The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law by President William Clinton on September 21, 1996. DOMA was a response to the State of Hawaii’s near attempt to legalize gay marriage in 1993. In order to stop this unpopular and threatening trend, DOMA clearly defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. Moreover, the law defended traditional marriage by asserting that each state had the right to refuse to recognize same sex marriage by any other state, and affirmed that the federal government would NOT recognize gay marriage, even if individual states choose to do so.
As just noted, the movement toward the legalization of gay marriage was markedly unpopular when DOMA was signed into law. This was evident by how quickly and overwhelmingly DOMA became the law of the land. DOMA was presented to the House of Representatives as H.R. 3396 on May 7, 1996. Two months later, on July 12 of this same year, DOMA passed through the House, 342 for and 67 against it (eighty percent of the House opposed gay marriage). On September 10, the Senate overwhelmingly supported DOMA, with 85 yeas and 14 nays opposing it (Eighty four percent of the Senate opposed gay marriage). Only eleven days later, the Act was signed into law by President Clinton.
While DOMA temporarily curbed the gay marriage movement, much has changed since then. The most recent figures show a thunderously increasing support for the legalization of gay marriage. According to the March 20, 2013 Pew Research report (Gay Marriage: Key Points from Pew Research), 49% of the population are now in favor of gay marriage and 48% are opposed to it. These results show a significant reversal over the past decade. In 2001, the data showed that 57% opposed gay marriage and only 35% supported it! Moreover, in 2001 none of the States had legalized same sex marriage. Massachusetts was the first state to break this barrier, legalizing same sex marriage on May 17, 2004, only nine years ago. Since this time, eight other States plus the District of Columbia have followed Massachusetts in granting gay couples the “right” to marry (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington).
Further fuel to the fire was added by the Obama Administration (February 2011) when they declared that they believed that DOMA was unconstitutional. In light of this, the Administration refused to defend the law in court. Moreover, President Obama publicly declared his support for the legalization of gay marriage on May 9, 2012. This is without precedent. In 2008, Obama opposed gay marriage. He claimed that his thinking has “evolved” since then and he now views gay marriage differently. Sadly, his political cohorts, such as Bill Clinton who initially supported and signed DOMA into law, have also “evolved” and become more enlightened over the past decade and a half. DOMA’s life on this planet could be a short one. In fact, oral arguments on the constitutionality of DOMA, as of March 26 of this year, are now being argued before the Supreme Court.
One thing is for sure. The legalization of gay marriage will have lethal consequences for us and the generations to come. Gay marriage strikes at the heart of the primary purpose of marriage, which is the generation, nurturing, and education of children. The begetting of offspring by a married man and a woman, as God intended, is the foundation upon which family life is built and the bedrock of a healthy, vibrant, and productive society. Legislation which weakens rather than strengthens traditional marriage will eventually lead, not only to the desolation of families, but to the destruction of society itself. God will not be mocked. Those great nations who have ignored His teachings have crumbled throughout the course of human history. The point of the preceding is that marriage between a man and woman is what God intended. This is why they were created with anatomical differences, complementing each other, and this is why He elevated marriage to the sacramental state, providing special graces to those who chose this vocation. God never taught that marriage between same sex couples was permissible. In fact, He specifically condemned sodomy and homosexual acts as “sins that cry to heaven for vengeance” — sins of impurity against nature that could NEVER be approved of by His Church (Corinthians 6: 9-10; Genesis 19: 1-29; Romans 1: 24-27; Cf. http://www.saintaquinas.com/mortal_sin.html). Obviously our Lord would not have supported legislation permitting gay marriage or same sex civil unions. In fact, He would have vociferously condemned the notion that gay marriage was a civil right and those who supported this.
In order to get sympathy for their position, gays will trumpet the message that their same sex attraction is genetically caused. Like those who inherit brown or blue eyes, gays will contend that homosexuality is a fixed trait. In other words, they “were born that way” and there is nothing that can be done to change this. However, the evidence indicates otherwise. There is no gay gene or common grouping of such that are responsible for one’s sexual orientation. Rather, a combination of environmental, psychological, social, and cultural factors have been identified as potential causes of homosexuality.
Even though no specific homosexual gene or genetic combination has been discovered, many gays contend that they have inherited a “genetic predisposition,” causing them to be attracted to same sex persons. Again, they will insist that they “were born that way“ and their homosexuality is a natural outgrowth of this inherited predisposition. However, a fixed genetic trait such as eye, hair, or skin color is not the same as an inherited genetic predisposition. We have no control over the former. The latter, on the other hand, differs in this regard. An individual, who is attracted to same sex persons, can stay away from persons and situations, which are “ occasions of sin.” Moreover, he can learn to control his thoughts and behavior when the temptation to engage in homosexual activity arises. This does not mean that exercising such control will be easy, especially if this problem is of a long standing nature. However, with much effort, prayer, and perseverance change is possible. The “genetically predisposed” sufferer can choose to avoid engaging in homosexual thoughts and activity. He or she can seek spiritual and professional help in order to change and better cope with their same sex attraction. Choice, not predetermination, is the critical point here. The genetically predisposed person can choose to act in such a way that he or she does not become the victim of a sensual attraction, leading to mortally sinful behavior. (See the note at the end of this piece for more on the “genetic predisposition.”)
