Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Papal Organization for Marriage Inequality

The majority of American Catholics are  in favor of marriage equality. Indeed, the last three governors to sign marriage equality into law are all Catholic (Cuomo - NY, Gregoire - WA and O'Malley - MD). However, National Organization for Marriage was founded by, and is run by, individuals who are very far from the mainstream. They are ultra-conservative Catholics including members of Opus Dei.

For perspective, when a pope makes a pronouncement on a matter of faith and morals "ex cathedra" (meaning from the papal throne), that pronouncement is deemed infallible. It is the word of God. Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, Robby George and Luis Tellez live their lives in total obedience to that word. They do not live in the 21st century.

By February, 2003 both Belgium and the Netherlands recognized same-sex marriage. In May 0f that year, the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled that Canada must permit same-sex marriages. A similar ruling in Ontario came in June and effected marriage equality in Canada's largest province. In July (four months before recognition in Massachusetts), the Pope issued the Church's official position on marriage titled "CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALSTO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS".  

This represents the most direct attempt at imposing
papal authority over civil law since a pope divided the
New World between Portugal and Spain in 1493.

It is clear that this pronouncement has formed the very basis on which National Organization for Marriage exists and operates. It is also clear that neither NOM nor the Church make any distinction between marriage and civil unions.

The Pope writes that gays are depraved, abnormal and disordered. For example:
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts as a serious depravity ... This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.
While NOM may not publicly reiterate the Pope's offensive words, those sentiments shape their view which, in essence, is the following:
There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
What I find particularly offensive is the arrogance of the Pope with respect to the obligations of public officials. Obedience to the Pope would violate their oath of office:
When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known ...
The Pope also asserts that sexual orientation is contagious. It is at the core of why the Church should oppose something that harms no one. This paragraph summarizes the principles of homophobia quite "eloquently."
Lifestyles and the underlying presuppositions these express not only externally shape the life of society, but also tend to modify the younger generation's perception and evaluation of forms of behaviour. Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.
In conclusion, if you want to determine what what position NOM will take, or even how they might frame it, simply scour the document:
The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.
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