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Joe Biden on Same-Sex Relationships

Joe Biden came out in favor of equal civil rights for gay and straight unions/marriages on "Meet the Press yesterday. HuffPo has the story.On one hand, Biden's remarks, strictly parsed, do not move beyond the current stance of the Obama administration. And it seems clear that Biden had no intention of doing so. But he did say:

I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction -- beyond that.

Back in '03, Paul J. Griffiths made the case on Catholic grounds in Commonweal. Without challenging the magisterium's stance on marriage in the Church, he showed how Catholics might support civil same-sex marriage. His wrap-up:

I conclude that Catholics may support the legalization of same-sex marriages, together with the progressive disentanglement of sacramental marriage from state-sponsored contractual marriage. It is likely that such support, together with the argument and clarification that would accompany it, would clarify Catholic teaching about marriage, help Catholics to live in accord with it, make it more attractive to non-Catholics, and so, in the end, conform the body politic more closely to Christ by making the church more seductively beautiful. This is a prudential judgment, of course, correctible and fallible like all such.

Two points: 1. Terminology: Can we call it "marriage" for straights and "unions" for same-sex couples in the civil realm and not fall afoul of the Caetchism's insistence that unjust discrimination against LGBT people is wrong? And don't reply that civil marriage is for having children: civil marriage is open to straights regardless of their intentions regarding children. Since increasingly civil unions grant all the same rights and duties as marriage, why shouldn't the same word be used? As the ornithologists say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...Biden's "I don't see much of a distinction" can be read either to say OK to the union/marriage duality we have now, or as invoking that same venerable apothegm of avian biology in favor of just calling it "marriage" in the civil realm for gays and straights alike. 2. Catholic opinion is now currently narrowly in favor of civil same-sex marriage: about 52% say yes. And overwhelmingly (69%) Catholics favor civil same-sex unions. In 2009, the USCCB called civil same-sex unions "a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society." In the same document, they warn that contraception "has the potential to damage or destroy the marriage. Also, it results in many other negative consequences, both personal and social." I'm beginning to wonder whether magisterial teaching on same-sex marriage will go the way of magisterial teaching on contraception: widely known and widely ignored by the faithful in their daily lives, in their relationships with people close to them and in their prudential choices in the voting booth. And, of course, I'm bracing for magisterial push-back to Biden.

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Bruce: does this statement .... "Well one obvious example I have personally observed is get divorced and then take up with a gay partner. Happened before as well, but as the gay lifestyle becomes more socially acceptable it happens more. " ... indicate that you believe that gays or lesbians who have entered into a straight marriage for any reason (fear, pressure from family, church, whatever) should remain therein even though they are not fair to their spouse or children in living out a lie? Is that the value you place on straight marriage: it is better to live a lie than to be true to everyone and no longer perpetuate a falsehood?If that is a value of straight marriage that you are proposing --- better to live a lie than the truth --- then you have severe problems that need addressing.The idea that an "attractive gay lifestyle" will lure someone who is not gay is not worth commenting on.

For refeene, currently 7 states allow gay marriage; 43 states do not:http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/09/opinion/stanley-same-sex-marriage/

@Ken: "For refeene, currently 7 states allow gay marriage; 43 states do not . . . ."All except seven states in the Union once had laws on their books (or written into their constitutions) outlawing interracial marriage. Seventeen of those states, all in the South, had such laws up to June 1967, when the Supreme Court declared these laws unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia.A Gallup poll in 1958 showed that 96% of white Americans disapproved of interracial marriage. It seems beyond doubt that, permitted to vote on whether interracial marriages should be legal (or, indeed, if people of color should have the same rights as Caucasians), a majority of American citizens would have voted in the past (and perhaps might still vote today) to deny rights to racial minorities.The human rights of oppressed minority groups should NEVER depend on or be decided by popular vote. The fact that a majority supports the denial of rights to a minority is not a demonstration of the moral insight or moral correctness of the majority.

P.S. Take a look at what the legislature of North Carolina enacted for that state's constitution in 1875, as people of color were returned to quasi-servitude all over the American South in the period paving the way for draconian Jim Crow laws:http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/05/your-moment-of-history.html

You make a good point William, in that by the time the Supreme Court declare laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional (1967) most of the states (33 out of 50) had already repealed their laws prohibiting inter-racial marriage. In other words, the opinion of the Supreme Court and the nation regarding inter-racial marriage had by 1967 evolved; essentially the High Court's ruling in Loving v Virginia was a reflection of the opinion of the majority of the states.

