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Last week’s judicial decision striking down the marriage law of Wisconsin has all of us talking and thinking. The questions surrounding marriage, family and homosexuality are often complex and challenging. How does the church respond both doctrinally and pastorally to this profound social and legal shift? Certainly, increased pressure will be put on the church to acquiesce to this fundamental redefinition of marriage. As local media has been filled with images of same-sex couples marrying at the courthouse, amid hugs, kisses and tears, we readily acknowledge the human dignity, good will and loving intentions of these couples. As Catholics, however, we know there are deep values at stake in this same-sex marriage debate that need to be affirmed.
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The Lord Jesus calls us to love, serve and accept everyone as brothers and sisters. Any prejudice or hatred against anyone for any reason finds no place in the Gospel or in a disciple’s heart. This call to love obviously includes anyone with a same-sex attraction. Many homosexuals have probably perceived more judgment and exclusion from us than love and acceptance. We need to accompany each other in support, prayer, charity and sacrifice, so that the first and fundamental message anyone hears from us is that God loves you, you have an inherent dignity and worth as a person and we respect and care about you. We can all work to be better at that. I know that I certainly need to. So, the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage is not rooted in prejudice, hatred or intolerance of homosexual persons.
In this new cultural climate, marriage has become a private sexualized friendship that may bear children or not, that may endure or not, that exists solely for the personal, emotional and sexual fulfillment of the partners.