Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NY marriage equality: A tale of two bishops

Do you remember the prompts from school writing assignments, asking you to "compare and contrast"? Here's one for you. As a vote for marriage equality comes up in the New York State House, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York and the Episcopal Bishop of Long Island have both put out statements:

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, manages to offend nearly everyone as he writes in his blog ,
we are living in New York, in the United States of America – not in China or North Korea. In those countries, government presumes daily to “redefine” rights, relationships, values, and natural law. There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of “family” and “marriage” means.

But, please, not here! Our country’s founding principles speak of rights given by God, not invented by government, and certain noble values – life, home, family, marriage, children, faith – that are protected, not re-defined, by a state presuming omnipotence.

Please, not here! We cherish true freedom, not as the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought; we acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a “right.” And, what about other rights, like that of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and a dad?

Our beliefs should not be viewed as discrimination against homosexual people. …
Well, Archbishop, us homosexual people sure perceive it that way, as you attack our families.
Yes, I admit, I come at this as a believer, who, along with other citizens of a diversity of creeds believe that God, not Albany, has settled the definition of marriage a long time ago. We believers worry not only about what this new intrusion will do to our common good, but also that we will be coerced to violate our deepest beliefs to accommodate the newest state decree. (If you think this paranoia, just ask believers in Canada and England what’s going on there to justify our apprehensions.)
Note how Archbishop Dolan presumes to speak for all believers. In a previous entry, he even brought up the Slippery Slope argument, waving the flag of fear by saying, If the definition of marriage is continually being altered, could it not in the future be morphed again to include multiple spouses or even family members?

The Episcopal Bishop of Long Island, Larry Provenzano, writes, in a very different tone,
Our faith traditions teach us that all people are children of God, deserving of love, dignity and equal treatment, and we, the undersigned therefore believe that gay and lesbian New Yorkers in committed, loving relationships should be able to protect each other with the critical safety-net provided by civil marriage. The performing of marriage ceremonies is one of the most important facets of our work as ministers and rabbis. We take this work extremely seriously and are grateful to have “the power vested in us” by the State of New York as we bring couples together in marriage through our civil and religious laws.

While we recognize and respect that not all faiths support marriage equality, it is important to note that the legislation in its current form states that no clergy, house of worship or denomination would be forced to perform same-sex marriages. Moreover, current New York State law already provides extremely broad protections for religious organizations that do not wish to make their facilities available to same-sex couples for marriage ceremonies, receptions or other functions. Those protections would be unchanged under the proposed legislation.

It would be a blessing if New York were to allow loving, committed gay and lesbian couples to be married. We call on the Legislature to pass this legislation for the good of these couples and for the good of our great State.
Good on you, Bishop. I hope your words are heard as you welcome all.

Now students, here they are: two princes of their churches, each tracing his ordination back through the centuries to St Peter. Now write your essay.


Grandmère Mimi said...

Well done, IT.

We cherish true freedom....

Abp. Dolan, you made laugh with that one.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Daily I become more amazed that we and them are emerging from a very thick fog-- I think *things* will clear for everyone sooner rather than later-- yep, there you are and here we are-- no surprise, not really.

JCF said...

"Freedom" as "freedom to do what I tell you to do": what every totalitarian has said! Dolan has his reward...

Good on ya, Bishop Provenzano! Bless!

IT said...

A great commentary in the New Yorker takes on the illogical "children deserve a mother and a father" meme
how about children adopted by gay parents—does he believe that their rights would be protected by lingering in foster care, bounced from non-home to non-home? Would he prefer that those born to gay or lesbian parents had never existed? If so, that is a pretty tangled position for a Catholic (or even for a writer of North Korean communiqués).

Does he think that children should be taken away from gay parents (or single widowed parents, for that matter) who have loved them all their lives to be given to any heterosexual, or even just heterogeneous, couple? And even if he agrees with all of that, what on earth does it have to do with same-sex marriage?

Allowing two people who love each other to marry will not stop people who don’t love each other from separating, or from getting married in the first place. Neither marriage nor love is a scarce resource. And yet Dolan talks as though there were thieves in his house.

If one’s only interest in all this is the rights of children, then gay marriage is really an imperative. (There are other factors, too, of course, that don’t depend on children: respect, fairness, kindness.) Marriage can protect children—legally, financially, socially—and same-sex marriage will give more parents more ways to protect more children. Making that possible is surely the right thing to do.