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Marriage Equality: A Gen-Y Perspective

Yesterday morning, I logged on to Facebook just like every other day. The first update in my newsfeed was from a friend who had changed her profile picture to a pink equal sign with a bright red background. I read the description: "Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution." Universal Declaration of Human Rights- Article 16:1 (1948). Well, I agree with that. I thought, so I liked her photo, closed my browser and went on with my day. At lunch, I checked Facebook again and about one out of four of my friends had changed their profile pictures to some variation of the same image. By the end of the day, it was nearly half.

Of course, my Facebook friends may not be the most representative cross-section of my generation. Many of my closest friends are openly gay. I live in New York City. I went to a fairly liberal (Catholic) university for my undergraduate degree, and for graduate school I attended NYU-recognized for its advancement of gay rights. Still, my peers support for marriage equality comes as no surprise. While 51 percent of all Americans support same-sex marriage, the number of those aged eighteen to twenty-nine who support it is 81 percent. My generation, regardless of religious or political affiliation, does not see gay marriage as a big deal. I am a practicing Catholic, I was raised in a conservative Catholic family, and I went to Catholic school until I graduated from college. Like many of my peers, I appreciate the church's teaching on marriage, but respectfully hold a different viewpoint. Over the course of my high school and college career, I, like many others my age, watched friend after friend-many of them also practicing Catholics-struggle with their homosexuality, their decision to come out, and the response from friends and family after they made that decision. More often than not, nothing changed, except their comfort level and happiness. For the most part, their peers accepted their admission without hesitation. It usually took their parents longest to come around to the idea, but they ultimately accepted it too.

Because it has become so much more socially acceptable for men and women of my generation to publically declare their sexual orientation and openly date members of the same sex, because we have become so accustomed to seeing and supporting it, members of my generation find it difficult to draw the line at dating. If my friend can date who she wants, why shouldn't she marry who she wants? And moreover, if I can marry who I want, why shouldn't my best friend be able to do the same thing? It may be a long road to true marriage equality, but, as the Supreme Court hears cases for and against Proposition 8 and DOMA, I have no doubt it will happen eventually. The time will come when all those people who changed their profile pictures to equal signs are in a position of much more authority and influence. Of course there are many people of all ages who disagree with me, but it seems clear that the shift in thinking is well underway.

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Here's today's reporting on the hair-splitting the knicker knotting by SCOTUS:http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/kennedy-decide-gay-marriage-cases-201...

That's an ad hominem point, not a refutation. Anyway, I already gave you a link to a scholarly article that completely dismantles any pretense that any of this ideological "scholarship" can be trusted. Short version: It is almost all based on small samples of highly-selected privileged white parents who volunteered to be studied and were motivated to see the study turn out well.

"My generation, regardless of religious or political affiliation, does not see gay marriage as a big deal."Is it possible that your generation along with other generations don't see marriage, gay or straight, as a big deal?

"I appreciate the churchs teaching on marriage"What do you appreciate exactly? You seem to regard its affirmation of the connection of marriage with gender and procreation as a bunch of nonsense.Also, if I may ask, what do you make of the church's teaching about sexual purity?

Judging by my own kids and their friends, I'd say that they do consider marriage a big deal, which is exactly why they'd like to see its definition extended to include gay couples.

I really think it is no more than a result of knowing people. My kids grew up in our small university city knowing gay and lesbian families along with more traditional ones. They saw those people selling cookies at the track team bake sale and chaperoning the band trip and cheering at the football games and demanding that their kids do better in school and be home by curfew, too. And they knew kids who had come out, too. And they worried about the calculus test on Monday or getting into college or getting out of their parents doghouses for coming home late. In other words, what they saw were people. Not gay people. Just people. So they don't even understand what all the fuss is about, and the arguments against gay marriage seem pretty hollow, built on highly technical legalisms(I'm looking for a better word, but I think that conveys the idea at least) if you will, rather than the way people live.

I never paid much attention to the issue of gay marriage. I think what helped advance my thinking on gay/lesbian issues was making acquaintance with gay people. An open mind doesn't hurt, either.

