Same-Sex \”Marriage\”: Why it Matters

Matthew Brower - SSM


Last week Rhode Island legalized same-sex “marriage” adding to an increasing list of states permitting homosexual couples to “marry”. In signing the bill, Gov. Lincoln Chafee said “We are making history.” On that point I will agree with Gov. Chafee and I have little doubt additional states will follow as the social and legislative dominoes continue to fall. Those advocating for a redefinition of marriage will continue to argue not only that homosexuals should be entitled under our civil laws to “marry” each other but also that allowing them to do so does not negatively impact in any substantive way those who oppose such legal recognition.

I have read same-sex “marriage” advocates state multiple times, “Why does it matter to you if people of the same sex get married? What impact does that have on you?” Despite the prevalence of this belief, such a position is naïve and fails to recognize and appreciate the monumental shifts legalization of same-sex “marriage” will produce throughout various levels of society. It also facilitates the framing of this issue as fundamentally one of civil rights legitimating the labeling of opponents as advocates of prejudice and bigotry.

To begin with, it is important to understand why permitting same-sex “marriage” will lead to a redefinition of marriage. Homosexual “marriage” and marriage as properly understood cannot simply coexist within our civil structure without fundamentally altering the meaning of “marriage”. Think of it in algebraic-like terms. Let’s say that Marriage= A+B+C+D and Same-Sex “Marriage”=A+B+C. Once the law states that same-sex marriage and marriage are equivalent, the law in essence declares that the essential elements of any marriage amount to those components that same-sex marriage and marriage have in common (A+B+C).

But what about “D”?

What in effect happens is the law pronounces that element “D” which has, to this point, been understood as a fundamental element of marriage is no longer considered essential. Thus, marriage is redefined as an institution without sufficient reference to factors long considered at the heart of the purpose of marriage and the basis for the state’s interest in its protection and advancement, namely procreation and the raising of children to provide for the succession of generations.

Though some argue that children are not necessarily generally best raised in a family with both a mother and father, it is absurd to suggest that anything other than a traditional family structure is optimal for raising children. The presence of both a mother and father is not sufficient to guarantee children will thrive, but it is self-evident that such a family structure is the most apt for forming healthy happy children who will in turn contribute to the continued growth and prosperity of future generations.

The result of this redefinition of marriage will be a new social “gold standard” for marriage set forth in law and promoted through various social and institutional mechanisms such as schools and the media. It is ridiculous to believe that changing the legal definition of marriage will not seriously impact the way our current and future generations understand marriage, its ends and its value to society as the essential building block for the family and society as a whole. Laws matter and play a significant role in shaping persons and the social order. Regarding the socially formative role played by civil laws, Blessed John Paul II said in Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life) that “they play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behavior.” (90)

Nevertheless, some favoring the legalization of same-sex “marriage” minimize the impact such a radical redefinition of marriage will have on society. They argue that as long as an action doesn’t injure anyone else there is no reason for legal prohibition. They either deny same-sex “marriage” will cause any harm to others or posit that any such harm is so insignificant or remote that it ought not trump one’s “fundamental right” to marry another of the same gender. The prevalence of this mindset is hardly surprising in a society that has so enthusiastically embraced the “social contract” theory of thinkers such as Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau and generally advanced the idea that persons are not social by nature but rather “sociable”.

It would seem that the widespread acceptance of this theory has contributed to a diminished sense of the connection between members of society to the point where “harm to another” can be conveniently defined so narrowly that only acts resulting in direct and proximate injury to an individual (rather than social institutions or groups) demand legal proscription. This misunderstanding of the nature of persons and societies can have disastrous results.

A few years ago, a proposal came before the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors to amend the existing Oath of Admission for attorneys seeking licensure in the state to include non-discrimination language. The proposal would have required attorneys seeking admission in Arizona to affirm that they would not “permit considerations . . . of sexual orientation to influence my duty of care” to clients. In support of inclusion of “sexual orientation” within the oath, Lambda Legal (an organization focused on civil rights issues as they relate to homosexuals, bisexuals, transgendered persons and those with HIV) issued extensive comments to the President of the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors arguing for the proposed changes to the oath.

The comments, signed by over 80 members of State Bar of Arizona, set forth various legal arguments in favor of the proposed language and stated, among other things, “In state-licensed professions, religious liberty ends where harm to another would begin.” (p. 6) While most would generally agree with this statement, what happens when one fundamental right butts up against another?

If we have a new gold standard for marriage, is there room left for those who, for various reasons, disagree with this newly articulated standard? In Lambda Legal’s letter they argued that not even Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act is sufficient to prevent the Arizona Supreme Court from requiring attorneys seeking admission in the state to first take the oath as proposed containing the provision preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (see Id., p. 7). One can rather easily envision a scenario where those opposed to same-sex “marriage” are eventually excluded from practicing in various professions including lawyers, psychologists and others.

After all, if same-sex marriage is protected as a fundamental right and a state’s right to regulate professions trumps other rights such as the free exercise of one’s religion, what prevents a state from indirectly regulating certain persons out of various professions? Once excluded from certain professions of cultural influence, such persons stand in danger of losing their voice—a voice that same-sex “marriage” advocates have all too often incorrectly categorized as bigoted.

Some proponents of same-sex “marriage” have cleverly framed the issue as one of civil rights and appealed to Americans’ admirable sense of justice and equality. They have attempted to draw parallels between the historical plight of African-Americans in this country and the situation homosexuals now face. However, these are not equivalent and the basis for opposition to same-sex “marriage” is fundamentally different from the unjust discrimination to which African-Americans were subject for generations. One could view homosexual orientation as healthy and homosexual acts as permissible while still standing in opposition to legalization of same-sex “marriage”.

The essential issues involve questions about the elements and ends of marriage and the purpose of the state’s interest in marriage as a social institution. When these matters are examined it is clear that same-sex “marriage” will lead to a redefinition of marriage with far-reaching negative consequences throughout society. It is on this basis that many oppose same-sex “marriage” and not on some erroneous belief that homosexual persons are disordered, second-class citizens or less than equal in dignity with others.

It appears inevitable that going forward additional states will pass same-sex “marriage” laws affording citizens the “right” to marry another of the same gender. There is little question about which side in this debate currently enjoys the cultural momentum. Nevertheless, those opposed to this legal novelty must be poised to articulate in a clear, concise and loving manner the reasons for opposition. This prophetic voice is needed now more than ever in order that wisdom and love might prevail and the common good be advanced, if not now, then perhaps in future generations.

© 2013. Matthew Brower. All Rights Reserved.

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21 thoughts on “Same-Sex \”Marriage\”: Why it Matters”

  1. This is happening now! (After all, if same-sex marriage is protected as a fundamental right and a state’s right to regulate professions trumps other rights such as the free exercise of one’s religion, what prevents a state from indirectly regulating certain persons out of various professions? ) Can it be legal to code into the bar an exception to religious liberty? I think we’re in for huge trouble as a country with its religious liberty – soon CA nurses may be jailed for objecting to administering the suicide pill and OB/GYNs will be jailed for refusing to perform an abortion! Don’t even ask about religious liberty implication for practicing Shia law for all the migrating Shi’ites!

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  3. Great article Mr. Bower. Infertility is also being redefined as California just introduced legislation (AB 460) to mandate insurance coverage for gay couple’s artificial procreation.

    The word “parent” is also being redefined as “mother” and “father” are being removed from birth certificates.

    Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

  4. I think Mark Twain or Dr. Seuss would beg to differ. I can send you the definition of “ad hominem” if you’d like so, in Charity, you don’t continue to practice the very behavior you condemn..

  5. According to this logic, though, NOBODY should be allowed to be married unless they are both Catholic and being married in the Catholic church. Following the reasoning presented here, it’s clear that marriage has ALREADY been redefined, since in the eyes of the Church, GOD is an essential element in a marriage, but that element has been removed (or never was part of) the LEGAL definition. The logic just doesn’t work to forward this argument.

    1. The Church may need to get out of the government-sanction business. You often hear, from even allegedly orthodox clerics, that a license is required before we can have a wedding. Why? What other Sacrament of Holy Mother Church needs government approval?

      If marriage is merely a legal contract, two, four, or six men, women, children, horses, dolphins, or unicorns can get hitched if they like.

      Western Civilization, influenced mostly by the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, and APOSTOLIC Church, has defined marriage. The Sacrament of Matrimony is a life-time, exclusive commitment, by one man and one woman, of service to one’s spouse, sanctified by the unitive aspects of the Sacrament, with the goal of the procreation and education of children.

      You can call some other invention marriage, but that’s like putting lipstick on a pig and calling her your fiancee. I can see the creative minds at HBO or Showtime crafting a similar story-line even now..

