Thursday, June 30, 2005

Wave of Progress

Spanish parliament legalizes gay marriage

Well, Spain has technically won the race to become the third nation to allow same-sex marriage. (Canada won't become the fourth until its Senate passes the law in July, though it's already legal almost everywhere up there anyhow.) Why can a Catholic country figure this out while our supposedly secular nation is bamboozled?


Jonathan said...

The only thing Catholics really give a shit about is abortion. Most Catholics talk conservative, but really never back it up. The new bishop of memphis welcomes the GLBT community.

Richard said...

That's a pretty broad brush. Most Catholics, yes, care more about abortion than gays. But the institutional church in Rome is fairly obsessed with homosexuality, as are a vocal portion of American churchgoers who are aligning themselves more and more with fundamentalists rather than the more mainline branches of Protestantism--at precisely the moment when the mainline churches are becoming more accepting of gays. It's great that the bishop of Memphis welcomes the GLBT community--but the archbishop of St. Louis said he'd refuse communion to John Kerry over abortion, and I would not be surprised if that same cudgel is wielded in the future at politicians who support same-sex marriage.

Oh well. My point is that Spain is so Catholic that one can call it a Catholic country, and yet gay marriage is now legal there, while in our country, supposedly a pluralistic society that respects all its citizens regardless of their beliefs, laws are being passed to make it illegal for two people of the same gender to even create contracts that approximate the protections of marriage. It's a sad reversal of expectations.

Jonathan said...

Yeah Hi, The Archbishop of Saint Louis is very concervative, but what I was describing is not the catholic faith but Catholics. In many polls Catholics (people) disagree with the Churches teachings on homosexuality. If you want to get detailed about it, Catholic only need to follow a certain number of rules to be a catholic, everything else from the pope is just a suggestion. None of the rules say anything about homosexuality.

Richard said...

I agree with you: a lot of Catholics disagree with the Pope about a lot of things. Birth control, anyone? I am concerned that the Church with a capital "C" is moving toward considering its position on homosexuality one of the non-negotiable doctrines of the faith, worth obstructing the secular political process over (as it does abortion), even as the world is finally becoming more and more gay-friendly. (Benedict XVI has said in the past that a smaller church, with members whose beliefs are "purer," would be acceptable to him.)

I don't care if Catholicism in general, or even a specific Catholic, believes that I am a sinner. (Unless the specific Catholic is my mother, I suppose.) I would like their tolerance, or their respect, or even their full-hearted approval--but I don't need that. I do need the civil protections of marriage that straight people take for granted, the protections that gay couples can now get in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and Canada--and the protections that the institutional Church, the Bush Administration, and the fundamentalist crowd I mentioned before are hell-bent on making sure I can never have.

Did you know that right now, if we were married, we would have more money than we do? I would be able to add Brad to my (much better than his) health insurance for less than he has to contribute to his, for one thing--or opt out of mine, get an extra $200 in my check every month, and sign up for his. If my company did allow me to add Brad to my insurance right now, though, I would have to pay income tax on the value of it--something you will never have to do if you add your spouse to your insurance. And the disparity will only grow over time. If we buy a house next June, as planned, we'll have to fill out a bevy of extra legal forms, which will cost extra money to have prepared, in order to insure that our stakes in the house are allocated properly and we each have the right to inherit from the other if something happens to one of us. Married people assume all of that.

Oh, and if one of us were injured, there's a good chance the hospital wouldn't even call the other. And if we were lucky enough to find out what had happened, we might not be allowed into the room! Think that would happen to a married couple?

And the Church thinks this is OK--in fact, that it's the way things ought to be. I'm not saying most Catholics agree, but the fact that their church, and others, have mobilized to oppose the extension of these basic rights to me, well--that colors the debate, and it makes it harder for people of faith to think rationally. Why should it be harder for me to make sure that my property is dealt with as I wish if I die? Why should it be harder for me to have the person I love at my side if I'm hospitalized? Why should the benefits I receive from my employer be governed by a different set of rules than everyone else's? I know that most Catholics, and most Americans, could reach the same understanding that you have, that there is no reason for any of these things to be so, but the Church and others get in their way. And the question I was asking in this post is WHY? Why couldn't they accomplish that in a country where their influence is so vast, yet here they're practically turning back the clock of progress? Because whatever the Bishop of Memphis says about gays, they're not getting married in Tennessee anytime soon--but they will be getting married in Madrid. It just makes me wonder what the hell is happening to this country is all I'm saying.