Gay marriage issue exposes rift between secular and spiritual institutions
Past events and statements reveal the newly-elected Pope Francis to have a record of opposition to gay marriage and gay adoption equaling and possibly surpassing that of his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
During his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio referred to gay marriage as a “destructive attack on God’s plan” and “a move of the Father of Lies who seeks to deceive and confuse the children of God.” In addition, he characterized adoption by gay parents to be a form of discrimination against children.
Despite lobbying pressure from the Argentine Catholic Church under the future pope, Argentina legalized same sex marriage in 2010. The strong words on adoption also led to a visible rift between Bergoglio’s church and the administration of President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner when Kirchner publically rebuked the statements.
Meanwhile, in the United States, within days of each other, Senator Rob Portman (R – Ohio) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reversed previous positions and expressed support for same sex marriage.
Portman announced his shift in a statement on March 15, when he explained his mind was changed by a desire for his son Will, who had previously come out to his family as gay, to have the same opportunities as other members of the congressman’s family.
Clinton, meanwhile, said she supported it both “personally and as a matter of policy and law.” The view reflects a shift from her opinions during the 2008 campaign, when both her and current President Barack Obama expressed openness to civil unions but did not support same-sex marriage.
A recent poll showed the strongest public support yet for changing marriage laws from the traditional set-up of “husband & wife” and “father & mother” to legal language of “spouse A & spouse B” and “parents.” The U.S. Supreme Court will take up arguments pertaining to marriage in the near future.
Though Pope Francis is strictly opposed to state recognition of marriage between same-sex partners, he had a more conciliatory view than other Roman Catholic bishops, as he temporarily advocated for the church to support civil unions for gays during a 2010 debate over the topic in his native Argentina.
Ultimately his fellow bishops rebuked the idea that recognizing homosexual relationships in any form would be healthy for society. In spite of the church’s efforts, Argentina became the first South American nation to pass “marriage equality” that year.