Iowa Unions

Looks like Iowa will be joining the front lines of the Culture War. Just when I hoped it was g0ing to be a normal summer with corn and soybeans uninterrupted by floods and tornadoes. Now it looks like both calamities are on the way. I’ll tell the corn to duck when I get out to the countryside. It would take at least until 2012 to get the state constitution amended. Meanwhile no residency requirement, either for couples or protesters.

Update: This statement arrived from the Catholic bishops of Iowa later this afternoon:

We, the Roman Catholic Bishops of Iowa, strongly disagree with the decision of the Iowa Supreme Court which strikes down Iowa’s law defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. This decision rejects the wisdom of thousands of years of human history. It implements a novel understanding of marriage, which will grievously harm families and children.

This unwarranted social engineering attacks the good that marriage offers to society, especially the good of children, and weakens the critical relationship between marriage and parenting. We will resolutely continue to protect and promote marriage as a union between a man and a woman because of its unique and historical contribution to the common good.

We uphold the right of all people to be treated with respect and live in peace. This right, like the right to enter into a permanent, monogamous marriage of one man and one woman, derives directly from the intrinsic dignity of the human person. These are rights which the state has the duty to recognize and protect. They are not something that the state creates or may redefine. The citizens of every state who have been given the opportunity have voted to preserve civil marriage as it has been recognized and defined since the beginning of recorded history.

Therefore, we exhort Catholics and other citizens of Iowa to recognize the clear need for a constitutional amendment on marriage. We affirm that supporting the ideal of marriage as the stable union of one man and one woman is necessary to defend marriage, families, children, and the common good.

Most Rev. Jerome Hanus, OSB, Archbishop of Dubuque
Most Rev. R. Walker Nickless, Bishop of Sioux City
Most Rev. Martin Amos, Bishop of Davenport
Most Rev. Richard Pates, Bishop of Des Moines

[For a fuller explanation of our position, check the “Statements” section on the website of the Iowa Catholic Conference, An alert is available in the Action Center.]

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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19 Responses to Iowa Unions

  1. Jimmy Mac says:

    Well, that’s it! The corn crop will fail; the Mississippi will overflow its banks yet again; and God will smite the state from the face of the earth.

  2. crystal says:

    It [same-sex marriage] implements a novel understanding of marriage, which will grievously harm families and children.

    This statement has no basis in truth, at least according to the American Psychological Association.

  3. Kevin in Texas says:

    Hi Crystal,

    If you depend on the APA to determine what Truth is for you, especially in such a common-sense situation as the one mentioned here, then that’s more than a bit problematical. For example, the APA as an institution also supports sex change operations, abortion, and some of its members publicly support radical sex deviancy in the form of adult-child sex if the child is a teenager and consents (e.g., a number of psychologists and therapists support the group NAMBLA in its view that man-child love should not be considered deviant).

    As for same-sex marriage not being novel, try selling that concept to every major religion and government since time immemorial. None has ever supported it until just the past few years (in the case of states like MA and CT, or countries like Sweden).

  4. crystal says:


    I was responding to the idea that same-sex marriage will harm children, and I do trust the APA in the area of mental health – that is the area of their expertise – and they are not alone in their belief (based on observation) that having gay/lesbian parents is non-harmful to children. Below are three links in which is expressed the view that children who grow up with one or two gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual …..

    * New Position Statement Adopted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA)
    Adoption and Co-Parenting of Children by Same-Sex Couples – link

    * American Academy of Pediatrics – Technical Report: Coparent or Second-Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents – link

    * Kids of Same-Sex Parents Do Fine – CBS News

  5. Todd says:

    Regarding “a number of psychologists and therapists support the group NAMBLA,” I have to say that in my reading of literature on it, my coursework in pastoral counseling, plus my experience in Twelve-Step recovery, I know of no reputable professional who would make such a claim. I can imagine a sex addict making such an excuse, but that’s hardly an association.

    Attempting to discredit psychologists as a whole because of non-professionals allegedly connected with the APA is not unlike those who automatically discredit the Church because of our worst sinners. It might not be logical, but people still attempt it.

  6. Kevin in Texas says:

    Hi Todd and Crystal,

    I’ve done 4 years of graduate work in psychology and educational psychology and have plenty of experience reading the political statements of the APA, as well as lots and lots of studies published by members (granted, none particularly dealing with sexual deviancy, as that is not my field, but on their e-mail listservs and in their published statements as a group, APA is not at all reticent to openly support sexual practices that the Church teaches clearly against). I beg to differ with you both that there are indeed accredited psychologists and therapists who openly support the notion that adolescent children and adults should be allowed to participate in sexual relations provided both are consenting in the matter. This does not mean that most psychologists or therapists feel that way, obviously, but there are those with a political ax to grind who openly support such behaviors.

