Gay Marriage
DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act) enacted September 21, 1996, is a United States federal law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. Like other controversial laws (i.e., Roe v Wade, ObamaCare), the debate continues over the definition of marriage in America. To add to the debate, the Obama Justice Department has taken the very unusual stance of saying it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage. After the SCOTUS decision on ObamaCare, the Obama Administration has asked the Supreme Court for a quick review of gay marriage law. Keep up with the ongoing debate below. On June 26, 2013, The Defense of Marriage Act, the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states, is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote. The What you need to know about Marriage guide prepared by The Heritage Foundation answers the top 15 questions on the subject of marriage.

What does today's Vatican announcement really say?

from The Gray Area:
Here is the announcement: After Pope Francis earlier this year opened the door in certain circumstances to giving blessings to same-sex couples, the Vatican’s doctrinal office has published a lengthy note explaining the pastoral grounds for these blessings, and spelling out the details of how and where they are to be given.The new declaration, titled “Fiducia Supplicans: On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings,” was dated and published Dec. 18 ... This context, he said, allows one to better understand the possibility of giving blessings to couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without “validating” their status or changing Church teaching.  Here are the main points of the new 'blessing'. The bolded sections clarify what is and is not part of this blessing.
  • It upheld the sacrament of marriage as an “indissoluble union between a man and a woman,” insisting that, “the Church has the right and the duty to avoid any rite that might contradict this conviction or lead to confusion.”
  • In this sense, “the Church does not have the power to impart blessings on unions of persons of the same sex,” the declaration said, saying a blessing “requires that what is blessed be conformed to God’s will, as expressed in the teachings of the Church.”
  • For this reason, the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) said, the Church has always considered sexual relations within the context of marriage to be “morally licit,” but it is not able to give a liturgical blessing “when that would somehow offer a form of moral legitimacy to a union that presumes to be a marriage or to an extra-marital sexual practice.”
  • Simple blessings, the DDF said, are conducted outside of a liturgical context, as there is greater “spontaneity and freedom,” and that when requested, these blessings are “a pastoral resource to be valued rather than a risk or a problem.”
  • The Church, it said, “must shy away from resting its pastoral praxis on the fixed nature of certain doctrinal or disciplinary schemes, especially when they lead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others.”
  • “Thus, when people ask for a blessing, an exhaustive moral analysis should not be placed as a precondition for conferring it. For, those seeking a blessing should not be required to have prior moral perfection,” the declaration said.
  • Pointing to the Church’s Book of Blessings, the declaration noted that it offers provisions for various blessings of people, including the elderly, participants in catechesis or a prayer meeting, participants in a pilgrimage, members of volunteer groups and associations, and so on.
  • “Such blessings are meant for everyone; no one is to be excluded from them,” the declaration said. “No one can be prevented from this act of giving thanks, and each person – even if he or she lives in situations that are not ordered to the Creator’s plan – possesses positive elements for which we can praise the Lord.”
  • Pastors are rather encouraged to exercise personal prudence and wisdom in joining in the prayer “of those persons who, although in a union that cannot be compared in any way to a marriage,” nonetheless wish to entrust themselves to God and to ask for his help.
  • These blessings, the DDF said, must be intended to increase trust in God, but must not become “a liturgical or semi-liturgical act, similar to a sacrament.”
  • “One should neither provide for nor promote a ritual for the blessings of couples in an irregular situation. At the same time, one should not prevent or prohibit the Church’s closeness to people in every situation,” the declaration said.
  • To avoid confusion or scandal, the DDF said that when blessings are requested by same-sex couples or those in irregular unions, these blessings should never be given “in concurrence with the ceremonies of a civil union, and not even in connection with them.”
  • “Nor can it be performed with any clothing, gestures, or words that are proper to a wedding. The same applies when the blessing is requested by a same-sex couple,” it said, saying such a blessing could be given in another context, such as “a visit to a shrine, a meeting with a priest, a prayer recited in a group, or during a pilgrimage.”
  • Attempting to cast any doubts aside, the DDF offered assurances, insisting that “through these blessings that are given not through the ritual forms proper to the liturgy but as an expression of the Church’s maternal heart…there is no intention to legitimize anything, but rather to open one’s life to God.
The hyped headlines of the legacy media are not accurately reflecting the declaration. Washington Post: Vatican says yes to blessing same-sex unions, which they eventually changed to Pope Francis allows blessings of same-sex couples, shifting Vatican guidance New York Times: Pope Francis Allows Priests to Bless Same-Sex Couples CNN: Pope Francis authorizes blessings for same-sex couples The message the headlines want to state is that the Vatican now blesses same sex 'unions'.  It does not.  It blesses people, outside of liturgical celebrations, with no marriage style ceremony, clothing, gestures or words and with no intention to legitimize anything. But, rather, to open one's life to God. Clear, but challenging to implement or standardize. More From Cruz:

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