So is marriage a big deal or not? If we can alter its meaning to fit our social mores, than it seems to have a more protean character than we usually think.

Margaret,In my view, marriage is indeed a big deal in the sense of what it means to the parties to the marriage. It means a long term commitment to another person above all others as they say in good times and bad, in sickness or in health. It means supporting each other and arguing with each other and loving each other even when you're arguing. The error people make, I think, is believing that marriage is about sex. That is part of it, to be sure but after almost 30 years of marriage, I can say that it is about many more things. And watching my parents marriage of almost 60 years, especially in their final years, I saw those other things. In our marriage prep classes, I tell people about my 96 year old father wanting me to move so he could sit close enough to hold my 88 year old mother's hand while she was in a hospital bed. Or my 87 year old mother and 95 year old father figuring out how to maneuver their walkers so they could most easily kiss. That kind of relationship is indeed a big deal. That the parties involved might be two men or two women or a man and a woman, a is not.

Legally and socially, we accept voluntary arranged marriages as civil marriages in America; we accept self-consciously childless marriages; we embrace Mormon marriages, Hindu marriages, Jewish marriages, and totally secular civil sexually open marriages; we accept second and third marriages as legitimate; and we accept Santorum-style marriages where reproduction is the core goal and divorce unthinkable. How do we do manage to include all these experiences as part of the same core institution? Catholicism has long since stopped leading the charge to not validate or outlaw these kinds of marriages.The Catholic Church engages in a double standard between gays and straights when it comes to upholding teachings on marriage. To deny this is to don blinders. Before it blames everyone else, this church must ask itself why its doctrine of marriage has failed to persuade those not already committed to it.For example, church teaching is opposed to divorce - and it differs from teaching on homosexuality in that it is believed that this teaching comes directly from Jesus Christ. And yet, when one applies for an annulment, church law REQUIRES that one first obtain a civil divorce. Oh, that's just a civil requirement; we don't really believe the civil divorce is actually a divorce. Yet when it comes to civil marriage for same-sex couples, it is suddenly the end of civilization: that civil marriage is a dire threat, while civil divorces are a mere technicality. This is a double standard no matter how you slice it.Church teaching also provides two entirely separate theologies of sexuality for gay and straight people. For straight people, sexuality is a gift from a good God rooted in the goodness of Creation. For gays and lesbians, sexuality is a burden from an indifferent God to test us, rooted in the experience of the cross. There is no other instance of two contradictory theologies set up for separate groups on such a fundamental aspect of life. How long can such a house of cards stand? This contradiction is not just a hole in the seamless garment, it is two entirely different garments.I will believe the magisterium is not prejudiced when I see it giving the exact same amount of time, effort and financial resources to laws outlawing civil divorce. I will believe it is not prejudiced when it I see it giving the exact same amount of time, effort and financial resources to outlawing civil marriages in countries like France and Spain, marriages with which this church has learned to co-exist without the end of the world happening. Until then the claims of tolerance and merely upholding church teaching do not ring true. In the meantime, these ad-hoc theologies that are patched together by (in many cases) self-loathing closeted homosexuals in the Curia need to be re-evaluated so that Catholicism does not continue to look ridiculous to the rest of the world.

Here's the part that gives me pause: the "right" to "found a family." That sounds absolute, without qualification regarding the means by which such families are produced. The use of surrogate mothers or artificial insemination -- with one parent "removed" by being either reduced to womb or reduced to sperm by the nature of the transaction -- are common means of "founding a family" for gay couples today. Not only gay couples. It's equally troubling when straight people do this. But the limitations of nature (in producing offspring) that are faced by gay couples, and the availability of technology has pressed these questions. The moral aspects of these transactions are important, troubling, and deserve scrutiny.

Appreciate the comments of both Jim and Jim.I think the Church's optimal approach, and the institution has yet to convince me otherwise, involves telling stories like Jim Dunn's as a way of illustrating what sacramental marriage means. Those stories make real and concrete the promises we attempt during the Rite of Marriage.This is where the Church's energies are better placed. And if the institution is right, and the only/best marriages are Catholic sacramental ones, they please, by all means, demonstrate it. Demonstrate not by perfection, and not by applying a hermeneutic of subtraction to same-sex people, or non-Christians, or whomever, as some sort of ideal. Demonstrate it by positive, heroic, sacrificial, and devoted witness.

