February 19, 2004 • Volume 12 Number 11


Last week, as a constitutional convention held to debate amendments concerning gay marriage adjourned until March 11, Boston College faculty members offered comments on the often contentious, emotional session and the issues surrounding it.

Prof. Charles Baron (Law): "I think John Adams would be proud of the way the democratic process has been at work here. Constitutional crises like this invite the public to discuss issues of governance they don't ordinarily talk about, and force us all to think about fundamental questions about our whole system. These are questions for everyone, not just the legal and political experts."

Prof. Scott FitzGibbon (Law): "Marriage is a union between a man and a woman for sharing a life together. It is unique among all human institutions. It is a source of love and a school of the virtues. It is the cellular unit of the nation and a foundation of the state. It should not be confused with any other form of contract or partnership. In today's world, a culture of casual divorce undermines it, and the practice of shacking up competes with it. The Goodridge decision invites us to confuse it with homosexual liaisons and leads us further down the road of dissolution. I favor amendments to both the United States and all state constitutions aimed at overturning decisions such as Goodridge and supporting the institution of marriage."

Adj. Assoc. Prof. Paul McNellis, SJ (Philosophy): "This is not a Church-state issue. It's a matter of the public common good, to which Christians are obligated to contribute according to their talents and abilities. If marriage is going to be radically redefined for six million residents of Massachusetts, then let's let the citizens of the Commonwealth decide, not four unelected judges."

Assoc. Prof. Dennis Hale (Political Science): "I'm not surprised that the legislators were unable to reach a decision. Liberals didn't want an amendment banning gay marriage, and they know that if nothing happens the Supreme Judicial Court decision will go into effect in May. Conservatives, on the other hand, didn't want an amendment that endorsed civil union. So what's gone on here might be described as a coalition of the unlikes...Democracy is messy, everyone acknowledges that, but it's a good thing we have it, especially in a matter like this, because the weightiest decision needs to rest on the strongest foundation."

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life Director Prof. Alan Wolfe (Political Science): "Given that John Kerry is from our state, that he was Mike Dukakis' lieutenant governor, that the convention is being held here, and that one of our congressmen is openly gay, how could the issue of gay marriage not be a theme of the 2004 presidential election? Interesting enough, though, the same percentage of Americans that opposes gay marriage (60 percent) also opposes a constitutional amendment to ban it. No one knows how this will eventually play out."

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