Last week’s Messenger included the bishops’ letter about the Iowa Supreme Court decision on gay marriage and Frank Wessling’s somewhat more nuanced comment.
It also included an interesting result in the Contemporary Catholic Trends poll: Church opposition to gay marriage is considered important by 51.6 percent, while 45.8 percent said it was unimportant. And a recent Siena Poll in New York State showed Catholics favoring legislation allowing gay marriage 49 percent to 41 percent.
Polls don’t by themselves determine what is advisable, right or true, but they are an indication of the sensus fidelium which should inform the hierarchy’s leadership.
When opinion among the faithful is so divided, the bishops should take extra care in how they present this issue. For instance, their letter claims that “children who are raised by a married father and mother have more positive outcomes.” That’s generally true when compared to children raised by single parents but completely untrue when compared to children raised by committed, stable homosexual couples.
As the Iowa Supreme Court said, “Plaintiffs presented an abundance of evidence and research, confirmed by our independent research, supporting the proposition that the interests of children are served equally by same-sex parents and opposite-sex parents.” Varnum, p. 55.
The Varnum decision is not social engineering by activist judges. Justice Cady, who wrote the decision, is a cautious, even conservative judge, and the opinion is a careful and common sense analysis of the Equal Protection Clause, exactly what we ask of judges.
I have never been more proud of being an Iowa lawyer than when I read this decision.