@Ken (5/9, 1:24 pm) Thanks for this observation. Are you making what we might call a Burkean argument: when and if a majority of the states legalize same-sex marriage, only then should the federal government (whether through the legislative/executive or judicial branches) act?

I will argue for the morality of sex between consenting adults in non-exploitative contextsabe,Polygamy and incest are ok under this definition. You as an outside party certainly cannot determine whether the consent is freely given or not.There is just no argument for gay sexual relationships. They all refer to how its better than some other defective relationship like 'heterosexuals can screw things up all on their own, thank you very much'. Nothing distinguishes it from friendship of various forms. Its an illusion that those with eyes cannot see. You summarily reject any argument1) the morality of sex is not going to go anywhere2) historical tradition are doomed to fall apart. 3) same-sex marriage weakens the special place of marriage in society with absolutely no support. None of those are refutations of my arguments nor are they arguments for gay sex let alone gay marriage.

@Ken (5/9, 12:42 pm) Going back to your earlier statement that "no successful society in the history of Man has embraced gay marriage as a norm", I have a couple of reactions:1 - A minor point perhaps: legal status does not make something a "norm". (Unless one uses a tautological definition of "norm" as "anything that has legal status".) Plenty of "minority" relationships, statuses and behaviors are legal, but not the "norm". It's also true that illegal behaviors, e.g., speeding on the highway, can be the "norm" without being legal. 2 - There are now a number of North Atlantic countries in which same-sex marriage is legal and has been for some years. By the standards of human history, most of them are "successful societies".3 - Also, too, ancient Greece. Generally considered the foundation of "Western culture". Obviously a very different culture and society than our own in many ways, but certainly one in which same-sex relationships had a status higher than opposite-sex marriage (at least by some accounts).

Ken, thank you for your comment.If, as you say, the opinion of the nation had "by 1967 evolved," and if that Gallup poll in 1958 accurately found 96% of white Americans opposing interracial marriage in that year, what do you imagine accounts for such a rapid evolution in such a short span of time?I believe you've been missing an important point I've been making all along in our exchanges. My family considered ourselves among the "good" Southerners in 1957. My father was a lawyer, his brother an academic dean of a college, his sister a registered nurse. My mother's family included several teachers who wouldn't have dreamed of demonstrating prejudice towards a single child in their classroom--ever. Because they were too well-educated and too well-meaning to behave that way. They were particularly outraged at teachers with whom they taught who treated Jewish or poor white children differently than they treated other students.The conversation on which I let you eavesdrop, as it were, from our 1957 Christmas dinner was a conversation entre nous. As much as the adults in my family in that conversation deplored the attempt to "shove integration down our throats" by federal laws and federal courts, we equally deplored the ill-bred malice of those "other" white Southerners who were out in the streets acting out their racial hostility. We weren't, we told ourselves, those sorts of people.Which rather illustrates, I think, a point I've been trying to make over and over: the assumption that I'm "up" and others need to evolve "up to" me may well be ludicrously ill-founded and arrogant. Moral foundations have, it seems to me, to be based on something other than the perception that ANY group of human beings, whether they be "backward Southerners" who need to "evolve up" to OUR standards, or people of color, or gay people, or dclass and uneducated white people, deserve to be tagged as the despised others.I still have to ask: if your position about human rights for gay folks is obviously correct and superior--the "up" to which others ought to evolve--and if the backwards Southerners holding the same position you hold are despicable and inferior others--to what do you appeal to demonstrate your superiority and the superiority of your position, while those others are inferior insofar as they haven't evolved up to you and your norms?I'm curious. From where I stand--admittedly as a despised backwards Southerner who happens to be gay to boot--"up" and superior and the point to which evolution points are not self-evident. I think moral thinking requires more of us than projecting our group and ourselves as the self-evident standards by which others should be judged as up and down or evolved and unevolved.