    Crystal, thank you for posting those links, which are helpful. Of course the obvious rejoinder is that reputable medical research (including psychological studies like those mentioned) is in a constant state of development, and there is a general bias (scientific now, not political) towards letting enough data accumulate to make results statistically and socially meaningful. In the case of children raised by one or more gay parents, there have been relatively few to date, and even among those, very few who are now older adults. With the paucity of statistical evidence available, it’s simply not possible to draw meaningful conclusions. Much of what is cited is “best guess” scenarios by psychiatrists/psychologists.

    On the other hand, there is something deeper that is not addressed when considering the effects of same-sex parents on child development and mental/emotional health. Namely, why is there an assumption made that fathers and mothers are no different in what they offer to children? That’s the crux of the argument made by those supporting same-sex parenting, adoptions, i.e., “two fathers/mothers are as good as a mother and a father.” Our faith shows clearly that this is not the case, as does simple human reason and the Natural Law God has written on our hearts.

    It shows little faith in Natural Law and in God’s work of creation to argue from human political points of view like those of the APA in saying that children of same-sex parents fare just as well as children of heterosexual parents. Not to mention the issues of intrinsic evil involved in things like surrogacy on behalf of same-sex couples, use of IVF, etc. I know those arguments tend to hold little weight in this particular forum, but that’s another matter entirely.

    Finally Todd, as I know how you feel strongly about adoptions and the possibility of same-sex couples or single people adopting a child rather than letting the child be raised as a ward of the state, I don’t intend to debate that particular aspect of this issue here. I respect highly all couples who make the choice to adopt, and I believe you give tremendous glory to God in doing so. Of course an argument can be made that it would be better for a child to be adopted by a gay couple or single person than to grow up as a state ward, but that’s tangential to the issue of same-sex marriage in terms of Catholic teaching.

  7. Todd says:

    Thanks, Kevin, for your thoughtful reply. I would agree with you and many others that a child having a mother and a father is ideal. In my own experience of parenting a girl I see and appreciate the complementary aspects my wife and I bring. I feel more sensitivity to the raising of girls in general, and I take my role very seriously, especially as I see too many girls deficient in not being guided by fathers.

    Are father figures or mother figures enough when the child has no such parent? I believe adults can make a difference to an older child or a teen. I suspect that a seventeen-year-old needs both genders parenting as much as an infant. Are mentors enough? I wish I knew.

    On the other hand, I know gay and lesbian people who have no less a charism for parenting than heterosexual men or women. Unfortunately, the Culture Wars have so heated up the landscape that it seems almost impossible to conduct an unbiased study and come to one conclusion or another. I suspect that parenting quality is, as I suggest, a gift somewhat beyond the biological urge (which both SSA and straight people possess), that it is possible to learn to be a good parent, and that large groups like heterosexuals, the poor, or any particular ethnic group, cannot be boiled down to being statistically better or poorer parents.

    All that said, I don’t see parenting as a right. Nobody has a right to a child. People who have children have responsibilities, not rights.

  8. Kevin in Texas says:

    Amen, Todd! We agree–wonders never cease!!! :-)

  9. Jake says:

    Sure, one man one woman may be modern Western tradition, but I’m always a bit perplexed by the “bedrock of civilization” and “wisdom of the ages” argument. Have orthodox Christians read their Old Testament lately? To the ancient Hebrews, marriage may have been about one man, but it certainly wasn’t necessarily about him having just one woman. And if you were high profile God seems to have even been ok with them having a few concubines around as well.

    It just goes to show, how relatively recent our “traditional” ideas of marriage really are. Let the Church define the sacrament of Marriage as it will, this is absolutely acceptable. However, to argue that “one man, one woman” is the bedrock of our civilization is disingenuous.

  10. Jimmy Mac says:

    Archbishop Albino Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I, is quoted as telling a small group of gay Catholics in 1971,

    “The church bases her position on tradition, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong….because she is convinced that sex is the foundation of long term relationships. Thus she defines marriage as being limited to two people of the opposite gender. In time, as she becomes better educated in this thing she claims to be expert in – the psychology of loving relationships – she will come to realize that LOVE, and not sex, is the foundation of long term loving relationships.”