Rita, good point.My sense is that marriage is less about rights and more about responsibilities. Even a married couple past childbearing age still have responsibilities outside of their relationship, to be generative, giving, Christ-like in their collective approach to Church and society.Additionally, even couples who are able to found a biological family have responsibilities. To adopt needy children if they can. Among other things.The bigotry of the anti-gay marriage movement is clear when you note that they have nothing at all to say about the rights of the half-million American children already-born who lack parents. Don't get me started ...

bigotry of the anti-gay marriage movement is clearI find this name-calling by proponents of 'gay marriage' offensive. Its as though they have all the knowledge no one of any intelligence could possibly see the world differently. Disgusting.

Marriage is a big deal, hence the call for marriage equality.Marriage has changed over time, it wasn't always "one man and one woman" as the church asserts, and it has continued to change as society has changed.How do most childless straight couples who want children solve that problem? Why should same-sex marriages be especially targeted on this issue?Does anyone have a civil right to marry? They do .... http://civilliberty.about.com/od/gendersexuality/f/Is-Marriage-a-Civil-R... ... "The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men ... While the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on same-sex marriage, it is unlikely that it would overturn the foundational premise that marriage is a civil right. "

Like others, my opinion shifted after I met and made friends with several gay couples. Before, it was weird and seemed unnatural. Now, it's still a little odd, but no more so than many of the other things that make humanity diverse.I recently heard someone comment that Pope now emeritus Benedict's December 21 speech (http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2012/12/21/full-text-of-popes-addre... ) was "flawless" reasoning. But however elegant and logical its layout may be, it leaves no room for gays, and so it does not correspond to reality. It's a theory that is self-consistent while ignoring the real world. Isn't that a case of "self-referent" thinking?

Years ago when this issue came up, I read an article in Commonweal that sugested that the Church get out of the marriage business. Leave the decision on who can marry up to civil authority. The church would bless the marriages that they want to bless, and not bless the ones they don't. The church would no longer have to deal with marriage licenses and the like. This whole conversation becomes a civil issue. The church would still have to put forth a theology on what marriages they want to bless.

And so after about 5,000+ years of marriage being understood by mankind as a relationship that requires sexual complementarity, we have arrived at the point where nine judges (in a representative democracy mind you) are posed to throw out thousands of years of human experience and redefine marriage for 300,000 Americans. No society that has been successful enough to leave a record of their existence has embraced so-called gay marriage.If Democrats dont like DOMA, why dont they change the law? Because they dont have the votes, thats why. If gays want gay marriage, why dont they mobilize the legislatures at the state level to change state law? Because they know they dont have the votes, thats why.Why dont they have the votes? Because the majority of registered voters do not approve of homosexuality or gay marriage; thats why.And so gay advocates have schemed with hard leftists and are trying to ram gay marriage down the throats of the typical American voter.I understand polls show the publics attitudes on this might well be shifting. But the opinion of non-voters does not count. The lawmakers should do what the majority of voters tell them to do end of story.

Baby Boomers have spent the better part of their lives not only complaining, but constantly trying to shred the fabric of American society. As they head into their golden years, the real fruits of their labors are eveident: abortion on demand, promiscuity, drug addiction galore, dumbed-down schools, logic replaced by emoting, euthanasia (mercy killing), a return of eugenics under the label genetic engineering and embryonic stem cell 'science', and now gay marriage.They have almost wrecked the country.

Jim McCrea is correct that the Church does not seem to have any problem accepting hetero people in Las Vegas being married for the seventh time by an Elvis impersonator. No protests or politics about that. So where are the walls that are collapsing?. We have spent 56 years in marriage ministry, battling some couples and clerics who only wanted Catholic/Catholic couples in church ministry. We have watched Jews, Mormans, Protestants even agnostics being slowly welcomed.. We have also experienced many in "MIXED' marriages being stiff armed in the early years, never to be seen again. We are in a 57 year covenant Catholic marriage and that is rare in our inner city parish, so we learned that a quiet thankfulness not sneers is the appropriate Christian stance.

