Not Just a Right
As Anthony Picarello, General Counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, explains marriage isn’t just about the rights of the individuals; it’s about the individuals’ relationship with society:
The moral implications of changing the definition of marriage are where the debate has been largely centered. But, the legal implications of that same change are potentially very far-reaching and are beginning to be dealt with across the country, Picarello said.
The legal term “marriage” appears “everywhere” in law, he said, which means that changing the definition of who can legally be married will change countless other laws — from tax laws to employment laws to health care laws.
“Throughout the law, your rights hinge very often on whether or not you [are married]… so, to change the legal definition of marriage in turn is not to change one law but to change many, many at once. These laws, in turn, regulate religious institutions,” he said.
For example, the Church employs many teachers whose rights are guaranteed by Rhode Island’s employment laws. If one of those teachers were to travel to Massachusetts to marry a same-sex partner, the diocese would immediately be put into the difficult situation of retaining a teacher whose personal moral views were clearly at odds with the Church’s and the school’s moral codes. Or, the diocese could fire the teacher and likely face a wrongful termination suit.
Picarello provided many more hypothetical examples of the ways that allowing same sex marriage in Rhode Island could affect the way the Church is run. He also detailed the experience that Catholic Charities of Boston has had since Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage in 2004.
It’s fair to say that most folks who’ve an emotional urge to be on the side of those proclaiming the expansion of civil rights will be susceptible to advocates’ promises that nobody else will be affected by same-sex marriage. The advocates, themselves, however, are after precisely this forced equality, this forced negation of others’ religious freedoms.
The question can be posed thus: Is it better for the Catholic Church to be torn from the adoption business, or for society to allow dissenting opinions about the significance of homosexual relationships?