    Taken from “Murder in the Vatican,” by Lucien Gregoirie

    The idea that marriages between people of the same gender is “disordered” is itself flawed. There is no natural order outside of human experience and nature. God and the Church are not, in some mystical way, bound to enforce such a thing. God is perfect and does not depend on our adherance to any particular standard of morality.

    Because this is so, the magisterium has created the sophistry known as the “natural order” that is somehow absolute. It is not. Rather, it is dependent on our understanding of human nature, which is changing in regard to homosexuality. Sexuality is a gift from God. If someone is intrinsically homosexual, denying them this gift in the context of a stable relationship is itself sinful.

    Marriage as a LEGAL INSTITUTION is about to change to give same-sex couples the right to identify who are part of their families. Legally, they shall be “one flesh” which means that they are interchangeably the same person.

    The Church will have to recognize this and minister to the need of families for a wedding one way or the other.

  11. Kevin in Texas says:

    Wow, Jimmy Mac, i knew you were generally a dissenter from much of Church teaching, but I didn’t realize how completely your view differs from Church theology and teaching.

    Before you take offense, I’m being completely honest here and not attacking you personally, but making an observation from the perspective of an orthodox Catholic.

    Jimmy Mac, have you ever studied any of JP II’s Theology of the Body, or any of Christopher West’s books breaking it down into layman’s terms? I’m guessing probably not, from your last post.

    As far as the “quote” from JP I, it makes the widely discredited assumption that JP I was murdered. Inside Catholic had a very good article detailing all of the counter-evidence on this from an in-depth investigation by a fallen-away Catholic journalist who tore apart the conspiracy theory “proofs” and showed a clear timeline of what happened to JP I on the days surrounding the death. Highly worth reading if you haven’t ever heard the counter-evidence to the murder conspiracy claim.

    In all seriousness, Jimmy, now that I see how profoundly you disagree with basic Church doctrines, it’s clear there’s no room for give-and-take discussions with you on many of these matters where we would obviously disagree.

    Again, the previous is not meant as an attack but as a simple observation, so please, no personal attacks on me should you reply to this.

  12. Jimmy Mac says:


    Just call me a protesting Catholic who believes that all church is very, very local.

    The quote from JPI has nothing to do with whether he was/was not murdered (I happen to believe that he was not). The quote was about how JPI thought about how the church thinks, why and what quite likely can and will happen over time.

    So much of what is viewed as “orthodox” Catholicism simply highlights one way that the faith has been lived in the past, determines this to be normative, and then dismisses what might depart from it as being somehow less Catholic. This tends to be quite dismissive of the constitutively changing nature of the traditions of such things as marriage.

    Sacramental marriage was not part of the Christian religion until 1545 at the Council of Trent. There was no sacrament of matrimony before that. In 1200 there first came the concept of marriage for love. Prior to that, women were given to men as part of a business arrangement between families. Nothing holy about that! If we do not want to redefine marriage, then we should go back to having your father arrange who you should marry.

    Let’s try to define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look at Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile?

    Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel—all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. J

    esus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments—especially family. St. Paul regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered.

    Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple—who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love—turn to the Bible as a how-to script?

    I recommend you read John Boswell’s book Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (University of Chicago Press, 1980), in which he documents legally recognized homosexual marriage in ancient Rome extending into the Christian period, and his Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (Villard Books, 1994), in which he discusses Church-blessed same-sex unions and even an ancient Christian same-sex nuptial liturgy.

    I endorse the solution that has been raised more than once: anyone who wants to get married must enter into a state-granted civil union that confers all of the legal rights and privileges that currently come with marriage.

    Thereafter, anyone who wants a religious ceremony or the equivalent can do so with the religious group of their choice. That has been done in most of Europe for many years and life as we know it has not ended.

  13. marcum says:

    Hmm, lets ask Jimmy Mac from Frisco
    (the heretic),
    I’m tired of hearing libertines especially from Frisco, pontificating to all about what is good for children and families.
    just how many children do you have Jimmy?

  14. Jimmy Mac says:

    Marcum: I’m smart enough to realize that I would have been a lousy father, gay or straight. Any fool can breed, but how many can actually parent? From what I have seen, there are way TOO many fools breeding.

    I hope that you have learned that as well and, based upon your ad hominem silliness, are a non-reproducer.

    That being said, why did you attack me rather than what I had to say? Or is it because it was all beyond you?

  15. marcum says:

    So it’s all relative. You say tomoato I say tomahto. Since the progressive Obamanite culture has openly announced that modern scientific claims are their beacon and not the fantasy of religion, where is the proven scientific claims about being born GBLT? Answer, there are none- outside of extreme lobby groups pushing junk fraudulent scientific claims for political manipulation.

