The U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of appeals of 4 SSM cases:
one each from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee.
Part 13: 2015-APR:
A brief by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic
in the case Obergefell v. Hodges opposing
marriage equality throughout the U.S.:
We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage."
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
2015-APR-02: The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church submitted an amicus curiae to the U.S. Supreme Court that opposes marriage equality:
Various national surveys show that a majority of the Roman Catholic laity supports marriage for same-sex couples. Their support typically exceeds that of non-Catholics. However, the hierarchy of the Church is unanimously opposed to marriage equality.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) filed their brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. 1 The Conference is composed of all of the active bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. The Catholic Church forms the largest faith group in the country. They presented only their own beliefs, and ignored the beliefs of their membership.
Because of space limitations, we will analyze here only the "Summary of Argument" presented in the Amicus Curiae:
- The summary states that one reason why the government recognizes marriage is that:
"... as a matter of simple biology, the sexual
union of one man and one woman is the only union
capable of creating new life. A home with a mother
and a father is the optimal environment for raising
children, an ideal that State law encourages and
promotes. Given both the unique capacity for
reproduction and the unique value of homes with a
mother and father, it is reasonable and just for a
State to treat the union of one man and one woman
as having a public value that is absent from other
intimate, interpersonal relationships." 1
Analysis: Actually, a woman in a same-sex relationship with another woman can create new human life by going through an artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization process. Also, a man in a same-sex relationship with another man can create new life with the help of artificial insemination of a cooperative surrogate mother using his sperm. These were probably not considered by the USCCB because the Church considers both medical procedures to be profoundly immoral.
There have been many studies of the quality of parenting in families led by same-sex adults. Their general consensus is that parenting by a same-sex couple is equal or perhaps slightly better than that provided by opposite-sex couples. Unfortunately, almost all of the studies have had serious design problems. Most have based their results on a sample size that is too small to provide meaningful results. The famous Regnerus study at the University of Texas by an evangelical Christian team was supposed to overcome the deficiencies of previous studies. The study was funded by the Witherspoon Institute which has been advocating against same-sex marriage for years. 2 The researchers concluded that children's outcome is worse in families led by same-sex couples. However, their results are essentially meaningless because their study included only two people who were parented by a same-sex couple from birth to adulthood.
Fortunately, there has been one accurate and meaningful study performed in Australia. It is the ACHESS study "The Australian study of Child HEalth in Same Sex families." They found that children raised by same-sex parents:
- Thrive equally well when compared to the rest of the population in self-esteem, emotional behavior, and the amount of time spent with parents.
- Scored higher than the national average for overall health and family cohesion -- a measure of how well family members get along.
- Had no statistically significant differences for all other health measures.
Same-sex couples are currently not allowed to marry in Australia, mainly because their Prime Minister will not allow a free vote on a Parliamentary bill which would attain marriage equality. If they were able to marry, they would receive the status, benefits and protections of marriage just like opposite-sex couples have always enjoyed. The children's' outcomes would then probably increase further and become very significantly superior to that of children in families led by opposite-sex couples.
- The USCCB brief continues:
"No other institution joins together persons with the natural ability to have children, to assure that any such children are properly cared for by their own parents.
No other institution ensures that children will at
least have the opportunity of being raised by their
mother and father together." 1
Their statement could be interpreted as an attack on infertile opposite-sex couples as well as on all same-sex couples. This is a common point raised by many conservative religious faith groups and parachurch organizations. Surprisingly, there has been few objections by adopting parents or adoption agencies.
Full disclosure: The author of this essay and his former wife adopted a daughter, Pamela, at the age of 5 weeks, in whom we are both very proud. Dr. Pamela Robinson MCIP RPP is now a faculty member at a Canadian university.
- The USCCB cites a second reason why the government recognizes marriage:
"... encouraging and supporting a permanent
bond of marriage between a father and mother
promotes their interests. More than a quarter of the
Nation’s children currently live with only one birth
parent. Government support for a marital bond
between mothers and fathers serves the interest of
reducing, or preventing further increases in, the
incidence of single parenthood and the consequent
burdens it places upon the custodial parent (usually
the mother) and the public fisc.
This, of course, is true. However, it is equally true for families led by either opposite-sex or same-sex parents.
- They state that restricting marriage to one woman and one man is not based on hatred, bigotry, or animus against others. They write:
"Because sexual conduct between
persons of the same sex never results in children,
legal reinforcement of a permanent bond between
them does not serve the same interests. In this
context, like any other, the government is not
required to treat things that are different in relation
to its asserted interests as if they were the same.
There is no bigotry in treating genuinely different
If one were to consider a couple's sexual activity, to the exclusion of the what they do during the remaining 165 or more hours of the week, then this statement would make some sense. However, same-sex couples can engage on other activities that result in children. One could write:
"Because medical procedures involving same-sex couples using artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization (and perhaps the cooperation of surrogate women) result in children,
legal reinforcement of a permanent bond between
the couple serves the same interests as for an opposite-sex couple. In this
context, like any other, the government is
required to treat things that are the same in relation
to its asserted interests as being the same.
There is actual bigotry in treating genuinely similar
- The Catholic Church's final point is that chaos would result if the U.S. Supreme Court were to issue a ruling in mid-2016 that legalizes same-sex marriage in the final 13 states as has already been achieved in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The USCCB brief states that:
"... redefining marriage as a matter of
constitutional law would needlessly create church-state conflict for generations to come. Because
marriage so pervades civil and social life, these
conflicts will similarly pervade, extending much
farther than other categories of conflict that might be
In States that have redefined
marriage, disputes have already arisen that provide
glimpse of what is to come if this Court were to
declare that such redefinition is mandated
nationwide by the U.S. Constitution. Reversal of the judgment below would embroil this Court (and lower
a series of otherwise avoidable disputes — pitting claims of constitutional right squarely against
for decades to come, until one or the
other is diminished."
This topic continues in the next essay with the conclusion of the
Roman Catholic Church's brief and descriptions of a personal
brief opposing marriage equality during 2015-APR.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Brief Amicus Curiae of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ...", U.S. Supreme Court, 2015-APR-02, at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/
- "The Regnerus Fallout," 2013-OCT-23, at: http://www.regnerusfallout.org/
How you may have arrived here:
Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-APR-21
Latest update: 2015-APR-21
Author: B.A. Robinson