A SELECTION OF RESPONSES to the VATICAN statement of July 31st 2003:
.Vatican Says Lawmakers Have Duty to Oppose
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Friday, August 1, 2003
Members of the gay and lesbian community in Maine said Thursday that they found the announcement of a new, global Vatican campaign against gay marriages disturbing. "I'm a former Catholic and I'm very disappointed in the church," said Maggie Fournier of Portland, who has been with her partner for 31 years. The couple have a 17-year-old daughter. "My relationship with my family is based on love and solid moral values." Kate Perkins, who also lives in Portland, with her partner of seven years and their two children, said that if the pope "is worried about morality, he needs to look inside his own organization. They should spend their time and money worrying about their priest sexual abuse problem, not worrying about what I'm doing in my bedroom." The Rev. Marvin Ellison, a Presbyterian minister who teaches ethics at the Bangor Theological Seminary and has been in a nine-year relationship with his partner, said, "Where I find myself differing sharply with both the president and the Vatican is that supporting same sex relationships is a good thing. It's a good thing not only for those couples but for society at large. The challenge these days is that we all need to learn to live with diversity and many different kinds of families." On Wednesday, President Bush said he supports enacting a law saying that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman. The Vatican announced that it has issued guidelines that have the approval of Pope John Paul II and are designed to fight the increase in laws that extend legal rights to homosexual unions in North America and Europe. The Vatican said support of same-sex unions is "gravely immoral" and called on Catholic politicians and non-Catholics to oppose laws that allow them. Betsy Smith, executive director of the Maine Lesbian Gay Political Alliance, characterised the Vatican's actions as "typical backlash" to the recent gains that gays and lesbians have made. "When the Vatican launches a global campaign, it shows me we are making progress toward full equality," she said. Smith said the church should not be trying to play a role in civil unions between same-sex couples. "The conversation shouldn't even be around one's religious beliefs, because we're talking about a contract between two people and the state," she said. However, Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, said politicians should think of homosexuality and same-sex unions in a religious light and not "as something that excludes Christianity and morality." Heath said his non-Catholic, conservative Christian group applauds the Vatican's stance. "We think this is outstanding," he said. Peter O'Donnell, a Portland city councillor who is gay and was raised Catholic, accused the church of trying to "threaten me as an elected Catholic official." He said the church should spend its time resolving its sexual abuse scandals instead of "telling us we should go after the relationships of people who love each other." The Vatican also said gay couples shouldn't be allowed to adopt children because not having a mother or a father obstructs their development. But Perkins said that "children raised with loving parents do well. It is not the gender of the parents that matters." And she said the gay and lesbian parents she knows typically work harder than do many single mothers and fathers to ensure that their children have adult role models of the opposite sex in their lives. Fournier, who said she and her partner would get married "in a heartbeat" if they could, said that "whether their parents are gay or straight, it's in the child's best interest for their parents to be married."
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Casper Star Tribune 8/1/03
DENVER (AP) - Many Colorado lawmakers, including Gov. Bill Owens, are ignoring the Vatican's call to fight the legalization of gay marriages. ''On this issue of same-sex marriage, I have long believed that the formal institution of marriage should be reserved for a man and woman,'' said Owens, a Roman Catholic. ''However, I also agree with John Kennedy that the Vatican should not be attempting to direct politicians on how to vote on any issue.'' The 12-page set of guidelines issued Thursday instructs Roman Catholic politicians to vote against measures that would recognize gay marriage and to repeal laws already in existence. The documents says such laws would be ''gravely immoral''. U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan, was the only Colorado politician contacted who praised the Vatican's directive. ''I agree with this policy by the Vatican that marriage needs to be defined as a union between a man and woman. So do the American people,'' said Musgrave, the main sponsor of a proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to say that marriage in the United States ''shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.'' She is not Catholic. Democratic state Sen. Jennifer Veiga disagreed. ''The Vatican should stay out of it, and Marilyn Musgrave should stay out of it, too,'' said Veiga, a Catholic. Colorado, along with the majority of states, has a law that affirms marriage is between a man and a woman. Denver has a domestic-partnership registry that Veiga said is largely symbolic for many gay couples, but can help them in getting employment benefits for their partners. Representatives for U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard and U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley, both Republicans, said they oppose gay marriage but would not comment on the Vatican's directive. U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, said she would ignore it. ''As a strong believer in the separation of church and state, it is not appropriate for me as an elected official to comment on the policy announcements of a religious leader,'' said DeGette. A spokesman for Rep. Mark Udall, D-Boulder, said Udall respects the pope's opinion but he thinks that the Constitution, not religious doctrine, should determine how the government recognizes same-sex unions. The state Senate's assistant minority leader, Ken Gordon, D-Denver, said: ''The Vatican does not need our help in setting policy for the Roman Catholic Church, and we don't need the Vatican's help in setting policy for Colorado.'' This is not the first time Owens, a Republican, has disagreed wit the Vatican. He supports the death penalty, which the Roman Catholic Church opposes. AP-WS-08-01-03 0554EDT
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Vatican warns on same-sex marriage
The Vatican yesterday declared that same-sex marriages ''go against natural moral law'' and decreed that for a Catholic politician to support gay marriage would be ''gravely immoral.'' The document, which was approved by Pope John Paul II, also vehemently objected to the adoption of children by gays and lesbians, saying that ''allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development.'' The Vatican said it released the document, titled ''Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons,'' to help bishops articulate the church's teaching and in an attempt to direct the political behaviour of Catholic lawmakers. ''There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family,'' declares the Vatican document, which cites human biology, the Bible, and centuries of Catholic teaching as justification for its position. ''Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law.'' The document, from the world's largest religious denomination, comes as acceptance of same-sex relationships appears to be growing in the developed world. The Netherlands and Belgium have legalised gay marriage and Canada appears poised to do so after courts in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia allowed same-sex marriages. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is now weighing a case in which seven gay couples are asking to be granted marriage licenses here. And several countries, including Germany, France, Sweden, and Denmark, have laws recognizing civil unions of same-sex couples, as does the state of Vermont. The US Supreme Court in June overturned antisodomy laws, citing sexual privacy rights. But public opinion polling on the question of gay marriage has been conflicting. A nationwide survey released last month by the Pew Research Centre and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found opposition to gay marriage has declined significantly since the mid-1990s, to 53 percent from 65 percent. A Gallup poll conducted in July, however, found support for legalised gay unions at its lowest point in four years. On Wednesday, President Bush stepped into the fray, declaring, ''I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and I believe we ought to codify that one way or the other, and we have lawyers looking at the best way to do that.'' Bush's predecessor, President Bill Clinton, in 1996 signed the Defence of Marriage Act barring federal recognition of gay marriage, but some conservatives are now hoping for a constitutional amendment that would strengthen such a ban. An increasing number of liberal religious denominations are permitting clergy to hold religious ceremonies to celebrate gay and lesbian relationships. The Unitarian Universalist Association and Reform Judaism officially sanction same-sex unions, while individual clergy in the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church regularly bless such couples. More than 450 Massachusetts clergy have expressed support for same-sex marriage. But numerous conservative religious denominations, including Islam, Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox Christianity, and Mormonism, as well as the vast family of evangelical Protestant churches, remain staunchly opposed to civil or religious legitimation of same-sex relationships. And the Anglican Communion, the global church represented in the United States by the Episcopal Church, faces a rising risk of schism over differing attitudes toward homosexuality. Today the Episcopal Church USA, gathering at its general convention in Minneapolis, begins a debate over whether to consent to the election of a gay priest, Canon V. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire. Conservative elements of the Anglican Communion, both in the United States and around the world, have warned of a possible split in the denomination if the American church ratifies Robinson's election or approves liturgies to bless same-sex couples. The Vatican document, drafted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declares homosexuality to be a ''troubling moral and social phenomenon.'' The document, which was approved March 28, does not offer new doctrine but rather reiterates the Catholic Church teachings. The document says discrimination against gays and lesbians ''should be avoided,'' but says politicians should be wary of gay-rights measures. The Vatican says that homosexual relationships, because they are not procreative, cannot be justified biologically or anthropologically, and warns that the approval of same-sex marriage would harm society. ''Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage,'' the Vatican declared. The document includes a section directed at Catholic politicians, following up on a document issued in January in which the Vatican told Catholic politicians they should not dissent from church teachings on abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia, and warned that ''a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.'' The January document had no discernible impact on the voting of Catholic politicians in the United States. The document issued yesterday declared that Catholic politicians have an obligation to oppose gay unions and to seek to repeal or limit the effect of laws endorsing gay unions that do win approval. ''When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it,'' the document states. ''To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.'' Stephen J. Pope, a theologian at Boston College, said describing the behaviour of such politicians as ''gravely immoral'' is strong condemnation from the church. '' `Gravely immoral' means that it can never be done under any circumstances, it always offends God in a profound way, and that anyone who thinks it is morally permissible is operating with a malformed conscience,'' Pope said. Papal biographer George Weigel agreed, saying '' `gravely immoral' means just that: for politicians to support same-sex unions is to violate basic norms of justice. This is not a question of tolerance. It's a question of the defence of a basic social institution.'' Weigel said the document is a defence of the traditional understanding of marriage. ''The new document is a defence of . . . what human beings have understood marriage to mean for millennia,'' he said. ''It's also a defence of the idea of marriage as something richer and nobler than a mere contract. If we think of marriage as any possible configuration of consenting adults satisfying their needs, we've emptied marriage of its intrinsic meaning and its social value. And that, the Catholic Church is suggesting, is bad for everybody.'' The document was welcomed by Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. ''Because the human intellect is naturally drawn to the truth, as the human heart is drawn by nature to the good, I am confident that many a careful reader will see the wisdom of what is proposed in this document, including many who may think otherwise at first,'' Gregory said in a statement. Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, who was installed as leader of the Boston archdiocese on Wednesday, did not mention the issue of homosexuality during his initial homily, and declined to comment on the issue yesterday. But in 1999, testifying before the Massachusetts Legislature, he warned that gay parents could ''open the door to polygamy and incest'' and said that ''the church's position is that any tampering with the definition of marriage is dangerous to society.'' Traditionalists hailed the Vatican document, which they hope will bolster their efforts to resist movement toward approval of gay marriage in the United States. ''Because of an aggressive gay-rights movement that seeks to normalize homosexual unions, the Vatican decided the time was ripe to issue a reality check to Catholics,'' said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. But gay Catholics were irate. ''To say that violence will come to children, from a church that protected predators, is such a contradiction,'' said Chuck Colbert, a gay Catholic journalist living in Cambridge. ''And why aren't they singling out single parents, or divorced and remarried parents? This is going to make it really difficult for lesbian and gay Catholics to stay in the church.'' Michael Paulson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 8/1/2003. © Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.