly where he is in the habit of putting it.

  • June

    Hi Leah,
    I’m not sure if you’ve seen this post written by a Catholic psychologist, but it raises some non-religious arguments that you may or may not have considered. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithonthecouch/2013/02/gay-marriage-getting-the-conversation-right/

  • http://catolicult.tumblr.com Tiago

    Hey Leah, i follow your blog for a long time, but until now i haven’t posted anything. So here is my first post and some commentaries from a brazilian catholic.

    I recommend you to read some books by James Alison, who is a catholic priest and theologian who was never bothered by the Congregation for the doctrine of faith, and has some really well developed insights from the standpoint of catholic theology in defense of EVEN sacramental union between people of the same sex.

    You might agree or not (i myself have my doubts in this topic). Here are some very good books:

    James Alison: Faith beyond resentment: Fragments catholic and gay
    James Alison: The Joy fo Being Wrong (Being this one about original sin)

    The question about homossexual unions shouldn’t be a a scandal for us catholics. This is a question the church must to, and it is happening, so whatever our opinions are, we shouldn’t fear the debate. By the way, James uses a lot of Ratzinger references, and he is not the activist type, so i definitly think it is worth reading.

    See you,

    Tiago Cadedo

  • Darren

    Really, gay marriage is not that big of an issue with me, but I found this story rather touching.

    Dad’s Love Letter to Gay Son

    It also makes me proud that, as an Atheist family, my three children will grow up never even having to worry about such things…

  • Skywalker

    “I think we need to talk about what logically impossible means.
    Trisecting an arbitrary angle with compass and straight edge? Logically impossible.
    Two people of same gender getting marrid? Well, I’ve been to a ceremony for just that in a state that allowed it, so that dispels any notion of logical impossibility.”
    Logically impossible things can be asserted, but not true. I can assert that I live in a one story house when I live in a two story house. The statement does not make itself true. Two men or two women can claim that they are married. That they can have a commitment to each other is undisputed. That they are capable of engaging in procreative type sexual intercourse with each other is disputed.
    If the government were to redefine the words “two story house” to make it “one story house” (houses with both one and two stories are henceforth called one story houses) it makes nonsense out of language. I do not doubt the possibility to write nonsense into the law, I do not want to write nonsense into the law.
    What happens when the word marriage is redefined from “A man and a woman in a publicly committed sexual relationship that is apt for and enriched by childbearing and childrearing.” To “A man and a woman, or a woman and a woman, or a man and a man, in a publicly committed relationship, the man and woman can and do engage in reproductive type sex apt for and enriched by childbearing and childrearing, and the men and men and women and women cannot and therefore do not.”
    Redefining marriage like redefining one story houses and two story houses, it makes multiple definitions where there once was one.
    Redefining marriage is like anti-miscegenation laws, it tries to change what marriage means by way of the law. Before such laws were enacted marriage meant “A man and a woman in a publicly committed sexual relationship that is apt for and enriched by childbearing and childrearing.” Such laws tried to redefine marriage to mean “A white man and a white woman or a black man and a black woman in a publicly committed sexual relationship that is apt for and enriched by childbearing and childrearing.” (Some other races may also have been specified in different versions of this untrue law)

    • ACN

      I’m thoroughly amused by the claim that I’M the one on the side of miscegenation.

  • Skywalker

    I’m thoroughly amused by the claim that I’M the one on the side of miscegenation.

    You shouldn’t be. The first case to end anti-miscegenation laws was brought to court as a religious freedom case. The Catholic Church was willing to marry the couple, but the unjust law forbid it. The 1948 Perez v Sharp court case overturned the ban on interracial marriage in California. Perez and Davis were both Catholics and wanted to marry in a mass in a Catholic Church. One of their primary arguments, adopted by Justice Douglas Edmonds in his concurring opinion, was that the Church was willing to marry them, and the state’s anti-miscegenation law infringed on their right to participate fully in the sacraments of their religion, including the sacrament of matrimony.

