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Dolan on Gay Marriage

Archbishop Dolan's blog refused to take Father's Day off from the crusade against gay marriage. I applaud Dolan's embrace of blogging, and Dolan's posts have attracted a great deal of media attention, but I wish he would put more thought into his posts on this topic. I think it would be a much more powerful use of the medium, and would be helpful for those of us struggling to understand the Church's state of panic in the face of gay marriage, if he would engage in a more detailed way with the arguments on both sides of this issue. One searches his posts in vain for reasoned argument, finding instead a series of conclusory zingers like the one with which he finished up his most recent post. "Government presumes to redefine these sacred words at the peril of the common good." How does expanding the definition of the family to encompass same sex couples threaten the common good? Dolan doesn't tell us. His post simply ends.I looked back at his earlier post, and it also fails to adequately explain his views, except to tell us that the family is the foundation of our civilization and that tinkering with its definition is dangerous. I suppose I agree with both of those points, but neither one rules out same sex marriage. After all, the definition of marriage varies across time. Polygamy is approved in the Bible, though it is now illegal. Dolan doesn't discuss that, despite a reference to the authority of Genesis in his most recent post. Divorce used to be prohibited but no-fault divorce is now ubiquitous. Interracial marriage was legally forbidden in many US jurisdictions until just a generation ago. Now it is constitutionally protected. Telling us that revising the definition of the family is dangerous either means that all of these past changes were wrong or that, more likely, some were better than others. But if it means the latter, it adds nothing but a cautionary note to the present debate. It cannot be decisive.Indeed, Dolan himself can hardly make up his mind on the subject of marriage's meaning. In his two posts on the issue, he tells us that traditional definition of marriage is "timeless" and "as old as human reason and ordered good." And, yet, in these same two posts, separated by a mere four days, Dolan himself actually gives us, not one, but THREE different definitions of marriage. In his first post, he says that marriage is "one man, one woman, united in lifelong love and fidelity, hoping for children." His second definition, in the same post, is similar but not identical: "a loving, permanent, life-giving union to pro-create children." Finally, in his Father's Day post, he says that marriage is a "loving, faithful union between one man and one woman leading to a family."Of course, marriage has not been "lifelong" or "permanent" by law for a long time, and yet no blog posts urging NY legislators to (re)prohibit no-fault divorce as a grave threat to the common good have yet appeared on Dolan's blog. [UPDATE: By the way, no-fault divorce is actually a recent innovation in NY family law. While the Church opposed the change, during the debate, the director of the New York State Catholic Conference (which bills itself as the "official public policy voice of the Catholic Church") noted that [c]learly, not every marriage can be permanent."] Perhaps someone pointed this out after Dolan's first post, which might explain why he dropped any reference to duration in his most recent, timeless definition.As for procreation, "hoping for children" and "to pro-create children" are far from identical. Both might be read to rule out marriages among the non-fertile, though the "hoping for children" formulation is less exclusive on that front. But this leads to the question -- which is it to be? Does the marriage of two 80-year-olds threaten the timeless definition of marriage or undermine the common good? If not, why not? In his most recent definition, the reference to procreation is replaced by "leading to a family." This is circular, since legal recognition of same-sex couples as "families" would allow their unions to also "lead[] to a family." That's the whole point.These blog posts were useful opportunities for some thoughtful reflection on these questions, but the Archbishop chose instead to write unconvincing little screeds aimed at producing nice sound-bites for the press. Those who agree with him will no doubt take heart from his vocal opposition to New York's proposed legislation. For the rest of us, we are no better able to understand the foundation for his fears than we were before.

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The Church should most definitely not be precluded from making its case with all vigor and clarity (or appropriate rhetorical mushiness, too.)

**those of us struggling to understand the Churchs state of panic in the face of gay marriage**__________________Come on, let's be honest here. You're not "struggling to understand." You are arbitrarily and obstinately rejecting what you know the Church is reminding the world regarding the truth of marriage.Of course, you are free to reject and dissent all you want. But don't pretend that you are truly interested in some kind of dialogue toward you gaining greater understanding, much less acceptance of Church teaching, much less defending and promoting those truths that the Church teaches.

The Catholic Church effectively gives tacit approval to divorce with what has become the charade of annulment. In their 2002 book, Catholic Divorce: The Deception of Annulments, Joseph Martos and Pierre Hegy state:Because the grounds for annulment have become so broad that practically anyone who applies for one can obtain it, many observers now regard annulments as virtual divorces. After all, the same grounds for divorce in a civil court have become grounds for the nonexistence of marriage in an ecclesiastical court. (Page 23) To add to the deceit, many couples who receive annulments do so believing that their marriage was, in fact, sacramentally valid that the marital bond did exist but that, over time, it began to break down. These couples, understandably, choose not to disclose this part of the story to marriage tribunals so that they can qualify for an annulment.In other words it is the Catholic game of what the Brits refer to as "nudge-nudge, wink-wink."

But we are a superior sort of people up here. I dont know how it will go in New York.Felapton,As everyone knows, New York is so degenerate, it can't get any worse. In fact, I worry that same-sex marriage might be a threat to many forms of debauchery. Has anyone checked to see if the Netherlands and Spain are falling apart? They've had same-sex marriage for 10 and 7 years, respectively.

Are we making a distinction here between opposing this legislation and opposing any legislation that would require same-sex couples to receive equitable financial treatment? Is that distinction important to the Church? If we remove the word "marriage" from this discussion, what changes?

We have arrived at a situation as far as I am aware, where annulment is almost automatic."the chief reason why 80-90 percent of divorced Catholics simply ignore the annulment process and marry outside the church is because they regard the practice of annulments as deceitful. Because the grounds for an annulment have become so broad that practically anyone who applies for one can obtain it, many observers now regard annulments as "virtual divorces." After all, the same grounds used for divorce in a civil court have "become grounds for the nonexistence of marriage in an ecclesiastical court" (p. 23). To add to the deceit, many couples who receive annulments do so believing that their marriage was, in fact, sacramentally valid -- that the marital bond did exist but that, over time, it began to break down. These couples, understandably, choose not to disclose this part of the story to marriage tribunals so that they can qualify for an annulment."http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2586453/postsGiven this situation, the RCC has lost its moral position on divorce, and everyone knows it. So while those in favour of SSM may bring up the church and its position on divorce, the church dare not.

Oops, Jimmy and I are referring to the same book, but he was a few minutes ahead of me.

Would a Catholic who enters into a homosexual marriage thereby remove himself from the Catholic Church? I guess it's a pretty clear-cut instance of apostasy.

Come on, lets be honest here. Youre not struggling to understand. You are arbitrarily and obstinately rejecting what you know the Church is reminding the world regarding the truth of marriage.Bender,One can agree with what the Church teaches about marriage without opposing civil same-sex marriage. As has been noted over and over again, the Church has no problem distinguishing between sacramental marriage and mere civil marriage. They have diverged in every country of the world except the Philippines. The Church has never been sued or threatened by the government for refusing to perform marriage ceremonies for those it believes ineligible (for example, the divorced and civilly remarried).There are some areas of concern about religious freedom, but so far the problems have been church social-service organizations voluntarily shutting down when they lose government funds because of their refusal to comply with civil rights laws. There is no inalienable right to government funds to run, say, adoption services.

David.The NYT blog Motherlode, had a piece about the Netherlands 18 months or so ago.http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/how-the-dutch-work-same-se... sky did not fall, and pigs did not fly.

"There are some areas of concern about religious freedom, but so far the problems have been church social-service organizations voluntarily shutting down when they lose government funds because of their refusal to comply with civil rights laws. There is no inalienable right to government funds to run, say, adoption services."The cases I'm thinking of haven't been loss-of-state-funding cases; they've been loss-of-state-certification cases. The states in question won't certify adoption agencies that refuse to adopt children out to same-sex couples. That's clearly an unacceptable encroachment on religious freedom.

The states in question wont certify adoption agencies that refuse to adopt children out to same-sex couples. Thats clearly an unacceptable encroachment on religious freedom.Jim,I suppose that's an even hotter topic than same-sex marriage itself, but I am of two minds. One the one hand, exempting religious organizations who decline to permit same-sex couples is one possibility, and it does not place a burden on those couples if there are other adoption agencies they can go to. On the other hand, adoption is a legal process overseen by the state. If the state legalizes same-sex marriage, why should any adoption agency be permitted to treat same-sex marriages as inferior to opposite-sex marriages. How can an adoption agency say in advance there will never, ever be a case where specific same-sex parents will be the best choice for a specific child? That strikes me as pure bigotry. What if there is a gay couple made up of a pediatrician and a special education teacher who want to adopt a child with Down syndrome who will never function above the level of a 5-year-old, and whom no one else will take? What would be the reason for denying two people eminently qualified to care for such a child on the grounds that they were gay?

