Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bishops And Domestic Partnership Benefits

When it comes to granting legal rights to same-sex couples, many of the Catholic right will kick and scream, oppose without thinking, and demand excommunication and (at the very least), denial of communion for those not with them. In that light, what is going on in Washington state right now is interesting. As noted by Rocco Palmo, Joseph Tyson, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle, testified at state legislative hearing concerning the expansion of domestic partnership rights and benefits. Tyson sought to broaden the provisions, to encompass not only same-sex couples but any registered "domestic partnership" (that could include, for example, an elderly parent).

This pragmatic solution as the one adopted a decade ago in San Francisco by then-Archbishop William Levada, averting a showdown with the City, and a possible loss of funding for the local Catholic Charities. Levada's solution was that domestic partnership benefits would be paid to "any legally domiciled member" of a household.

Of course, Levada was denounced on the right as a sell-out. But one person paid attention, and and promoted Levada to his old job (Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) when this person was elected pope. And, interestingly, one of Pope Benedict's first appointments in the United States was (you guessed it), Joseph Tyson of Seattle. Yet again, will some on the Catholic right claim to know the mind of Benedict more than Benedict himself?


Fr Joseph O'Leary said...

This kind of pragmatic approach seems to be widespread -- I think the Archbishop of Dublin spoke in the same way. It is in sharp tension with Vatican statements about gay civil unions as "legislating evil". Confusion is rife, it seems.

m.z. forrest said...

Domestic Partnership Benefits I don't find to be inherently offensive. What bothers me is that the State could impose an obligation upon one man to materially support another man for whom he has not harmed or whom he is not the father. Such an obligation is unnatural. We are not speaking of relationships that are imperfect like concubinage. We are speaking of relationships that are unnatural. We are certainly are not speaking of obligations that come from sin that still must be honored.

For instance, I have never heard a moralist claim that a homosexual partner had an entitlement arising from that relationship. We shall see.

Chris Sullivan said...

This approach is pretty much the conclusion we came to in New Zealand when working with loyal Catholic politicians and our Bishops in opposing New Zealand's Gay Civil Union Bill.

It's desirable to grant certain legal rights to those in relationships which are not marriage (eg two sisters living together or a gay couple), when this can be done in a way that does not undermine marriage or attempt to place such relationships on an equal footing with marriage.

God Bless