San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was considered the father of Proposition 8, initiating much of the fundraising and organization for the 2008 effort to ban same-sex marriage in California. He assumed his new position as Archbishop just last summer, and as the Catholic Church ramps up its campaigns against marriage equality, the UK’s Catholic Herald saw fit to profile Cordileone’s life and work. He used the opportunity to offer a new argument against the freedom to marry:
Archbishop Cordileone cautions against over-using the term “gay marriage”, advising that it should be used “only sparingly” because it is a natural impossibility and if we keep talking about gay marriage we might fool ourselves into thinking it is an authentic reality, which only needs government approval to make it legitimate. He compares it with another impossibility: “Legislating for the right for people of the same sex to marry is like legalizing male breastfeeding.”
Cordileone is wrong, but not because of the comparison that he draws. He’s wrong because both married same-sex couples and breastfeeding men are very much “an authentic reality.” Though the population may be small, there are transgender men who retain their female reproductive capabilities, allowing them to bear children and breastfeed. This became particularly apparent last August when the international breastfeeding nonprofit La Leche League wrestled with the decision to allow a trans man to hold a leadership position in the organization.
Leaders of the Catholic Church enjoy imagining a world with no sexual or gender diversity, but it’s simply not the world they live in.