Editor’s Note: A landmark ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughan R. Walker, striking down a California referendum that narrowly banned same-sex unions, concluded that the alleged negative effects of gay marriage weren’t backed by evidence.
Instead, the resistance was based more in prejudice and religious conviction, not in genuine harm either to heterosexuals or to children of same-sex couples. However, in this guest essay, Daniel C. Maguire, professor of moral theology at Marquette University, questions even the religious basis:
Through much of history, especially prior to the Fourteenth Century, many Christians did not share the view that marriage was a reward for being heterosexual, nor that a same-sex union was objectionable.
An icon from St. Catherine’s monastery on Mount Sinai illustrates this point. It shows two robed Christian saints getting married. Their pronubus (official witness, or “best man”) is none other than Jesus Christ.
It is a standard Roman portrayal of a wedding. The difference: the two saints are both male, Fourth Century Christian martyrs, Saint Serge and Saint Bacchus, close friends in the Roman army who were purportedly singled out for their secret adherence to Christianity before being tortured and killed.
Their unity, considered romantic by some historians and depicted through the image of marriage at St. Catherine’s monastery, was commemorated in many subsequent liturgies. The late Yale historian John Boswell found evidence for other Christian same-sex marriage ceremonies continuing even into the Eighteenth Century…
…The religious view supporting same-sex unions coexists with equal standing alongside the conservative, restrictive view.
Lawmakers take note: because religions give this warranty and allow for this freedom of same-sex unions, laws that would legalize only the conservative religious view are in violation of religious freedom.
Religions are pluralistic on same-sex unions. It is not the function of law to curtail freedoms granted and authorized by mainstream religions.
Conservative Christians who insist that "traditional marriage" has always been "between a man and a woman" are wrong and historically uninformed. Thus, they are poor guides for lawmakers and judges…