With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 in June, and two new states enacting same-sex marriage legislation in the first few months of 2013 (with another potentially on the way), marriage equality in the United States is on the move.
While this is welcome news to equality-minded folks across the country, it's decidedly bad news for America's Catholic bishops, who are leading the crusade to exclude same-sex couples from legal civil marriage. It's a battle they're clearly losing, but as the bishops' struggle against the tide of history becomes ever more exhausting, they're taking a cue from their Anglican counterparts: their opposition is becoming increasingly hysterical.
In their latest anti-equality attack, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has prepared an insert that Catholic parishes across the country will place in their bulletins in May and June. They warn that a pro-fairness Supreme Court ruling (a broad negative ruling," as they call it) could "redefine marriage in the law throughout the entire country, becoming the 'Roe v. Wade' of marriage." [emphasis theirs]
Of course, this is nothing but a desperate attempt to tie marriage equality -- an issue on which public opinion has been consistently trending upward -- to abortion, an issue where public opinion continues to be sharply divided. Perhaps even more disturbing, Zack Ford at ThinkProgress notes that the comparison to Roe hints that religious leaders may decide to continue attacking same-sex marriage rights after equality is legally achieved, in the same way that conservatives continue chipping away at abortion rights over forty years after Roe was handed down.
Also in the insert, the bishops predictably claim that allowing loving and committed same-sex couples to marry somehow harms children:
There are many ways to protect the basic human rights of all, but redefining marriage serves no one's rights, least of all those of children.
Every child has a basic, natural right to come from and be raised in the loving marital union of his or her own father and mother.
As we know, there is literally
no scientific basis for the claims the bishops are making, but why let science get in the way, right?
Finally, Jeremy Hooper at Good As You discovered another USCCB document today called "One Man, One Woman, for Life: Lead Messages on Marriage Redefinition." It contains a whole host of anti-equality talking points for clergy, leaders, and lay Catholics, including these gems about so-called "same-sex attraction:"
If you're not familiar with Courage, it's a Catholic "ministry" which uses a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous to encourage Catholics struggling with "same-sex attractions" to suppress their sexuality and live totally celibate lives. It's essentially a Catholic version of the widely-discredited "ex-gay" programs, just wrapped in a more subtly-colored bow.
In my view, by embracing in their fight against marriage equality the myth that sexual orientation can be changed or suppressed, the U.S. Catholic bishops are tipping their hand. The endgame here isn't just the exclusion of loving same-sex couples from legal civil marriage. No, the bishops' goal is to ensure that LGBT Americans are relegated to second-class status in every aspect of society.
Bulletin Insert Marriage and the Supreme Court Spring 2013 by G-A-Y