Friday, October 31, 2008

Legislating Love


Surrounded by friends and family in a traditional circle of love, their unremitting smiles warming my heart that sunny day on the beach in Cape May. Two close friends vowed their love and lives together. A culmination of 9 years of happiness, loyalty and love through good times and bad…a perfect example of what a marriage should be.


In a 4-3 decision, Connecticut Supreme Court struck down the state's civil union law and ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Connecticut thus joins Massachusetts and California as the only states to have legalized gay marriages. But these progressive inroads to equality are quickly being challenged. In a few days, Proposition 8 will be voted on in California to overturn the courts ruling by banning same-sex marriage. Similar legislation is being issued in Florida and Arizona.

Religious conservatives note that California sets cultural trends for the rest of the country and even the world. They fear that if same-sex marriage is allowed to become entrenched in California, it will open the floodgates to same-sex marriages everywhere. “This vote on whether to stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon,” said Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries. “We lose [Proposition 8], we are going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion.” 1

Argument 1 insists that churches will be forced to perform weddings because churches have a tax-exempt status and that the separation of church and state is a guise by which they hide the approval of these laws. The Massachusetts high court in 2004 held that same-sex marriages were legal. It has been four years since this groundbreaking decision, and there has yet to be a lawsuit against a church not sanctifying a same-sex marriage. Rev. Karen Sapio, the minister of Claremont Presbyterian Church in Southern California, “I have not heard of a single Catholic church forced to marry someone who has been divorced, or a rabbi forced to perform an interfaith marriage or an evangelical church forced to marry a couple who has been living together.” 1

According to the Code of Canon Law 1084, antecedent and perpetual impotence at the time of marriage invalidates the marriage.2 Hedir Antonio de Brito, a paraplegic man, was two weeks away from marrying Elzimar de Lourdes Serafim when he received a shocking letter from the local bishop denying their application for a marriage certificate since his condition rendered him impotent. A requirement for marriage in the Catholic Church is that both parties must be “open to children”. If it is known that one party is unable to produce children, the marriage can be annulled on that basis alone.3 Although this took place in Brazil, the Catholic Church throughout the world, has rules governing who can marry, and despite lack of case law in the United States, the government has never attempted to legislate these church rules.

Argument 2

Glenn Stanton, Director of Social Research and Cultural Affairs for Focus On The Family argues that it “would open the door to polygamy” because the first same-sex marriage that was issued in Massachusetts, the couple commented that they will have an ‘open marriage’. Polygamy was taught and practiced by Joseph Smith, Jr. and formally introduced to the public in 1852. Mr. Smith was the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, which was the foundation for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.4 Ergo in the name of the church, polygamy was first introduced through Christianity. And although the church officially abandoned the practice in 1890,4 anyone who has opened a newspaper over this past year is aware that polygamy is still being practiced.

Argument 3

“The traditional family, supported by more than 5,000 years of human experience, is still the foundation on which the well-being of future generations depends.”5 Let’s see how this ‘foundation’ has done thus far:

The CDC reported for 2005:

· Marriage rate: 7.5 per 1,000 total population
· Divorce rate: 3.6 per 1,000 population

According to Child Maltreatment 2006, the most recent report of data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, approximately 905,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect...
…And, one or both parents were responsible for 75.9 percent of child abuse or neglect fatalities. As of September 30, 2005, there were an estimated 513,000 children in foster care in the U.S. alone.6

Justice Barbara A. Madsen wrote in the an opinion upholding the ban on gay marriage in Washington State, “Limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to the survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children’s biological parents.”7 Despite ignorance rooted in Ms. Madsen’s statement, many people should not be procreating and are in no way fit to raise children. By the way, there are 6.7 billion people on this planet and a current growth trajectory expected to reach nearly 9 billion by the year 2042.8 What we need for the human race to survive is compassion.

Argument 4

“No culture needs same-sex marriage…if it was necessary, it would have been invented earlier.” 9 Let’s see…Women’s Suffrage…1920…Civil Rights Act…1964. It is never too late for progress, and equality is always necessary.

Argument 5

“Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same-sex partner of their choice,” Justice Richard N. Palmer declared in the 4-to-3 majority decision for the Connecticut Supreme Court. “To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”10

But why aren’t Civil Unions sufficient? Civil unions still deny the same financial, social and emotional benefits accorded in a marriage. Therefore producing what the court called a “suspect class”- a group, like blacks or women, that has experienced a history of discrimination and was thus entitled to increased scrutiny and protection by the state in the promulgation of its laws.10


It is not about a bride and a groom, a bride and a bride, or a groom and a groom. It is about two consenting adults vowing their love to one another. Cynics will say that love is not enough to create a future together, but it is the key ingredient that is missing in almost half of the marriages each year. Because love is truly rare, when you find someone to love, hold and cherish him or her, and make sure no law prevents you from sharing your lives the same way that needs be entitled to everyone.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
-- Corinthians 13:7-8

1 “A Line in the Sand for Same-Sex Marriage Foes,” by Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, 10/27/2008
5 “Two Mommies Is One Too Many,” by James C. Dobson, Time Magazine, December 18, 2006
7 “Washington Court Upholds Ban On Gay Marriage,” by Adam Liptak and Timothy Egan, The New York Times, July 17, 2006.
10 “Connecticut Ruling Overturns Ban on Same-Sex Marriage,” by Sharon Otterman, The New York Times, October 11, 2008

Congratulations A&J, and M&G! Best wishes to you always!