Eliminating Marriage

By now, everyone knows that gay marriage is coming to the Empire State. Obviously, there’s very little good to be drawn from this. To me, there is very little hope of reclaiming the tide. The ideology that accepts gay marriage is so tied into acceptance of divorce and contraception that it would take a much more radical shift to turn the tide. While this could happen (and I have faith in the new priests coming that they can effect this at least within the Church), rebuilding culture takes time and seems likely that the pendulum will have to swing all the way before it will swing back.

So other than rebuilding our culture from the ground up, what political strategies are there to pursue? Trying to fight state by state is one option, but this presumes that states under DOMA can be allowed to not recognize gay marriages from other states. This means we have to put our faith in the court system, and that seems dubious to me. The population size of New York, as well as its mobility, means the issue of full faith and credit will come to a head sooner rather than later. There’s the federal option, but I see no desire from the GOP to fight this fight, particularly from the libertarian wing of the party.

The only other option I see is eliminating the secular institution of marriage altogether. This makes a lot of sense. What exactly is the government’s interest in marriage anymore? Currently, government and society is exerting a lot of resources on this institution: the number of laws and divorce courts, not to mention divorce lawyers is tremendous. But what is government getting back? Love & commitment might be nice values, but you can have a ceremony and make your commitment without a government seal of approval for the commitment (& the break-up). When it was only hetereosexuals allowed to marry, the argument could be made for children (ie we want to provide a good environment for the creation & raising of children), but with gay marriage that’s no longer viable. Perhaps you could still argue family (as gay couples can do IVF & surrogacy) but what effect marriage has in this is dubious, particularly with the liberalization of divorce laws. Another argument for marriage was to protect women from being left penniless in a divorce, but as stay at home moms dwindle and as economic opportunities for women continue to grow, this justification is weaker, especially with the popularity of pre-nups that create separate property regimes anyway. So why is government still in this business? What goods are secured through marriage that cannot be secured without secular marriage?

The main goal for pushing this from a Catholic perspective is simple: protecting our priests from persecution. Although the New York Republicans supported gay marriage because they felt the protections for religious were strong enough, it’s only a matter of time before a priest is sued, have their license to perform marriages, or even arrested for denying marriage to a gay couple. There’s no room in the ideology of the gay rights movement for religions to continue to grant marriage only according to their “hetereosexist” traditions. If government gets out of the business, then priests and other religious will be protected.

There’s also the added benefit of giving marriage back over to religion. If government continues to stay in the marriage business government will continue to be a vehicle for forcing social changes, changes that are often for the worse. Government will no longer be able to impose new visions on the country. Instead, people can have whatever ceremonies and whatever commitments they want (this probably would include bigamy, but you have to figure government will permit this next anyway). In this scenario, the Church will be better able to discuss its version of marriage if it doesn’t have to fight against a government-imposed narrative.

Still, it seems a sad day when government’s marriage is so diluted that we have to give it up entirely, so I’d like to see what people here think. Are there still reasons for government to provide the institution of marriage in a world of gay marriage? Or would it be better for the government to get out of it entirely?

34 Responses to Eliminating Marriage

  • “So why is government still in this business? What goods are secured through marriage that cannot be secured without secular marriage?”

    It can’t get out of it. The same issues facing couples in divorce face couples who are not married but have kids and/or have property in common. Then we have tax issues involving kids, rights of inheritance, what religion the kids will be raised in, who should be qualified to receive benefits under pensions, health insurance plans, who determines where kids will go to school, and the hits keep on coming. When couples split up and there are kids the government is involved every step of the way. This is akin to saying that govenment should get out of the business of resolving contractual disputes, except the legal issues surrounding marriage make most contractual disputes seem tame by comparison.