KeriLee--What is the age group of generation Y? Just trying to get some context.

One change in marriage is not in who marries who but in 'why' they marry. Sexual complementarity was such a big deal in the past for reasons that are not as relevant anymore: the desire to have a legal heir, the desire to be sure your heir was really yours. Today many people marry who don't want children and many who want children don't marry. People are more likely to marry for love and companionship, not to get an heir and a spare.

Ken, I'm a Boomer, so I know what's what, and those paranoia attacks come from smokin' the high THC blend. Talk to your friendly dispensary owner to see if he's got something mellower. Or turn on some John Klemmerer and think of something pleasant.

I'm very troubled by the thread of thought which equates the acceptability of gay marriage with personal knowledge of gay people. My parents always said to me 'We always love you but we dont always love how you behave'. That is fundamentally what the Church teaching is about homosexuality: Love the person. But it is the antithesis of love to condone behavior which is inimical to the health of the person's soul. Christ's encounter with the adulteress says it best: 'Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.' God has made us our brother's keepers and simply accepting sinful behavior, even if we believe its innate, is failing this duty. The fact that two people love each other does mean their behavior towards each other in not sinful. All of us know that. So if we know gay people and truly love them, we are not supposed to pretend that their sexual behavior with each other is truly loving. And we are should not accept as healthy every sexual behavior between a consenting heterosexual couple. As lay Catholics, we are supposed to bring Christ's love to the people we encounter every day, which is most especially the gay people we know. As Chesterton said, "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried." IMHO, that is where we stand with homosexuality in our society today.

"I find this name-calling by proponents of gay marriage offensive. Its as though they have all the knowledge no one of any intelligence could possibly see the world differently. Disgusting"No.I do not support gay marriage as labelled. But I find offensive those who oppose gay marriage or same sex unions and attempt to wrap their opposition under the guise of "defending marriage."Marriage needs defense against porn, divorce, economic instability, communication issues, addictions, and such. Not against gay people. Gay people aren't forcing me to divorce my wife and marry a guy.The key to sniff out bigotry would be those who speak of children in the abstract, and use them for political leverage against gays and lesbians, and yet have no stance on 500, 000 unadopted children. I agree with Rita if I get her sense that the notion of "designer babies," either by genetic manipulation, IVF, surrogacy, or other methods presents a serious moral problem. In other words, let's deal with the problems directly.Now, if those who oppose gay marriage do so because they are concerned about a domino effect (eg. polygamy) or moral destabilization or such, then please argue it cogently. I will be happy to listen. Please don't sabotage your own efforts by poor arguments, poorly conceived. Bigots make poor arguments. Just show you're not a bigot.

Ken: For how many years were women considered to be the property of men? For how many years were "marriages" simply the coming together of a man and a woman resulting (usually) in children, all without the slightest blessing of whatever passed for church in those days? For how many years was slavery considered to be a perfectly natural thing .. and blessed by scripture?Religious organizations are perfectly free to set whatever restrictions as to what kinds of relationship they will sanction and bless (or whatever) within the confines of their organizations.They are NOT prefectly free to impose their restrictions on other religious organizations. And they are not perfectly free to impose their restrictions on people who adhere to no religious creed.It is time that this country institutes Legal Marriages and continues to allow Religious Marriages. The former are recognized by the state as the vehicle in which 2 people committ to each other, agree to be bound by laws of the land that pertain to their status and, in turn, are eligible for secular benefits, rights and responsibilities. The state will have no say over whatever religions choose to practice, now will the state recognize the representatives of said religions to act in the name of the state.That should keep the advocates of different names for the coming together of 2 individuals happy. The differentiator will be the terms "legal" and "religious" with marriage as the common denominator term.

