April 30, 2013
Marriage Equality: How I Changed My Mind
That's the title of a new post at ReligiousLeftLaw by University of St. Thomas law professor Charles Reid. The post begins:
"From 2003 to early 2009, I wrote a series of historically-grounded papers that reached the common conclusion that marriage equality represented a radical departure from the western tradition of marriage and so, for that reason, should be rejected as a matter of public policy. I have now changed my mind regarding this conclusion. While there is no question that marriage equality represents a dramatic departure from what has gone before, I can now find support within our western tradition for expanding the definition of marriage to embrace loving, committed same-sex unions.
Let me begin with my professional background: I am a lawyer and an historian. These two sides of my brain co-exist in what I like to think is, for the most part anyways, a creative tension. The lawyer side of my brain considers public policy issues in the urgency of the present. The historian's training, however, summons me always to look at the deep picture, to appreciate what has come before, and it was this innate conservativism that long governed my instincts on marriage equality. In my historical writings on the subject, I made essentially three arguments: (1) In the few instances in which same-sex marriage was debated on the historical record, it was rejected; (2) a principal reason for this rejection, furthermore, was because marriage was about procreation, and only procreative relationships should therefore be recognized as marriage; and (3) public policy should remain within these tightly-drawn boundaries, because any departure would be likely to result in arbitrary line-drawing."
The rest of the post, is here, where, if you want, you can comment.
April 27, 2013
The Republican Party and Same-Sex Marriage
As MOJ readers know, the Republican Party has stood proudly in opposition to same-sex marriage--more precisely, in opposition to admitting same-sex couples to civil marriage. So this development, reported in today's NYT, is quite interesting:
When the Rhode Island State Senate tallied up the votes against a same-sex marriage bill passed there on Wednesday, something was missing: Republicans.
All five of the chamber’s Republican lawmakers had voted for the bill, stunning opponents and sending the measure to the governor’s desk and almost-certain victory next week.
The vote reflected not only the rapidly shifting tides of public opinion on same-sex marriage, but also the influence of a new Republican advocacy group called the American Unity Fund, which spent weeks helping the state’s gay rights organization cultivate Republican senators.
Now the group is preparing a major push in Washington and in state capitals intended to reshape the Republican Party, by building support for same-sex marriage and bolstering its acceptance among candidates and party activists around the country.
Founded and financed by some of the country’s leading Republican fund-raisers and strategists, the fund expects to raise up to $7 million this year, officials said. The fund’s organizers include Paul E. Singer and Clifford S. Asness, libertarian-leaning New York investors; David Herro, a prominent Chicago money manager; and Seth Klarman, a billionaire Boston philanthropist and hedge fund manager.
“The concept of gay unions fits very well within our framework of individual liberty and our belief that strong families make for a stronger society,” Mr. Singer said in an e-mail. “The institution of marriage is in very bad shape in this country, yet gay and lesbian couples want very much to be a part of it, to live as committed husbands and wives with their children in traditional family units. This should be what we want as conservatives, for people to cherish and respect this model and to want it for themselves.”
The fund is one of several advocacy organizations backed by wealthy Republicans and business leaders to shift their party’s stance in recent months on issues like immigration and same-sex marriage. And the new effort traces a rift between Republican elites and grass-roots voters over a handful of hot-button social issues that one group views as handcuffing the party and the other sees as essential to its identity.
You can read the rest here. Of course, and as the article reports, this development is not without its critics, of whom there are many--including, no doubt, some of you.
April 23, 2013
"Another Vatican voice backs civil unions for same-sex couples"
By John Allen
Another veteran Vatican figure has signaled openness to civil recognition of same-sex unions in the wake of similar comments in early February from the Vatican's top official on the family. It's a position also once reportedly seen with favor by the future pope while he was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The latest expression of support for civil recognition as an alternative to gay marriage comes from Archbishop Piero Marini, who served for 18 years as Pope John Paul II's liturgical master of ceremonies.
"There are many couples that suffer because their civil rights aren't recognized," Marini said.
Marini, now 71, is currently the president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses. He spoke in an interview with the newspaper La Nación in Costa Rica, where the local church wrapped up a Eucharistic congress Sunday.
[Read the rest here.]
April 12, 2013
"Hard questions about Francis in Argentina and a lesson from Chile"No journalist's coverage of the Vatican is better than--indeed, none is as good as, I think--John Allen's superb coverage. Allen has a wonderfully informative and throughtful article here. Many MOJ readers will be quite interested.
April 08, 2013
" ... if you’ve met one Jesuit, you’ve met one Jesuit.”So, meet one Jesuit: Matt Malone, the new editor of America. Here.
Catholic "Traditionalists" v. Pope FrancisUniversity of St. Thomas law professor Charles Reid has a thoughtful commentary on the phenomenon at ReligiousLeftLaw, here. I think many MOJ readers will be interested.
April 06, 2013
"If the Church Is Serious About Welcoming Gays..."That's the title of an op-ed in this morning's Times. MOJ readers may be interested in evaluating the authors' recommendations. Here.
March 29, 2013
Eduardo Peñalver comments on an argument made by Robby George ...... and Gerry Bradley, in a 1995 debate with Stephen Macedo. Long time MOJ readers will remember that Eduardo, formerly a Cornell law prof, now a University of Chicago law prof, was a MOJ blogger. Here is Eduardo's comment, at dotCommonweal.
March 26, 2013
Andrew Koppelman, "More Intuition Than Argument"
Northwestern law prof Andy Koppelman reviews, in the new issue of Commonweal, the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, and Robert P. George. The book is the basis of an amicus curiae brief that Robert George et al. have submitted to SCOTUS in the two "gay marriage" cases being argued before SCOTUS this week. Read Andy's review and see whether you agree with his evaluation of the book, which ends with this:
"That claim’s most fundamental difficulty is the short distance from premise to conclusion. The union of the married heterosexual couple is uniquely good because...well, because the union of the married heterosexual couple is uniquely good. This raw intuition comes decorated with a complex theoretical apparatus, but that apparatus does no work. It’s like one of those old trick math problems, which at first glance seems to require complex computations:
7 + 8,398.14 × B ÷ √55 - 8,398.14 × √55 ÷ B = ?
Look again, and it’s clear that all the complexity cancels itself out, and that you end up right back where you began.
The publication of What Is Marriage? is a public service. It advances understanding of a perspective that many (though fewer and fewer) Americans share, but it is unlikely to persuade anyone who doesn’t already agree with its claims. It is a lucid window into a disappearing worldview."
The entire review is here.
March 22, 2013
Ronald Dworkin, "Religion Without God"
The current issue of The New York Review of Books reports:
"Before he died on February 14, Ronald Dworkin sent to The New York Review a text of his new book, Religion Without God, to be published by Harvard University Press later this year. We publish here an excerpt from the first chapter. —The Editors"
The excerpt is here.