Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Logical Consistency (Marriage and the State)

Prom night. Feels like an age ago.
Something many people seem to forget is that the Catholic viewpoint is that state marriages don't count - at least the way state marriages are conducted here in canuckistan, where the language is as theologically clean as humanly possible. I've been to enough weddings involving justices of the peace to know that there's an identifiable difference between these and just about any other, Christian-conducted ceremony. As it happens, I personally don't have a problem with state marriages - it's a pretty good way to do interfaith weddings when you stop to think about it, or to marry people with no actual religious views.

If you already consider something invalid, do you really get to put energy into deciding how that invalid thing should be administered? I mean, you've pretty much already declared it to be make-believe.

That's exactly what Catholic Answers, one of the largest catholicism-related websites on the English-speaking internet (mostly due to having captured the Catholic.com domain name) is doing. Recently, they sent around a mass email to all their members (by the way, you can't unsubscribe from their mailing lists or delete old forum accounts) doing precisely that. Entitled "Stop Same-Sex Marriage!", the email goes opens with a bombshell.
This Is OurLast Chance to StopSame-Sex Marriage

Formatting and emphasis is theirs, of course. Not two lines further down is a hyperlink for "mak[ing] a gift... that will help you defend marriage!"

I recognize that the Church teaches a very narrow view of the parameters of marriage for straight couples, never mind unorthodox ones. I also recognize that the general population over at CAF works mostly in conservative or ultra-conservative circles and that rather liberal views about secularization such as my own are alien and, to be fair, completely heterodox.

The fundamental problem seems to be that CAF and its operators can't understand the difference between Church and State, or else don't seem to understand why the separation is important or why it exists. I'll go on to demolishing the email itself in short order, but I've got to address that point first, otherwise there's no point in going forward, because my arguments aren't grounded in theology and a basic understanding of civics is necessary.

In the USA, which is where this email is primarily targeted just by tone and subject, there exists a right to the free exercise of religion. That is true in Canada too and my point stands for both countries. In a country where all religions are to be freely exercised, there cannot be a state faith. There just can't. Strictly speaking, Canada has a state faith - a function of our head of state being the head of the Anglican faith - but that faith does not inform state procedures, laws, regulations, codes, or (except loosely) ceremonies.  It's a cute little window dressing. There's a very good reason for that. As soon as the state acknowledges primacy of one religion over the others, and lets that inform their legal system, freedom of religion slowly begins to erode for other religions. Remember: what is morally just is not always legally just and what is legally forbidden can often be a moral act.

Now, out of the general and into the specifics...

First and foremost, if you basically lead by asking me for money, I'm more inclined to be an antagonist. You could be the Canadian Alzheimer's Society or something and I'd still be inclined to laugh in your face and dispute your statistics... at least until I forgot what I was doing and remembered that you're working on my single most-feared disease. It's rude, it looks greedy, and it's just plain gauche.
"Despite the fact [California Proposition 8] was a constitutional amendment, they got key judges—using tortured legal reasoning—to strike it down as unconstitutional."

This species exhibits
homosexual behaviour
 This is an apples-and-oranges fallacy. Prop 8 was a constitutional amendment to the constitution of the State of California, which was overthrown in US courts (not California Courts) and is undergoing appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States because it's unconstitutional under the federal Constitution, which has primacy in the US. "State's Rights" is really more perfunctory than anything else to my understanding of American law.

"It would be just like in 1973, when Roe v. Wade swept away all state laws protecting unborn children from abortion."

It really wouldn't. I can accept abortion as a moral ill sweeping aside tens of millions of lives as something being easy to oppose but I... just don't see that here. Millions of gay couples suddenly being able to be married gay couples is only going to bolster certain industries, like my own, by providing a new market to tap. It's not like gay couples will break up if they're told they can't get married. That's not really how it works here.

Given the mostly-conservative composition of the court, I can't really see an open field being declared. I just see more of the same "state's rights" declarations.
We’re on Our Own . . . So It’s All Up to Us!
Except for just about every other conservative faith group operating in the USA at the moment.

[Our Amicus brief] focuses on the disastrous effects that imposing same-sex marriage would have on religious liberty in America. Here’s what would happen. . . .
A Nightmare Future
As the brief to the Supreme Court bluntly puts it, anyone who upholds true marriage will be treated like a bigot, regardless of his faith:

“To be a devout Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Muslim, or Orthodox Jew will become the moral equivalent of being a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Furthermore, our brief points out:
“The Court would correspondingly consign traditional religious beliefs regarding marriage and the family to the same circle of constitutional hell as racism and sexism.

“Thus, simply by accepting the principles that their religious groups have publicly supported for thousands of years, tens of millions of religious believers in the United States would be branded as the legal equivalent of racists, a result that will subject believers to such burdens and acrimony that many will be forced to hide their faith.”
Those burdens will be felt in all parts of society.  
 I realize Amicus curiae briefs are rhetorical by their very nature but... really? The moral equivalent of being a member of the Ku Klux Klan? You feel that that is your strongest possible argument?

The argument you took out of your brief as your best fundraiser has no merit. None, whatsoever. I'm not saying that it won't happen - I'm merely saying that it's probably the weakest argument you could make. What if the KKK had made that argument when intermarriage was legalized? "You can't make [moral issue] legal - It'll make us look like idiots!"

The fear-mongering actually gets worse from here. The following section, entitled "How You, Your Children, and Your Granchildren Will Be Punished", basically threatens that gay marriage will be the downfall of Christendom. I'm to get into specifics in a second but... I thought the gates of Hell could never prevail against the Church?
Employers will fire people—or not hire them in the first place—if they speak out in favor of true marriage. (Some are already doing this.)
Fish species, like A Heckelii, don't derive pleasure from
sex. Like true Catholics, they do not exhibit homosexual
 Of course, this would be illegal under employment nondiscrimination laws protecting the exercise of religion, where such laws exist. And you can't have it both ways - if I had a nickel for every time I personally was turned down for a job because I was going to the wrong church according to the management, I could probably buy a single french-fry from MacDonalds.
Lawsuits will be brought against small business owners to compel them to provide services to homosexuals as married couples. (That’s already happening, too.)
 From what little research I could manage to pull reliable results regarding this is mostly happening in states where gay marriage is legal - it's basically forcing small business owners to acknowledge state functions rather than live in an imagined Theocracy.
Public schools will indoctrinate children against the beliefs of their parents—and against the Catholic Faith itself—in a way that dwarfs what’s happening in the school system today.
This is only true if you consider the entire Catholic Faith to be consumed in this sentence "Homosexuality is wrong." I suppose the Apostles Creed doesn't count for much these days.

From there, the email pretty much devolves back into asking for money, and I'd be happy to send it along to anyone else who wants to see it.

Fundamentally, the argument is the same as the argument I used on this post at A Woman's Place to explain why, if you're going to have a draft, you have to draft anyone.

IF the state is going to be conducting marriages, they have to marry everyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment