Civil unions in RI

Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence, is urging state lawmakers to defeat civil union legislation in Rhode Island. The Providence Journal reports:

In a statement, Tobin said: "I encourage members of the General Assembly to vote against the civil unions legislation currently being considered. It is an unpopular and last minute attempt at a compromise that satisfies no one and accomplishes little.

Advertisement

"The civil unions legislation itself is objectionable since it serves as a gateway to same-sex marriage, thus guaranteeing that this divisive debate will continue in our State well into the future.

"The civil unions legislation under consideration has no protection for freedom of conscience or religious practice for individuals or institutions who oppose this challenge to traditional moral values.

"Further, it is important to note that the legislation itself is discriminatory since it provides certain legal rights only to those in same-sex relationships that mimic marriage while ignoring the needs of many other Rhode Islanders. The Diocese of Providence urges the consideration of 'reciprocal benefits legislation' that will be helpful to Rhode Islanders without reference to marriage and without compromising the traditional understanding of marriage and family in our society."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
Michael,

I don't think you are naive.  So how could you even begin to claim that it would be possible to ''ram through'' legislation to legalize gay marriage with a rubber stamp approval because there are more important (economic) issues that everyone is dealing with?  Many serious economic issues seldom get front page or lead-off news coverage on TV (only the absolute worst news on employment or foreclosures make it), but anything to do with gay marriages involves front and center coverage.  There is no chance that anything related to gay marriage could be ''sneaked through'' any legislature in the country.  Michael, if you are to be at all credible, you have to discuss reality, rather than simply trying to create unnecessary ''fears'' through hyperbole.

You say it's not possible to determine the impact on the culture and so they shouldn't pass laws to legalize gay marriage (and if they don't, will there ever be enough evidence to silence your fears?).  There begins to be reliable evidence, but you choose to dimiss the experiences in the half dozen of so western European countries that now have up to 20 years of experience with legalized gay marriage. None of the chicken-little fears you express have occurred in any of those countries.  In the US, the experience with gay marriage is only 6 years - in Massachusetts.  Interestingly enough, Massachusetts also has the lowest divorce rate in the nation.  And after the first year of so after gay marriage was legalized and about 6500 gay marriages were performed, reflecting ''pent up'' demand, the numbers of gay marriages performed there each year has dropped below 1000/year. In 2009, there were about 36,700 new marriages in Massachusetts, of which fewer than 1000 were gay couples.  How does this harm families and heterosexual couples?  They are barely a blip in the stats.

  Massachusetts has an adult (older than 18) population of about 5.2 million people, of whom slightly more than half are currently married (2.6 million roughly). Six years after gay marriages were legalized in Massachusetts, a cumulative total of about 10,000 gay marriages have taken place there - the biggest number in the first year, and a percentage to people from other states. Your ''fears'' (of what? Not really clear) seem to be unfounded, based on this early data from the US instead of Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

While the rates of marriage have stayed fairly steady or trended slightly upward in Massachusetts, marriages peformed in the Catholic church in the Boston diocese and other areas (NH also) have dropped by about 40% in a decade. People are still getting married at the same rate, but not in the Catholic church. It does not seem that gay marriage in Massachusetts is contributing to divorces, or to any other kind of situation that is disruptive to family life.  However, it is clear that the Catholic church is having a problem keeping its young people when they marry.

Does that concern you at all?

Instead of relying on ''christian'' blogs for your information, you should make use of the wonders of the internet to get factual information - the data I gave here are from the US Govt, the CDC, Bureau of National Vital Statistics.  Every state provides similar data.  It's all there, so fact check, fact check, fact check.  Then if you want to argue your point of view, your opinions at least won't be dismissed as not evenknowing the basic facts of the situation.
Jim McCrea
7 years ago
Homosexuality is, first and foremost, an AFFECTIVE ORIENTATION TOWARD A MEMBER OF THE SAME GENDER.  Whether or not there is behavior attached is irrelevant; the orientation exists.
Michael said:  “There is no reason for society to assign special benefits for people who choose to engage in a behavior that offers no benefit to society - perpetuates the society.”  Do I take it, then, that people who marry and have no children, either through choice or incapacity, should then forfeit any legal, inheritance, tax and other benefits afforded them by virtue of their marriage? 
The most recent Pew Research Center survey (conducted during February and March 2011) released on May 4, 2011 shows the following:  45 percent of Americans say gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, up from 37 percent in 2009 (and just 27 percent in 1996) while 46 percent oppose same-sex marriage, down from 54 percent two years ago, and down from a 65 percent disapproval rate in 1996.
Catholicism and other religions would lose nothing of their role in sanctioning the kinds of unions that they find in keeping with their beliefs. For nonbelievers and those who find the sacramental nature of marriage less or unimportant, the civil license issued by the State would be all they needed to unlock the benefits reserved in most states and in federal law for married couples.  That has been done in most of Europe for many years with the full complicity of the Catholic Church and life as we know it has not ended.
This precedent already exists in the US with divorce laws as well as differing laws within states regarding at what age a person is eligible to enter into a state-sanctioned marriage.
What is telling is that Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Focus on the Family last week that "it's clear that something like same-sex marriage - indeed, almost exactly what we would envision by that - is going to become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture."  "It's time," Mohler added, "for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that."
May I add that it is time for Bishop Tobin and other Catholics to also start thinking about how they are going to deal with that?  It is only a matter of time until same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land.
Barry Moorhead
7 years ago
Yes, there seems to be a lot of missing the point that when religious weddings take place in the U.S. the officiating minister is also acting as an officer of the judicial system.  Priests, deacons, ministers, rabbis, etc. all have documentation for the state giving them this authority.
Joseph O'Leary
7 years ago
Michael Brooks exhibits the classic homophobic logic yet again, and at great length. I thought one sentence in particular was a gem of every form of anti-gay obscurantism and denial:

"I have sympathy for individuals who indentify as homosexuals (although, frankly, I think we should  be researching how to cure them and prevent others from getting this orientation), but the slow destruction of civilized society is a big price to pay to pacify a very small group of people who are have the choice of modifying their behavior and participating in the insitution of marriage as is but refuse to."

I doubt if there can be any intelligent discussion in blogs such as this as long as we keep being dragged back to the cave in this way.

The best answer is parody:

"I have sympathy for individuals who indentify as Jews (although, frankly, I think we should  be researching how to convert them and prevent others from getting this taint), but the slow destruction of civilized society is a big price to pay to pacify a very small group of people who are have the choice of modifying their behavior and participating in the Christian worship as is but refuse to."






Joseph O'Leary
7 years ago
Here's another variant on the Brooks logic:

"I have sympathy for individuals who identify as black (although, frankly, I think we should  be researching how to change their color and prevent others from getting this pigmentation), but the slow destruction of civilized society is a big price to pay to pacify a very small group of people who are have the choice of modifying their black habits and participating in White society as is but refuse to."

Joseph O'Leary
7 years ago
How about a British Colonialist variant:

"I have sympathy for individuals who indentify as Irish (although, frankly, I think we should  be researching how to educate them out of it and prevent others from agitating for home rule), but the slow destruction of our Empire is a big price to pay to pacify a very small group of people who are have the choice of modifying their behavior and participating in British life as is but refuse to."
7 years ago
Joe -

Ah, yes, attack the messenger, then follow-up with silly parodies that are completely distinguishable from the intitail statement.  Characterizing my position as "from the cave" is just rhetoric designed to make the uneducated/uniformed feel ridiculous, along with unsubstantiated arguments of the inevitablity of SSM.   

We are male-female by anatomy; homosexual/heterosexual by our behavior.  Homosexuality as a class is just a political tool for homosexuals to make inaccurate comparisons to actual classes of people.  Race and nationality are not behavioral; these are immutable characteristics.  If Jewish people were demanding to be called Christians, I could tweek your first analogy to make some sense.  Overall, your posts fail.
Jim McCrea
7 years ago
Michael:  let's go through this yet again:

We are homosexual/heterosexual by virtue of our affectional orientation.  Whether we behave in a manner coincident with that orientation or not doesn't change the fact of the orientation.

I do hope for their sake that you never have a child who turns out to be a lesbian or a gay male.
7 years ago
Reciprocal benefits legislation is a good idea.  It permits anyone, gay or straight, to assign rights to a significant other (close friend, parent, or sibling) for important life circumstances, such as hospital visitation, inheritance rights, and other such things that contracting for via an an attorney might be prohibitively expensive.

Homosexuality is not a class, it is a behavior.  We are males and females by anatomy and gays and straights by behavior.  The Church has recognized this for thousands of years; and even in mainstream society, the term "homosexual" is a relatively new term coined in the late 19th century.  There is no reason for society to assign special benefits for people who choose to engage in a behavior that offers no benefit to society (cf. heterosexual sex which perpetuates the society)

Civil unions offer special rights to those who participate in homosexual behavior and are merely a springboard to change the definition of marriage to accomodate those who label themselves homosexuals.
David Harvie
7 years ago
I am glad that I can agree with the good bishop of Providence:  Civil unions are a bad idea!  As has been clearly and repeatedly shown here in New Jersey, no one understands civil unions.  Try to get auto insurance or file taxes...everything is more complicated and we are still left with a second-hand status. 

Instead of reciprocal benefits, etc, let's take the French approach.  It is my understanding that all marriages are licensed by the state and then if someone chooses a church ceremony then that is over and above the state-granted license.  Let's go for a full separation of church and state and let the church marry those folks it considers appropriate and then in the meantime, let the rest of us have equal access to all civil rights from social security to healthcare.
Jim McCrea
7 years ago
What David Harvie said - in spades!!!!

No religious organization should have any say whatsoever over who is eligible for taxpayer provided, taxpayer funded SECULAR benefits.
7 years ago
David - You already have the same rights as everyone else; you choose not to exercise the right to participate in marriage.  You can participate, you choose not to.

Doing what the French do is never a good idea. 
Jim McCrea
7 years ago
Homosexuality is, first and foremost, an AFFECTIVE ORIENTATION TOWARD A MEMBER OF THE SAME GENDER.  Whether or not there is behavior attached is irrelevant; the orientation exists.

Michael said:  “There is no reason for society to assign special benefits for people who choose to engage in a behavior that offers no benefit to society - perpetuates the society.”  Do I take it, then, that people who marry and have no children, either through choice or incapacity, should then forfeit any legal, inheritance, tax and other benefits afforded them by virtue of their marriage? 

