Here’s what (we hope) is the final installment of immediate Catholic reactions to the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. Since the Catholic debate on this issue is not over yet, Bondings 2.0 will, of course, continue covering any ensuing controversies based on this decision as they develop. [All previous Bondings 2.0 Catholic reaction compilation posts can be found at the end of this post.]
Andrew Sullivan, Writer and Political Analyst, The Dish:
Sullivan, one of the first people to propose the idea of gay marriage as a serious legal possibility (and certainly the first Catholic pundit to do so), provides a poignant brief memoir of the struggle to arrive at the Obergefell v. Hodges victory. I found this to be, perhaps, his most stirring passage:
For many years, it felt like one step forward, two steps back. History is a miasma of contingency, and courage, and conviction, and chance.
But some things you know deep in your heart: that all human beings are made in the image of God; that their loves and lives are equally precious; that the pursuit of happiness promised in the Declaration of Independence has no meaning if it does not include the right to marry the person you love; and has no force if it denies that fundamental human freedom to a portion of its citizens. In the words of Hannah Arendt:
“The right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right compared to which ‘the right to attend an integrated school, the right to sit where one pleases on a bus, the right to go into any hotel or recreation area or place of amusement, regardless of one’s skin or color or race’ are minor indeed. Even political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence; and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs.” (from a blog post on The Dish)
Matthew Boudway, Associate Editor, Commonweal:
Boudway categorizes the Obergefell v. Hodges case:
“. . . [It] was not about Constitutional theory or the burdens and perils of democracy. Nor was it about sex. It was about honoring people who promise to take care of each other and encouraging them to keep that promise.”
Yet, he disagrees with the outcome because on procedural grounds:
“Wherever possible, the Supreme Court should try to get out of the way, so that voters and their elected representatives can do the difficult work of democracy. If we want to change the definition of civil marriage so that it can accommodate gays and lesbians, there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent us, but neither is there anything to compel us. Why pretend otherwise?” (from a blog post on Commonweal)
Margery Eagan, Columnist, Cruxnow.com:
” ‘The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times,’ wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy explaining, if inadvertently, a big part of the problem for the Catholic hierarchy. They can’t recognize that injustice, even in 2015, because they live apart, isolated from, and largely ignorant of, the real, changed world.
“They do not see the gay parents chaperoning the apple-picking field trip in kindergarten. They do not see the son of those parents grow up to captain the football team and marry his college sweetheart. They do not see the life-long devotion of gay couples, in sickness and health, or in the mundane particulars of everyday life. Cooking, cleaning, planting the garden, mowing the lawn, driving the carpool, helping with the homework, wanting the best for their families, just like everybody else.” (From a column on Crux)
Bill Baird and John Kennedy, Retired Gay Catholic Married Couple in Santa Rosa, California:
” ‘It’s important to realize how many people are not happy about the decision,’ Baird said, ‘so we have to find a way to work together to promote marriage equality. . . .’
” ‘We’re lucky here in the Bay Area, but in many parts of the country you can be fired for being gay, and landlords may refuse to rent to a lesbian or gay couple,”’Baird said.
” ‘There really is a lack of protections for gay people, and while we’re delighted by the ruling, there is still a lot of education to do,’ Kennedy said.” (From a feature article in Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Christa Kerber, Catholic laywoman, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania:
Our Church teaches a preferential treatment for the marginalized. It teaches the dignity of all human beings. It teaches the primacy of conscience — the idea that it is our obligation to prayerfully consider tradition and doctrine, as well as our experience and the experience of those around us, in discerning what is moral and just.
My conscience has been formed with the help of family, friends, teachers, clergy, theologians, and strangers. Most of all, it has been formed through my relationship with God and my Church. . .
I hope and pray that Church leaders will hear and understand the majority who support those in loving same-sex relationships. Love is of God and adults who have formed their consciences in faith are very capable of making good decisions about how to express their love for other human beings. (From an op-ed essay on Philly.com)
Read more at
Archbishop Blase Cupich, Archdiocese of Chicago:
In an earlier post, we noted Archbishop Cupich’s reconciliatory statement following the Supreme Court decision. Cupich’s follow-up comments in an interview with The National Catholic Reporter about the statement are also worth noting. The archbishop stated:
“My concern is that we don’t lurch in one direction or another in terms of reaction, but that we really have a sense of serenity and maturity and keep ourselves walking together.
” ‘I think that’s the most important thing,’ the archbishop said, using the example of a family that discusses issues they face together.
” ‘When they have [a] crisis, when they have something new happening, a good, mature, serene family says, “OK, take a breath, everybody. We’re all in this together. We’re going to help each other,” ‘ he said.” (From a news story in The National Catholic Reporter)
In Boston and northern New Jersey, reporters visited local Catholic parishes to gather a wide variety of reactions which are chronicled in these two articles:
NorthJersey.com: “North Jersey Catholics divided on marriage ruling”
Catholic legal analyses
America magazine enlisted a variety of Catholic legal scholars and analysts to respond to the decision. Their opinions and topics are diverse. The legal arguments are difficult to summarize, so, instead of attempting to do so, we will just provide links to the complete essays.
Ellen K. Boegel, Associate Professor, Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Homeland Security, St. John’s University, N.Y.: “Same-Sex Marriage Decision Resolves One Question, Raises Many Others
Thomas C. Berg, the James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minneapolis: “Religious Liberty Concerns After Supreme Court’s Call on Same-Sex Marriage”
Richard W. Garnett, the Paul J. Schierl / Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law , University of Notre Dame: “Hard Questions from Chief Justice on Same-Sex Decision”
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
Previous blog posts of Catholic commentary on Supreme Court marriage equality ruling: