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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.

About the Author

KeriLee Horan is in charge of digital media and marketing at Commonweal.



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Here's today's reporting on the hair-splitting the knicker knotting by SCOTUS:

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 .... ... "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 ( ) 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." 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: 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.

As for equality, well, those persons with a same-sex attraction have always had, and still have, the fundamental right and ability to marry. But, as noted above, what is desired is not marriage, that is, marriage marriage - marriage with a person of the opposite sex - but something different, something new -- something unequal to what exists today. The argument is basically that equality demands inequality.But then again, it really is not about equality for same-sex persons or couples. They can call themselves whatever they want. They can hold themselves out to the public whichever way they want. They can even find some churches to "marry" them.No, this is not about the freedom of same-sex persons. This is about compelling everyone else to say "yes, you are married." This is about denying other people the fundamental right to speak freely, it is about requiring them to speak and give public fealty to what they know to be false. In historical parallel terms, it is about making everyone give an oath that the true wife of King Henry is not Queen Catherine, but Lady Anne Boleyn.

Per Jim If mixed-race couples wanted marriage, why didnt they mobilize the legislatures at the state level to change state law?That situation was of course quite different than gay marriage Jim. In those days, the state laws were a perversion of the traditional view of marriage. Worldwide up until American racism took hold, societies did not have rules regarding inter-racial marriage. Most hardly even commented on it.And so in Loving v. Virginia, the supreme court set the state laws right with the federal constitution and with the traditional, non-racist view of marriage

The theology of marriage is not impoverished and neither is the philosophy of marriage for that matter (for our non-religious friends). What is impoverished is the imagination of generations of people who do not bother to give serious thought to fundamental questions.But the question of the nature of marriage is as plain as the nose on one's face. Of course, that does not prevent people from ignoring those noses.No need to get into Genesis here -- the nature of marriage is as plain as the human body, made male and female. It is as plain as -- and sorry to have to get graphic here -- as what actually is involved in (a) the sexual union of male and female, that is, the joinder of their respective pro-creative organs, with an exchange of pro-creative genetic material, with the possibility, by their nature as male and female, of perpetuating their union with children, and (b) the physical union of a man and another man, that is, the joinder of a pro-creative organ with a non-pro-creative organ, with the result of absolutely no possibility whatsoever of perpetuating their union when one's pro-creative genetic material is injected into the other's digestive tract. Again, sorry to get graphic here, but the fact is that there cannot be an authentic and true joinder of a man and a man in their physical coupling. By their very nature, they cannot be "married" to each other.It is only by ignoring the nature of the human person, male and female, and by asserting the power to decree reality for one's self that the fiction of "same-sex marriage" could ever exist.Now, if they want to have legal rights, etc. attached to their union, that is another question, but whatever that union might be called, it cannot ontologically and existentially be called "marriage."

Speaking of before the 5th centure, here is a funeral oration of St Basil the Great by his friend and doctor of the church, St Gregory of Nazianzus that was pointed out to me a few days ago. I am told that in places, one finds not only "philia" but also the words "eros" and "pothos".17. This was the prelude of our friendship. This was the kindling spark of our union: thus we felt the wound of mutual love.[]18. {]In this way I restored his cheerfulness, and by this mutual experience, he was the more closely united to me.19. And when, as time went on, we acknowledged our mutual affection, and that philosophy was our aim, we were all in all to one another, housemates, messmates, intimates, with one object in life, or an affection for each other ever growing warmer and stronger. Love for bodily attractions, since its objects are fleeting, is as fleeting as the flowers of spring. For the flame cannot survive, when the fuel is exhausted, and departs along with that which kindles it, nor does desire abide, when its incentive wastes away. But love which is godly and under restraint, since its object is stable, not only is more lasting, but, the fuller its vision of beauty grows, the more closely does it bind to itself and to one another the hearts of those whose love has one and the same object. This is the law of our superhuman love. I feel that I am being unduly borne away, and I know not how to enter upon this point, yet I cannot restrain myself from describing it. For if I have omitted anything, it seems, immediately afterwards, of pressing importance, and of more consequence than what I had preferred to mention. And if any one would carry me tyrannically forward, I become like the polyps, which when they are being dragged from their holes, cling with their suckers to the rocks, and cannot be detached, until the last of these has had exerted upon it its necessary share of force. If then you give me leave, I have my request, if not I must take it from myself.20. Such were our feelings for each other, when we had thus supported, as Pindar has it, our well-built chamber with pillars of gold, as we advanced under the united influences of God's grace and our own affection. Oh! How can I mention these things without tears. [] We seemed to have one soul, inhabiting two bodies. And if we must not believe those whose doctrine is All things are in all; yet in our case it was worthy of belief, so did we live in and with each other. [] 22. [] and so we became famous[]. For our instructors were known to all who knew Athens, and all who knew them, knew us, as the subject of conversation, being actually looked upon, or heard of by report, as an illustrious pair. Orestes and Pylades were in their eyes nothing to us []

Forgot to link to the source:

First off, pace many of the posters here, as a member of Generation Y, I haven't seen the slovenly lack of thought/interest among my peers that you project. To quote Bruce many on here seem to act "as though they have all the knowledge [and] no one of any intelligence could possibly see the world differently." These arguments have been done, and to death. The have been going on (unanswered) in this very post! If the church doesn't recognize purely civil acts as either real marriages or their dissolutions as real divorces, what possible difference does it make if that civil definition is expanded? This also attached to Bender's claims on the ontological status of marriage: the church already recognizes two equivocal senses of the term in its own laws concerning marriage and annulment. Civil marriages are not sacramental, ergo, in the eyes of the church, they are not marriages at all! So why all this fuzz about changing something that isn't recognized as much of anything to begin with, at least ecclesially? On the questions of children, the obvious points about those who are infertile and over-age being able to marry has already been raised......and left unanswered. And even Bill O'Reilly (!) has acknowledged that no one has been able to raise a single, concrete harm that will come of this, other than fear-mongering and vague concerns that cannot possibly be disproven because they do not exist! It's like saying, "We shouldn't elect a pope until we are 100% certain that there is not chance he will somehow harm the church." That conclave would be a rather long one!Aside from this though, there is a more important element that touches on the many references to those who know gay people in relationships and marriages. Earlier, Bruce mentioned the issues of hating the sin but loving the sinner. This may actually get to something quite important. The reason that this approach is abandoned is not that suddenly we think sin is unimportant, but precisely because we recognize that this IS NOT SIN! Many Catholics have experienced (or are in, since gay people are not simply found outside the church) Christ through gay relationships. They have seen grace. In my own case, I have a cousin who, though he knew his intended had a life-threatening and debilitating brain condition that could "go off" at any moment, chose to marry him anyway. And when that condition finally did set off a series of potentially deadly strokes, the fidelity, care, and self-effacing love that was shown was an inspiration to anyone who knew them. Many people I know learned what marriage was from these two men, not from some abstract generalization about ontology. They recognized grace when they saw it, and very, very good fruit. According to the church, the very best that could be said of this relationship is that it was somehow the "lesser of evils" (and more likely that it is a threat to the entire created order). Those who can see it needn't argue against such ideas; they are self-evidently absurd. This is not intellectual laziness or "going with the flow." It is having the capacity to recognize the eruption of grace when it is before our eyes.This, of course, does not mean that all gay marriages would be this way, any more so than all straight marriages are holy unions that show forth and help sanctify those around them, as Todd very nicely put. But it does, I think, show that there is nothing IN PRINCIPLE, that indicates that gay marriage is an obstacle to grace. And if it is not, it is not sin.

