The 1.5 million people who packed into St. John Lateran piazza exceeded Catholic hopes that 100,000 would come to support the Pope's protest of the legislation.
"Living together is not family," said Anna Manara, 58. "A commitment such as marriage cements the bond, while other models make it easier to be together and therefore end up making it less valuable."
Here we are again: your life makes a statement about my life.
I live a traditional life. I'm heterosexual, am married to my husband, live in the suburbs, and have two children and two cars. Oh, and we're white.
What do I know of bigotry?
I confess: I haven't walked a mile in shoes that face true prejudice (outside of a few incidents due to my gender).
However, I can understand and sympathize.
Also, I don't think that people who live together unmarried, people who live differently than I do have any sort of effect on my marriage---its strength, its meaning, its importance.
I'm not so easily led that "other models" affect how I view marriage, my marriage, or make it easier to not value my marriage appropriately.
I affect my marriage. I assign it meaning. I assign it relevance and importance. Then, I live that way within my marriage and family, and I truly believe that people respond to my marriage and family based on the tone I set.
In fact, I think everyone ought to have this same opportunity.
Maybe I am naive, but I just don't buy this reasoning that anything outside of a church blessed marriage between a man and a woman devalues marriage and must be stopped.
I think the Catholic Church is well within rights to determine that they do not accept, and will not recognize, homosexual marriage. Their stance is
The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, but teaches that homosexual persons deserve respect, justice and pastoral care.
Although this smacks of the often misused and misapplied "love the sinner, hate the sin" thought combined with the dreaded "separate but equal" approach to homosexuality prevalent in today's society, I still can't argue that a private instituition ought to be forced by outside agencies to recognize and accept homosexuality.
I think most churches are misguided, but at least they are trying to preach, in theory, some slight degree of tolerance (if you can apply the word tolerance to such a conditional, limited, and unaccepting position on the issue).
The key in my mind is the word "private instituition."
Churches, religions are private instituitions.
There is a line---a confusing line, a shifting line---between how I live, plus my desire to elect officials who will promote my beliefs AND expecting that others must live as I do, or at least not get rights and privileges if they do not.
I suppose it goes back to my belief that in this matter, what you do doesn't affect what I do. I know it goes back my belief in the separation of church and state.
As an Italian politician said, "We can't continually consider legislation from the perspective of 'what would the Vatican think...would the Pope approve?' At some point as the government we have to consider, 'what is best for our citizens, what do they need, what would improve their quality of life?'"
I agree; that's the role of the government.
To block something that provides essential services, promotes improvement in quality of life for citizens...that's the real sin.
I don't support churches expecting that the government ought to bow to their beliefs. And I don't support churches promoting a chasm in society based on religious beliefs. That IS a real sin; it is at the foundation of some of the worst violence and tragedies.
And I will never support the idea, as one Catholic Archibishop put forth, that homosexuality is on par with pedophilia and rape.
Once again, we have a major religious group mistaking "attraction and passion between two voluntary, willing people" for "assault and attack on unwilling, involuntary victim."
If the archbishop had said, "I have a strict definition of what I consider sexual deviancy. This is sex that I---representing my Church---consider sinful, and against the word of God. In this category are rape, pedophilia and homosexuality." I would have disagreed, but not really paid any attention. To equate the three? Is abhorrent to me.
Not everyone believes the same thing. The Catholic Church is large, with many members, and has always been a powerful influence.
But not everyone is Catholic, and not everyone believes as Catholics do.
Lately every religion has felt compelled to come out with a Defined Stance on Homosexuality. It's not new, but many of the statements are. Regardless, not every member of every religion exactly agrees with the official religious statement on this (or even other) issues. Therefore, the Church isn't even necessarily speaking for the exact civil position of its every member.
I can ask, but I can't expect, that every person tolerate (real tolerate, not watered down faux tolerate) each person in his or her sexual orientation and relationship. Some simply will not tolerate that. And as much as it might sadden or gall me, that is within their rights.
However, to demand that the government operate, and require its citizens, to operate as this one part of this one church desires? Is not within their rights.
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert