November 19, 2008

What It's About

Justin Katz

Fr. John Kiley offers a clarification of purpose on the marriage issue:

What must be maintained at this time, however, is that Christians and other persons of good will have as their primary focus the defense of marriage. As peripheral to Christianity as same-sex activities are, it is not primarily a struggle against homosexuality that must occupy the believer; it is rather a personal re-examination and eager defense of the true meaning of marriage with its emphasis on an enduring union of one man and one woman open to children. It is marriage that Christians and others are protecting. It is not homosexuals that Christians are victimizing. Believers must not be intimidated by those who twist love for marriage into hatred for gays. Homosexuals are not the issue; marriage is.

It is in no way a perpetuation of bigotry to resist radical changes to principles this longstanding:

A stone-age burial in central Germany has yielded the earliest evidence of people living together as a family.

The 4,600-year-old grave contained the remains of a man, woman and two youngsters, and DNA analysis shows they were a mother, father and their children.

People may form relationships as they desire, and circumstances sometimes eliminate the ideal, but that does not mean that we can't uphold the ideal as a practice and as a model.

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Posted by: Greg at November 19, 2008 7:47 AM

'not with a bang, but a wimper'

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 19, 2008 7:53 AM

Justin, I'm sincerely curious as to how many gay friends you have.

Posted by: Greg at November 19, 2008 9:03 AM

I agree with Greg that the 4,600 year old grave example is a yawner. It’s as relevant as the joy and celebration at a wedding of a same-sex couple.

Justin, I’ve agreed with you on this subject – related to the some of the arguments by the pro-SSM advocates. But “... the true meaning of marriage with its emphasis on an enduring union of one man and one woman OPEN TO CHILDREN”. The truth is that marriage is and always has been open to opposite-sex couples that are not open to children. I agree that the issue isn’t JUST about the acceptance of homosexuality, and that allowing SSM is a significant change to the historical definition of marriage. But, as you said, "... circumstances sometimes eliminate the ideal", and I think it is reasonable for SSM advocates to argue that theirs is another circumstance that should be considered. I am NOT saying I totally agree with them or that SSM is ‘constitutional’, but that it is about drawing a line.

Posted by: msteven at November 19, 2008 11:02 AM

Father Kiley's recent obsession with sex from the pulpit has my mother, who is probably far from his most liberal parishioner (and, like Justin, is a convert), concerned.
Good thing I was not sitting on his side of the church Saturday. He has at least two reasons to deny me communion (my view on same-sex marriage and, perhaps, my presidential vote). Fortunately, those on the bride's side of the aisle were either in compliance or kept their views to themselves.

Posted by: rhody at November 19, 2008 11:17 AM

Don't know, Greg. I don't have all that many friends, these days, so the odds that none of them are gay are pretty substantial. Gay family members, yes. Gay people who have been significant at key times in my life, yes.

But I haven't gone out and recruited any friends for the purpose of illustrating my open mind.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 19, 2008 10:21 PM

Great rejoinder, Justin. Heh.

* * *

The defense of marriage is just that.

The "gay union" advocates need to defend gay union based on its own core meaning. They need to make an independant claim rather than ride on tthe back of marriage.

Afterall, they do propose that their version is superior -- morally and practically -- to the core meaning that defenders of marriage have highlighted.

[Plus the timing is right to take a new approach to the "gay union" controversy. See my my posted URL.]

Instead they attack the core meaning of marriage and offer nothing in its place.

Because, you say, not all who marry are open to children.

Could you please restate that as a rule? This way we might use your remark in the form of a test for a proposed core meaning of "gay union".

Justin's blogpost began and concluded with support for clarification of purpose and upholding the ideal as the a practice and as a model.

Posted by: Chairm at November 19, 2008 10:46 PM

Apologies, my mistake.

That set of questions was meant to address mstevens.

Posted by: Chairm at November 19, 2008 10:48 PM

Gee, Justin. You don't have a lot of friends? I find that so hard to believe.

