Gay Marriage: A Matter of Social Justice

Recently I haven’t been much of a good Catholic, until this weekend I hadn’t been to mass in well over a month. As usual the Gospel and the homily were totally relevant to things on my mind. Last week I posted my feelings on gay marriage and said essentially that the churches need to realize that civil marriage and Sacramental marriage are 2 distinct things that share a name, and they should stay out of the Prop 8 fight. I was wrong to say that. The homily reminded me of a key part of Catholic teaching that says to me that the Church and its members should be in the battle, but on the opposite side from where the majority of them have been standing.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops current stance on gay marriage is summed up as follows:

…We oppose attempts to grant the legal status of marriage to a relationship between persons of the same sex. No same-sex union can realize the unique and full potential which the marital relationship expresses. For this reason, our opposition to “same-sex marriage” is not an instance of unjust discrimination or animosity toward homosexual persons.[1]

Huh?

Even reading the whole thing on their website, I can’t quite follow the Church’s logic. They’re making the assumption that legal/secular marriage is somehow the same thing as what the Church recognizes. And yet, the USCCB states on their website[2] that Non-Sacramental marriage can exist when a Catholic marries a non-christian and be okay. They see the distinction between a legal issue and sacrament plain as day, but they choose to ignore this understanding in the case of “unnatural” same-sex marriage.

Another problem with their opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage is that this view is antithetical to the Church’s mission of Social Justice. The Church can certainly still refuse to allow same-sex Sacramental Marriage, but by the Catholic teaching on Social Justice, Modern Catholics should be fighting FOR Legal same-sex marriage not against it. Pope Paul VI made it very clear during Vatican II that the church has a responsibility to protect the dignity of all people, especially those who are vulnerable and persecuted. Same-sex couples are certainly members of the vulnerable and persecuted, the very existence of Prop 8 shows that. Having marriage related Civil rights, such as end of life visitation, burial decisions, and the right to call your partnership the same thing others do, is important to protecting gay people’s dignity. It’s high hypocrisy to say you are out to protect the vulnerable and persecuted, while supporting a law that persecutes a vulnerable group.

Now I don’t think one man pointing out the hypocrisy of current Church leadership is going to change anything. But I have to try, I can’t just leave an institution I believe in because some people within the Church have hardened their hearts. I encourage all my Catholic Brothers and Sisters to think and pray on this. I think you will find in your hearts that support of Proposition 8 is wrong. Proposition 8 does nothing to protect the Sacrament of marriage, but it marginalizes a group of people. Jesus said:

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”[3]

Let us all say “Yes” to God’s command to love, give LGBT folks a fair shake and fight for gay rights.

[1]http://www.usccb.org/laity/marriage/samesexstmt.shtml

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7 responses to “Gay Marriage: A Matter of Social Justice

  1. I have a huge amount of respect for someone of faith who calls their own denomination out for being unjust, while still claiming membership and not trying to put some kind of weird artificial barrier between themselves (“real” Catholics) and those who don’t share their interpretation. So, uh, thanks for being awesome and not doing the “No True Scotsman” fallacy!

  2. Marriage exists to attach society’s legal imprimatur to unions which are capable of bringing forth children, the care and disposition of whom is a matter of public interest. Gay couples are incapable of procreation, and so there behavior is hardly a matter of public interest worthy of recognition or protection. Today, marriage is often seen as a union between two people who love each other. But the issue is not about love, it is about family.
    For reference, Chapter 5, from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html#CHAPTER%20FIVE

    • I know this is the Church’s position, I just disagree with it when it comes to government recognized marriage. If marriage was just something that existed as a Sacrament, then it can be governed by the Church and cannon law. We can support the rights of marriage for all without minimizing our rites of Sacramental Marriage between a man and a woman.

  3. ” because some people within the Church have hardened their hearts”

    By some of the people, you mean the leaders of the church right? This isn’t just a view held by some of the laity. Its a view that every major leader in the church holds and based on the churches history with change, one that isn’t going to change for at least another 50 years or so.

  4. With all due respect, your argument form doesn’t make sense.

    You start with the excerpt from the CCB: “No same-sex union can realize the unique and full potential which the marital relationship expresses.”

    You interpret this to mean, “They’re making the assumption that legal/secular marriage is somehow the same thing as what the Church recognizes.”

    Umn, no? In more polite words, they’re saying that a gay relationship cannot consummate. By extension, they’re saying it’s thus not a marriage, as the Church has always defined marriage as one man and one woman. No distinction was made of secular marriage. They simply stated that a homosexual union is not a marriage in any rudimentary understanding.

    Another quote: “Pope Paul VI made it very clear during Vatican II that the [Church] has a responsibility to protect the dignity of all people, especially those who are vulnerable and persecuted.”

    And since when has protecting the dignity of any people equated to encouraging or condoning their sins? The Church has never strayed from its position against sexual immorality, specifically condemning all sexual acts outside of the marital bond–sodomy included. There are many so-called Catholics who are very uncharitable toward their homosexual brethren, and wrongly so, but supporting a gay marriage could in no way be seen as a necessity toward protecting dignity.

    Quote: “Having marriage related Civil rights, such as end of life visitation, burial decisions, and the right to call your partnership the same thing others do, is important to protecting gay people’s dignity.”

    And Catholics should be in support of allowing those of homosexual orientation to have end-of-life visitation and burial decisions–of course–but marriage is not a partnership. Marriage is a sacred union surrounding the very act that begins life itself. It should never be called “discriminatory,” “prejudiced,” or “homophobic” to defend the awesome reality of marriage. Every homosexual person deserves all the respect that any person deserves. Their claim that a homosexual union is a marriage, however, is inherently, indisputably wrong. And yes, arguments that infertile couples shouldn’t be able to marry is a very bad argument. They can still consummate their marriage.

    I truly hope that you read what I had to say with an open heart and mind. Beyond all the political rhetoric, protests and rage, it actually is about defending marriage. God bless.

    • I respect where you’re coming from, Marriage is sacred. I guess my disagreement is just that “marriage” as defined by the state, doesn’t and cannot have any bearing on Marriage in the Church. All the state trappings of “marriage” are already just Civil Unions, a contract between two persons in front of the state, rather than a Marriage between two persons in front of God and the community. If the government wants to call this marriage then so be it, but it isn’t always a true Marriage. If the state is going to call it marriage, then they can’t discriminate in what qualifies 2 consenting adults to “marry”.

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