Lets cut to the chase on this matter. It comes up over and over and over again in this and other Catholic blogsites. Neither side changes its beliefs and opinions.However, time and demographics are on my side, witnessed by this as one example: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/business/media/gay-on-tv-its-all-in-th... partner and virtually all of our LGBT friends, coupled and otherwise, Catholic and otherwise, simply do not give two hoots in hades about what religionists think about our relationships. In general, we are not looking for approbation, blessing or any other sanctions from religious organizations of any stripe.Currently we are hampered by the undue influence that ever-decreasing membership in religions exert over laws that uphold and legislate discrimination against us that would not be tolerated for one moment for any other group. William Lindsey has made a good case for the geographical problems that were enshrined in law against mixed race couples. Similar types of restrictions were permitted by virtue of restrictive covenants in property deeds. These kinds of discrimination were wrapped in the flags of biblicism, tradition, heritage, culture and other self-serving discriminatory reasoning.Bruce and his fellow travelers will continue to argue ever-increasing socially meaningless religious, traditional and cultural biases as justification for their position. Their points will remain upheld in what is becoming a smaller, purer Catholic church and other ultra-conservative denominations. So be it for those who choose to accept this way of theological reasoning. However, these ideas will continue to lose relevance in the greater society that understands that the US is a multi-cultural, multi-confessional, secular amalgamation of peoples who continue to believe in the ideas of equal protection, non-discrimination and that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. You are free to exercise your religious beliefs (within limits ask the Mormons about that) so long as you do not impinge on my right to exercise my religious or non-religious beliefs.As I have stated time and time again, the Catholic Church is free to posit matrimony as a sacrament and has the full and free right to apply or withhold that sacrament as it wishes. What proponents of same-sex marriage are arguing for is an elimination of religious influence over the rights, privileges, benefits and accountabilities that come from a secular institution called marriage. The benefits that come with governmental recognition of ones marital status are funded by taxes paid by all and should inure to the benefit of all, not just a few who want to impose their particular confessional idea of morality on everyone else.

"The President says YES!"Well, kind of. He also says it should be left to the states to decide.Besides, I think he was actually for gay marriage before he was against it, and for it again. Dizzy?

I can't believe how the cable news stations are in such a heat [they are reacting like Gone With The Wind's Aunt Pittypat getting the vapors over Yankees coming to Atlanta] over the announced public positions of President Obama and VP Biden support gay and lesbian marital unions. Duh???President Obama wants to get reelected. Right? This will not be accomplished without the overwhelming support of young voters, mostly under the age of 40. Young people are way ahead of the talking heads on TV - and way ahead of the talking heads in the pulpits of America too!Besides, the President needs the enthusiastic support of the LBGT community as well.Ergo, why wouldn't President Obama embrace the greatest leap in human rights since the Civil Rights Act in 1965? It's a no-brainer!Soon, eventually, even the Catholic clergy, most of whom are either in the closet or are in a covertly gay life style, will have to drop its public opposition to gay marriage and find a way to "ritualize" these loving relationships between gays and lesbians. Unless, of course, the Catholic Church really does have a death wish they are determined to play out in public???

Agree, Jim J.The spouses are the ministers of the sacrament of matrimony, anyway.Good timing by President Obama.Booo to the lewzers who like oppressing people for God-given traits.

"Ergo, why wouldnt President Obama embrace the greatest leap in human rights since the Civil Rights Act in 1965? Its a no-brainer!"Well, don't get carried away. He still believes he has the right as commander-in-chief to assassinate American citizens (but regardless of sexual orientation presumably) on foreign soil to preserve national security.

Well Gerelyn, alcoholism is also a God-given tendency, but we do not tell the boozer to follow hi natural (God-given) instinct. Rather, we correctly urge him to restrain him self from the self-destructive lifestyle to which he feels so strongly and naturally drawn.There are of course other crosses with which people for some reason are born, or for whatever reason they feel inexorably drawn toward e.g.; cleptomania, various mental disorders, and people try their best to deal with thier individual issues.

Ken, Left handedness is a God-given tendency, and we should not let those people follow their God-given instincts either. They need to be restrained from their self-destructive tendencies, and labor to make their right hand dominant.

Ken, Left handedness is a God-given tendencyjbruns,A counter-argument on a morally neutral trait does not refute Kens argument. Its just obfuscates.

Well Gerelyn, alcoholism is also a God-given tendency, but we do not tell the boozer to follow hi natural (God-given) instinct. Rather, we correctly urge him to restrain him self from the self-destructive lifestyle to which he feels so strongly and naturally drawn.--- (I said "trait", not "tendency". There's a difference.) As to the "boozer"? Jesus was called that, too. The appreciation of wine is a gift from God. That's why the Greeks worshipped Bacchus. As to "lifestyle"? Sexual orientation is not a "lifestyle", regardless of how often the term is repeated.

