On Two Compelling Legal Briefs that Challenge Same-Sex Marriage

During his confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court, Judge Robert Bork said one of his attractions to the court was that it would be an “intellectual feast.” There is certainly a feast going over the impending Supreme Court consideration of same-sex marriage. A mountain of friend-of-the-court briefs has landed in the hands of the Supreme Court, some of them utterly fascinating.

Two of the briefs are notably interesting, one from Professor Robert George of Princeton and his talented young collaborators Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation and Sherif Girgis who is toiling on a law degree at Yale and a Ph.D in Philosophy at Princeton.

In a Harvard Law Review article, a book and now this brief, George, Ryan, and Girgis answer the question “what is marriage?” They describe two competing views; one they call “conjugal”, and the other “revisionist.” Allowing for the revisionist view  “can cause corresponding social harms. It weakens the rational foundation (and hence social practice) of stabilizing marital norms on which social order depends: norms such as permanence, exclusivity, monogamy.”

George and his colleagues argue that marriage can only be “conjugal”, that is, a “comprehensive union joining spouses in body as well as in mind, it is begun by commitment and sealed by sexual intercourse. So completed in the acts by which new life is made, it is especially apt for and deepened by procreation and calls for that broad sharing uniquely fit for family life.” Such a comprehensive view of marriage is still available to sterile couples but not for homosexuals.

The authors explain that what they call the “revisionist” understanding of marriage “is essentially an emotional union, accompanied by any consensual activity. Such romantic unions are seen as valuable while the emotion lasts.” Men and women can have such “unions” just as same-sex couples can, “both involve intense emotional bonding, so both can (on this view) make a marriage. But comprehensive union is something only a man and woman can form.”

George says, “enacting same-sex marriage would not expand the institution of marriage” as proponents claim, but would redefine it. Such a redefinition would permanently harm the notion of marriage and sully the goods that come from marriage properly understood.

The second very interesting brief was submitted by Professor Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame Law School on behalf of Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins University. Their brief is also about definitions, in this case the definition of homosexuality and sexual orientation.

McHugh is a remarkable man. For 26 years he headed the Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. You may recall that this department was the place in America that initiated sex change operations under the notorious and now discredited Dr. John Money. One of McHugh’s first acts was to close down Money’s sex change unit.

Bradley and McHugh want to convince the court that homosexuals do not rise to the level of a “suspect class” deserving of “heighted scrutiny” protection. Those in support of traditional marriage believe the people of California in the Proposition 8 case and that Congress in the Defense of Marriage Act all had “rational” reasons for their claims. It is a lower and much easier claim to defend. Prop 8 and DOMA plaintiffs want to claim “suspect class” which would force the defendants to make the much harder case that the state has a “compelling interest” in maintaining man-woman marriage.

In order to become a suspect class, however, homosexuals have to make the case that there is a history of discrimination against them, that they are politically powerless to fight back, and that theirs is a “discrete group” with “immutable characteristics.” This is not easy.

Bradley and McHugh make the case abundantly and perhaps surprisingly that the plaintiffs fail on the questions of both discreteness and immutability.

The definition of a suspect class requires the group be “discrete” or distinct and definable. Race is an accepted category, for instance, but the Court has rejected age and poverty as suspect classes. Bradley and McHugh assert that sexual orientation fails, too, because it “may characterize points along a continuum of sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual identity where individual categories are anything but distinct. They cite the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, “There is currently no scientific or popular consensus…that definitely ‘qualify’ an individual as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.” The authors cite more than a dozen such quotations from equally authoritative sources.

In fact, the authors go on for 28 pages showing there is no agreed upon definition of sexual orientation, that sexual orientation—at least among those who claim some sort of same sex attraction—far from being immutable is in fact plastic. Citing a plethora of social science research, they show that degrees of homosexuality change consistently through the life of most who claim same-sex attraction, particularly among women.

The authors also demonstrate that there is not a single repeated scientific study showing that homosexuality is genetic.

Homosexual advocates and at least one homosexual judge have claimed that opposition to same-sex marriage can only be rooted in “animus” toward homosexuals. After the Prop 8 trial in California, homosexual advocates almost successfully captured the false narrative that the pro-marriage side did not even try to make the case for man-woman marriage.

There is an intellectual feast on this topic now on the dining table of Supreme Court Justices. They’ve even received a Scripture-heavy sermon in the guise of a legal brief from the crazies at the Westboro Baptist Church.

No one knows how the Court will go. We know they will not enshrine man-woman marriage in the Constitution. They may simply uphold Prop 8 and DOMA and the battle continues state-by-state. They could strike down Prop 8 and DOMA and stop there, too. But they could declare homosexual marriage the law of the land.

As the George brief makes clear, this would signal the end of any kind of marriage culture in the United States.