In conclusion, those who support gay marriage will contend that this is a civil rights rather than a moral issue. However, natural law and the laws of God’s Church would dictate otherwise. If gay marriage becomes the law of the land, it will lead to the perversion of this sacrament and the loss of those graces attached to the marital state, given to us by Jesus Christ. This will eventually lead to the weakening of the family and the destruction of the society upon which it is founded.
The politicians will pretend that they have agonized over this issue and claim that they have become more enlightened, leading to a change in their thinking. They will insist that they want to do the right thing. But as we have observed, this is hardly the case.
Rather, they waffle from one position to the other depending upon on the way that the political wind is blowing. The most recent poll Pew Research data (March 13-17, 2013) on Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters’ response to the question: should same sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples? would support this contention. The current figures show that 74% of the Democrats, 49% of the Republicans, and 74% of the Independent voters agreed that gay and heterosexual couples should have the same rights. As noted previously the House and Senate overwhelmingly (80+ %) opposed gay marriage when DOMA was signed into law seventeen years ago. What a difference one decade has made!
The current crop of politicians, particularly our Catholic politicians who should know better, are a sad lot. For them, getting elected is what is important. If this means violating natural law and God’s commandments, so be it. Deep down inside, I suspect that the over-riding majority of our politicians and legislators know that gay marriage is an abomination and makes no sense from both a moral and practical perspective. Common sense would dictate that. Unfortunately common sense is not so common, especially when it comes to politics. With the guillotining of DOMA, the legalization of gay marriage is not only likely to accelerate, but it could soon become the law of the land. Those who refuse to comply with it and openly oppose such a law may be persecuted more vehemently than ever. God give us the grace to face such adversity, should it arise. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph — the Holy Family upon which society is founded — pray for us and provide us with the strength to follow Your example.
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Note on “Genetic Predisposition”: In this article, I used the term “genetic predisposition” toward homosexuality. For the purpose of clarification, I would like to explain what I meant by this term. Let me preface my remarks by stating that I am not a geneticist. However, in my perusal of the literature, two points were evident. First, the various theories that posit a genetic (or epigenetic) predetermination toward homosexuality are scientifically unproven. And secondly, these theories are not in conformity with the fundamental truths of human nature. In light of the preceding, I rejected the notion that a specific gene or combination of genes were responsible for “fixing” one’s homosexual orientation at conception and compelling him or her to engage in a gay lifestyle thereafter. As a psychologist, my operative theory in this area is that certain men and women have a predisposition (a “potency” in philosophical terms) toward homosexuality. This potency might or might not be activated depending upon those environmental circumstances to which the individual becomes exposed.
The “genetic predisposition” of which I speak is a person’s inclination to engage in morally disordered actions when the potency, which I previously mentioned, becomes aroused or activated. For example, Michael is a young man whose family members are afflicted with obesity. This runs in Michael’s family. With such an inherited predisposition, Michael is strongly attracted to food and its consumption. He is constantly fixated on food and experiences gluttonous inclinations, which are most tempting indeed. Monitoring and controlling his food intake will be an ongoing problem for Michael, given his “genetic predisposition.” Raymond, on the other hand, has no difficulty with controlling his food intake or with gluttony. However, the members of Raymond’s family tend to behave violently when stressed. Raymond, like his family members, has a low frustration tolerance. As a result, he can quickly become so violent that he poses a danger to others and could inflict injury or even death upon them. Raymond’s inclination to act violently and the control of his temper may be an ongoing problem, throughout the course of his life, given his “genetic predisposition.”
It is important to note that people and the vices to which they become attracted differ. The old saying that “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” applies here. If someone lacks the particular “predisposition” for a certain vice, it will hold little or no attraction to him. However, if he inherits this predisposition, he could — as if by temperament — easily fall into that sin.
There is also the related question as to what occurs when someone’s predisposition becomes “set off” so to speak. The person’s inclination, which was previously latent and now triggered, will first come to the forefront in the form of temptations. If these temptations are then consented to, they become actual sins. We are all born heterosexual, since God gave us a certain complement of male and female biological traits at conception. If one has a predisposition toward homosexuality, this potency could become activated by one’s own sins against purity, in which he freely chooses to engage. It should be noted that suffering from some sort of trauma: mental or physical abuse, premature exposure to sexual matters, pornography, rape, etc., might also trigger someone’s “predisposition.” In my opinion, even bad parenting habits and parental role dysfunction (all too common today) can have a profound influence in leading predisposed young men to embrace homosexuality. Again, if the temptations are freely consented to, the behavior and thoughts become actual sins. The repetition of these becomes more habitual and deeply integrated into one’s personality.
The theory that I accept does not reject the culpability for sin, nor does it deny the freedom of the human will. Still less does it advance the notion that homosexuals are “born this way.”