Please William; on what planet are you living? People of a Christian persuasion can stop fighting with one another over this matter and attend to spiritual and corporal works of mercy that testify to Gods radical call to justice and peace.William Only the Left is fighting about this. As for discussing gay marriage and why it is not a good idea, that is one way folks can attend to spiritual and corporal works of mercy that testify to Gods radical call to justice and peace. Pointing out that you and others proponents of gay marriage are wrong and trying to show you how and why you are wrong IS a spiritual work of mercy."The collective happiness of these sundry folk elevates the happiness quotient all around, contributing to a net good for society.Let me see, there are about 310,000,000 Americans, and assuming that half are adults, half of those are between 20 and 50, that about 1% of adults are gay, and that half of all gay people want to marry, that means your happiness quotient would rise for just a bit fewer than 400,000 people[(310,000,000 x 0.5) x 0.5] x 0.01 x 0.5 = 387,500 peopleI am trying to understand why in your quest for the collective happiness you think so advances the good of society; you apparently are willing to so casually risk the social and moral well being of over 300 million people in order to placate the rather odd sexual mores of less that one-half million people.

Jim, try the certification case from another angle: imagine an adoption agency refusing to certify Catholic couples because the religious tenets of the denomination sponsoring the agency considers the RCC to be a form of idolatry. Is it an encroachment on their religious freedom to prohibit that sort of testing? The short answer is no -- the long answer is that there is a big difference between "public" and "private" adoption, but the agencies whereof you speak are almost acting as quasi-public agencies carrying out state mandated adoption services, so the short answer is the right one.Birth parents can discriminate to their heart's content in choosing who should receive their child (assuming they aren't under judicial order of termination, in which case, see the short answer) -- when an agency has been subcontracted by the state to determine whether people meet state standards of suitability for being adoptive parents for children that the state is placing for adoption, it has to adhere to state standards, including non-discrimination laws. If you were the object of discriminatory animus this would be clear and sensible to you.

I find the regulation by the state of adoption policies based on equal treatment under law entirely acceptable. If gay marriage is the law in state X, I can see no legitimate basis for adoption agencies to be licensed such that gay couples are denied or discriminated against on the basis of a religious exemption of the agency. Next we would be hearing that a religious exemption exists for racially mixed couples. I see no "religious freedom" issue here the way I do in sacramental matters involving matrimony. I would like to hear the argument why faith-based adoption agencies should be exempt.

David It sounds like you are in fact of one-mind regarding that. In fact the effort it took to construct your wild exception-to-the rule example is witness to the fact that you approve of gay folks adopting children and that you do not like the notion of the state granting conscience or philosophical clause exemptions to Churches that object to placing children, even disabled children, with gay couples.

Ken,The point of my perhaps unlikely case is that the Catholic Church is not saying it's going to give preference to heterosexual married couples. I believe that's the case in almost all adoptions. The Church is saying that gay people, no matter how right they may be as parents for a specific child, are automatically ruled out because they are gay. To say there would never, ever conceivably be gay adoptive parents who would be best for any specific child under any circumstances is to say homosexuality rules out every other conceivable factor. That is bigotry. I could understand saying that in the overwhelming majority of cases, a child should be placed with a mother and a father. What I can't accept is saying that any gay people are always unfit, no matter what the circumstances, to raise a child. It goes beyond religious belief to contempt.

you apparently are willing to so casually risk the social and moral well being of over 300 million people in order to placate the rather odd sexual mores of less that one-half million people.Ken,Exactly how are less than a half million people who choose same-sex marriage going to harm the social and moral well being of 300 million people? Are they going to appear they are enjoying themselves so much that heterosexuals will be jealous and abandon traditional marriage? Did you know, by the way, that estimates are that somewhere between 1.7% and 6% of heterosexual marriages are "open marriages"? Some claim to fear that gay people will somehow increase infidelity in marriage, but if there are less than half a million gay people who would get married, even if they all had open marriages, they would be outnumbered by heterosexual married couples who agreed not to be monogamous.

I appreciated being ministered to by Ken, but it seems that his "good for society" angle is a stacked deck since he begins and ends with the belief that SSM can never be a social good. So I say, what's the harm? Let the gays marry the gays (if they want to ). Again, where's the harm?

On that we a can agree William; I do begin with the point that SSM is intrinsically wrong. SSM is wrong because homosexual acts are, as the pope puts it; intrinsically disordered.

