Archive for the ‘Same-Sex “Marriage”’ Category

Re-Orienting the Marriage Conversation

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Last week, an important step was taken to moving the national conversation about marriage forward.  It was entitled, “The Ring Makes the Difference”.  The participants in the event were Archbishop Dolan, Pastor Johann Christoph Arnold of the Bruderhof Community, and the scholars Brad Wilcox and Elizabeth Marquard.  A video of the event is available here, and is well worth watching.  There’s also an excellent article in Catholic New York.

For the most part, the public debate has centered on the battle over the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.  That makes perfect sense, since there is very well-funded, active, organized movement to accomplish that goal.  The Church has been a major opponent of this movement — and a target of their vitriol — and we will continue to do so.

In fact, the same-sex “marriage” movement seems to believe that the only important discussion about marriage is about them.   It’s become difficult to even bring up the subject of marriage without the redefinition advocates interrupting and clamoring for their cause.  And the “Ring Makes the Difference” event was a perfect illustration of this.  They protested outside the theater, and dominated the question/answer session with their personal appeals for the recognition of their unions (apparently they didn’t get the memo that their bill was passed already in New York).

But in a larger sense, the debate has never really been about same-sex couples.  Most reliable surveys show that only about 4% of the overall population self-describes themselves as “gay” or “lesbian”.  In those states where marriage has been re-defined, only a small percentage (an estimated 5%) of that small percentage have entered into “marriages”.  In fact, recent Census reports show that there are only about 130,000 same-sex “marriage” households in the United States.  To put this in context, there are about 60,000,000 households that are founded on real marriages, and another 7,500,000 unmarried opposite-sex couples who are cohabiting.

Let’s do the math.  Based on those Census numbers, same-sex “marriage” couples make up about 0.2% of all households — just two tenths of one percent, or two out of a thousand.

So why is the discussion being dominated by such a tiny population, most of whom don’t even seem to want to be married anyway?  How about if we start talking about the 99.8% of the households who are not in same-sex “marriages”.  Shouldn’t the discussion be about how the redefinition of marriage affects them, and what social policies we can develop that will help them?

That was the point of the Ring Makes a Difference event, and that’s why it’s so important — to focus our attention away from the small special interest group, and towards the vast bulk of the population, and the common good.  In fact, the conversation needs to concentrate on the nature of conjugal love, which is oriented to the union of man and woman, with the procreation and raising of children as an inherent part.  The debate can then appeal to the unchallenged scholarly consensus about the social benefits of marriage — how it is the best place for the emotional, financial and overall good of men, women and children.

To that end, the remarks of Archbishop Dolan were particularly apt.  He made four major points, which in my opinion can serve as a good outline for the discussion as we go forwards:

  1. The defense of marriage is not a religious issue, but is a question that stems from the natural law, and is an expression of responsible American citizenship.
  2. This is not an anti-”gay” issue.
  3. Our concerns about the re-definition of marriage can be seen in the very real threats to religious liberty that are emerging.
  4. The challenge to marriage does not just come from outside, but from inside as well — our own Catholic population has largely lost the proper understanding of true marriage.

The debate about marriage affects the vast majority of the population, and the common good of all.  It is a dis-service to have the conversation focus only on same-sex couples.  We need to re-orient the discussion.

Contempt for the Law

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

We already knew that they had no regard for the natural or divine law.  Now we have even more evidence that they have contempt for human law too.

New York City’s government is spending a great deal of time and energy (and taxpayer money) to hold same-sex “weddings” on Sunday, the same day that the new law takes effect.  To allow “weddings” to take place that day, a number of New York State Supreme Court justices have agreed to come to work and grant waivers from the ordinary 24-hour waiting period that our state law requires between the issuance of a marriage license and the solemnization of the marriage.

On what grounds will they grant those waivers?

Therein lies the story of the utter contempt with which our public officials hold the law.

The Speaker of the New York City Council, who takes an oath of office to uphold the laws of our state, was reported to have said this about the waivers:

The only reason a judge would deny a waiver…  would be if one of the grooms or brides was intoxicated.

Actually not.

According to Domestic Relations Law Section 13-b, the following circumstances must exist in order to grant a valid waiver of the 24-hour period (I’ve inserted numbering to make better sense of the long run-on sentence in the law):

It shall appear from an examination of the license and any other proofs submitted by the parties that one of the parties is (a) in danger of imminent death, or (b) by reason of other emergency public interest will be promoted thereby, or (c) that such delay will work irreparable injury or great hardship upon the contracting parties, or one of them.

It is absurd to suggest that any of these criteria are present in the carnival-like atmosphere surrounding the “wedding lottery” being conducted to determine who will be allowed to get “married” on Sunday.  One can only wonder what “proofs” — if any — are being submitted.  Remember, petitions for judicial relief are usually made under oath.  Will any judge deny a petition, for an insufficient factual basis?

It would be nice if some intrepid District Attorney were to warn people not to make any false statements in these petitions, which would be a crime under state law.  The perfect candidate would be the Nassau Count District Attorney, who recently threatened county clerks with criminal charges if they refused to sign same-sex marriage licenses (a threat that itself shows ignorance or contempt of a state law that requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of their employees). It would also be nice if the board that oversees judicial conduct were to examine the orders granted by these eager weekend justices, to see if they were faithful to their own oath of office to uphold the law — especially since Domestic Relations Law Section 13-b makes it a crime to solemnize a marriage without complying with its requirements.

I’m not holding my breath for any of this to happen. I realize that the law will be ignored, that waivers will be granted on an absurdly pro-forma basis, and that nobody will ever do anything about it. I also understand that this instance of running rough-shod over the law bodes very ill for the coming persecution of religious people and organizations who dissent from the new brand of “marriage”.

Our public officials hold the law in contempt. Is it any wonder why many people feel the same way about them?

Varia

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Must read of the week:  Americans United for Life’s exhaustive report on Planned Parenthood.   The Executive Summary provides the basic narrative, the full report has all the details.
  • Stats on late-term abortions in the UK show that it is being used in a eugenic way, to eliminate disabled persons.
  • More proof that human life as a disposable commodity — women in the UK, pregnant due to IVF, are having abortions because they’ve changed their minds.
  • The madness of sex selection continues in India, with baby girls being subjected to sex change operations.
  • Scholar Brad Wilcox punctures the bubble of those who think that “open marriages” are a great idea.  Why would we ever want to go back to the ’70′s?
  • Yet our narcissistic culture, having learned nothing, now brings us the inevitable lawsuit seeking to legalize polygamy.  If same-sex “marriage” is inevitable, then why not anything else?
  • An Illinois court stops the state from terminating Catholic Charities adoption and foster care services due to the civil unions law.
  • Here’s some background on the series of lies that led to the passage of the Illinois civil unions bill, particularly the lies about how it would affect religious institutions.  And every major public official in that state is a Catholic.
  • Lessons learned about the secularization of Catholic universities, thanks to the NLRB ruling that Manhattan College is no longer a church-operated institution.  A lesson worth bearing in mind as more and more Catholic institutions and schools come under the leadership of lay boards with little or no connection to the Church.  It’s all about Catholic identity and mission.
  • Beautiful story of the current record-holder for the world’s most premature baby (21 weeks, 5 days, 1.01 pounds).
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)

    The Absurdity of the New “Marriage”

    Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

    Now that the post-modern ideologues and feckless careerists of the New York State Legislature have re-defined marriage to mean something that it cannot mean, we can reflect on the absurdity that they have created.

    According to the Orwellian-named “Marriage Equality Act”, civil marriage under the laws of New York State will now be defined as a civil contract between any individuals (two, for the time being) who choose to consent to it, “regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex”.  In other words, sex doesn’t matter to marriage — only consent does.

    But another provision of New York State law already holds that sex not only matters to marriage, but that normal male/female sexual intercourse is the standard for whether a marriage is valid.  And the “Marriage Equality Act” didn’t change that law at all.

    The statute in question can be found in Section 7 of the Domestic Relations Law, which is entitled “Voidable Marriages”.  It reads, in part:

    A marriage is void… if either party thereto: (3) Is incapable of entering into the married state from physical cause.

    This is an ancient principle of the law, a legacy that comes to us from the English common law and which finds its roots in ecclesiastical law.  The courts have always interpreted it to mean that the couple must be physically capable of consummating the marriage by having normal male/female sexual intercourse, what one court once delicately called “natural and perfect coition” — or, to use the traditional Latin phrase, “copula vera “.  The reason behind this law is, of course, the immemorial and universal recognition that ordinary sexual relations between men and women, the kind that potentially may lead to the procreation of children, is essential to the very nature of marriage.

    So there’s the absurdity that has been produced by the “Marriage Equality Act”.  We have one provision of the law saying that that persons of the same sex may validly enter into marriage, even though they would obviously not be engaging in normal sexual intercourse.  But we have another part of the law that holds that ordinary sexual intercourse between a man and woman is an essential part of the definition of marriage itself.

    I have no illusions about this.  The “Marriage Equality Act” will not be struck down by the courts because it conflicts with another part of the law.  I am confident that, if the issue ever arose, a Humpty Dumpty court will feel free to re-define “copula vera” to reflect the fallacy of same-sex “marriage”.

    But the fact remains.  The “Marriage Equality Act” is on its face an absurd piece of legislation.  And it is directly rebuked by history, tradition, common sense — and New York State law itself.

    Saints and Public Figures

    Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

    On this day in 1535, John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester in England and newly-created Cardinal, was judicially murdered by the government of England.  His offense?  He defended the validity of marriage, and the authority of the Church to determine what marriage means.

    Today we celebrate his feast day, on an ominous day for marriage and the liberty of the Church here in New York.

    John Fisher defended the marriage of Queen Catherine to the tyrant King Henry VIII, who wished to have that union dissolved by the Church.  When the Church refused, Henry persecuted and murdered all those who stood for the validity of the marriage, and for the authority of the Church.  John Fisher stood alone among the English episcopacy — every single other bishop sided with the King and against the Holy See.  Other prominent Englishmen also took the side of the marriage and the Church, and paid the price — most notably, of course, the great St. Thomas More.  St. Thomas, and many other English martyrs for the meaning of marriage and the liberty of the Church, share this feast day, and we humbly pray for their intercession.

    As we recall the memory of these great witnesses for the truth, powerful men are in Albany redefining marriage, and threatening the liberty of the Church.  They sit behind closed doors, making a mockery of democracy with secret political deals, not disclosing to the public the language of the bill they will soon foist upon us.  That bill will certainly threaten the liberty of the Church to fulfill her apostolic mission, even as it redefines the family and the nature of every marriage.

    A few people stand in their way.  A few brave legislators have resisted the inducements, threats and pressures, and are defending the truth.  Ordinary people of all faiths have sacrificed to go to Albany to give witness to their belief in the sanctity of authentic marriage, and to their fears of religious persecution.  They were met with derisory anti-religious chants.

    St. John Fisher and the other English martyrs gave their lives to testify to the divine institution of marriage, and to defend the freedom of the Church established by Christ Himself.

    Perhaps some people in Albany will receive special graces today, thanks to their intercession.

    St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More, all you English Martyrs, please pray for them, and for us.

    A Reminder of Moral Principles

    Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

    I thought it might be helpful to provide a reminder to our public officials, particularly the Catholics, of the relevant moral principles regarding the legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a 2002 document entitled “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Public Life”, said:

    4.  …[T]he family needs to be safeguarded and promoted, based on monogamous marriage between a man and a woman, and protected in its unity and stability in the face of modern laws on divorce: in no way can other forms of cohabitation be placed on the same level as marriage, nor can they receive legal recognition as such.

    In 2003, in the document “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons”, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said this:

    5.  … In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.

