Standing Firm

Thomas Peters (“American Papist”) thinks that the Catholics who support same-sex marriage are just a bunch of phonies, and this makes the Public Religion Research Poll bogus.  I’ll leave the question of who counts as a Catholic to the Catholics, but can’t help pointing out that insulting fellow believers for insufficient dogmatism seldom works out well.  Plus, just as a demographic matter, if (as Peters suggests) the only real Catholics are the ones in the pews every week, the number of American Catholics is wildly inflated by pollsters, social scientists, and the church, itself.

But Peters doesn’t stop at provoking his fellow Catholics.  He goes on to argue that only (only!) 43% of these faux-Catholics support same-sex marriage, and that the higher figure of 74% includes those who support civil unions.  Peters says it’s important to draw a distinction:

In other words, the only way LGBT-funded pollsters can get Catholics (again, lumped in with inactive and less active Catholics) to “support” same-sex marriage is to create a false choice between full same-sex marriage on the one hand, and “no legal protection/recognition” on the other.

As soon as you introduce the reality that there are other ways of accommodating homosexual relationships into civil law without redefining marriage, support for same-sex marriage among Catholics drops off again. And yet we still see the headlines, “Catholics support same-sex marriage.”

How could I disagree with him about this false choice?  I’m all about the compromise.

The problem for Peters, though, is that one of the few people on earth who is undoubtedly a real Catholic thinks that false choice is the only one.  In 2003, Pope John Paul II approved of a document titled, CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS.” Bottom line? “The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”  This explicitly includes civil unions which you’d think, by their very definition, might fall outside the jurisdiction of Catholic religious doctrine.  But it’s right there in black and brown and sepia.  These “considerations” were issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and bear the name of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who in recent years has moved up in the organization.

I get a bit hot under the collar when people like Peters invoke civil recognition of same-sex unions, and imply they would support that compromise when, in fact, they won’t (Since Peters claims he’s a Real Catholic, I assume he would follow the teachings of the Vatican on this matter).  That has always been the shell game NOM plays, ceaselessly claiming they want same-sex couples to be happy, just not married, and then remaining blithe about the lack of any legal recognition for same-sex couples; they go blank in the eyes at any mention of support for civil unions.

In this, at least, Indiana’s legislature is being honest.  They are getting ready to go on the record as prohibiting any same-sex couple in their state from having any legal recognition, marital or otherwise.   While state statute already defines marriage as between one man and one woman, this constitutional amendment would make it clear to any uppity judges out there that Indianans won’t tolerate wobbliness.

It’s rarer than it used to be to see such open hostility to same-sex couples.  Even politicians who think their constituents want them to be anti-gay are more careful these days, and couch their rhetoric in fashionable tolerance-manque.  But Indiana and the Vatican remind us what steel-toed intolerance — the kind that ran rampant in this country for most of the last century — looks like.

6 Comments for “Standing Firm”

  1. posted by Jimmy on

    We Hoosiers (not Indianans) are real familiar with this bunch of Republicans that recently took power in the General Assembly. Essentially, they are the same bunch we threw out years ago. They have forgotten why we did that. They’re going to get reminded.

  2. posted by Tom on

    That has always been the shell game NOM plays, ceaselessly claiming they want same-sex couples to be happy, just not married, and then remaining blithe about the lack of any legal recognition for same-sex couples; they go blank in the eyes at any mention of support for civil unions.

    That has been the shell game the anti-marriage crowd has always played, consistently, at all levels — both the drivers of the anti-marriage movement from the religious right, like NOM’s Maggie Gallagher and (in my state) Wisconsin’s Julaine Appling, and the social conservative politicians who are their handmaidens. The best that can be said for them is that they are bait and switch artists. A more honest assessment is that they lie through their teeth, ceaselessly.

    Take Wisconsin’s recent history. In 2006 Wisconsin voters were presented with a “nuclear option” anti-marriage amendment: ““Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”

    The chief Legislative sponsors of the amendment were Senator Scott Fitzgerald and Representative Mark Gundrum, both Republicans. Both Fitzgerals and Gundrum, along with other anti-marriage politicians like Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, also a Republican and at that point the highest-ranking Republican in the state, took great pains to assure voters that the anti-marriage amendment was not intended to prohibit limited domestic partnership rights, but instead was aimed at preventing civil marriage and marriage-equivalent civil unions.

    Fitzgerald told voters that the amendment’s second sentence left open the possibility that the Legislature could define civil unions: “The second clause sets the parameters for civil unions. Could a legislator put together a pack of 50 specific things they would like to give to gay couples? Yeah, they could.” Gundrum similarly reassured voters, telling them that the amendment would allow the legislature to create a civil union that includes a “limited number of benefits, as long as it wasn’t ‘substantially similar’ to what’s granted to a married couple” Van Hollen made similar statements. Even Appling got into the sideshow, deriding folks like me, who debated her in forums across the state, for suggesting that Wisconsin was likely to go the way of Michigan, where the ink wasn’t dry on Michigan’s constitutional amendment before the lawsuits were filed to end government worker domestic partner benefits, despite promises to the contrary from Michigan’s anti-marriage proponents.

    The voters bought the dreck, lock stock and barrel, despite polls showing that 60% of Wisconsinites favored granting limited rights to same-sex couples, and the amendment passed.

    In 2009, Democrats in the legislature enacted a limited Domestic Partner Act, granting registered domestic partners rights with respect to hospital visitation, medical and end-of-life decisions, burial and funeral rights, and inheritance rights.

    The ink wasn’t dry before Fitzgerald, Gundrum, Van Hollen and every other elected Republican in state office began to sing a different tune.

    Appling’s Wisconsin Family Action brought a lawsuit challending the Domestic Partner Act on constitutional grounds. Van Hollen refused to defend it, forcing the state to use outside counsel. The Supreme Court tossed a direct appeal. WFA waited until a few months before the 2010 election, and refiled the lawsuit in trial court, energizing the social conservative voters for the election. Every Republican in statewide office who was elected in 2010 is on record with WFA pledging to repeal the Domestic Partner Act.

    If you are credulous enough to believe a word that the anti-marriage crowd says about civil unions, you probably pay sticker price for a new car.

  3. posted by Jorge on

    I get a bit hot under the collar when…

    That was almost funny.

  4. posted by Houndentenor on

    If 3/4 of Catholics don’t care what the Church says about gay marriage, why should anyone else?

  5. posted by Carl on

    House conservatives are working hard to overturn DC’s gay marriage law. So much for this not being about social issues.

    • posted by Tom on

      Not to mention blocking civil unions in Colorado’s House Judiciary Committee after the bill passed the Colorado Senate.

      At the federal level, the “We The People Act” was introduced again last week. The bill seeks to prohibit federal courts from ruling on cases involving religious liberty, sexual orientation, family relations, education, and abortion. If the House is all about economic issues as seems to be the Orwellian spin these days, I wonder why the bill only addresses culture wars issues.

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