Austin Ruse


Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute. He is the author of Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data published by Regnery. He is also the author of the new book Little Suffering Souls: Children Whose Short Lives Point Us to Christ published by Tan Books. The views expressed here are solely his own.

  • Bedarz Iliaci

    All this though probably necessary, is to a great extent, pointless.

    Argument is only possible when the two sides share certain premises.

    But here, the premises as to the meaning of marriage are not shared and in fact
    are the contested point itself.

    Hence, no argument is possible.

    One realizes this from the recognition that marriage is a pre-political institution. Thus, it is ill-suited for the political procedure (including the legal process) to decide on the meaning of marriage.
    The redefinition of marriage is revolution, a discontinuity, and not normal politics.

    • JeffreyRO55

      Having sex is a pre-political institution yet that doesn’t stop the government from outlawing rape and incest. What is it with this “pre-political” nonsense from the anti-gays, as if it sounds important or something!

      • Precioso

        “Having sex”, performing the sexual act, is not a political institution, before or after. Institution? Are you crazy? Craziness would then be a pre-political institution. You are good at primal living, but you are out of your league, trying to talk law. Homosexuality is also then a pre-political institution, which government can potentially outlaw, seeing the spread of AIDS, for incest can be consensual. What is it with this pre-political nonsense from you, as if it sounds important or something!

        • JeffreyRO55

          Hey pal, I’m not the idiot referring to marriage as “pre-political”, whatever that means.

          • John200

            The term is well-known to us. You need not remain in ignorance of “whatever that means.”

            All you needed to do was ask in civil terms, but you are so unpleasant I will disengage at this point.

      • anon

        It means politics cannot redefine what is natural. To a relativist it means you cannot do whatever you want because you desire it.

    • musicacre

      Yes but the arguments and great legal minds are more important than ever simply because of the fact that rational thinking is one of the legacies of the Western culture. The movement to redefine marriage represents the movement to disassemble western thought and replace it with brute force, pressure and conditioning. The marriage controversy is just a vehicle for them to deliver the attack against the glue that holds civilization together. After this it will be another issue they’ve cooked up.

      • Bedarz Iliaci

        yes, but then brute force must be met with brute force, not with arguments whose premises are not accepted by the other party.

      • anon

        As I said the arguments only work on a mind that is not diseased.

      • disqus_LssQQVkvlX

        There is no really rational thought with the same sex marriage issue. My brother died of AIDS so I am not ignorant of the lifestyle. It is extremely promiscuous. and unhealthy. Medical studies have proven this over and over. It is unhealthy for children who are considered a “right” by same sex couples. Often it is an imposed lifestyle causing a lot of confusion. A lot of blaming goes on, and a lot of bullying and intimidation to get “respect and a sense of legitimacy” from heterosexuals

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    What purpose does mandatory civil marriage serves? Generations of jurists have found the answer in the rule that the child conceived or born in marriage has the husband for father. This rests on the obligation of fidelity between spouses and reflects the commitment made by the husband during the celebration of marriage, to raise the couple’s children.

    No-one will deny that the state has a clear interest in the filiation of children being clear, certain and incontestable. It is central to its concern for the upbringing and welfare of the child, for protecting rights and enforcing obligations between family members and to the orderly succession to property. To date, no better, simpler, less intrusive means than marriage have been found for ensuring, as far as possible, that the legal, biological and social realities of paternity coincide.

    In short, (1) Mandatory civil marriage, makes the institution a pillar of the secular republic, standing clear of the religious sacrament (2) The institution of republican marriage is inconceivable, absent the idea of filiation – the rule that the child conceived or born in marriage has the husband for father – enshrined, not in Church dogma, but in the Civil Code (3) The sex difference is central to filiation..

    • DK

      This is why KIm Kardashian is trying to rush through her divorce. She is legally still married to her first husband, but she is now expecting a child fathered by someone else. Legally her first husband, if he wants to be a jerk, can claim the child as his. What a mess!

  • anon

    All that is great as long as the judges who get the case are people who can reason morally. Lawyers do not like to admit it but cases are often decided by ideologies and that is why there is a constant fight for who gets to sit on the Supreme Court.

    You do not need great legal minds or creative legal arguments. You need a moral person uncorrupted by a sick culture.

  • crakpot

    The crucial fact here is that homosexuality is not genetic. In fact, it is easily disproved by the twin paradox. Truth cannot contradict truth, so the Supreme Court cannot contradict this science by distorting some God-given right acknowledged in the Constitution.

    That said, they’ve certainly done it before. It is an irrefutable fact of genetic science that an embryo is a distinct human being, therefore not part of the mother for her to dispose of as she wishes. That didn’t stop them.

    The Federal Reserve counterfeits money; the Supreme Court counterfeits conscience.

  • Phil

    Let’s parse the definition of a conjugal marriage.

    ” “comprehensive union joining spouses in body as well as in mind, it is begun by commitment and sealed by sexual intercourse.”

    Homesexual couples are fully capable to commit to each other, in body and in mind, and are capable of sexual intercourse.

    ” “[…]So completed in the acts by which new life is made, it is especially apt for and deepened by procreation and calls for that broad sharing uniquely fit for family life.”

    Such a comprehensive view of marriage is still available to sterile couples but not for homosexuals. ”

    Homosexual couples are fully capable of raising children. If sterile couples are able to have children without procreating there’s no reason why homosexuals shouldn’t either. The idea that the act of procreation legitimizes parenthood is really a suggestion that parenthood is legitimized by acting out a sex-fantasy.
    There is simply no secular reason to prohibit ssm.

    • anon

      “Homesexual couples are fully capable to commit to each other, in body and in mind, and are capable of sexual intercourse.

      They are incapable of sexual intercourse. This simulate a deviation of intercourse.

      “Homosexual couples are fully capable of raising children. If sterile
      couples are able to have children without procreating there’s no reason
      why homosexuals shouldn’t either. The idea that the act of procreation
      legitimizes parenthood is really a suggestion that parenthood is
      legitimized by acting out a sex-fantasy.”

      Sterile couples still engage in the right type of act. Homosexuals engage in an act that can never produce children. No real comparison at all.

      • JeffreyRO55

        So marriage is nothing more than having sex? Yet so many couples have infrequent sex, or non-existent sex. Are they not really married?

        And why are religionists so obsessed with sex and genitals in the first place???

        • Dan Li

          Marriage is about bringing together two people in a union that can bring forward children in an environment that is suited to raise them. The ‘infrequent’ part is moot, they actually *can* bring forward life.

          We are less obsessed and more exasperated with the revisionist schema of marriage that continue to crop up every single decade or so. Tis’ your side that brought up the ‘marriage’ debate in the first place, for your own pleasure, and so we’ve been answering.

          • JeffreyRO55

            Most people disagree with your personal definition of marriage, that it has to involve children. Marriage is actually practiced between two adults, to demonstrate public commitment. That works for both straight AND gay couples. If this is a “revisionist schema” it is one perpetrated by straight people, and one that gay people responded with, “hey, we want in on that!”.

            No, it is YOUR side that turned what should have been a non-event, treating equally situated couples equally, into a crusade, one you’re losing but you can’t seem to admit that.

            • Austin Ruse

              Why only two?

              • JeffreyRO55

                Because polygamy is illegal.

                • Austin Ruse

                  Is that the only reason?

                  • JeffreyRO55

                    That’s the most pertinent. There are many reasons why polygamy is illegal though. Each additional person in a marriage increases the chance for divorce, and also strains that emotional and financial resources. Plus biological imperatives would make it more likely that if polygamy were legal, a man would likely have more than one wife, and some men might end up with no wife. Finally, polygamy tends to be about power not commitment. That is not the intention of real marriage.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      So, why doesn’t this apply apply to multiples?

                      “Homesexual couples are fully capable to commit to each other, in body and in mind, and are capable of sexual intercourse.”

                      And this?

                      “Homosexual couples are fully capable of raising children. If sterile couples are able to have children without procreating there’s no reason why homosexuals shouldn’t either. The idea that the act of procreation legitimizes parenthood is really a suggestion that parenthood is legitimized by acting out a sex-fantasy.”

                    • JeffreyRO55

                      I don’t know what you’re asking. I explained why polygamy is illegal, and was illegal long before anyone was talking about same-sex marriage. Multiple partners in a marriage defeats the purpose of marriage: commitment for life.

                      Marriage is not about children, it’s about adults. Children certainly benefit by having married parents though.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      Just trying to understand your definition of marriage. You say it’s for two but your not terribly convincing. What about incestuous marriages?

                    • JeffreyRO55

                      My definition of marriage is two committed adults. Eligibility is: not already married, over a certain age (varies by state) and not closely related. Closely related people already have a kinship relationship; they don’t need the law to create one for them.

                      Incest is illegal. Marriage is a sexual relationship, therefore, incestuous marriage is not possible.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      Your definition of marriage is two committed adults? Why can’t this apply to an adult father and his adult son? You say incestuous couples cannot have a sexual relationship? Really?

                      And your objection to multiples doesn’t really hold up. You fear divorce? Look around. Lots of it out there. You fear poverty? With 3, 4,5 incomes? You say it’s a power imbalance. What about women with multiple husbands? What about two men marrying two women?

                    • Austin Ruse

                      Your definition of marriage is two committed adults? For what purpose? What is marriage?

                    • Dan Li

                      Well, tis’ your definition. Let’s examine it a bit.
                      In answer to my previous point, *why* can’t people have multiple partners in marriage (power relationships… please stop thinking in Mormon-strawmen archetypes)?
                      Why can’t they marry over a certain age?
                      Why is incest illegal, and why is marriage between relatives illegal? Kinship has limited legal recognition (if that’s what your getting at) and such things can easily be accounted for by making a partner the legal executor (if your talking about the underlying reality of a kinship relationship… well, there’s the romantic-emotional relationship between partners).

                    • Austin Ruse

                      You insist it’s just for two but the argument you use for same sex marriage can easily apply to multiples. I suspect the hundreds of thousands of multiple relationships would not see their relationships in the way you do.

                      What about incestuous marriage, between a father and son, say?

                      What is your definition of marriage?

                    • JeffreyRO55

                      Incestuous marriage between a father and son, like a father and daughter, is not possible, since incest is illegal.

                      Marriage is the legal union of two adults. Eligibility is anyone not already married, over a certain age (varies by state) and not closely related (already having a kinship relationship, and since incest is illegal, can’t get married anyway).

                    • Dan Li

                      “Marriage is not about children, it’s about the adults.”
                      …. Fundamental disagreement. A marriage is *not* simply a committed emotional-romantic union. It may have that element, but that doesn’t cover it in its essence. As an institution, it’s about the creation of a stable family unit. This is directed towards providing a means for the propagation of both humanity and society.

            • Dan Li

              It need not actually involve children, but that’s what the institution is directed towards, the birth and raising of new life (since a family is the most basic continuous unit of a society). This is evident throughout history, even in ancient Rome (which wasn’t a bastion of morality) such things as gay marriage were seen as a non-sense. Look at the UK’s marriage laws, which aside from gay marriage only recognize a marriage that has been consummated, whether or not that’s ‘just’ it does point to the general purpose of marriage itself. Why else would a state, government or institution bother recognizing such a union if it did not so greatly benefit it?

              As to revisionist schema… one of those schema is divorce (no-fault divorce especially), another is polygamy, another is concubinage, another is… and you (hopefully) get the point that none of these are ‘good’ things (your philosophical nominalism aside). A marriage is not a simple romantic-emotional union, it’s an institution that demands effort and responsibility directed towards the most basic propagation of our species.

              As to the argument that this deals with equally situated couples… no, they aren’t. If they were equally situated then same-sex couples wouldn’t be intrinsically sterile.

              • JeffreyRO55

                You don’t have to be fertile, to get married. There is no test for fertility.

                • Dan Li

                  The State recognizes marriage for the general intrinsic capability of a man and a woman to procreate and raise a family that will help propagate the State’s culture. Testing is expensive and time consuming. Even then the State reaps a benefit in further emphasizing a normative institution which will hopefully provide social encouragement for the creation of stabler family units. A same-sex couple lacks that same capability and one would not normally expect such a couple to get pregnant without severe medical intervention.

            • Dan Li

              Additionally, why should states bother with marriage anyways if it’s just a ‘sign of commitment between two adults’? If it’s a simple emotional bond, the State’s benefit is quite low. If such things as inheritance, visitation are to be shared, it can be done in some other fashion with a notary as a simple contract. Or a living will.

              And, as musicacre asks, why just two? Why not three or more? What standards should be applied, if any?

              • JeffreyRO55

                The state regulates marriage in order to prevent adults from marrying children or close relatives or someone who is already married. That’s about it. All those reasons serve a public purpose, unlike banning same-sex marriage, which serves no public purpose.

                Only two people can mutually care for each other. More than two risks favoritism and increases the likelihood of divorce. Plus there’s no legal discrimination involved by limiting marriage to couples. This has already been settled and has nothing to do with gay marriage.

                • Dan Li

                  The State regulates marriage (or rather recognizes it) for the general benefit such relationships bring to it (new citizens and a place and environment to grow up in; yet again it’s the basic continual unit of society). It doesn’t regulate marriage to prevent close relatives and child/adult relationships, it has and uses many other legal means and pressures. How does preventing marriage between close relatives benefit the state?

                  While I’d personally agree regarding the problems of polygamy, by what right do you say that only two people can care for each other? Favoritism may come into play and it would affect the success rates of multiple partner marriages, but like ‘open marriages’ there’s still a chance of them working out.

            • Bob

              Did you even read the above article? All of your arguments and claims in your postings are of a relativistic basis. An “It is because I say it is” basis of arguing. Why don’t you try to refute Dr. George’s argument that marriage is conjugal, the definition of homosexuality through the life of a lesbian is a moving target, and that there is no research showing homosexuality is genetic? You throw more red herrings around than a Texas fish fry.