I'd like to thank Jim Pauwels for thanking KeriLee. Those in pastoral activities need to understand the forces that have formed Our Young People's opinions and address their attitudes in a friendly way.Harrumphers, Baby-Boom blamers, and the "it's just not natural" party do not understand that, however misguided by Church standards the GenY view of homosexuality and marriage is, it is guided by a basic kind-heartedness. Matthew Sheppard is their Emmet Till, and until Church teaching against same sex attraction can be purged of the hatred and bigotry it sometimes hides, nobody's going to get anywhere with these kids.

"No need to get into Genesis here ..."Of course not. The patriarchs, with the exception of Isaac, were all about taking extra wives/concubines for all sorts of reasons, mainly to ensure their "pelagian" instincts in furthering their vision of God's plan for a great nation.All I'm suggesting is some clarity. If we're talking sacramental marriage, then our first reference point is Christ, not Genesis. Certainly as Scripture, Genesis informs believers. But it doesn't rule us. Abram was impatient with the covenant, hence the dysfunction of Hagar and Ishmael. Jacob was a wuss and a trickster."The theology of marriage is not impoverished ..."lol. It is when anti-gays stop at Genesis 2. Or treat Genesis as science.

Jean wrote - ...until Church teaching against same sex attraction can be purged of the hatred and bigotry it sometimes hides, nobodys going to get anywhere with these kids.Has it not occurred to anyone that maybe these "kids" have it right and that there is at least a possibility that the church's "traditional" teachings on marriage might not be "right' just as some teachings haven't been right at other times throughout church history? Doctrine evolves.It seems that some reduce the holiness of the sacrament of marriage to a purely utilitarian function- procreation. But, lots of people procreate without any holiness involved. And lots of people have very holy and sacramental marital relationships without begetting children - including those who know themselves well enough to understand that they would make lousy parents, but whose loving and holy sacramental marriage grounds them so that their generosity can still be extended to others in the world, because not confined to a narrow world consisting primarily of their own offspring.Jim Dunn has described a very holy and sacramental marriage - how blessed he was to have had such parents. The holiness and sacramental essence of his parents' marriage was in the committed love relationship of his parents. This type of marital relationship was absent through most of the history of marriage, which served as business contract during history when children were sought primarily for their economic utility to the family business, whether sheep-herding or black-smithing. If, as is possible, the Holy Spirit is whispering, is anyone besides the young open to hearing?

Agree, Anne. "Doctrine evolves." So do non-religious definitions of marriage and the reasons for marriage. Those who think/wish their definition should be THE definition should read some history to see how fluid the concept really is (and how often money is the determining factor).Just one example: Augustine and the mother of his son could have married. She was not his "concubine." (Why he refused to marry her is unknown.)"For a concubine was a woman debarred from lawful marriage by the laws that prohibited the union of persons of known high status with persons of low status. Augustine lacked the sort of high status that the late Roman laws against msalliance were designed to protect. He was sufficiently unimportant to be free to marry whomever he wished." Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD, by Peter Brown, p. 150.

Andy -- the kind of sacrificial love of which you speak is a great and good thing wherever it is found. That said, can you be more specific about (sorry to be so blunt) the role of orgasms here? Orgasms are pretty much all that distinguish the love of which you speak from the love of a true and committed friend. But why should a devout friendship that occasionally includes orgasms lead to more societal recognition than a devout friendship without the orgasms?

"Has it not occurred to anyone that maybe these 'kids' have it right and that there is at least a possibility that the churchs 'traditional' teachings on marriage might not be 'right just as some teachings havent been right at other times throughout church history?"Of course, Ann. But the reality is that those who support traditional Church teachings on homosexuality and marriage are ascendant, and traditional Catholics need to understand that, to the larger world, they are not offering a compelling case for their views to many young people.

While I have no read every entry, I am surprised that there has been no mention of John Boswell's master works on tolerance and homosexulaity and especially the latter work of "Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe." While controversial, these effectively countered those who believe that there was one monolithic view of homosexulaity and committed union.

No problem with the bluntness at all, but I do think this is a rather reductive view of marriages (one that is perfectly understandable when marriage is seen primarily through the lens of procreation). To be honest, in this particular relationship, I have no idea what the specific role of orgasms are, any more than I do about any other married couple I know. I can only presume, however, that the erotic life of these two men is part and parcel of the covenanted, public commitment and love that they have for one another. Their erotic life (which I would be loath to reduce to orgasm), like that of most good marriages, cannot be separated from their larger commitments. The sacrificial, committed, covenanted love IS erotic love in this case, as it is for all modern marriages. They are the same thing; to quote St. Gregory of Nyssa, "eros is simply agape brought to the point of intensity."

Do you have an answer to my final question? Imagine the same committed love between people, but in the form of dear friendship that doesn't include occasional orgasms. Why doesn't that friendship deserve just as much state recognition?

Also, while somewhat tangential, the complex and long evolving canonical position of the Church regarding anullments would deserve reflection. There is hardly a part of church discipline today that is more relativistic (depending upon place nd culture and availability of canon lawyers!) and trulty undermining of its own proclaimed theology of marriage. Most couples who have sought his realize that they were truly married -with imperfect knowledge or consent or ability to effectuate the bond - but hat they were REALLY married, often giving it their best shot, and it didn't work out. They called it. ow they go back and parse elements for "annulment." Of some value for some, but painfully unnecessary for most...

Remember the national referendum we had on slavery? It was called the Civil War. Historians I've read have said that it would have been unlilkely that "anti-slavery/ freedom from bondage" amendment would have passed even in the North without that blood-letting. and the Confederate states, while eventually adopting the 13th and subsequent amendments, reflected more the coercion than the will of the majority.For those who want referendums to establish the "majority rules" laws regarding gay marriage, our history is not clear that this has been the only vehicle for social change.

Wasting Time--Personally, I have no problem with state recognition of such a union. But since marriage, as currently understood, is assumed to be an erotic relationship--but in a non-reductive sense--it's not really what the conversation is about. Also, the difference between this (as in any marriage) is that it is not simply a devout friendship but, as Jim Pauwels points out above, a PUBLICLY covenanted one. There used to be such a rite for covenanted friendship (see David Pasinski about Boswell, though I think Boswell does stretch the evidence to breaking point in arguing that these were seen as marriages), and I would have absolutely no issue if either the church or state instituted it now, but as it stands currently, eros and the public covenanting of marriage go together.

Also, having relationships of very good friends that are not sexually involved has already been part of our very messy traditions of marriage. The clearest example is the traditional view of Joseph and Mary.

Back to Jim Pauwels and Jean Raber: Thanks are due to KeriLee Homan for a direct and succinct description of her experience as a Gen Xer. And thanks to JP and JR who more than some of us may have direct and frequent contact with Gen Xers, hence their thoughtful pastoral and pedagogic responses. Taken to heart.The whole discussion, which I find fascinating (anyone know how to diagram a discussion?) reminds us that we each speak from a specific context: generation, gender, occupation, marital status, children status, region, urban/rural, education, personal experience, etc. As one born before generation were given nicknames by pollsters and demographers, I would like to mention the following.1. The "Catholic Church" has lost out on this discussion and beating it over the head is, well, beating a dead head. The "Catholic Church" will go on holding views on marriage that are not accepted by non-Catholics, and many Catholics as well. Who is surprised to hear of a pastor who has blessed a same-sex marriage and baptized the children thereof? On the other hand, who is surprised to hear of a pastor who forbids a same-sex couple from receiving communion, singing in the choir, etc.2. Those whose views have been changed in observing the normalness, friendliness, and neighborliness of same-sex marriage and families will in time also have to deal with some such marriages and families that have become as unhappy and as dysfunctional as some "opposite sex" marriages. 3. As someone who grew up in the fifties I find in KeriLee Homan's narrative a strong strand of conformity to the spirit of the times. We are all subject to it. On the other hand, we sometimes have to recognize the limits of agreeing with what our friends and peers think and think for ourselves, hence the value of critical analysis and a certain level of philosophical mulling. That's how we came to have an end to Jim Crow and the civil rights act.4. A minor addendum. One way marriage in the U.S. has changed is that inter-faith and inter-religious marriages, which were once a scandal, are now widely accepted. But not everywhere and by everyone. Why? Because couples, unless one joins the others community [and ends the inter-faith quality of the marriage], often take the easiest path and give up religious practice altogether (see, James Davidson's studies).