The most recent Pew Research Center survey (conducted during February and March 2011) released on May 4, 2011 shows the following:  45 percent of Americans say gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, up from 37 percent in 2009 (and just 27 percent in 1996) while 46 percent oppose same-sex marriage, down from 54 percent two years ago, and down from a 65 percent disapproval rate in 1996.

Catholicism and other religions would lose nothing of their role in sanctioning the
kinds of unions that they find in keeping with their beliefs. For nonbelievers and those who find the sacramental nature of marriage less or unimportant, the civil license issued by the State would be all they needed to unlock the benefits reserved in most states and in federal law for married couples.  That has been done in most of Europe for many years with the full complicity of the Catholic Church and life as we know it has not ended.

This precedent already exists in the US with divorce laws as well as differing laws within states regarding at what age a person is eligible to enter into a state-sanctioned marriage.

What is telling is that Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Focus on the Family last week that "it's clear that something like same-sex marriage - indeed, almost exactly what we would envision by that - is going to become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture."  "It's time," Mohler added, "for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that."

May I add that it is time for Bishop Tobin and other Catholics to also start thinking about how they are going to deal with that?  It is only a matter of time until same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land.
7 years ago
Jim - Sexual orientation is irrelvant unless it is associated with a behavior; otherwise, what is it and why does it deserve any special recognition?  That I have a hetereosexual orientation is relevant only if I act on that attraction.  So, if you have a homosexual orientation but have sex with a woman, you are exhbiting heterosexual behavior.  And when you act in a heterosexual manner, regardless of how you idenitfy yourself, that is what concerns society and the government, because your heterosexual act can result in a woman getting pregnant.  And it is the fact that the heterosexual act might result in pregnancy that forms the basis of marriage.

No one ever asks what your orientation is when you apply for a marriage license.  THAT would be discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  No, all you need for a marriage license, you or anyone, is a partner with the appropriate anatomy such that the two of you might create a baby together.

Colleen Baker
7 years ago
We could give up the whole notion of state sanctioned marriages and civil unions and all the legal and tax benefits, and let marriage be a strictly religious phenomenon.  Children would be tax deductible no matter who has them or how they came to be living with any given person.  Come to think of it, we'd do away with all those divorce issues as well.
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
Brett, it seems your knowledge of the legal requirements and ties between marriage and the state as well as with religion is somewhat confused.  Throughout most of history, marriage was considered to be a legal contract, usually arranged by families for mutual economic benefit.  Eventually, the church officially decreed that marriage was a sacrament - more than 1500 years into the christian era (my history is also a bit rusty, but I think this happened at Trent - prompted by Calvin). But the state governs the legal definition of marriage in every country of the world.  Officially athiest countries like China have marriages - and they would not recognize a marriage as legal if performed only in a religious setting. Even in most Catholic/Christian countries, the civil marriage is the legal marriage.  Someone mentioned France, but this is true throughout Europe.  My son went to a friend's wedding in Germany a few years back - the legal marriage was the one done at the courthouse in the morning, and it was required by law to be given the legal rights of marriage.  The church ceremony in the afternoon was for the family and couple and the religious requirements -but it alone would not have satisfied the state's requirements for legal marriage. The same is true in Chile.  The daughter of a close friend was married in Chile at the govt offices - this was the legal marriage. A short time later, they had a traditional religious marriage in a church in California (groom was Chilean, she is American).  In the US, the church wedding would have met all legal requirements for the marriage and a civil ceremony would have been unncessary, but in Chile, a predominantly Catholic country of course, only the civil marriage in the govt offices was recognised as meeting the requirements.  The civil authorities have been governing the definition and requirements for marriage far longer than have religious authorities.  And it is still the civil authorities that decide what is a legal marriage and what isn't, not the religious authorities.  The religious authorities have control in their own sphere - so in countries or states that recognize gay marriage, the religious authorities can still refuse to witness a gay marriage in their churches - however, this refusal does not change the fact that the state will recognize the marriage.
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
Michael, the government of the United States nor any other government that I am aware of does not require that couples applying for a marriage license testify in any way that they intend to try to have a baby or babies.  The Catholic church does have such a requirement, but not the government.  Promising to have children and being physically equipped to have children (many people cannot have children due to a myriad of reasons, and often they know this when they marry; others marry with a physical capability to conceive children, but choose not to have children) is not a legal requirement for getting married.
David Harvie
7 years ago
Hi Michael,

It is so funny that we celebrate all the diversity that God created on so many levels and yet when it comes to sexuality, there is only one way God ever thought to do things.  Sorry but God created diversity there too...at least in my humble opinion.  I know we can disagree on that and that is cool but as it becomes more and more clear that God hardwired some people just a bit differently than others, we need to ecknowledge that difference and find ways to accept it and its ramifications.

I can no more be heterosexual than I can be blond or blue-eyed.  I could choose to participate in a sham marriage-something that would really threaten the sanctity of marriage- or live honestly and work to create a society where all people are welcomed, valued and treated equally.  The fact that I am precluded from receiving a wholely secular benefit like my partner's social security should he pre-decease me is unequal treatment and a right that I do not yet have but with trust in God's providence, I will have someday.

