Frank O'Hara: Conscience says to vote 'yes' for same-sex marriage

I am a Catholic who supports civil marriage for same sex couples.

Research shows I am not alone. I am part of the majority.

In the spring of 2011, the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington, D.C., published a survey showing that 71 percent of Catholics supported some kind of civil recognition of same-sex relationships. This past spring The Pew Research Center found that 53 percent of Catholics explicitly support marriage for same-sex couples. This is a higher level of support than among Protestant Christians.

How do Catholics like me support civil marriage for same sex couples even though our bishops oppose it?

We Catholic supporters are simply living the values we learned from the nuns and priests in our youth. We learned that family is of prime importance. We learned that the family functions best when supported by loving relationships. We learned that those relationships must be characterized by fidelity, lifelong commitment, mutual respect, love and the nurture of children.

All Catholics share these family values, no matter what we think about civil marriage for same sex couples. Our differences of opinion occur when we apply these values to family structures that have only recently become visible in our society.

It is our responsibility, as Catholic laypeople, to decide how to apply our beliefs and values to the new family circumstances. This is called using “prudential judgment” or more commonly, using our conscience. The Vatican II Council called our conscience the “law written by God” in our hearts.

It is the responsibility of bishops and popes to teach us our creeds, traditions and sacraments. But they go beyond their role when they tell us how to vote.

Cardinal Newman wrote that the authority of one’s conscience cannot be overruled by the hierarchy: “Conscience cannot come into conflict with the Church’s or pope’s infallibility, which is engaged only on general propositions ... a pope is not infallible in his laws, nor in his commands, nor in his acts of state, nor in his administration, nor in his public policy.”

The Church tells us the importance of family. Our conscience tells us how to support families in our daily lives.

My conscience is formed by listening to our bishop, but also by paying attention to the world around me.

Twenty years ago, the idea of two people of the same sex getting married was inconceivable to me. Times have changed. I have watched same-sex couples raising children together, taking kids to soccer practice, baking cookies for PTA meetings, and teaching their children the value of hard work and of caring for others in need. I watched their kids go on to college and live productive lives. And I have thought about the family values of fidelity, love and commitment.

Don’t these committed same-sex couples already have marriages in every important sense of the word? And, shouldn’t state laws honor these relationships by calling them by the only word that accurately describes them — marriage?

Today, my conscience says to vote yes for marriages for same-sex couples. I have not reached this decision in spite of being a Catholic. I have come to this conviction precisely because I am Catholic. Years of Catholic teachings, my Catholic values, and my sense of God’s spirit moving in the world, all have informed this judgment.

Maine Catholics must think and pray about the vote on Nov. 6. Cast off fear. Examine your conscience. Listen to the voice within your heart. Talk to fellow Catholics.

Frank O’Hara of Hallowell is a board member of Catholics for Marriage Equality.

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Comments

Steve  Dosh's picture

Conscience says to vote 'yes' for same-sex marriage

Frank 12.09.18 13:13 HST •
Yes . It is a fairly simple argument for us practicing Christians and as Clive Staples Lewis , the Christian writer , might have put it , " Love love . Hate hatred , misunderstanding and all forms of bigotry and prejudice ."
To those who do not agree all we can say is , " What if you child or grandchild was lesbian , gay , transsexual or bisexual ? Would you love him or her any less ? Of course, not . That would be absolute and utter hypocrisy ."
/s, Steve Dosh
http://www.dumblaws.com/laws/united-states/maine
https://www.facebook.com/MainersUnited

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The nuclear family

While the nuclear family has been promoted as being the best environment for raising children, since the 50's, in this country, it has not always been the case in the real world. Most of us know of people, raised with Mom and Dad, who had a nightmarish childhood. Where children thrive the best is in a supportive community with good schools, good afterschool programs, good child health, programs, and support for mothers who have medical, psychological or financial deficits. Hilary had it right when she said "It takes a village". In the South, the village is most likely represented by your "kin". In New England, the village is usually represented by the community you live in. Whether a child's family is represented by a man and a woman or two women or two men or one person or a group of extended family members is not the defining quality in that child's life. It depends on the love and commitment of the family members and the support the community offers in the event the nuclear family leaves something to be desired.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Claire , 13;30 hst ?

