A strange acceleration

Gay marriage raises ethical and cultural questions

Analyzing, raising questions, evaluating, understanding, proposing, objecting even firmly and with a constructive spirit: widespread legislation proposals stipulating the recognition of marriage of same gender couples requires multifaceted approaches. The reflection should focus on the situation of Germany and the UK. These two European countries with a majority of moderate and conservative political forces with government responsibilities, marked by a strong presence of faithful belonging to Christian confessions, have embarked on avenues leading to the recognition of homosexual marriage, which shows that ongoing changes in the old continent and faster and deeper than previously imagined. Values, culture and laws. Whether the transformations involve behaviors and mindsets, or the ethical codes of peoples, cultures, and societies, thereby encompassing also the political sphere, consistent pressure, often supported by the media, is frequently exerted on legislative Assemblies for the enactment of legislation providing for the recognition of homosexual unions, unheard of until a decade ago. It thus happened that with a strange and gradual acceleration Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Germany (the German Constitutional Court ruled that homosexual couples in civil unions – recognized legally since 2001 – should receive the same tax benefits as heterosexual married couples) raised the question of granting legal recognition to homosexual couples in civil unions, ensuring they are also protected from all forms of discrimination. These major four European countries add on to The Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and the Scandinavian Countries, which have already decided, albeit with different forms of legislation, to create the juridical framework allowing for homosexual marriage, granting the latter equal legal standing as heterosexual civil unions and sometimes even envisaging the possibility of adoption and assisted insemination to same-gender “parents”.In other countries recent bills envisage the granting of legal rights to couples consisting of two men or two women, comparable to those recognized to “de facto” unions. More convincing answers. Given these circumstances, further thrusts in that direction are to be expected, as seen in nations which until recently rejected the recognition of gay marriage. Such profound changes in individual and public practice have raised widespread public debates. The Churches, notably the Catholic Church, are focusing their reflections on the roots of the above-mentioned “transformations” as well as on the future scenarios that may ensue with regard to the human person, individual consciences, affective behavior, ethical and religious principles, the common understanding of “engendering”, and that are related to the natural, traditional value of the family. Some claim that the path undertaken by London and Berlin, and by Paris and Madrid, leads to the removal of the last “legislative barriers” in Europe as relates to the protection of marriage between man and woman and the family itself. Furthermore, the path undertaken by legislative systems requires ever more convincing answers, and for this reason they should be shared at anthropological, ethical, educational and social level. And just as the Catholic Church, “expert in humanity”, is committed to following this very path, the same should be done, in spirit of truth, freedom and mutual respect, by all educational realms, primarily by the family, schools, culture and communication, the living reality of civil society and last but not least, by the political environment. Beware of “onward impetus”. In fact, the matter at stake consists in the delicate and precious affective and sexual spheres – of heterosexual and homosexual individuals alike – along with the protection of the family as the primary natural environment of human life, and the meaning that the family unit – established by the spouses and open to parenthood – has assumed throughout the history of humanity in public and private law, in common thinking, considering also objective diversities, characterizing European and extra-European countries. The debate should be undertaken and carried out with serene approaches, care, method, avoiding all forms of “onward impetus” and hasty legislative solutions imposed by provisional parliamentary majorities, which instead of responding to authentic needs, tend to conclude in the worst way a direly needed democratic debate.

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