Thursday, April 29, 2010

Debate on Bill 185 - Rotary Club of Guam 8/6/09

When Mr. McCully called and asked me to do this, the first thing I did was congratulate him and your organization for being the first to provide an appropriate forum for an issue of such gravity. Mr. McCully also asked me to frame the debate in terms of policy. I’m not sure I have done that to his satisfaction but we’ll give it a go.  

As some of you may know, I am not an attorney, a politician, or in the employ of a church. I am a former music teacher that was forced into selling real estate and sales to feed a growing family. And while I may own a bookstore, all that means is that I’m too busy running the store to read the books.  

Also, for the record, I am not personally opposed to people who choose to live an alternative lifestyle. I only got involved with this issue because I was alarmed that the media was relying on the easy story of Church vs the Gay Community instead of examining  
the central civil issue which is the claim to equal rights.

The Legislative Findings and Intent of Bill 138, the Same-Sex Civil Unions Bill, began with these words:
"...there exists on Guam a large group of disaffected persons who have been denied one of the most basic rights ever given to law abiding citizens; the right to enter into a marriage"
The section then proceeds to make a claim for civil unions to "all the benefits, rights, and
Thus for the purposes of this brief presentation, I would like to address same-sex marriage, same-sex civil unions, and same-sex domestic partnerships as a single issue. I have 2 points and a proposition.

Point 1: The current legislation is reckless
First I'd like to call your attention to a practical concern that shows just how thoughtless, hodge-podge, and reckless this legislation is in the hopes that responsible citizens will at least demand a clear-eyed, methodical, and deliberate examination of the issue before us.
If you take the time to read Bill 185 you will see much about the application of the law to domestic partnerships but you will find nothing in the bill that would actually create that partnership. Section 16105 is only about the application for and the requisition of a license.

However, it is just a license to form the partnership, just as a marriage license does not mean you are married but that you have a license to get married. There is nothing that follows that would in fact create the partnership for which the license is issued. The omission is astounding.
I don't point this out for the purpose of identifying a technicality because the bill can be amended. But I point this out to demonstrate that the proponents of this legislation, in their rush to impose on our community a wholly new societal form that is sure to have far reaching and unintended (ormaybe even intended consequences), have, in the midst of highly charged emotional bluster, grabbed the frosting and left the cake.

The excited new domestic partnership applicant will walk away with a piece of paper, $30 poorer, and nothing more. … Read the bill. Point 2: The civil right to marital status is conditional. Gay Marriage would not meet those conditions.
It would seem that the proposed legislation, which would introduce the biggest societal change on Guam since the Christianization of the Chamorros, should demonstrate a bit more evidence of deliberation and thought.

First it must be understood that civil rights are granted to persons, not to corporate entities. In the eyes of the law, the minute two or more people form a legal entity, be it a business or a marriage, that entity is subject to a different set of rules than those that apply to individual persons.
Rules governing corporate bodies are determined by the relationship of that entity to the community and its relative contribution to the common good. Thus businesses are granted certain protections and incentives that are not available to individual persons. The reason is obvious.
The same is true in the case of marriage. The state has learned through millenia of societal evolution that the traditional marital unit is the most cost effective way of producing, socializing, and educating the next generation upon which the survival of the state depends.
Thus the state, because it has a vested interest in its own survival and flourishing, has chosen to protect and incentivize the societal engine we call the family, understanding that the cost to protect and incentivize the family is far less than the cost the state would incur should the family fail and the burden fall to the state, us, the tax payers.
It's just simple economics. And while proponents of alternative familial forms will point to the failure of many marriages to live up to their commitments, the question that must be asked is: do we as a society find a way to shore up and revitalize the most fundamental of all societal institutions or do we simply discard it, which Bills 138 and 185 would have us do.

The proponents of Bills 138 & 185 claim that because they too are capable of committed loving relationships they too should be accorded the same status as married persons. However, as we just saw, the state does not grant a special status to married persons because two people love each other, but because of the function the marital unit is expected to provide for the state.
Whether domestic partnerships, same-sex, or otherwise, can fulfill the same expectations the state expects of married couples is cause for study. But one thing we know for sure is that Bill 185 will not require the same public commitment as it does of married couples.
Thus on that note alone, however trivial that may seem to you, domestic partnerships as defined by Bill 185, would be asking for more than they are willing to give. In short, for a bill that makes a claim on equality, we should be able to at least expect equal commitment for equal privilege. But that's not what we get.

Next, it must be understood that while there may be a right to marriage, marriage itself, in the eyes of the state is not an automatic right.

1. The state already controls many aspects of marriage:Laws regarding consanguinity,affinity,and minimum age determine who you can marry.

  • Laws governing residency determine where you can marry and when.Laws concerning the contract of marriage govern the proper legal form.

  • The state can also determine the capacity or mental fitness for marriage

  • Then there is the whole list of things that can determine whether or not a
  • marriage is valid or invalid.
  • Laws (in some states) may require a blood test, proof of immunity or vaccinations for certain diseases, and a physical exam before a license can be issuedLaws concerning your current marriage status determine if you can marry,

 In fact marriage is a naturally occurring societal institution that pre-exists the political order. The state did not create marriage. It only recognized and codified it.  
Thus, since the state did not create marriage, it cannot create gay marriage either.
Proponents are asking for equality for an entirely artificial construct with an organic institution that not only pre-exists our society, but is the basis for it. There's something very unequal about that.

However, having said all that. I am not opposed to same-sex couples forming their own version of marriage and even according themselves all the same benefits (whatever those are). Why do you even want to call it a marriage when at best it will only be seen as a modern appendage, an artificial construct of the state grafted onto the code like an afterthought, aDon’t just add a chapter and leach off marriage. Create your own brand new institution with its own rights and responsibilities. But leave marriage alone. Anything less than that would be a parasite, a fraud, a counterfeit, and hardly worth the dignity the gay community claims to seek.
What I am opposed to, and the gay community should be opposed as well, is the
parasitic leaching on to Title 19, Chapter 3 of the GCA, that defines both Bill 138 & 185. I urge the gay community to do the hard work of fashioning a wholly new societal institution.  
Why are you willing to settle for some second rate deal called a domestic partnership that would create a separate but equal status that could be proven unconstitutional anyway? 
mere asterisk.
No. Come up with your own legislation that gives you everything you seek in terms of incentives, protection, and legal recognition, but don’t touch Title 19 GCA, Ch 3. 

I have lived on Guam for 22 years. And as of now, have no plans to leave. But this is not my home, not in the way that it is a home for Chamorros, all Chamorros. The blood of my ancestors is not mixed with this soil as is the blood and sweat of your ancestor's. This is your home.
To the Chamorros. Search your ancestral memory. Ask yourself if what these bills propose is something your ancestors would be proud of. Ask yourself if this is the Chamorro way. Or did these ideas, like so many other things alien to the Chamorro way, come from other shores?
Legislate the teaching of the Chamorro language, build and sail the ancient flying proas. But in the end, the law, this law, will shape your culture and determine what sort of island your children, for those who will still have children, will grow up in.
This debate is not between two men who are not native to this place. This debate is between your past and your future. And the question before you is whether by embracing this legislation your ancestors would be just as proud of your future as you are of their past.
 The essential premise of both bills is that same-sex couples have a civil right to be married or at least to the status of marriage. However, we first need to ask why the state grants a privileged status to marriage in the first place.
responsibilities given to married couples."

In the 2 months that followed the introduction of Bill 138 and its replacement, Bill 185, there was much chatter about these so called "rights and benefits of marriage". While the language of Bills 138 and 185 hide behind the terminology of civil unions and domestic partnerships, in essence both bills advocate for and imitate marriage in every way except for Bill 185's omission of the requirement for solemnization.