For all I know, the readiness to act irrationally, fearfully, and spitefully against people who have done one no harm may be a God-given tendency. And that it manifests itself most often against people who are perceived to be marginal and vulnerable, and rarely or never against the powerful, may say something about God's predilection. But I hope not.

Bruce and Ken, Marriage is about love, not sex sex sex. I wish for a minute you two could stop thinking about gay sex and start thinking about this debate in terms of love. Some people are born to love people of the same gender. Those people want to get married. This is about love.

If the gay "lifestyle" is all about sex, sex, sex - at the age of 71 I'm in deep trouble!Next we we celebrate #40. That's much, much more than sex, sex, sex.

That s/b "next WEEK, we".

But Bruce, Left handedness was NOT always morally neutral. It is by definition 'sinister.' Perhaps you will find it more to the point that homosexuality may actually be a trait like left-handedness, i.e. not genetic per se, but hardwired into an individual in ways not completely understood. Point being, it may be no more 'sinister' than left handedness, and therefore morally neutral, in which case homosexual 'acts' would be simply, well, natural.

@ Jeff Landry:Do you object to President Obama protecting innocent Americans from the likes of bin Laden? Or, do you just find it objectionable that it is President Obama who is the one wielding the levers of American justice for those who would wantonly murder Americans?

jbrunssinister is the latin word for left. That would be neutral. from online etymology: from L. sinister "left, on the left side" (opposite of dexter), perhaps from root *sen- and meaning properly "the slower or weaker hand"... in genuine Roman auspices, the left was favorable....And homosexuality cannot be a true genetic trait like left handedness. Left handedness has at best a marginal effect on reproduction. On the other hand, homosexuality has a negative effect on reproduction since practicing homosexuals choose not to procreate. A true genetic trait would be naturally selected out of the population, even if a few deny their 'inherent sexuality' and procreate. Over many generations, the homosexual population will necessarily decline to zero. Unless, of course, its not exclusively nature but has nurture characteristics; but then it would no longer be 'natural' :)

This is about loveMatt,That is where your argument completely fails. Any male-female couple has the inherent ability entirely within themselves create a lifelong commitment and grow a family. They dont need love, nor the church, nor the state to approve or disapprove at all. In fact, we have a name for that institution: cohabitation. That is the life state which marriage formalizes.Homosexual couples can only come together for a life-long commitment. They cannot grow a family without the help and support of third parties. I know, I know, not all heterosexuals are fertile therefore homosexuals should qualify. Not really, some heterosexuals seem infertile and then actually procreate and besides, no one knows what the result will be before the marriage. What about aged couples? Well, men can procreate for virtually their entire life while women lose the ability at menopause. So would you propose that we take the right to marry away from women at menopause but allow men to marry their entire life. Or alternatively remove it from everyone at age 50? what about existing marriages and the new trophy wives. No the not all heterosexual couples procreate is just another obfuscation.

About left-handedness and the connotations of "sinister" (dangerous, evil, threatening, etc. "Sinister" originally meant just "left-handed". but it seems it has developed all those awful characteristics in people's minds for some primitive, perhaps unconscious reason. I suspect it's because outliers of *all* sorts tend to be suspected/rejected/marginalized/pushed aside, even ostracized. If you're different, you're bad, if you're bad, we don't want you. Conform or leave.Example: Just today I had to see one of my eye specialists. He is also a plastic surgeon. Years ago he had been recommended to me as "the best in town", and he has successfully operated on my eye twice. But the first time I went to him I wondered if I was making a mistake. As he wrote out something on my chart I saw that he is left-handed and holds his pen at the screw-ball angle that left-handed people sometimes do. It actually made me wonder for a second or two, "How can this weirdo POSSIBLY be a competent plastic surgeon??" Of course, I quickly realized I was being irrational and stuck with him. That was years ago.Well, it just so happened that I had to see him today, and I saw him writing grotesquely with his left hand, and I STILL had the same stupid reaction: How can this man POSSIBLY be a competent plastic surgeon? My reaction was as dumb as ever: tribal prejudice at its most automatic.Tribal prejudices seem to be the most difficult to get rid of. But when there are moral issues involved, we MUST eliminate the subjective nonsense. As to gays, having been presented with evidence and having not-been-presented-with-counter-evidence (still waiting), it now looks quite clear that negativity towards gays is based on nonsensical reactions to what is different from our tribal norms. Like it or not, justice requires that we change our thinking, even if our feelings are hard to re-set. Such tribal reactions to gays can be downright sinister.