This is an interesting post, not so much for what it says, but for what it doesn't have: a reasoned argument as to why gay marriage is something that needs state recognition. All the post contains is basically a positivist statement that younger people feel a certain way, and their view will probably win.Well, their view may indeed win. But it's not clear that there's any reason for that except the unreasoned prejudices* of the younger generation. The level of thinking is shallow at best: "I have gay friends, they are nice, what's the harm?"Here's what would be a good start at an argument: Why do you think that "marriage" is a relationship that the state needs to recognize in the first place? Start there and see where the argument goes.* Yes, prejudices, in the literal sense of prejudging an issue without showing openmindness towards the opposite view.

If mixed-race couples wanted marriage, why didnt they mobilize the legislatures at the state level to change state law? Because they knew they didnt have the votes, thats why. It took the Supreme Court in Loving v Virginia to invalidate STATE lows prohibiting interracial marriages. Would this country be better off today if Loving hadn't happened?If one's civil rights are subject to the votes of each and every state, resulting in rights existing in some states, but not in the others, then this country gives lie to its claim that all are created equal. If we want an Animal Farm definition of equal, at least be honest enough to say so.

If we can stop talking about gay marriage and feed, clothe and treat the tens of millions who have no food nor adequate lodging, then I am unequivocally for gay marriage.

Oh, Bill, what in the actual hell does that even mean?

Todd:The bigotry of the anti-gay marriage movement is clear when you note that they have nothing at all to say about the rights of the half-million American children already-born who lack parents.It seems more like bigotry for you to say that some unspecified group of people that you dislike have "nothing at all to say" about these children. Nothing? Are you prepared to prove a universal negative? Rita: Great points that extend beyond gay marriage. Surrogate mothers and artificial insemination should be completely banned. It's the utmost in narcissism that people do these things rather than adopt already-born kids who need a home.

I think Jim McCraig said it best. A few thoughts for reflection.1. Infertile heterosexual couples can marry because their so-called non-procreative condition is caused by nature. At the same time, the Church acknowledges that people who are homosexual do not choose their condition because they are born that way, It is natural for same-sex couples to love one another, as it is natural for heterosexual couples to love each other. It is unnatural for a homosexual person to love a person of the opposite sex, as it is unnatural for a heterosexual person to love someone of the same sex.2. As for the argument about the morality of human action (e.g., the condemnation homosexual sex), the salvation of gay couples rest on the imposed requirement that they must live a life of sexual abstinence. Yet perplexingly, lifetime sexual abstinence or celibacy is a gift from God given to the very few. It cannot be imposed from authority because it must be voluntarily chosen. Many seminarians do not take their final vows because they do not have this gift. Why is it ipso facto that a large percent of the population who are gay are all given this rare gift? The answer is that very few can live a life of "heroic virtue" that is imposed from authority. Hence, we are left with the teaching that homosexual persons, born with a same-sex attraction, are denied salvation unless they live a life of sexual abstinence. They are also denied any right to love a person of the same sex in a faithful and blessed union called marriage subject to the same requirements and conditions as heterosexual people who want to marry. 3. As to the issue of procreation, gay married couples can adopt and rear children just life infertile heterosexual couple can do. The American Psychological Association concluded that there was no difference in the quality of child rearing between same-sex parents versus heterosexual parents. Gay lesbian couples can also bear a child in vitro, as infertile heterosexual couples ca do. The argument that the lack of a procreative ability is a reason that condemns same-sex marriage is lost on many informed Catholics. 4. Jesus said that a person can divorce for unchastity in Matt 5:27-32: "It is said, whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Paul also wrote that if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. Thus "spiritual desertion" was a second ground for divorce or separation in addition to the ground of adultery or "unchastity", which Christ had recognized. Yet, we get unconvincing arguments from the Catholic Church that refuses to acknowledge this fact, while other Christian Churches permit divorce under certain conditions. This does not mean that a husband or wife should not forgive the person who commits adultery and try to save the marriage. However, there are many cases where other underlying reasons accompanying adultery destroy the fabric of marital love and burden the family with long-term physical and psychological suffering. In such cases, divorce is an act of love.Admittedly, there is much inconsistency and contradiction in Church teachings regarding human sexuality and marriage. We can only pray that the Church will help us to a better understanding of truth and God's will.