Response to Senator B.J. Cruz on "Good Question" with Ray Gibson (PNC)

Senator B.J. Cruz appeared with Ray Gibson last Monday night, October 26 (2009), on "Good Question", Ray's interview show on Channel 7. Mr. Cruz made several statements about Church teaching that I thought needed addressing. Ray Gibson was kind enough to give me equal time to respond to several mis-statements by Mr. Cruz.

I was not able to address all of the items that I took issue with on the show, but feel that the problem statements by Mr. Cruz are important for us to know since he is promulgating error in the media in the name of the Church on a regular basis. We Catholics need to know truly what our Church teaches. My responses are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church with personal commentary.

Here are Mr. Cruz's comments and my responses according to the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church:

Senator Cruz: “…even Bill 212 is unacceptable because as far as the Church is concerned, anything that condones, gives any kind of safe harbor, give any rights to homosexuals...they have to oppose."

For your information, Bill 212, introduced by Senator Espaldon, would give some of the rights and benefits normally accorded to married couples to non-married couples. The bill is not sex specific and thus, the Church would not enter an opinion on this since there is nothing in the bill that would be offensive to the Church's moral teaching. However, Mr. Cruz frames the statement as the Church being opposed to the rights of homosexuals in general. This is not true. The Church does not oppose the individual rights of homosexuals. Thus the Catechism says: "Person with homosexual tendencies…must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." (CCC 2358)

Senator Cruz:“Sex is just for the purpose of procreation”.

This is Mr. Cruz's understanding of Church teaching. It is an incorrect understanding. The Catechism says: "The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses and the transmission of life. (CCC 2363)" This is also known as the "unitive" and procreative", "fidelity and fruitulness". In any event, the ends or purpose of marriage is ALWAYS two-fold and NEVER just for procreation.

Senator Cruz: “Sex is not for pleasure”

The Catechism says: "Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure:  The Creator himself…established that in the [generative] function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. (Pius XII, Discourse, October 29, 1951) (CCC 2362)"

Senator Cruz: "Why do you allow people in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s…to get married. Why do you allow that if you know there’s no chance of them having children?

Of course this statement is based on the mistaken notion that sex must only be for procreation which we have shown is not the case. However, more can be said about this in light of Catholic teaching.  The fact is that while we as married couples, whether we be 20 or 80 years of age ONLY have control over the generative act ("having sex"). We do not have control over whether that act produces a child. Though it is a matter of science that a woman is more capable of conceiving at a certain point in her cycle, and that coitus can be timed to that point so that a couple may have the best chance of conceiving, ultimately conception is not a matter in their control. Thus an elderly couple, presumably incapable of procreation, are not prohibited from engaging in sexual intercourse 1) because sterility is not an impediment to marriage in the first place, and 2) sexual intercourse between married persons is essentially what is called the "marital act". It is an act proper to married persons and expresses the unitive aspect of marriage which essentially is all that is in their control.

Mr. Cruz at this point made a reference to "impotency" and seemed to confuse it with "sterility". Let's take a look at that.
Impotency is the inability of a man to have an erection and thus make him incapable of sexual intercourse. Sterility or infertility is the biological inability to contribute to conception or, in the woman's case, perhaps to carry a child to term. It is instructive to note that while sterility may not be an impediment to marriage in the eyes of the Church, Impotency could be an impediment to marriage. Let me explain.
The Church assumes that the married couple has not engaged in sexual relations prior to their marriage and thus would not be aware of an infertility problem (unless it was otherwise medically determined). Thus, it is not the fault of the couple that after marriage and attempts at intercourse they do not conceive. The couple still fulfills the meaning of marriage because their marital acts are unitive and procreative (open to life). Again, no one, not even fertile couples are in control of conception.

Impotency on the other hand can be an impediment to marriage and even grounds for annulment. This presents us with a curious meditation. While the Church does not demand that a married couple produce a child, it does demand that a married couple engage in sexual intercourse. The Church does not consider a marriage valid until it has been consummated - that is until the couple engages in sexual intercourse that is open to life regardless of the fertility or infertility of the couple.