Claire , 13;30 hst ? Tuesday
. .. ...and some would have us go back to the days of coat hanger abortions in back alleys , too , ( sorry about that image ) • h t h ? /s Steve

Kim Waite's picture

Here's something to think about:

Massachusetts (before they made same-sex marriages legal) had the lowest divorce rate in the nation. Then they passed their same-sex marriage law and they still maintain the status, but....it's stronger now. It appears same-sex marriage couples take their marriages more seriously and are marrying for REAL love. They do divorce, of course, but less than their heterosexual couples do. :D

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

No ideal marriages

I never implied that same sex marriages would all be ideal. What I said was that they are no better or no worse than heterosexual marriages. Given that the divorce rate for heteros is at 50% that 's not saying much.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"Whether a child's family is

"Whether a child's family is represented by a man and a woman or two women or two men or one person, or a group of extended family members is not the defining quality of that child's life."
Fairy dust.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Fairies really?

I don't believe in make-believe but there are plenty of statistics that prove that children can thrive in all of those environments not to mention the many adults who have come forth to say they grew up in happy homes and thrived in many different kinds of families. And I will grant you that there are many who did not. The make-up of the family is not the deciding factor but the care and love the child receives.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

A child has a much better

A child has a much better understanding of mom and dad than mom and mom or dad and dad. You can deny that, Claire, but it does not change the dynamics.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

dynamics

I suspect you have not spent much time around children lately. When they look at their friends they see all kinds of family dynamics and are aware that some of their friends are happy and some are suffering. The ones I see don't pay a whole lot of attention to who lives in their friends' houses. Nowadays they are used to many kinds of families.

Kim Waite's picture

Really?

So if you were raised by your mother and Aunt or mother & grandmother, having those two women raise you would have been detrimental to your mental well-being? Oh please! Heterosexual couples have been known to screw their children's minds up and are the same ones who when they find out one of their kids is gay, they shun that child! Love means nothing to some heterosexual couples. I'm glad there are same-sex couples in Maine and across the nation to show what a true-loving family looks like where everyone is accepted as they are not what mom & dad perceive they should be. That's freedom!

Kim Waite's picture

CORRECTION:

"I'm glad there are same-sex couples in Maine and across the nation to show what a true-loving family looks like where everyone is accepted as they are not what mom & dad perceive they should be", should read:

I'm glad there are same-sex couples in Maine and across the nation to show what a true-loving family looks like where everyone is accepted AND not what mom & dad perceive they should be".

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"We Catholic supporters are

"We Catholic supporters are simply living the values we learned from the nuns and priests in our youths. We learned that family is of prime importance. We learned that the family functions best when supported by loving relationships. We learned that those relationships must be characterized by fidelity, lifelong commitment, mutual respect, love and the nurture of children."

Quite a mouthful.
I don't know where Mr. O'Hara attended Catholic schools, but being one who attended 8 years of parochial school teaching at the hands of nuns, brothers and priests, I can tell you this: The values described above may be relatively accurate. However, not once in 8 years of Catholic teaching were the references to family, mother and father, ever anything but directed towards a man and a woman as the parents. And, any children who were nurtured by these loving parents, man and woman, were usually born of them through the act of procreation.
Supporters of same sex marriage can paint their picture of family life just about any way they want, but the way I've described it is the way it was taught to us in the 40's and 50's.

In the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacred Sacrament. The Church has never supported or promoted same sex marriage. If Mr. O'Hara is a practicing Catholic, his "conscience" puts him in conflict with the values and current teachings of his Church.

Kim Waite's picture

Mr. O'Hara was talking about those Catholics

who are open-minded and who live in the now rather than the 1950's (where some Catholics & Evangelicals stopped progressing!) or early 1500's.

Thankfully there are some Catholics out there who have a conscience like Mr. O'Hara does. Bravo!

Jesus never procreated with anyone. He wasn't married and he hung out with mainly men and a "prostitute". The End.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

That's the problem with

That's the problem with Catholics; there are those who abide by the teachings and rules of the Church and then there are those
who practice their "faith" according to their own definitions of what they think they ought to be.
Your "The End" left out one important detail; they crucified Him.
What you, Mr. O'Hara and others refer to as "conscience" is called another thing within the confines of the Church; it's called sin.

Kim Waite's picture

So true...