"It seems more like bigotry for you to say that some unspecified group of people that you dislike have nothing at all to say about these children. Nothing? Are you prepared to prove a universal negative?"WT, too many unproven assumptions. First I have no reason to dislike bigots. I disapprove of immoral attitudes toward others, and people who use others, and who misrepresent the needs of man-woman marriage. But I know some of these people, and I even like them.I identified public positions stated by other people and labelled the positions as bigotry. People can actually adopt bigoted positions and not be, in fact, bigots.

Michael J,Razor sharp reasoning!!!Abe, What it means is that loan companies can give payday loans to poor people who end up paying better than a quarter of their salary (if not more) to them and the banks. Yet we say not a word and say it is what the market can bear. What it means is that the poor who live in worse condition than gays, women and married priests are neglected and scorned. It means that a quarter of the world is desperate yet they have no voice. That they have no access to the justice system yet they are way under our radar, etc. etc. etc.........

But what does that have to do with not supporting marriage equality?

Sometimes people pit different issues against each other. The answer isn't redress one bad thing instead the other, it's to fix them all.

Jim Dunn wrote:"Marriage is indeed a big deal in the sense of what it means to the parties to the marriage. It means a long term commitment to another person above all others as they say in good times and bad, in sickness or in health. It means supporting each other and arguing with each other and loving each other even when youre arguing. The error people make, I think, is believing that marriage is about sex. That is part of it, to be sure but after almost 30 years of marriage, I can say that it is about many more things. And watching my parents marriage of almost 60 years, especially in their final years, I saw those other things. In our marriage prep classes, I tell people about my 96 year old father wanting me to move so he could sit close enough to hold my 88 year old mothers hand while she was in a hospital bed. Or my 87 year old mother and 95 year old father figuring out how to maneuver their walkers so they could most easily kiss. That kind of relationship is indeed a big deal."... to which Todd commented:"I think the Churchs optimal approach, and the institution has yet to convince me otherwise, involves telling stories like Jim Dunns as a way of illustrating what sacramental marriage means. "And so here is my comment:First of all, Jim Dunn, bless you for doing marriage prep.If I may say so, your anecdote of your parents illustrates a couple of other aspects of sacramental marriage which you didn't really mention in your comment. One is that marriage is a public institution. (This, I believe, is the ground for the state's regulation of marriage). The witness that your parents gave in their old age was one instance of *public* witness (as indicated by the fact that you witnessed it). This public-witness aspect of marriage is indispensable to its potency as a sign of God's love for us. (I don't know that this point is a point particularly for or against gay marriage, but I think it is an indictment of many contemporary conceptions of marriage that see marriage fundamentally as a private contract for emotional fulfillment and fidelity. The reality of marriage is that it is much more than a private contract - it is a public arrangement with many social implications. Society is a stakeholder in determining what is and what isn't marriage).The second aspect worth mentioning is that your parents are your parents - I am assuming they reproduced you. Reproduction is the end of marriage. (FWIW, my own opinion is that the Rite of Marriage is ripe for a rewrite to bring this reality into sharper focus. When it was last revised, in 1969, I think it's fair to say that the Church didn't foresee society bending the true nature of marriage to the extent that it has).

Now, if those who oppose gay marriage do so because they are concerned about a domino effect "Gay marriage" is already a domino effect. If it wasn't already a domino, you would not need the adjective 'gay' to describe it.

Yes, the people of this generation see no problem with gay marriage, as well as no problem with no marriage. No problem with hooking up, no problem with those who choose to end the lives of newly conceived babies, no problem jumping from company to company, no problem with crass and vulgar language. No problem with intolerance for people who wish to bring religious values into the public square. No problem with bashing republicans, conservatives, and just about anyone who rejects political correctness.Advocating for gay marriage has nothing to do with constitutional equality. It has to do with the final push to demolish traditional morality rooted in sacred writings. I believe in live and let live, but this doesn't require me to deny that every child is the offspring of one man and one woman.

