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GOP Insider Memo Recommends Changing Course on Same-Sex Marriage

Andrew Sullivan published an astonishing memo, dated 5/11/12, from GOP pollster Jan van Lohuizen, who was W's pollster in 2004, and is generally connected to the GOP establishment. He recommends an about-face on gay issues. Here are some of his talking points:1. People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits."2. As more people have become aware of friends and family members who are gay, attitudes have begun to shift at an accelerated pace. This is not about a generational shift in attitudes, this is about people changing their thinking as they recognize their friends and family members who are gay or lesbian.3. As people who promote personal responsibility, family values, commitment and stability, and emphasize freedom and limited government we have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone. This includes the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your choosing, the freedom to live without excessive interference of the regulatory force of government."I wonder if some version of this insight informed Mitt Romney's lukewarm response to the Obama affirmation of same-sex marriage rights. Instead of hitting back with fire and brimstone, he seemed pretty desultory in response. This from Garrett Quinn at "Not only did Romney answer that question with no passion but he repeatedly called his position on the issue 'his preference'." But over at the USCCB, where same-sex civil unions (much less civil marriage!) are declared to be "a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society," well, what happens now? I imagine the GOP will throw its bishop-buddies under the bus. The bishops have devoted a huge amount of energy and cash--many dozens of millions of dollars, at a time when they're closing schools and parishes apace--to shoring up a natural law argument that reduces marriage to a matter of procreation. The standard slander from right-wing apologists is that marriage is either about procreation or it's a matter of mere romance, utterly disregarding the deeper human values of commitment, responsibility, enduring love "for better and for worse," and all the other non-whimsical values that a marriage at its best can embody.Gee, let's see: when the bishops' "religious liberty" initiative was seen for what it was--an attack on contraception that appeared to lots of folks to be an attack on women, the GOP got suddenly quiet. We'll see how many high-ranking republicans stand next to bishops in their "Fortnight of Freedom." And the public credibility of the USCCB takes another blow.Just for kicks, I explored a case that's not exactly parallel, but not far off. Bob Jones University ended its ban on interracial dating in 2000, after a political hubbub when then-Pres. Bush visited the school and was roundly attacked by other Republicans, notably John McCain. Here's what Bob Jones III said at the time: "We're being defined as a racist school. Thats all the media is talking about, he said....We realize that an interracial marriage is not going to bring in the world of antichrist by any means." The USCCB would do well to be careful to think of how its crusade against same-sex marriage is making the Church look to outsiders, and, sadly for many of us, to insiders.

About the Author

Lisa Fullam is professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).



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I have no doubt that the GOP will throw those who support the traditional definition of marriage under the bus, as will Fox News in due time. Fox has been slowly softening its stance over the years on a number of matters that will be difficult to maintain in the coming years. However, I expect that within the next twenty years, when the counter-revolution kicks in, reality will throw those who support a redefinition of marriage under the bus. When it becomes crystal clear to many who have settled for benign toleration on this major cultural battle that there is no way to stop a brother and sister marrying (Think about the increasing GSA phenomenon) and Bobby from marrying Linda and Lucy or Billy and Larry from marry Lars, Hal and Kate, then the backlash will start and I think you'll really have a volatile culture war on your hands. Just as with the current status of abortion in the US, alternative relationships will begin to be seen in a negative light again. It will take time but reason thankfully enforces itself.

The bishops will never chamge their minds about anything until they have some extremely strong reasons which give them permission yo change. What the nature of such reasons might be problematic. It seems clear that they first see that chamge would be good with regard to some matters. Nut which mattrrs? I thinl that they are right not to throw over a lOng-held and scripture inspired teaching such as the teaching againat anti-gay practice.But what *would* justify such a change? That's what they need to know in order to unlock their mimds And it's up to the non-bishops to help them. That will take courage, of course, from the scripture scholars, theologians. Ethicians, and historians. Aybe they need to organize. There is strength in numbers.Please excuse any typos-- this iPhone always seems to get its own way.

Oops -- that should have been:They Are right not to EASILY throw out such a long-standing and scripturally based teaching.(This spell-checker is a demon. Doesn't take any sisterly corresction at all!)