Peace.
Dale Rodrigue
7 years ago
I dunno... Why aren't we talking about Matrimony?

Matrimony is marriage but not all marriage is Matrimony. It's all about semantics.....

First I am uncomfortable having separate secular marriages for everyone then if you want you can have a a religious marriage.  This drives religion out of the public square and tends to isolate us.  But what is the difference between marriage, civil unions and Matrimony?

There should be three types of ''Marriage'' that have no legal differences and afford the same legal rights:

1.  There are civil union ''marriages'' and because it's not recognized by the Church it should be the secular, legal equivalent for homosexual couples. 

2.  Non Matrimony Marriages  reserved for non Catholic (I prefer the term Reformed Churches) for heterosexual couples with the same legal rights as civil unions but recognized by the Reformed Churches as their religious marriage.

3.  Matrimonial Marriage recognized by the Roman Catholic Church and those like minded Reformed Churches that are sacramental in nature.

All three recognized the the State and all three have secured rights and privileges. (We already have two types of marriages, secular ie on the Vegas Strip, on the beach, in Walmart etc and Matrimonial marriage in a Roman Catholic Church).

And MOST importantly, the religious marriages do count as marriages by the State, in other words, no need for two ceremonies, one secular and one religious.
Just my two cents...
Thomas Rooney
7 years ago
Brett Joyce writes:

"Marriage is a religious insitution, not a secular one; the government has no right or precedent to intervine in this issue."

I assume then that you believe the legal secular situations of insurance, power-of-attorney, probate and the myriad other benefits heterosexual married couples enjoy ought to be discarded as well? 

I agree - marriage IS a religious institution that the state has no right or precedent ??i?n? ?w?h?i?c?h? ?t?o? ???interven?e??.? ? ??????L?e?t? ?t?h?e? ???c??h?u?r?c?h?e?s? ?s?e?t? ?t?h?e? ?p?r?e?c?e?d?e?n?t?s? ???f?o?r? ?t?h?e?i?r? ?f?a?i?t?h?f?u?l.? ? ??T?H?E?N? ?l?e?t? ?t?h?o?s?e? ?w?h?o? ?w?i?s?h? ?t?o? ?e?n?t?e?r? ?i?n?t?o? ?a?n?y? ?l?e?g?a?l??,? ?s?e?c?u???l?a?r? ?c?o?n?t?r?a?c?t?s? ?d?o? ?s??o? ?o?n? ?t?h?e?i?r? ?o?w?n?.? ? ?
Thomas Rooney
7 years ago
Cont'd - my last post was cut off for some reason...

Let the Churches set the moral guidelines for their faithful with NO interfernce from the state.  By the same token, let consenting adults enter into any legal secular contracts that they wish with NO interference from religious institutions.

You can't have it both ways:  You can't complain about the state interfering in the churches when the churches won't keep out of the state.
ed gleason
7 years ago
Catholic sacramental marriage numbers are dropping like a stone. as much as 50% in a decade and a half. this has nothing to do with SSM so what is going on? Should not the dioceses who are de-funding or abolishing Family Life offices tend to their own businesses or is their SSM obsession a sign of projection . A beam in ones own eye? 
7 years ago
The value to society of men and women commiting to take reponsibility for the children that they might produce from having sex, and the value to society of children being raised by their moms and dads and the knowledge that comes from contact with their extended family has been recognized for thousands of years, and has formed the basis for stable, civilized societies the world over.  The suggestion that marriage should be relegated to religious institutions ignores the importance of marriage to the very survival of a society.

We see what happens when marriage is devalued by a government through the enactment of no-fault divorce laws:  A 40% out-of-wedlock birthrate, countless other children orphaned through divorce, increased child poverty, single mothers relying on government support, criminal activity of fatherless children, etc... These tragedies are then perpetuated by the lack of both a mother and father to serve as gender/marriage role models for children.

I wasn't paying attention when no-fault divorce came about, but I wonder how hard the Church fought to prevent the rescinding of fault-based divorce or whether it sat back and viewed it as a secular issue that would have no impact on Catholics.  Whatever the case, we see how what appears purely secularist in nature finds its way into religion and the destructive power it can have on that religion.

So, I think what we are seeing now from conservative society is a fool-me-twice recognition that what seems to be an innocuous societal change for the protection/rights of individuals can have incredibly destructive impact not only on society and taxpayers, but on religion, as well.  Catholic adoption agencies being forced out of gay-marriage states is just one of the first examples of attacks on the Church resulting from a very short history of legalized SSM.  Teaching of homosexuality in public schools and a perception by society that marriage is no longer an institution for the raising of children are but two of the detrimental impacts on society that SSM is likely to cause.

I have sympathy for individuals who indentify as homosexuals (although, frankly, I think we should  be researching how to cure them and prevent others from getting this orientation), but the slow destruction of civilized society is a big price to pay to pacify a very small group of people who are have the choice of modifying their behavior and participating in the insitution of marriage as is but refuse to. 
Liam Richardson
7 years ago
"we should  be researching how to cure them"

Wow. California finally just repealed its infamous 1950 law that directed research into the causes and cure of homosexuality and which thereby empowered Dr Mengele-wannabees who lobotomized, castrated and tortured gay folk at state mental hospitals in the 1950s and 1960s. No serious gay chastity group promotes a cure, only self-management techniques.

