As we celebrate Independence Day in the United States, I thought it was a good time to think about freedom in general, and to some extent, that precious gift from God, Free Will.
Lately there has been a lot of division in this country over what many believe to be equal protection rights, specifically gay marriage. I hadn’t planned on writing about gay marriage on the 4th of July, but sometimes we don’t get to choose what happens to us, or what stories we tell. Sometimes, stories write themselves. Truths write themselves.
We all know what our beloved Church says about gay marriage. Marriage is a Sacrament instituted by God between a man and woman. Period. End of discussion.
However, we also must remember what the Church says about how we are to treat our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters – With dignity, with love, with compassion, with acceptance, with welcoming arms. It’s called RESPECT of the HUMAN PERSON!
Science has shown that being gay is not something people choose. It is not an exercise of Free Will to be gay. While studies are ongoing to determine if homosexuality is genetically coded, like my blue eyes or your blonde hair, or a neurobiological process that is present at birth, some of the world’s most brilliant minds agree that being gay is not a choice. And if it is not a choice, it is not subject to Free Will.
In fact, the Catechism (1734) teaches us that “freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary.” Interesting. If it isn’t voluntary, is it sin?
I maintain that marriage truly is a Sacrament, and I subscribe to the Church’s teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman. But also I think that gay couples committed to one another as strongly as I am committed to my husband should receive the same legal partnership rights that I have based on what has become the legal construct of marriage. You see, that’s the real problem. Marriage isn’t a legal construct. The legal construct is a domestic partnership and the rights conferred to that partnership, such as tax benefits, health benefits, the right to make decisions about the healthcare and final disposition of the partners, etc, should not come from the Sacrament of Marriage, but rather from the civil law of domestic partnership – for EVERYONE, gay or straight.
In other words, I don’t think the state should be in the business of defining or licensing marriage – for ANYONE. We wouldn’t delegate to the State the right to license First Communions, or tell us when or if we could be baptized. In fact, we’d be outraged if the government tried to tell us anything about our practice of our faith. Why would we delegate to them the right to regulate our Marriages? And by passing state laws that define marriage, or restrict marriage or even openly grant marriage, we are giving the government authority over the Sacraments.
The Sacraments should be left to the Church. Government, on the other hand, has the right, no the duty, to ensure that all people are treated equitably. Laws that discriminate against domestic partners, in legal matters related to the domestic partnership, regardless of gender, should be struck down and replaced with laws that grant equal treatment to all.
That is freedom.