Here again is another reason the USCCB should, rethink its political priorities. This is Rachel Held Evans' post called "How to win a culture war and lose a generation": Money quote:

When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was antihomosexual. For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith....My generation is tired of the culture wars.We are tired of fighting, tired of vain efforts to advance the Kingdom through politics and power, tired of drawing lines in the sand, tired of being known for what we are against, not what we are for.And when it comes to homosexuality, we no longer think in the black-at-white categories of the generations before ours. We know too many wonderful people from the LGBT community to consider homosexuality a mere issue. These are people, and they are our friends. When they tell us that something hurts them, we listen. And [North Carolina's anti-gay] Amendment One hurts like hell.

It occurs to me that there is another very basic question the bishops need to consider: Just when ought they to reconsider an old teaching? What should prompt them to say: hey, wait a minute-- is this teaching true for *all* times or for *some* or for *many* or for*none*?They have asked that question in the past (e.g., about slavery). So there clearly is precedent.It sems to me when a vast number of the faithful hav e changed that the bishops ought to look anew at the old teaching.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

In the Catholic thought-world of the Catholic bishops, change is not highly valued, to put it mildly. I won't go so far as to say that the bishops value only stasis (i.e., non-change). However, in their thought-world, stasis is generally preferred over change.

My daughter lives in NC. She was aghast at the activities of Bishop Michael Burbidge et al in favor of Amendment 1, and felt inundated with homilies, letters to people's homes, media, bulletin announcements and so forth, ad nauseam.She speculates that maybe she should follow her sister right out of the Catholic Church, and become Episcopalian. The drumbeat felt that incessant and distracting. There is a fascinating map of NC showing a distinct correlation between level of education and position on Amendment 1., Burbidge is out of Philadelphia's archdiocese (say no more as to his leadership models), and has also decided to open the seminary to 18-year olds just graduated from high school --- duplicating his life experience.Perhaps bishops really need to implode before waking up. Or will arrogance keep them locked in their sense of infallibility? Ann O has framed the question well: what will give them extremely strong reason to change? That's worth pondering. At which point do they become so irrelevant that time has completely passed them by?Something that puzzles me: if homosexuality itself is not sinful by its very essence, how rational is it to proclaim that its expression is sinful and even intrinsically disordered? Do not essence and expression need to be congruent in character? I'm far from theologically literate but the thought occurs to me.

Carolyn,Fine question. Maybe it boils down to: does God make mistakes? If so, is gayness a mistake on God's part? If not, how can it be wrong?What Kind of wrong is it, if it is wrong? A mistake? But mistakes are not moral issues. Is it a sin, i.e., a moral issue ? Can a physical/psycoligical state (being gay) be a sin if one hasn't chosen it? Is this Nature's mistake? If so, and God rules Nature, how can He not be responsible for the mistake?Complexity. Complexity.Or did He choose to make somethiing good -- gayness?

There really is a conservative argument for accepting same-sex marriage .... The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage - Ted OlsonOther Christian denominations have reconciled the bible and acceptance of same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage - it doesn't seem like the church's discrimination against LGBT people is based so much on scripture as on something else. Perhaps when the church sees that the dicrimination no longer works to their benefit, the policy will change.

Carolyn Disco: I do not agree with Catholic "natural law" moral theory. I think it leads to all kinds of ridiculous teachings regarding sexual morality. Nevertheless, I will try to explain the church's teachings here to the best of my ability.You mentioned the term intrinsically evil. In Catholic "natural law" moral theory, homosexuality is said to be intrinsically evil.Next, you mentioned that "homosexuality itself is not sinful by its very essence."Your statement is a correct understanding of this point in Catholic "natural law" moral theory.Next, I want to introduce the doctrine of original sin. Just as I don't think that Catholic "natural law" moral theory is a good moral theory, so too I don't think that the doctrine of original sin is a good doctrine.Nevertheless, for the sake of discussion, let's go along with the doctrine of original sin.According to this doctrine, I am not responsible for my human condition (i.e., the product of original sin).But I am responsible for my own deliberate acts. That is, I can deliberately choose to act in sinful ways, or not to. So I am responsible for my sinful acts.Now, with this example in mind, let's go back to considering homosexuality. The homosexual person is responsible for his or her own deliberate acts.In Catholic "natural law" moral theory, homosexual acts are sinful acts, acts for which they homosexual person is responsible. In this way, the church's teaching is that homosexual persons should be chaste, and their chastity is not sinful.