In a sense, since the Church makes sexual intercourse mandatory, not just to validate the marriage, but to be the constant "language of married love", and does not demand that the act produce a child,  we can speculate that the Church even values the unitive over the procreative, not actually, but perhaps symbolically.

Coaltion to Oppose Bill 185 Press Release 091109

The need to clarify the Church’s position

While the Coalition to Oppose Bill 185 does not speak for the Catholic Church, the founder of the opposition group, Tim Rohr, wants to make it very clear that Archbishop Apuron's position on Bill 185 is NOT the Archbishop’s personal position.

Rohr says that the Archbishop Apuron’s opposition to the bill is simply the local application of an instruction contained in the Vatican document CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS, which states "...all Catholics must oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions..."

This document was authored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church's highest office in such matters, and promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 2003.

Rohr emphasized that the Catholic Church does NOT just oppose "homosexual marriages", but universally opposes the “legal recognition of homosexual unions" regardless of what they are called.

“Not only does the Archbishop NOT have the authority to change this teaching, the Pope doesn't either,” said Rohr. “Thus no amount of revisions, vigils, petitions, or branches filled with olives, will appease the Church. It's a dead discussion.”

Rohr challenged the proponents of the bill to leave the Church and the Archbishop out of the discussion and move on to confronting the real civil issues that Bill 185 raises such as the economic impact of creating a whole new class of dependents on an already burdened GovGuam retirement system.

The Vatican document can be found at

# # #

If you would like more information or to schedule an interview with Tim Rohr please call him at 477-7647, or email at

PDN quote prompting the press release: But Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, sponsor of Bill 185, said he's still unsure whether the Catholic church, the biggest opponent of the bill, will be happy about it. In the bill, the term "domestic partnership" was changed to "civil partnership," to emphasize that the measure deals only with civil matters and erase any religious connotations. A provision that would have applied every legal reference to "married" equally to partners in a domestic partnership was scrapped. Instead, the measure clearly states that a civil partnership is not a marriage and concedes that marriage is between a man and a woman."We wanted to make sure that the church realized that we were not trying to trick them into having civil partnerships eventually lead into marriage," Cruz said.

Response to PDN Editorial Feb242009 n Support of Same-Sex Legal Unions

In response to the Feb. 24, 2010 editorial entitled "Fight: Guam gay and lesbian community must stand up for equality", I will address two items: 1) the  Government Accountability Office data regarding the "rights and privileges" of marriage, and 2) the PDN's call for the "same rights and privileges" for "every citizen of this country".

The much-referenced GAO data can be found in a letter dated Jan. 31, 1997 and addressed to then Senator Henry Hyde in response to Hyde's inquiry on how the Defense of Marriage Act, which had become law the previous September, would affect the interpretation of federal laws applicable to marriage.

In its response to Hyde, the GAO identified 1049 instances where marital status was a factor in federal law. The GAO derived the number by doing an electronic global search of the federal code using words and parts of words that might possibly be linked to marriage (e.g. spouse, husband, widow, marr., etc.)

The GAO goes on to admit the limitations of the search and states that the 1049 figure only applies to the number of times the key words occurred in the search and that "no conclusions can be drawn" from the number since there was no way to tell from the search whether the occurrence of the search term applied positively or negatively to marital status. The so-called "marriage penalty" was used as an example. Proponents of gay rights may want to find something more credible upon which to base their major argument.

Next, if we are to take the PDN at its word: "Champions of this cause must...ensure that each and every citizen of this country is entitled to the same rights and privileges", then, in the name of equality, the PDN must also attack all forms of discrimination regarding marriage in the Guam code, so that "each and every citizen" will be "entitled to the same rights and privileges".

Title 19, Chapter 3 of the Guam Code, the Contract of Marriage, is nine pages of restrictions, regulations, and requirements regarding who can marry, who can marry who, when you can marry, etc. Here's a sampling:

§3101 requires that parties wishing to contract marriage must be “capable” of “consent” and denies marriage to any one the government deems to be mentally impaired (3202).