      Marriage is not a vacation. It is a vocation. Marriage doesn’t run on feelings. It runs on virtue. The sins of omission on the part of the American Church in this area are grave. We have several generations now who believe in such satanic concepts as “starter” marriages. This chronic narcissism continues the current cataclysm destroying the culture.

      We haven’t purchased the land around the “pearl of great price” these past 50 years, but, instead, have surrounded it with animal excrement.

      May God have mercy on us all..

    2. “You can call some other invention marriage”

      Why, yes, we can and do. LEGAL MARRIAGE is indeed a legally binding contract. The two parties do not have to be Catholic. They do not have to agree or adhere to any Catholic beliefs. Two people getting MARRIED (yes, MARRIED!) at the courthouse are not engaging in any sacramental act. They are entering into a legally-binding agreement. Whether the Catholic church chooses to recognize their marriage as valid in the eyes of God is the business of the church…. but whether that marriage is legal is none of their business or concern.

    3. Jody,
      Completely agree with you. There is a vast ocean of difference, rights and privilege associated with sacramental marriage and a civil marriage. The simple issue is the government would NEVER force Catholic priests to marry gay couples; just as the Church should not ever attempt to push their flawed morality concerning gay people on society. The USA is not a Christian nation, the founding fathers were deists. As more and more states and countries sanction gay marriage, there has never been any momentum to ask, coerce or force the Church to sanction gay marriage. The civil bonds of primates long pre-date the Christian Church.

    4. If one cares only for secular definitions and arrangements, then anything is possible.

      If one is Catholic, however, the previous outline still applies.

      There are only 60 million Catholics in America. The rest are overwhelmingly Protestant, who, in keeping with the root supposition of their name, do as they judge fitting.

      There may be a belief that government’s definition of legality is the ultimate reality. Governments, throughout history, have claimed slavery, anti-semitism, anti-Catholicism, and now abortion and sodomy legal.

      In each instance they were and are wrong. Either Faith informs Reason or only a practical atheism is left.

      Mao, Stalin, and Hitler’s practical atheism killed over a hundred million souls last century. Practical atheist countries like today’s China, or North Korea, continue the legacy of suffering. Russian women AVERAGE seven abortions in their lifetimes.

      Pilate looked for a political consensus to please Caesar, and other similar princes of this world.

      As for me, and my house, we shall serve The Lord..

  6. No matter what laws are passed or what action a person takes or doesn’t take does not change the subject or the act. Sin is still sin. You can throw out the Bible from the school system or change laws that allow
    immoral act. But the schools no longer teach. The laws no longer protect the human dignity or the community.
    You can allow abortion into the schools, the hospitals or where ever. But the act is still murder. No matter what the case. The Bible is still the rules of morality and dignity. Follow Jesus the Son of God. You can only rise with Christ or die without Him.

  7. Your treatment begins with an ad homineM (not ad homineN) attack. Your prowess as a constitutional scholar equals your abilities as a catechist. Solopsism is an interesting word to use here. The expression thinking with the “Mind of the Church” has been used to indicate a familiarity with Church teaching.

    It is like knowing where your parents live, what’s in their house, and how they live their lives.

    Solopsists are no more than gnostics admitting every error, every novel idea, but finding, ad nauseuM (not nauseuN), no room for Truth. Light and darkness cannot be contained in one place. One certainly overcomes the other. Raw logic there.

    Thomist Scholastics plumb the depths of the oceans of Tradition to find truth. Heretics go looking for truth in other worlds, universes, and dimensions. It is folly to look out without looking in. Sophistry is really the idea here. Carefully crafting your absurd modernist belief, in the vernacular of perfunctory Catholicism, like the serpent hiding in a tree God made, uttering blasphemy, while selling the vilest of vomit to sate base, carnal appetites.

    “Appealing to Authority” is also a fallacy. Men fail, but Tradition, or as Chesterton called it, “the democracy of the dead”, never does..

    1. It is not an “ad hominem” (sorry for the typo…m and n are next to each other on the keyboard) to want to know the identity of the person that I am having a conversation with. I am always curious (being a blogger) why people fail to identify themselves. Could you enlighten me?

    2. Just imagine I’m the “cosmic consciousness” your so fond of. All new-agers have very fertile imaginations, a fertility not known in other places in their life..

    3. Now that’s what I call an direct, straight-forward answer, ya gotta love snarky Catholics who hide behind pseudonyms. I believe that bloggers refer to these types as trolls.