"and prevent others from getting this orientation"

Wow 2. I know there are those who would happily abort a fetus if they discovered it had propensities to be gay, and I would not be surprised if there will be those who might regulate their pregnancies to minimize the "risk" (right now, for avoiding gay male children, that might mean avoiding a series of pregnancies with Y chromosomes, for example), but it's not something one "catches."
Jim McCrea
7 years ago
Michael:  let me fill you in on a little secret:  coincidence is not the same as causation.
Jim McCrea
7 years ago
Actuallyl that should be:  correlation is not the same as causation.
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
Michael,

How will giving gay couples who currently live together the legal rights of a married couple damage heterosexual marriage and families? 

How would changing the legal status of committed gay couples who share a home and their lives as two singles (from cohabiting couple to married couple) cause the ''destruction of civilized society''?
Jim McCrea
7 years ago
And if "they" cannot be cured or their births prevented, then what?

Well, I guess there is abortion or "eliminating" them once they are born.
7 years ago
Anne -

As I see it, the issue is not the destruction of heterosexual marriage, but the destruction of the practice of men and women committing to stay together and take responsibility for the nurturing and upbringing of the children that they do or might create, and the deprivation of a mom and a dad to children.

Legalizing SSM will be the first time in the history of civilization that marriage will be expressly defined as a non-procreative institution.  Whereas for all of history where marriage was impliedly a procreative institution because it had consisted of only male-female couples, by including same sex couples the implicit procreative aspect of the institution is erased.  

In one good-intentioned act, the still-accepted practice of getting married before having children will be considered silly, and a legal document can be pointed to which says as much. Since homosexual couples can get married and they can never procreate, the argument would go, how could marriage possibly have anything to do with procreation?  Or more important, why should anyone get married before having children?  Or for that matter, why ever get married?  Why not - as a growing percentage of the population does - just have children out of wedlock and avoid the commitment and sacrifice of marriage?  

Traditional families are the basis of civilized society, independent, self-sustaining economic units, independent of government financial support.  Marriage is the institution wherein traditional families are formed; where couples commit to one another to raise their children and where children have the moms and dads.  Take the procreative element away, and the basis for marriage goes away.  A return to the ideal of traditional marriage is still possible through government incentive and religious teaching; SSM takes us in the other direction and tips us to the point of no return.
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
Michael,

You are making a lot of assumptons - many would say they are "leaps".  Do you have any evidence to support any of your claims?  Do you see that there are many trends underway in the world that might seem to support your fears (many children without a male and female parent in the home, for example), that have no relationship to gay marriage?  For example, in several major cities in the Republic of Ireland, the majority of first born children are born to single mothers.  This in a country that has been profoundly influenced by RCC teaching for most of its history, and still is.  Gay marriage is not legal in Ireland.  Yet these birth trends are real.  Gay marriage was legalized in some Scandinavian countries some time ago.  These countries are pretty well known for their liberal attitudes towards sexuallity, and cohabitation was accepted there long before many other countries. Interestingly enough, after gay marriage was legalized, the rate of heterosexual marriages increased.  In Sweden, ~ 75% of children under 16 live with their birth parents (whether or not legally married) - a much higher percentage than in the US.

Liam Richardson
7 years ago
Glad to see you've renounced the cure crap.

Anyway, if indeed acceptance of gay marriage represents a "point of no return", then after gay marriage is accepted I assume you will turn to other subjects and discourage anyone from thinking that a return is possible. Right?
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
David Smith,

Are his deductions really ''common sense''?  If there are no data to support them, then the deductions may actually be false.  So far, the data that are available do not support his deductions.  There are less than 20 years of data available in countries that first legalized gay marriage or gay civil unions, but enough to see that predictions that gay marriage will end the world-as-we-know-it in those countries seem to have about as much validity as did Mr. Campings ''common sense'' deductions on the timing of the end of the world, based on a detailed and thorough reading of scripture. 

 Have attitudes towards marriage, cohabitation, and out of wedlock births changed in recent decades?  Yes - that's pretty obvious, and also supported by the data.  Is this ''good'' or ''bad'' or a bit of both?  Probably a bit of both. Did legalizing gay marriage or civil unions cause the evolution in marriage patterns that have occurred over the last thirty years?  Once again it seems that the answer to that is ''no,'' if one looks at the available statistical evidence. In the countries where it has been legal for some time, gay marriage/civil unions most likely have had no impact on ''straight marriage'' -which is exactly what a dispassionate analysis of it might lead one to conclude - the ''common sense'' deduction. It is interesting to note that marriage rates (among heterosexuals) have actually risen in countries that legalized gay marriage in the early 1990s - but this is most likely the continuation of a trend that started before gay marriage was legalized in those countries, the rise in heterosexual marriage rates was most likely not ''caused'' by the legalization of gay marriage.  (Statistical data series on marriage/divorce/births etc are available from the OECD, UN, and national agencies).

