Loading
July 12, 2013
The phony inevitability of same-sex marriage
By Russell Shaw *

By Russell Shaw *

Claims that something is inevitable are generally of two kinds. Sometimes the claim is simply a statement of fact ("Inevitably, the sun will rise tomorrow"). Other times it expresses a wish or perhaps a fear ("So-and-so is sure to be next president of the United States").

The claim that same-sex marriage is inevitable in the entire U.S. is of the second kind – a rhetorical ploy by advocates who hope frequent repetition of the claim will bully opponents into a defeatist state of mind. For them at least, this makes perfectly good sense.

But it doesn't make any sense at all for the opponents. In meekly accepting the claims of the other side as gospel truth, they put a damper on resistance and help make the inevitability of gay marriage a fact.

An instance of what I'm talking about was the dismaying reaction of a prominent prolife activist to the Supreme Court marriage decisions last month. One overturned a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act while the other let stand, on procedural grounds rather than substantive ones, a lower court ruling against California's Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in that state.

These were indeed victories for the same-sex marriage people but by no means final and definitive ones. Yet the person of whom I speak chose to call them the "rejection of marriage in America" while likening them to the Supreme Court's action in the 1973 abortion decision Roe v. Wade.

This reaction was, to say the least, a bad idea. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court asserted a constitutional basis for nationwide abortion on demand. This, however, is precisely what the justices did not do with same-sex marriage. Instead, they left the question – so far at least – up to the states. That's the point opponents of gay marriage need to be emphasizing now.

There was something of the same troubling tendency to concede too much in Justice Antonin Scalia's otherwise admirable dissent from Justice Anthony Kennedy's obnoxious majority opinion in the DOMA case. Next time the question comes before the court, Justice Scalia declared, the majority can be counted on to ratchet up its approval of same-sex marriage to the level of national policy.

Maybe so. But then again – maybe not. And saying it's inevitable doesn't help.

One need not be Little Mary Sunshine in order to believe that this fight will go on. Thirty states have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage, and the resistance in many of these will be fierce.

Significantly, too, public opinion on the issue varies vastly on a regional basis, ranging from over 60 percent support in New England – where all of the states recognize gay marriage – to over 50 percent opposition in the eight South Central states. For the most part, despite the strenuous efforts of the media, gay marriage, while enjoying predictably strong backing in culturally liberal areas, has yet to make significant inroads in the American heartland.

By religion, support ranges from over 80 percent among Jews and people with no religious affiliation to only about 30 percent among white evangelical Protestants. About 60 percent of Catholics are said to support gay marriage – but this figure obviously is skewed upward by the support of non-practicing Catholics.

People looking for motivation to resist need look no further than Justice Kennedy's DOMA opinion. In effect, Kennedy told the world that opponents of same-sex marriage are hateful bigots. Of this one can only say that Supreme Court justices demean their office in stooping to name-calling to support their views.

Russell Shaw is the author of more than twenty books, including three novels and volumes on ethics and moral theology, the Catholic laity, clericalism, the abuse of secrecy in the Church, and other topics. He has also published thousands of articles in periodicals, among them The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, L’Osservatore Romano, America, Crisis, Catholic World Report, The National Catholic Reporter, and many others. From 1967-1987 he served as communications director for the U.S. Catholic bishops and from 1987-1997 was information director for the Knights of Columbus. He lives in Washington, D.C.
« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

3D Church mapping
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Jul
31

Liturgical Calendar

July 31, 2014

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:47-53

Gospel
Date
07/31/14
07/30/14
07/29/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 18: 1-6
Gospel:: Mt 13: 47-53

Saint of the Day

St. Ignatius of Loyola »

Saint
Date
07/28/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 13:47-53

Homily
Date
07/31/14
07/30/14
07/29/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: