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Guest commentary / Referendum 74

Don't try to legislate church's moral positions

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By Larry Donohue, M.D.
To establish my bona fides, I am a "cradle Catholic," having been baptized a few days after my birth and confirmed as a teenager. I attended Catholic schools for 16 years. I was married at Mass. My children were all baptized. I attend Mass regularly and have contributed my time, talent and treasure to my church. I have received the Sacrament of the Sick five times. I consider myself Catholic.
But, I am troubled by Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain's mixed message on Referendum 74. The church says we love and welcome gay people as God's children while we disapprove of their acting out their sexuality.
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239, which R-74 seeks to repeal, recognizes that "Many Washingtonians are in intimate, committed, and exclusive relationships with another person to whom they are not legally married. These relationships are important to the individuals involved and their families; they also benefit the public by providing a private source of mutual support for the financial, physical, and emotional health of those individuals and their families. The public has an interest in providing a legal framework for such mutually supportive relationships, whether the partners are of the same or different sexes, and irrespective of their sexual orientation. ..."
On one hand, I think the Church can/should share its wisdom on issues, while being mindful of our being in a pluralistic society.
On the other hand, we need to convince others of the correctness of church positions, not try to legislate them. Legislation was a failure with Prohibition, because the people were not convinced of the evils of alcohol.
I don't understand the gay lifestyle but with so many gentle and productive folks being gay, I cannot immediately find them wrong. I will leave it to God to judge. Certainly gay couples are no threat to my marriage.
R-74 would take away the right to make important decisions for their partners. I see no problems letting gay couples, some of whom are celibate, function as spouses in civil decision making situations.
Dr. Larry Donohue lives in Seattle.

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