Surrendering the Marriage Fight
Blogged by James Preece on 29th June 2011
Three votes, and now every state in the Union faces the choice of acknowledging gay marriages made in New York, or violating the “full faith and credit” clause of the U.S. Constitution. What is worse, gay marriage in New York was not imposed by judges, as in Massachusetts, but by the free deliberations of a duly elected legislature, in accord with the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. This means that (barring an extremely unlikely constitutional amendment, for which we should fight, of course) gay marriage is here to stay. The institution of marriage — which has been so disfigured by the sexual revolution, and feminism, then the lax divorce laws born of both — now bears no resemblance at all to the natural, sacramental reality that Western laws once were written to acknowledge and support. We really should call it something else. May I suggest “frenemies with benefits”?
What made the victory possible, analysts told the New York Times, were the pitifully tepid efforts of its religious opponents, in particular the local Church. As the Times reported, “It was befuddling to gay-rights advocates: The Catholic Church, arguably the only institution with the authority and reach to derail same-sex marriage, seemed to shrink from the fight.” Instead of pulling out all the stops and calling in all its chips, the Church shrugged off the effort to defend the natural law as a good thing for all New Yorkers — and went scrambling for exemptions to guard its institutional interests. Republicans who were wary of gay marriage spent their political capital not fighting against the bill, but carving out little enclaves of protection for such oddball cults as might not want to solemnize same-sex rites. Indeed, as the Times reported, inserting these exceptions won the bill the votes it needed to pass.
This is exactly what happened in England and Wales over government plans to make sex education compulsory. The Catholic Education Service didn't oppose the bill because they had negotiated some almost meaningless exceptions. We were very lucky to dodge that bill in the 'wash up'.
Once upon a time a Catholic Bishop lost his life defending the sacrament of marriage. Meanwhile, other Bishops somehow found a way to live comfortably with the new regime.
Who knows what's down the road?
I reckon Archbishop Vincent Nichols probably does.