§3102 denies marriage to minors without the written permission of a parent or guardian, and in some cases, the Superior Court, and even requires that the couple be capable of "consummating the marriage". (Lacking a definition of the term in the law, one may assume the traditional sense is at least implied.)

§3104 forbids marriage “between parents and children, ancestors and descendants of every degree, and between brothers and sisters of the half as well as the whole blood, and between uncles and nieces or aunts and nephews…”

§3105 forbids marriage to those who are currently married.

§3106 forbids or retroactively annuls a marriage if one party does not consent to sexual intercourse, at least initially.

§3202 forbids marriage between first cousins, between an adoptive parent and an adoptive child, between a step-parent and a step-child or between a guardian and a ward without court approval.

The list goes on, but, by the way, in all those 9 pages, there is nothing prohibiting two people of the same sex from marrying. (So why do we need a bill that will give gays and lesbians something less than marriage?)

 This is not pushing an "illogical extreme". This is taking the PDN at its word in its call for the "same rights and privileges"..."for every citizen". Of course, complete deregulation of marriage is a ridiculous proposal. But either we admit that the government can and should control who marries who, and in so doing admit that it has a reason for doing so, or we must let everyone marry whom they wish. To not engage this central dichotomy (i.e. rights only for some) is intellectually dishonest and a limp pretension to equality.

Coalition to Oppose Bill 185 Letter3/1/10

Dear Senators,

While the news has been that Bill 185 will not go to the floor for a vote due to lack of support, the bill is, nevertheless, a “live bill”, and thus still demands attention. And even if Bill 185 is withdrawn, the issue, the creation of a legal equivalent to marriage between one man and one woman, is not going to go away, and will continue to follow us into the future. Thus, it is hoped that responsible legislators will continue to educate themselves on the aspects and consequences of such legislation.

Fortunately for us, other states are “field testing” the consequences of such legislation for us. We have only to look and learn. One of the consequences of creating a legal equivalent to marriage is the right of same-sex couples to adopt children. Recently (2/22/10), in the wake of a new law in Washington D.C. allowing same-sex marriages, Catholic Charities of Washington D.C. announced that it will close its 80 year-old foster care and adoption program.

The new law would require the Catholic adoption program to treat opposite sex and same-sex couples equally in considering foster and adoptive parents for children, something the Catholic Church or its agencies cannot do. Obviously, the burden of caring for these children will probably now fall to a government agency at an increased cost to taxpayers.

Time and again we are seeing where the inversion of the most fundamental of all societal institutions, (i.e. marriage between one man and one woman) creates ethical dilemmas heretofore never imagined.

This current story poses one of the most glaring dilemmas. It's one thing for same-sex couples to want to share their life together. It's another thing to insert a child into that life. It's not a question as to whether same-sex couples can provide for the child. It's a question of whether or not forcing the child into a parent-child relationship with a same-sex couple is good for the child. In short, will it be good for the child to see daddy and daddy in bed together? (What child hasn't stumbled upon an intimate moment between parents?)

The fact is that, on Guam, gays and lesbians can adopt children now, since single adults are allowed to adopt and there is no criteria governing gender identity. While one can question whether the adoption of a child by a gay or lesbian is healthy and good for the child, by law, such an adoption cannot be challenged.  However, the passage of Bill 185 would give legal sanction to the adoption of children by same-sex couples.

Senators, the passage of Bill 185 into law is not just a matter of granting rights to a particular segment of our society, it is a matter that will affect an untold number of aspects of our society such as that just mentioned.

Senators, we encourage you to continue to be vigilant on this matter and do all you can to not only preserve the traditional family but to advance it. Please take the leadership in looking at all aspects of the law in which the family, the fundamental societal unit, is affected and do all you can to assist the family and help it prosper.

“Law shapes the culture”,

Tim Rohr
Coalition to Oppose Bill 185

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Arizona: A Learning Opportunity for Catholics

There has been much news recently about the new Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration. President Obama has condemned it and vowed to have the Justice Department investigate, signaling a legal showdown with the state of Arizona. The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) were also quick to condemn the measure.

