Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) announced last week that it was “very likely” that he would call a special session of the state legislature this fall to consider a bill to make Hawaii the 14th state to grant full marriage equality. In response, Bishop of Honululu Larry Silva released a letter to all Hawaiian Catholics Thursday imploring them to mobilize in support of “just discrimination” against same-sex couples.
Hawaii enacted a civil unions law in 2011, aimed at providing “equal rights for all the people of Hawaii.” But following the Supreme Court’s July ruling striking down the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act, it became clear that civil unions, which are not treated as marriages under federal law, are separate and unequal.
Concerned that, perhaps because Hawaii voters favor marriage-equality by by a 23 point margin, legislators say they are hearing mainly from supporters, Silva wants Catholics to mobilize and pray to stop the legislature from ensuring legal equality for same-sex couples. Among his arguments:
1. Discrimination is okay as long as it’s “just discrimination.” Silva contends that while “unjust discrimination” against those with “same-sex attraction” is wrong, some discrimination is “just.” Since we “discriminate quite justly between adults and minors” and “professors and students,” he reasons, “To discriminate between heterosexual and same-sex couples regarding marriage is not, despite the hype on the streets, unjust discrimination.”
2. If same-sex marriage is legal, polygamy, incest, and pedophilia will also be “normal.” Silva makes typical slippery-slope arguments that same-sex marriage would lead to the same rights for “people who prefer several spouses at the same time” and that taxpayers would have to pay for “marital benefits” for all of those spouses. Worse, he warns, “Once we give in to the false notion that same-sex couples have a right to marry, how can we reasonably deny the same ‘right’ to anyone who chooses to enter a ‘marriage’ with a close relative, a minor (with consent)?”
3. Religions might be “persecuted” if they don’t embrace same-sex marriage. Though he makes no explanation as to why religions would be “reeducated” in a state with civil recognition of same-sex marriage (but not in one with civil unions), Silva rhetorically asks whether “Christians, Muslims, and others who believe that homosexual ACTS are contrary to God’s law” will be “persecuted for holding on to those beliefs that have been so sacred to us for centuries?” Of course, no religious group has ever been required to marry anyone and the proposed legislation explicitly protects the rights of religious groups.
4. Granting equal legal protections to LGBT families is bad for children. Ignoring that an estimated 27 percent of Hawaii same-sex couples are already raising children, Silva claims that “children will be the greatest casualties” of marriage equality. This, he says, is because they will be “deprived of being raised in a loving home by a mother and a father who loves them and whose love cooperated with God’s plan in creating them,” though he offers no explanation as to why this would be more likely with marriage equality than otherwise. Ignoring broad evidence that children raised by committed and loving same-sex parents turn out just fine, he claims that if children are not raised by opposite-sex parents, “there will be more poverty, more social ills, more juvenile suicides, and more problems than we can imagine.”
Silva concludes with a request that Catholics contact their state legislators, urge anti-LGBT friends and neighbors to do the same, and then “offer ONE ROSARY (or at the least a decade of the rosary) each day in the next several weeks, so that the power of prayer will shape the discussions and deliberations about this critical issue.” If possible, he suggests, they should “pray at all hours, walking around the block that surrounds the State Capitol (without forming an assembly that would need a permit), so that just as God tumbled down the walls of Jericho, he will be able to do so through the prayers AND ACTION of his beloved people.”