Yahoo News asked Americans who are tangibly affected by the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decisions to react to Wednesday's rulings. Here's one perspective.
COMMENTARY | As a Catholic priest who has performed hundreds of marriages, I am disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and to leave the Proposition 8 law unresolved. The DOMA decision, in particular, drives a wedge between Christian and secular rights unnecessarily.
If I now decline to perform a same-sex marriage because my church, the Catholic Church, only allows marriage between a man and a woman, how long will it be before my civil privilege of witnessing marriages will be challenged?
I lived in Mexico for four years, where religious and civil marriage ceremonies are entirely separate. When I performed marriages there, I was usually presented with a certificate proving that the couple had first gone to the civil authorities to register their union. My church ceremony was not recognized by the state and the civil marriage was not sacramental and therefore not binding in the eyes of my church.
I am beginning to think Mexico has it right. Let's get religion out of the civil marriage business so that I and other ministers of religion can perform marriages that uphold the standard of one man, one woman, and one sacramental union. This is not to say that my church refuses membership to gays.
The Catholic Church teaches that same-sex attraction is not evil and that in regard to homosexuals, "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." (CCC --The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358).
Notice the strange word "unjust." As religious people, we are convinced that marriage is a huge part of God's plan to share love and bring children into the world. We believe the core of family life is wife, husband and their children. We believe it is our right under the First Amendment to discriminate and limit marriage to members who are heterosexual.
Will the government invade our religion insisting that our schools teach that same-sex unions are marriages? Will our textbooks have to support this new definition of marriage? I hope not.
One thing is sure: Catholic Americans will have to show a new determination to embrace their brothers and sisters whose orientation is same-sex. We Catholics must be inclusive and sensitive in all of our dealings with our church members regardless of sexual orientation.
Maybe the Supreme Court's decisions today will force us Catholics (and other religious groups) to be clearer about our beliefs, especially those that are counter to the culture in which we live.
I would hope that the First Amendment will protect my right to practice my religion and live my faith.
Gerald Watt has been witnessing marriages as a Catholic priest for 46 years. He lives in northern Illinois.
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