Dude, I'm pretty sure that every child is the product of a stork's visit.

First, many thanks to KeriLee Horan for this post, and for its clear, direct, well-stated summary of her views, her experience and the experience of her peers. It certainly fits well with my own experience in dealing with Gen Y/millenials on this issue. (@Mark Proska 7:38 pm - I think Gen Y is generally understood to refer to those born sometime between the early 1980s and early 2000s.)Marriage has existed in all sorts of cultures and ways throughout recorded human history. Civil marriage in a secular nation-state is a relatively new institution (i.e., within the last 2-4 centuries). Civil marriage in the United States involves, among other things, a slew of legal rights and responsibilities, many of them having to do with property rights.In fact, the case currently before the Supreme Court, U.S. v Windsor, is a property rights case. "Plaintiff Edie Windsor, 83, brought suit against the federal government after the Internal Revenue Service cited DOMA in denying her a refund for the $363,000 in federal estate taxes she paid following the 2009 death of Thea Spyer, her partner for over 40 years. Windsor and Spyer had married in Canada in 2007, but resided in New York. Because Windsor would have been eligible for an estate tax exemption had Spyer been a man, she argues that DOMA's Section 3 violates her equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/supreme-court-doma_n_2952611.ht... others have noted earlier in this thread, we American Catholics typically recognize and respect all sorts of non-sacramental marriages---Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, interfaith, non-faith, etc. It's hard for many, particularly many young people, to understand why that attitude should not extend towards married same-sex couples.As for reproduction, it's abundantly clear that many American non-Catholics do not share the Church's teachings on marriage and reproduction. It's also abundantly clear that the vast majority of married American Catholics disagree (in practice if not in theory) with at least one or another of the Church's teachings on marriage and reproduction.

Michael J, pace Bill M., this is not so razor sharp. This bit of what you said didn't make sense: "Gay lesbian couples can also bear a child in vitro, as infertile heterosexual couples ca do." When it is a gay or lesbian couple, a third-party -- either surrogate or sperm donor -- has to be involved in order to produce a child via in vitro fertilization. That's not the same and introduces a host of new questions, which is my point above. Or did you mean "gay lesbian couples" as a sort of collective, where they mix and match for the purpose of making babies? This isn't the same either.

There are so many elements in the question of "gay marriage" that its complexity is surely beyond the scope of one thread, but it seems to me that even before asking whether "gay marriage" is morally acceptable or even possible we should try to eliminate some of the semantic problems -- and they are legion! So I suggest that everyone ask him/herself before saying anything: what do *I* mean by marriage? Do I at times use the term with more than one basic meaning? In other words, are we talking about just one kind of reality or several?Two articles in NYT report on the arguments going on at the Supreme Court this week about "gay marriage". I must say that the participants on all sides seem to be trying to argue wisely and fairly, and they end up clarifying a some of the problems raised by the three cases. Go to:http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/latest-updates-on-supreme-co... the justices and the lawyers seem to be struggling.

I think that my generation (30ish) still considers marriage a big deal. Even my non-religious friends see it as the goal for a successful relationship. From what I've seen, the discussion about marriage equality has strengthened the institution of marriage. When they might have been tempted to see marriage as an anachronism, it was the gays and lesbians who wanted to get married who were the ones making the pragmatic case why marriage is a good thing to do. Meanwhile, those arguing for discrimination against gay and lesbian couples have been rhetorically undermining marriage. In Tuesday's hearing, the defenders of Proposition 8 argued that the primary interest in recognizing and supporting marriage is to deal with the possibility of accidental procreation. While this is a good of marriage, it is far from the primary good.The primary good of marriage is the creation of a subsidiarity relationship. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, the couple agree to support each other. They become a joint unit that is stronger than the individuals on their own. This allows them to do many things that they couldn't do on their own, including but not limited to raising children. Procreation is secondary, which is why people cheer elderly couples who get married rather than accusing them of perverting marriage via their infertility.