Best concise statement regarding the Vatican's take is Ratzinger at the CDF in 2003, viz: "The inevitable consequence of legal recognition of homosexual unions would be the redefinition of marriage, which would become, in its legal status, an institution devoid of essential reference to factors linked to heterosexuality; for example, procreation and raising children." are several arguments, all of which boil down to procreation. JPII defined the unitive element of marriage as only possible between straights--procreative potential is a necessary condition for union. Procreative potential can be merely symbolic, as between the old, but a relationship must always be heterosexual. So here we see Ratzinger saying it clearly--homosexual unions are unacceptable because they're not heterosexual.

"... reality will throw those who support a redefinition of marriage under the bus. When it becomes crystal clear to many who have settled for benign toleration on this major cultural battle that there is no way to stop a brother and sister marrying (Think about the increasing GSA phenomenon) and Bobby from marrying Linda and Lucy or Billy and Larry from marry Lars, Hal and Kate, then the backlash will start and I think youll really have a volatile culture war on your hands."I get SO sick of this argument. By that logic, oughtn't we to blame marriage itself as the slippery slope? If men and women hadn't been able to marry, then gay partners wouldn't want to emulate it, and brothers and sisters wouldn't agitate for it at some future point, and on and on ad infinitum.Moreover, there are several states in which it is still legal to marry your first cousin. Why aren't the bishops up in arms about that? It's against Church teaching on consanguinity, no?

I think putting marriage in a "religious freedom" context actually creates that slippery slope David fears. If secular marriage is just a state-preferenced relationship, its easier to set the boundaries of what we want to preference. But when we talk about it as a matter of religious freedom, don't we have to allow those people whose religion encourages polygamy to enter into the kind of relationships David talks about?

Interesting point, Irene.

At one time, the Mormon religion did allow polygamy. But the Mormons were forced to stop officially endorsing polygamy.So in the United States, freedom of religion does not trump everything else.

Ann -- You and I enjoy the great freedom to err, live and learn, and move on wiser. On subjects as contentious and personally sensitive as the present one, the bishops, from the top down, appear to reject the power we enjoy and end up trapped by the threat of change and its imagined consequences. Years of episcopal experience and mutual reinforcement may make it impossible for most bishops to wallow around a bit in ignorance as we do in pursuit of further insight and understanding (skillfully, e.g. AO 4:03pm). If so, nothing short of some fairly catastrophic event is likely to prompt reflection by them. Some underlying official assumptions about human biology and psychology appear to be remnants from centuries ago when people knew no more than they could deduce from externally observable organs and signs of reproduction. Lisa F. in a couple of lines of her post points to some of the other essentials that must also be considered if one were to address marriage accurately and honestly today beyond the function we have in common with animals. It is ironic that the leading spokespersons the USCCB puts forward on marriage are committed celibates for life. After half a century of marital experience, including plenty of better and worse, I cannot grasp the concept I keep hearing from them declaring - but not explaining - the threat of same-sex marriage to heterosexual marriage. Two separate sub-populations are involved with little likely overlap because of the typical strength of an individual's gender orientation and attraction. This assertion carries less weight than the one on foundations of civilization and should fade away. The issue of proper care of children is centrally important but quite separate.

The simple fact is that what used to be called mainline Protestantism has largely embraced homosexuality, divorce, contraception, abortion, women clergy, etc. Those denominations are perfectly attuned to the liberal zeitgeist.If the problem besetting the Catholic Church in America were its failure to embrace the liberal zeitgeist, those denominations would be growing. But they are not. Mainline Protestantism used to be dominant in America. It has now been surpassed by evangelical Protestantism and it continues to shrink. The latest ARDA survey shows mainline Protestantism declining by 12.8% in the first decade of the 21st century, even after decades of declining membership. The United Church of Christ, for example, now has only about half the members it had when it was formed in 1957, even though America's population has nearly doubled since then. The solution to the problems facing the Catholic Church in America is a revival of faith, not following the same failed experiments of liberal Protestantism.

