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Scandal and marriage ruling are linked, says Glendon

By Donis Tracy
Posted: 1/30/2004

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WESTON — “I had originally planned to offer some reflections on the crisis that the Boston Church endured over the ‘Long Lent of 2002/2003’ but on Nov. 18, another crisis erupted when four judges of the state supreme court decided to impose their own radical redefinition of marriage,” Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University, told a crowded room at the monthly meeting of Legatus, an organization of Catholic executives.

"I believe there is a common thread between the Nov. 18 crisis and what we have endured for the past two years," she continued.

"The first thing that jumped out at me when I read all 56 pages of the Goodridge decision was that the crisis precipitated in the Supreme Judicial Court on Nov. 18 is not about homosexuality; it's about two other much more momentous issues -- the future of marriage in Massachusetts and who decides whether or not marriage shall be completely redefined," she said.

She went on to stress that “the four person majority in Goodridge eliminated the principle that lies at the very heart of our system of democratic government — that important policy decisions are made by people and their elected representatives.”

An issue of such magnitude “ought to be deliberated in the light of day by all of us,” Glendon declared. “It should not be made by four judges behind closed doors.”

"We all know that marriage is already in trouble in our society, and it is precisely for that reason why this is not the time to publicly proclaim that marriage is just another lifestyle and that one lifestyle is as good as another," she said.

"Make no mistake, although the Goodridge court spoke in terms of openness, tolerance and diversity, the effect of that decision will be to usher in a new era of intolerance the likes of which we have rarely seen," continued Glendon, noting that "the axe will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups who don't go along with the decision."

Glendon argued that the timing of the Goodridge decision was “by no means a coincidence.”

"We all know that the Church's credibility on this and other issues has been severely undermined by this sexual abuse crisis," she said.

"A strong and united Catholic Church is the last thing some people want to see" during a time such as this, she added.

According to Glendon, the “goal” of many liberal activists in recent times has been “to undermine the unity, credibility and financial stability of the Catholic Church.”

"Why was the Catholic Church singled out for portrayal as a special place of danger for children?" she mused. "Why was the media so intent on putting the Catholic Church and only the Catholic Church under a cloud?"

Glendon alluded to several scandalous incidents that have occurred historically in which there was no media outcry. She pointed out how, even after Congressman Barney Frank’s partner confessed to running a prostitution ring from the couples’ home, the Boston Globe endorsed the candidate for re-election. Moreover, she continued, even in another instance of child sexual abuse — when film producer Woody Allen admitted to molesting his daughter, “there was no boycott of his films.”

"Friends," she declared, "it's no coincidence that a Church that insists that every child be protected in law and welcomed in life is the target of attack."

Glendon went on to impress the importance of speaking out against same-sex marriage, particularly during these last few weeks before the Feb. 11 vote on the Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment (MA and PA).

She noted that legislators “must be told that we are more numerous than our opponents, that this issue is important to us and that we and our friends and our families will remember [their position on gay marriage] when we vote.”

Following Glendon’s talk, Gerald D’Avolio, executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts, instructed the audience to contact their legislators and demand they vote for the amendment on Feb. 11.

"We need to take this decision back from the courts and the only way we can do that is to win the Feb. 11 vote," he stressed.