    Christians surrendering this field will simply cause the government to transform marriage further in a way directly contrary to Christian beliefs. The government will always mandate the legal rules in this area and an Amish like withdrawal by Christians from this area is neither feasible nor desirable. A better idea is for Christians to get off their duffs and to wade into the political fight and win it. The idea that believing Christians allow themselves to be pushed around by gay activists in this fight is pathetic. Christians can and will win this fight if they have the stomach for it and do not unilaterally surrender. The gay rights movement I think is a hot house plant of a fairly bizarre moment in Western culture, and if strongly resisted I believe it can be defeated in its attempt to equate gay relationships as the equal of relationships in marriage between men and women. I would also note that where gay marriage has been legalized, after an initial flurry of marriages, very few homosexuals are chomping at the bit to tie the knot. Christians need to man up and to defeat our political adversaries at the ballot box.

  • Karl says:

    It certainly would make me happy to see the gateway to annulments, civil divorce, eliminated. Their inclusion simply destroys the life of the few faithful Catholics who try to stand up for their valid sacrament but face the double whammy of no fault, uncivil divorce and then face recriminations for having the unmitigated audacity to face off against an “annulment complex” in America that is primed to find or fabricate the necessary justification to reach a conclusion in favor of nullity.

  • “It certainly would make me happy to see the gateway to annulments, civil divorce, eliminated.”

    Except that isn’t what is being proposed Karl. Whenever one party decides to leave a marriage, the state is always going to decide where the kids go, what is the amount of child support, who pays for health insurance and a host of other issues. Doing away with civil marriage would not change this one iota.

  • It can’t get out of it. The same issues facing couples in divorce face couples who are not married but have kids and/or have property in common. Then we have tax issues involving kids, rights of inheritance, what religion the kids will be raised in, who should be qualified to receive benefits under pensions, health insurance plans, who determines where kids will go to school, and the hits keep on coming. When couples split up and there are kids the government is involved every step of the way. This is akin to saying that govenment should get out of the business of resolving contractual disputes, except the legal issues surrounding marriage make most contractual disputes seem tame by comparison.

    I’m not sure this refutes my position. Most of what you list are already being decided outside of a regime of marriage. The only issue is common property, but that can be decided based on separate property principles (ie if you buy it, its yours. If you both put in money, you get that % of it back). You’ve listed nothing that needs a secular institution to be adjudicated.

    The gay rights movement I think is a hot house plant of a fairly bizarre moment in Western culture, and if strongly resisted I believe it can be defeated in its attempt to equate gay relationships as the equal of relationships in marriage between men and women.

    I think you have a rosy picture of where we are. Even so, why must we fight this in the political arena and not in the cultural arena?

  • “Most of what you list are already being decided outside of a regime of marriage. The only issue is common property, but that can be decided based on separate property principles (ie if you buy it, its yours. If you both put in money, you get that % of it back). You’ve listed nothing that needs a secular institution to be adjudicated.”

    In regard to property Michael I can guarantee you that it is not that simple. You have a couple who have been together for 30 years and have acquired property. The woman stays home to raise the kids while the man works. All the property is in his name. He decides to trade the mother of his kids in for a 22 year old hottie. Does he walk away with all the property? Who decides? How do they decide? You wouldn’t be getting the state out of marriage except in name.

    Other factors to consider. Under Illinois law a father has no rights regarding his child if he is unmarried unless he goes to court to establish those rights. Prior to that he is guilty of a Class 4 felony if he decides that the child is better off living with him than Mom. When he goes to court, the court will be intimately involved with him, the mother and their offspring until the children are no longer minors. Nothing in what you propose would get the state out of any of this. When couples are not married and they have kids, in effect the state creates a failed marriage relationship for them and enforces the terms of divorce as it does in the case of a marriage that goes South. The State cannot and will not get out of this area.

    “I think you have a rosy picture of where we are. Even so, why must we fight this in the political arena and not in the cultural arena?”

    Not at all. Most states will not enact gay marriage and even in New York the vote was quite close in the Senate. If gay marriage passes by a hair in New York, that is a symbol of political weakness not strength. As for fighting it in the cultural arena also, I think Christians can manage to do both, but not if they approach it with a defeatist mentality and if they give way to the bullying tactics employed by the other side.

  • Most states will not enact gay marriage and even in New York the vote was quite close in the Senate.

    And all you need is 5 votes from the Supremes to make it universal under the full faith & credit clause.

