I am heterosexual, but I stand with my lesbian and gay brothers and sisters as they fight for marriage equality.
I reject the claim that homosexuality is unnatural. It’s a scientific fact that same-sex sexual activity is seen throughout the animal kingdom, and is seen in the higher primates at levels comparable to the human species. How can something that is seen throughout nature be said to be unnatural? Same-sex sexual activity may not be natural for heterosexuals, but that doesn’t mean that it violates the Laws of Nature. On the contrary, it is fully in accord with nature.
I reject the claim that the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality. There are two ways of interpreting the Bible. There’s the literal approach used by fundamentalists which says that the Bible is to be taken for what it says. The Bible says God created heaven and earth in six days and rested on the seventh. So, the literalist interpretation is that Creation took place within the span of one of our weeks. The other approach is the historical-critical approach, which is based on the premise that what a Bible text means is whatever it meant to the person who wrote it so long ago. It requires an understanding of the text in the original situation and then applying the meaning to the present situation. It requires an understanding of the society and culture of that time. It requires a level of understanding that most people do not have.
Using the literalist approach to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, some conclude that those cities were destroyed because of the widespread homosexuality practiced there, evidenced by the desire of the men of Sodom to rape the two angels sent by God who were guests of Lot. Thus, they conclude that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality. An entirely different understanding is reached by the theologians who applied the historical-critical approach. Knowing that the culture of that time mandated that travelers be treated with hospitality because it could be fatal for travelers to spend the night outside in the desert without protection; and that raping a man in that culture was the ultimate way to humiliate him; they conclude that the sin of Sodom was actually inhospitality to the needy and abuse of strangers.
Which approach best explains the message of Sodom and Gomorrah? Another way of understanding any given Bible text is to look at what is said elsewhere in the Bible about that event. In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, the evidence supports the historical-critical interpretation. Consider, for example what is said in Ezekiel 16: 48-49:
“This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.
There are other texts in the Bible that discuss Sodom and Gomorrah, but none of them support the literalist conclusion that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality.
There are several other texts in the Bible that have been used to condemn homosexuality. Theologian and Roman Catholic priest Daniel Helminiak explained what the Bible says about homosexuality in his book “What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. Helminiak concluded that the Bible does not condemn gay sex as we understand it today:
“Only five texts surely refer to male-male sex. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10. All these texts are concerned with something other than homogenital activity itself, and these five texts boil down to only three different issues.
First, Leviticus forbids homosexuality as a betrayal of Jewish identity, for supposedly male-male sex was a Caananite practice. The Leviticus concern about male-mare sex is impurity, an offense against the Jewish religion, not violation of the inherent nature of sex. Second, the letter to the Romans presupposes the teaching of the Jewish Law in Leviticus, and Romans mentions male-male sex as an instance of impurity. However, Romans mentions it precisely to make the point that purity issues have no importance in Christ. Finally, in the obscure term arsenokoitai, 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy condemn abuses associated with homogenital activing in the First Century; exploitation and lust.
So the Bible takes no direct stand on the morality of homogenital acts as such nor on the morality of gay and lesbian relationships. Indeed, the Bible’s longest treatment of the matter, in Romans, suggests that in themselves homogenital acts have no ethical significance whatsoever. However, understood in the historical context, the teaching of 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy makes this clear; abusive forms of male-male sex–and of male-female sex–must be avoided.”
I reject the claim that gay marriage would re-define marriage; that marriage has always involved on man and one woman. I see marriage as an evolving institution. Today’s marriage, where two people fall in love and choose to spend the rest of their lives together, hasn’t always been characteristic of marriage. In the past, some marriages involved polygamy. Marriages were arranged–and love had nothing to do with those two people coming together. Prospecitve grooms had to offer the father of the pride an acceptable dowry to compensate him for the loss of that article of property. We are hung up on labeling people and treating them according to the label we stick on them. At the bottom line don’t we have two people falling in love and joining together in marriage? Why do those two people have to be male and female? Why can’t those two people be be two males or two females? Is it because “we’ve always done it that way”? Well, we haven’t always done it that way. Some marriages involved a man coming together with several women. And in the past marriage had nothing to do with love and was little more than a business transaction.
It’s said that marriage is a sacred institution. If you do a little rsearch on the history of marriage you learn that in the early days of Christianity marriage had no religious significance. Marriage was considered a civil arrangement. That religious significance didn’t come until the 12th Century when the Catholic Church made marriage a sacrament. Soon divorce, which had been allowed, was prohibited.
Clearly, marriage as we know it today, is not the same institution it has been in the past. It has changed. It has evolved. And the next step in its evolution should be marriage equality.
I reject the claim that same-sex marriage will harm traditional marriage. Traditional marriage is harming itself. Look at the divorce statistics. According to www.divorcerate.org 41% of all marriages end in divorce—and it gets worse in multiple marriage cases. The statistics show that 60% of all second marriages end in divorce, and 73% of all third marriages end in divorce. Before quaking in fear at the prospect of gay marriage, the heterosexuals who oppose marriage equality need to get their own house in order.
