Religion Clauses question

Richard Dougherty doughr at
Thu Jun 3 12:00:26 PDT 2004

This proves more clearly Prof. Beckwith's point, I think: disagree with my view of equal rights, and you are a reactionary.  But the whole question is precisely one about the content of those rights.

I have seen dozens of arguments on this list opposing same-sex civil unions; one might not find them "compelling" or "rational" (in the legal or moral sense), but surely they've been addressed?

It is a caricature of the Catholic Church to say that it teaches that people should have more children than they can raise.  Any Church document on the question can be consulted for clarification.

Richard Dougherty

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: Paul Finkelman <paul-finkelman at>
Reply-To: paul-finkelman at
Date:  Thu, 03 Jun 2004 13:17:55 -0500

>Richard: It seems to me that if you oppose rights  for people you can't 
>say you support equal rights.  It is pretty clear to me that this is 
>about fundamental rights.  I absolutely agree with Prof. Beckwith that 
>there should be no need to endorse or agree with people being gay 
>(although the science seems pretty clear that many if not all gay people 
>are born the way they are, so it is sort of like endorsing or not 
>endorsing people being male or female).  One can believe that being gay 
>is immoral; just as one can dislike being around Jews or Moslems or 
>Blacks, or Asians.  But, the issue for those of us interested in law is 
>one of rights and equality.  I think if you deny a huge class of people 
>the right to marry, to raise children, to share in the civil benefits of 
>marriage (such as shared health insurance, right to inherit, right to 
>make end of life decisions for your partner, right to even visit your 
>loved one in the hospital) then you are in fact against equal rights for 
>all people.
>I personally would favor the government not marrying anyone -- that is 
>for the clergy; the government should set up regulations for family 
>units; civil unions, and the like. Then let the clergy marry people. 
>But, as long as the government is the "marriage business" it should not 
>be allowed to discriminate unless there is a strong compelling interest; 
>no one on this list has ever offered a compelling interest (or even a 
>rational basis) argument for opposing same sex unions.  The only 
>arguments offer are that it violated God's law (which of course is 
>disputed and truly irrelevant to our legal sysystem) and that it sets a 
>bad example.  Well, we can all think of lots of things that set a bad 
>example.  I think having more children than you can raise sets a bad 
>example; The Catholic Church clearly does not think that is true, or at 
>least does not think it is true enough to support birht control.  I 
>think sixteen year olds set a bad example when they get married, but a 
>number of states disagree.  I think parents who yell at little league 
>umpires set a bad example for their kids; but there are not compelling 
>interests or even a rational basis for banning these sorts of behavior.
>Paul Finkelman
>Richard Dougherty wrote:
>>>Clearly, however, as you note, you are not advocating disrciminating 
>>>against gay people, and so I welcome you to to fold of many people of 
>>>faith who support equal rights for all Americans!
>>>Paul Finkelman

>> Respectfully, isn't this the kind of point that Prof. Beckwith is getting at?  Opponents of gay "marriages" or "civil unions" are not necessarily opponents of "equal rights for all Americans."
>> Richard Dougherty

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