    • ACN

      If you want your hunky-dory theocracy wherein the state only recognizes marriages because the church does, fine, that’s a goal, you can choose to pursue it. You just better hope that your particular flavor of religion never gets sufficiently far into the minority that some other religion decides that the state shouldn’t recognize your marriages because your religious club’s rules don’t line up with THEIR religious club’s rules.

      I really hope it never gets to that point, because it would be terrible and I’d probably be living through it also, but if it does, remember that when you had the chance to work with the secularists to insulate your religion from the state while simultaneously extending civil rights, you chose not to.

  • Skywalker

    In 1967, two Catholic social services agencies and eleven bishops in the states that still had laws prohibiting interracial marriage used a “friend-of-the-court” brief in Loving v. Virginia to urge the United States Supreme Court to strike down the laws in Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Why did they do that? Because they know natural law. A man and a woman’s skin color is irrelevant to marriage because it has no bearing on their ability to form a committed sexual relationship that unites them to each other and any children born from their union.

    • Darren

      Sadly, though, the Loving vs. Virginia case, and others since, ignore the God ordained separation of the races dating from the sons of Noah and completed at the Tower of Babel. By marrying between races, rebellious humans seek to thwart God’s plan.

      Loving was just another example of activists judges illegally stripping the religious freedom from individuals, business owners, and government officials by forcing them to mix races in opposition to God’s will.

  • Skywalker

    The Israelites were not supposed to marry people who didn’t worship God. It was not to keep racial purity, it was to keep them from falling away from the commandments, especially the one about “You shall have no other gods before me.”

  • Skywalker

    The lawyer for the couple in the Perez case was Daniel Marshall, president of the Catholic Interracial Council of Los Angeles. He made his argument on natural law grounds.
    Pope Pius XI’s 1937 encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge, had expressly condemned eugenic theories of racial purity as a “myth of race and blood.” (MBS 17) He also stated “…that the real common good ultimately takes its measure from man’s nature, which balances personal rights and social obligations, and from the purpose of society, established for the benefit of human nature.” He argues that any law or policy that violates human nature will “…shake the pillars on which society rests, and to compromise social tranquillity, security and existence.” ( MBS, 30) The 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia echoes this point. Governments cannot define and regulate marriage in a manner inconsistent with human nature because “…human society, both in its primitive and organized form, originated by marriage, not marriage by human society.”
    The four justices in the majority accepted Davis’ argument that marriage is “something more than a civil contract subject to regulation by the State; it is a fundamental right of free men.” In their decision the justices quoted Skinner v Oklahoma, which said “Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race,” they made clear that this fundamental right to marry was related to the fundamental right to procreate.

  • Skywalker

    “If you want your hunky-dory theocracy wherein the state only recognizes marriages because the church does, fine, that’s a goal, you can choose to pursue it. You just better hope that your particular flavor of religion never gets sufficiently far into the minority that some other religion decides that the state shouldn’t recognize your marriages because your religious club’s rules don’t line up with THEIR religious club’s rules.

    I really hope it never gets to that point, because it would be terrible and I’d probably be living through it also, but if it does, remember that when you had the chance to work with the secularists to insulate your religion from the state while simultaneously extending civil rights, you chose not to.”

    I don’t want a theocracy. I like our country, and the appeal to natural law involved in its founding. The Declaration talks about the laws of nature and nature’s God which can be known by reason. If our being male and female, and our design to engage in sex in a male/female relationship, and these sexual relationships commonly leading to the begetting and nurturing of children cannot be known to reason, then I don’t know what can. This committed sexual relationship is what we call marriage.
    I also don’t think that just because someone or many persons have a desire, that that automatically means said desire is natural. Many desires are natural, but some are not. Someone can desire to ingest something that is not food. It may not harm them, or it may not appear to, but I don’t think we should redefine the word food to suit their desire.
    I think that a people who wish to know and follow natural law can live together in harmony, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. People who just want their own way regardless of what is natural or discernible by reason, I don’t see how such people can live with people who follow natural law.


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