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Justice Kennedy: the man who decides if same sex so-called marriage is not so-called.

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2011, file photo U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy presides over a representation of "The Trial of Hamlet" at the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. During Supreme Courts arguments last week over the constitutionality of the health care law Justice Kennedy mused that Congress could have created a Medicare-style program for the uninsured, run exclusively by the government without the involvement of private insurers.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

The Weekly Standard describes Justice Kennedy as the lynchpin in the same sex court decision coming up later this month.

This article is worth reading. But, if we think that Justice Kennedy’s vote is what this is all about, we are sadly mistaken. This is not about one man’s vote. It is about a band of activists who, in the course of ten years, have succeeded in convincing the American people that gender is insignificant in marriage.

They have been able to do it because heterosexuals began redefining  marriage decades ago. The shift from marriage as the environment to raise and educate children to marriage as first of all about satisfying the romantic feelings of the adults. was a major change.  America moved away from marriage as covenant to marriage as contract. Consequently, consent trumped commitment. As long as you had consent it was all go. The idea of easy and no-fault divorce followed.  And, of course, the pill broke the natural awareness that sexual intercourse was tied to the possibility of children. 

Homosexual men and women and looked at what marriage had become and said, “Heck, we can love like that.”  They did not see American Catholics being what their doctrines said they were.

Same sex marriage is not the only momentous social issue to rest on the apparent arbitrary vote of one person. Led by Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Women Suffrage Association, the fight to ratify the 19th Amendment came down to one vote. On August 18, 1920, it had come down to the state of Tennessee, the necessary 36th state needed to pass it.

Harry Burn, a young legislator, wore a red rose signaling a vote against women’s suffrage. He had planned to vote against the Amendment representing the views of his constituency.  Along with the red rose, however, he walked in with a letter from his mother in his pocket:

Dear Son:

Hurrah and vote for suffrage! Don’t keep them in doubt! I notice some of the speeches against. They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet. Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the “rat” in ratification. 

Your mother

Yes, Burn was a good boy, obeyed his mother and voted for ratification. Eight days later the 19th Amendment was formally adopted and made part of the U.S. Constitution. 

Did it really come down to one vote? No, it comes down to the hard work that reformers and activists put into it. It comes down to the way society perceives the problem to which the proposed change is the solution. 

Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides the real work should be in our parishes. The American people are wanting us to be what we say we are: followers of Jesus, living disciples of the Master who has promised abundant life to those who walk in His ways. 

If they don’t see a different way of life, they will just go with the flow. Think about it and see if you can name a parish where the marriages and families actually demonstrate the difference Christ makes. We are not talking about perfection. But even in our failures our marriages should demonstrate grace between  its members parents not exasperating their children, children honoring their parents, all trained in confessing sin and asking forgiveness, all willing to challenge and confront behaviors that violate the family’s sense of mission.  Is there enough evidence in our parishes to convict us if a Christian “lifestyle” was illegal? These big votes never come down to one man, really.  It comes down to how effectively the children of light, show that light.

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