NEWS NOTES: January 30, 2012

January 30, 2012

Here are some links to items you might find of interest:

1) The Washington Post editorialized in favor of  “Same-sex marriage in Maryland,” chastising the Maryland Catholic Conference for criticizing Governor O’Malley’s support “as a distraction from more pressing economic needs. What may be a distraction for the conference is a fundamental concern for the state’s gay and lesbian residents.”

2) In “Moving Ahead on Marriage Equality,” The New York Times editorialized in support of New Jersey’s legislation, which is opposed by Governor Chris Christie, a Catholic.  In the closing paragraph, they cite three other Catholic governors who support marriage equality: New York’s Andrew Cuomo, Maryland’s Martin O’Malley of Maryland,  and Washington State’s  Christine Gregoire.

3) New York State Assemblyman “Daniel O’Donnell To Marry Boyfriend John Banta on Sunday,” reports OnTopMag.com.  According to the article O’Donnell, brother of openly-lesbian entertainer Rosie O’Donnell, met Banta in 1978 as students at Catholic University of America.

4) Coming to the defense of lesbian/gay people against a claim by a prominent Christian minister in Australia is the editor a Catholic church newspaper there.   In “Margaret Court says being gay the result of sexual abuse” in the Sunday Sun Herald,  Peter Rosengren, editor of The Record said “he had ‘never heard of any scientific study’ linking abuse and homosexuality, and that ‘everyone has to be respected.’ “

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Catholic vs. Catholic on Marriage Equality in Maryland

January 30, 2012

MarylandReporter.com has a unique video clip on their website today:  two Maryland Catholic legislators, one Democrat and one Republican, debate the upcoming marriage equality bill, moderated by the Reporter’s Len Lazarick.

Delegate Heather Mizeur and Delegate Cathy Vitale have a very civil disagreement in which many issues are explained, not least of which are issues concerning their common Catholic faith. Watch the video for yourself, and then you can read our comments below, and add your own in the “Comments” section for this post.

I think it will be no surprise to Bondings 2.0 readers to hear that we think Delegate Mizeur won the debate. She won it not only because she had the better legal and political arguments, but because of the personal and genuine way she spoke so eloquently about her faith.

A Catholic lesbian woman, Mizeur tells of her adolescent struggles with sexuality and religion, and with coming to the realization that she, like everyone else, is “a child of God” and is equally loved by God.  She praises the church’s social justice teachings, which she states are the “core mission of the church,” and she praises the church’s teaching on the primacy of conscience.

In the area of law and politics, Mizeur acknowledges that any concerns about religious exemptions that the Maryland Catholic Conference may have are open to discussion and debate so that religious organizations can feel comfortable with the new law.  She rightly points out that it is “disingenuous” of the Catholic conference to be so concerned about legal problems with same-sex marriage while it turns a blind eye to heterosexual marriages that do not meet the hierarchy’s ideals, and to a myriad of problems that the institution of heterosexual marriage has.

Thank you, Delegate Heather Mizeur, for speaking so forthrightly about marriage equality from a Catholic perspective.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


When Arguments Coincide

January 30, 2012

I’m not sure what it means, but in the last week both sides in the marriage equality debate used the same Catholic argument to bolster their positions.

The Washington Post,  on January 24, 2012, in an article entitled “Catholic conference chides same-sex marriage supporters,” the following excerpt appeared:

“The Maryland Catholic Conference on Tuesday called a new same-sex marriage bill introduced by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) a distraction from more important issues and dismissed language in the legislation that seeks to clarify religious exemptions as “ambiguous.”

“ ‘At a time when Marylanders are struggling to find jobs, keep their homes and feed their families, our elected officials should focus their attention on the pressing needs of the state, not on dismantling Maryland’s long-standing law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman,’ Mary Ellen Russell, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement.”

MinnPost.com (from Minneapolis), on January 27, 2012, in an article entitled “When inequality and injustice abound, why does Archbishop Nienstedt focus so much on the threat of gay marriage?”, we read:

“In the past two years, the Catholic Church has spent considerable resources opposing contraception and gay marriage, but has expended little to extend unemployment insurance or raise the minimum wage or stop foreclosures or raise the income tax on the wealthy or curb the excesses of Wall Street.

“At a time when the richest 400 American families have more wealth than 120 million Americans combined, when the average salary of a CEO of the nation’s largest companies is 343 times greater than that of the average worker in that corporation, when millions of Americans are losing their homes because of often fraudulent foreclosures, when domestic violence is soaring, does the Catholic Church really think Jesus would be spending his time trying to stop two people from making a lifelong commitment to each other?”

As a student of argument and rhetoric, I find this coincidence fascinating and very curious.  The fact that these arguments were made in separate states only makes it even more puzzling, as it is obvious that one didn’t simply copy the other one.

What does this coincidence mean?  I wish I could give a good answer, but I find it simply baffling.  What is clear is that both sides are trying to claim the moral high ground by being seen as defenders of the poor and casting their opponents as callous and obsessed.

When the same argument shows up in opposing camps, perhaps it means that both sides should put it to rest.  The repetition of the argument highlights how both are using the poor as a rhetorical strategy to further their ends.  Maybe the best that each can do is instead of using the poor as rhetorical fodder, they themselves should go out and work for the poor in earnest either by direct service or advocacy.

That’s one theory.  Does anyone have any others?  This coincidence is an intriguing mystery–one that I have never seen mentioned in any textbook or analysis of rhetoric and argument.  I’m sure there are many other lessons to be learned from it, and I’m eager to hear what readers think.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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