Disclaimer: What I am about to discuss is not meant to condemn or condone anyone’s behavior one way or another. I am simply writing to provide clarity to a hot-button issue among America’s religious population.
Personally, I disagree with many things Pope Francis says, as I think he is misled on many issues such as climate change, race issues, and the coronavirus. However, I do think there is merit to his recent comments on same-sex relationships when you look at it from a legal standpoint, especially in the United States. Considering the Pope’s position as a faith leader, I can’t say I support his making legal suggestions on anything, but even so, it’s worth further analysis.
During an interview for documentary film “Francesco,” which premiered at the Rome Film Festival on Wednesday, the pope said he supports allowing same-sex couples to join in civil unions as opposed to marriages.
Pope Francis said, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” he continued, “What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”
Again, while I do not believe it is the Pope’s place to make any suggestions on issues outside of the Word of God, I must say that I do agree with his conclusion.
And no, I’m not a liberal or confused as a conservative.
Hear me out.
First, a civil union system would allow same-sex couples to be legally bound in a relationship together and receive the same tax benefits.
Essentially, it provides those couples the same legal advantages that two people would receive in a heterosexual marriage, without stepping on Christians’ toes by hijacking the term as put forth by the Bible.
If we religious conservatives argue that the term “marriage” is a Biblical construct that defines the sacred act as “between a man and a woman,” then this is how we win that argument.
By allowing same-sex couples to engage in civil unions, we accomplish three things: maintaining the sanctity of marriage as put forth by the Bible, maximizing freedom for LGBT couples, and granting them equal rights under the law.
While we might disagree with how LGBT individuals conduct their lives for any number of reasons, it is not up to us to restrict them from legally binding themselves together. We should leave that up to them and God.
Furthermore, it is illegal to refuse service to anyone based on “sex” under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which is commonly referred to as providing protections for “sexual preference” or “gender identity.”
To put it simply, it’s always illegal to discriminate against anyone on any basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or disability in America.
As long the LGBT community is not attempting to force religious communities to comply with their lifestyle, we should not attempt to force their lifestyle to comply with our beliefs.
The famous Masterpiece Cake Shop lawsuit is an excellent example.
To refresh your memory, this was the case where the shop’s Christian owner refused to decorate a custom wedding cake for a gay couple who wanted him to put a figurine of a same-sex couple on the cake, which resulted in the couple suing the baker.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled on the baker’s side, arguing it is unconstitutional to force the baker to violate his own 1st Amendment right to expressing his religious beliefs to comply with someone else’s.
However, the couple’s lawsuit would not have been considered unconstitutional had the baker simply refused them service altogether for non-religious reasons.
Furthermore, the couple has the alternative of going to a different baker who will make a same-sex wedding cake.
The civil union versus marriage argument is very similar to this case.
Those who believe in the Bible should not be forced to give up the term marriage in compliance with what same-sex couples want. However, they should be eligible for other options like a civil union.
I see civil unions as a solution for people on both sides of this issue, because as much as we wish everyone believed in the Bible, that’s not the way our society works.
While we don’t need to approve of their actions, it is our obligation to ensure all people are free from legal discrimination and are guaranteed equal protections under the law.