    You wouldn’t be getting the state out of marriage except in name.

    Assuming that’s true, and the state has to retain much of its rules, that’s quite a victory in and of itself. As long as the state no longer pretends that what it does is marriage, that’s quite a victory.

    But there’s no reason to think that marriage is essential to answer your questions about property. This can be determined via contract, or just on separate property principles the same way disputes between roommates over property is settled. Why does a community property regime have to be used?

    When couples are not married and they have kids, in effect the state creates a failed marriage relationship for them and enforces the terms of divorce as it does in the case of a marriage that goes South.

    Well, you would lose the traditional presumptions, but DNA tests are not so burdensome as to make this unbearable for the court systems. But once you establish the father, child support and custody don’t need the institution of marriage to function.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    The battle is lost, and the writing was on the wall with the Anglicans in the 1920s and the Griswald decision. Contraception, philosophically, is exactly the same as gay “marriage.”

  • RR says:

    You’re a realist when it comes to acceptance of gay marriage, but not when it comes to eliminating civil marriage. I’d love for it to happen and it’s theoretically possible but the US (and most developed countries) are too legally inflexible to adopt optimal solutions. I’ve said this before: Bureaucracy will be America’s downfall.

  • “And all you need is 5 votes from the Supremes to make it universal under the full faith & credit clause.”

    An excellent reason to make certain that next year is Obama’s last full year as President.

    “As long as the state no longer pretends that what it does is marriage, that’s quite a victory.”

    With victories like that Michael give me defeats any day. To satisfy the demands of a handful of gay activists the State turns its back on an institution as old as Man.

    “This can be determined via contract, or just on separate property principles the same way disputes between roommates over property is settled.”

    Get back to me Michael after you have been out for a few years from law school and actually have done this type of work. Most married couples don’t have wills, let alone contracts between them. (Prenups are quite rare and are almost always a blueprint for divorce.) People who are shacked up usually have no sort of paperwork at all. The people involved are usually shocked, shocked, to find out there are legal consequences to them when they split up and kids or property are at issue.

    “Well, you would lose the traditional presumptions, but DNA tests are not so burdensome as to make this unbearable for the court systems. But once you establish the father, child support and custody don’t need the institution of marriage to function.”

    Your whole argument Michael is to get the state out of marriage. My contention is that your proposal would not do that. All it would do is be a flag of surrender to the homosexual lobby and put marriages on the same legal footing as their “unions”. The state of course would still have precisely the same involvement with heterosexual families as it ever did, but it would instruct these families, through not even dignifying them with the term marriage, that these are merely ad hoc relationships of no special importance.

  • Blackadder says:

    It’s fairly well established that marriages are not subject to the full faith and credit clause.

    However, states will generally recognize marriages performed in other states, even if they would be invalid if performed in the home jurisdiction, so long as this does not violate public policy.

    The upshot of this is that while the federal DOMA doesn’t really offer much protection against states having to recognize same-sex marriages performed in New York, etc., a state DOMA would do so.

  • People who are shacked up usually have no sort of paperwork at all

    You bring up an interesting point: Cohabitation. Cohabitation as we all know is on the rise, with many never marrying before they split up. If government can handle these situations, why does it need marriage? Quite frankly, government is going to have to learn to settle extramarital disputes anyway.

    Get back to me Michael after you have been out for a few years from law school and actually have done this type of work.

    Surprised it took you that long to pull that card. Why is every time someone disagrees with me on this blog I get “you’re too young to make an argument” response?

    Your whole argument Michael is to get the state out of marriage. My contention is that your proposal would not do that.

    I think you’re making two arguments. The first is that secular marriage can be saved and the second is that government would still need to settle these disputes between close relations. A lot of your argument seems to be predicated on the first, so I’ll ask you a question. Which would you prefer: gay marriage in all 50 states or an elimination of marriage?

    B/c I’m operating under the premise that the battle against gay marriage is a lost cause, and that we need to be prepared to look at other options. I’d much prefer for marriage to be restored in our laws and our culture but absent that I’m interested in ways that we can preserve what little we have left.

  • “If government can handle these situations, why does it need marriage? Quite frankly, government is going to have to learn to settle extramarital disputes anyway.”

    Oh, I don’t know maybe because marriage has been an exellent means overall of making certain that kids are cared for properly and brought up as something other than utter savages. The courts do settle shack up disputes by treating them as failed marriages.

    “Surprised it took you that long to pull that card. Why is every time someone disagrees with me on this blog I get “you’re too young to make an argument” response?”

    Please. I would love for you to point to another example. Your youth has nothing to do with it, but your obvious unfamiliarity of the actual practice of law does. Time will take care of both your youth and your inexperience with how the law operates outside of the classroom.

    “Which would you prefer: gay marriage in all 50 states or an elimination of marriage?”

    I choose option c: No gay marriage and a strengthening of marriage under the law. For example, a restriction of the deduction for kids for tax purposes to married couples; a mandatory one year waiting period before a judgment of divorce can be entered in a marriage with kids; ending no fault divorce; ending divorce for mental cruelty or irreconcilable differences; mandatory marriage counseling in all divorces not involving physical violence; increasing the court filing fees for divorce; attorney fees in divorce cases not paid until the end of the case and set by the court, with both parties responsible for the fees of both attorneys. I could go on at great length. Marriage and its relationship to the State needs much reform, but attempting to separate marriage and State is simply impossible.

  • How close are we to popular support for any of those reforms? It seems to me more are pushing for easier divorce, not harder. While I like your ideas, I just don’t see much of them getting into law (except the one year waiting period for kids which is already law in LA and I suspect elsewhere). And if they don’t succeed and gay marriage does, what do we do then? I like fighting for lost causes, as they’re the only ones worth fighting for (as Jefferson Smith would say), but I think the cause would be easier to fight without the government imposing a view.

    As for my “obvious unfamiliarity of the actual practice of law,” (which I do concede) I think if marriage were eliminated the alternatives would enter the common consciousness such as Miranda and pre-nups have. To be sure, I don’t need out of classroom experience to know most people won’t understand this or do the right things. We will have to have default rules. I’m not disputing that; I’m questioning whether those default rules have to be those of marriage, or whether there are other alternatives such that whatever the state does is not confused with true marriage.

  • “The only other option I see is eliminating the secular institution of marriage altogether.”

    Isn’t this just another version of that dorm room bull session where somebody says we shouldn’t use money, but some other means of exchange? All the problems will creep back in.

    Privatizing marriage is a red herring that many libertarian pundits use to avoid defending marriage or offending their gay friends (or to avoid revealing to conservatives their utter indifference to social morality).

    The real long-term threat is anti-discrimination laws which destroy almost all institutional opponents of GLBT activists, a process which SSM will accelerate. While these are also unlikely to be reformed, their abolition is more likely than the abolition of civil marriage.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    “Privatizing” marriage is an idea that I have thought MIGHT have some merit as a last ditch effort to prevent the concept or meaning of marriage from being diluted by efforts to redefine civil marriage. Another possibility might be simply to institute civil unions for everyone and no longer give the name “marriage” to the secular institution.

    A third possibility might be for the Church to voluntarily — before it gets taken away by force of law — surrender legal recognition of marriages performed by priests and deacons. Priests would no longer sign off on marriage licenses, and Catholic couples who wanted to marry in the Church would have to have two ceremonies, one secular and one religious. This already happens in instances where a couple that has married civilly outside the Church later has their marriage “blessed” or validated. It also happens in other countries where religious marriage ceremonies are not legally recognized. The secular ceremony could be done in 5 minutes or less at the courthouse when the couple gets their marriage license, or it could be a little more elaborate if the couple wishes.

    A Catholic couple could do this before or after their church wedding. If they got married in the Church BEFORE getting civilly married or “unionized” or whatever, they would be married in the eyes of God, but simply cohabiting in the eyes of the state.

