On same-sex marriage, O'Malley should heed O'Brien

As a Catholic, a 20-year member of the Virginia General Assembly, the author of Virginia's 2006 voter-approved one-man, one-woman Constitutional Marriage Amendment, and a graduate ofMaryland public schools, I take issue with Gov. Martin O'Malley's insinuation that Baltimore's archbishop should remain silent while the governor attempts to alter marriage — nature's most fundamental relationship for mankind.

In his Aug. 2, 2011, letter to Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, the governor points to areas of agreement, but then gratuitously adds that he would never presume to question the archbishop's right to define or administer the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. The insinuation is that the archbishop should not assume he can advise Mr. O'Malley on how he should govern, at least not in the area of altering the fundamental conditions of marriage.

Apparently, the governor does not believe that clerics enjoy the protections of the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and "the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Governor O'Malley does not have the authority to unilaterally make exceptions to the First Amendment just because he disagrees with his bishop.

The governor spoke about principles he and the bishop value: the dignity of all persons, the need for loving, stable homes, the dignity of work, the free exercise of religion. He added that rights should not be different because of sexual orientation.

As a Catholic legislator, I disagree with Governor O'Malley. Sexual orientation is not limited to same- or complementary-sex attractions but includes attractions to children, prostitutes, multiple wives (polygamy) dead persons (necrophilia), animals, inanimate objects, and others that could not be printed in the Baltimore Sun out of deference to readers.

Does the governor believe "equal protection" and the "right of the individual" to personal "sexual orientation" ever conflict with the common social good? There is no logical reason to draw a line anywhere if he succeeds in legalizing same-sex marriage.

When the governor calls for "equal protection of the law," he falsely equates equality of persons — which is recognized in the Declaration of Independence and the 14th Amendment — with equality of behavior. While all persons are indeed created equal, not all behaviors are treated equally under the law.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and fellow founder, Maryland's Charles Carroll, knew homosexual behavior violated natural law, which is why it was a felony in every colony in 1776.

The 14th Amendment did not require federal law to treat practitioners of polygamy with "equal protection under the law"; nor was polygamy recognized as an exercise of "religious freedom." And the proffer that religious groups will not be required to perform same-sex ceremonies will invite strident homosexual litigants to sue traditional churches for violating "equal protection."

The governor said the bishop had a right to define and administer Catholic Sacraments. I believe Governor O'Malley, who is challenging 6,000 years of Western religious and moral teaching, has an obligation to define same-sex marriage, and explain how he intends to administer same-sex legal status when this radical change impacts the rest of us.

If so-called same sex-marriage becomes a "civil right" in Maryland, the family, the building block of society, will be negatively impacted. Tax exemptions of objecting churches and private schools will eventually be revoked, as will their licenses to place children for adoption and foster care. Schools will be required to promote (not just tolerate) homosexuality, as many already do.

Governor O'Malley should think twice before he checks his faith at the door of the governor's mansion. Perhaps he desires, like Henry VIII, to become pope of his own church. But I would caution him: The Catholic Church did not change its clear teaching on marriage for the King of England. It won't change it for the governor of Maryland, nor should it.

Bob Marshall is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. His email is bob@delegatebob.com.

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