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11/09/2010

Knights of Columbus understand civil marriage distinction (*is something I could've written in 1958)

by Jeremy Hooper

The first, most obvious reaction when looking at the following clip from the spring of 1958: Disbelief over the fact that the Catholics Knights of Columbus have been so darn focused on other people's marriages for so darn long. However, when giving it a little more nuanced read, we actually see something to really like about this religious group's 52-year-old definition of marital acceptability:

March of 1958
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So what do we like about it? Well, look back up to the first four paragraphs. Right at the beginning, the mid-20th century scribe spells out a key point: "Civil marriage laws are necessary, of course, in a society which includes the unreligious as well as the religious." A key point that is obviously true. A key point that is fundamental to an America where religious ceremony is ALWAYS an ancillary (even if oft-utilized) component of civil marriage. A key point that is severely lacking from this current camp's modern war against same-sex marriage.

We can actually accept the above take. Respect it, even. Because while the 1950s Knights would surely be standing as staunchly against same-sex marriage as their modern counterparts, had they had the foresight to envision as much, they were not expressing a desire to use their strong personal convictions to change the civil marriage laws that they admit, right up front, are necessarily separated from religion. And that's not a minor distinction, either. It really shows what a departure from tradition the current marriage war really is. Because at its heart, nothing has fundamentally changed in the fifth thru tenth paragraphs: The Knights of Columbus were expressing their personal theological convictions then, and they are expressing their personal faith convictions now. What's changed is the first part. What's changed is their willingness to respect civil law independent from faith conviction in the same manner that we on the pro-equality side are willing to respect faith conviction that's kept off of our civil rights!

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