On August 22 last year, with marriage equality becoming a possibility in Hawaii, Larry Silva, a Catholic Bishop in Hawaii, wrote a letter to Hawaii's Catholics asking them to take action against the proposed legislation, and provided reasons why he opposes marriage equality. The arguments are pretty weak, although at least the letter itself is fairly nuanced, and free from homophobic propaganda like that that we see from NOM and FRC.
Even though it was written a while ago, I don't think any harm can come from responding to the arguments against marriage equality that the letter puts forward.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:That's a good thing to say. But even though you say that, the Catholic Church does not act like that.
The issue of same-sex marriage is in the limelight once again in our community, with a move for a special legislative session to vote on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii.
While the Catholic Church is clear in its insistence that true marriage can only be between one man and one woman, there are many people, even among Catholics, who perceive such insistence as unjust discrimination against our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Therefore, it is urgent to clarify certain issues.
People with same-sex attraction are a part of our community, even our Catholic community, and they deserve dignity and respect.
Unjust discrimination against them is not acceptable. However, not all discrimination – that is, making distinctions – is unjust. We discriminate quite justly between adults and minors, even though both have equal dignity. We justly discriminate between those who are married and those who are not, because marriage is a special societal bond that assures the continuation of the race in the context of raising children in the loving environment that appreciates the complementary nature of male and female. (If there were no such discrimination, same-sex marriage would not be an issue, since anyone who wanted to apply for any benefits could do so, whether married or not.) There is just discrimination between parents and children, professors and students. While they are all equal in dignity as persons, they are not equal in their roles. We must therefore be discriminating about the very language of discrimination, because there are those who demonize the word and who presume that any kind of discrimination is unjust.The Catholic Church opposes employment discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Catholic Church opposes legislation to protect LGBT students from bullying, even if it has led to nine suicides. The Catholic Church even opposes asking countries that kill or imprison LGBT people for their sexual orientation or gender identity to stop. If anti-LGBT employment discrimination, bullying, state-sanctioned imprisonment and state-sanctioned murder is not unjust discrimination, what is? That's the reason why I find the Catholic concept of "unjust" vs. "just" discrimination to be laughable.
To discriminate between heterosexual and same-sex couples regarding marriage is not, despite the hype on the streets, unjust discrimination.Even if you believe that some discrimination is not unjust discrimination, all government-sponsored discrimination is unconstitutional discrimination. It is banned by the 14th amendment, which reads that "no state shall... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The Constitution trumps the teachings of the Catholic Church.
If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, its implications will go far beyond the relationship of this or that couple. There will be long term and definitive changes in our entire culture. If same-sex marriage becomes the law, it will become “normal” or the norm for our land.That's true. But where's the problem?
If one may marry without discriminating whether the partner is of the same sex or the opposite sex, then such “non-discrimination” will become the norm in other areas, too.If you think that that's a bad thing, then that is really sad.
Our school textbooks will have to portray sexual attraction as normal, no matter to whom one is attracted.And sexual attraction isn't normal? It's experienced by about 99% of people. That makes it normal.
When schools have dances, boys will have the choice of inviting a girl on a date or another boy on a date.1. So what?
2. How does marriage equality make that more likely?
Our youth, whose sexual identity is formed over time, will be forced to decide prematurely if they are heterosexual or homosexual, thus curtailing normal sexual maturation, with all its stumblings and challenges.I accept that there can be pressure to decide one's sexual orientation with a label. But I can't see how marriage equality creates that pressure.
If same-sex couples are given the legal right to marry under the pretence that discrimination that excludes them from marriage is unjust, why would people who prefer several spouses at the same time not be afforded the same right?Because banning polygamous marriages does not discriminate against people based on an immutable characteristic. While banning polygamous marriages does convey the message that they are different to marriage, polygamous marriages are not linked to an immutable characteristic. Therefore, banning it does not discriminate against people, making its ban constitutional. However, same-sex marriage is linked to the immutable characteristic of homosexuality, so banning it discriminates against people with a homosexual orientation.
Why would we taxpayers be exempt from paying for marital benefits for all those spouses?Because polygamous marriages are not legal.
Why would there be discrimination against those who decide to marry their mother or father, brother or sister, so that they can gain spousal benefits for them?Because incestuous relationships can produce children with genetic disorders. The practical harm that they can produce means that the government has a compelling interest in regulating them.
Once we give in to the false notion that same-sex couples have a right to marry, how can we reasonably deny the same “right” to anyone who chooses to enter a “marriage” with a close relative, a minor (with consent)?The close relative would be incest, which I've already discussed. The minor would be pedophilia. A minor cannot give legal consent, even if they say that they do. That's why they would be denied the right to marry: in order to protect them. But an adult same-sex couple is mentally capable of making their own decisions. The state therefore has no interest in "protecting" them by banning same-sex marriage.
Also, the state can ban pedophilia because of the practical harm that it causes. It is harmful for children to be sexually abused.