Leave the decision on who can marry up to civil authority. The church would bless the marriages that they want to bless, and not bless the ones they dont. The church would no longer have to deal with marriage licenses and the like.That's how it is in France, but it doesn't prevent some very vocal people from mounting operations against gay marriage. Sixty years ago the French Catholic church looked down on civil marriage, with many saying that only the sacrament mattered and that limiting oneself to civil marriage was no better than living in adultery. Now all that is forgotten in the quest to defend the "timeless" "natural" concept of marriage.I think that my generation (30ish) still considers marriage a big deal. I agree although the trend is very significantly downwards, so that may no longer be true in another 50 years.

"..looked down on civil marriage, with many saying that only the sacrament mattered and that limiting oneself to civil marriage was no better than living in adultery. Now all that is forgotten in the quest to defend the timeless natural concept of marriage."Really. I, too, was always taught that only sacramental marriage counted; hence the big deal about getting an annulment before remarrying after a failed marriage. If civil marriage isn't really considered marriage for Catholics, why are we weighing in at all on who can or can't enter into one? Any why should we have any opinion on "civil unions"? For us, they're a meaningless institution to start with.

To realize the novelty of gay marriage consider our English language. We have words forbigamy - entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to anotherpolygamy - one person in a relationship has married multiple partnerspolyandry - women have multiple husbandspolygyny - men have multiple wivesplural marriage - form of polygyny originally associated with the Latter Day Saintspolygynandry - several people form a single family unit, with all considered to be married to one anotherBut there is no term for homosexual marriage and the language has been around in various forms since about the 5th century according to wikipedia.

"Reproduction is the end of marriage."No. not for sacramental marriage. Marriage, like all sacraments, exists for the glorification of God and for the sanctification of people. The purpose of marriage isn't to make babies, but to make saints. And that means not just the biological children of a couple. But the partners themselves. Adopted children, Grandchildren. Extended family. Neighbors. Parishioners. Strangers. The poor. And so on.Reducing marriage's bottom line to reproduction treats human beings like animals. It belies an aristocratic approach to society, in which the impoverished classes serve the interests of the upper crust: keep the women alive long enough to produce more kids, and the men alive long enough to fight a war or two.Along with the occasoinal bigotry, drawing marriage into the same sex union discussion also reveals the impoverished theology of marriage, and how much the anti-gay lobby draws not on Christian principles, but on Victorianism, the bad side of the Enlightenment, and even some of the very philosophies it might say it opposes.If nothing else, please define marriage by the BalCat: a sign instituted by Christ to give grace. The purpose of marriage is to give grace. Not a license to breed.

"First, many thanks to KeriLee Horan for this post, and for its clear, direct, well-stated summary of her views, her experience and the experience of her peers"I agree. It's almost a perfect distillation of what I perceive the GenY attitude to be. And not only GenY; knowing and loving persons who are gay forces all of us of any age to take gay persons seriously as persons rather than some abstract "other" category.It's worth noting, though, that the post doesn't engage, really at all, any of the serious objections to gay marriage. Again, using this post as a sort of distillation of a generational attitude, that's somewhat worrisome. What if opponents of gay marriage are right in calling out that this GenY attitude toward marriage is looking right past some aspects of marriage that are critical to its health and society's health? Politically, ignoring reality can be very convenient, but in the end, it doesn't make it go away. I'd like to see some serious engagement with the traditional view of marriage and morality.

Well, you need to invent new words when you invent new things. Which is exactly what so-called "same-sex marriage" or "gay marriage" is - an artificial invention.Before one ever gets to the question of equality, one must (or should if he really cares about the matter) first ask the primary and fundamental question of "what is marriage?" What is the ontological, existential nature of marriage? And what role does government play with respect to marriage or, for that matter, what role does government play with any other aspect of life or right? Of course, marriage existed prior to government, so government cannot be the creator of it, except in the artificial sense of inventing new things.But going back to language, notice the very term "gay marriage." Not "marriage" simpliciter, but "gay marriage." That is, it is not marriage marriage, but something different. The union of a man and woman is rightly not called "heterosexual marriage" except by those who insist on engaging in redundancy.

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