    We don’t ask the State to legally recognize baptisms, First Communions, or other sacraments, nor do we ask the State to recognize annulments granted by Church tribunals, so why insist any longer that it recognize the SACRAMENT of Matrimony, especially if it opens up the Church to persecution, harassment, or charges of “discrimination” as a result? If the Church stops being involved in the legal process of marriage in any way that opening, at least, will be closed.

  • Phillip says:

    “The battle is lost, and the writing was on the wall with the Anglicans in the 1920s and the Griswald decision. Contraception, philosophically, is exactly the same as gay ‘marriage.’”

    Actually the battle already has been won through Christ’s life, sacrificial death, and Resurrection. Now we Christians have to apply the grace of that victory in the real world. Every day in prayer, mortification and actual struggle.

    Now that may take a long time and, as Michael points out, will require a change in the culture. But I have to disagree in ceding the field on this. Culture does influence the laws but if we let the laws slide that will influence the culture.

    And so what if there is a significant loss of the sense of marriage through contraception and easy divorce. Does it make it better to throw in the towel and say take the last bit now. No.

  • Art Deco says:

    All it would do is be a flag of surrender to the homosexual lobby and put marriages on the same legal footing as their “unions”.

    Yes, but waving a flag of surrender is the whole point (for some people).

  • Sam Rocha says:

    Neat post, Michael. I have actually had this basic intuition since I first became aware of the issue. Since the Church doesn’t recognize civil marriages, it seemed like the discussion was never about marriage in the first place.

    Cheers,

    Sam

  • Phillip says:

    Though I might say there is a difference between the Church recognizing civil marriages and the Church seeing the state as having a role in protecting marriage.

  • I do like Elaine’s idea as another alternative. We don’t have opting out now (at least not that I know of), so we would have to build that into the law. That would at least protect priests, though you would still have the state pushing a different version of marriage.

    I don’t look at this as a surrender. The better analogy is a tactical retreat with a scorched earth policy.

    Looking over the comments, I get two things: marriage may still be needed to settle property disputes and this isn’t necessary because the battle over secular marriage can still be won. So I guess my question now is: are there other needs for the government to keep marriage or is it just around as a helpful tool for lawyers? and if the battle can still be won, how are we to do it? More importantly, is there ever a time when we say that (for now) the battle is lost and we look to preserve what little is left?

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    “But I have to disagree in ceding the field on this.

    No, no ceding and no retreat. Our personal conduct should move out into the public sphere. Politically, however, the Catholic position is toast. What strategy now?

  • “So I guess my question now is: are there other needs for the government to keep marriage or is it just around as a helpful tool for lawyers? and if the battle can still be won, how are we to do it? More importantly, is there ever a time when we say that (for now) the battle is lost and we look to preserve what little is left?”

    Marriage is not “a helpful tool for lawyers” but the basic building block of all human societies. The State can no more abolish the reality of marriage than it could decree that men will bear children and women father them. It can do much however to either help marriages succeed or fail.

    The State has an interest in promoting sound and lasting marriages. That the policies implemented by the State, liberal divorce is the prime example, have been destructive of marriage on the whole in the past fifty years does not negate this reality, and underlines the need to change the policies rather than abolish marriage, a concept that I think accomplishes nothing other than to treat all marriages as if they were shack up relationships and thereby attempt to satisfy the cry for equality of gay activists, although I suspect that the abolition of marriage would not satisfy them. Marriage is merely a part of their fight to have the State compel people to accept homosexuality as normal and a positive good in and of itself. That fight would go on no matter if what you suggest regarding marriage would be implemented.

    The battle will be won at the ballot box by defeating advocates of gay marriage and electing opponents. Due to the number of state legislatures that the Republicans control much useful legislation opposing gay marriage can be passed in many states within the very near future, and would make an ideal election issue in most states for opponents in 2012, along with the horrible mismangagement of the economy by Obama and his party.

    Your proposal Michael would preserve nothing but would, unintentionally I am sure, merely give the death blow to the legal status of marriage in this country. Some fights, the fight against abortion is another example, you do not stop waging until you win. Considering the political strength of opposition to gay marriage in most parts of this country, I am curious as to why you insist upon contending that the battle is already irrevocably lost when the fight is still in the very early stages.

