The Future of the Family at Stake
By Father John Flynn, LC
ROME, MARCH 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Whether or not to legalize same-sex “marriage” continues to be a hotly debated topic.
“The essential question is not whether we are going to introduce same-sex civil marriage but how,” said British Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone to the Independent newspaper on March 15.
In Denmark last week the government presented a bill in parliament to legalize same-sex marriage and which, if passed as is expected, will enable homosexual couples to marry in the state Evangelical Lutheran Church, the AFP news agency reported March 15.
The denial of same-sex marriage in European countries is not, however, a breach of anti-discrimination laws, the European Court of Human Rights recently ruled.
The court heard the case of a French lesbian couple, Valerie Gas and Nathalie Dubois, in a civil partnership in France, who complained they would not be allowed to adopt a child, the Telegraph newspaper reported March 21.
Meanwhile, in the United States, battles continue at the state level. In February, Washington state’s governor, Christine Gregoir, signed a bill making it the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage.
The other states where it is legal are New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa, and also the District of Columbia.
In February both houses of the New Jersey legislature voted in favor of same-sex marriage, but the bill was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie.
Then, also last month, a federal appeals court declared California’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional. This matter is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The number of states went up to eight, when on March 1, Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley, signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. It will not go into effect, however, until 2013 and opponents are collecting signatures to force a popular vote on the issue, the Washington Post reported on March 14.
Since 1998, 31 states have had ballot measures related to same-sex marriage, and opponents have prevailed in every state, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
Five states, North Carolina, Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington state, are headed to have popular votes on same-sex marriage later this year. “It’s crunch time,” said Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, according to a March 9 report by the Associated Press.
The matter came up for debate in New Hampshire this week where the House voted 211-116 on Wednesday to stop a bill that would have repealed the two-year-old law and restored a law that allowed civil unions, the Associated Press reported.
“The law cannot be divorced from reality, from nature,” wrote Melanie Baker in the online forum Public Discourse on February 27.
Commenting on same-sex marriage following the favorable votes in Maryland’s legislature, she warned that the bill’s approval was a step toward the destruction of marriage.
Marriage, she explained, “is the only relationship that naturally leads to the procreation of a child, and, through its stability and mutual commitment, provides the optimal conditions to nurture and educate that child.”
The debate, she noted, is often presented as one in the context of civil rights and discrimination.
“It is not a denial of the personhood of gay and lesbian persons to deny their homosexual relationships the legal status of marriage,” she explained, as their sexual inclination is not equivalent to their status as persons, and as persons they do not have the ability to fulfill an intrinsic part of marriage, namely procreation.
Advocates for same-sex marriage have not been able to give an answer to the question “What is marriage?” that does not result in the complete collapse of the institution, wrote Matthew J. Franck, Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute, for Public Discourse last December 15.
“That is to say, if men can marry men, and women marry women, we no longer know what the institution is, or what it is for, or what its boundaries are, or who is to be ruled in and who is to be ruled out as eligible to participate in it,” he commented. If same-sex marriage is allowed then the door is open for polygamy, polyamory and incest, he added.
Catholic bishops in the United States are also actively opposing same-sex marriage. It is a social experiment with unpredictable outcomes, warned Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Rhode Island in his March 14 column in the Rhode Island Catholic. It is also yet another threat to religious liberty, he added.
Bishop Richard J. Malone of Portland wrote a pastoral letter on the topic of same-sex marriage on the occasion of World Marriage Day on February 12.
“It is the permanent bond between one man and one woman whose two-in-one-flesh communion of persons is an indispensable good at the heart of every family and every society,” he explained. “No other relationship is capable of realizing this specific communion of persons.”
Marriage is not a right that can be given or denied, he affirmed. A point that will continue to be hotly disputed in coming months.