...anyone with a functioning conscience is considered sinful by the Catholic Church! Very sad. Of course, the powers of the Catholic Church don't seem to notice their own sins.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It always come out,

It always come out, eventually.

Kim Waite's picture

It was Jesus

who taught to love thy neighbor as thyself (the Catholic Church hates the gays!), to feed the poor (the Catholic Church spends more money on their politics than they do feeding the poor & denying the poor a right to contraception so they don't have to keep feeding mouths they can't feed!), to go after the money-handlers (instead, the Catholic Church is extremely wealthy and that wealth is held in the Vatican which is so large & filled with real gold-leaf rooms, it's considered it's own country!), but yet, the Catholic Church seems to have missed all that along with many other sectors of religion that read the same bible.

I'm voting Yes On 1 this November because same-sex couples deserve to be EQUAL and INCLUDED, since they are Americans too and according to the bible, all are a reflection of god. God is perfect, correct? That's what the religious people of our nation are always saying.

Kim Waite's picture

It was Jesus

who taught to love thy neighbor as thyself (the Catholic Church hates the gays!), to feed the poor (the Catholic Church spends more money on their politics than they do feeding the poor & denying the poor a right to contraception so they don't have to keep feeding mouths they can't feed!), to go after the money-handlers (instead, the Catholic Church is extremely wealthy and that wealth is held in the Vatican which is so large & filled with real gold-leaf rooms, it's considered it's own country!), but yet, the Catholic Church seems to have missed all that along with many other sectors of religion that read the same bible.

I'm voting Yes On 1 this November because same-sex couples deserve to be EQUAL and INCLUDED, since they are Americans too and according to the bible, all are a reflection of god. God is perfect, correct? That's what the religious people of our nation are always saying.

Kim Waite's picture

This explains why Sen. Susan Collins a Catholic...

....did not marry in a Catholic church in Maine this summer. She had to switch to be recognized as a legal couple under god because she and her new husband would not be procreating to make babies during their marriage which the Catholic church deems illegal!

Sound stupid? Yep. It is.

I am voting 'Yes on 1' in November because I believe that two adults of any color, creed, and sex who are in love with each other and want to make that life-time commitment to each other should be able to. I also honor the fact that the way the law is written here in Maine which states that no religious person/church shall be forced to marry a same-sex couple if it's against their religious beliefs. Wonderful! There are many religions/churches/religious people/Justices of the Peace who would be honored to marry a same-sex couple, so all is not lost. The Catholic bishops & priests can continue their division among the people without interruption, while the rest of society progresses forward!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"She had to switch to be

"She had to switch to be recognized as a legal couple under god (sic) because she and her new husband would not be procrating to make babies during their marriage which the Catholic church deems illegal!
What's stupid is that you actually believe that stuff. Where on earth did you ever get the notion that the Catholic Church does not allow married Catholic couples not to have children if that is their choice? It appears that you are preaching things of which you have no factual knowledge.

Kim Waite's picture

The Catholic Church believes marriage is

between one man & one woman TO PROCREATE. They believe marriage is only between opposite sexes that can produce a child with what god gave them. See? Not my words. They're the teachings of the Catholic religion. It's why this religion spends boatloads of money going after the same-sex marriage issue. Maybe Susan Collins has turned her back on the Catholic Church and that's why she and hubby married in a non-Catholic church? Hey, could be. That would be the one thing that would make me respect her!

By the way, when Collins announced her engagement to Tom, she also said her future husband was living in the BASEMENT of the building they bought together in DC. Weird don't you think? I think these two married for business reasons (looks good on the resume for anyone who thinks she's a lesbian and some do!) and their marriage is a sham. They won't be producing children and I really doubt they're sharing the same bed and doubt they ever have! My opinion. Deal with it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You don't like Collins, you

You don't like Collins, you don't like republicans, and you don't like the Catholic Church, and you know what? Nobobody cares but you. You deal with it.

Kim Waite's picture

Ummmm, actually....

quite a few people agree with me on all fronts. Deal with it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Hahaha...sure you do.

Hahaha...sure you do.

Kim Waite's picture

So you think the vast majority

loves Susan Collins, trusts the Catholic Church, and trusts & loves the GOP? LOL! Hardly! But hey, you continue to live in your little box and I'll continue to live in reality outside the box!

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