Same-sex marriage, Pius XII, Vatican II


As one of the “self-described Catholics [who are] more accepting of homosexuality than members of many other religious groups,” and as an academic who has taught constitutional law for three decades, I found the June 20 editorial (“Marriage, California Style”) deeply disappointing. First, the Catholic Church’s “unambiguous” opposition to same-sex marriage has no stronger moral foundation than California’s onetime prohibition of interracial marriage. Second, Commonweal’s comparison of the California Supreme Court’s marriage decision to Roe v. Wade strikes me as wholly inapt.

It is particularly fitting that the Supreme Court of California—the first state court to recognize that interracial-marriage statutes violate the guarantee of equal protection under the law—has joined the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in recognizing that state statutes prohibiting same-sex marriage also violate equal protection. While the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe rests not on a clear constitutional premise but on a judicially constructed “right of privacy,” the marriage case in California has solid underpinning in the equal-protection clause of the state Constitution. One can only hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon accept the reasoning of the Massachusetts and...

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