Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The True Meaning of Marriage

by STEVE BREYMAN

One vote in the State Senate separates gay and lesbian New Yorkers from the right to wed. While there have been some surprises among the opposing forces?Roy McDonald’s change of heart?those arrayed on either side of the issue are mostly familiar to us.

Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, current President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, is among the leading opponents of gay marriage. In a recent post to his blog, Dolan defended the “true meaning of marriage.” “Traditional marriage” must exclude homosexuals, reasons Dolan, because God, “human reason and ordered good” demand it. Marriage is not for queers; it is instead “the union of a man and a woman in a loving, permanent, life-giving union to pro-create children.”

Dolan’s definition leaves out the hundred or so million heterosexual Americans who are divorced, childless, or locked in loveless marriages. No wonder that Americans have left the Church in droves.

Archbishop Dolan should share his blogs with a social science or humanities professor at a Catholic university prior to posting them. Such caution would save him from logical briar patches like that found in his June 14 post. Dolan argues that governments have no business regulating marriage, and ironically cites China and North Korea as countries that routinely and wrongly “redefine” rights?”but, please, not here!” Dolan omits the fact that China and North Korea do not permit gay marriage. And he fails to acknowledge that he’s a strong proponent of government action to outlaw abortion, a redefinition of rights if ever there was one.

Maureen Dowd thrashed Archbishop Dolan for intervening against gay marriage in her June 18 New York Times column. She took issue with his disagreement that gay marriage is just the latest step on the long path to civil rights for all Americans. Dolan wondered about the “right” of all children to be raised by a mother and father. But those living in glass cathedrals ought to avoid stone throwing. Dowd countered with “how about the right of a child not to be molested by the parish priest?”

Illogic and thoughtlessness are the least of Dolan’s problems. What he and other opponents of gay marriage should fear is the judgment of history. Dolan’s writings will appear to future Americans as John C. Calhoun’s writings appear to Americans today: “We see [slavery] now in its true light, and regard it as the most safe and stable basis for free institutions in the world.”

Dolan’s twenty-first century pronouncements on gay marriage will surely sound to our grandchildren’s grandchildren like those of nineteenth century clerics’ on slavery: “There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral” (Rev. Alexander Campbell). “The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example” (Rev. Dr. Richard Furman, 1838). “The hope of civilization itself hangs on the defeat of Negro suffrage” (prominent Presbyterian pastor). Perhaps the Archbishop would prefer to rely on the authority of the Vatican. Here’s an 1866 statement from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “Slavery itself . . . is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law. . . The vendor should do nothing which might endanger the life, virtue, or Catholic faith of the slave.”

How can Christians make religious arguments against gay marriage with straight faces? We’re subject to all the sanctimony because of two obscure homophobic Bible verses? The slavery-era preachers were right: that same Bible?including the New Testament?is completely accepting of chattel slavery.

Advice to gay marriage opponents (especially those in vestments): quit now before you end up on the wrong side of history. Want to be remembered as the New Millennium equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan? You won’t seem that much different from the perspective of a hundred years from now. Want to appear in some twenty-second century high school student’s history essay along with those defending anti-miscegenation laws? Urge your State Senator to support gay marriage and avoid the condemnation of history.

Steve Breyman teaches at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Reach him at breyms@rpi.edu

 

 

 

Steve Breyman was a William C. Foster Visiting Scholar Fellow in the Clinton State Department, and serves as an advisor to Jill Stein, candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination. Reach him at breyms@rpi.edu

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]