Saturday, July 02, 2011

Same Sex Marriage Equality Creates New Inequalities

Printed in the Umatuna 6/19/2011


Last Friday, New York became the sixth state to legalize “gay marriage”. Catholic lawmakers provided the key votes and a Catholic governor signed the bill into law. Catholic senator, Mark Grisanti, said that though he was raised to believe that marriage was between a man and a woman he could not “legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage.”

Grisanti continued: "If I take the Catholic out of me...then absolutely they should have these rights...” Grisanti’s comments invite further comment on: 1) the issue of rights, 2) the legislative imposition of personal beliefs, 3) the legal argument against same-sex marriage.

Rights
New York’s gay marriage bill actually had nothing to do with rights. As Katherine Franke, a partner in a same-sex domestic partnership, wrote in the New York Times the day before the vote, same-sex couples, under New York’s domestic partnership law, already have all the rights of married people. Ms. Franke even bemoaned a possible loss of freedom and flexibility that she now enjoys in a domestic partnership that she would not have within the tighter legal strictures of marriage.

Legislative imposition of personal beliefs
Grisanti’s metaphysical contortion about taking “the Catholic out of me” is another transliteration of the “I’m personally opposed, but...” that lawmakers will resort to when shrinking from a moral stand. Though raised to believe that marriage was between a man and a woman, Grisanti said he could not legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage. We must then wonder what else Grisanti was raised to believe that he should not be making laws about: lying, cheating, stealing, murder?

All laws have a moral base.  Politicians decide what’s right and wrong for the rest of us all the time whether its setting a speed limit or outlawing murder. As of June 23, Guam senators have introduced 243 bills! That means that Guam senators are deciding what is best for the rest of us 1.4 times every day including holidays and weekends! It’s only when it comes to same-sex legislation and abortion that certain lawmakers suddenly wax philosophical. Hmmm.

Legal argument
As for the lack of a legal argument against same-sex marriage, this was a senate chamber, not a court room. Senators engage the process which makes things legal or illegal. As a senator, Grisanti did not need a legal argument, he was in a position to make one. But since he didn’t, I will, or at least I will borrow one from Don Browning, Professor Emeritus at University of Chicago Divinity School.

Browning, along with other legal theorists, wonder if giving marriage benefits to same-sex couples “does injustice to other human arrangements where people care for one another...” Such arrangements could include a man or woman caring for an ailing sibling, an adult child caring for an aging parent, or two elderly persons of the same sex in a non-sexual relationship pooling resources.

Why should they, simply because they are NOT in a sexual relationship, be denied the same rights that New York has now extended to same-sex couples because they ARE in a sexual relationship? In short, if marriage is simply a matter of mutual caring divorced from procreation, then it is an INJUSTICE, as Browning says, “to extend marriage privileges to a particular group of sexual friendships while excluding many other interdependent care givers.”

But beyond the legal argument there is the official teaching of the Catholic Church which these Catholic politicians chose to ignore at their own peril. Every Catholic needs to know exactly what our Church teaches on this matter and where it can be found. It is as follows:

“When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons, June 3, 2003, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect)

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