Thursday, March 28, 2013

Catholics Still Working on Love for Gay Folks: The Supreme Court and the Catholic Question

A continuation of yesterday's theme, Catholics "still working on love" when it comes to their gay brothers and sisters:

As Ian Millhiser notes in this Think Progress article, the three Supreme Court justices most determined to undercut any arguments that the Defense of Marriage Act in the U.S. derives solely from a need to inscribe discrimination in federal law are Roberts, Scalia, and Alito: Millhiser writes,

The clearest sign that a majority of the Court believes the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional is how tenaciously three of the most conservative justices fought to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling on its constitutionality in the first place. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Alito fought tooth and nail to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds — an effort that is likely, if not certain, to fail. 

Millhiser thinks that Justice Kennedy at least gets the point that DOMA is motivated by animus against gay citizens, and that "there's injury here," but his fixation on questioning DOMA because it infringes states' rights misses the primary point: namely, that "what is at stake here is not federalism but fairness," as a New York Times editorial argues this morning.

And as I read these statements, a question leaps out at me: what do Roberts, Scalia, and Alito have in common? All three are Catholics.

My religious community, which has long prided itself on defending human rights for all people, and on reaching out to those on the margins of society, is now represented at the highest court in my nation by several Catholic men who appear fixated on keeping discrimination against a targeted minority alive.

Many of my co-religionists have, thankfully, rejected anti-gay discrimination as a core value of Catholicism. Many Catholics are at the forefront of the movement to accord a full range of human rights to LGBT citizens today.

Unfortunately, this cannot be said for some other of my co-religionists, and among those Catholics who are determined to keep discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation alive in the U.S. are some of the most powerfully placed people in the nation, who sit on the bench of the highest court in the land, and whose determination to discriminate is quite evidently fueled by their Catholic beliefs.

There is cause for shame here for those of us who are Catholics. If all of our talk now about reforming our church is to mean much at all, it has to mean pushing back very hard against the intent of some powerful spokespersons for the Catholic tradition, including many of our top pastoral leaders and the powerful centrist commentariat in the academy and media who are their enablers, to equate Catholicism with homophobic prejudice.

The graphic is from Human Rights Campaign's NOM Exposed website. It illustrates how many in the American public square now see the Catholic church, due to the church's leaders' relentless attacks on the human rights of LGBT persons. Though many lay Catholics have long since rejected anti-gay discrimination, this is the face that the church shows at its official levels to the public square in many societies.

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