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Freedom. Equality. Tolerance. Pride. These are words that often come to mind when one thinks of America, which has been a leader and champion for human rights. As Americans, we all are given the right of free religious practice. There are over 310 religious and belief systems in America, and, by Constitutional Law, none of them have the power to interfere with state legislation, just as the government cannot control or ban any religion. In this paper, I will discuss the opposing viewpoints on the topic of marriage equality. The Catholic Church believes that homosexual people should not be given the right to marry. On the other side, advocates for marriage equality argue that while the Catholic Church has perfect liberty to believe this, it cannot restrict the legal marriage of homosexuals, which takes place outside of any religious denomination. Marriage is a civil right, and should be granted equally to all people, regardless of sexuality.
The Church’s stance on marriage is that it is “a faithful, exclusive, and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined as husband and wife in an intimate partnership of life and love” (Charron). It is a union “established by God with its own proper laws”, and therefore exists “for the mutual love and support of the spouses and for the procreation and education of children” (Charron). Therefore, Catholic marriage is “more than a contract”; it is a sacrament, and supposedly only heterosexual unions can fulfill this contract by being an image of Christ (Charron).
The Catechism states that sexuality is “not something simply biological” and “concerns the innermost being of the human person”. This contradicts the Church’s teaching of compassion towards all people. Biologically and emotionally, a person cannot change their sexuality. The Catechism goes on to say that homosexual acts “do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity”. How can the Church decide that two people do not genuinely care for each other, simply because they are the same gender? Furthermore, how can love between two homosexual people not be an example of God’s covenant with us, seeing as neither God nor the church has a gender? The Church’s teaching suggests that the love of two homosexual people is less equal and pure than the love of two heterosexual people, no matter the situation.
The church says that marriage is made up of two parts: unitive and procreative. However, the church allows infertile people to marry and have sexual relations, even though they can only fulfill the unitive aspect of Catholic marriage. Geoffrey Stone points out: “If a lesbian had sexual relations with a man, she could be procreative but not unitive, because she couldn’t fully love him. And is she had sex with another woman, she could be unitive in her emotions, but because of her biology, not procreative.” Is it more important to procreate, or to be an example of God’s love? The elderly, the infertile and homosexual people may not be biologically capable of reproduction, but does that mean they should be denied the right to express their love through marriage?
The Church’s position claims to be based on Sacred Scripture, but Bishop John Spong points out that while many Christians and non-Christians “tend to accept uncritically the oft-repeated Evangelical Protestant and Conservative Roman Catholic definitions that the Bible is anti-gay… [if they] were honest, they would have to admit that the Bible is also pro-slavery and anti-women” (Ontario Consultants).
While the Catholic Church is free to restrict marriage within the church as they see fit, they cannot restrict the power of the government to pass laws regarding civil marriage without violating the Constitution. Just as it would violate the wall between church and state if the government imposed their marriage laws on the church, the church cannot impose their beliefs on the American government, which is neutral and advocates no particular religion.
I believe that marriage should be equal and therefore available to all people, regardless of sexual orientation. The United States should recognize same-sex marriage as valid, even though the church may not. By not giving homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals, the United States is indicating that it is partial to a particular religion. This directly violates the First Amendment, which states that “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (Bill of Rights). This is disrespectful to other religions, especially considering that America was founded on the basis of religious tolerance. As Americans, we are given the right to believe and freely practice our own religions, so long as we do not impose them on others or use or beliefs to restrict the rights of others. The Catholic Church may believe homosexuality is wrong, but that is not the issue here. The Catholic Church is not the American government, and as citizens of America, homosexuals have the right to marry regardless of what the church says.



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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

rightbehindyou61 said...
Nov. 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm:
I agree that the LGBT community should be given the same rights as straight people. But I don't understand why you targeted the Catholic Church. There are many other religious groups, Christian and otherwise, that believe homosexuals shouldn't be able to marry. Also, 60% of Catholics believe that gay marriage should be allowed to marry, even though that goes against official Church teaching. There are many groups that are much more homophobic than the Catholic Church, so I think you should have ... (more »)
 
WindDancer replied...
Feb. 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm :
This was written for a religion class at my Catholic high school. I was raised Catholic, so I know more about their beliefs than other groups. I know many Catholics who are supportive of the gay community. I am not trying to blame one specific group, I am only trying to make the situation clearer.
 
rightbehindyou61 replied...
Feb. 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm :
Okay, that makes more sense. Sorry, I have just read too many articles blaming the Catholic Church for all the homophobia. I apologize for jumping to conclusions. Good work! :-)
 
WindDancer replied...
Sept. 22, 2012 at 8:48 am :
I understand. Thank you!
 
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