 The amount of time, money,  effort and anxious hand-wringing devoted to this issue seem to be misplaced, and if strengthening heterosexual marriages  is the real concern, these efforts should be devoted to defining the real issues, looking at the real causes, identifying which changes have been negative for families and society, and then trying to figure out how to mitigate the factors that cause the harmful effects. 
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
David (S),

I am not the one making the ''dire'' predictions - that is Michael Brooks (and others have also when the subject has come up).  But nobody ever explains how legalizing gay marriage or civil unions will cause the destruction of hetero marriage and family. So, what is the real issue?   Granting ''civil union'' status to ensure certain legal rights should be a no-brainer.  Calling it ''marriage'' upsets people more, but I'm not sure why. I have been trying to analyze myself- my rational mind sees no intelligent and defensible argument against gay ''marriage'' in a pluralistic society - but my emotional mind does hesitate a bit to call it marriage. I suspect that this reaction is partly due to my age and how and when I grew up - I am in my early 60s.  Homosexuality was barely whispered about when I was young, through my early adult years even.  When it first became an ''issue'' I had to really wrestle with my own preconceived notions and prejudices. As more and more people came ''out of the closet'' - including people I knew, with whom I worked or had gone to school with - I realized that they are just like everyone else - some are not nice people (but would be that way if they were hetero - ''niceness'' being unrelated to their sexuality), most are good people, seeking the same things in life that most of do - love, companionship, personal and job satisfaction, family, a chance to contribute to the wider community, etc.  I also eventually realized that homosexuality is not chosen, it's given. Most people in the US have white skin, but some have brown skin or  black skin.  Some people have blue eyes, and some brown.  Some are short and some tall, but most are in between.  Some are homosexual and most are heterosexual. Etc. I think that preconceived judgments and prejudices collectively are part of the resistance to using the word ''marriage.''

I also tend to think practically.  Where should we put our resources of time, talent, treasure, both individually and as a culture.  If legalizing gay marriage, whether called ''marriage'' or ''civil unions'' will not impact society negatively (and there is no evidence that it will, nor any logical reason that it would anyway), is this battle worth the time and money and effort?  Are there not more serious problems?  For example, the marriage ''divide'' in this country is growing - the number of people cohabiting and not marrying even after they have children together is growing.  On a purely economic and practical level, this is not the best idea for most.  This trend seems to be much stronger in a specific demographic - basically among those who are both young and less educated.  Divorce rates when couples in this demographic marry are also much higher than in the cohort that both marries at a later age, and before having children, and has completed more education (which understandably tend to go together).  So, maybe those who are concerned about stresses on families and harm to the children of less committed and potentially less stable couples/parents should take some of their concern and energy and even money to where it might truly make a difference and leave gay couples who want to legalize their union in peace.   The causes of the trend to higher choices of having children without marriage are not completely clear - certain things are known about characteristics such as age, education, and income, but this still does not explain why these couples are avoiding marriage.  Perhaps some effort should be put into finding out why.
7 years ago
Anne -

Your comment about Sweden and the fact that a high percentage of children live with their biological parents until their mid/late teens, is intriguing, as I know that there is a lot of cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births in Sweden.  I wonder how much of that has to do with the fact that a lot of the financial burden that comes with children in the US are in great part paid via the government.  In any event, I think the differences between the US  and countries where SSM is legal are so great (e.g., population, cultural homogenicity, government structure, militaries) that these are probably not good models for comparison. 

Many of my issues with SSM are about the children: 1.  Will more children, as a result of SSM, experience the loss of one or both parents (either because of the devaluation of marriage or because of increased surrogatehood for gays); 2.  Will children be denied the tutelage of their parents because demands made by homosexuals emboldened by SSM will force the teaching of immoral and dangerous sexual behaviors); 3.  Will sexually confused/immature children, as a result of SSM and teaching about homosexuality and SSM in schools, develop a homosexual orientation?  4.  Will Christian children be drawn away from their faith as the government strongarms Christian organizations to bend to the demands of homosexuals?  (And these are just off the top of my head)

I think in issues of massive social change such as this, the onus should be on those who are demanding the change to prove that it will cause no harm.  The states where SSM is already legal are our laboratories, and judging from what I'm reading on other blogs, the conservative Christians with kids in public schools in thos states aren't very happy.
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
Michael,

Christian blogs are hardly a reliable source of information!  They start out with an inherent bias, and they generally present purely anecdotal and subjective information/opinions without supporting objective data. 

Your first concern makes no logical sense.  Heterosexuals are just that, and having a colleague at work who is gay, for example, be allowed to marry will not nor induce a heterosexual who is happily married to get a divorce and abandon his/her children. People have to be rational about this rather than be gripped by paranoia.  The second concern - how will children be ''denied'' the tutelage of their parents?  Nobody is going to go into people's homes and tell them what to teach their kids. There have been battles with public school systems about sex education for decades - maybe forever. I well remember them when I was a kid - in the 1950s!  Most systems allow parents to opt out their kids anyway.  But it would probably be better for parents to let the kids take the classes and then go over the material with them at home and explain what their families personal values are regarding the subject matter. 3) There is no scientific evidence that teens who are heterosexual will become homosexual nor vice versa.  4) I'm not sure how govt will ''strong-arm'' Christian organizations into supporting same-sex marriage.  Christian organizations still have choices - if that changes, I will oppose it. But for now, the Christian organization can choose to, for example, treat all employees equally in terms of health benefits.  In Washington DC, the Catholic church chose to cut off all spousal health benefits after the city legalized gay marriage. This was not an ideal solution in terms of either indiividual or societal welfare (since it meant all spouses without other health coverage through their own employment would now have no health coverage at all), but the church had the choice to do this and they did.

