Saturday, July 13, 2013

What Next in the Marriage Debate?

Gay Marriage

A couple of months back, I received a phone call from one of my sisters, reminding me of a wedding reception that she and everyone else in the family would be flying down to Florida to attend. A nephew had just gotten married in New York, and everyone was eager to celebrate the union. Was I planning to go, she asked? The question was slyly rhetorical, as we both knew, since the answer was obviously no. And not because the cost of an airline ticket was too high, or that I’d sadly made other plans for that weekend. There was nothing Aesopian about my refusal. It was simply because I could not think of anything the least bit celebratory about the marriage of two men.
Nor was it, come to think of it, even a marriage—a point I did not raise with my sister, then or later, as she was already wearily aware of my reactionary views on the subject; we’d been rehearsing them for years and years. She and I are at a complete impasse on the issue and so more and more it simply doesn’t come up.

But, of course, the damn thing just won’t go away, will it? As witness, for instance, the latest thunderbolt from the Supreme Court effectively announcing the legalization of same-sex marriage. Thanks to two landmark rulings last month (June 27), the defense of marriage looks to have been completely shot to pieces. Who’s going to resurrect the institution of traditional marriage now? The Republicans? As an old Jesuit I once knew used to say, “It’s going to get worse before it gets a lot worse.”

Not since the late 1960s, in fact, when acquiescence to the idea of amiable co-existence with the Communist world became a welcome and widespread development among Americans have we witnessed a movement of comparable success in achieving wide cultural and political acceptance. If anything, the mainstreaming of the gay rights movement has been at an even faster and more far-reaching clip than anything we’ve ever seen. Not only are we expected nowadays to ratify the right of homosexuals to marry and, yes, to have and to raise children; but to rejoice in the fact that they are finally free to do so. Who could have predicted a triumph as total as this one appears to be?
So the cause is lost and we all need to come to terms with the new dispensation—is that what I’m saying? (Do I FedEx the wedding present to my nephew now?)

 No, it is not. Indeed, the cause is most emphatically not lost. And anyone who hasn’t got a death wish needs to take up arms and get in the fight.


  1. Professor Martin talks about genitals but is to squeamish to say what he means: penis fits vagina. But unless he's willing to say this out loud he has no argument. Penis also fits mouth and anus, as lots of heterosexuals know. Why then is the penis only for the vagina? Professor Martin doesn't say.

    1. Does Prof. Martin think that the wedding of his nephew undermines his own marriage? Does he feel threatened by the happiness of a gay nephew?

      Prof. Martin declined even to attend the reception of his nephew. Catholic teaching does not ask for this level of rejection of homosexual unions. Not attending the wedding, that's understandable, but to not attend the reception?

      In any case, he's now an old man and he admits he doesn't represent the future. George Will has said, rightly, that public opposition to gay marriage is "literally dying off." Let Prof. Martin write more useless columns that no one will read. I wish I hadn't bothered.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    Please read Humane Vitae for a reason why:

  3. The argument is certainly lost, at least politically, if this is the answer: read Humane Vitae. Even otherwise solid Catholics don't follow the Church when making decisions about sex. Why is that?