"utterly disregarding the deeper human values of commitment, responsibility, enduring love for better and for worse, "And why should those wonderful valies be the object of public policy?This is really a fight about a corpse, the one of civil marriage as an effective tool to protect women and children in a world where men do no get pregnant and can always walk away from their offspring.Having taken that out of the equation (since marriage has NOTHING to do with gender and procreation, right, Ms. Fullam?), what is left is a form of "secular blessing." We want the state to approve and endorse our "enduring love," Except, we all know that if it does not endure... it can be dissolved for $300 (according to a billboard near my house).The all thing is completely ridiculous.If I could go back I wouldnever waste again the $75 for the marriage licence. We should have just got married in Church and registered as domestic partners in order to have my wife share in my health plan.

Sorry, in case somebody wants to bring up the question of child support: an obvious unitended consequence of SSM (i.e. the "romanticization" of marriage, meaning that marriage has nothing to do with responsible procreation and is all about "relationships")will be that there will be no incentive whatsoever for young men to marry. Mind you, this is already the case in our culture. SSM will just mean that there will be no return.

Perhaps the generation after the 16-29 year olds Lisa Fullam cites --- of which my grandson is a part --- share his experience.He accepts families of his friends, whether with daddies and mommies, two mommies, or two daddies. No big whoop. All are or have been in his circle.

"We want the state to approve and endorse our enduring love" ...I don't care what the state approves of or endorses. I want it to recognize the secular contract that I will make with my partner that consequently bestows on us all of the secular rights, priviliges, benefits and responsibilities that inure to everyone else who enters into this contract.That's what secular marriage is - a contract. Religious matrimony (not something I and my partner are seeking) can be free to (dis)approve or (un)endorse any darned thing it wishes. Just keep it out of the way of my secular entitlements based upon the same contract that everyone else enters into in the eyes of the state.

Jimmy Mac:Excuse me: a contract between two parties usually does not involve any special privileges granted by a third party (in this case, the state). Nobody is prevented by signing a "marriage contract" involving visitations rights, inheritance etc.. Civil marriage involves a whole set of benefits that go beyond what the two partners promise each other, doesn't it? Otherwise, what would be the "injustice" against gay couples?

Carlo Lancellotti: In the United States, we speak of a contract between two parties as legally binding each party to the contract to certain stipulations within the contract.But note the wording "legally binding."As the wording "legally binding" shows, the contract that the two parties entered into with one another presupposes the legal system of the United States.For example, if one party violates the contract, the other party can take legal action, thereby bring the legal system of the United States into play. The legal system of the United States provides certain services and enforcement above and beyond the two parties who entered into the contract.Now, in the case of civil marriage, the two parties are getting married. But it is a civil marriage because the two parties are getting married to one another within the legal system of the United States. As in other kinds of contracts between two parties, the legal system in the United States does provide services and enforcement above and beyond the two parties who entered into the contract.

Thorin - outstanding comment.

The first point is the contentious one. I know many conservatives, primarily young professionals, who are not opposed to same sex marriage. But, they prefer a political, i.e. federalist/states' right, solution rather than a judicial solution (as does Pres. Obama). Polling suggests the public agrees with this. If you look at the Gallup tracking over the last 20 years or so, there is a slight upward trajectory of support, broken up by occasional spikes for or against. The spikes against generally follow judicial decisions which foreclose a political solution. This polling suggests why Obama has played it so coy on his "personal" support, and why is adoption of the states' rights position is so interesting to me.