Once again, it seems to be a misdierection of time, effort and money to even worry about this.  At one time in history, American society would be forever ruined by giving women the vote.  Then it would be ruined by giving black Americans the vote.  Then it would be ruined by letting black children and white children go to the same schools.  Etc, etc.  There are real problems facing families in our society - concentrate on those!
7 years ago
Anne -

I suppose that if I didn't have young children my perception might be different.  My wife and kids are everything to me, and I and my wife are everything to my kids.  These are the big problems facing society from my perspective.

I think it's ironic that one of the new mantras of the homosexual activists is that the legislatures should be focussing on economic issues as these are "the big problems;"  meanwhile, I don't recall seeing nearly as much aggressive action on the homosexual marriage front as I have in the past 3 years.  And each time an SSM action gets shot down, the SSM-ers complain that the legislatures have more important things to worry about.  If we have bigger issues to worry about, then the status quo on social issues is the appropriate approach, not pass anything that is proposed without deliberation.

Social issues are important.  What if pedophiles were lobbying their legislatures for better access to children; should they just pass those bills too?

No-fault divorce has orphaned a lot of children in this country and placed a lot of women and kids on the government dole.  Perhaps the homosexual activists should back off a bit until the big problems in the country are solved.  There's too much that is unknown about homosexual marriage to rush it through the states; it's a huge social experiment and now is not the time for social experiments.
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
Michael,

Yes, social issues are important, but it's also important to discern where efforts are best placed. My husband and I raised three children, all young adults now. It wasn't easy, and it isn't easy now.  The movement for gay rights has been around for more than 40 years - the push for gay marriage is simply the logical continuation of it.  Gays had to fight very hard against discrimination, and they still do. But, there are a lot of things that would worry me a lot more if I were raising my kids today than the gay rights movement. 

No fault divorce was a blessing in many ways - it converged with a time in our history that women, for the first time for most, had access to jobs that enabled them to support themselves and their children if necessary. Discrimination didn't disappear overnight - I can still remember some very upsetting experiences that I had in the workplace in the 70s. It was a long hard battle for women, and it isn't over yet. But, mostly.  When no fault divorce was first legalized, there was a big upsurge in divorces due to pent-up ''demand'' - until then, people were unable to get a divorce without proving ''cause'' such as adultery.  Many were totally miserable, many women were abused, both physically and emotionally, and these terrors were often hidden by the woman because of cultural disapproval of her, and for the sake of her children.  It is better today for most women than it was before the divorce laws were relaxed.   If you look at the statistics you will see that the divorce rate hit a peak around the end of the 1970s, and then started dropping, eventually leveling off.  The trend to later marriages seems to be helping the divorce rate; in the event of divorce, it also helps in maintaining a decent economic life for those raising children after divorce. Later marriages usually go along with more education, which goes along with better jobs.

If you are truly concerned about children and families and women, you would be putting your efforts into pushing for legislation that improves educational and job opportunities for all, but especially for those who are disadvantaged.  They suffer the most from all of the social ills that hurt children, and create cycles of poverty and family dysfunction if not interrupted.

Your comparison seeking to equate attempts to legalize gay marriage with pedophiles seeking to legalize pedophilia is a strawman argument.  Homosexual relationships involve two consenting adults.  Pedophilia involves the exploitation of children by adults.  It will never be legalized and comparing the one to the other is a misguided attempt to divert the discussion from the real issues.
7 years ago
Anne:

We'll have to agree to disagree on whether now is the time to ram homosexual "marriage" through the courts or legislatures.  I think it's a huge issue, and if the gays have felt discriminated against for -wait for it - all of the history of the civilized world, they can wait a few years more until the smoke clears on all of the other issues facing this country.  This bombardment of legislatures/courts with this nonsense is a ploy to sneak it through when no one's looking.  And, of course, Canada is just across the border, which franky, seems to suit them on other counts, as well.

I wasn't comparing homosexuality to pedophilia, I was using pedophilia as an example of something that would never be legalized (although, I'm sure your aware of those groups that want to lower the age of consent to 13 or even lower), but under the "we have bigger problems" approach to legislation, anything but economic issues should just be rubber stamped.

Maybe we'll get a post on no-faul divorce at some point; I understand there is a conservative push for repeal.






Liam Richardson
7 years ago
Ah, yes, it's easy to say when it's "them."
Jim McCrea
7 years ago
The most recent March 3rd Pew Research Center survey (conducted during the last week of February) shows the following:  45 percent of Americans say gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, up from 37 percent in 2009 (and just 27 percent in 1996) while 46 percent oppose same-sex marriage, down from 54 percent two years ago, and down from a 65 percent disapproval rate in 1996.
Catholicism and other religions would lose nothing of their role in sanctioning the kinds of unions that they find in keeping with their beliefs. For nonbelievers and those who find the sacramental nature of marriage less or unimportant, the civil license issued by the State would be all they needed to unlock the benefits reserved in most states and in federal law for married couples.  That has been done in most of Europe for many years with the full complicity of the Catholic Church and life as we know it has not ended.
This precedent already exists in the US with divorce laws as well as differing laws within states regarding at what age a person is eligible to enter into a state-sanctioned marriage.
What is telling is that Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Focus on the Family last week that "it's clear that something like same-sex marriage - indeed, almost exactly what we would envision by that - is going to become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture."  "It's time," Mohler added, "for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that."
May I add that it is time for bishops and other Catholics to also start thinking about how they are going to deal with that?
7 years ago
Jim -

We already see how the Church is going to deal with it.  It's digging in its heals on the issue, as well as reverting to pre-1960s church traditions, such as the Latin mass.  What revelations have there been about homosexual acts that would cause the church to change its position?

