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Jennifer Roback Morse: The “unintended consequences” of gay marriage in Washington D.C.

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Via Julie Ponzi, we get Jennifer Roback Morse lamenting the “consequences” of the new gay marriage law in Washington D.C. Apparently one of those consequences is that some people don’t like the new law:

In DC, the Catholic Archdiocese discontinued offering health care benefits to spouses.Why? Because the Church does not recognize same sex unions as “marriages,” even though the DC City Council insists that they are. So, to keep from running afoul of the same sex “marriage” law, they will discontinue health benefits for spouses of newly employed workers.

Conform to the new regime. Or else.

It’s a shame that the Archdiocese decided to make a scorched-earth response to the law. But that’s the Archdiocese’s choice, and if Catholic officials believe that’s in keeping with their theology — well, who am I to argue?

But the fact that some institutions will take extraordinary steps to avoid coming under the law isn’t really an argument for or against the soundness of the law itself. When desegregation started really making waves throughout the South, many parents pulled their kids out of public schools and put them into private schools. It was widespread — and remains so, to some extent, today. Yet to argue that private efforts to avoid desegregation require the government to actually enforce segregation would be regarded as laughable. Similarly, there’s a few people who think that income taxes should be abolished — but almost nobody argues that taxes should be abolished because some people hire accountants to find loopholes in the code.

Finally, there’s no “or else” here that isn’t part of, oh, every law ever passed. It’s silly to pretend there’s something extra tyrannical about recognizing gay marriages.

On to Morse’s other “consequence”:

The marriage licenses in DC no longer say “bride” and “groom.”

Check it out: people are “legally married.” No one has the “status” of bride or groom, husband or wife. The natural concepts of husband and wife have been replaced with a purely legal concept. Thus does the state shove civil society aside.

Thus do certain conservatives require the state to be in the business of sacralizing their marriages. But that’s not what the state is for, is it? Churches and synagogues and mosques can offer a blessing upon a marriage — and they’re certainly not being required to bless same-sex marriages, even under the new law. All the state does is provide recognition of marriage and certain legal rights that go with it.

Weirdly, the rise of gay marriage is likely to brighten the lines between state-sanctioned marriage and religiously sanctioned marriage, pointing up the limits of the state in creating our society. It’s a notion that’s almost … conservative.

But the lack of “bride” and “groom” on the new marriage licenses is a bit of bureaucratic mehness that means far less than what Morse thinks it does. Very few people — if any — will be paying attention to the language on those licenses; very few people — if any — will let it influence their linguistic choices at church weddings. There will still be brides and grooms and husbands and wives … and they’ll be joined by brides and brides and husbands and husbands. The checklist on the local government’s application sheet really won’t change that. The idea that “civil society is being swept aside” is more than a little ridiculous.

And in any case: If these are the worst “consequences” of gay marriage that Morse can come up with on the first day of the new law, I’d say straights-only marriage proponents have a thinner case than we even thought.

  1. KhabaLox Says: Mar 3 5:39 PM

    Perhaps I should click through and read the whole thing, or watch the video, but the quotes you chose are so laughable that I don’t think I’ll waste my time.

    “The natural concepts of husband and wife have been replaced with a purely legal concept.”

    Marriage is not a natural concept. Monogamy may be, but not marriage. Marriage is an artifact of culture, which is why different cultures have different ideas about marriage. Some cultures’ idea of marriage include polygamy, and that is just as Natural (with a capital ‘N’) an idea as monogamy (see: the vast majority of mammalian species).

    *sits back and waits for Wrymouth’s counter-argument*

    Captcha: bowie? where?

  2. Steve Says: Mar 3 8:21 PM

    Spot on, Jennifer. I think the really golden part of this post is:

    “Finally, there’s no “or else” here that isn’t part of, oh, every law ever passed. It’s silly to pretend there’s something extra tyrannical about recognizing gay marriages.”

    Thank you, someone, for finally pointing out that gay marriage only applies to religions in as much as any other law on the books, ever, applies to religions. As if Catholics don’t already freely act as if re-married couples aren’t married without a single social consequence – and as if they don’t pay for those couples health care, despite the fact that their marriages don’t meet the Catholic criteria.

    The only impact that the Catholic church’s abandonment of foster children and the spouses of their employees will be to marginalize the church and make it seem colder and more indifferent to the struggles of ordinary people. Other charities will gladly take the contracts, and are doing so already. And those other charities will be glad to provide healthcare to their workers’ spouses, I’m sure. Go ahead, guys, shut yourselves off from society. You’re only shooting yourselves in the foot.

  3. shadow_man Says: Mar 3 9:25 PM

    Homosexuality is not a sin according to the Bible. Any educated Christian would know that. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, prostitution, and rape, not homosexuality.

    Thats why Jesus never mentions it as well. There is nothing immoral, wrong, or sinful about being gay. Jesus, however, clearly states he HATES hypocrites. If you preach goodness, then promote hate and twist the words of the Bible, you are a hypocrite, and will be judged and sent to hell. Homosexuals will not go to hell, hypocrites will.

    This is very similar to the religious bigots of the past, where they took Bible passages to condone slavery, keep women down, and used Bible passages to claim blacks as curses who should be enslaved by the white man. People used God to claim that blacks marrying whites was unnatural, and not of God’s will.

  4. chicagotist Says: Mar 3 9:27 PM

    Reality is that DC Archdiocese could have taken the step in the opposite direction as well, as has been done by a number of Catholic orgs, foremost among them colleges, and the Archdiocese of San Francisco – take away the spousal benefits, but allow for the employee to designate any one individual to receive (what was known before as the spousal) benefits. This point was made quite well by the US Catholic:

  5. Bill Says: Mar 4 3:44 PM

    Jennifer Roback Morse defends an institution guilty of the rape and molestation of thousands of children by ‘men of god.’

    And goes further in trying to claim victimhood for her loss of rights to treat other human beings badly and unfairly via the law.

    Way to go, Jennifer Roback Morse. Morality indeed, bozo.

  6. Bill Says: Mar 4 4:02 PM

    Also, is this the Catholic Church that Jennifer Roback Morse defends????? Really?????

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