Thursday, May 11, 2006

This is weak ...

Now that Italy has a center-left government likely to pass some form of civil partnership for same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples, B16 has come out with his anti-gay guns blazing:

"It is especially urgent today to avoid confusing [marriage] with other types of union based on a weaker love," he told a family conference.

Once again, Papa Ratzi has said more about this than he needs to. It's one thing to say that the institution of marriage is so old and so foundational that the label "marriage" should only be applied to male-female unions. But it's another thing altogether to call same-sex relationships a "weaker love." What does he know about it? And on what grounds would he make such a claim?

B16's defenders will no doubt argue that there is some deep philosophical principle lying behind the pope's position, but I doubt it. There's something else going on here: It's quite frankly too unreasonable to insist that governments make no provision whatsoever for couples and families that fall outside the norm of lifelong heterosexual marriage. All these "non-traditional" families pay taxes and otherwise contribute to civil society; many raise children. Justice demands that they have some status under the law.

Besides, I don't think heterosexual love has any claim to greater "strength" than any other kind of love, at least if divorce and domestic violence rates are any indication.


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