Well-funded pro-marriage (heterosexual marriage, for those that think there are other kinds) organizations have only recently started challenging the radical homosexual activists, and its results have been impressive, instrumental in booting the pro-ssm judges in Iowa, shutting down SSM in Blue Rhode Island and Maryland, looking strong in New York, and pushing a constitutional amendment vote in Minnesota in a short period of time.  Polls are deceiving; they always are. So to suggest that SSM is inevitable is, at best, wishful thinking.      
7 years ago
Anne -

While aggressively pushing ("ramming") SSM legislation and court battles, homosexual activists are simultaneously encouraging the "we have more important things to worry about" message to discourage dissent from a public that is suffering through a difficult economic period.  We all have limited time to contact our congressial reps, and so the suggestion that our focus should only be on economic issues can act as a powerful diversion that permits legislation to be "sneaked through" in the sense that the anti-SSM public doesn't pay attention to social issues and legislators are not contacted by their anti-SSM constituents.  While you are correct that media covergage of SSM is always highlighted, it's always presented to try and persuade that SSM is inevitable, a done deal, and that resistance is futile.  Those are just more attempts to dissuade anti-SSMers from acting: polls that suggest that Americans overwhelmingly favor SSM, celebrities coming out, homosexual suicides, and the like.  In any event, the ruse is failing, as recent anti-SSM victories show. 

Aside from the cultural differences between the US and foreign nations which makes comparisons difficult, 20 years is not a long enough time to see the long-term detrimental effects of SSM on marriage on a society.  Perceptions about marriage and male-female relationships are established pretty early in life, at the age of, say, 5 and even younger.  With people marrying later in life, it is only about now that we are starting to see the first generation of people who were born into a SSM society reaching the age of marriage.  Up until this point, adults of marrying age had already had a preconceived notion of what marriage is/should be prior to the legalization of SSM; that is, the legalization of SSM would have had little effect on those peoples' marital decisions.

6 years in the US? Please.   I'm sure the day after SSM was legalized in Massachusetts, there was some clown who published a story about how nothing had changed since SSM was legalized.  The children, the children, the children....this is where the impact of SSM will be realized: when the kids grow up, after they have been indoctrinated into homosexuality as normal, when those who have been brought up in an SSM, secular world attain influential positions in the government.  

Societies don't crash, they slowly deteriorate.
Anne Chapman
7 years ago
Michael,

You choose to ignore the reality that all the available science so far indicates that homosexuality is not a chosen sexual preference, any more than is heterosexuality.  And given the depth of discrimination and homophobia in society (such as often seen even on this board), it is unlikely that anyone would ''choose'' a sexuality that willl lead to discrimination and even hatred at times in their lives. You also choose to ignore the available sociological evidence. There is no evidence that there is a higher rate of homosexuality in children born in the last 20 years in Scandanivia and the Netherlands than in earlier decades, and according to your proposition, 20 years should be enough to provide some evidence of a change in those born into a society that accepts same sex marriage.

 No discussion is possible with those who simply refuse to look at facts.
7 years ago
Anne -  I disagree with you about whether children can be taught homosexuality, but that's wasn't what I was getting at in my previous post.

My point was that children who grow up in a society with SSM are going to have a different perspective on marriage from those who grew up when SSM was not legal or became legal during their lifetime, not necessarily on whether they are going to marry a boy or a girl, but on such things as whether marriage is important or not, whether it's necessary for procreation, whether the government should support it, whether it is purely a religious institution, whether religion should be forced to perform SSM ceremonies, etc.... So, until those children enter adulthood and start making decisions about marriage -as regular citizens and as leaders of our society - we can't really know what impact SSM is going to have on our society.

The science on homosexuality is unsettled at best, I'll leave it at that because I know you know that.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

An official wedding photo of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, center, in Windsor Castle, Windsor, England. Others in photo from left, back row, Jasper Dyer, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Doria Ragland, Prince William; center row, Brian Mulroney, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Rylan Litt, John Mulroney; front row, Ivy Mulroney, Florence van Cutsem, Zalie Warren, Remi Litt. (Alexi Lubomirski/Kensington Palace via AP)
A poll found that 66 percent of the British public declared they were not interested in the Windsor wedding.
David StewartMay 23, 2018
God simply is a triad of love: a going out in love, a return in love and thus, ever more, love itself.
Terrance KleinMay 23, 2018
The leaders sent a letter to President Donald Trump, administration officials and members of Congress.
Altar servers lead a Palm Sunday procession March 25 in Youtong, in China's Hebei province. (CNS photo/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)
The pope appeared to be alluding to the fact that since February there has been a crackdown by the Chinese authorities on religion in the mainland.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 23, 2018