But since marriage, as currently understood, is assumed to be an erotic relationshipYes, and therefore what? We're here to challenge the bedrock assumptions about the nature of marriage, no? Why should that assumption lie unquestioned?

Wasting Time--Well, I put the "as currently understood" precisely to show that that is changeable. In fact, it has already changed. It is one of the numerous inconsistencies in Catholic teaching on marriage that, though procreation is the obsessive focus, traditionally many non-sexual couples were married. As I mention above, the clearest example is Joseph and Mary, but there are many accounts of early martyrs (whether historically accurate or not is beside the point) who married people with whom they pledged celibacy. Thus, you are quite correct, "traditionally" there is no requirement for sex to make a marriage (though current annulment law seems to indicate otherwise...if only Mary and Joseph had known!). So please question the assumption, and we might finally start to see that this thing we call marriage is way more complicated than "one man/one woman" permits!

Keri Lee: I don't know if you're reading these comments, but if you are, I'd so like to know how you came to disagree with the Church's position on marriage. I'm assuming that includes its teaching on all aspects of sexuality, and not just who can and cannot marry. Did you ever believe these things? Was Church moral doctrine relating to sex ever presented in detail at school, or did you hear about it mainly from teachers who asked how you and your fellow students *felt* about this or that "issue"? My own children's experience in Catholic schools makes me wonder if that's what more or less passes for "religious education" today. Good teaching in the higher grades clearly requires motivating students to think on their own, but my children never came across a Catholic teacher who managed to impart the intellectual groundwork required to understand Church teaching, much less the tools necessary to seriously criticize it. Instead, students were asked to share personal experiences, the most dramatic of which almost always challenged and rarely undergirded anybody's faith. Little wonder the majority came to the conclusions they did.The point can always be made that parents are the utimate teachers of the young, but we're only one part of the village; the rest matter too....and even more once our children are out on their own.

Margaret, diagramming a discussion might be an interesting exercise. I might try it with my argumentative composition class this spring! I think Beverly gets to something important to the intergenerational discussion, and that is how the faith is presented, not just in Catholic schools, where only a minority of Catholic children are now catechized, but in CCD classes. As important as the intellectual underpinning--which, let's face it, not all children will be able to grasp (I'm not sure I always do)--is the tone with which it is presented. As a teacher now almost 60, I sometimes find it tiresome when students want to wallow around in their "feelings." But that is often a necessary prelude to pushing them them into deeper waters and getting them to examine those feelings and the assumptions they derive from them. My concern is whether any of that pushing is occurring. Or whether rites of passage such as First Communion and Confirmation are merely getting the kids, as our CCD teacher likes to call it, "processed."

"Why doesnt that friendship deserve just as much state recognition?"I'll bite.I think it should. Say my elderly mother and sister choose to live together. Shouldn't there be some benefit to keeping the elderly in families, neighborhoods, and such, and out of corporate housing? If my sister could derive some tax benefit from caring for our mother, I think she should. She's made the sacrifice neither I nor our society have made."Favored" status for people who live together could well be a part of modern society. It's sure a lot better than associating "personhood" to corporations.Also, since it is the sexual act that seems so objectionable, what if the anti-gay movement just went for the criminalization of sex outside of a first man-woman marriage? Then we could have all the unions people wanted.

I cannot, obviously, speak for KeriLee, but in my own Catholic education, I'd say that Beverley's general point stands. I learned very little doctrinally through grade school of any depth (but I did learn how to color pictures!). In the Catholic high school I attended, however, I was challenged enough to begin my own explorations. The one thing I certainly did learn, though, was that birth control was evil, gay marriage an offense against God and nature, and sex was only for within marriage. In other words, my Catholic education was rather weak on the things that matter (the Incarnation, the Trinity, the Resurrection) and very strong on the rules and teachings of the church on sex. This is only my experience, however, so I can't comment about how wide-spread it was.

"If my sister could derive some tax benefit from caring for our mother, I think she should."Just a point of information: she does. An elderly relative can be listed as a dependent, resulting in a lower tax burden for the greater income earner."Family" is privileged over "friendship" in the tax code. This reflects a long tradition of family bonds being part of the fabric of society and public life in a way that friendship is not; friendship being something which occurs in the realm of private life.

Beverly: I am reading the comments, and appreciate the spirited debate this comment thread has provided. In Catholic high school I received a good deal of formal education about the morality of marriage and sexuality (as well as other aspects of the faith). We learned abstinence until marriage, followed by natural family planning. These lessons were based in moral doctrine as well as experience provided by guest speakers. Still, my parents were the biggest influence in my outlook on church teachings and as I said in my post, they are conservative. We still disagree about what marriage equality means and discuss it almost every time were together. Personally, I think my views on sexuality are fairly conservative for my generation and are due, mostly, to the example set by my parents.The shift in thinking began when I started to realize many of the people I was friends with were gay. Most of them, in a rural Catholic high school, were not open about it until they went to college. It wasnt confirmed or denied, it just wasnt discussed. How could I not continue to love them, those to whom I had become so close over so many years, because they told me such a basic truth about themselves? They didnt change at all because thats always who they were. We still fantasized about our future weddings, as teenagers do, except now when I envisioned it, they were standing across from another man instead of a woman. As many of you have pointed out, I did not include a definition of marriage in my post. This is, of course, a distilled version of what I think but to me (and likely to many my age) it is very simple: two people who love each other committing to a lifetime together. I think its the same thing as what my parents have except between two members of the same sex. The discussion of whether or not it should be provided by the church is entirely separate.To the point that Bender raised: Ultimately, if marriage equality were achieved, the word gay would not be applied to it marriage. Homosexual couples dont gay date. They date. The word gay is applied in this discussion because saying something like: My generation, regardless of religious or political affiliation, does not see gay marriage as a big deal takes on an entirely different meaning if the word gay were omitted.Margaret: I believe my generation feels marriage is important. Were waiting until were older to commit to getting married (my mothernow celebrating her 30th year of marriagewas engaged at 22 and married at 23, which is younger than I am right now). My generation is not the generation of 50% divorce rate. Whether we continue the same trend remains to be seen, but in my experience, the divorces of those who have raised us has forced us to take marriage more seriously. Ive had many conversations with people who say I dont want to end up like my parents, instead wanting a long and happy marriage with the right person. I dont know many people who feel it is trivial. Many of us are looking forward to eventually making the commitment.

