“Those who disagree with the Church on this issue” can disagree in more than one way, and sometimes it is by vociferously agreeing with the Church, without knowing it.
Those who, for example, argue that gay couples are denied equal protection if they have no access (or unequal access) to power-of-attorney, next-of-kin, default-heir, and similar legal statuses are not in disagreement with the Church.
Indeed, they ought to go further: None of those legal items is relevant to a pair of persons having a sexual relationship; consequently, a good Catholic—since every good Catholic agrees with the justice of equal protection under law—should firmly insist that power-of-attorney, next-of-kin, default-heir, and the like should be available to any two people who choose to designate themselves as such, whether they are sex partners, law partners, or tennis partners. There’s no particular reason to single out sex partners, gay or straight, when these legal niceties are unrelated to sex. And after all, why should the government so intrude into our lives as to insist that our default-heir must be a person who, at some point or another, brought us to orgasm?
So that is the proper way to deal with all those legal issues so often raised by homosexual rights activists. Indeed they ought to leave off with the “homosexual” part altogether; there’s nothing sexual about their equal protection claim!
Nor is there anything marital about it, either. For of course those legal items are unrelated to what marriage is, either as a sacrament or as a natural institution of human nature and human culture. That is why some marriages have them, and some do not. Some explicitly avoid the standard inheritance laws by means of a prenup, for example; or confer power-of-attorney on someone other than the spouse.
Indeed, the sole argument available to the government for extending those legal items uniquely to heterosexual couples is because heterosexual couples can produce children. The state has a “compelling state interest” in children’s rights being protected (e.g. their unalienable human right to fathering and mothering) and in providing incentives to increase the odds that they are raised in a fashion which maximizes their chances of thriving (i.e. by a married-for-life father and mother).
That is indeed a valid “compelling state interest”...but is the automatic bundling of power-of-attorney and default-heir/next-of-kin status really the best and most transparent way to incentivize healthy child-rearing? Not likely! (I think most couples would far rather have the marriage penalty eliminated and the per-child tax credit doubled. Can I get an AMEN, you parents out there?)
So it’s better to unbundle those things. Let them be separate items, on separate pages, offered to a couple at the same time they obtain their marriage license, and let them sign the papers they wish to sign and ignore those in which they are uninterested…and let the same papers be available at the same price to anyone else, too, be they law partners, sex partners, or tennis partners.
So much for the equal protection claim.
What remains? Well, there is the title to the word “marriage,” but that has ever indicated the kind of union which is likely to produce grandchildren, even dynasties, and to allow the grandkids to visit grandma and grandpa at Christmas without having to visit two different houses. There is nothing about that which can logically involve a pair of men or a pair of women, whatever their extracurricular proclivities. And while the right to that word cannot plausibly involve an equal protection case, it does involve a compelling state interest regarding child welfare. So, if anything, the legal argument favors granting that title exclusively to fertile heterosexual couples intent on having children, or to those who have already done so and, now infertile, are “grandfathered in” so to speak.
What remains after that? Only one thing: The question of whether the state will point guns at anyone who refuses to match their public behaviour vis-a-vis homosexual couples to their public behaviour vis-a-vis heterosexual couples.
And that, of course, is what the more aggressive “gay rights” activists are after. I don’t say “really after” for that would suggest something conspiratorial about it; in reality they’re perfectly open about it:
They want florists to be enslaved to make wedding-style arrangements for gay commitment ceremonies whether doing so violates their consciences or not. They want bakers to be enslaved to make wedding-style cakes, and photographers to be enslaved to make wedding-style photographs, and dressmakers to put dresses on bearded ladies, and bishops and priests and pastors to be fined or jailed if they refuse to officiate. All of these things have happened already in the U.S., in Canada, in the U.K. How truly was it said that, anymore, the chief duty of Christian parents is to prepare their children for white martyrdom, and to stockpile savings and foodstuffs against the day they are denied jobs! (If the HHS has its way, they are already being denied business ownership, the right to operate a charity or hospital or school….)
Now, Grace, to disagree with the Church about the undesirability—not to say outright Satanism—of all of that is to make oneself an obstinate heretic.
Between these two extremes, you will probably say, there is a “middle road”: Civil unions. What about those?
Well, the Church has taught pretty forcefully about those, too: One can allow for civil unions as a way to avoid the greater evil of equating gay liasons with marriage, if and only if there is no other way to do so, under the principle of Double Effect.
But one cannot seek civil unions as if they were a positive good. An institutional approval for the kind of disordered sexuality which—along with porn and fornication and artificial contraception and the like—is chosen in preference to God by so many souls, resulting in their likely damnation—constitutes an institutional “structure of sin” less brutal than, but of the same structural category, as slavery, abortion, and the like. That is the mind of the Church.
It is also the mind of the Church that justice demands equal protection for all persons in view of their human dignity; and for this reason, it’s fine to advocate for next-of-kin, power-of-attorney, et alia for sex partners, as long as you’re also advocating for tennis partners and law partners. If you make it exclusively about sex partners, but intentionally extend the category not only to licit sex but illicit, then, once again, you’re advocating a structure of sin. Not good. Best to hold back from the Sacrament, lest you drink condemnation on yourself, if that’s your game.
So in the end, Grace, one cannot “disagree with the Church” about this and have it all be hunky-dory. I expect those with equal protection concerns might be surprised to find that their disagreement isn’t (provided they’re really interested in equal protection, and not just in advocating state-sanctioned cultural approval for sexual sin). But those who really disagree, are really in danger.