Four Catholic bishops from Washington released a letter on Tuesday attempting to coerce their combined 800,000 flock into voting down marriage equality at the Referendum 74 November ballot.
What Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, Spokane Bishop Blaise J. Cupich, Yakima Bishop Joseph J. Tyson and Seattle’s bishop Eusebio Elizondo, have actually stitched together is a list of the same tired and baseless arguments against marriage equality that we have heard time and time again. Here they are, lifted straight from the letter, and here’s why they shouldn’t fool anyone:
1) “The legal separation of marriage from procreation would have a chilling effect on religious liberty and the right of conscience” — To show this is absolute nonsense we need look no further than Referendum 74′s summary which makes explicitly clear the measure “preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies. The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement.”
2) ”Once marriage is redefined as a genderless contract, it will become legally discriminatory for public and private institutions such as schools to promote the unique value of children being raised by their biological mothers and fathers.” – There is no evidenced “unique” value to heterosexual parents raising kids as, time after time, studies have shown that a two parent family gives an optimal environment for child-rearing regardless of the gender of the parents. Also, private religious schools will be able to teach according to their ethos. Public schools will teach the facts and adhere to nondiscrimination provisions in state and federal law. Marriage equality will not and cannot change that.
3) “Recent attacks on churches, businesses and nonprofit organizations that express their conscientious objection to the redefinition of marriage underscore the danger.” — This is a uniquely disgusting repackaging of the usual slippery slope argument because it attempts to capitalize on a lone gunman attempting to enter the anti-gay group the Family Research Council’s headquarters in Washington a few weeks ago. The group itself has been exploiting that incident to try and have the SPLC drop the FRC’s designated hate group status (but it is there for a reason), and it appears the aforementioned Catholic bishops aren’t above milking the event either, the implied threat being “If we don’t stop marriage equality, anyone who is against it could be gunned down.” This is shameful scaremongering.
4) “Marriage is founded on sexual difference and ordered toward the fulfillment of husband and wife and the procreation and rearing of children.” – The historic uses of marriage have been to trade women for livestock and land and to unite men with four or five wives. Talking about what marriage is “founded” on really isn’t a solid defense against “redefining” it.
5) “[If you allow gay marriage] the civil meaning of marriage will be lost, and the institution that results will be a genderless contract without reference to children.” — And yet not a single Catholic church in America has throughout the entire length of this debate prohibited a heterosexual couple who are unable to have a child from marrying.
6) The foundational nature of marriage for the good and the strength of human society will be harmed beyond repair. – In America alone, six states, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York, alongside the District of Columbia, have legalized and retained their marriage equality laws. Not once has any harm to the “nature of marriage” been established. Anti-gay forces were even unable to prove such harms during the Proposition 8 trial and such arguments have continued to go unsupported as House Republicans attempt to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in various court challenges.
Put simply, there is no good reason to deny same-sex couples the right to access civil marriage. What is offered above are all smokescreens, misdirection and parroted untruths that the Church should be ashamed to keep pushing.