  • “Donald and Michael, except for a little testiness, that was a model for internet debate. Nice job both of you expressing your points.”

    An element of testiness is often needed in court to keep people awake during boring hearings Pinky, and to maintain the interest of the judge or the jury. It is not a myth that attorneys can go at each other hammer and tongs and then be the best of friends out of court, although not usually while our clients are around! :)

  • c matt says:

    Michael,

    with all do respect, it sounds to me like you are simply fighting over semantics. Whether what the state does is called marriage, or simply “settling disputes among parties in a relationship” seems no different. Either way, the state is still getting involved in the relationship between men and women and deciding the rights and responsibilities thereof. How is that any different from what it does now? It’s like trying to tell the substantive difference between recognizing SS civil unions and SS marriages. But for the name, they are identical. Same thing for “getting the state out of marriage”. But for the statement that the state is “out of marriage”, it seems it would still be doing the same things, in particular, it would be enforcing anti-discrimination laws for those who would not allow a SS couple to rent their house, etc. If the state doesn’t recognize marriage anyway, on what bases could you legitimately refuse to rent to a SS couple?

  • Phillip says:

    “No, no ceding and no retreat. Our personal conduct should move out into the public sphere. Politically, however, the Catholic position is toast. What strategy now?”

    Doubtful that the Catholic position is toast. In almost every (every?) state that it has been left up to a popular vote, the gay marriage position has lost – even in California. Need to keep it in the public and out of legislatures and courts. To that end we have to, at least at this point, keep Republicans in office. Not that that overly helped in NY but what are you going to do in an overwhelmingly blue state where there is no chance of winning. Such is not the case in the vast majority of states and if ten states have g.m. but 40 don’t then we clearly have the momentum going into any other fight.

    This is where we need to keep the pressure on local parties. That is, get state legislators and candidates for Federal offices nominated who support marriage. Also nominate those who will only vote for judicial apptointees those who will uphold marriage. Not so hard to do in smaller states though not impossible in larger ones.

    Also need to encourage those who are solid. Plenty of good people out there who would oppose g.m. if there wasn’t the attitude of “its already lost so might as well give up.”

  • John says:

    Thought I’d throw my hat into the ring on this one…

    I confess that this an issue which I’ve thought about quite a bit, and I tend to agree with Michael. While there are obviously many things which could said about the points he has raised in his post, I think I’ll focus on pertaining to the theological and pastoral side of things.

    I personally know quite a few gays and lesbians, almost all of them in their 20s, some very vocal in favor of gay marriage, a few not so much. One thing I can say for sure is that the issue will not go away (or even die down) any time soon, and it is very highly improbable that even with the slim possibility that gay marriage will not be legalized in any other states, it is nearly impossible to fathom the states currently allowing gay marriage to somehow rescind their position.

    In the same vein, I can say that having talked with some on the other side of the debate, it is much more difficult to make the argument for marriage as being between one man and one woman from a secular standpoint (or from pure reason). It’s an easy argument to make theologically, but in most cases theology is off the table when debating the issue.

    One of the main things that I think the majority of gay rights activists seek does not have to do with “equal rights”, but rather a validation of what they see as being something good and true. Stauch opposition to gay marriage, therefore, is usually interpreted (or framed) as ignorance, discriminate, or hate-driven. While that might not bother many orthodox Catholics, the reality may be that Priests and Catholics will not only be protected with the issue off the table (at least from a legal point of view), but it may enable Catholics to reach out and help GBLTs in ways they actually need it.

  • Darwin says:

    So I guess my question now is: are there other needs for the government to keep marriage or is it just around as a helpful tool for lawyers? and if the battle can still be won, how are we to do it? More importantly, is there ever a time when we say that (for now) the battle is lost and we look to preserve what little is left?

    Responding to this would take a post, but if I can get away with massive short hand: It seems to me that the reason it’s impossible to get the state “out of the marriage business” in any sense other than fooling around with vocabulary is that although we talk about “civil marriage” marriage is not in fact something that the state creates — it’s something that exists on its own and recognizes when it finds it.