    What about the welfare of influencing and teaching children this distortion on human nature? Why would a ‘sane’ society threaten it’s children with psychological damage for adult sexual choices? E.g, inference to a elementary child (k-8) ‘do you know what your sexual ID is? Many do not and here are examples.
    Gay, Bi-sexual, Lesbian, and Transgender.
    If you think this kind of exposure to children is acceptable – shame and pity on you. Congratulations, you merrit the badge of anti-family or as Pope JPII coined “Culture of Death”.
    Consider that groups of adults will counter this and claim they are one family in love and want to be married. What is to stop it? Following that is a whole array of human behaviour distortions that will demand the right to have union and be accepted as NORMAL.

    Suffer the holy family – Mother Mary weeps –

  16. Kevin in Texas says:

    Hi Jimmy Mac,

    Thanks for your honest reply this morning. In my experience personally, I’ve seen that when Catholics dissent significantly from major Catholic teachings and/or tenets of the Faith, it is often grounded in one specific area of disagreement. Perhaps this is true in your case? I don’t know, so I don’t want to make an untrue assumption about you.

    A couple of specific examples I have noted:
    1) People who have been victims of abuse at the hands of priests, bishops, religious (including nuns) will often, very understandably, hold anger and other unresolved emotions towards priests, etc., and often this will result in outright rejection of the Church and all it teaches. This is a tragedy, and most of the blame in these situations lies directly with the clergy or bishops guilty of the actual abuse in the first place, or guilty of handling the perpetrators too lightly by not removing them from their positions immediately, or guilty of handling poorly the victims themselves.
    2) Some women (and some men, I imagine) reject Church teaching that women may not be ordained to the sacramental priesthood; this often results in a more general rejection of Church/magisterial authority on other issues of the faith besides women’s ordination;
    3) Catholics who are gay or experiencing same-sex attraction can sometimes come to reject the Church’s teaching on chastity in these areas of sin, as well as the Church’s Natural Law-based view that same-sex attraction is a disordered (i.e., not natural) attraction, and that anyone who leads an openly gay lifestyle, including engaging in homosexual sex, are sinning gravely and mortally, and their status is not one in communion with the Church while they persist in that lifestyle. Those who fall under this example also may end up rejecting Church authority in other areas of faith. One notable public example of a person I believe rejects much Church teaching and authority is the “conservative” political commentator and blogger Andrew Sullivan.

    If Catholics are intellectually honest as to what specific teachings they dissent about, and especially the base or origin of that dissent (i.e., like in those three areas I mentioned above), then I think it contributes greatly to mutual understanding. As one of my favorite conservative radio hosts, Dennis Prager, says, my motto is that “I prefer clarity to agreement.”

    All of this being said, there is no excuse for making stereotypical assumptions about individuals, and I try to avoid that, although sometimes I fall into the trap, as I am a sinful human like everyone else. The Church teaches, and I firmly believe, that every human being has inherent dignity and is a child of God. Moreover, we are to hate the specific sins that people commit, but love them as human beings and treat them with complete respect and dignity. This is a goal I strive for, and I want to continue to improve in as I grow in my faith and in my relationship with Christ. I also believe it’s a beautiful goal that all Catholics and Christians should strive for individually and as a faith community.

    I hope this has made some sense, as I’ve typed it up very quickly and probably not in a very organized fashion. But there it is–my feelings on obedience/ dissent to the Church and the Magisterium are reflected in much of what I have written here above.

  17. Tony says:

    Another judiciary oversteps by legislating from the bench. Time to slap them down with a constitutional amendment.

    I think that this is probably going to backfire. Those (like me) who would be willing to support civil unions (as long as they are available to anyone over the age of consent with no regard to familial relationship) will be ticked off enough by the pushback to say scr*w you and simply support a defense of marriage constitutional amendment.

  18. Jimmy Mac says:

    Marcum: I’m sure there are many blogsites on which your ideas will be more welcomed than this one. I hope that the folks who post here are beyond the kind of commentary that you have attempted to interject.

    Consider this my very last response to anything you have to say.

    Indeed, Mother Mary weeps, but not for the things I’m sure you believe she does.

  19. Jake says:

    Jimmy Mac,

    Thanks for your very well put argument on how modern “traditional” marriage has developed over the ages.

    It’s quite telling that no one who argues with you has even attempted to critique your actual points of argument (the Bible clearly doesn’t directly support one man, one woman as we think of it today).

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