Michael Bindner's DC Blog

In this blog, I discuss DC politics and other issues of import to local government. I have posted several essays from my book, Musings from the Christian Left, on blog entreies dated June 2004.

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Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gay Marriage and Catholic Charities

The Council of the District of Columbia is in the process of enacting legislation establishing same-sex marriage within its borders. No church is required to celebrate these unions (although undoubtedly, some will), however if they are employers, they must cover gay spouses as if they were straight spouses. The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has threatened to close up shop on Catholic Charities in D.C. if it must cover these spouses.

There has been quite a bit of blowback on this, with many posting rather nasty things about the Church on the Washington Post blogs on the story. Is it deserved?

Some of it is bigotry, however I think some of it is deserved, since it is a response to bigotry by the Church's leadership.The Church itself is not just the hierarchy. It includes the priests (some of whom are gay - possibly up to half according to survey research) and the people (many of whom have a gay child, sibling, parent or cousin).

I think the underlying reason for the hierarchy's opposition is not because they would have to compromise their beliefs, but because by the District opening up the door on marriage, they will face internal pressure to re-examine the issue - something they are loathe to do.The question of whether the Church is being bigoted should be examined in how it treats heterosexual spouses of those married in non-religious ceremonies. In terms of Church doctrine, these marriages are as illicit as a gay marriage (although, in truth, sacramental marriage results when the people concerned promise fidelity to eachother, not when the priest says the magic words). If the Church really has a problem providing benefits to people in illicit unions, it should object to providing benefits to spouses not married in a Christian ceremony.

Since it does not make such distinctions, and indeed should not be able to do so under law, it stands to reason it should also respect the civil law regarding gay marriage as an employer, and that failure to do so is bigotry.In prior days, Catholics rallied around the Church leaders, even when they were wrong. We don't do that any more, since most of us are a bit more free thinking than we used to be, having utilized Catholic education, including a fine collegiate system.

Sorry, Archbishop Wuerl, but I won't back your play this time. I also will withhold future contributions to Catholic Charities if you do anything to diminish services. I suspect there are other Catholics who will do likewise.

As gay marriage becomes recognized more and more, probably due to an eventual Supreme Court decision affirming the overturning of Proposition 8 in California (since the 9th Circuit will undoubtedly rule against it), many of us will demand that the Church actually celebrate gay unions (which, I suspect, is what the Archbishop is really afraid of).

2 Comments:

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