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.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Bishops letter to Congress on ENDA

America Magazine reports that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to Congress on May 19, on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) , focusing on same-sex marriage. the letter is quite a read and quite a disappointment. One of its authors was Washington Archbishop Wuerl. You can read the letter here

The Church's teaching on homosexuality need not impact how it behaves as an employer. It must be respectful toward its employees rights - it need not celebrate their unions or affirm their sexual practices.There should be no more an exception here than for race. While Catholics may not seek a religious exemption for race, many evangelical churches are divided upon racial lines and such division should not be affirmed by religious exemptions to ENDA. The Church should not more discriminate against gay marriages, which actually affirm marriage as a concept, the same way it should not discriminate on race.

The function of marriage in civil society (and indeed in religion as well) is to make official the separation of a person from their family of origin and to recognize their freely chosen union with a spouse. As such, it dissolves rights for some and creates rights for others. There is no rational basis for denying such ability to rearrange one's family affairs for gay family members when it is automatic for straight family members. It has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with the right of association at the most intimate level. It is also why objections to redefining marriage to include a brother or mother carry no weight, as such relations are already existent in the law. Marriage severs the primacy of these relations and gives them to the spouse.

The Federal case on Proposition 8 actually shows that ENDA will not be necessary, since Prop 8 will be overturned without ENDA (the Bishops think ENDA will be part of the legal argument for overturning it). Prop. 8 will be overturned because it was motivated by animus for a class worthy of protection. It is interesting that the Bishops mention Roe. The letter shows that whoever drafted it does not understand Roe and why it was decided - or that the primacy of individual rights over state majorities actually protects the Church in places where Catholics are rare - Alabama and Mississippi come to mind (places where pluralities believe the Pope is the Antichrist).

As for the associational rights of others, there is no right to discriminate from moral scorn, nor should there be, within the freedoms of either religion or association. My feeling is that the people in the pews are way out in front of the Bishops on this. If they had consulted us, we would have said to recognize gay marriages and those of us with gay family members would demand that they also be celebrated sacramentally. This demand is what truly scares the Bishops.


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