Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Ronald J. Rychlak

5/2/2008 (6 years ago)

Inside Catholic (www.insidecatholic.com)

Regardless of what it is called, legal sanctioning of homosexual relationships creates a host of unintended consequences and constitutes a serious threat to religious liberty.

In an atmosphere which is becoming increasingly charged and filled with accusations and allegations, little consideration is being given to the legal implications of so called 'same sex' marriage and marriage equivalency laws as they affect the constitutional right to religious freedom.

In an atmosphere which is becoming increasingly charged and filled with accusations and allegations, little consideration is being given to the legal implications of so called "same sex" marriage and marriage equivalency laws as they affect the constitutional right to religious freedom.

Highlights

By Ronald J. Rychlak

Inside Catholic (www.insidecatholic.com)

5/2/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in U.S.


WASHINGTON, DC (Inside Catholic) - America's position on homosexual activity has radically changed over the past few decades.

Fifty years ago, every state criminalized homosexual acts under "sodomy laws." As recently as 1986, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of such laws.

In 2003 there were still 13 states that criminalized homosexual acts (though the laws were rarely enforced). That year, however, the Supreme Court ruled these laws unconstitutional. Today, laws are used to protect rather than prohibit homosexual activities.

The supreme courts in California and Connecticut are about to decide whether same-sex couples have a right to marry in those states. Massachusetts already granted homosexuals that right.

Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New Hampshire all have civil unions, which are similar to marriage, but activists in those states are already pointing to deficiencies and pushing for full recognition of gay marriage.

Regardless of what it is called, legal sanctioning of homosexual relationships creates a host of unintended consequences and constitutes a serious threat to religious liberty.

Consider what happened in Massachusetts in 2004: Justices of the peace who refused to preside over same-sex unions due to moral or religious objections were summarily fired. Since same-sex unions were entitled to be treated the same as traditional marriages, this refusal was discrimination and a firing offense.

What about a priest or minister who similarly refuses to preside at such ceremonies? Obviously the state can't fire such people, but it is easy to foresee other sanctions -- such as loss of tax benefits -- being imposed on churches.

After all, if gay marriage truly is no different from traditional marriage, by what justification can the government give preferential treatment to an entity that discriminates?

Just last year, two women filed a complaint in New Jersey because they were denied use of a pavilion for their civil union ceremony. The pavilion was owned by a Methodist ministry. It had been rented out for marriages, but the ministry refused to rent it for civil unions because it is a religious structure, and civil unions are not recognized in the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline.

Due to the ministry's refusal to rent it for the lesbian ceremony, New Jersey revoked its tax-free status.

The Des Moines Human Rights Commission found the local Young Men's Christian Association in violation of public accommodation laws because it refused to extend "family membership" privileges to a lesbian couple that had entered a civil union in Vermont.

Accordingly, the city forced the YMCA to recognize gay and lesbian unions as "families" for membership purposes, or lose over $100,000 in government support.

Perhaps the most notorious example of a state forcing its view on a church agency comes from Massachusetts, where Boston Catholic Charities ran an adoption agency that had been placing children with families for over 100 years.

In 2006, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley announced that the agency would abandon its founding mission rather than submit to a state law requiring it to place children with homosexual couples. (A Vatican document from 2003 described gay adoptions as ''gravely immoral.")

The legal analysis in these cases is really pretty simple:

If homosexual marriages or civil unions are the equivalent of traditional marriages, you can't discriminate. If you do, at the very least you put your government benefits at risk.

This is the same rationale that was used by the Supreme Court in 1983 to uphold stripping Bob Jones University of its tax-exempt status due to its racial policies.

A potentially greater threat is that government agencies will try to change church teachings. It is already happening in other nations.

The Catholic Church, for instance, teaches that homosexual inclination is a "tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."

Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary, Canada, was investigated by the Alberta Human Rights Commission for doing little more than writing about this teaching in a newspaper column. Åke Green, pastor of a Pentecostalist church in Sweden, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to a month in prison for a sermon that insulted homosexuals.

It may seem that legal recognition of civil unions or gay marriages is a trivial matter and one that respects the basic dignity of gay people. The unintended legal consequences that flow from such recognition, however, present a serious threat to religious liberty.

Courts and legislatures need to consider these consequences before committing the nation to a policy with so many potential pitfalls.


Ronald J. Rychlak is the associate dean and MDLA Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law. He is the author of Hitler, the War, and the Pope (2000) and Righteous Gentiles (2005).

---

The mission of InsideCatholic.com is to be a voice for authentic Catholicism in the public square.We believe that truth is both attractive and compelling and that in the marketplace of ideas, it will invariably win out.



Comments


More U.S.

Deacon Keith Fournier: The Courage of the Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby and ENDA Watch

Image of Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate. Deacon Fournier is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Theology and Philosophy, BA), the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (Theology of Marriage and Family, MTS), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD). He has completed requirements for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America and is writing the PhD dissertation on the teaching of St. John Paul II.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Catholic Bishops are doing an excellent job standing up for Religious liberty as a fundamental human right. One of my growing concerns is that many Catholics do not even read what they are saying. Sadly, in a propagandized media where sound bites substitute ... continue reading


Thousands of Christians Flee Under Death Threat From Tyrannical Caliph and ISIS Jihadists Watch

Image of (Pictured: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim) At first, Christians were ordered to gather in a central place to receive the directive from the self appointed Caliph. Understandably, given the track record of this maniacal tyrant, few did. So, the text of the statement was issued as a formal declaration to all Christians - We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

By now, everyone who is in anyway concerned about what is happening to Christians in Iraq has heard the horrific news. The madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi - who in his delusion and grandiosity has taken to calling himself ... continue reading


PLAGUE OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS: Mayflies descend on Wisconsin Watch

Image of When summer arrives, Mayflies take flight and proceed to mate before immediately going back to the water to lay eggs and die.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a plague of Biblical proportions. Ugly mayflies have descended on the state of Wisconsin, covering up exterior services like so much black, metallic dust. Photos coming out of Wisconsin is sure to send viewers itching - so beware of some of the sights in ... continue reading


Catholic Bishops Decry Obama's LGBT executive order as imprudent act of religious discrimination Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth have been strong in their condemnation of President Obama's legislation on LGBT employees. "Today's ... continue reading


A Tribute to Protestant Bishop Tony Palmer, Friend of Francis and Champion of Christian Unity Watch

Image of The late Bishop Tony Palmer with Pope Francis- He was catapulted into prominence in the broader Christian community when, while meeting with his friend the Pope in January, he was given a recorded message from Francis to deliver to a large group of charismatic, evangelical protestant leaders who gathered in the United States. The video went viral. It moved millions to sincere prayer for the healing of the divisions in the broken Body of Christ and is prompting a renewed commitment to common apostolic action between Christians.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I never personally met Bishop Tony Palmer. However, I look forward to spending an eternity in the full communion of God's love with him. I appreciated his Christian courage and felt that his efforts were prophetic. He wrote his life - and lived his ministry - ... continue reading


Exclusive: Tribute to Bishop Tony Palmer, A Life Dedicated to Unity Watch

Image of (Pictured: Left to Right - Dirk West, Matteo Callisi, Bishop Tony Palmer, and Deacon Darrell Wentworth) - Faith to Bishop Tony Palmer was a dynamic, lived experience and, as a result, his life built up the whole Body of Christ and tore down the walls some have built to separate us from each other! What a legacy! A true example of living Jesus' prayer in John 17! (Deacon Darrell Wentworth)

By Deacon Darrell Wentworth

Monday, July 21, 2014, was supposed to be like most Mondays - the start of a work week. But Deacon Keith Fournier sent me a text informing me that my friend, Bishop Tony Palmer, had died. Shock went through my body as I processed that news; then disbelief as I ... continue reading


Anarchy in Chicago! Weekend of crime tears city apart Watch

Image of The weekend of July 18 saw the death of five people and the wounding of 47 in Chicago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There were 47 shooting victims in Chicago this weekend, five of which ended up being fatal, statistics from the Chicago Police Department report. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Chicago officials met on July 21 to discuss the city's recent surge in gun ... continue reading


The Contraceptive New York Nanny, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The idea that the government is now in the business of arm-twisting women not to have more children - immediately after childbirth - is morally obnoxious and socially disturbing. It is so apt that this is happening in a city where its mayor lusts for abortion ... continue reading


Building a culture of life: Colorado clinic takes brave stand Watch

Image of Inspired to bring their mission home to Colorado, they decided to start a natural women's health clinic that would uphold the dignity of women and give them the care they deserve.

By CNA/EWTN News

A Colorado women's health clinic seeking to offer natural care that respects human dignity has drawn praise for helping to build up a culture of life. (CNA/EWTN News) - Authentic women's care "is essential to the pro-life movement," said Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, ... continue reading


When more than 80 percent of California faces extreme drought -- the spigots remain open Watch

Image of At the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, fountains are still operating. The one change is that they turn off at mid-morning, and haven't been running full-time since the spring.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Extremely dry conditions in the state of California has 80 percent of the so-called Golden State in extreme drought conditions. Many couldn't tell the difference in many urban areas: Sprinklers go full blast on many lawns, and lots of waters goes wasted by ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Corinthians 4:7-15
7 But we hold this treasure in pots of earthenware, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
1 [Song of Ascents] When Yahweh brought back Zion's ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 20:20-28
20 Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came with her ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 25th, 2014 Image

St. James the Greater
July 25: For James there was no indication that this was the day that his ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter