PROMOTING “JUSTICE”–the tricky balance between COMPROMISE and COLLABORATION in the Marriage issue…

Rita and John's Marriage Certificate
Rita and John’s Marriage Certificate (Photo credit: mary hodder)

I want to be clear as fine crystal on something to all who read this page or my blog–I am not “promoting” same-sex “marriage. I have been, in my life, all over the map on this issue, both before and after returning to Catholicism, and only lately have I realized what has bothered me about both views. I think what I am “for” is protection against injustice. Period.

As to the marriage issue, I would personally have been far more comfortable with some type of “reciprocal benefits” afforded to same-gender couples without bringing marriage into the equation at all. Or, as some have suggested, simply making all marriages “civil” only, and then allowing the individuals involved to decide on whether or not to have them blessed by someone of their religious affiliation or not.

But, as one of my Facebook friends said to me the other day, what would have been required for that to occur was an unprecedented collaboration from what are obviously polar opposite viewpoints, and like it or not, I think in reality we were at a juncture this week where that was not going to happen, at least not here in sunny Minnesota.

So then one must begin to look at the next best option, prays, and hopes for the best solutions for all concerned. And I for one believe we have been fighting this battle so hard and long that I fear the repercussions from the alienation, whether intentional or not, that is currently felt by the SSA/LGBT communities from most organized religion, and in particular my own Catholic Faith. And that too is an occasion for sin, and can become a stumbling block towards the faith and even salvation of others very fast.

So I would just say I am cautiously optimistic here. MN has very possibly set some examples on how the work can be respectfully done, just for one example by inserting the word “civil” in front of the word marriage on the bill, a last-minute suggestion incidentally by a Republican State House member. I think that points towards the idea I pointed out at the beginning regarding separating the religious from the legal aspects of adult commitments to other people, whether traditional marriage or other. Perhaps others dealing with this issue will consider this same idea as well in the future.

I know that some are deeply concerned, and I am as well, that the more “traditional” religious side may not be protected enough in the bill as it currently stands, and I echo that concern. But that is now what we need to work on. The marriage issue, at least for MN, is all but settled. How we live with it becomes the next mammoth question.

Another FB friend suggested to me that he had no problem accepting LGBT persons (and I believe him), but he was not going to call such unions “marriage” since they are not. I truly understand his point, but would only say that semantics are not the main issue here. From pretty much every LGBT person I have spoken with, I think that the word “marriage” has become very important to them primarily due to the fact that civil unions (at least as they have been passed thus far in other states), have not in fact given the same rights and protections as those in traditional wedded relationships.

Now one can argue that point until the cows come home and go back to the barn, but like it or not that is the thinking which exists, and passing a “civil union” which is for “those other folks” while reserving the rights of a “real” marriage only for heterosexuals does create a certain status of “separate but not quite equal,” and in a year or two both opposing groups would be at this same battle all over again–and again. So I am not, personally speaking, sure that is the answer either.

That same person suggested that pretty much everyone already “accepts” LGBT people–not true, sadly. I wish it were. I am old enough to remember a time when, in the small rural area of “Minnesota nice” where I grew up, a 17-year-old young high schooler was supposedly drunk, fell in front of an oncoming car, and was driven over by (I believe) two cars before being finally pulled off the road, dead and bloodily so.  What really may have occurred was far more sinister if true. It had been rumored that this young man was “one of those types,” and was apparently beaten in a corn field and then thrown on the road for it.

The saddest part is, we will never know for sure which happened. Most involved, both on the law enforcement side and the possible perpetrators, have since passed on and it is difficult if not impossible to get concrete evidence in such a case 55 years later.  But I am 57 and it was in my lifetime. Yet no one–and I mean no one–ever spoke of it all the years I was growing up.  I learned of it less than a decade ago. And I for one do not want the world to go back to that kind of “silence is not-so-golden” world either. It was horrible injustices such as that which caused the LGBT rights movement to begin initially, as I shared in the last post, and that too is every bit as non-negotiable in Catholic teaching as the very complex marriage issue.  The Catechism states that “every hint of” unjust discrimination towards those with SSA issues is to be avoided.

That is a strong statement. It means not to even allow anything resembling discrimination to exist if at all possible. I have heard some take that same phrase and say “see it says we can discriminate as long as it is not unjust.” A fair reading will quickly show that was not ever the point. The point was and is to stay as far from, not see how close one can get to, discrimination against those with homosexual tendencies and behavior, whether one agrees with it or not.

So to me it is about rights and justice. And they must exist for both those of us who favor and support traditional marriage, which we as Catholic Christians view as a holy sacrament ordained by God, and those who see it purely from a secular viewpoint. Both need to be protected. I just pray that we can, now that it is here, learn to very honestly “collaborate.” If we do not, we all lose. Soon.


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