Friday, 9 March 2012

Human Rights and Same-sex Marriage

 Catholic News Service reported today that The Catholic Church condemns violence and discrimination against homosexual persons, but recognizing same-sex unions as a marriage devalues the unique identity and social contributions of the union of a man and a woman, a Vatican official told the U.N. Human Rights Council.Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Vatican observer at U.N. agencies in Geneva, told the council March 9 that the Vatican "condemns discrimination and violence against any human person, including those who are so targeted because of perceived sexual differences."
The Human Rights Council was discussing a report on "Discriminatory Laws and Practices and Acts of Violence against Individuals Based on their Sexual Orientation."
While the report noted international law does not require states to recognize same-sex unions, Archbishop Tomasi said Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, proposed that states have an obligation to "ensure that unmarried same-sex couples are treated in the same way and entitled to the same benefits as unmarried opposite-sex couples."
The archbishop said, "The Holy See expresses grave concern that, under the guise of 'protecting' people from discrimination and violence on the basis of perceived sexual differences, this council may be running the rise of demeaning the sacred and time-honored legal institution of marriage between man and woman."
Traditional marriage has "enjoyed special protection from time immemorial within legal, cultural and religious traditions and within the modern human rights instruments, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," he said.
Marriage was afforded special recognition because the relationship between a man and woman, who commit to staying together for life and are open to having and raising children, benefits all the individuals involved, and "makes a unique and essential contribution to the public good," the archbishop said.
Marriage "provides the best conditions for raising children; namely, the stable, loving relationship of a mother and a father," he said.
Discrimination and violence against homosexuals or any other group of people violates internationally recognized human rights laws, he said, and acts of discrimination and violence should be punished by local or national authorities.
However, he said, the Vatican opposes efforts to "define new categories" of persons requiring special protection under international human rights laws.
The right to life, liberty and security "should and must be universally respected and enjoyed," he said. "Efforts to particularize or to develop special rights for special groups of people could easily put at risk the universality of those rights."

To date the Vatican is the only country in the western world that has refused to sign the U.N. declaration that decriminalizes homosexuality.  Remember there remain many countries today that jail or execute homosexuals.  At the same time the Vatican claims that same-sex unions as a marriage devalues the unique identity and social contributions of the union of a man and a woman.

How any loving couple's sexual behaviour is affected by the marriage of another heterosexual or homosexual couple is yet to be explained by anyone from the Vatican. At the same time it is obvious that the Vatican has a very limited or poor understanding of what constitutes a `traditional marriage`.  Here are just a few biblical examples that were obviously overlooked by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi.  For example Abraham, Jacob all had concubines. Solomon it is said had more than 300.  Genesis 16 tells us that a married man could acquire his wife`s property including her slaves. Nor were many biblical heroes exempt from polygamy.  Esau and Jacob shared several wives, while Solomon enjoyed more than 700.  Genesis 38:6-10  reveals that a widow who had not borne a son was required to marry her brother in law, and must submit sexually to her new husband.  Deuteronomy 22:28-29 shares that a virgin who is raped must marry her rapist.  However the rapist must pay victim`s father 50 shekels of silver for property loss.  Numbers 31:1-18 and Deuteronomy 21:11-14  announce that under Moses` command Israelites were to kill every ‘Midianite man, woman and child, save for the virgin girls who are taken as spoil of war.  Again, wives must submit sexually to their new owners. Exodus21:4 explains that a slave owner could assign female slaves to his male slaves.  Female slaves must submit sexually to their new husbands.

Ofcourse I am not suggesting that anthing goes. But reading scripture it seems to me that God was not the least bit concerned about the sexual mores of David, Solomon and many others.  Could it be that God is more interested in our potential than our sins?   Could it be that God values our heart above all other things?  Could it be that loving and committed homosexual couples are a special gift rather than a curse from God?

Finally, is a heterosexual marriage any more or any less fragile than that of a homosexual couple?  Are the children of a heterosexual couple more loved and cared for than by a homosexual couple? 

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