#badCatholic

Yesterday, I got up during the homily, in which the priest was going to address the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality the law of the land, and I walked out of church.

And then when I got home, I cried because I walked out of church.

When the priest started his homily, he was completely upfront about what he was going to talk about. I froze. I thought to myself, “Okay, now what am I going to do?”

The priest suggested if we hadn’t read the dissenting opinions on the ruling, that we should. And then he brought up the First Amendment, and I’m pretty sure he was going to head into an argument about how the Supreme Court’s ruling infringed on my freedom to practice my religion. And *that’s* when I leaned over the Flora and Kate and said, “We have to go.”

It wasn’t fair, what I did. It wasn’t brave. I should have sat and heard the priest’s argument so that I could adequately state my position, whether for or against.

But all I could think about was my cousin and his husband, and how happy they looked in pictures. All I could think about was my new friend Kristen (who was in Listen to Your Mother with me) and her wife Beth, and their little girl, with whom I had just spent the bulk of the day. And I couldn’t sit and and risk hearing hateful words about these people, because I love them. And because if the priest said hateful things about them from the pulpit, it would break my heart, because I love being a Catholic.

The American bishops have declared that the Supreme Court’s ruling is a “tragic error”. That marriage is between one man and one woman, and that a human establishment can’t overrule that.

I did go and read the dissenting opinions. I understand the arguments for states’ rights, and I believe, that given time, enough people in enough states would vote to make marriage equality the law of the land. But how much time should we have given states?

The court had to order states to free slaves, allow blacks and women to vote, integrate schools and businesses. So the argument that the court overstepped its role to bring marriage equality to the states just doesn’t fly.

Sometimes people in states have to be told to do the right thing. Sorry, people in states.

As for the potential arguments that same-sex marriage impinges on my First Amendment religious liberty, that I just do not understand. I cannot see how the marriages — and divorces — of my friends and family curtails my right to go to church, receive the Eucharist, pray as I like, and preach the word of God.

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“I say that gratuitous interference in other people’s life is bigotry. The fact that it is often religiously motivated does not make it less so. the United States is not a theocracy, and religious disapproval of harmless practices is not a proper basis for prohibiting such practices, especially if the practices are highly valued by their practitioners. … That isn’t to say that people are forbidden to oppose same-sex marriage; it is merely to remark on one of the costs of that opposition and one of the reasons to doubt that it should be permitted to express itself in a law forbidding such marriage.” — Richard Posnar, writing for Slate

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When I got home and burst into tears in the kitchen, Dan held me. He said, laughing a little bit: “I love you, and this is what I love about you. That you struggle with this.”

He assures me that I can reject what the priest was saying and still be a good and faithful Catholic. “Jesus gave us one commandment,” he reminded me. “Love one another. That’s it. That’s what we have to do.” I have to love everyone, including that priest.

And I suppose Dan is right. I *love* my faith, I love going to church and receiving the Eucharist. It is so integral to who I am as a person. I love the creed and the message of Jesus to love and help one another, to minister to those less fortunate, to bring the light of the Word to others by my speech and by my actions.

If accepting and celebrating the fact that same-sex couples can take advantage of the legal protections and benefits of marriage makes me a bad Catholic — well, it won’t be the first thing. I’ve said before, I am a creed Catholic, and a New Testament Catholic. If Rome parses the Gospel in such a way to declare that holy matrimony, that is, sacramental marriage, is only for heterosexuals… then so be it. But the civil and legal institution of marriage, the right to join your life to the person you love above all others, to live in peace and raise children (if that is your choice) — I’m going to celebrate that, too.

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I suppose I’ll go to confession this week, because I walked out of church and did not receive communion, and prevented my children from receiving communion. And we’ll move forward from there. As with women in ministry, I can do more good in the pew than outside the church.

Right?

Love is Love.
Love is Love.

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Bodily Autonomy

I am so angry, I doubt this is going to be a coherent post.

Suffice to say, that once more, SCOTUS has decided that a woman’s decisions about her body and her healthcare take a back seat to someone else’s right. Friday it was free speech (and a unanimous court), today it’s religious freedom — and a sharply divided court.

This is what I don’t get, and what I do not accept: these decisions place undue burdens on women. Now I have to worry about how to plan my family; now I have to figure out where to get my healthcare; now I have to worry about whether or not my boss is a Christian who is going to impede my right to take care of my business.

I have two daughters. They are 7 and 9. I make a lot of decisions for them right now: where they have to go to school; what constitutes meals and healthy snacks; what healthcare they receive; what extracurricular activities they participate in. I make them wear sunscreen and weather-appropriate clothing.

This is my job as a parent.

It is also my job as a parent to teach them to make good decisions. To make clear that someday in the not-to-distant future they will be autonomous creatures and will be making those decisions — what to eat, what to wear, how to treat their bodies — for themselves.

And yet.

The following comes from my friend Gina, who said it better than I can right now:

This pisses me off.

