An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage: Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and Public Expressions of Civic Inequality
Rubio, Julie Hanlon, Theological Studies
AN ARGUMENT FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, SEXUAL FREEDOM, AND PUBLIC EXPRESSIONS OF CIVIC INEQUALITY. By Emily R. Gill. Religion and Politics Series. Washington: Georgetown, 2012. Pp x + 276. $29.95.
Political science professor Emily Gill raises important questions for Catholics who struggle with the question of how to respond to the growing movement to legalize same-sex marriage. The book could not be more timely, as the US Supreme Court decisions in June to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and to decline to interfere with California's same-sex marriage laws have opened the door for greater public recognition of same-sex couples. Comments by Pope Francis in an interview with reporters in July also raise questions about how central the fight against same-sex marriage will be in his papacy. In this context, many Catholics will want to consider carefully G.'s claim that treating citizens equally means granting access to civil marriage to all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Catholic arguments against same-sex marriage are best summarized in the 2003 document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: (a) The church's teaching about marriage is "evident to right reason" (2). (b) "Homosexual unions" are not "in any way similar or even remotely analogous" to heterosexual marriage" (4). (c) The redefinition of marriage would harm the common good and is not justified on grounds of nondiscrimination or autonomy (8). (d) Same-sex unions are not of interest to the state because they do not "ensure the succession of generations" (9).
G.'s examination of same-sex marriage through the lens of the religion clauses of the First Amendment raises questions about all these points. For G., marriage is an institution that has changed and developed over time, about which we have ongoing arguments (14-25). Its core is intimate relationship, and this is what all couples who want to marry seek. Sexual orientation, like religion, is an essential part of human identity that shapes how one approaches the good of intimate relationship. Thus "denial of marriage to same-sex couples is equivalent to a denial of their free exercise of religion" (3). If the state limits civil marriage to heterosexual couples, it effectively establishes a sectarian religious view (110). Unless same-sex couples have the same right to marry as heterosexual couples, their autonomy is violated (239).
G. recognizes that no solution, including hers, is completely neutral. …