Next week, voters in four states (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington) will vote on whether civil marriage should be made available to same-sex couples. Here is some material to reflect on as you prepare to cast your vote. Whether you are concerned with the arguments from the bible, philosophy, religious liberty, or compassion, there is something here for you to think about.
Matthew Vines, a student on leave from Harvard, has done a comprehensive study of the relevant passages from the Christian bible. If what the bible says about homosexuality is important to your thinking on this issue, please take the time to watch this video (about an hour long) or read the transcript.
In this ten-minute video, John Corvino addresses some common non-biblical arguments about the morality of homosexuality, including some arguments from natural law, on which a good part of Catholic moral theology is primarily based:
His style is irreverent, which is entertaining to some but may be offensive to others; but even if you are offended, please consider watching the entire thing. (Sorry, I don’t have a transcript for this one.)
Religious liberty arguments:
If religious liberty is important to you, consider that a number of Christian and Jewish denominations celebrate same-sex marriages, but their clergy are, by civil law, unable to treat these couples in exactly the same way as heterosexual couples, whose religious marriage ceremonies are also recognized as civil marriage ceremonies. In this letter, a Lutheran bishop from Minnesota engages with his Roman Catholic brother bishop on the subject.
These arguments pertain more to attitudes towards gay and lesbian people in general, than to samesex marriage specifically. I know that not everyone who opposes samesex marriage is motivated by hatred of gay and lesbian persons. However, I believe that when a class of persons is treated by civil law as second-class citizens, this tends to, at best, give cover to, and at worst, support such hatred. The following links illustrate the grave harm that is perpetrated by such hateful words and actions:
– a tweet counter counts up the use of homophobic slurs
– a blogger interviews her younger brother about the level of bullying around perceived homosexuality in his middle school. Please, if you click through on nothing else on this page, click through on this one.
Often, the discussions about samesex marriage get stuck in the abstract, in metaphysics and principles. We aren’t voting on a principle or a theory. We’re voting on whether real people, who are in real, loving, committed relationships, will be allowed to have the same legal and economic advantages that millions of other people who are in loving committed relationships already have.
These real people are our neighbors.