" A true genetic trait would be naturally selected out of the population...."Bruce=Right. But you are assuming that there has been enough time for the trait to die out. Just wait, and it will. But that is only one possible explanation for why gay DNA is still around. There is another possible scenario: DNA theory allows for repetition of the emergence of a characteristic. It is possible that it has re-emerged, and so it is still quite common and will remain such for a while. It is also possible that there is more than one genetic cause of homosexuality.

@Matt Moses (5/9, 5:56 pm) and Bruce (5/10, 12:06 am) Some thoughts about love, procreation and civil marriage:1 - Civil marriage is not "all about love". Granted, in our society today, romantic love is the dominant cultural expectation for marriage. However, this is not the case for all societies (including predominantly Catholic ones) in human history. And it's not the case for all marriages in our society (e.g., arranged marriages, which still occur).2 - Civil marriage is not "all about procreation". (Neither is the Catholic sacrament of matrimony.) As Bruce points out, there are many cases in which a heterosexual couple gets married and there is no possibility of that couple procreating.3 - Civil marriage is, among other things, a legal status that defines a broad set of (hundreds of) legal rights, privileges and obligations. The right to visit a sick spouse in the hospital. Inheritance rights. Domestic violence legal protections. Spousal survivor benefits. The list goes on. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_and_responsibilities_of_marriages_in...)So, should Jimmy Mac and his partner of almost 40 years (congratulations!) have access under US law to those rights, privileges and obligations? It seems to me that question is at the heart of this debate.

So, should Jimmy Mac and his partner of almost 40 years (congratulations!) have access under US law to those rights, privileges and obligations?Luke,I think the question is backward. I would frame it as follows: Marriage confers rights and privileges and obligations to cultivate, protect, and educate the next generation, what makes Jimmy Mac and his partners contribution so different from other societal relationships that it deserves special protection. Its not the sex because that adds nothing to society, its not the longevity because many close friendships last longer, its what? There's nothing there despite Ann being convinced she's seen something.

Right. But you are assuming that there has been enough time for the trait to die out. Just wait, and it will.Ann,LOL. So you think homosexuality just arose? LOL

Ann Oliver, thank you for 'getting it.'Bruce: Left handedness is not understood to be a genetic trait. BTW, I think the reason left handed people write awkwardly is that writing from left to right was designed for right handed people. (I wonder if systems of left to right writing lead to the same awkwardness in righties.Bruce: Left handedness is not a heredity trait and is not traceable (at this time) to DNA. Current thinking is that it is either a modification in the individual's DNA after conception, or is developed due to other factors in utero. Lefties have been subject to discrimination throughout history, and even in recent times schools, many Catholic schools, attempted to 'change' the dominant hand. Since we also don't know the origins of homosexuality, but now are quite certain it is a natural development, it bears some similarities to left handedness, imo.

"Do you object to President Obama protecting innocent Americans from the likes of bin Laden?"First of all, the analogy is totally inept: Osama Bin Laden was not an American citizen living on foreign soil.Second, I find it morally and legally objectionable that any President would claim the authority to assassinate an American citizen on foreign soil without trial or conviction. In the President Obama's view, human beings may marry whom they want (but apparently in his view nothing in the Federal Constitution prohibits the individual states from prohibiting this, i.e. he supports states' rights), but they have no right to be convicted of evidence against them prior to execution. That is a curious world.

Comment of the campaign so far: "When Mr. Romney changes his position on an issue, it's a "flip flop" or "etch a sketch". When Mr. Obama changes his position, it's "an evolution of thinking""http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/05/09/president-obama-in-a-dr...

Thanks, Jim, for undersxoring all the spin out there - oncluding your own.What's hasppening is an evolution in thought about this by the American people and the current divide based in theological/political views will be played out much more in comments of the campaign!

left-handedness, i.e. not genetic per se, but hardwired into an individual in ways not completely understoodjbruns and ann,I do not claim to know the origin of left-handedness or homosexuality. But your 'hardwired' and others 'genetic' are used to absolve those exhibiting the trait, whatever its origin, from taking responsibility for their actions under the guise of 'natural' imho. The origin of Alcoholism is equally as poorly understood but no one condones that behavior as acceptable because its 'natural' and the 'cure' is abstinence. Perhaps that is the appropriate action for homosexuality as well. The collective wisdom of our secular and religious ancestors is just that. Left handedness is an obfuscation.

Bruce: Fair enough. Just for the record, I am convinced that some numbers of people are naturally inclined toward homosexuality, and I am perfectly content to let them follow that inclination wherever that might lead, so long as it does not infringe on my or other's rights, which it generally does not. So I have no problem with gay civil unions or civil marriage, or in exercising their God given natural and government guaranteed civil rights. I understand and accept that you disagree.

@ Jeff Landry:You're looking at the world through the gimlet eyes of a canon lawyer: I didn't say ObL, I said "the LIKES of Osama bin Laden."The distinctions you are making parsing President Obama's use of power to protect Americans are downright "jesuitical."

Jbruns,Thanks. I'm willing to live with the notion that some people are naturally inclined toward homosexuality. I just believe its impossible for the expression of that inclination to 'not infringe on my or others rights'. I also accept and believe the church teaching that its immoral and hence feel benign neglect is not an option. But we all have to inform our consciences as best we can and then make those individual decisions.

the LIKES of Osama bin Laden.I.e., a foreign national who has declared war on the United States."The distinctions you are making parsing President Obamas use of power to protect Americans are downright jesuitical."Thank you; I take that as a compliment.

"Marriage confers rights and privileges and obligations to cultivate, protect, and educate the next generation ---"To my knowledge, nowhere in any legal statutes dealing with marriage is there any obligation that those availing themselves of this social contract that bestows financial, legal, inheritance, survivorship and other benefits ** to cultivate, protect and educate the next generation. If that were the case, there would be innumerable cases of fraud levied against thousands - maybe millions - of straight couples who have been derelict in their obligation by not having children. Also, those couples who failed to adequately cultivate, protect and educate the next generation would also be guilty of a crime.** According to the United States Government Accountability Office there are 1,138 statutory provisions in which marital status is a factor in determining benefits, rights, and privileges. For a listing of these, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_and_responsibilities_of_marriages_in...

Just so I'm clear, Jim, and avoid "parsing", you apparently accept the moral and legal argument that a President may completely circumvent an American citizen's due process rights under the federal Constitution, and be executed without trial, conviction and sentencing, simply because he or she happens to be in Berlin rather than Kansas City?If so, who's parsing what, exactly?

" I just believe its impossible for the expression of that inclination to not infringe on my or others rights. "There are no real nor perceived "rights" that are absolute in this country except for those specifically enumerated in the Constitution as interpreted and defined by the SCOTUS.Please explain how an expression of a homosexual orientatin infringes on your rights, whatever you think that they may be.

@Bruce (5/10, 9:12 am) Thanks for your reply. With all due respect to how you would frame the question, it seems to me that when we're talking about civil marriage in today's United States, it's not a matter of how you or I would frame the question or understand the institution. It's a matter of understanding what the institution is.The legal rights, privileges and obligations of civil marriage in the US today apply to married couples regardless of whether they have had, do have, or will have children. You or I might prefer or envision a legal regime with a different definition of marriage, but you or I might prefer or envision a lot of things that don't actually exist. In the world as it is, "(m)arriage confers rights and privileges and obligations to cultivate, protect, and educate the next generation..." is an incomplete definition of civil marriage in the US today.

is an incomplete definition of civil marriage in the US todayLuke,Unfortunately Luke, you are correct. So we can either try to get back to its roots by eliminating any possibility of divorce, or we can extend it to any relationship at all. No reason to limit it to two people, or people having sex, or any other restrictions at all. There is no rational reason to stop at a homosexual couple because there is nothing unique in that relationship.

I wonder how the story of Romney the bully will affect voters. (And how will his supporters spin it?)http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mitt-romneys-prep-school-classmat...

"There is no rational reason to stop at a homosexual couple because there is nothing unique in that relationship."Thank you. The next time you hear that gays and lesbians want special rights, remind the speaker that there is nothing unique in our relationships so we are not seeking anything other than the rights that pertain to other couples.You also might want to read the history of how marriage (Christian and otherwise) has changed over the centuries. Here's a source --- http://www.yawningbread.org/apdx_2004/imp-141.htm

The latest (March 2012) stats on (dis)approval of same-sex marriage:http://publicreligion.org/research/2012/05/research-note-evolution-of-am... Religion Research InstituteResearch Note | Evolution of American Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage(snip):"Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Millennials (age 18-29) support same-sex marriage, compared to only one-third (33%) of seniors."Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

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About the Author

Lisa Fullam is associate 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).