Catholic Bishops Thinks Queers Can Marry Just Fine, Just Like Straight People

So, a Catholic bishop said something completely wrong about marriage and queer people. I know. What else is new? Really, the newsworthy thing here is that I’m actually bothering to respond to it. But y’know something? Sometimes people who you expect to say terrible things do exactly that, and do it in a way that gets under your skin. Like this guy.

Of course, when an article has a title like “‘No obstacle’ to gays marrying, just not each other, says bishop“, you know that your blood pressure’s in for a bit of a boost. You also know it’s going to involve that delightful combination of someone talking about something they have zero experience of, and the particularly sanctimonious smugness that the Catholic Church has such a way with. Around this part of the world, at least. 

Also, before we go on can we take a moment to note the sheer audacity of this kind of moralising coming from a representative of an organisation well-known for depths of abusiveness towards children that I sincerely hope are absent from even your worst nightmares? Yep, let’s think about that one for a moment, because the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland have zero moral high ground to stand on. And yet there they are, standing on their Emperor’s New High Ground, acting like their right to tell people how to live their lives has any basis in reality. 

With all that in mind (are you feeling angry yet? I sure am), let’s take a look at what this guy- one Kevin Doran- had to say last Sunday. In public. To a congregation of people. Many of whom, of course, must be either LGBTQ themselves or have loved ones who are. And many of whom will, bizarrely enough, probably be back next Sunday. 

Doran starts with this:

 “You don’t have to be a Christian to recognise the truth about human sexuality; the joy of it and the heartbreak of it.

Well. So far so good, eh? People from all religions and none can understand that human sexuality can be a profoundly joyful and devastatingly heartbreaking thing. If Doran had finished that sentence, stepped down from the pulpit and toddled off home, I’d have nothing to disagree with.

The next bit isn’t too terrible either.

“Reason allows us to see the contribution that faithful marriage offers to society through the stability that it brings to society and to the lives of children,” he added.

Fair enough. I don’t agree that monogamous marriage is the only stable family structure that children will thrive in, but it is definitely one model that can work well for a lot of people and families. Definitely, parents who have made a real long-lasting commitment to their families are a good thing. Marriage is one way to recognise that. Grand, so.

It’s a pity that he kept talking.

“The reality is that those who wish to change the Constitution are not actually looking for marriage equality.

“They are looking for a different kind of relationship which would be called marriage; a relationship which includes some elements of marriage, such as love and commitment, but excludes one of the two essential aspects of marriage, which is the openness of their sexual relationship to procreation.

Can people of homosexual orientation marry?  This is quite interesting, because most people would probably say that they cannot legally do so. But, of course there is no legal obstacle to a person of homosexual orientation getting married, just as a heterosexual person can.”

Okay.

He also says things, by the way, about marriage being a Very Special Kind Of Friendship, and about how catholics can respect queer people (er, “people of homosexual orientation”) and honour us and even let us have communion as long as we’re chaste. Just like heterosexual people, it seems.

Let’s go back to the bit I quoted, though, because for some reason I feel like giving Doran the dignity of a response. 

Doran makes the following points: Marriage is defined by love, commitment and the possibility of biological procreation. Because couples with similar shaped genitals can’t biologically procreate with each other, and because he sees this as being fully half of what constitutes a marriage, it is impossible for same-sex couples to marry.

And yet, Doran sees that there is no legal obstacle to gay people marrying someone of a different gender to them, despite the fact that the type of love that marriage is supposed to affirm- romantic/sexual love- is absent. And, of course, he’s strangely silent on the issue of post-menopausal people, people who’ve had hysterectomies, and other infertile people marrying. I guess that having bodies that are incapable of being open to procreating with each other is just fine and dandy, as long as one of them has an innie and the other has an outie.

That isn’t the most glaring mistake that Doran has made, though. Remember how he talks about two queers in love marrying each other:

They are looking for a different kind of relationship which would be called marriage; a relationship which includes some elements of marriage, such as love and commitment, but excludes one of the two essential aspects of marriage, which is the openness of their sexual relationship to procreation.

“This is only possible if we change the meaning of marriage and remove that aspect of openness to procreation.

And here’s how he describes gay people marrying someone of a different (legal!) gender- who they presumably aren’t able to really be in love with:

“Of course there is no legal obstacle to a person of homosexual orientation getting married, just as a heterosexual person can.

“To that extent the question of marriage equality simply doesn’t arise. (Whether it is good or just or wise for a homosexual person to enter marriage is another question.)”

 See the difference? When it comes to queers falling in love and marrying? We need to talk about the Catholic definitions of matrimony. If we’re talking about loveless marriages of convenience between people who have supposedly complementary genitals? The law says a thing, and the good bishop understands that it’s none of his business what other people do with their personal lives.

Matrimony and marriage are different things. One is a christian sacrament. The other is a legal contract. When it comes to the former? Neither I nor the proposed amendment to the Irish constitution give a rat’s ass what the Roman Catholic Church considers adequate grounds for a day out in church and a blessing. If the RCC fancies only marrying different-sex couples who plan on having kids, regardless of whether they actually love each other? Awesome. Have fun. Enjoy the cake! However, if you’re talking about matrimony, you immediately lose the right to use your feelings about it to tell other people what non-matrimonial marriages they can or cannot contract.

The Catholic Church, I hear, has some pretty strong feelings about communion wafers. That is perfectly fine. Doesn’t mean they get to ban the rest of us from having a nice toasty breakfast bagel.

And herein lies the problem with every argument against marriage equality (and yes, Doran, it is about equality) that I’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing: they don’t know what they’re talking about. They won’t take a point and stick to it. They conflate unrelated issues while trying to blind people to the miserable inadequacy of their arguments with fake-compassion (I don’t need your fucking compassion, by the way. My queerness is fucking awesome) and flowery language. It’s as intellectually dishonest as it is morally bankrupt.

P.S. Kevin Doran? I’m gonna take a leaf from Panti’s book here and let you know: You’re a homophobe. Deal with it.

P.P.S. Also, Kevin? How about, next time you want to pontificate on a queer issue, you get up on that pulpit and rain down some hellfire on the people who, just a few hours before you gave your sermon, were beating young women bloody and unconscious on our streets just because they’re queer. Might be an idea.

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Catholic Bishops Thinks Queers Can Marry Just Fine, Just Like Straight People
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5 thoughts on “Catholic Bishops Thinks Queers Can Marry Just Fine, Just Like Straight People

  1. 3

    “No obstacle’ to gays marrying, just not each other, says bishop” – I feel this guy could teach a masterclass in passive aggression.

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