    10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favor of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

    When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

    Mayday for Marriage

    Monday, June 13th, 2011

    On May 24, I spoke at the Mayday for Marriage, the rally sponsored in Albany by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom.  My talk centered on the grave threats to religious liberty, if a bill to redefine marriage were to be passed here in New York.

    Here is a video of my presentation:

    More Bad Omens for Religious Liberty

    Monday, June 6th, 2011

    The legislative battle over the re-definition of marriage is nearing a climax, as the end to the regular legislative session in Albany on June 20 approaches.

    As this latest deadline draws near, the offensive against religious opponents to the bill has ramped up.  In recent weeks, State Senator Ruben Diaz of the Bronx — a Protestant clergyman who has been heroic on this issue, as well as in the defense of human life — has been the object of ugly, disgusting attacks that are so vile that I will not reproduce them here.

    Everyone can understand that emotions run high in debates of this kind.  But it is very, very disturbing for religious leaders to be the target of these virulent and depraved kinds of abuse.  We have constantly been urging and instructing our advocates to shun any kind of negativity in their opposition to the “Marriage Equality Act”.  I wonder if any of the proponents have been doing the same.

    What’s most disturbing to me is that this nasty, vindictive attitude on the part of advocates for same-sex “marriage” bodes very ill for our religious liberties if the “Marriage Equality Act” is passed.  These threats are very real, as we have discussed before on this blog, and as is outlined in a new article in Catholic New York.

    If this is the kind of nasty intolerance we are seeing now, before the bill is even passed, what does the future hold?

    Why Not “Civil Unions”?

    Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

    As the debate over same-sex “marriage” heats up in New York, you occasionally hear legislators say that they oppose same-sex “marriage” but are in favor of “civil unions”.  This is an effort to appear reasonable, and open to compromise, which is certainly laudable.  The problem us, the term “civil unions” doesn’t mean what they think it means.

    When most people use the term “civil unions”, they mean some kind of legal arrangement that grants rights to same-sex couples, like hospital visitation, inheritance rights, insurance eligibility, etc., without putting that relationship on the same legal plane as marriage.

    The problem is, that’s not what the term “civil unions” actually means.  It means the same thing as same-sex “marriage”.

    Bills that recognize “civil unions” grant them all the same rights and privileges of marriage.  The “civil unions” bill that was passed in New Jersey, for example, specifically states that any provision of law that deals with marriage, spouses, etc., must be read to include “civil unions” and those who enter into them.  The “civil unions” bill introduced in Rhode Island today does exactly the same thing. The legal difference between “marriage” and “civil unions” is absolutely nothing — it’s just the name.

    So, all the statutes that prohibit discrimination based on “marital status” would have to be read to prohibit discrimination against those in “civil unions”.  In fact, the case that led to the New Jersey Methodist organization being stripped of its tax exempt status wasn’t based on their refusal to recognize a “marriage”, but their refusal to recognize a “civil union” — which the courts treated as the same thing as a marriage.

    It’s also well known that same-sex “marriage” advocates have used “civil unions” laws as a step towards the judicial imposition of same-sex “marriage” .  The argument they make is that granting the rights of marriage, but denying the term “marriage”, is invidious discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause (or its state equivalent).  That was precisely the approach that was successfully used in Connecticut to impose same-sex “marriage” by judicial fiat.  That same argument is being made in court in New Jersey.

    The reality also is that “civil unions” are not on the table in the New York State Legislature.  To my knowledge, a “civil unions” bill has never been introduced in the Legislature, and nobody has said that they are interested in doing so.  Indeed, same-sex “marriage” advocates frequently say that they don’t want “civil unions”.

    The choice in the Legislature is not “civil unions” versus same-sex “marriage”.  It’s all about re-defining marriage.

    How Same-Sex “Marriage” Threatens Religious Liberty

    Thursday, April 28th, 2011

    In this blog, I have often noted that the re-definition of marriage would threaten the religious liberty of those persons and institutions that uphold the authentic definition of marriage as one man and one woman.

