Sunday, September 9, 2012

Washington's Bishops Attempt to Redefine Marriage

The bishops of Washington State have issued a "pastoral statement" regarding referendum 74. In the very first paragraph, they demonstrate that they are captives of talking points and devoted to anti-gay rhetoric.
This public policy debate is due in part to historic patterns of injustice toward persons with same-sex attraction.
They are incapable of even referring to us as gays and lesbians. "Persons with same-sex attraction" is a construct used by the religious right to equate sexual orientation to a disease as in "people who suffer with [fill in the blank]." Would anyone ever refer to heterosexuals as "persons with opposite sex attraction?"

The bishops redefine marriage:
Civil marriage law exists to promote the best environment for the health, welfare and education of children. Approval of Referendum 74 would subordinate the union of children with their mother and father to a legal entitlement for adults. By separating marriage from procreation and the responsibility of men and women to raise children that result from their sexual union, the new marriage law would abandon the state’s principal interest in this time-honored institution.
Nonsense! Civil marriage law exists to create a marital estate. It forms a legal bond between two people. At its inception, marriage has nothing to do with children as no certainty of having children exists. There is no mention of children in traditional marriage vows which constitute the verbal marriage contract:
I, _____, take you, ____, to be my lawfully wedded (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
There is no mention of children in the response of the Catholic priest which constitutes the Church's acceptance of the marriage contract:
You have declared your consent before the Church. May the Lord in his goodness strengthen your consent and fill you both with his blessings. That God has joined, men must not divide. Amen.
Some married couples choose to have children and some do not. The benefits of marriage apply equally to to children who are born to a married couple and children who are adopted by a married couple. Unless, of course, you are a church that opposes same-sex marriage for doctrinal reasons.

These days, no argument from Catholic bishops would be complete without a reference to religious liberty:
Marriage Law and Religious Liberty

In addition, the legal separation of marriage from procreation would have a chilling effect on religious liberty and the right of conscience. Once marriage is redefined as a genderless contract, it will become legally discriminatory for public and private institutions such as schools to promote the unique value of children being raised by their biological mothers and fathers. ... Those who uphold families based on the permanent, faithful relationship between a married man and woman as the best environment for raising children already have been accused of hate speech, and the right of religious institutions to freely practice their faith has been abridged.
  • This is Frank Schubert's "homosexual marriage will be taught in schools" which was effective in both California's Prop 8 and Maine's Question 1 campaigns.
  • This has nothing to do with religious liberty. There is no infringement on religious speech or practice. The Church is not obligated to solemnize or even recognize same-sex marriages.
  • We don't disagree that, ideally, children will be raised by responsible biological parents. Gay couples who adopt children do not alter this concept in any way whatsoever. Indeed, the family is strengthened if that gay couple happens to be married.
  • Ultimately, they are suggesting that a law should be rejected to prevent the law's proponents from voicing their displeasure of opponents of the law if the law were to be passed. It makes no sense whatsoever!
The arguments of the bishops are consistent with the arguments that National Organization for Marriage, and its franchises, make in court. That is not surprising given that NOM is a proxy for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. These are talking points that have been centrally coordinated.

The good news is that, when subjected to careful analysis, the bishops' offerings make absolutely no sense. The logical fallacies became glaringly obvious in the Prop 8 case. The trial and appeals courts reached the obvious conclusion that NOM's "reasoning" tortured logic to construct a secular argument out of religious opprobrium.

The bad news is that some people accept the statements of Catholic bishops as truth per se. NOM and the bishops know that the cognitive dissonance, appeals from "a higher authority" and using children as voiceless victims works irrespective of truth and logic. Shame on them.
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