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Rhode Island Bishop: Marriage Equality Sanctions ‘Immoral Activity’

By Zack Ford on January 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm

"Rhode Island Bishop: Marriage Equality Sanctions ‘Immoral Activity’"

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Bishop Thomas Tobin

Another day brings another anti-gay condemnation from a Catholic bishop. Over the weekend, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island published his own screed attacking the proposed advance of marriage equality, claiming that same-sex marriage constitutes “immoral activity” and that the government should impose the Church’s beliefs upon all of society. In addition to raising familiar concerns about the “religious freedom” to discriminate according to individuals’ consciences, Tobin went on to attack the very notion that gays and lesbians exist, let alone deserve civil rights:

A final point. If we are in fact forced to discuss the nature of matrimony in our state, it should be placed before the general public in a referendum. The proposal to redefine marriage as a fundamental structure in our culture is a very serious issue with profound consequences. I suspect that people on both sides of the issue agree with that. On a question of this magnitude, then, the people of this state should decide as they have in many other states. Let us vote!

Some have argued that the “civil rights” of the minority should not be determined by the vote of the majority. I challenge that premise though. What is the source of this so-called “civil right?” Where is the moral or legal “right” to marry a person of the same gender found? It certainly has not been part of the human experience, of human history. Is it simply the personal happiness or fulfillment of individuals, the “right to do whatever I want to do?” If that’s the argument, it opens up all sorts of other social experiments for us, doesn’t it?

Indeed, this is the archaic view through which opponents of equality view the lived experiences of people with same-sex orientations. According to the Catholic Church, people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual don’t have real identities and are not entitled to real lives; they are simply selfish hedonists trying to corrupt society who should be condemned to chastity. The Church and its hierarchy refuse to acknowledge the millions of individuals who have committed to a same-sex life partner to build a life together, raise children, and participate in a community like all of its other families, a point of view lacking in any sense of compassion, charity, or good will.

But of course, Tobin doesn’t see it that way:

It’s important to emphasize once again, however, that while rejecting homosexual activity, the Catholic Church has consistently promoted respect and pastoral care for individuals with same-sex attraction. They are children of God and our brothers and sisters. They are invited to be members of our churches. It is our very concern for their spiritual welfare, however, that motivates our rejection of the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage.

There is no “respect,” “concern,” or “pastoral care” offered in declaring that an entire community of people is destroying society simply for loving.

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