@Ken: "you apparently are willing to so casually risk the social and moral well being of over 300 million people in order to placate the rather odd sexual mores of less that one-half million people."So the applicability of principles of Catholic teaching about social justice and human rights depends on a numbers game?! The fewer people affected by injustice, the less right they have to consideration?On that basis, one could argue that the mass murder of the Jewish people in the 20th century ought to concern us less than what happens to the majority on any given day, because the Jewish people happen to be a minority of the world's population, and were a minority in Europe at the time of the Holocaust.I had thought that the whole tenor of Catholic teaching about social justice and human rights is to remind us that minority groups have rights, no matter how tiny those minority groups are--solely because they are comprised of human beings.And that the argument that the majority has a right to rule and oppress solely because it's a majority is opprobrious.I clearly have misunderstood Catholic social teaching.

"...odd sexual mores..." It's not clear what this means, but please see on the other thread stats and links indicating heterosexuals are just as likely to practice those "odd" behaviors. But maybe Ken wants to reinstate sodomy laws, so government can fully regulate consensual adult hetero- and homosexual behavior.

It is sort of like dealing with an alcoholic, the person who, like the gay person, is very attracted to an unhealthy and somehow self destructive lifestyle.You do not do the alcoholic a favor by telling him to embrace his instincts, to do what he likes. For whatever reason, for him that is a path to sorrow and pain. The alcoholics cross is that he must try to steer clear of the thing his wants; nobody knows why this is.Likewise with gay folks; we do them no favor when we encourage them to follow their odd preferences. While it is important to be kind and understanding of the cross they bear, state endorsement of SSM is not a reasonable solution.

You can toss around labels like "intrinsically disordered," but human cultural history and biology (human and non-human species) don't support your claim.

Where's the harm? Sort of like where's the beef? I'm not seeing with my lying eyes the pernicious fruits of a destructive lifestyle in the men and women in my church who live committed relationship with same-sex partners. They seem joyful, spiritually grounded, moved to serve God and their fellow human beings. The analogy to alcoholism sounds to my ears as cheap cant.

Intrinsically disordered.... and yet homosexuality is a gift from God, who made us.

Given rates and risks of domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and rape, that "heterosexual lifestyle" is dangerous and doesn't deserve social or governmental sanction..

In the interests of fair play perhaps Professor Penalver can refer us to a blog post or short essay, either his own or someone elses, which convincingly lays out the case for same-sex marriage. The blog posts of Archbishop Dolan which he finds to be inadequate were 340 and 550 words long. Lets give Professor Penalver 1,000 words and then we can make potshots, I mean criticisms, aimed at his case. If its not an unconvincing little screed aimed at producing nice sound bites for the press then it will be a valuable exercise. I assume he will want to cover in his essay all biblical issues, ancient and recent history, potential unintended consequences, and multiple hard cases if he wants to persuade anyone of the reasonableness of his argument.

It's on!

If we legalize SSM the following bad thing(s) will happen:Have at it.

I recall being harshly expelled from a New Orleans trolley because I was the wrong color to have boarded and sat in the back. Far more seriously, criminal state law nearby forbade me until 1967 to marry the woman I might choose if I was the wrong color (or she was). Among other dire (real) considerations if we had married, children would have been _visibly_ marked for life in evidence of the crime. Defense of the foundations of society was sufficiently vigorous then to lead to Army deployment on the home front. The United States survived, nevertheless, as did a diverse, unfettered variety of religions, each with its own view of "divine laws". Experience suggests "the social and moral well being of over 300 million people" is not the delicate blossom Ken suggests. David N (2:06P) put it accurately. Inventing anthropology as Ken and Abp. Dolan do has the same effect as the Pope's occasional fabrication of history, weakening the intended argument rather than supporting it. Natural reproduction requires brief cooperation by a male and female at the right time. After that, the necessities of carrying on the species have been and continue to be provided in a variety of ways that raise children until they begin to contribute as adults. Freedoms of religion and speech allow anyone to believe and state a particular position (e.g., polygamy as practiced in the US in 2011) but imposing it on others in the US requires persuasion; repeated assertion doesn't make the case.

