On the “Inevitability” of Gay Marriage

In 2012, I submitted to a magazine under Catholic auspices an article entitled, “Why Gay Marriage is Inevitable.” The editor responded that he found it of interest, but that “it would be imprudent for [us] to publish the piece. It risks undermining our friends who are actively opposing these efforts. And even if their efforts do not eventually prevail, political organizing at this point may yield benefits later. . . .I’m conjecturing here about a future I know little about, one that ought to be inconceivable, but I am sure that we can’t publish this piece if we’re to keep faith with our friends.”

The Lord has not given me the gift of prophecy, and I realized that my Jeremiad was possibly premature. As even Isaiah, Jonah, et al. sometimes stated, the Hebrew equivalent of “political organizing” might help avert ominous events that seemed inevitable.

So I tweaked my piece, focusing on four factors that seemed to make gay marriage inevitable, but were all subject to reformulations that could alter the probabilities. A column on the issue appeared in TCT a year ago. There I discussed:

1) the fact that without any scientific basis, homosexuals were thought to be “born that way” – thus instigating a possible civil rights issue; 

2) homosexuality, which had been traditionally considered a psychiatric disorder, was declassified by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973, as no longer deviant, but normalized; 

3) the vast prevalence of a contraceptive mentality, which, since it approved intentionally non-procreative sex, could not with any logical consistency find fault with the equally non-procreative sexual liaisons of homosexuals; and 

4) the “demotion” of the Sacrament of Matrimony to a civil contract on par with other civil contracts, in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation.

I will not repeat my arguments here. But I want to add some further considerations about three causal factors that have become even more evident in the last year or so. The first two may sound like a lesson in Civics 101, but they are relevant, and also subject to corrections which might, servatis servandis, bring about some changes in the “handwriting on the wall.”

           The handwriting on the wall ( Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt, c. 1636)

The first factor concerns the “check and balance” dynamics of the “separation of powers,” which was so sacrosanct to the Founders of this democratic republic. If this principle were properly ensconced, the Supreme Court could not make decisions that would become the “law of the land,” as, for example in the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which, in effect, granted the right to citizens to own slaves; Roe v. Wade in 1973 which laid the groundwork for legal extermination of one’s own offspring; and the recent United States v. Windsor case, which has the potential to make “gay marriage” the law of the land.

The executive branch of government, however, is not to be outdone by such overreaches of the judicial branch. President Obama, going over the head of Congress, implemented portions of the immigration DREAM Act, which had been defeated in Congress in 2009; has repeatedly ignored the Hyde Amendment’s restrictions on government support of abortion (passed by Congress in 1976), and is even requiring religious entities to cooperate in the distribution of abortifacients through the HHS mandate; and more recently has crusaded against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed during the Clinton administration, in line with his personal “evolution of thinking” regarding gay marriage.

Where is the legislative branch of government in all this “virtual law-making” by the other two branches? How and when is Congress, in the face of confrontations from the judiciary (which should be interpreting laws) and the executive (which should be enforcing laws), going to reassert its constitutional right to make laws?

The second factor is the hallowed principle of states’ rights, which needs to be reemphasized by state legislatures – especially if and when Congress continues to be remiss in asserting its own constitutional prerogatives.

The decision in June regarding the aforementioned United States v. Windsor case seems to leave some leeway for legislative enactments by the states regarding recognition of valid marriages.  In a worst-case scenario, this may pave the way for unending contention among “blue” states and “red” states or in-between states whose citizenries may be strongly pro or con regarding gay marriage. But barring judiciary intervention, such a conflict might indirectly bolster the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution, impeding the government from infringing on areas strictly within the competence of the individual states.

A final factor, which the Founders could not in their wildest dreams have anticipated, is the often-uncivilized impact of the Internet and social media, unleashing twenty-first century phenomena like “flash mobs.” 

In Wisconsin, we were confronted night after night in 2011 on local and national news with television coverage of mobs converging on the Capitol in Madison, where embattled legislators were trying to discuss a collective bargaining law opposed by Democrats (many of whom fled to Illinois so they would not have to vote).

Meanwhile masses of angry protesters crowded the Capitol buildings, shouting and demonstrating against Governor Walker and embattled Republicans, who eventually passed a bill curbing mandatory union membership for certain classes of public employees.

Recently, I happened to be in Texas, where the leading story on local television was the filibuster by Democratic Senator Wendy Davis of a proposed anti-abortion law, while shouts from a packed gallery prevented the official counting of votes by the midnight deadline, in spite of attempts by security personnel to remove disruptors. How can we prevent legislative deliberations and judicial decisions from being hijacked by agitators bent on preventing serious debates among legislators?

Conceivable “game-changers” now might include support of traditional marriage by state legislatures, freed from mob disruptions; and perhaps even some strong resistance to the HHS mandate by Catholic bishops throughout the country, who are finally beginning to confront the consequences of the contraceptive mentality.

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz

Howard Kainz, Emeritus Professor at Marquette University, is the author of twenty-five books on German philosophy, ethics, political philosophy, and religion, and over a hundred articles in scholarly journals, print magazines, online magazines, and op-eds. He was a recipient of an NEH fellowship for 1977-8, and Fulbright fellowships in Germany for 1980-1 and 1987-8. His website is at Marquette University.

  • Manfred

    Two of the biggest “enablers” of pervert “marriage” are In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and adoption. Lesbian couples are able to conceive as a result of donations, often from a sodomite, while sodomite couples are allowed to legally adopt. Our response should question the efficacy of these arrangements both for society and the well-being of the children of these couples. The Catholic individual response has become more accepting due to fifty years of living in Modernism, e.g., “God loves you just the way you are.” Remember Abp Wilton Gregory, then president of the USCCB, when he referred to “The ongoing struggle to prevent the Roamn Catholic priesthood from becoming a homosexual profession”? Well those priests, now bishops, are playing their roles as teachers in the acceptance of these perversions. Once the Church quietly assumed that everyone would saved, the battle was lost.

  • Sue

    “Obama… has repeatedly ignored the Hyde Amendment’s restrictions on government support of abortion (passed by Congress in 1976)”

    Make a dumb law, and you get people thumbing nose at it. Hyde permitted rape/incest abortions, which abandonment of absolute principle betrayed the whole intellectual argument against abortion. If you say you’ll allow exceptions, you don’t really mean this is murder.

  • david

    the decades old scandal of serial child rape, the cover-up by bishops and the continuing drip drip drip of exposure has vitiated the moral authority of the catholic church worldwide.

  • Grump

    All one has to do is see the rioting, mayhem and violence done in the name of “justice” to see that mob rule prevails in America now. As Lincoln feared, “the vandals from within” are destroying our nation.

  • Walter

    A completely one-sided view of history.

    Judicial overreach: would your criticism also extend to a decision like Brown v. Board of Education? Or perhaps Pierce v. Society of Sisters, which established a right of Catholics to send their children to parochial schools as “law of the land”?

    Executive branch overreach: Richard Nixon set the standard for the modern era. All of his successors pale by comparison.

    Flash mobs:
    – They are not new. See the recent column by Mr. Marlin about Archbishop Hughes. Or perhaps read a history of the 1800 presidential campaign. Technology has just taken them to a new level.
    – They are not limited to Democrats. The archetype political flash mob in the Internet/social media era was the group of GOP staffers who were brought into Florida’s election offices to disrupt the 2000 presidential recount.

  • Layman Tom

    I’m not sure from which viewpoint you bring that up. If it is an expression of frustration as a fellow traveler, take heart! If it is meant to throw stones, well…we Christians have some thoughts about that that might make you unsettled if you think very hard.

    Yes, all those horrible things happened. Many, many innocent people were harmed by those in whom trust should have been implicit, their priest. Yes our contemporary group of bishops acted poorly. You see, as a group, they are a dainty bunch, not given to courage often. You might even say that they are weak. At the least they seem to avoid conflict, even when fundamental principles are at stake. They would rather ho-hum around publically while hoping that things will change via diplomacy.

    What you have to understand is that, this is just a recent example of what bad things can happen when bad men run the church. Ever hear of the inquisition? The point is that, while moral authority may be vested in men, it resides in truth. That certain men were guilty of breaking faith, does not mean that the Church has lost moral authority. The church belongs to God, not men. Her authority is lent to men to act in her service, not the other way around. Morality is based on truth. He is the truth. If the inquisition and sundry other periods/examples/incidents wherein men abused the power given them by the church could not sully the word, neither can this. Face it. Judgment belongs to Him. I doubt anyone will get very far on the “you have no moral authority” defense when their time cometh. Or have the stones to pose it.


  • Howard Kainz

    @Walter: It seems to me that the cases you mention were examples of interpretation of the First Amendment, which is within the parameters of the Supreme Court. Regarding Nixon, I did not claim that Executive overreach is limited to Democrats.

  • Rich in MN

    I may be totally wrong about this so I offer my thoughts with more than a modicum of humility and caution. My mind has a propensity for wanting to connect dots. Regarding the point you make, here are the dots as I (inadequately) understand them:

    1. There was the priest sexual abuse scandal that came into the public eye like a tsunami in 2002. Subsequent revelations painted a picture of numerous bishops and other church authorities as being oblivious, incompetent, or downright malfeasant in their handling of these cases. The mishandling seemed so extreme that, to my mind, it seemed almost stretching the very limits of credulity. I thought I must be missing something obvious. There is a key piece of the puzzle that is not in plain sight. Even the gifted and holy (but also gravely ill) John Paul II did not seem to realize the gravity of the problem as he refused to accept Cardinal Bernard Law’s initial resignation (he finally did accept it some months later).
    2. Subsequently, the independent “John Jay” report on the scandal revealed that 4% of Catholic priests are abusers (which is lower than that of the population at large) and 83% of these abusers were homosexuals. The victims were predominantly male with a median age of 14-15 (i.e., teenagers). Statistically, that means that over 3.3% of the 4% of abusers were homosexuals.
    3. Homosexuals comprise about 2.5% of the general population (pace Kinsey’s doctored number of 10% that has become part of the GLAAD mythic narrative). Even if the percentage of homosexuals in the priesthood is twice that of the general population, that would still mean that two thirds of the homosexual priests are abusers (as compared to less than 1% of heterosexual priests). (The “two thirds” percentage is calculated from the fact that 3.3% of total priestly abuse is committed by 5% of the total priestly population.)
    4. In 2005, JPII dies and Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) is elected. Now Joseph Ratzinger was generally quite careful with his words. He was never known to speak recklessly or ‘off the cuff.’ That was never his approach. He examines the evidence and then he PUBLICLY raises the question as to whether homosexuals may be constitutionally incapable of being priests. Of course, a host of groups crucify him in the court of public opinion without even trying to engage the evidence on a serious level (surprise, surprise).
    5. In the last several years, priests such as Fr. Dariusz Oko have started to shed light on the so-called ‘gay mafia’/’gay lobby’ within the Catholic priesthood. According to these reports, the ‘gay mafia’ are a well-organized group of homosexual clergy and their supporters whose behavior is so far divorced from Catholic moral teaching that Mario Puzo would not imagine it in his worst nightmare. This group has methods of intimidation, threat and retaliation and are capable of doing virtually anything to protect their members and their immoral, criminal activities. Only those willing to sacrifice absolutely everything – reputation, career, even possibly their lives — would have the courage to confront them.

