A Mess In Massachusetts 

CRISIS Magazine - e-Letter

November 20, 2003


Dear Friend,

I want to mention a couple things quickly before I get to the main 
point of this letter...

First, last night the Senate passed by unanimous consent Resolution 
313, awarding the Congressional Medal of Freedom to Pope John Paul 
II. This is nice news, and I'm pleasantly surprised that it passed 
without objection. 

Second, the spokesman for Archbishop O'Malley of Boston released a 
statement yesterday giving at least indirect support to Voice of the 
Faithful. This is pretty troubling and we're going to try to find out 
what's going on there... I'm going to shoot you an email tomorrow to 
fill you in on what we discover (so be on the lookout for it).

But the main reason I emailed you today is this...

As you probably already know, the Massachusetts Supreme Court 
decided on Tuesday that it was unconstitutional to exclude 
homosexuals from marriage.

This wasn't much of a surprise. With the current social fashions 
prevailing in our courts today, it's almost a foregone conclusion 
that justices will be dealing loose and free with the Constitution, 
inserting rights that they're sure the framers would have included 
had they only been as enlightened as the judges.

Well, this battle may be over, but the war rages on. I spoke with 
Dan Avila and Maria Parker at the Massachusetts Catholic Conference 
yesterday to see where we go from here. This is what they told me...

First of all, while the justices said that marriage should be open 
to homosexuals, they limited their reading to include couples only 
and added some language against incest. At least that puts to rest 
the case for polygamists... for now, anyway. Of course, the decision 
to recast marriage in these terms is totally arbitrary; otherwise, 
why would the court reject some distinctions and embrace others? 

The language of the court's opinion implies that restricting 
marriage to a man and a woman is the product of outdated prejudice 
that should be abandoned. The majority stated that “the marriage 
restriction is rooted in persistent prejudices against persons who 
are (or who are believed to be) homosexual,” and that “the 
Constitution cannot control such prejudices but neither can it 
tolerate them.... The law cannot, directly or indirectly, give them 

Forget thousands of years of history or the core teachings of the 
world's major religions. Nope, marriage restrictions are rooted in 
our own backward prejudices. Or so the four Massachusetts judges in 
the majority have determined.

It's becoming more and more common that speaking out against 
homosexual marriage will now get you labeled a bigot and extremist. I 
said as much in a column for CRISIS a few months back titled “Are We 
All Bigots Now?” After Sen. Rick Santorum drew fire for his 
statements expressing concern over homosexual acts, it became all too 
clear that traditional Christian (and Jewish and Muslim) morality was 
no longer tolerated in the political sphere.

There are few options that the state legislature has at this point. 
The court gave the legislature 180 days to change the laws dealing 
with marriage, but not much can happen in such a short time frame. 
They can still work to pass a marriage amendment to the state 
constitution, explicitly defining marriage as the union of one man 
and one woman. The problem is, that's a long process that couldn't 
even begin until 2004. Voting on the amendment might not occur until 
2006, at the earliest. By that point, countless marriage licenses 
would already have been issued and the institution of gay marriages 
and families will be deeply entrenched... and hard to fight.

Not only that, but now that opposition to homosexual marriage has 
become an issue of discrimination, the law will not tolerate those 
who disagree with it. For example, institutions will now have to 
change their employment policies and benefits packages to recognize 
homosexual partners. The Catholic Church, with all its schools, 
hospitals, and charities, would be no different. And yet to recognize 
these unions would go directly against our beliefs.

The decision goes far beyond merely recognizing same-sex couples 
legally; those who disagree with the validity of same-sex marriages 
can be censored for their beliefs.

So what do we do now?

Well first of all, we can't give up fighting. The members of the 
Massachusetts Catholic Conference have dedicated themselves to doing 
everything in their power to fight for a constitutional marriage 
amendment. I felt confident after talking to Dan and Maria that they 
won't leave a single stone unturned.

Additionally, the Massachusetts Family Institute, headed up by Ron 
Crews, is working overtime. The public policy research organization 
is the leading group sponsoring the marriage amendment. This morning, 
Crews, told us that he thinks the votes are there to pass it and that 
they've actually gained support since the court ruling. 

Mayor Mitt Romney has also pledged to work for the amendment. He 
said, “I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. Marriage is an 
institution between a man and a woman... and our constitution and 
laws should reflect that.” It's encouraging to know that he stands 
firmly against the latest decision; I hope he'll work alongside the 
Catholic Conference and the Massachusetts Family Institute to get the 
job done.

In order for the amendment to pass, it must receive the support of 
101 of the 160 senators and representatives currently serving. 
Records show that a majority of those legislators are Democrats... 
and Catholics. Now is the time for Catholics in Massachusetts to 
appeal to those legislators to vote in favor of the amendment.

And it's never too early for us to start pushing for similar 
amendments in our own state. Massachusetts may be the first to 
welcome gay marriage, but unless we act, it certainly won't be the 


P.S. I have a new book out from Crossroads Publishing called An 
American Conversion: One Man's Discovery of Beauty and Truth in Times 
of Crisis. In it, I describe my own spiritual and intellectual 
journey to Catholicism. While there have been many good conversion 
stories published in the past ten years, mine is a bit different... 
My conversion focused more on beauty, philosophy, and art than 
anything else (I know -– a strange thing for a Baptist minister). 
Anyway, I'll tell you more about the book in the next couple weeks.

But in the meantime, I wanted to let you know that I'm having a book 
signing party tonight at the Catholic Information Center in 
Washington, D.C. If you're able to make it, I'd love to see you 
there. It goes from 5:30pm to 6:30 and will begin with introductory 
remarks from Dana Gioia, the chairman of the National Endowment of 
the Arts (and an accomplished poet). That'll be followed by some 
comments from me about the book. And, of course, I'll be happy to 
answer any questions you have at that time.

The Catholic Information Center is located at 1501 K Street NW, 
Washington, D.C. If you have questions on the details, you can give 
us a ring at (202)861-7790. And by the way, the whole event is being 
hosted by Father C. John McCloskey –- still my friend, despite the 
efforts of the Boston Globe Magazine. 


Sex abuse scandals... irreverent liturgies... homosexuality in the 
seminaries... liberal theology preached from the pulpit...

You know all about the crisis in the Church. But you've never heard 
the full story. When did the collapse in the Church occur... and what 
REALLY caused it?

Fr. Benedict Groeschel knows. He was there when it happened... 10 
years BEFORE Vatican II. 

What he saw will surprise you. 

Click here to learn more:


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