            • anon

              You want validation for the acts you commit. It is as simple as that. No matter how many claim it is right or that they do not care it will never be right and most who still have a conscience know that.

        • Precioso

          As if you weren’t obsessed with sex and genitals yourself. Ha!

          • JeffreyRO55

            It isn’t I who is arguing that one’s genitals should be taken into account when determining if you are eligible to marry, you are!

            • Dan Li

              We don’t really care about “physical complementarity” per se, only per accidens. We just care that homosexual unions by their nature can’t provide the argument for marriage by their intrinsically sterile nature, and thus that we shouldn’t bother.

            • disqus_LssQQVkvlX

              I think you are missing the point. In the beginning God created man and woman in His image. Male and female He created them and told them to be fruitful and multiply. A same sex relationship may have love between the participants who may very well care for each other, but it is never fruitful in the true sense of the word. Marriage protects the family for the good of society and culture and for the well being of those family members. Promiscuity of any sort harms a persons dignity and cripples the goodness with which they were created. Choosing to reject God does not in any way make Him not exist. Using the argument that one has the right to have children because they really want to is not in any way in the child’s best interest which has been proven over and over in neutral studies. A child has a “right” to a mother and a father because there is no way for that child to come to life without them even though not everyone should be a parent. In a same sex relationship the participants are making one another objects of use, as is with every promiscuous relationship and unfortunately in some marriages too. but in the same sex relationship there can never be a true union because it is physically impossible. Even the body’s design is clear in that. A woman has not antibodies in her womb that makes it possible to not reject the gift of her husband, but not so in same sex relationships. The antibodies are there and are the cause of more diseases.

        • anon

          Marriage is more than “commitment” and “bonding”. It is called the marital act for a reason. It is not called sodomy for a reason.

      • isolation

        What does having sex have to do with adopting and caring for a child. If I have an accident tomorrow and lose my equipment, I can still raise my existing children.

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  • John O’Neill

    Let the Americans have their homosexual marriages. We Christians should opt for the sacrament of marriage and live by the rules of God. We could start by not performing State marriages in our churches; it would be seen as blasphemous. We could ask our fellow Christians to fill out the State marriage licences at the city hall or other temple of the New American State religion and do so without fear of sacrilege but then to proceed to Church in order to be married before God and Church. The State marriages could go their way and we could go our way; of course we would have to reject the American education system because of its sytemic opposition to our religious beliefs; and we could seek to follow the Amish way or as the monastic life states to be in the world and not of it. Let us realize like the early Christians we have to live under Roman law until we can no longer tolerate its vicious anti Christian tenor. City of God or City of Modern man; that is the choice.

    • Steph

      I fear that if the Supreme Court rules homosexuals are a protected class, churches will not be afforded the opportunity to go their separate way from the State when it comes to marriage. Pastors and churches who refuse to perform same-sex marriages will be sued.

      • publiusnj

        If the State pushes too hard, it will end up looking stupid. The State had already made a total mess of its involvement in marriage even before this strangeness about gay marriage ( see e.g., the illegitimacy rate and the divorce rate created by the “sexual revolution” and its state law echoes plus federal enouragement of illegitimacy through such things as welfare rules, the head of household tax filing status and the earned income credit). The Church ought to go on the offensive and say that the State is not just barred by the First Amendment, but actually incompetent to make decisions about the rules of a Christian Marriage because it revels in amorality while Christian Marriage is based on the moral view of marriage promulgated by Jesus Christ, Who broke radically from the rules of Marriage theretofore existent in Israel.

        • Dan Li

          “Looking stupid” is a relative thing. What looks stupid to you may not seem so stupid to our successors…

          • Steph

            I agree. It’s all about what people are conditioned to accept as normal when baby steps are taken in a particular direction over a period of time. One day you wake up and, if you’re even capable of asking the question, ask, “How did we get here?”

            Salami tactics.

      • BlackJustice

        Not only sued, but thrown in prison for a “hate crime” and bigotry. You can count on it. It’s the return of Anti-Catholicism.

        • You are wrong, and you are trying to foment- anti-gay hysteria. Get out of the temple!

      • This is not accurate: marriage is legalized by the state-issued license; the priest solemnizes it. These are two very different processes. Civil licenses will (eventually) be available to same-gender couples, but no law will ever compel priests to solemnize a same-gender marriage.

        • Steph

          “no law will ever compel priests to solemnize a same-gender marriage.”

          I sincerely hope you’re right, though time will tell, I suppose. In the mean time, churches that refuse to allow same-sex marriages on their property are already facing lawsuits and the revocation of their tax-exempt status. In the future, it is no stretch of the imagination to believe that laws will eventually impose upon the church what years of civil suits and regulation do not, especially when the precedent for such laws is set during these early, crucial legal battles.

