As a person and as a priest I place very great value on the importance of marriage and family. I have deeply and personally experienced the monumental importance of family support and encouragement, and of the companionship and the bond of caring of those I love and who love me. It is a precious gift we need to protect, value and support.
I have noted that these selfsame values are present and operative in families headed by widowed or divorced persons, by grandparent; by siblings raising younger brothers and sisters, and by foster parents. There does not seem to be any negative correlations when the family relationships are constituted differently from the stereotypic norm.
That is why I really do not understand those who claim to “protect” the concept and value marriage and family by denying that benefit to those among us whose difference happen to be affectional preference. There is a great value to our culture in terms of emotional stability, health and economics for people in long term committed monogamous relationships. In my work as a pastor I have noted no difference between the marriages of same sex or heterosexual couples. If you or I do not happen to believe in same sex relationships then we simply do not need to involve ourselves in one.
We protect nothing of value in denying to others the very things we claim to value and from which we derive great benefit. When we deny marriage to other couples we protect nothing greater than our fear of difference. Most of us have come to know those who are attracted to members of the same sex. They are family members, neighbors, friends, co-workers and our bosses. In a few short decades we have gone from not speaking about it at all (and consigning a significant portion of the population to live in a way that is pretending by denying who they truly are) to recognizing it is similar to being blue eyed or left handed. Affectional preference is a matter of how we were created not of our own choices
At age 68 I cannot recall ever making the specific decision that I was going to be heterosexual. So on what basis would I assume that it is a choice that another would make to be homosexual? The only explanation for making that assumption might be fear or ignorance.
The bottom line for me is in the question how can encouraging more love, commitment, and caring devalue marriage? Forcing people to live and love in the shadows is more destructive of lives and consequently the fabric of society! With the current divorce rate of heterosexual couples running somewhere around 50% can we really make any solid case that a good marriage can only happen between a man and a woman?
The State legislature in Indiana will be debating a constitutional amendment that would prohibit any recognition of same sex relationships – even those performed in states which have allowed them . Colleges, unions, businesses and several cities and towns have gone on record opposing this amendment as regressive and ill considered for this state and its people.
I stand with our Bishop, religous leaders across the state and the united states, and with many other voices that say we have much more important issues with which we need to deal. We need to get on with the work of enhancing life for all of our brothers and sisters in this state, nation and world. Let us work toward positives, not toward negatives or the denial of life-giving relationships for all of God’s people. Affirming the right of people to make a loving and legal commitment to another whom they love is the humane and human response. And we need to communicate to legislators that this is not up for more delay, and discussion to make temporary political points – it is time to show that we value marriage and family by encouraging others to create marriage and family commitments. And take on the responsibilities that go with it.
And we may find that they who have been seeking it actually value it more that we who already have the privilege.