"Would a Catholic who enters into a homosexual marriage thereby remove himself from the Catholic Church? I guess its a pretty clear-cut instance of apostasy."Jim, interesting comment. May I poke play Devil's advocate?What if a homosexual couple marries in order to protect joint property and assets but is perfectly chaste? Have they done anything that flies in the face of Church teaching?What if a heterosexual couple divorces b/c the husband cannot have sex. If the husband remarries civilly, is he an apostate? Isn't he merely marrying for the sake of ensuring that his companion inherits their joint property and wealth?

It is a sad faith which has to depend on the state to maintain its religious quality. If history is any guide the church should avoid this. Take your choice. Innocent III, Boniface VIII, Constantine, Urban, Eugene......

"homosexuality is a gift from God, who made us"The I was born that way argument for engaging in homosexual acts is insufficient. There is supposedly a gene that predisposes people to become alcoholics. But if genetics predisposes someone to alcoholism, it is undeniably a bad thing to indulge it. Therefore, merely having a genetic predisposition toward certain actions does not in itself justify acting out that predisposition. Note this does not say anything regarding the disordered nature of homosexual acts, only that basing an acceptance of those acts on genetic predisposition is inadequate, because as the alcoholism analogy shows doing so is not always best for us.

The I was born that way argument for engaging in homosexual acts is insufficient. Mark Harden:Of course it's insufficient.

David Nickol asked, "Has anyone checked to see if the Netherlands and Spain are falling apart? Theyve had same-sex marriage for 10 and 7 years, respectively."Yes, David, I checked and Spain is falling apart. The unemployment rate in Spain was last reported at 21.3 percent in the first quarter of 2011. With an average of just over one child per couple, Spain has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, and an aging population. The current birth rate is around 1.36 and the government pays bonues to couples to have kids. The birth rate is probably inflated by the size of immigrant families. I'm no math whiz, but I think you need 2.0 kids to replace Mom & Dad when their time is up.I don't believe same-sex marriage caused the decline of Spain -- it has been hurting for years. But who knows, perhaps same-sex marriage is more likely to appear in a society that's in decline.

Bill M. - Boniface VIII was the one who ended his Bull Unam Sanctam (1302): "Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff." Probably would be hard sell these days. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/b8-unam.html

Would a Catholic who enters into a homosexual marriage thereby remove himself from the Catholic Church? I guess its a pretty clear-cut instance of apostasy.Jim,Apostasy?What if a Catholic divorces civilly, does not get an annulment, and remarries civilly. Is that a clear-cut instance of apostasy?Time to quote Pope John Paul II on the pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. I fail to see why those in same-sex marriages can't be treated exactly the same way without one word of Church teaching on homosexuality being erased:

It is first of all urgently necessary to establish a pastoral plan of preparation and of timely support for couples at the moment of crisis. The proclamation of Christ's gift and commandment on marriage is in question. Pastors, especially parish priests, must with an open heart guide and support these men and women, making them understand that even when they have broken the marriage bond, they must not despair of the grace of God, who watches over their way. The Church does not cease to "invite her children who find themselves in these painful situations to approach the divine mercy by other ways ... until such time as they have attained the required dispositions" (Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, n. 34). Pastors "are called to help them experience the charity of Christ and the maternal closeness of the Church, receiving them with love, exhorting them to trust in God's mercy and suggesting, with prudence and respect, concrete ways of conversion and participation in the life of the community of the Church" (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful, 14 September 1994, n. 2). The Lord, moved by mercy, reaches out to all the needy, with both the demand for truth and the oil of charity.

"Of course its insufficient."Thanks, David. I was directing my comment to the man who wrote (his full comment):"Intrinsically disordered. and yet homosexuality is a gift from God, who made us.Which seemed to me to be saying simply "I was born that way".

"But who knows, perhaps same-sex marriage is more likely to appear in a society thats in decline." Given Spain legalized sodomy in 1822, that's one heck of a long decline... ;)

