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Brandon Krus- Political Debate and the PRIDE group.

(Matthew Tusa)
Ben Fleming- Catholic Churches views. (Fr. Williams)
Lexi McGruder- Pope Francis and the debate. (Dr. Wilson)
CMM 343 - Advanced Newsgathering
Dr. Babington
December 9, 2014

Same Sex Marriage: An Ongoing Debate


Same-sex marriage has been one of the most discussed issues in recent weeks. From
Pope Francis and the Catholic Church sharing their views on the issue, to the petitions
circulating in the Supreme Court, the debate of same sex marriage is at a critical point.
Since Pope Francis was elected to his position in March 2013, it is no secret that his
seemingly liberal views have been a topic of discussion around the globe. Both Catholics and
non-Catholics have taken particular interest in what the Pope has to say about homosexuality
and same-sex marriage. In terms of moral theology, sexual ethics is basically its own field,
says Associate Professor of Theology, Dr. Stephen Wilson.
In the almost two years that Francis has led the church, the topic of same-sex marriage
has come up countless times. The Pope has addressed the controversial issue with a more
contemporary point-of-view. According to Jesuit Priest Michael Williams, In the last 20 years the
opinion has completely changed. If you surveyed the American people back then, they would be
overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage. That has flipped now to a clear 60, or 70 percent of
Americans that are in favor of same-sex marriages.
Following his most recent synod last week, the pontiff urged top church officials and
theologians to pay attention to the signs of the times and listen to ordinary Catholics. These
comments not only spoke to the context of sexual morality, but the churchs direction as a
whole, Wilson explains. People in the west hear him speak and they think hes trying to move

the church in a certain direction. Well, yes he is, but the direction he wants is for the church to
be less myopic.
In an interview following the synod, Francis comments were directed toward Catholic
parenting as it is concerned with homosexuality. He spoke of the importance of support from
parents unto LGBT children. We come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a
father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation. This happened to me several
times in Buenos Aires.... We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by
their son or daughter, he said.
The family is the building block of society. And the dynamics that are unleashed within
the context of the family should be one of support and inclusion, says Wilson in explanation of
the approach in teaching human sexuality and marriage. However, Wilson goes on to comment
on the overwhelming fixation the public has created with the subject. For me the bigger issue,
as with Francis, is the western preoccupation with human sexuality. And frankly the church is
fighting an uphill battle. Because it is not just the conservatives, look at the media. With the
media, humans can be reduced to our sexuality and that is problematic. Because no matter your
orientation, youre fundamentally a human being.
The view on same-sex marriage in the Catholic Church is one that is based on natural
law, human nature, and the Bible. It explains God's will for the relationship between men and
women. In the church, marriage is an exclusive, lifelong union between a man and a woman
filled with love. Marriage did not originate from either the church or state, but from God. Since
the purpose of marriage was established by God, it can only be the union of a man and a
woman. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, God created
both male and females as equals who complement one another that creates the bond that is the
core of marriage. Jesus states in his teachings from Genesis, But from the beginning of
creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and
mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh, (MK 10:6-8).

According to the USCCB, a same-sex union is not equivalent to a marriage. It is not


based on the natural complementarity of male and female; it cannot cooperate with God to
create new life; and cannot achieve the natural purpose of sexual union. The churches do not
have to provide a religious ceremony for the same-sex couple because they can marry perfectly
legal in some civil courts. Fr. Michael Williams, a Jesuit priest at Spring Hill College says, No
church can be forced to marry a same-sex couple religiously if it is against their teachings so it
preserves the autonomy of the church. Fr. Williams goes on to talk about his experience in
London, where they have separated marriage from the churches. This means everyone must
get married civilly before a registrar. In order to get married in the church a priest has to hear
the vows and pronounce you husband and wife.
The issue turns into a political and social issue as well, with same-sex couples wanting
equality in the Catholic Church. Fr. Williams says, Although some states may institute same
sex marriage, it is out of harmony with the divine rule of God, the church therefore cannot
approve it. The church's teachings on the issue come from the Bible, and the traditions
themselves dating back to the time of the apostles and natural law, so essentially Christian
teachings never change. However according to Fr. Williams, the church believes that the family
is the basic union of society and this comes from natural law, and the Holy Scriptures. However
he adds that non- essential topics, such as the language used in the mass could change in the
Catholic Church.
With the Jesuits being on the more liberal side of Catholicism, Pope Francis encouraged
Catholic families to support and welcome the same-sex partners, but that gay marriage is not on
the churches agenda. Fr. Williams says, The churchs ministry to individuals with same-sex
attraction is one of understanding, compassion, support, but not approval. He continues, I
think he has changed the tone, but not really the substance of the teaching. He recognizes their
gifts and abilities and does not judge individuals based on one issue. Fr. Williams added maybe