A small point, Margaret @ 12:30. Gen-X is the population cohort born after the end of the "baby boom" generation - from the 1960s to 1980s. They are now in their 30s with the leading edge members pushing middle age. Keri, a member of Gen-Y is reporting the reactions of younger adults - those born from the 1980s through the early 2000s and now in high school, college or making their way as young adults in society, perhaps beginning to make decisions about marriage. Your larger point - that we all are impacted by the cultural norms of our own generation is correct, but it is important to distinguish Gen-X from Gen-Y in looking at religious/belief trends at least in the Catholic church. Going by the responses to studies done by William D'Antonio, the late Dean Hoge, et al at Catholic University, as well as studies done by other groups, Gen-X Catholics are a bit more "conservative" than either their "boomer" elders or the Gen-Y cohort. Your larger point, that we are all impacted by the cultural norms of our own generation is not really under dispute. Nor is your comment about inter-faith marriages, which implies (probably correctly) a trend to less engagement with institutional religion. This is especially true in the Catholic church since the non-Catholic partner, even one who is a baptized Christian, is banned from the Eucharist. This often makes the Catholic partner angry enough to leave, because their loved spouse is being treated as a sort of "second-class" christian, rather than as a committed follower of Christ.You did not mention inter-racial marriages, which have soared in recent years, especially among Gen-Y and younger Gen-X members. Just as they are far more accepting of homosexuality than are most of their elders, they are more accepting of other races. Those of us who are older can well remember when inter-racial marriages were illegal and remember also that much of the opposition to legalizing inter-racial marriage came from "christians" using scripture to support their views that inter-racial marriages were "unnatural" and opposed to God's law.

KeriLee -- You say that marriage is "two people who love each other committing to a lifetime together."Why a lifetime?Does this love have to be erotic in nature?Why two? In other words, why be so limiting as to what "marriage" can be? At the same time, when you've settled on a definition of "marriage," why should the state (the government) grant any official recognition to it?

What I've finally concluded is that bigotry can be put on display by otherwise decent people who do not see themselves harboring and mouthing bigotry. I've no doubt that genteel folks in the Ol' South saw nothing wrong with human slavery, perhaps even treated their property with a modicum of respect.

"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."Bruce --You need to learn the difference between a genus and a specific difference. If I say that a "quadrangle" is a "geometrical figure with four sides" then that is a definition of "quadrangle". But if I add "straight sided" (a specific difference), then I have specified a less general class of quadrangles. But the meaning of "geometrical figure with four sides" has not changed one whit. So when I define "marriage" in a particular way and add "gay" as a specification, I do not necessarily change the meaning of "marriage" in that phrase. YOU might change the meaning of "marriage" by adding "gay", but many of the rest of us do not. The question becomes: how do our meanings of "marriage" differ, and most important, Is it *possible* to add "gay" to "marriage" without a self=contradiction? In other words, is it possible for marriage to occur when both parties are of the same sex? If by definition you mean by marriage "a union of a man and woman", then, of ocurse, in THAT sense of the phrase, then same-sex marriage is a contradiction in terms. But the question is: is what the Church has meant by 'marriage" essentially/necessarily a union of one male and one female? That's the theological issue, and the civil law issue is quite similar. But before we settle the issue, we have to do one thing: define the word "marriage" very, very carefully. Only after we do that can we discuss the issues without talking past each other by giving the word different meanings.

Joseph Jaglowicz: "What Ive finally concluded is that bigotry can be put on display by otherwise decent people who do not see themselves harboring and mouthing bigotry." Sometime dotCommonweal should have a post on anti-bigotry bigotry, when you could more amply and rationally defend your views.

The phrase "the meaning of a word" is highly ambiguous. Let's consider the basic elements in the uses of words. There can be:1. a physical symbol OR a class of similar physical symbols (e.g., "triangle" and all the instances of t-r-i-a-n-g-l-e, including, e.g., "triangle", "triangle", "triangle" . In this sense of "triangle" we can say that "triangle" includes three syllables, but we cannot say that a three-sided, straight-sided geometrical figure includes three syllables.)2. the meaning (sense) of that physical symbol -- the concept it refers to, the definition is refers to (viz, "three-sided, straight-sided geometrical figure")3. the *referents* of the symbols (viz.,every real, extra-mental triangle).NOTE WELL: the *referent* of a physical symbol sometimes does not match the *thought/concept* associated with that physical symbol. For instance, if I say, "that's a pretty little girl", I might have mistaken a pretty little boy for a pretty little girl. In such a case my thought (which includes the thought "girl") does not match/represent what the referent, the boy, truly is, and my judgment is mistaken.Our uses of physical symbols can cause trouble in at least several basic ways. First, when one's own meaning (concept, definition) is different from the *referents* we apply the concept to For instance, when I mistakenly judge something to be a kind of thing which it really isn't (e.g., when I judged the boy to be a girl). Second, when *another person's* definition (concept) is different from my own. For instance, if I say "He's a Saint" (thinking of Drew Brees), you might reply, "Oh, no, he isn't" (you would be probably be thinking of Drew Brees as a nice, but ordinary man). Note: n the latter case we could *both* be right -- if we are using different definitions of "saint". Third, we run into trouble when we confuse referents of a term. For instance, if I say that "Thomas Jefferson was the second President of the U. S." I have confused him with John Adams -- I have misidentified the *referent* of the term "second President of the U. S.". In discussing "gay marriage" all these sorts of semantic problems have arisen.Yes, complexity, complexity, complexity. But that's the way it is. All the more reason to try to define our terms as best we can to start with. That way we can at least avoid some problems.

@Rita E. FerroneYou wanted to know the meaning of what I said "Gay lesbian couples can also bear a child in vitro, as infertile heterosexual couples can do. I offer you additional reflections.1. The ovum of a female lesbian couple or a female heterosexual spouse can be fertilized by the seed of a fertile male outside the woman's body and implanted into the lesbian or heterosexual woman's womb. Here we do not have genetic parenthood (e.g. there is no male spouse in a lesbian relationship and the male spouse is infertile in the heterosexual relationship), but we do have gestational parenthood and the responsibly for upbringing (social parenthood).2. The female lesbian or a female heterosexual can adopt a frozen embryo, one that is not killed as a result of another couple's in vitro fertilization. In this case, a frozen embryo is given a chance at life. Here we have no genetic parenthood, but we do have gestational parenthood and the responsibility for upbringing as well (social parenthood).3. Homosexual couples, lesbian and heterosexual couples can adopt a post natal child. In either case, we do not have genetic or gestational parenthood but only social parenthood.If the argument is that some of these cases are immoral because they lack genetic parenthood, but possess only gestational and/or social parenthood, one needs to explain the licitness of postnatal adoption by heterosexual, homosexual or lesbian couples where there is neither genetic or gestational but only social parenthood.

"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?"Bender --When you refer to "the" ontological existential nature of marriage it *shows* that you think that the symbol "marriage" has ONLY ONE REAL/IMPORTANT meaning AND ITS YOUR OWN MEANING.Not so. All the various meanings of "marriage" are real meanings. The question should be: which is the meaning of "marriage" that is most important for the common good? If there are indeed different species of marriage and all of them are important for the common good, then we have to explore that matter. Do not oversimplify!!!!

Bender -- You win the argument that you have set up by your defining "marriage" as being between a man and a woman. But the issue here is; is the procreative nature of the man-woman species of marriage essential to what "marriage" is? You can appeal to Genesis, but note that Genesis does NOT itself claim to say all that can be said about the most intimate friendship of human beings (i.e., marriage). So you can't really elimenate gay marriage on the basis of Genesis. Genesis is non-commital on the subject. There might be more to be said.