    What if dot #5 is the piece of the puzzle I was missing in dot #1? If that is the case, if the ‘gay mafia’ has been intimidating other priests and bishops into silence and inaction, then to say that the Catholic Church has no moral authority to make judgments about the potential dangers of the homosexual inclination strikes me as akin to saying that a doctor who has smoked cigarettes for decades and now is battling lung cancer has no right to talk about the dangers of smoking. As a doctor, he/she knows the evil; as a doctor, he/she should have never have smoked a cigarette. Now, facing the consequences of his/her own hypocrisy, the doctor seems to me the perfect authority to speak the truth on this issue. But I certainly believe that the doctor does need to stop smoking immediately. Although Christ has promised the doctor that he/she will not die, how many parts of the doctor’s body will be lost in the subsequent surgeries….

  • Walter

    Both cases that I mentioned involve the 14th amendment, and an expanded notion of due process and personal liberty, not the 1st amendment.

    The Pierce opinion is rich in irony. While it was favorable to Catholics re. the immediate issue of parochial schools, it laid the foundation for a more expansive view of personal liberty. The Pierce opinion was cited by the Court in Griswold v. Connecticut (legalizing birth control) and Roe v. Wade (legalizing abortion). Our friends over at “First Things” published a fine column on the far-reaching impact of Pierce a few years back.

    So while people complain about judicial activism and overreach, one should remember that Pierce was arguably judicial over-reaching in favor of the Church and also set a far-reaching precedent.

  • Ken Tremendous

    Dr. Kainz,

    Could you substantiate your (I think false) claim that Obama has circumvented the Hyde amendment?

    Also what “abortifacients” do you have in mind? Two of the Church’s top medical experts Drs. Daniel Sulmasy and Nicanor Austriaco have all but debunked the notion that the Morning After Pill is an abortifacient. At least some US bishops allow its distribution to rape victims in Catholic hospitals which they would never do if it were a likely abortifacient. And since the MAP is similar in function to the birth control pill itself, the oft-repeated claim that the pill is an abortifacient must also be considered highly dubious.


  • Rich in MN

    @Ken Tremendous,
    Please pardon me for cutting into your question to Dr. Kainz. I am unfamiliar with the work of Sulmasy and Austriaco and was hoping you could clarify. What exactly do you mean by “all but debunked”? Have they debunked it or not? What I understand (and, mind you, I am no expert) is that the birth control pill works in 3 ways: to prevent ovulation, to suppress the production of fertile mucus (which would carry sperm to the egg should the woman ovulate), and to prevent the nascent human from attaching to the uterine wall (and surviving) should the first two things fail. To maintain that the pill is not abortifacient because abortion is the least likely scenario brings to my mind an example by the late Fr. William B Smith: Two hunters are out in the woods and become separated. One hunter sees something moving and he thinks it might be the big brown bear they are hunting. In fact, he is maybe 90% sure it is the brown bear. Does he have the right to shoot even though he is not 100% sure?

  • Howard Kainz

    @Walter: My understanding is that in Pierce v. Society of Sisters the sisters based their case originally on the 1st Amendment, but one of the schools in the case only invoked the 14th Amendment, and the case was decided on that basis. But the point I was making was in regard to United States v. Windsor and the 5th Amendment.

  • Charles

    It may be inevitable. You know what else is inevitable? The persecution of the Church, the anti-christ, and end of the world. I’d like to be in communion with God when and during they inevitably come. So let the intolerant adherents to the Church of Liberal Secularism practice their bigotry. Deny me the rights and honors due to me. Give them instead to a corrupt accomplice of theirs. I don’t need them. I have my reward in Christ. What does it profit a man to lose his soul? I am only saddened that they’d reject communion with Christ for temporal power.

  • Howard Richards

    It seems to me that we are on a trajectory very parallel to that which led to Prohibition a century ago. Both cases involve taking a minor virtue (sobriety in one case, tolerance in the other) and pretending it is the supreme virtue. A century ago, this culminated in a disastrous amendment to the US Constitution — the only amendment so far to have been explicitly repealed. But sex is even more powerful than drink; the troubles we are bringing on ourselves now will be even more calamitous, and they are coming at the same time as several other crises (in economics, in education, etc.) *Practically speaking*, “gay marriage” looks inevitable — in the mid term, 4-15 years from now. What comes after that? Who can say? But it doesn’t look good.