  • c matt says:

    To put it succintly, the state has to deal with marriage because marriage is part of human society, and the state has to deal with (indeed, its focus is) human society.

  • Cardinal Ratzinger on gay marriage:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html

    “Faced with the fact of homosexual unions, civil authorities adopt different positions. At times they simply tolerate the phenomenon; at other times they advocate legal recognition of such unions, under the pretext of avoiding, with regard to certain rights, discrimination against persons who live with someone of the same sex. In other cases, they favour giving homosexual unions legal equivalence to marriage properly so-called, along with the legal possibility of adopting children.

    Where the government’s policy is de facto tolerance and there is no explicit legal recognition of homosexual unions, it is necessary to distinguish carefully the various aspects of the problem. Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. Therefore, discreet and prudent actions can be effective; these might involve: unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology; stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions; reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defences and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon. Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.

    In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”

  • RR says:

    The way I see it the options in decreasing order of desirability are:

    1. No civil marriage. Not gonna happen for legal reason.

    2. No gay civil marriage/unions. Not happening.

    3. Segregating gay civil marriage/unions from the rest. Might’ve been possible in the past. Not anymore.

    4. Devaluing civil marriage and promoting traditional marriage though non-legal means. Make civil marriage as socially significant as a driver’s license and make a Catholic marriage the thing that everyone wants. Elaine Krewer’s idea to stop Church recognition of civil marriage completely can be one important part of this.

  • Ivan says:

    Christians are too intimidated by the left and the pink swastika lobby to make a coherent stand against the agenda of the homosexuals. The way I prefer is a combination of Kathy Shadie and VFR, an equal measure of ridicule, scorn and moral outrage. If all that the homosexuals want if some measure of protection for themselves as they age, there are already many options available. The homosexuals wish to subvert the remaining underpinings of Christian society, hence the energy they put into this effort that most homosexuals would not avail of anyway.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    “One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws (recognizing same sex unions) and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”

    I assume the kind of “conscientious objection” to which the (then-future) pope referred covers things like public officials refusing to officiate same sex marriages, vendors refusing to service or sell goods for same-sex weddings, adoption agencies refusing to place children with same sex couples, etc.

    Could such conscientious objection concievably include couples deciding to forgo the legal benefits of civil marriage and get married ONLY in the Church and not in the eyes of the law, so as not to engage in any “material cooperation” with a corrupted system?

    This isn’t possible now because Catholic clergy are (as far as I know) forbidden both by church law and civil law from performing unregistered or non-legal marriages. However, if the Church did what I am suggesting and withdrew from any “entanglement” with civil marriage, it would be possible.

    Unfortunately, I suspect that many, if not most, couples who would request a “church only”, non-legal wedding would do so not as a sacrificial gesture of non-cooperation with evil (comparable to, say, a pacifist refusing to be drafted into the military even in a non-combat role), but as a means of selfishly escaping the legal consequences of civil marriage — for example, preserving Social Security or pension benefits from a deceased spouse that would be lost upon remarriage.

    For this reason, I would recommend that under “my” system, the Church require couples seeking sacramental marriage to marry civilly BEFORE the Church wedding (maybe set a deadline of 30 to 60 days before, analogous to the current duration of civil marriage licenses) unless the couple has a serious reason for having the civil wedding later or not at all. Church tribunals already require persons applying for annulments to have finalized civil divorce proceedings first, in order to avoid any overlap or confusion. If the policy at the end of a marriage is to get the legal stuff out of the way first, why not follow that procedure at the beginning of the marriage also?

    Finally, one minor advantage under this system would be that couples would no longer be obligated to obtain a civil marriage license in the same jurisdiction where their Church wedding is taking place. If the couple lives in County A but is having their Nuptial Mass at her original home parish in County Z, they wouldn’t have to worry about making an extra trip to the County Z Courthouse for a marriage license — they could just get legally married in County A ahead of time. Nor would they have to remember to hand off the marriage license to the priest before or after the wedding.

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