LukeThanks for the age grouping, I actually know a few!How could I not continue to love them...Am I the only one who finds the implications of this question troubling? Who, at any point in any conversation on this topic, ever suggested in any way, shape or form that we not continue to love them? Is that what is thought of those who support traditional marriagethat they dont love people with same sex desires? I see the Church teaching to be just the opposite--to love them until it hurts. To suffer every type of slander against you from the politically correct, but to stay focused on what ultimately helps lead them to Christ. After all, the teaching is not that we should celebrate an alcoholic taking another drink, though that may be his (seemingly) greatest desire, is it? Wheres the equality in that?

Sacramental/religious marriage is NOT the goal of most of the same-sex couples I know. Stop worrying about it! If a religious group chooses to bless a same-sex marriage, that is frosting but not the cake.The only reason religious marriages are vehicles for imparting SECULAR rights, obligations and benefits is because the state has chosen to deputize those in a ministerial capacity to sign the SECULAR marriage license. All of the religious documents, seals, trumpets and blessings in the world do not impart secular benefits.Secular marriages would be outside this intersection of "church" and state. That is what most of us are looking for. But they will be marriages in the eyes of the law. That's all that is important because they will impart the same rights, benefits and obligations granted by the religious deputies of the state, i.e., the taxpayers who fund all of what heterosexuals take for granted as their rights.You can take the locks and chains off your church, synagogue, mosque and coven doors and remove the guards with their AK-47s. We won't be storming them unless you open them to and for us. And I am not going to hold my breath that Holy Mother Church will do that anytime soon, with or without a human being the quality of Francis as pope.You all can debate this until Jesus comes, but things are changing so fast these days you won't know what has hit you when you wake up and find out how MUCH has changed. Continued opposition just reinforces the every-widening (and may I say valid?) view of so much of society that religions are repressive rather than supportive.

Bender --By asserting that human genitals may be used only for procreative purposes you are asserting that parts of human bodies can have one and only one main purpose which must never be subverted. However, the Church in effect has contradicted this. For instance, human hands, which are used for the necessary basic purpose of feeding ourselves (thus making continued life possible), also are allowed to be used for many other things at other times, even frivolous things like waving bye-bye to babes or tapping our fingers in rhythm to a snappy tune, or blessing bread. Further, reducing marriage to the use of genitals reduces people to merely brute animals, a most unChristian view.What reasons do you give to justify your positions -- that there is an animal purpose for human genitals that must always be intended? (Note: sexual intercourse results only in human bodies, not human souls. So the process is essentially animal.)

Ann, Nice explanation but since marriage does not currently include gay couples, nor has it ever, you need the adjective to expand the definition. Your geometry example is the exact opposite.

"But what does that have to do with not supporting marriage equality?"I am asking for the same advocacy for the poor as we have for same sex marriage, married priests, women priests, etc. I want the poor in the discussion fully. Not as lip service or occasional. We should not use "preferential option" unless we take it seriously. Francis gets this. He is going with the poor and downtrodden first. Hopefully that will lead to "all" the poor and downtrodden.

Claire --That is indeed a very beautiful testimony to human friendship, but it is not (from what I understand from the best-married people I have known) FULL, most intimate human friendship. John Donne, the greatest of English love-poets is perhaps most famous for his extraordinary poem about the fulness of human love, in which he grants the superiority of the spiritual dimension, but notes that to be fully human it must also be physical. Here is it:The EcstasyWhere, like a pillow on a bedA pregnant bank swell'd up to restThe violet's reclining head,Sat we two, one another's best.Our hands were firmly cementedWith a fast balm, which thence did spring;Our eye-beams twisted, and did threadOur eyes upon one double string;So to'intergraft our hands, as yetWas all the means to make us one,And pictures in our eyes to getWas all our propagation.As 'twixt two equal armies fateSuspends uncertain victory,Our souls (which to advance their stateWere gone out) hung 'twixt her and me.And whilst our souls negotiate there,We like sepulchral statues lay;All day, the same our postures were,And we said nothing, all the day.If any, so by love refin'dThat he soul's language understood,And by good love were grown all mind,Within convenient distance stood,He (though he knew not which soul spake,Because both meant, both spake the same)Might thence a new concoction takeAnd part far purer than he came.This ecstasy doth unperplex,We said, and tell us what we love;We see by this it was not sex,We see we saw not what did move;But as all several souls containMixture of things, they know not what,Love these mix'd souls doth mix againAnd makes both one, each this and that.A single violet transplant,The strength, the colour, and the size,(All which before was poor and scant)Redoubles still, and multiplies.When love with one another soInterinanimates two souls,That abler soul, which thence doth flow,Defects of loneliness controls.We then, who are this new soul, knowOf what we are compos'd and made,For th' atomies of which we growAre souls. whom no change can invade.But oh alas, so long, so far,Our bodies why do we forbear?They'are ours, though they'are not we; we areThe intelligences, they the spheres.We owe them thanks, because they thusDid us, to us, at first convey,Yielded their senses' force to us,Nor are dross to us, but allay.On man heaven's influence works not so,But that it first imprints the air;So soul into the soul may flow,Though it to body first repair.As our blood labors to begetSpirits, as like souls as it can,Because such fingers need to knitThat subtle knot which makes us man,So must pure lovers' souls descendT' affections, and to faculties,Which sense may reach and apprehend,Else a great prince in prison lies.To'our bodies turn we then, that soWeak men on love reveal'd may look;Love's mysteries in souls do grow,But yet the body is his book.And if some lover, such as we,Have heard this dialogue of one,Let him still mark us, he shall seeSmall change, when we'are to bodies gone. John DonneSubmitted: Monday, May 14, 2001Edited: Monday, May 14, 2001 was an Anglican priest, but so far as I can see, his poem is theologically sound by RC standards.

Good point Bruce. Since marriage has been thought of by every society of record, in the traditional sense (i.e., man and woman) since basically forever, the burden of making the case in favor of redefining marriage to include gay people should be on the gay-marriage advocates.Leftists are great at turning the tables and playing victim however, and so we have a situation where regular, decent Americans are put on the defensive (called hateful bigots and worse) simply because we do not think it wise to toss aside so many thousands of years of traditions and practice.

Andy B. --The Church distinguishes both natural and supernatural dimension in sacramental marriage. This isi why it teaches that the state has a right to make laws about certain aspects of the civil dimension, e.g., the educational rights of children. In strict parlance, the civil aspects are called "marriage" and the civil plus religious aspects are called "matrimony" or "holy matrimony". There is no question (or shouldn't be) any question of opposition between the two.

For those of you who like the "what harm will it do?" argument; let me simply ask how often have your heard someone say "what is everyone else doing?" or words to that effect? Every time that question comes up, the observed and discussed behavior is having an impact on others. It is working to change their behavior as well. So what has that meant for Gen Y? Well, they think marriage is very important because they saw how difficult divorce was on the couple and the kids. So they wait to commit and marry. But they also learned that being unmarried is no reason not to cohabit with your current lover. So what is the harm: They are having over 50% of their children out-of-wedlock. It is a fact that these children are demonstrably hurt by any family structure other than one composed of their married biological parents. So while marriage may be important to the couple, the kids are being treated like a sideshow. Thats a specific harm we indirectly taught our kids and its being visited on them and our grandkids.So why do we think 'gay marriage' wont visit similar harms? because some gay couple we know is so happy and loving? The same was true of those divorced or cohabiting couples. Look how that is turning out.