But President Obama has another reason to go after the state of Arizona. Less than 24 hours after Governor Jan Brewer signed the controversial immigration bill into law, she signed into law another bill that made Arizona the first state in the nation to opt out of the government funding for abortion mandated by Obama's new health care legislation (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - PPACA).

A quick "google" of the terms "USCCB" and "Arizona" turns up several pages dealing with the Catholic bishops condemnation of the immigration bill, but nothing about Arizona's extremely brave and brazen legislation to opt out of federal abortion funding. In being the first state to do this, Arizona lawmakers have not only thumbed their collective nose at Obamacare, but have exposed, through legislation, the massive abortion funding present in the PPACA that Obama promised would not be there. (He made the promise on national television before a Joint Session of Congress and further backed up the supposed promise with an 11th hour Executive Order.)

In short, Arizona's opting out of abortion coverage is the first shot fired across the bow of Obama's flagship issue: Health Care Reform. By now, most of us are well aware that "Health Care Reform" was really just a tool to bypass the Hyde Amendment (amongst other things) and massively fund the abortion industry. Because there are some instances where the federal government cannot intrude on states' rights, states can opt out of certain parts of the legislation. One of those parts is the state run health care exchanges through which most, but not all, of the abortion funding was to be funneled. Arizona's actions in this regard amount to a very public slap in the face to President Obama, especially since as many as 20 other states are waiting in the wings to do exactly as Arizona has done.

There are many questions that arise out of this incredibly coincidental signing of these two laws within 24 hours of each other including serious questions about the true Catholic teaching on immigration and specifically illegal immigration. But eventually all questions lead to how should a Catholic respond at the polls? (The governor seat is up for election this year.) The Catholic Church, has strong moral teachings regarding both abortion and immigration. We all know the Church's teaching on abortion. Immigration is more complicated but essentially falls under the overarching "preferential option for the poor". In short, the Church sees migration as a right, though that right is limited by various circumstances including the right of sovereign states to protect their borders. See  Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in America (The Church in America) (January 22, 1999) (Washington, D.C.: USCCB, 1999), no. 65, citing Propositio 20.

Arizona provides all Catholics an important learning opportunity but especially here on Guam where abortion has never been a front burner political issue as it is in the states every election. As you know from previous posts, Guam has an extremely serious abortion problem, being the easiest place in the United States to obtain an abortion and with a heavy majority of those abortions being Chamorro children (i.e. most likely children of Catholic mothers). It is hoped that in our own upcoming election, we will place abortion at the top of the list when choosing between the candidates.

In short, abortion trumps all other evils, including war, racisim, poverty, nuclear proliferation, etc. It trumps the other evils simply because of the degree of innocence and defenselessness of the victim. A quick comparison between victims will help. The Arizona immigration bill is thought to be controversial because it opens the door to "racial profiling". If someone looks Mexican, he or she could be stopped by law enforcement and asked for documents. Thus a Mexican-looking person could be a possible victim. However, the "victim" has many choices. He could move to another state. If he's illegal he could go back to Mexico or seek naturalization. If nothing else, he could go into hiding. These are not happy choices, but they are still choices.

Compare the person in Arizona with Mexican features to a baby in its mother's womb. There is no way to escape the abortionist's knife. There is no scream that he or she can make that will be heard. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. This is why the Church has constantly taught that abortion is the most grievous of evils. One who obtains an abortion or assists in any way is automatically excommunicated.

These two Arizona laws highlight two moral issues: racisim (potentially) and abortion (for sure). If Governor Jan Brewer is opposed by a candidate who rejects Arizona's immigration policy but supports abortion, the Catholic would be obliged to vote for Brewer. I'll provide more documentation for these teachings in the near future. But just wanted to get this out there since it is so current. I do find it curious that our bishops are not celebrating Arizona's law to opt-out of federal abortion coverage. Maybe they'll get around to it.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...