"In a wonderful graduate course History of the Family my mind was expanded to recognize, as others have pointed out, how that concept evolved and changed throughout pre-history and history."David P. ==One technical logical point, but I think it is relevant. In the past the symbol "marriage" has had many verbal definitions (the things you find in dictionaries), and it has many verbal definitions today. Those definitions are associated with as many different concepts (thoughts which are the meanings of the words). There has been NO ONE concept that somehow changed into something other than itself.Here's the main point (which I"m sure you'd agree with): there is neither one definition of "marriage" nor one concept of "marriage". "Marriage" (some single institution) did not evolve into other institutions. There simply have been many analogous institutions *called* "marriage* that been approved by society at different times and places.It seems the US and other Western countries are in process of inventing new definitions/concepts for the word "marriage". It might be tempting to say that one of those meanings signifies whever it is that are the "building blocks of society", but "building blocks" is only a metaphor, and it really isn't a definition at all. On the other hand, it also might be quite rational to hold that one particular meaning is the *most important* meaning for society, and that that meaning ought to be defined into law.But if we're talking about being *rational* about this (and if we're talking natural law ethics we are most assuredly *required* to be rational) then we must give *reasons* for holding one definition/concept to be the most important one . And the requirement that reasons must be given holds whether you are anti-gay marriage or pro-gay marriage.In other words, we ought to be looking for the definition of "marriage" that is so important it needs to be defined in law, and we must give reasons for why that definition is the most important one for society.\Being rational also includes giving reasons why a definition/concept ought to be rejected. But in those cases too, we must give reasons/evidence why the definitions/concepts and ultimately the reality must be rejected.So I'll ask for the umpteenth umpteenth time -- with Mary -- why, why, why should gay partnerships not be included in the most important definition of "marriage", whatever that exact definition might be.Sorry to go on so about language use, but as Wittgenstein says, language can bewitch us. In very important matters we must be very careful how we use it.

Same scenario, different outcomes: Terry and Sam are a married couple. [ Terry has spent most of their many years together caring for Sam's adopted children and. recently, for Sam's disabled mother. Earlier, Terry had taken "family leave" from her job when the children needed her. The couple 's home is ownedjointly. Sam. the breadwinner, retired at 65,] and, by SS regulations, the two received an additional 50% of Sam's SS for Mary. [Sadly, Sam has died, after a long hospitalization, during which Terry lovingly attended to him.] Terry is supported by Sam's pension, on which he took the "survivor" option, and on 100% of his SS. In her "community property " state, she now owns the house. Terry and Sam (Terence and Samuel?) (Theresa and Samantha?) are a couple. [All bracketed statements are the same for both couples] Terry was not given "family leave", and was fired for taking time off. Terry did not receive SS. Terry was legally barred from Sam's deathbed by Sam's "family". " Terry did not receive Sam's pension or SS. Terry owns only half of the house. Sam's family owns the rest.

ISTM that getting into arguments about how "family" is best defined confuses the topic of the thread -- how is "marriage" best defined. They're related, but not identical.

"There is no inalienable right to government funds to run, say, adoption services.Only people have rights, and as I see it orphans have an inalienable right to be adopted. If a child needs a parent and a social group will provide a parent for him/her, then that kid has a right to the service. If the social group wants to specialize in one sort of adoption (same religion), then the kid ought to be able to be helped by that group (freedom of religion issue) -- and it government ought to provide funds for it.(OK, so I just thought this up.)

I have read a lot of inane comments on this blogsite, but this just about takes the cake:"But who knows, perhaps same-sex marriage is more likely to appear in a society thats in decline."But who knows, perhaps tornadoes and bad storms are more likely to appear in red states in the US as a way of God expressing disappointment in them.But who knows, perhaps higher rates of out-of-wedlock births are more likely to appear in red states in which conservative religion predominates because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I'm not much of a believer in a gay gene, even if I think that same-sex attraction is neither chosen nor an affliction. Who knows by what curious process sexual identity is formed? I don't much care. But the analogy of same-sex attraction to a chemical or behavioral addition seems deeply flawed.

"Children of gay couples are missing one parent. "Felapton --Gay couples with a child/children would disagree. What they don't have is one parent of each sex. Whether or not this is good for the children is, as I see it, the only really important issue that still needs to be resolved.Yes there is some research indicating that all that is important is that there be two parents. But, as I see it, this issue is so fundamental and the data so far is so sparse that we ought to hold out on making a final judgment about it.

Terry and Sam, if they are Catholic, know that it is the avowed couple who are ministers of Matrimony, and they may pledge their troth in a private "ceremony", Known only to themselves and their God. ---- But they need that legal certification !

" ... why, why, why should gay partnerships not be included in the most important definition of 'marriage'?"Because marital (i.e., heterosexual, procreative) relations are commanded by God. Whereas homosexual relations are forbidden by God.It is useful to have different terms for things that are so completely unlike each other.

My comment about same-sex attraction being a gift from God is not fully reducible to "I was born that way" any more than it is to "the devil made me do it." It's a recognition that our sexuality is both something integral to who we are as persons and mysteriously complex. We have should not regard this orientation as a cruel curse or a developmental abnormality.

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