@Ken (3/28, 5:18 pm) Just for the record, and for purposes of clarification, many human societies have not thought of marriage in the "traditional sense (i.e., man and woman)". Nor have they legislated marriage as an institution between "a man and a woman". (See, for example, any number of stories and laws in the Hebrew Scriptures.)The institution of marriage as you and I experienced it growing up is one small sliver of "many thousands of years of traditions and practice". I hope one thing that KeriLee Horan and Andy Buechel have made clear by their example in this thread is that the overwhelming majority of "regular, decent Americans" of their generation (over 80%, if I recall correctly) have made a more-or-less prudential judgment (to use the language of Catholic social teaching) in favor of civil recognition of same-sex marriages, with all the legal rights and responsibilities that follow.For their generation (at least), this is not a leftist v. rightist issue. Most "regular, decent Americans" under the age of, say, 35 favor extending civil marriage to same-sex couples. That's a fact that those of us who are older have to reckon with.

"For those of you who like the what harm will it do? argument ..."Actually, Bruce, it's the anti-gay side who has argued, "This will do harm." Can they demonstrate this? Unless they tackle the act the Church calls "sinful," namely sexual intercourse outside of marriage, why should we believe it? In other words, if the sinful behavior is a problem, why aren't traditional marriage advocates hammering harder on sex outside the first man-woman marriage? Why do they single out gays and lesbians above divorced and remarried people, or people who have sex outside of marriage.This is another strain of bigotry: scapegoating homosexual persons for the problems of pornography, addiction, consumerism, etc.

@Bruce (3/28, 5:34 pm) Thanks for your comment. Could you provide a link to the source for your assertion that "it is a fact that these children are demonstrably hurt by any family structure other than the one composed of their married biological parents"?Note - Other family structures to consider include: single parent who left abusive partner, widowed parent, widowed and remarried parent, adoptive parent(s), guardians of orphans (e.g., grandparent, aunts, uncles, family friends of deceased parents)...among others.

I have never understood why a married couple with no children or old people who are thoroughly dependent on them should be legally favored over single people, especially single people who care for thoroughly dependent relatives. Not fair.

Vatican II taught that the ends of marriage are both procreation and love.I think that argues for marriage as being essentially heterosexual, but that same sex unions share in mutual love and therefore deserve legal recognition eg civil unions.God Bless

Following from Todd, I think the Church can bless same sex unions without morally endorsing every kind of homosexual sex just as we marry heterosexuals without morally endorsing every kind of marital sex.God Bless

"Ann, Nice explanation but since marriage does not currently include gay couples, nor has it ever, you need the adjective to expand the definition. Your geometry example is the exact opposite."Bruce ==You are confusing the referents of the term"marriage" with the sense of the term. When we add a specific difference to a concept we narrow down the number of referents (things it can refer to) while at the same time we *add* sense to the original concept (make the concept a larger, more complex concept). As the Scholastics put it, extension and intention are inversely related.Do check out Copi's classic "Introduction to Logic". You're a natural for the subject -- I think you'd probably even enjoy it. a lawyer who concentrated in constitutional law in law school, I favor full and equal rights for gay couples, but this legally recognized relationship cannot be called marriage without hijacking and destroying the meaning of that term. However deeply two men or two women love each other, whatever they do behind closed doors, they cannot be engaged in matrimony, as that word has been used since the 13th century. Gender identification is basic to marriage. Gay marriage cannot be marriage because it is not the union of a husband and a wife. JOSEPH TARANTINONorthampton, Mass., March 27, 2013 (I wonder how many matrimonies are performed in courthouses, city license offices and Las Vegas wedding chapels in the course of a year? Are THAT many priest moon-lighting these days? And he is a lawyer???)

Ann O--You are, of course, correct. Looking back at what I wrote this morning I grossly overstated my case, or at least was presuming that the persons involved were baptized. Without being done in the presence of the Ordinary or a delegated representative, any marriage between baptized Catholics is invalid. Therefore, whether the state grants them a marriage or not, it isn't a marriage in the eyes of the church, because as far as the church is concerned, you cannot have a marriage among the baptized (Catholics, at least, though why this makes such a huge difference from baptism in general is unclear to me) that is not also sacramental. This is what I meant when I said that it was not recognized and was thus no marriage at all, thus if the state expands the definition it cannot be any more "not a marriage" than it is now. The answer, I suppose, is that the church has a responsibility to preserve "nature" as well, though in that case it had best find some much more compelling arguments! But I agree, civil marriage is still natural marriage, even if Catholic couples cannot enter into these purely natural unions, under current Catholic thinking and law.

I've had it with this topic and the close-mindedness being spouted about it. I'm outta here for a week or so before I really say things for which I'll need to apologize.

There are four perspectives on marriage in the Western Christian Church.1. The Catholic Sacramental Model which began with the insights by 5th century Augustine, who described marriage as a natural God-given institution that served the goods of children, fidelity and sacramental stability. 2. The Lutheran Social Model grounded in the heavenly and earthy kingdoms. Marriage is a social estate of the earthy kingdom of creation, not a sacred estate of the heavenly kingdom of redemption. Marriage is directed to human goods, ends and needs. As part of the earthly kingdom, marriage is governed primarily by the state and its civil laws, not the church and its cannon laws. They allow for divorce on grounds of adultery, desertion and other serious faults, and remarriage at least for the innocent party. 3. The Calvinist tradition believes marriage is a convenantal model. Marriage is not a sacramental institution of the church but a convenantal association of the entire community. 4. The Anglican tradition of marriage is called a commonwealth model. The martial household is a "little commonwealth" to foster the mutual love, service, and security of husband and wife, parent and child. It was appointed by God but it was also ruled by the state or monarchy.What is interesting is not only the different models of marriage in the Christian community, but that procreation as an end of marriage in the Catholic Church was no longer a necessity since Pius XII. In 1951, Pius XII said "Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called "indications," may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life."When have you heard a condemnation of Catholic couples who have no children? When was the last time you heard that a certain number of children is required? Does everyone fully agree that a childless marriage is only licit in post menopausal marriages and marriages of infertile couples? Do infertile couples who adopt a frozen embryo committing a mortal sin? How about children born by in vitro fertilization between spouses who have serious fertility problems? Are Catholic couples who are divorced and remarried (for adultery and other serious reason) committing adultery or fornication, while other Christian couples who divorce and remarry for the same reasons are not committing any sin?

Thanks, KeriLee, for your contribution. Pollsters tell us all the time that young people think this and think that, but it's good to hear from a real live one now and then. I like the thoughtful and modest way that you present your views. The tone encourages more conversation instead of trying to shout down the opposition. That's one reason, I suppose, that the thread has drawn so many comments.You wrote, "it seems clear that the shift in thinking is well underway." I think so too. I have lived in remarkable times for freedom and justice, from Jackie Robinson coming to Brooklyn in 1947 to the dismantling of DADT just recently, and so much in between. Every time, ordinary people have shaken their heads and asked, "What were we so afraid of?" It will be the same this time. And once a wall crumbles, there's no putting it up again.

I sometimes like to read polls about Our Young People to my students to find out if that's really the way they think. Always a bad idea to assume too much from generalities. But I think the reason the post has topped 100 comments is because it contains the word "gay." You'll find it's a sure-fire way to chumming the waters over here. Years ago when I was a contributor, I mused about whether we should care that Dumbledore was gay, and I was completely unprepared for the onslaught.

Sorry ... sure fire way OF chumming the waters."

Gay people arent forcing me to divorce my wife and marry a guy.Todd, that is your quote. Quoting its 'not harming me' implications back to you doesn't make me a bigot.

