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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.



Commenting Guidelines

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.