This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Gay marriage and the Bishop of Portland, the Virginia AG race and the DC ballot initiative

National Catholic Reporter has an editorial about the stance the Bishop of Portland, Maine's support for an initiative to overturn gay marriage tomorrow and the activities of concerned Maine Catholics to oppose the initiative.

In a democratic society, we should elect the Bishops so that they don't take hair-brained positions such as this. God gives each of us free will and an informed conscience and the Bishop should first ask the faithful before he takes such positions. We are as much the Church as he is.

Of course, I can see what he is afraid of. If Catholic families with gay members get used to marriage equality they will begin to demand that these unions be blessed in the Church. Indeed, in much of the rest of Christendom, the legal and religious ceremonies are separated and over the history of marriage, the Church usually follows the lead of civil society. This would present a problem for the Church, as it would require a rethinking of its teachings on homosexuality (which has little scriptural support). Indeed, the whole one man, one woman theme in the Gospel, which echos Genesis, is not about homosexuality, but about the equal dignity of women in marriage.

Of course, conservatives don't believe in that much either, since to do so would be to concede to women the right to reject sex - which the Church did not believe they had until very recently (and still may officially reject on doctrinal and scriptural grounds - something about being submissive to one's husband). If conservatives really put the relevant scripture into practice, it would support women's equality in both civil and canon law and would ordain them to the priesthood and ministry. (Fat chance).

This is a local issue because the Republican candidate for Attorney General has vowed to fully defend the Virginia Constitutional Amendment which not only prohibits gay marriage, it also prohibits marriage-like contracts. Of course, such a stance is totally against the federal constitution, which limits state intervention in contracts. This has only escaped challenge due to the decency of most families of gays and lesbians in Virginia and because it was thought that the US Circuit Court of Appeals that would hear the case would not vote to overturn the amendment, so that it was better to wait for other Federal Courts to act and for a better Supreme Court.

I see this as another reason to vote for Steve Shannon, since the Virginia Amendment is beyond the pale. It is blatantly discrimatory against gays and lesbians, even prohibiting them to make arrangements on their own to protect their rights. Indeed, it could prohibit the ability to will another person property just because of their sexual orientation, even though unrelated friends who are not homosexual can leave property to whomever they chose. It is blatantly unconstitutional under federal judicial precident and won't stand scrutiny when it is finally challenged. We do not need an Attorney General who would ignore the federal constitution for ideological reasons.

On the DC front, the issue of the gay marriage initiative is still active. The Board of Electtions will not likely let this see the light of day and the Council is almost sure to pass gay marriage in the District. This issue will be overcome by events shortly, simply because it is an equal protection issue and not apt for referendum or initiative. It is directly related to Proposition 8 in California, which already had Domestic Partnership arrangments (like the District, although Cali's arrangements were better - BTW, many of the same people protested those for years and kept a rider in the DC budget prohibiting the District from enforcing the law - which in my view was tyrannical since we don't have a vote there). Former Bush Solictor General Ted Olson is bringing suit to overturn Prop 8 because it demonstrates malice against homosexuals as a class, since there is no other justification for not calling their identical situation marriage. There is precident for his argument - the Supreme Court overturned a Colorado constitutional amendment which attempted to overturn their gay rights laws. Whether you like it or not, this will be an easy win for Ted and will have nation-wide ramifications, including for the District (which is equal to other states in such matters due to Bolling v. Sharpe). The proponents are free to waste their money and their time, but make no mistake, marriage equality will be the law of the land sooner than later. It would take a federal constitutional amendment to stop it - and with a Speaker of the House from San Francisco, that just won't happen without a constitutional convention. Given the number of blue states which would never ratify such an amendment, going down that road would also be a collossal waste of time and treasure. My advice to the local Archbishop and the proponents of the ballot initiative is to quit while you are behind.


Blogger James Young said...

I may not be a Catholic, but a "democratic society" --- a misrepresentation (we are a "republican society") --- has nothing to do with the management of the Catholic Church, which is neither democratic nor republican.

Of course, your misrepresentation of American society is no more fraudulent than your claim that the issue is "marriage equality." It is not. The issue is redefining marriage as something it is not, and something it has never been.

3:26 PM

Blogger Michael Bindner said...

The hallmark of a republican society is respect for the rights of individuals. That includes gays who want the same marital rights as their fellow citizens - or more specifically, the same rights vis-a-vis their in-laws that straight family members have. On that front, the defenders of traditional marriage have not a constitutional or moral leg to stand on.

4:26 PM


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