  8. Well Delaware also just passed gay marriage…based om reputable surveys, the majority of Catholics support gay marriage (Quininppiac) so there is an slow evolution of human consciousness toward the recognition of the equality of civil rights for all primates. The RC Church can maintain its stance on sacramental marriage…no one will force them to perform gay marriage Civil marriage can cob=fer rights on gay partners. The Church for many ages has manipulated scripture on Onan, on divorce, and on homosexuality which was a Pauline hangup, probably not even written by Paul of Tarsus who was quite a misogynist. We are moving to noogenesis as described by Fr Teillhard de Chardin, SJ. Religion is never static, God is evolution in progress. I only hope the Catholic Church leaves the premise that nothing, especially consciousness changes.

    1. The Founding Fathers of this country borrowed much from the writings of St. Robert Bellarmine. The Bill of Rights is their opus. Students of human nature know very well of the tyranny of the majority. As much as we may like, we may never make “Phil”‘s or “Dzialo”‘s, minus any aberrant behavior, an animal void of rights, or some lesser form, no matter if the whole world polls unanimously towards that end.

      The new-age heretic de-Chardin, like a lot of other annoying Jesuits the past century, invented a cosmic mythology as a facade for his many errors. When the King-of-Kings doesn’t suit your taste, profess your esoteric belief in unicorns, minotaurs, little green men, or any of a number of psuedo-science/dark arts to explain away your disinclination to follow the Ten Commandments.

      The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus Christ is The Alpha and The Omega. The Most Holy Trinity is the same Yesterday, Now, and Forever. For two milennia, Holy Mother Church, The Bride of Christ (NOT “civil partner”) has referred to St. Paul as THE APOSTLE.

      Now, please, go tell your unicorn friends the Good News..

    2. Gee, Exeception, I understand why you don’t use a real name and hide behind the badge of courage “anonymity.” The Bill of Rights is not the Constitution; the former separated us from tyranny, the latter became the foundation of the law of the land. The rest of your solopsistic tripe is unworthy of response because dialogue precludes “ad hominen” argumentation. BTW, de Cardin was frequently quoted by B16; he was a Jesuit like Francis.

  9. The cornerstone of this debate is contraception. If marriage is without fecundity and permanence then not one diabolical perversion can intellectually be denied entrance into the home, not one.

    The goal of marriage is the procreation and education of offspring through the unitive aspects of The Sacrament of Matrimony.

    Before we properly explain the debauchery and deceit of the sodomites, and their homophile supporters, who are currently enjoying a nazi-like blitzkrieg in the front lines of the Culture Wars, we must destroy the intellectual supply lines supporting this monstrosity. We shall call them “Legion” for they are many..

    In no particular order:

    Modernism. Feminism. The Sexual Revolution. Contraception. Abortion. No-fault Divorce. The American Annulment Crisis. The Crisis of Episcopal Character and Courage in The Catholic Church. Sex Education (Indoctrination). Godless Media. The Worship Of Mammon to the exclusion of any social issue.

    We live in a Church hierarchy. Bishops can’t control the purse-strings while leaving the Faithful to do the heavy lifting, especially when they often only seem to use their power to get in the way of The Church Militant, but do little to stop the weekly, or even daily, sacrilege of certain prominent personalities today and these past 50 years.

    Bishops can’t be seen slumming for Caesar’s silver (as is seen in the current Amnesty debate) and paying lip-service to the aforementioned, if not totally embracing the diabolical.

    We can’t win a war without good generals.

    Fr. Marx (of Happy Memory) at Human Life International, Phyllis Schlafly at Eagle Forum, Judie Brown at American Life League, Mother Angelica’s EWTN before her stroke, the Matt family’s “Wanderer” and “Remnant”, and even the current apostolate of “Church Militant tv” all speak to the restoration that is possible. You add these visions to the intellects we find in tomes authored by Michael Davies, Fr. Vincent Miceli, Fr. John Hardon, Solange Hertz, both Alice and Detrich von Hildebrand, and you have a viable battleplan to stop the bath-house nazis at the figurative shores of England while we dream and scheme of our Normandy.

    The Church power-brokers, who have betrayed our side in The War for Civilization, have failed. They need to learn from the blessed or step aside.

    The Most High tends not to do surgical strikes, but obliterates and builds again. He will not be mocked much longer..

  10. Add Minnesota to the list… House just passed the same sex marriage bill this afternoon, senate has already said they’d pass it and the ultra liberal governor will surely sign it into law.

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