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?

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16 years ago

It is interesting that this presentation was made to the St. Thomas More Society.
St. Thomas More was martyred because he would not publicly accept Henry VIII’s authority to override the Church’s position on marriage. (Also martyred was St. John Fisher, the lone English Bishop to dissent from Henry’s takeover of the Church).
Henry did not need More’s approval to divorce Queen Catherine, nor did he need it to appropriate all Church property in England, nor did he need it to marry Queen Ann.
He did not need More’s public approval of the marriage, yet he craved a public statement of approval from More.
Maybe because Henry’s conscience (that still, small voice within) told him that what he was doing was wrong . . . and his desire to cover up his own guilt created an obsession for universal acceptance from others, particularly others like More who were regarded at court as morally upstanding.
And today we are told that it is not enough to tolerate a particular lifestyle; we are told that our society must endorse this lifestyle by conferring on it complete equality by redefining the institution of marriage.
Are those who crave this acceptance any different from Henry VIII?
St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, pray for us.

16 years ago

My comment is here:

16 years ago

Nobody’s forcing the Catholic Church to recognize or perform same-sex marriage. Simple as that.
If the church wants to fire a teacher because he/she is in a same-sex marriage, let it go to court like any other business that wants to fire somebody for being gay would have to.

16 years ago

Rhody —
Can’t you see a difference between a church school and any other employer?
The Catholic Church sets up schools, at least in part, in order to pass the faith and its tenets along to its children. In the Catholic tradition, marriage is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Jesus during his ministry on Earth, and the characteristics of a Catholic marriage are one of the most important things that can be taught in school.
Doesn’t the Church have the right to teach this to its young in the way it sees fit? And should it be required to employ someone who is living his or her life in a way that is completely antithetical to those teachings?

16 years ago

The pressing of gay identity politics into adoption services is unjust.
The advocates of that change in Massachusetts insisted that the Catholic Charities implement anti-Catholic policies.
This was not just about efficiences in running aodption services. This goes to one of the great missions, indeed religious callings, of Catholics as Catholics.
The significance of homosexual relationships, such as it may be claimed, is irrelevant to the contribution of Catholic Charities — or any other religious-based association — in the provision of adoption services.
Gay identity politics produced a false dilemma for the sake of making of the Catholic Church a very visible example in quashing public dissent. The SSM campaign itself is based, not on marriage, not on civil rights, but on innoculating gay identity politics against criticism and opposition — whatever the source.
This is just an example of what happens when The Government takes ownership of a foundational social institution of civil society.
Here the issue is not strictly “religious freedom” but freedom of conscience which is not owned by the government, of course, but which is more easily and readily infringed upon when The Government owns its People rather than the other way around.

Kim Ahern
16 years ago

Keep this discussion going!
Join us at RWU Law for a Symposium about same sex marriage in New England:
Details here:
Register here:

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