      • dorothy

        Steph, I think your fears are groundless. This has not happened anywhere where same-sex marriage has been legalized. No one is interested in forcing churches to perform ceremonies. I cannot imagine a gay couple coercing a minister into marrying them. Why should they? They can get married without a minister, and there are churches whose ministers WILL perform their ceremonies for them. It’s not as though churches had monopolies on marriage ceremonies. Fear not.

    • Precioso

      Yes, true marriage doesn’t need the license of the government, nor its benefits. When you need to divorce, no need for a couple of lawyers either. Poor people are not even marrying now, hardly. 50% of the marriages end up in divorce. The institution of marriage is failing 50%, and government continues to make it even worse. The children produced already haunt the government.

  • hombre111

    “the end of any kind of marriage culture in the United States?” All the homosexuals put together could not do the harm to marriage that the heterosexual serial marriers have done.

    • Dan Li

      Perhaps, but is that reason to kick the dog when it’s down?

    • Catherine

      Yes, hombre111, sadly this is true. We Catholics could certainly do much better. I am hoping that the new pope will, as someone else said, advocate for all that is good about Catholicism. I fear that judging and condemning is not helping to spread the Word or the faith.

    • HigherCalling

      The “harm to marriage that the heterosexual serial marriers have done” stems from a certain destructive ideology — the same ideology that the push for same-sex “marriage” stems from. Returning marriage to its original, God-intended purpose means exposing and rejecting that destructive ideology that harms not only marriage, but harms everything it touches.

      • Catherine

        HigherCalling, it’s not just the heterosexuals that undermine traditional marriage. The Church’s stance on homosexuality is also tainted and undermined by the sexual abuse crisis. I think sexual issues need to be treated with compassion. Instead of criticizing the behavior of others, a better paradigm might be to start praising the lifestyles we would like to lead and to see others lead. Positive reinforcement always works better than punishment or shunning or condemnation.

        • HigherCalling

          I agree completely. That’s why I advocate exposing and rejecting the ideology behind the destructiveness. Heterosexuals, homosexuals, priests, etc do destructive things when they accept and then act on false ideologies. Those falsehoods are running rampant in society and even, sad to say, in the Church (the cause of the sexual abuse crisis). The fight is a philosophical, intellectual and spiritual one — not a personal one.

  • Catherine

    While the CCC teaches that homosexual acts are “contrary to the natural law,” it also says that gays should be treated with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” and that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” Is attempting to forbid same sex marriage “unjust discrimination”? I really don’t know. All I know is that it will become a reality because it is something that is now accepted by the majority. The message, though, is that we should treats gays with love and compassion. The more we love them, make them welcome in our homes, and embrace them, the better our chances of sharing not only the value of traditional marriages but of the Golden Rule and the fruits of the Spirit. If we fail in that, at least we can perhaps at least spread love and charity. This is so much more important than sexual behavior. I doubt there are many of us with a perfect lifetime record in that regard. But perhaps if we focus on not judging others but trying to help them, we might help people become more receptive to our own perspectives. I don’t think we can prevent same sex marriage becoming a legal reality, but we can advance the Catholic cause by demonstrating Christ’s love, forgiveness, and acceptance and by not appearing hostile and rejecting. At least that might help gays to take a second look at the Church.

    • BlackJustice

      “All I know is that it will become a reality because it is something that is now accepted by the majority.” I agree. SSM is inevitable.

      What is also inevitable is that any person granted a state-issued license to conduct marriages will be required to marry gays/lesbians/animals/whatever the state deems worthy of protection. This will include Catholic clergy. Which is why, sooner or later, priests and bishops will have to turn in their state issued licenses.

      The big problem will be the state pronouncing that any group that is not a closed club with a defined, dues paying, membership /like American Legion or the Eagles/ will be required to host gay weddings. Catholic churches will be used for gay weddings. That, too, is inevitable.

      When you look at this through the long lens of history, it would appear that the Communist International knew Soviet Russia couldn’t last. The plan was hatched to destroy Western society by any means possible, so that communism could be reborn here. It appears to be working.

      • JeffreyRO55

        What a drama queen! Show me one church that has EVER had to host a wedding it didn’t want to host. This is why so few people take religion seriously anymore: the current practitioners are nutjobs!

        • Austin Ruse

          You are living in a tiny secular ghetto. The global conversation is religious. You are inconsequential to it.

          • JeffreyRO55

            My secular ghetto is way bigger than your religionist ghetto! I don’t much care what other countries do, although many of them have already approved same-sex marriage. And the US is following along.

            • Austin Ruse

              Actually, it’s not. Seculars are a minority in america. Perhaps they’re a majority in Europe. Certain,y not even close anywhere else in the world. Moreover, most of the world, overwhelmingly, stands against same sex marriage.