Regarding Lohuizen's three points in Lisa's post: the first two points are certainly very much in line with Catholic magisterial teaching. Shouldn't we applaud this influential Republican making these arguments?The third point is interesting in that it illustrates that the GOP is not of one mind on gay marriage. It goes without saying that social conservatives, by and large, oppose it. But libertarian conservatives, while perhaps not full-throated supporters of it, don't oppose it, either, because their view of limited government is such that they believe that individuals should be free to make these decisions without government interference. I read Lohuizen's third point as essentially making this argument.Here is a recent column from Steve Chapman, a libertarian conservative. His comparison of Obama on gay marriage to Lincoln on slavery is pretty interesting and seemingly pretty apt.

As a Democrat opposed to gay marriage, point #3 of this memo does not surprise me in the least. The economic views of Republicans are much more coherently aligned with pro-choice on abortion and pro s-s marriage.

"There are several arguments, all of which boil down to procreation."Lisa, you write that as though procreation is easily dismissed. It's an essential element. It's not sufficient, but it's necessary. Marriage without sexual complementarity and the possibility of procreation is like a car without an engine or a restaurant without food - it lacks one of the things that makes it what it is supposed to be. It may well be that the church will need to learn to live in a society that accepts gay marriage - in fact, obviously, that's happening already in the handful of states that permit gay marriage. None of this is to say that the church can't or shouldn't love gay people. Obviously, Jesus does, and so the church should, too. In my opinion, the church as a whole, and church leaders in particular, can go much farther than they have to support full human and civil rights for homosexuals. My advice to bishops in states where laws or constitutional amendments are actively being considered and debated is to speak positively and forcefully about the civil and human rights to which all people, including LGBT people, are entitled. I would suggest they let the 80/20 rule guide their rhetoric: 80% of their public statements should be positive, loving and firm statements about these rights. Lohuizen's second point above, which I presume is based on polling data, suggests that the church - meaning the entire People of God, not just the clergy - are already intuiting that this is the right direction. We should rejoice that our homosexual family members and friends are feeling comfortable enough to acknowledge who and what they are, and that they are being more and more accepted for it. Now let our church's teaching, at the grassroots, acknowledge this holy reality.

The whole problem with the gay marriage argument is that while professing otherwise, its based on entirely selfish motives as shown in this statement:'This includes the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your choosing'This is definitely not the underlying premise of marriage. It totally disregards the rights of children, just like abortion. And all the arguments about homosexual families being good belie the fact that in these 'families' the children are 'manufactured' for the couple by a conscience choice. That conscious choice essentially treats children as a consumer good in direct contravention of their basic humanity. In marriage, the children are the natural result of procreation and adopted children result from differences from the norm, where norm is defined as illict sexual behavior, inadequate parenting, or potentially parental death. Natural infertility and miscarriage demonstrate the more is required than the conscious decision of the parents.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.Jimmy Mac,Tick, tock. Tick, tock. God awaits us all.

North Carolina only reflects what the majority of America thinks - believes. Why the hard Left has such a problem with natural law and representative government (democratic rule, self-determination, there are other terms for it), I have no idea. fact is that regarding homosexuality, the Church is correct. Regarding how we govern ourselves, how we (or any nation for that matter) arrange our society, the people have and should continue to have, the say-so.

NPR had a neat piece on how didivded religious comunities are today on gay marriage.They chose the Presbyterians who now accept gay clergy, but not gay unions.Made me think that within two blocks of our house there are two Prebyterian churches. One splintered off because the traditional one did not let women speak in the sanctuary.The divide goes on til today.This issue here will not go away and the argument about what is traditional and what has evolved in understanding will go on - often vitriolically.And, here's a big problem, poltically -in which individual's views wil also be shaded by and shaped by their poltical views.More fuel for a nation more divded and the ugly power of money wil be utilized to spin more into that divide -very sad.

Worth a read: what about "love"? Isn't it a bit mean-spirited not to allow people who love each other to get married, even if they are of the same gender? Love always seeks the well-being of the loved one. This is true in all sorts of love, whether between parents and children, between children themselves, or between friends. Sexualizing the love in these relationships would be profoundly mistaken since none of these loving relationships is or could be spousal in character.Therefore, sex between parents and children, between siblings, or between unmarried friends, or between friends of the same gender is objectively disordered and will inflict harm on the parties involved no matter how they "feel." This is the opposite of seeking the loved one's well-being.