Luke, Here is a quote by Mark RegnerusMost family scholars had, until recently, consistently (and publicly) affirmed the elevated stability and social benefits of the married, heterosexual, biological, two-parent household, when contrasted to single mothers, cohabiting couples, adoptive parents, divorced parents, andtacitlygay and lesbian parents. For instance, in their 1994 book Growing Up With A Single Parent, sociologists Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur wrote, If we were asked to design a system for making sure that childrens basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two-parent ideal.This website shows other information for Regnerus' study which includes info for some of the types of relationships you mention. Some types you mentioned yielded groups which were too small to draw statistical conclusions. book - Why Marriage Matters: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences, is summarized here

I'm actually quite surprised the Regnerus study took this long to come up. It has nothing at all to say about the topic, since it does not compare children of married homosexual couples to children of married heterosexual couples. Most of the children of gay parents in the study are not those who had been adopted or born to committed gay couples, but rather the children of failed straight marriages entered into by gay people for whatever reason. For more on the numerous problems with it, see the following and its many sub-links:

Thanks for the article, Andy. That is really a damning analysis of Regnerus.

Keri Lee: "The shift in thinking began when I started to realize many of the people I was friends with were gay..."Thanks for going into more detail about how your thinking changed. I think it's important to understand how that process plays out, and what you say certainly reflects what commentators are noting in society's general shift. Seeing people hurt is probably at the root of most forms of doubt. Of course, in much of the world including Christendom, there have long been homosexuals forced into society's shadows, just as there have long been innocent Catholics abandoned by spouses, women overburdened with large families, badly timed pregnancies and suffering people who beg to die quickly. Something more than just knowing people so burdened must have to happen before a majority start demanding the legalization of practices once considered taboo. I'm guessing what that may be is a growing sense of normalcy about what was once considered deviant. Slowly but surely, when enough people are living the perceived deviancy, be it second or third marriages, women using birth control, or yes, homosexuals living openly as committed couples, when a majority of society decides the deviancy is no longer a threat, but safe, something we can live with and chaos will not ensue. At that moment, sympathy for the once marginalized starts tumbling out.In our still Christian society, this must be that moment for homosexuals. The married using birth control got there most recently; the divorced and remarried just a little before that. Others haven't quite made it yet. But what does this mean for a Church committed to both charity and a traditional moral code?

"Quoting its not harming me implications back to you doesnt make me a bigot."Never called you a bigot. It's possible you may have bigoted attitudes, but I'd have to know you better.My objection is when the anti-gay lobby uses children and "defense" of marriage to cloak their true aim.The McLanahan/Sandefur book you cite may well have its head on straight, so to speak. But children have always lost parents due to war, disease, famine, childbirth, addiction, imprisonment, and even American immigration policy. If optimal parenting is your aim, I trust you and other "defenders" will step up and advocate for the half-million American children who, through no fault of their own, lack any parent in their lives. If you want to argue gay parents are bad for kids, fine. But please don't soil your argument by overlooking the fact that having no parents is the worst of all.

To set the record straight, I quote from Sexual Ethics by Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler.The American Academy of Pediatrics judged in 2002 that children of gay parents "fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual" (ACP, "Technical Report: Co-Parent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents" in Pediatrics 109, Feb 2002: 341-44). The American Psychological Association rendered the same judgment in 2004 (APA, "Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Marriage" 2004). In 2009, a major study by Paige Averett demonstrated that there is no significant difference in emotional problems experienced by children adopted by heterosexual, gay, and lesbian parents, and that the children of gay and lesbian parents had strength levels equal to or exceeding scale norms. In 2010, Nanette Gartnell and Henry Bos published the results of a longitudinal study on the seventeen-year-old sons and daughters of lesbian mothers who have been raised in lesbian households since birth. They report that these adolescents "are well-adjusted, demonstrating more competencies (social, academic, and total) and fewer behavior problems than their peers in the normative American population.Yet, despite this reality, the Magisterium continues to deliver ideological judgments contrary to the scientific evidence. For example, the CDF asserts that "as experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity, in same-sex unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons.....allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children."

@Bruce (3/29, 10:55 am) Thanks for your reply; I appreciate it.Thanks also to Andy Buechel (3/19, 12:19 pm) and Michael J. Barberi (3/29, 8:40 pm) for their contributions to this part of our discussion.

Michael Barberi -- all of the supposed "scientific evidence" you cite is ideological junk. See the long section titled "Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics" here: Or see this for a more scholarly but equally devastating opinion of this area of "scholarship":

@Wasting Time (3/30, 2:48 pm) Thanks for your contributions as well however, baseball crank Dan McLaughlin, a regular contributor at Red State, isn't exactly what I could consider a particularly helpful writer when it comes to dispassionate analysis of scientific evidence.

@Wasting Time (3/30, 5:10 pm) True, it refers specifically to McLaughlin. For what it's worth, it's based on my reading of some of his work on Red State, and on Baseball Crank beyond the analysis in the article you linked to.In the end, I find myself going back to KeriLee Horan's excellent post that kicked off this fascinating and far-ranging thread. There's an old saying in medicine: "Statistics are of no value in the individual case". The experiences she and many of her peers describe are, I think, powerful evidence that the rest of us should, at a minimum, take seriously.

As I mentioned, though, without any disagreement from anyone whatsoever, KeriLee's post was entirely comprised of gut feelings and triumphalism, with nary a rational argument to be found. The entire thrust of the post was, "Gay marriage is the wave of the future, because we younger people have gay friends and we wouldn't want to deny them anything that they want." Well, OK, but that's not exactly an argument. It's rather more likely that 100% heterosexuality is the wave of the future, as soon as someone figures out how to do prenatal testing . . . .

Its rather more likely that 100% heterosexuality is the wave of the future, as soon as someone figures out how to do prenatal testing . . . .Ive heard the pro-choice argument that pro-lifers might have second thoughts if their 16-year old daughter was pregnant. One does wonder if the marriage equality folks, should the test come back positive, would be tempted...

I don't wonder at all. Two examples: 1) Most people (and especially most liberals) say that discriminating against the disabled is deeply wrong. They support federal legislation and international treaties to ban discrimination. But when push comes to shove, 95% of them will quietly abort disabled babies. That's why there are almost no Down's Syndrome kids any more. The only two Down's Syndrome kids I've seen in 20 years belonged to devout Catholic families. 2) Most people (and especially most liberals) swear that they love racial and ethnic diversity, and that it is a crucial educational value. But when push comes to shove, they would never in a million years consider actually living in southside Chicago or east LA or southeast Washington DC or south Dallas, let alone sending their kids to the public schools there. (If what I'm saying were not true, then there wouldn't be so many 95% minority schools in those places.)

@Wasting Time (3/30, 8:46 pm) I thought there were a number of rational arguments made by folks in this thread. For example, that the experience of having "out" gay and lesbian friends, relatives, neighbors and colleagues has, for many people, exposed the irrationality and injustice of homophobia (including their own) and discriminatory anti-gay laws. And, that there is a longstanding and broadly accepted distinction between the Catholic sacrament of matrimony and civil marriage in a pluralistic society such as ours. Or, that civil marriage carries with it hundreds of specifically defined rights and benefits in the U. S. today.The fact that you (and Mark Proska immediately following) move from that point in a discussion about civil recognition of same-sex marriage directly to speculative, emotional-button-pushing and seemingly unrelated issues like teen pregnancy, prenatal testing, disabilities, racial and ethnic diversity, public education and class might suggest that "gut feeling" plays a not-insignificant role on both sides of this debate.

LukeMr. Time and I have provided a different perspective than what is typically heard on this blog, which may have taken you out of your comfort zone. Nevertheless, I personally am comforted that you seem to acknowledge that gut feel plays a not-insignificant role in the marriage equality debate.Happy Easter!