        • Steph

          Jeffrey, are you new to the conversation regarding the legal implications of SSM and equal protection based on sexual orientation? I ask only because the outcome of this strategy has been well known for a long time to those involved on both sides of the issue. I would hardly call those who recognize it “drama queens” or “nutjobs”. In fact, many of those working on behalf of SSM would, I believe, call it a good strategy.

          For your reading pleasure: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91486340

        • anon

          spoken like a true homosexual supporter.

      • The marriage is legalized by the state-issued license; the priest solemnizes it. These are two very different processes. Civil licenses will (eventually) be available to same-gender couples, but no law will ever compel priests to solemnize a same-gender marriage.

  • gregor

    I’d say you’re more than just an “Austin Ruse.” You’d be a ruse anywhere you went.

  • isolation

    “It weakens the rational foundation (and hence social practice) of stabilizing marital norms on which social order depends: norms such as permanence, exclusivity, monogamy.”

    You mean the Brittany Spears drive through marriages performed by an a woman dressed as Elvis as midnight and the divorce because…ah hell I give up, I was going to keep going with the joke, but I think you get the idea.

    You seriously mean to say you believe two peoples private sexual relations are undermining to the concept of marriage, at ALL compared to that?

    • anon

      Much worse in fact.

  • Catherine

    The Catholic Church has refused to marry impotent paraplegics in the past for the same reason it rejects same sex marriages, viz., the marriage could not produce children. This seems to me very cruel and shows a limited understanding of marriage. The Church has every right to refuse to marry paraplegics and gays, but why should these groups not have the right to a civil wedding? Why would that be a slap in the face for Catholics? Neither group is hurting anyone.

  • Nesta Callahan

    Now being a Catholic Girl who has gone through Grammar School, High School and 1 year of Catholic College, I can truthfully tell all of you that God does not make junk! Now I am talking about Love. Love was created by God. There are different types of Love and they can be Good and they can be bad. Now the types of Love that I see here in these United States of America are not what they used to be as the Good Lord intended. Now I am talking about the kind of Love that brings a man and a woman together and with the Good Lord, who knows everything, and sees everything, and wants to create a human life, even though we might want to wait for a few more months, or years, if God wants to create a life, by golly He will create it! No matter if the mother took a pill or drank too much, or anything. When God wants a little baby to be born nothing can stop God from creating the little life. And when God sees the stupid things that Man has done to try and stop His Creativity then Man should expect that HE and his Spouse will be affected. Now if Jesus Christ had thought that MARRIAGE was right and Just between a MAN and another Man or a Woman and another Woman, would you not think that HE would have said so when HE was present on this earth? I believe in God and I also believe in a forgiving God, which is why I can write to you on this subject. Jesus made Marriage a Sacrament between a MAN and a WOMAN. He raised it to the height of a SACRAMENT. If Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and the person who made the thing up about the new ordinances about the HEALTHcare LAW, if they really knew about their Holy Catholic Church, they could NOT and would not think that this was right!

  • Dorothy

    So here’s what Mr. Ruse would have us believe: Opposite-sex marriage (OSM), in its current incarnation in many parts of the world, is conjugal, not revisionist. And same-sex marriage (SSM), wherever it is practiced, is revisionist and not conjugal. Let’s unpack that a bit.

    Here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition of “conjugal:” of or relating to the married state or to married persons and their relations. From Latin conjungere, to join, unite in marriage.

    Ironically, it appears that Mr. George and his associates would like us to buy a revisionist definition of “conjugal,” one that appropriates the term for opposite-sex couples while denying it to same-sex ones. Do we have to remind Mr. George and Mr. Ruse (again!) that marriage between homosexual couples is a fait accompli in about a dozen countries and in as many U.S. states? In those jurisdictions, the definition of “marriage” has expanded, and with it the definition of “conjugal.” The horses are out of the barn. The gin has already gone into the tonic. The train has left the station. Canada, France, the U.K., Argentina, Spain, and the Netherlands, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington State are highly unlikely to reverse course on this issue.

    And since when is the term “revision” so negatively loaded? Editors “revise” documents with the aim of improving them, not compromising them. George claims that the revisionist view “weakens the rational foundation of stabilizing marital norms on which social order depends: norms such as permanence, exclusivity, monogamy.” Weakens? Why not “strengthens?” Do we detect a bias here? What is his basis for claiming that same-sex unions are not just as “permanent, exclusive, and monogamous” as opposite-sex ones? With divorce rates at around 50% in the U.S., heterosexuals have not set the bar very high. And what if SSMs proved to be more permanent, exclusive, and monogamous than OSMs? Would either Mr. Ruse or Mr. George renounce OSM as an institution?