Bruce's argument about love has been repeated here before and doesn't advance a conversation about committed love betwen adults involving more than feelings.The"selfish motive" argument is not beleived by many experientially and hence begs the question.Positive discusson and dialogue, going forward, would be more useful

Thomas Farrel:yes, you will be pleased to know that even in less civilized and advance cultures that the US, the state is responsible for enforcing contracts. You will amazed to know that also in Europe we have a tax-payer supported judiciary system that takes care of such matters.The fact remains, however, that civil marriage bestow a set of benefits, motivated by goals of public policy, that go well beyond the enforcement of a private contract.

My last on this continuing and often repetitive discussion (if one may use that label)- I don't think the comment on "liberal proyestayism" was outstanding -I'd be bemused by it if it weren't so smugly facile.My story of the two Presbyterian churches reminded me of how the pastor of the splinter group was such a fine leader, deeply involved in comunity issues, especially health and mental health -often buried here -and open to ecumenical ideas.Seemed like a "noursihing" Presbyterian neighbor to me.Where is the nourisnment in tyhe continuing religious/political maipulation divide here?

Theselfish motive argument is not beleived by many experientially and hence begs the question.Bob,Its not about what you or I believe or do not believe nor however well you think your splinter group pastor acts. Its about 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Love your neighbor is not about a romantic feeling.

Here's an interesting analysis by E. J. Graff, author of "What Is Marriage For?": Some excerpts:"...anti-miscegenation laws are not a good parallel with state laws and constitutional amendments, like North Carolina's, which ban recognition of same-sex marriages. ""States have always written their own marriage laws -- and if they didn't, if we had national marriage laws, I would not be married right now, as I have explained in great detail over at The American Prospect. I'm married in my state of Massachusetts only because the states are the laboratory of marital change. ""...that's exactly what we need now: for the federal government to repeal its unprecedented incursion into marriage law -- DOMA, which defines marriage for federal purposes as between one man and one woman -- and to recognize all marriages that have already been made by the states.""There's another reason the bans on interracial marriage are a poor parallel with same-sex marriage: same-sex marriage is a new idea, while interracial marriage was possible until states banned it as part of a comprehensive post-Civil War regime to impose slave-like status on blacks in every way but outright ownership. ""If interracial marriage bans aren't a good parallel with the same-sex marriage debate, what is? Divorce laws.""No-fault divorce with remarriage rights divided the Protestant denominations for years: wasn't this polygamy, and wouldn't it lead quickly to legal incest and bestiality? (The Catholic church was against the divorce law changes; the Jews were largely for; only the Protestants were mixed.)""In my lifetime, nongay liberals' great big sweeping gestures on behalf of LGBT rights have repeatedly backfired.... Obama is going at precisely the right pace: first action, then language. He keeps real progress well below the radar. First he refuses to defend DOMA in court, and has his Justice Department argue in favor of strict scrutiny on sexual orientation. Who pays attention to legal fine points like that? Wonks and nerds. Nobody else. He did the same with hospital visitation regulations. Who reads HHS regulations? I'd rather have steady, small-bore progress than big soaring rhetoric that roils up our opposition."

On a lighter note, the fact that after five thousand (probably more) years of civilization and incidentally, almost as long with the institution of marriage, some of us more modern Americans are asking what does marriage mean? or what is marriage anyway?, reminds me of a comedian commenting on Feng Sui. On top of wondering why Americans put such faith in what the Chinese say about home design and arrangement, as opposed to what recommendations the French or the Irish might have regarding home and hearth, he wryly noted that with such honestly in seeking the advice from the ancient Chinese art of Feng Sui, we Americans really show that are so nuanced, so sensitive, and so advanced now, that we dont even know how to arrange the furniture!:-)

" --- dont we have to allow those people whose religion encourages polygamy to enter into the kind of relationships David talks about?"Yep - and why not?"Tick, tock. Tick, tock. God awaits us all."And so do the tides of time and demographics.TT, TT

Ken: if the majority of voters decided that only same-sex marriage would be allowed and not that between members of the opposite sex, would that be OK with you?How about if they decided that, once you marry, you have to wait 5 years until you prove yourself capable of birthing and raising children? Tests, psychological exams, etc.?Do you really think that the majority of people at the time it happened would have voted for (1) voting rights for blacks, and (2) the rights of opposite race people to marry?