I believe it may be instructive to look at what’s happened with other countries that have allowed gay marriage. The countries that allow gay marriage are the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, and Argentina, with France poised to allow gay marriage this summer. Are those countries all going to hell in a handbasket because they allow gay men and lesbians to marry? Is the Canadian society falling to pieces because they allow gays and lesbians to marry?
I reject the claim that gay marriage is harmful to the children in families headed by gay men or lesbians. While there may be outliers, professions organizations that claim their research proves that gay marriage is harmful to the children in those families. It is the conclusion of the overwhelming majority of educational, social service, and mental health professional organizations that the children in families headed by lesbians and gay men are not adversely affected by their living situation. Consider these examples:
An article in the Pediatric Journal titled “Children In Same-Sex Households” concluded that “There is extensive research documenting that there is no causal relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and children’s emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral development.”
A report by the American Psychiatric Association titled “Lesbian and Gay Parenting” found that “Fears about children of lesbian or gay men being sexually abused by adults, ostracized by peers, or isolated in single-sex lesbian or gay communities have received no support from the results of existing research.”
In addition a booklet was made available to school employees with the purpose of educating them about efforts to change sexual orientation through therapy and religious ministries. The booklet, titled “Just The Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth” was endorsed by:
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association of School Administrators
American Counseling Association
American Federation of Teachers
American Psychological Association
American School Counselor Association
American School Health Association
Interfaith Alliance Foundation
National Association of School Psychologists
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Association of Social Workers
National Education Association
School Social Work Association of America
What it comes down to is this: It is the concensus of the social science research that parental sexual orientation has no effect on how the children develop. What’s important is the quality of the relationship between parents and their children. If the relationship is good, the children in families headed by same-sex parents will develop normally. If the parent-child relationship is not good, there may be problems in the children’s emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral development. That is true of heterosexual parent families and same-sex parent families alike. And, having a gay or lesbian parent does not increase the liklihood of a child being gay or lesbian.
I reject the claim that homosexuality is just a sexual preference or a lifestyle choice. Science has spoken. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation which is defined as an inclination toward or preference for sexual activity with members of one’s own sex, the opposite sex, or both sexes. There are three components to sexual orientation; attraction, behavior, and identity (one’s view of themself as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual). Sexual orientation is not something we choose; we are simply born with that sexual orientation. If you doubt that, if you believe we choose whether or not to be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, then stop and think; how old were you when you decided to be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual? And what were the factors that went into your decision? It is simply not true that homosexuals and bisexuals choose to be that way and the rest of us are just born heterosexuals.
Some people believe that because science hasn’t identified a “gay gene” it proves that homosexuality is just a sexual preference or lifestyle choice. They are not looking at the big picture. Genetics is just one possible reason some of us are homosexual or lesbian. There could be another possible biologican reason for a homosexual orientation. An intriguing possibility was explored by Dr. Gunther Doerner, an East German scientist. Dr. Doerner, building on previous research on animal subjects, found that he could create rats who engaged in same-sex sexual activity by manipulating the level of testosterone at critical periods of gestation in female rats. It’s very possible that homosexualtiy in human beings is a result of changes in sexual hormone levels during critical development stages in pregnancy.
I reject the claim that people can be “cured” of homosexuality. The simple fact of the matter is that the Change or Reparative therapies do not work–and in fact can cause mental and emotional damage to the people who go through those therapies. There’s a page on these therapies on the website for the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, which looked at the cure rate for several programs conducting Reparative therapy and found that the cure rate for Exodus International was 0.4% while Shroedler and Shidlo produced and cure rate of 0.5% and Spitzer’s program cured a microscopic 0.04% of the people who went through the program. In other words, those programs had a rate of failure of more than 99.5%. How much confidence would you have in a therapy that failed more than 99.5% of the time.
I believe that marriage equality would not harm traditional marriage or the children in households headed by lesbian or gay parents.
I believe that marriage equality is a social justice issue. Catholic social justice teaching requires that all people be treated with human dignity, regardless of their state in life or their beliefs. All people must be treated fairly. Is it fair that people can be in legally recognized marriages in their state but be denied all of the 1,100 benefits given to married couples by the federal government? Is it fair that those people, if they’re wealthy, get a tax bill from the federal government for inheritance taxes when their spouse dies? There’s nothing just about the current situation involving gay marriage.
I believe that gays and lesbians are entitled to equal protection and benefits of the law under the 14th Amendment. Here’s the first section of that amendment:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the provisions of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without the due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
There are rights and benefits given to heterosexual couples by the state and federal governments. If heterosexual married couples receive those benefits, legally married homosexual couples must also receive those benefits and rights if the 14th Amendment is to mean anything.
I believe that marriage equality is the right thing to do, so claims that we are moving too fast on this issue are without merit. If the Supreme Court believes that DOMA is an unconstitutional infringement on legally married gay and lesbian couples, there is simply no reason to delay ruling that it is unconstitutional. The constitutionality of the law should be the only consideration. Period.