    But even assuming that the word has purely negative connotations, is anyone trying to “revise” or downgrade the meaning of Mr. Ruse’s marriage or Mr. George’s? An even more pertinent question is whether the marriage template that they consider normative is not itself also a revision of earlier ones. And a quick scan of the history of marriage tells us that it is. That history is so well-known by now that it doesn’t bear repeating here.

    If Messrs Ruse and George are trying to build a foundation for their argument, they have mixed bubble-wrap in with the sand. But let’s go on.

    Assuming that SSM is indeed revisionist and that revisionism is “bad” in a world resistant to change of any kind, is it fair to describe the “revisionist” understanding of marriage as “essentially an emotional union, accompanied by any consensual activity?” Reducing all the variety and richness of marriage to a single one of its elements is a gratuitous insult to same-sex married couples the world over. And the characterization is patently false, all the more so because it appends the phrase, “accompanied by any consensual activity.” “Any??” Is George suggesting that “revisionist” ideas of marriage allow ANY consensual activity whatsoever? This is the old slippery-slope scare coded into the phrase with a single three-letter word. But the U.S. Supreme Court is deliberating on SSM, not on incestuous marriage or polyandry or marriage with one’s most cherished farm animal. Hopefully, the Supremes will recognize this for the red herring that it is.

    George’s panegyric to marriage (4th paragraph) would describe an SSM very well except for the part about “making new life,” which is pivotal to the Catholic concept. However, he stops short of asserting that marriage should be unavailable to those who cannot or choose not to procreate, though the Church itself requires that there be some “openness” to the possibility of procreation. George’s slight but significant pull-back from Catholic teaching on this point may be a sign of realism on his part: he knows that any argument based explicitly and overtly on Catholic doctrine will be shot down in the SCOTUS. The problem for his modified position (i.e., allowing for the possibility of non-procreative marriage) may open the door to non-procreative marriage between homosexuals, at least from the Court’s point of view. Only by keeping procreation in the equation can George argue against SSM, but in doing so, he limits his audience to fellow conservative Catholics. In other words, he has set up a no-win situation.

    Ruse acts as though he hasn’t understood what George just said, for he adds: “Such a comprehensive view of marriage is still available to sterile couples but not for homosexuals.” Or maybe he thought he needed to firm it up a bit. George’s reasoning doesn’t justify such a conclusion, and Ruse doesn’t explain what he means. SCOTUS would certainly want to know. Such a gaping hole in the argument could sink the case for SSM opponents.

    The rest of Ruse’s article is plagued by the same sorts of circular reasoning, false premises, semantic slights of hand, and logical gaps. If either Mr. Ruse or Mr. George imagines they have something to contribute to the defense of DOMA or Proposition 8, would somebody kindly inform them that they’re nowhere ready for prime time. If the SCOTUS judges are half as astute as Judge Roy Walker (whose court overturned Proposition 8), gays and lesbians have nothing to fear.

    • Austin Ruse

      I commend to you the entire brief by George et al. I have certainly done it a disservice. I commend also their book length treatment in What is Marriage.

      Their central question is just that. What is marriage? So, I ask you, Dorothy, what is marriage?

      • Dorothy

        Mr. Ruse, when the Netherlands legalized same-sex marriage in December 2000, they just altered a single sentence in the existing civil marriage statute, which now reads, “A marriage can be contracted by two people of different or the same sex.” So, to answer your question, marriage is what the statutes say it is. In Mississippi, they say it is contracted only by two people of different sex. In Washington state, it is contracted by two people of different or the same sex.

        • Austin Ruse

          Your definition of marriage is whatever the state says it is? So you would be fine if the state legalized incestuous relationships? Polyandry? Man and horse? Antying the state says? Really?

  • Where are the briefs? We can read and judgment them by ourselves.

  • Nickie

    This article was a fantastic read. It is true that no one will know where the marriage rights will go with the court, however, the bible can be interpreted in many different ways. God loves every human being, and that is extremely clear. God loves all of his children and wants happiness for them. Gays and Lesbians have a right to be married so they can fulfill a happy life. Having this said, making gay marriage legal would not end any kind of marriage culture in the U.S.

  • JeffreyRO55

    The religionists will not prevail, as our government is not set up to care one way or the other about what religionists want. All citizens must be treated equally, lacking a rational public purpose to do otherwise. But I do enjoy the black eye the Catholics are getting with this issue!

  • lady_my

    Regardless of the polls, it is entirely up to the people to decide whether gay marriage should be legal. America was founded upon Christianity. Although many people are becoming more accepting to same sex relationships, there are still a large amount of Americans who uphold America’s founding religion and its disapproval against same sex relationships/marriages. Because America was founded upon Christianity, its view on gay marriage should remain the same. Same sex marriage should NOT be legal.