Jimmy Mac, in my last exchange with Ken, I asked him versions of the questions you're now asking him. I didn't get a reply to them.To rehearse his moral reasoning (and please tell me if I'm misrepresenting your position, Ken) in the preceding exchange in which I asked him versions of the preceding questions:1. Southern folks are backwards, unlike Ken and Catholics, to whom Ken invites backwards Southerners to evolve up.2. The well-documented, bitter, and protracted defense of white supremacy among Southerners illustrates their backwardness. It appears that in Ken's version of Catholic history, no Catholics ever defended racist ideas in the past or do so today.3. But, it has to be admitted, Southerners have now evolved up to Ken's Catholic position on the issue of gay rights, where, in contrast to their backwards and indefensible commitment to defending racism, they're now at the true and good Catholic point when it comes to their treatment of gay human beings. They've now come up. And so Catholic who decry the backwardness of involved Southerners and who would never dream of denying rights to people on the basis of skin color have every right now to rejoice in the North Carolina vote, which would have been very inconvenient for Ken's reasoning if we North Carolinians hadn't suddenly evolved up with their latest vote.4. What makes Ken's position intuitively and unquestionably correct is that it is the position held by "the Church." Never mind (and let's not talk about) the fact that a majority of U.S. Catholics hold a position OPPOSITE to the one Ken wants to define as "the Church's" position vis-a-vis marriage equality. And never mind that he says we must let the majority determine these matters.5. To bolster what "the Church" says, Ken also refers to "five thousand (probably more) years of civilization" in which "the Church's" position on marriage was the default position--and he does so with a seeming total lack of awareness that the institution of slavery defended by the backwards Southerners like my family, whom he despises and who are "down" in contrast to his "up," defended that institution with PRECISELY THE SAME ARGUMENTS that slavery had been the default position of Christian civilization for centuries. And because the Jewish and Christian scriptures both countenance slavery--in fact, mention it positively far more frequently than they mention anything anti-gay Christians now want to pick out of them condemning "homosexuality."6. And for centuries, Catholics went right along with the defense of slavery--and practiced slavery. Some bishops and religious communities in the U.S. practiced slavery. Catholics were hardly "up" on the slavery issue when Southerners were down. If any religious community was "up" in the U.S. when it came to the slaver question, it was the Friends.It appears that what Ken and his ilk think = "the Church" = "civilization." I don't hear much more moral reasoning than that behind his propositions.And when I look for any awareness that defining others out of their Catholic conversations with slurs about their backwards relatives is hardly catholic, I don't seen to see such glimmers of awareness. Nor do I hear any awareness at all that the positions Ken defends as "the Church's" and as "civilized" can result in a massive sense of exclusion among gay and lesbian Catholics--can cause severe pain to gay and lesbian Catholics. I've concluded, in fact, that finding someone to target and define as human dirt is rather the name of this particular game by "the Church." a la Ken--who would, I've also concluded, very likely have been just as insistent when slavery was the unquestioned norm of Christian civilization on its unquestionable nature and biblical foundations, and the need to define out of the conversation those opposing slavery.

Interesting statistics on gay marriage and divorce

@Jim P. I no way am I dismissing the importance of procreation. It is a great good, an act of co-creation with God, and one of the goods that most people seek in their lives. But note Church practice on marriage. While, canonically, one must be capable of sex to marry, one need not be capable of reproduction. A pair of 70 year olds is no more fertile than a pair of lesbians or gay men, yet we allow the elderly to marry. We allow other people known to be sterile to marry--e.g.,cancer survivors, women past menopause, those who've been surgically sterilized by choice. In our practice, if not our theology, we recognize a range of true human goods in marriage beyond baby-making. That the magisterium reduced its assessment of marriage as a civil institution to biological procreation is a blinkered version of Catholic tradition. There's more to marriage, we know that in our tradition, and the interpersonal goods of marriage are matters of public health, too, not merely religious belief. What's curious is that, when push comes to shove, the bishops chose to emphasize the aspect of human relationships which we share with animals--pair-bonding to raise young--and ignore the human dynamisms of commitment, responsibility, all the psychological and spiritual resonances of the human "til death do us part" that are beyond biological functions.For a restaurant to be a restaurant, there must be food. But, in Catholic practice, for a marriage to be truly a marriage, children are not necessary. And very often same-sex couples carry the same deep desire to parent their offspring with their partners that is the Catholic requirement for marriage.