the Catholic Church should look into the new scientific discoveries going on and how this might
affect the church's understanding of a persons sexuality.
In recent weeks, many cases have been brought forth regarding the lifting of bans on
same sex marriage in several different states across the country. Thirty-four out of the 50 states
in the U.S. allow same sex marriage, nine are pending court action, three had their appeal
courts approved, and six ban same sex marriage. Reports indicate that Mississippi, Kentucky,
and Michigan are states that are in the process of potentially lifting the bans on same sex
marriage through several cases making their way through the appeal court process.
In a recent post on the Supreme Court of the United States blog site, reporter Lyle
Denniston discusses the petitions taking place in Michigan and Kentucky. The petition taking
place in Michigan is a result of a lesbian couple who was denied the legalization of getting
married by the state and was also not allowed to adopt three children. The state said they are
not opposed for the Supreme Court to review the issue. The second case in the posting relates
to a case coming from the state of Kentucky. The case was successful in getting through the
appeal court, trying to challenge the ruling, which upheld marriage and marriage recognition in
the states in that region. In total, there are four cases that are challenging the Sixth Circuits
ruling on the hearing that took place on Nov. 6, 2014. All four petitions are formally at the
Supreme Court and are awaiting responses from the state.
In an article posted to the Clarion-Ledger website by reporter Emily Le Coz on Nov. 19, it
talks about the likelihood of gay marriage victory in the state of Mississippi. Legal experts say
that people could start obtaining gay marriage licenses very soon. Certain scholars believe that
the U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves will possibly grant a preliminary injunction to
Mississippi's gay marriage ban as sought by the Campaign for Southern Equality in its case
against the state. Reeves heard more than five hours of arguments in the case at the Federal
courthouse in Jackson and promised to rule "as soon as possible." People believe that Reeves
will grant the injunction but not the stay, meaning gay couples could immediately have the right

to marry in the state of Mississippi. All of these cases have been fuel for the fiery debate
regarding the allowance of same-sex marriage and have given many people the courage to
speak up and defend what they believe in.
Matthew Tusa is an undergraduate student at Spring Hill College, and is in charge of the
Pride Club here on campus. Though it is largely unseen and unheard, it was created as a club
that can provide a public, unified representative voice for members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual
Transgender community and its allies. It is also a social club, which can connect many members
of the LGBT+ community. Many of these cases have given people like Tusa hope for equality
and make people excited about all of the action taking place. Tusa said, Of course, legislation
is happening and definitely in the works, and peoples hearts are changing.
Although these new changes taking place are good, the gay community will always in a
certain way be socially unacceptable. Tusa added, I dont think real social change will come
until religious institutions change their views. As a Catholic, I can attest to the influence religious
institutions can have on the views on a person and of groups. Real, lasting social change will
come when science, law, and religion recognize how same sex marriage is quite all right.
Science no longer treats us as psychologically diseased, and the law is changing. Tusa also
believes that the religious institutions are trying to change the way they perceive the gay
community. However, religion is showing both signs of change and stagnation. I will be satisfied
with the progress when I see religious institutions further develop their teachings on same sex
marriage. I truly think that they are trying to do that.

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