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Of same-sex marriage and male lactation

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 29, 2013

“Legislating for the right for people of the same sex to marry is like legalizing male breastfeeding,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said in an interview with the Catholic Herald of London.

With all due respect to the archbishop—whose overall defense of marriage in the interview is admirable—the analogy to male breastfeeding doesn’t really work. As far as I know there are no existing laws against male breastfeeding. Or rather, the only law against male breastfeeding is the law of nature. What the state has to say about the matter is irrelevant.

Regarding same-sex marriage, however, the state’s decision—to recognize such unions or not—is crucial. Insofar as Archbishop Cordileone meant to say that people of the same sex cannot possibly form a marital bond, he is right. The state cannot legislate that bond into existence, any more than the state can require men to nurse babies. So if he had referred to the absurdity of a law that “required” male breastfeeding, rather than merely a law that “legalized” it, the archbishop would have been on stronger rhetorical ground.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that a writer on the staff of the National “Catholic” Reporter also took issue with Archbishop Cordileone’s analogy. But—again, not surprisingly— Joshua McElwee’s complaint is quite different from mine. McElwee questions the archbishop’s grasp of the scientific facts, because “in certain, rare circumstances, males can, in fact, lactate.”

Where that recondite fact leads us, in terms of the debate on same-sex marriage, is obscure.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: claude-ccc2991 - Jun. 13, 2018 4:46 PM ET USA

    "Advised" or not PF isn't able 2 distinguish science from scientism & so he advocates ideology. Besides enormous bird kills, solar&wind have their environmental problems as u recognized. Expended solar panels produce tons of toxic waste. Mining for rare earth metal used in wind nacelles is just about the dirtiest on earth. Moreover, despite propaganda to the contrary, they r still significantly more expensive than combined cycle natural gas that is fairly clean in extraction and combustion.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - Jun. 13, 2018 1:15 PM ET USA

    Confusion from Pope Francis: what else is new?

  • Posted by: garedawg - Jun. 13, 2018 10:44 AM ET USA

    Sounds like it's time to go nuclear.

  • Posted by: mary_conces3421 - Jun. 12, 2018 6:35 PM ET USA

    I agree with “feedback”’s first sentence. As regards the Amish, however, FWIW, they do use generators powered by natural gas in my neck of the woods. (Is that a fossil fuel?) They use other people’s vehicles a lot.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2018 11:44 AM ET USA

    It is not clear to me why he is the person to weigh in on this. How about suggesting they all live lives pleasing to God and describe what that looks like and see what happens in His Providence....

  • Posted by: feedback - Jun. 11, 2018 10:46 PM ET USA

    Salvation of souls and having electricity are not mutually exclusive, however one is much more important to the people of Faith than the other. (What would the Amish say?)