A quick correction to what I posted above:In point #3, the following "And so Catholic who decry the backwardness of involved Southerners" should read "And so Catholics who decry the backwardness of unevolved Southerners."The loss of the "s" at the end of Catholics was my mistake. My auto-correct insists on changing the word "unevolved" to "involved."

But, in Catholic practice, for a marriage to be truly a marriage, children are not necessary.Lisa,Nice history but weak argument. While there are situations where a married couple is unable to conceive and bear a child, some are not knowable ex ante. But those heterosexual couples are able to have sexual intercourse which is their only physical requirement for marriage. Full reproductive potency is not required, precisely because it cannot always be know in advance. Gay couples are inherently different. And remember, we are all called to the virtue of Chastity, even married couples. Gay sex is inherently unchaste.

@Bruce,That used to be true, but no more. We can say with certainty that a person post-menopause can not conceive. Likewise vasectomized men. Unless the surgery was botched, no go. Likewise many chemo patients are left sterile. All can marry in the Church. The magisterial documents, even JPII, go out of their way to affirm sterile marriages, but never are loveless marriages affirmed. So which is truly essential? The theology of marriage lags far behind the biology of reproduction. The reasoning behind requiring sexual function for marriage is that centuries ago, it was as close as folks could get to determining fertility. Not so now. And you can't appeal to miraculous conception by the superannuated, or others.Lesbians can have miracle-babies, too, just as virgins can.

Marriage has changed drastically within the Jewish and Christian traditions, let alone over the course of history of all the world's cultures, so the concept of a traditional marriage is poorly defined. One man, one woman, until death certainly wasn't the standard for X thousand years of civilization. All parts have had exceptions, and it doesn't address the thorny issue of whether the wife is subsumed into the husband's legal person.The core of modern marriage is rooted in subsidiarity. The couple joins themselves to each other, making the other the primary responsibility and the primary source of care for the rest of their lives. No other relationship is like it, not parents, nor children, nor siblings, nor friends. I think Ecclesiastes best describes it:"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone?"This is the reason the state is interested in marriage. A married couple can create greater things together than they can alone, and by taking responsibility for each other, they ease the burden on society when tragedy inevitably strikes. Legal marriage facilitates the couple in working as a joint entity rather than two individuals, and it raises the costs for a couple to end the relationship. Children greatly benefit from being raised by a married couple, but this isn't the only or even the primary interest of the state.

@Cupcake: Amen!

And while I'm at it, here's a datum from Rob Tisinai:

[I]n 2009 over 110,000 women aged 55 and older got married. That accounted for 5.1% of all marriages that year. The birth rate of women in this group is so small that the Census Bureau and the CDC dont even report it. For these women, "the" purpose of marriage is not procreation, not about bringing together moms and dads.... So this is what Maggie [Gallagher] needs to resolve: Weve got two groups, both of whom wish to marry, neither of whom can conceive on their own. According to Maggie thats a bad combination. Yet shes willing to let them marry as long as theyre not same-sex couples. At this point it takes some real tap dancing to avoid the idea that its really just all about gays.

HT: Andrew Sullivan

Thomas Farrell said: "It is ironic that the leading spokespersons the USCCB puts forward on marriage are committed celibates for life ..."I think that, in all honesty and in light of onging and very recent revelations about the practice of celibacy (Thomas Williams, LC), the word ALLEGEDLY or PURPORTEDLY should be put directly in front of "committed."

The NAACP today anounced its board has voted to support gay marriage.Will USCCB investigate groups that support the NAACP?

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