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01/16/2013

Illinois' Bishop Paprocki: No religious exemption will ever satisfy us (*but we'll demand you give them to us anyway)

by Jeremy Hooper

Those of us who are engaged in the actual civil marriage debate that is playing out across the country are more than okay with granting certain religious exemptions, since we know that the religious ceremony and the civil licensing are two separate things. The religious exemptions are largely designed to appease those who raise fears. Contrary to popular belief, raising fears is not our goal—obtaining civil rights is. So we are largely fine with implementing language that might quiet religious concerns, even if those concerns are overwrought and politically motivated.

The thing is, it really doesn't matter what we do. As Bishop Thomas Paprocki, a man who recently testified against marriage equality in Illinois and who has spent plenty of time condemning the concept, makes perfectly clear in the following radio clip: no religious exemption is ever going to satisfy those who wish to exalt their faith beliefs above our civil equality. Have a listen:

"I don't want to give the impression that if we get enough exemptions into the law or enough protections into the law that would protect religious freedom that we would be okay [smug laugh] with same-sex marriage…So just to be clear about that, we're not saying 'well, give us enough protection here for our religious liberties and we'll be okay with same-sex marriage'—we're not saying that at all. The whole idea is really fundamentally flawed and is just unacceptable"


[A Closer Look with Sheila Liaugminas]

Oh, those smug laughs that pepper his words, particularly at the points where he's denigrating the "moral wight" of marriages like mine. There's nothing I love more than listening to an unmarried, celibate priest attacking my legally-recognized and intensely loving marriage bed. Love it, I tell ya.

Although interestingly, he does seem to get it, in a way. The bishop admits that marriages like mine "may have some civil effects" before then going on to attack the "morality." Well, hello, bishop—that's all we're seeking! To be perfectly frank: I don't give half a "Hail Mary" what you personally think of my marriage. I am not a member of your church, and with comments like the ones you have put on record, I would be more likely to join a community theater production of Nunsense than I would join your congregation. And seriously—you deny me of whatever ceremony you wish, bishop. By all means, cast my family aside like the immoral litter you apparently think it is. But hands off my civil rights, buddy! HANDS. THE. FRICK. OFF! You have no ownership of those rights, and your denigrations hold no intellectual weight.

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