Posted by: Greg at November 20, 2008 9:22 AM

I know I've been kicked out of the conservative club for not taking a side on this, but being a product of Providence I have a couple of close gay friends and numerous gay acquaintances and co-workers. All I can tell you is that they are good people and hard-working TAXPAYERS looking for "maximum liberty" just like you or I; and that they refer to their significant others as "husband" whether you, the State, or John DePetro approve or not.

Posted by: jp at November 20, 2008 10:41 AM


I guess that you are saying that anyone who supports SSM needs to define why a same-sex marriage is worthwhile of legal acknowledgment independent of the reasons opposite-sex marriage is legally acknowledged. That is based on an assertion that there is nothing in common between them.

Your comments about morally superior versions and attacking core meanings without offering alternatives make no sense to me. I also do not understand the purpose of your challenge to make a rule out of ‘not all who marry are open to children’ for the purpose of a core meaning to gay unions.

I am not a SSM-advocate but still, answer this: To you, how does marriage between people who either cannot or do not have biological children support the ‘core meaning’ of marriage?

Posted by: msteven at November 20, 2008 6:24 PM

Yes, Greg. I'm glad you understand that folks as busy as I am have scant time for non-work relationships. Your sympathy is warming.


JP: Homosexuals are free to refer to their relationships as whatever they wish. There is, I've acknowledged before, a sadly disappointing element to upholding the traditional definition of marriage.

I, for one, do not question the value of such individuals as your acquaintances, and as I stated, if Greg had asked me his question during earlier periods in my life, I'd have been able to answer very differently. But my desire to make good people feel better is not grounds for redefining a central cultural institution in the eyes of the society or of the law.


msteven: I've had an answer for you brewing, but the past couple of days have been difficult. It'll probably go up for the morning.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 20, 2008 7:18 PM


That is based on an assertion that there is nothing in common between them.

You misunderstand.

There is a significant difference between "gay union" and marriage.

There are different core meanings.

The boundaries around marriage are around something, right?

Society needs to distinguish between marriage and nonmarriage. It is elementary.

There are legal requirements that define the legal recognition of that core meaning.

1. The man-woman criterion stands for sex integration.

2. The marital presumption of paternity stands for the contingency for responsible procreation.

3. These are combined as a coherent whole -- the Government, on behalf of society, recognizes a foundational social institution.

None of the above applies to gay union.

So what is its core meaning around which lines might be drawn so as to distinguish "gay union" from other kinds of arrangements -- both marriage and the wide spectrum of nonmarital kinds?

The proponents of treating SSM as marriage claim that their view is superior -- and make moral claims to that effect.

If it is superior, then, the merger must produce a core meaning that demonstrates that superiority.

If it is not superior, then, no such merger is justified by the lowest common denominator of "gay union" and marriage.

What I am saying is that is wrong to frame the discusion with the question, "why not a merger of gay union and marriage?"

The correct approach is to ask, "Why gay union?"

Gay union is sex-segregative and where children are involved it must segregate fatherhood from motherhood. It is nonmarriage in the most ovious way.

And yet it is not gayness that distinguishes gay union -- for the advocates press for legally combining two categories, both-sexed and same-sexed, rather than hetero and homo, and they do not demand a test of sexual orientation to be embedded into the law. No where that gay union has been enacted or imposed is same-sex sexual behavior made mandatory -- likewise same-sex attractin is not compulsory. No declaration of gay identity is required, either.

That indicates that gay union is not "gay" and is not a sexual type of relationship. Its core meaning must be something else.

It rejects the marital core meaning.
It does not have definitive legal requirements that point to gayness.

So what is its central meaning -- the thing that the rest would hang on and that would distinguish gay union from the rest of the nonmarital arrangements?

Posted by: Chairm at November 21, 2008 7:42 AM

Drat. I am very sorry for the triple comments.

Please disregard the first and second. The third is my full comment in response to mstevens.

Again, my apologies.


Posted by: Chairm at November 21, 2008 7:44 AM
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