That was some pretty slick argumentation, there, Wasting Time: carp on about how nobody is making a substantive, rational argument, and then proceed to create some sort of hypothetical situation where liberal leave off aborting babies with down syndrome to abort gay babies. Worthy of Paris, that one.By the way, you haven't produced any arguments, either--all you've done is critique the ones you don't like. Which is cool and all, but that combined with the above abort-o-rama spiel makes it tough to see why you're worth worrying about.

Luke -- it is possible to make rational arguments in defense of gay marriage. What bothers me is the trend of younger folks who seem to base their opinions on wanting to fit in with their friends, which isn't exactly the best guide to moral thinking (I'm sure you can imagine circumstances where peer acceptance would go astray).

Todd,Your continual references to unadopted children simply begs the question about gay marriage. According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, only 6 states prohibit adoption by gay couples so I highly doubt that gay marriage will have any meaningful impact on the number of unadopted children. I find it quite surprising given your obvious concern for the children that you would support the procreation of children where one biological parent is explicitly denied. That is the world of 'gay marriage'.Btw, I commend you and your wife for adopting. You are a better man than me.

@Wasting Time,The studies and conclusions the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association, are not proclaiming absolute conclusions for all of eternity. Nor are they "ideological junk" as you assert but cannot substantiate. On the other hand, the Regnerus study is highly questionable and criticized appropriately, thanks to the information posted by Andy Buehchel. Your should read it and reflect on your own ideological principles. The Regnerus study and methodology pales in comparison to the peer review process and high professional standards of the AAP and APA.No professional organization denies legitimate studies that demonstrate opposite conclusions. However, what is clear is that there are overwhelming scientific evidence that "to date" support the AAP and APA conclusions and other studies that show no meaningful differences in the well-being and rearing of children adopted by heterosexual and gay and lesbian parents.

Mr. Barberi -- I'm afraid that what you're saying is the absolute reverse of the truth. Whether you are doing this deliberately, I don't know; I'd prefer to assume out of charity that you simply have been bamboozled by somebody. But the reverse of the truth it is nonetheless. That is, the vast majority of studies in this field are simply not believable at all, and the fact that any of them are peer reviewed is only proof that there is an extremely low bar for ideologically preferable studies in this field. Moreover, the Regnerus study, for all its faults, is still vastly better than most other studies. I already provided a link to a scholarly review article explaining all of this in great detail. If you were to read it, you could not in good faith say that there is "overwhelming scientific evidence" on either side of this issue.For example:

More than three-fourths (77%) of the studies cited by the APA brief are based on small, nonrepresentative, convenience samples of fewer than 100 participants. Many of the non-representative samples contain far fewer than 100 participants, including one study with five participants.We see that in addition to relying primarily on small, non-representative, convenience samples, many studies do not include any minority individuals or families. Further, comparison studies on children of gay fathers are almost non-existent in the 2005 Brief. By their own reports, social researchers examining same-sex parenting have repeatedly selected small, non-representative, homogeneous samples of privileged lesbian mothers to represent all same-sex parents. . . . 26 of the studies (44.1%) on same-sex parenting did not include a heterosexual comparison group. In well-conducted science, it is important to have a clearly defined comparison group before drawing conclusions regarding differences or the lack thereof.. . . The repeatedly selected representatives of same-sex parents have been small samples [of lesbians] that are predominantly White, well-educated [and] middle-class . . . . . . We see that in selecting heterosexual comparison groups for their studies, many same-sex parenting researchers have not used marriage-based, intact families as heterosexual representatives, but have instead used single mothers.

In other words, most studies have been done on "small, non-representative, homogeneous samples of privileged lesbian mothers" and have either not included a heterosexual comparison group at all or have used single mothers as a comparison group. This simply isn't evidence at all, let alone overwhelming evidence. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.

"Marriage equality" is oxymoronic in the first place, in that traditional marriage and gay marriage are quite obviously not "equal". They are two different concepts, two different social constructs.It is like claiming that an orange has the right to be equal to an apple.Like so much that comes from the Left, it is mainly driven by emotion, and of course feelings and emoting are not equal to logic and sound reasoning.

@Wasting Time,The term "overwhelming" was relative. I agree that many studies have limitations and the conclusions must be carefully balanced. However, the study your reference as proof of the opposite conclusion, has serious flaws and limitations which you do not seem to take seriously. What we can say, at this point, is that there is evidence that there is no significant differences in the well-being and rearing of children adopted by heterosexual and gay and lesbian parents. Time will tell, but let's get real for a moment. The Magisterium claims that there is strong evidence that gay and lesbian parents of violence to adopted children. What we need is an unbiased and non-idealogical study of the adopted children of heterosexual and gay and lesbian parents. This may take time. In the meantime, the issue of same-sex parenting and marriage should be focused on philosophical and theological arguments. This debate in underway at least in the theological community. It may take decades or centuries, if ever, for the Catholic Church to responsible modify it teachings on marriage. However, the more important issue is the salvation of people with a same sex orientation and the answers the Catholic Church gives. Other things being equal, unless such persons practice a life of sexual abstinence, their salvation is not secured. Unfortunately, celibacy or lifetime sexual abstinence is a gif from God given to the very few. It cannot be "imposed' by authority, but must be voluntarily chosen. The Church must provide meaningful and realistic guidance to those seeking salvation. To insist that people with a same-sex attraction are required to live a life of 'heroic virtue" (e.g, chasitity-temperance) where the mean is defined at the extreme end of this virtue, is irresponsible and unreasonable.The issue of same-sex marriage and parenting is most complex and a mystery. My intention is to move the conversation forward with the objective of a more fuller understanding of the truth. I admit that both sides have good arguments, but not one of them currently possesses the whole of truth.

"I highly doubt that gay marriage will have any meaningful impact on the number of unadopted children."Oh, I agree. I also agree it will have no meaningful impact on heterosexual marriage.But I also have to stress traditional Catholic teaching on the sacraments: Marriage exists primarily, in the Catholic view, as a tradition that imparts the grace of Christ and aims to the sanctification of the couple. Procreation, while a biological necessity and a strong human instinct, serves as a means to that end.

@Todd Flowerday,You said "Procreation, while a biological necessity and strong human instinct, serves as a means to that end." The ends of marriage have been evolving since Augustine. Love was only mentioned as an end by Pius XI because he had to defend the fact that sexual intercourse during infertile periods was not immoral. However, even Pius XI did not proclaim that a program of continuous, intentional and willful acts that limit sexual intercourse to infertile periods was licit. It took another 20 years for Pius XII to proclaim that periodic continence was licit. However, while Pius XII proclaimed procreation in a marriage is an end, it is not absolute. For he said that couples could be exempt from their procreative obligation in marriage for good reasons. Thus, there are good and just reasons when procreation is not a moral imperative in a marriage. Would among us would assert that the grace of Christ is withheld in a marriage with no children? Who among us would assert that there is a minimum number of children that renders the marriage incomplete and a violation of the procreative end of marriage? Are there good reasons where a marriage can be non-procreative? If so, then the so-called requirement of procreation in marriage needs to be revisited in light of the argument that same-sex couples cannot bear children because their acts are non-procreative. If heterosexual couples that are infertile, or have difficulty with conception, are permitted to adopt children, then should same-sex couples in a blessed civil union or marriage be permitted to adopt children? At the present time, there is no conclusive evidence that the well being of children adopted by same-sex couples are any different than children adopted by heterosexual couples.

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