What’s the difference?

Same-sex marriage does make a difference to wider society, especially when the force of the state is behind it.
Patrick Thompson | May 25 2009 | comment  



"What difference,” goes the refrain from same-sex marriage supporters, “ does the marriage of two men or two women make in your life or your marriage?”

Well truth be told, very little because I am Roman Catholic. My marriage is a sacramental union; a union blessed in God’s eyes. The state has very little to do with it and a wedding between two men or two women is as valid in my eyes as a quickie wedding between two drunks at a Vegas love chapel; which means not at all.

Yet something tells me that answer would not satisfy homosexual activists pushing for same-sex marriage, because despite the cry of live and let live, the modus operandi appears to be, live like I say or feel the power of the state.

Earlier this week legislators in New Hampshire rejected a second attempt to pass a bill legalising same-sex marriage, not because the bill did not exempt religious groups from having to join in the celebration of gay marriage, but because it did. Radical supporters of the push for gay marriage joined with opponents to kill off amendments aimed at protecting religious freedom.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives had earlier passed a bill aimed at making same-sex marriage legal. Democratic Governor John Lynch said he would veto any bill that did not include additional protections for religious groups, their employees, and the services they offered, from having to perform, promote, or participate in same-sex weddings.

The New York Times reports on the actions of Republican Steve Vaillancourt, a homosexual member of the House, “During the floor debate on the amendment, Representative Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican who voted for the [original] same-sex marriage bill, accused Mr. Lynch of using bullying tactics, a House spokeswoman said. Mr. Vaillancourt then voted against the proposed changes.”

Vaillancourt is quoted by The Nashua Telegraph as saying, "This bill enshrines homophobia in statute, and I won't ever support something that does that.''

Vaillancourt wants anyone not okay with gay marriage to be out of the marriage business, it has already happened elsewhere. In Canada, private individuals who were licensed by the government to perform civil weddings were forced to hand in their marriage commissioner licenses if they would not perform same-sex weddings. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal order, was taken to a human rights commission for backing out of renting their hall for a lesbian wedding reception. The Knights say they didn’t know the wedding was for a lesbian couple and once they realized that fact, they returned the deposit and tried to help the ladies find a new venue. Unfortunately for the Knights, British Coloumbia, the province where the stand off took place, declared the Knights in violation of B.C.’s human rights code and fined the group.

It is situations like this that New Hampshire Governor John Lynch is trying to avoid and it is situations like this that gay activists like Rep. Vaillancourt want to provoke; he wants to ensure that Knights of Columbus halls in New Hampshire are open to him and his friends so they can celebrate their weddings in grand Catholic style.

Live and let live sounds nice; too bad it’s not true.

Meanwhile in Britain, the Labour government, not happy with having forced Catholic adoption agencies out of business (agencies which were running long before government became involved in the game), is now set to force churches to hire homosexuals, trans-gendered or anyone else feeling grieved by having those moralistic bastards in the church tut-tut their “lifestyle”.

According to The Daily Telegraph, deputy equality minister Maria Eagle broke the news to churches at a conference on religious matters, well, it was a religious conference in the extremely progressive “accept my sexuality” sort of religious sense. Speaking at the Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia and Human Rights conference in London, the minister said, “The circumstances in which religious institutions can practice anything less than full equality are few and far between. While the state would not intervene in narrowly ritual or doctrinal matters within faith groups, these communities cannot claim that everything they run is outside the scope of anti-discrimination law.”

Not content to simply foist her view of equality and human rights upon churches through the blunt instruments of the state, Ms. Eagle is also seeking members of what I am sure she would regard as “homophobic” and “transphobic” churches to speak out against discrimination against the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Trans-gendered) community. "Members of faith groups have a role in making the argument in their own communities for greater LGBT acceptance,” she says. “But in the meantime the state has a duty to protect people from unfair treatment."

So you can hire your homophobic priest or imam but if your organ master makes Liberace look like a country club Republican or your cantor wants to celebrate his sexuality in drag, you’ll have to take it or face charges.

Live and let live, huh?

I truly believe that when it comes to basic requirements of life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is right regarding homosexuals, “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

Is refusing to hire an active homosexual, engaged to his boyfriend Bill, to act as youth group leader for the local Catholic parish a form of “just discrimination?” You’d better believe it! While the activists in Ms. Eagle’s office obviously can’t wait to work for sub-par wages in the parish office in Lutton, something tells me they won’t be hiring Cardinal Arizne to work as co-ordinator for the next conference on Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia and Human Rights. Something also tells me that if a faithful Muslim was to apply for a job with the local branch of the Rainbow Coalition, his application would get lost in the files. This kind of discrimination is likely perfectly fine with Ms. Eagle.

What’s a traditional religious person to do? I don’t think recoiling into religious seclusion is an option, especially not for Christians called to live out a public witness. The idea that faith can be private and kept to the home just does not wash for Christians who are called to have their faith touch all aspects of their life. As the late Richard John Neuhaus wrote in his book The Naked Public Square, “Christ is Lord of all or he is Lord not at all.” Asking someone to act one way in public and another in private is asking them to lead contradictory and disjointed lives. Isn’t that what homosexual activists, until recently at least, had been saying they were fighting for, the ability to be themselves? Now they want us to be them as well.

Patrick Thompson teaches and writes near Buffalo, New York.

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