And I refuse to defend my position using the “other uses of birth control” argument, because those other uses are not the only reason that birth control should be equally accessible for everyone. We need to stop moralizing sex. If a woman needs birth control because of a medical condition, fine. But if a woman WANTS birth control because she wants/enjoys sex, and thus wants to prevent contraception — ALSO FINE.

The perpetuation of the attitude that sex is bad (which, as we all know, is aimed primarily at women), is the perpetuation of the patriarchal society that continues to contribute to the inequality of women in every aspect of life, as well as the rape culture which places the responsibility of the sexual behavior of the male race on the female.

We need to stop punishing women/girls for the things we celebrate in men/boys. Birth control needs to be treated as any other medication.

The double standard about sex, and healthcare, and privacy, and bodies is well in effect. It’s just got to stop. These rulings are about abortion and women’s healthcare. And I don’t think speech and religion get to trump my daughters’ rights about what they get to do with their bodies. I just don’t. I promise to raise them to make good decisions. Don’t take that ability away from them.

Your Freedom to Swing Your Arm Ends at My Nose

I’ve been stewing over yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in McCullen v. Coakley. Even though I am a 1st Amendment purist, and the decision was unanimous, it just doesn’t sit right with me.

First of all, there’s the fact that while this decision, ideally, will apply very narrowly to people outside of women’s clinics who just want to talk quietly, I cannot see how protesters will not take it as permission to get up in the faces of women to call them names and otherwise harass them. First Amendment rights, bitch!

Second of all — and this is really what I cannot wrap my head around — the Court is basically valuing another person’s First Amendment right over a woman’s right to privacy and healthcare. And I just can’t accept that.

Here is someone who said it much better than I:

“The issue is not mainly, … the maintenance of public safety. Most abortion protesters are not violent, and police will be present to protect the visitors to the clinic. The issue is the privacy, anxiety, and embarrassment of the abortion clinic’s patients—interests that outweigh, in my judgment anyway, the negligible contribution that abortion protesters make to the marketplace of ideas and opinions.”

Richard Posner, source here

Never mind embarrassment. Women should not be embarrassed to seek and receive healthcare and medical procedures.

Imagine being a college-aged woman who is discovering sexual intercourse for the first time. Imagine deciding, somewhat nervously, that you want to avail yourself of a gynecological screening and possibly discuss birth control options. You know there’s a Planned Parenthood a bus ride away, so you decide that’s where you’re going to go.

Imagine getting off the bus and having no choice but to walk through a gauntlet of pro-life men and women with signs. You just want to keep your head down, fine. You aren’t getting an abortion; these people have nothing to do with you.

Now imagine that one of these women, a grandmotherly type with a sweet smile, comes directly up to you. She says, kindly, “What are you here for today, dearie?”

I would want to push her away from me. It is NONE OF HER FUCKING BUSINESS why I am at Planned Parenthood. I could be getting an abortion, sure; I’m not ignorant, I know they do them there. I could be picking up condoms, getting a pap smear, or meeting my friend who had an abortion to get her home safely. I could be bringing coffee to my hypothetical boyfriend, who maybe works as an escort.

But I don’t have to tell this woman any of that. It’s none of her business.

So I say, “I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t have to tell you why I’m here.”

How many self-possessed 20-year-olds do you know, who will stand their ground and tell an older woman to mind her own beeswax?

So, now, how does this SCOTUS decision play out? Do we think Granny smiles kindly again and steps away? Or do we think she insists on talking about abortion? Do we think another pro-life protester, noticing this college-age woman trying to shut Granny down, is going to stand passively by? Or do we think it’s more likely that he’s going to start yelling epithets because he has first Amendment rights, dammit, and no cheeky co-ed is going to stop him from sharing his opinion?

I mean, we see the problem here, don’t we? Pro-life or pro-choice, we see the conflict between privacy and free speech? Or are Richard Posner and I lone voices in the wilderness? (I did not follow the case closely enough to know if this was part of oral arguments.)

Women have a right to healthcare, even cheeky college co-eds.

One of the reasons I am for freedom of speech in almost every case is because, generally, there is a measure of control over what I choose to consume. I don’t have to watch a show hosted by someone who has expressed racist or sexist views I find abhorrent. I don’t have to buy Hustler magazine, or otherwise let it into my home.

I also favor free speech because of the slippery slope argument: If we let government decide who gets to talk when, it’s just a matter of time before it decides to censor speech we agree with. This is why, as distasteful as I find the views of Westboro Church, I understand the Supreme Court ruling in favor of them being allowed to have their say. Same thing with my city and country music: the fans may leave a mess (and we do have to solve this problem), but the city can’t say country music can’t play here anymore.

But if I want to avail myself of healthcare, and I don’t have a car, and I don’t have a lot of money, and don’t have employer-provided healthcare… what are my options? What do I get to choose? I want to be proactive, and prevent disease, prevent an unwanted pregnancy — prevent an abortion. Do I get harassed no matter my intentions? Sure, it’s easy enough to say, I’m not here for that.

But even if I were, it’s none of their business, First Amendment or not.

What do you think? First Amendment trumps all? That seems to be the Court’s feeling these days.