The Catholic Church in England and Wales has once again weighed in on the pressing question of legalizing same-sex marriage with surprising new concession. In a document submitted to members of Parliament, the Church leaders actually admit that same-sex couples make great parents, but same-sex marriage still somehow threatens the “existing legal link between the institution of marriage and sexual exclusivity, loyalty, and responsibility for the children of the marriage”:
We recognize that many same sex couples raise children in loving and caring homes. Nevertheless, marriage has an identity that at its core is distinct from any other legally recognized relationship, no matter how much love or commitment may be involved in these other relationships. […]
We recognize that there is an alternative view of what constitutes the ‘good’ of marriage, and we understand that proponents of same sex marriage often adopt this alternative view, in good faith. Under this alternative view, the ‘good’ of marriage is that it fosters intimacy and care-giving for dependents, builds trust, and encourages openness, and shared responsibilities.
The basic argument that is advanced in favor of same sex marriage is one of equality and fairness. But we suggest that this intuitively appealing argument is fundamentally flawed. Those who argue for same sex marriage do so on the basis that it is unjust to treat same sex and heterosexual relationships differently in allowing only heterosexual couples access to marriage. Our principal argument against this is that it is not unequal or unfair to treat those in different circumstances differently. Indeed, to treat them the same would itself be unjust.
In other words, the Church understands that same-sex couples want to participate in marriage for the very reasons the Church believes marriage to be an important institution, and yet it would still be “unjust” to allow them to marry. In fact, there isn’t one description of marriage in this document that could not equally apply to same-sex couples except the ability to conceive a child. If this is the only argument the Church has to defend its opposition to equality, it’s unclear how it justifies providing the service of adoption to opposite-sex couples who also cannot conceive.