    Same-sex “marriage” advocates scoff at this, and claim that their bill contains an exemption for clergy who do not wish to solemnize same-sex “marriages”, and that this should allay any fear that the re-definition of marriage will infringe upon religious freedom.

    The reality is that this “exception” is meaningless — the First Amendment would never permit the state to force clergy to engage in religious rites that are contrary to their religious beliefs.

    The real threat to religious liberty from re-defining marriage is that these bills fail to include an exemption that would permit individuals and organizations to decline to recognize same-sex “marriages” in other contexts, beyond religious ceremonies.   Without a genuine religious liberty exception in the law, same-sex “spouses” will be able to bring complaints against religious institutions, businesses, and individuals under various state and local anti-discrimination and human rights laws — none of which were ever envisioned as applying to same-sex “marriage”.

    If marriage is re-defined, religious organizations will inevitably face threats to their liberties in these areas:

  • Public grants and contracts — State law requires that no organization that receives funds under a state contract or grant may discriminate on the basis of marital status — which would include a same-sex couple, if marriage is re-defined.  As a result, many Catholic institutions — all our hospitals and social service agencies, and maybe even include Catholic schools that receive state textbook or technology aid — could lose state contracts, and may be forced to close their doors as a result of their refusal to recognize same-sex “marriages”.  This has already happened to adoption and foster care agencies in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, and is being considered in Illinois and Virginia.
  • Employment — There is a very narrow exemption in current state anti-discrimination laws that permits religious organizations to hire those of the same faith or those who will promote their religious mission.  There is a similar narrow exemption under federal law, called the “ministerial exemption”, but the extent of this is currently being challenged before the Supreme Court.  These exemptions do not apply to a large number of positions at religious organizations, such as administrative staff.  As a result, churches and religious organizations would be required to hire people in same-sex “marriages” — and provide them with the same benefits they provide to spouses.
  • Professional Licenses — There are approximately 49 professions that require state licenses (e.g., lawyers, doctors, and nurses).  The state may seek to revoke the license of anyone who “discriminates” against a same-sex “marriage” couple. Students in professional training programs have already been threatened with the denial of licenses for failing to recognize same-sex “marriages”.
  • Business Permits — There are approximately 434 types of businesses that require state licenses or permits.  State licenses are also required for health clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, educational institutions, and social services agencies.  These businesses may see their licenses at risk if they “discriminate” against same-sex “marriage” couples.
  • Education — Health and family life education, which are required by the state, will be adjusted to include the recognition of same-sex “marriage”.  Parents of public school children have only limited rights to opt their children out of these classes.  In other countries, efforts have been made to require religious schools to teach messages about homosexuality that are contrary to their religious mission.
  • Tax Exempt Status — Religious and other non-profit organizations are typically granted tax exempt status, freeing them from the burden of income, property and sales taxes.  The United States Supreme Court has already held that such a tax ruling may be revoked if the organization’s religious beliefs and practices violate “public policy”.  This has already happened to a Methodist organization that declined to recognize same-sex “marriages”.
  • Exclusion from Public Facilities — Religious and other organizations that decline to recognize same-sex “marriages” may be denied access to public facilities for events, such as parklands, campgrounds, public message boards to announce events, etc. This has already happened to the Boy Scouts.
  • Proponents of same-sex “marriage” often accuse us of fear-mongering, and of over-stating these threats to liberty.  But prominent legal scholars — both supporters and opponents of same-sex “marriage” — have recognized the inevitable conflict between same-sex “marriage” laws and the religious liberties of organizations and individuals.

    One of the fundamental principles of religious liberty is that people should not be excluded from ordinary participation in civic life, or from receiving benefits or privileges from the government, merely because of their beliefs. Without a robust provision recognizing the right to decline to recognize same-sex “marriage” based on one’s religious beliefs, re-defining marriage will begin a long, costly and difficult legal struggle in courts and “human rights commissions”, with a steady and irreversible decline in religious liberty.

    For information about what you can do to prevent this, please check out the Family Life/Respect Life Office website.