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

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.

    A Glimpse Into the Future

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

    As the push for same-sex “marriage” builds in New York, recent news events have allowed us to see into the future, to get an idea of what the world will be like if the definition of marriage is changed.

    First, a little background.  In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by virtually unanimous majorities, and the bill was signed into law by President Clinton.  It defines marriage, for the purposes of federal law, as the union of one man and one woman, and it provides that states will not be required to recognize any other kind of “marriage”, just because other states have changed their definition.

    DOMA has been challenged several times in the courts.  Three separate federal courts have upheld it as a proper and reasonable exercise of Congressional authority.  One court has found that it is unconstitutional and lacks a rational foundation.  (That decision, by the way, contains the single most absurd statement ever made by a federal judge — that the difference between same-sex couples and different-sex couples was a “distinction without meaning.”  Some things are so silly that only a federal judge could believe them).  Several state supreme courts — including New York’s — have also upheld the same definition of marriage as is contained in DOMA, holding that the definition has a “rational basis” and is not discriminatory.

    That wasn’t good enough for the President, who announced earlier this year that the Justice Department would no longer defend the constitutionality of DOMA.  This,  even though the Justice Department has long held that they have a duty to defend statutes with which they disagree, if there is a reasonable argument to support it.  Apparently, the decisions of multiple federal and state courts are not reasonable enough for this ideologically blinded Administration.

    Faced with this dereliction of duty, the leadership of the House of Representatives engaged the services of Paul Clement, a former Solicitor General and a very accomplished Supreme Court advocate, to represent the people of the United States in defending DOMA.

    What happened next provides us a clear glimpse into where we are going on this issue.  “Gay rights” groups, seeking to force all opposition to same-sex “marriage” out of the mainstream, began a campaign of intimidation aimed at forcing Mr. Clement’s law firm to withdraw from the case out of fear of negative press, restriction of access to top law schools for recruiting, and loss of clients. Instead of fulfilling their professional responsibilities to their client, the firm buckled — and didn’t even have the guts to admit why they were doing it.  In response, Mr. Clement resigned from the firm and will carry on his defense of DOMA with a new firm.

    Interestingly, Mr. Clement’s old firm has given pro bono representation to suspected terrorists incarcerated in Guantanamo, but can’t get up the nerve to defend a duly-enacted statute defending the definition of marriage that has always been understood by our society, and that has been repeatedly upheld against constitutional challenge.

    This is a glimpse into the future.  We will be seeing more and more of this kind of “soft persecution” of those who oppose same-sex “marriage” — we will be marginalized, stigmatized, and frozen out of public life and even professional work.  It will be a test of moral courage to see how people respond.

    Once More Unto the Breach

    Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

    The Governor of New York State has let it be known that he will soon begin to demolish the foundation of society.

    Of course, he didn’t put it quite that way.  Instead, he promised to push for the passage of the so-called “Marriage Equality Act”, which would re-define marriage, which is the fundamental support of a healthy society.  The Governor is apparently not satisfied with the authentic meaning of marriage — a union of one man and one woman dedicated to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.  Instead, he wants to change it to mean something that it cannot — a union between persons of the same sex.

    Several times in recent years, the State Assembly has passed the bill to re-define marriage, but it has only come up for a vote once in the Senate, where it was defeated in 2009.  But it has risen again, and it appears that the Governor will put some of his considerable political muscle behind it.

    This, in a state where there is a marriage and family crisis — where 41% of births are out-of-wedlock, only 66% of households with children are headed by a married couple, and there are over 50,000 divorces in families with children under 18.  Now is hardly the time to re-define marriage, leaving people with the impression that it is all about adult satisfaction and not about children, and that children don’t need both a mother and a father who are in a stable, life-long relationship.

    For more information about this critical issue, and how you can take action, visit the webpage of the Family Life/Respect Life Office.  There you can find resources to get the pro-marriage message into our parishes and communities, and to answer some of the common misconceptions about this issue.

    Ultimately, we need to make clear that this is not about “equal rights” or “discrimination”. Same sex couples have the right to live as they wish, but nobody has the right to re-define marriage for all of society.  Please take action today to defend marriage.

    Varia

    Sunday, March 27th, 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):

  • Two lawsuits have now been filed challenging NYC’s crisis pregnancy center law:  here and here.
  • Pro-lifers continue to make progress in state legislaturesSouth Dakota enacts a 72-hour waiting period that also requires a woman to receive counseling about alternatives, and Arizona moves forward on a ban on sex- and race-selection abortions.  New York, clueless as always, continues to mire in the Culture of Death.
  • A UN report shows that changing sexual attitudes and behavior — particularly reducing promiscuity and adultery — actually does reduce HIV transmission, as evidenced by the experience of Zimbabwe.  Apologies to the Holy Father (who was pilloried in the press for pointing this out) will no doubt be forthcoming.
  • The real (i.e., eugenic) effects of pre-natal testing can be found in the abortion rate for handicapped children.
  • When Illinois’ civil unions bill was being considered, Cardinal George warned that it would threaten Catholic programs, and was derided for it. Well, what do you know — he was right, and Catholic Charities will probably be forced out of the foster care field: .
  • Bishop Tobin of Providence calls for an end to “Catholic apathy” on the defense of marriage, and strongly denounces efforts to legalize same-sex “marriage”.
  • The Vatican is investing in a company that specializes in adult stem cell research.
  • There are substantial concerns about the new Irish coalition government, and its policies on life and marriage.
  • Scholars crunch the numbers and find that Christians who attend church actually divorce less often than those who don’t.
  • A very nice profile of Maria McFadden Maffucci, editor of the indispensable Human Life Review. She denies it, but she really is a pro-life “hero”.
  • (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.)