If same-sex marriage becomes “norm”-alized, would parents be considered bigoted if they raised their daughters to be attracted to boys and their sons to be attracted to girls?Parents who do that would be considered bigoted regardless of whether or not same-sex marriage becomes normalized. Same-sex marriage will have no impact on that.
The reason that parents who do that are seen as bigoted is that that is a horrible thing to do. Trying to manipulate someone's sexual orientation is extremely harmful to them. Imagine what it must feel like for a child whose parents have tried so hard to make them straight to realize that they're gay.
Or must parents now be completely neutral in steering their children toward the choice of a mate?Ideally they would be. I think we can all agree that it's best for someone to decide their own life partner for themselves, and not have someone else make that decision for them.
Would people who firmly believe that God made us male and female, and that God has revealed that homosexual ACTS are sinful be allowed to hold such beliefs?Yes. That is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Marriage equality will not change that. It's not allowed to.
Or would they have to be “re-educated” to think as “normal” people think?Seriously? You think there are going to be re-education camps? You're not living in North Korea. Calm down.
Would churches that refuse to celebrate same-sex marriage because of deeply held religious convictions be deprived of the freedom to live those convictions?I'm noticing a pattern here. You're framing many of your concerns as questions. This suggests to me that not even you are sure that these concerns are valid. And if a person making a claim isn't even sure that the claim is valid, then we can dismiss the claim. But I won't.
In response to your question, no. What church in any jurisdiction where same-sex marriage has been legalized has been ordered to perform or recognize same-sex marriages?
Would Christians, Muslims, and others who believe that homosexual ACTS are contrary to God’s law (the law that governs those whom God himself has created in such wonder) be persecuted for holding on to those beliefs that have been so sacred to us for centuries?1. Again, you yourself aren't even sure.
2. No. This is a free country. But I must say: being criticized or being disciplined by a private employer for saying something homophobic is not persecution.
Will the religious freedom we treasure be only a paper freedom, while we will be told what we may or may not believe?1. Again, you yourself aren't even sure.
2. No. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Marriage equality cannot, and will not, change that.
Children will be the greatest casualties, in that they will be deprived of being raised in a loving home by a mother and a father who loves them and whose love cooperated with God’s plan in creating them. When children are deprived of such a home, there will be more poverty, more social ills, more juvenile suicides, and more problems than we can imagine.The American Academy of Pediatrics disagrees:
There is ample evidence to show that children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents. More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with 1 or more gay parents. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families.
The issue goes far beyond simply the private relationship of this or that couple, and its implications will be far reaching and profound.All of your concerns were questions. Not even you are sure that there will be far reaching and profound implications.
The language of the proponents is meant to convince us that this is a civil rights issue and that anyone who does not agree is bigoted.1. That's correct.
2. That's not an argument against marriage equality.
Do not be led astray with such language, and do not allow yourself to be bullied by it. Remember, Adam and Eve themselves fell for the serpent’s manipulative promise that they would be like gods, knowing good from evil, if they just ate the fruit God had forbidden them to eat. The fruit might have been tasty at the moment, but it ultimately brought us all into a very sorry state.You still believe that? Seriously?
Several legislators who are not in favor of same-sex marriage have told me that the loudest voices on the issue are those who favor it, while those who say they are opposed are relatively silent. They pointed out that legislators do respond to their constituents and do care what they have to say, but if they only hear from one side of the issue, they presume that everyone is fine with same-sex marriage.Well, the legislature legalized it, so the constituents must be fine with it.
IT IS TIME FOR OUR FAITH COMMUNITY TO MOBILIZE INTO ACTION. The timing is critical, since this issue may be presented in a special legislative session within the next couple of weeks. YOUR LEGISLATORS NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU NOW! I therefore ask everyone to do the following within this coming week:How can an organization that urges political action among its followers call itself a church with a tax-exempt status?
Contact both the State Senator and Representative who represent your district, and let them know how you want them to vote on this critical issue for our community. A list of legislators by district is attached to this letter, along with phone numbers and email addresses. Please be courteous, thanking them for the very difficult work they do, but be clear. It is said that some have already made up their minds, and that may be so. But minds and hearts can be changed with the influence of constituents.
Ask your friends and neighbors who believe that marriage should only be between one man and one woman to contact their legislators as well.
Pray for your legislators. (But do not let your prayers be mere words! See above.) Pray for the wisdom, courage, and commitment to contact your legislators and let them know what you think. I recommend that all Catholics offer ONE ROSARY (or at the least a decade of the rosary) each day in the next several weeks, so that the power of prayer will shape the discussions and deliberations about this critical issue. If possible, pray at all hours, walking around the block that surrounds the State Capitol (without forming an assembly that would need a permit), so that just as God tumbled down the walls of Jericho, he will be able to do so through the prayers AND ACTION of his beloved people.I was glad to see a case against marriage equality that wasn't offensive. However, it was still not very convincing.
Be understanding and loving toward those who do not agree with you – even Catholic legislators who have committed to vote for same-sex marriage. Pray for a change of heart and the formation of an informed conscience, and let your love be the most powerful agent of change. After all, God is love!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Larry Silva
Bishop of Honolulu