Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

December 23, 2008


Former Mayor Ed Koch, in his weekly e-mailed "Commentary", yesterday, presented two interesting views. He accepted President-elect Obama's choice of evangelical minister Rick Warren, an opponent of same-sex marriage, for the Inauguration Day prayer. But he added a strong defense of moving same-sex unions to the level of marriages, both in law and in terminology. I forwarded to him the following response:

Dear Mr. Mayor,

You have provided a persuasive rationale why same-sex marriage advocates should not pillory President-elect Obama for selecting Rick Warren to offer the prayer at his inauguration.

Beyond that issue, I would like to suggest that the same-sex marriage controversy is really a matter of a word: "marriage". If "domestic partnership" and "civil union" do not bring all the civil effects of "marriage" as you indicate, let's advance the law to incorporate what civil effects of marriage have not yet been embraced in the law.

But on the etymological level, the meaning of the word "marriage" is not to be twisted out of shape to exclude one of its defining elements, viz. procreation. That is beyond what statutory or constitutional law can do. But the dictionary and traditional and popular use presuppose that defining element. Let's advance the law and advance etymological development to find a new word to describe the end result. If there is to be a new juridical entity, let's find a new juridical term to define it.

I hope I am not overreaching on the nature of your wise and stimulating commentaries and reviews. Thanks for making us think.


Msgr. Harry Byrne