Gerard V. Bradley
Notre Dame law professor Gerard V. Bradley has some interesting ideas about the value of his approval and effect of his disapproval

Wednesday, Notre Dame law professor, Gerard V. Bradleywrites: Learning to Live with Same-Sex Marriage? The outlet for this tirade is Witherspoon Institute’s blog and Bradley is a senior fellow at that ultra conservative Catholic organization.

Apparently Mr. Bradley is unable to live with marriage equality. The very existence of married gay couples is profoundly offensive to him and he is struggling with the reality. I doubt that he understands just how offensive he is. The lawyerly language cannot mask some appalling bigotry. I’ll get there but first —

No screed on marriage equality would be complete without a visit to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado which should be decided in late June.

The facts and arguments in that case make it nearly a perfect vehicle for establishing that the First Amendment does justify some limits on making everyone bow to the same-sex marriage idol.

You would think that requiring service in public accommodations is a form of involuntary servitude. It’s just a damned cake. At least Bradley is intellectually honest, explaining that Masterpiece is not a religious liberty case but rather one involving freedom of speech (in this case the argument is that it is compelled speech). Nevertheless, that poor baker is the victim of persecution all because same-sex marriage is the law of the land. Bradley provides a rather clumsy explanation of why a bartender or caterer would not be artistes implying that the baker is something just short of Michelangelo.

From there, Mr. Bradley becomes deeply offensive:

None of us needs legal permission to decline an invitation to the wedding of two men or two women. Very few of us will even be asked to do the flowers at one. We can more or less effectively steer clear of same-sex nuptials, no matter what the law is.

But all of us have to face—and will face for the rest of our days—the challenge of what to do about the two married guys who apply to live in your co-op, or who want you to take their family portrait, or who will soon join your school’s PTA, or who will eventually come to you for marital counselling. Same-sex weddings are the stuff of save-the-date and a precise GPS location. Same-sex marriage is everywhere, all of the time. One cannot hide from it.

If someone receives an invitation to a wedding it is probably because one of those being wed is either friend or family. Why is it so essential to demonstrate disapproval by declining the invitation? Mr. Bradley need not fret. With his obvious prejudice it is unlikely that any gay couple would invite him to their wedding. His approval is irrelevant.

What about the two married guys who apply to live in your co-op? Should they not be subjected to the same criteria for acceptance as any other couple? “What to do?” Would it really be so awful for a gay couple to live in your building if you are an orthodox Catholic? How does their presence affect your life? Is this at all reasonable in a diverse society?

What if you are a photographer and the gay couple asks you to take their portrait? You cannot claim that they are asking you to celebrate their same-sex wedding that you and your religion disapprove of. Come to think of it, perhaps you can and perhaps you would. Is that at all reasonable?

And what if one of the gay husbands joins the PTA? Is that so terrible? Suppose he is a retired school superintendent? Apparently his sexual orientation is more important than his many years of applicable experience. Mr. Bradley is incapable of seeing past a sexual orientation that he and the Church disapprove of. What, exactly, is Gerard V. Bradley hiding from and why? Where is the reason?

Bradley’s bigotry knows no bounds:

Of course, people have had to live with irregular sexual relationships since the dawn of time. But legalized same-sex marriage is different, and worse, than anything that has plagued societies before. For one thing, such relationships are about as far distant from real marriage as any relationship could be. Second, recognizing the sexual consortium of two men or two women as a marriage settles conclusively that marriage as such is sterile. (Indeed, that was the fundamental issue at stake in the whole fight over same-sex marriage.) Third, there are no fig leaves available to obscure or fudge the manifest immorality, and parody of marriage, presented by same-sex relationships. An opposite-sex couple in a bad marriage is not detectable as such at a glance. A merely cohabiting man and woman will not be wearing wedding rings and will not expect to be addressed as if they are spouses. And in decades and centuries past, those in irregular sexual relationships rarely demanded that their liaisons be treated as respectable and good, much less on a par with the procreative marriages of man and woman.

We are a plague on society regardless of our contributions? That is the very definition of prejudice. In spite of the offensive language I find it amusing that Bradley believes his own bullshit. The truth is that the Church opposed marriage equality because it disapproves of gay people. That homophobia does not fly in legal briefs. Hence people like Robert P. George and Ryan T. Anderson invented the preposterous notion that marriage was the state’s way of encouraging responsible procreation. Bradley repeats the absurd pretense unnecessarily. It never made any sense.

Read the above paragraph. Just the fact that gay couples are in Bradley’s midst is too much for him to cope with. My God, they are wearing wedding rings! They’re flaunting it!

Bradley’s arrogance is just stunning. He is wed to the belief that we “demand” his approval. We couldn’t care less. When some pompous ass like Bradley (who is in a position to influence young people) makes bigoted arguments for their disapproval, that gets my attention.

In other words, if you don’t approve of the Jewish couple next door (we are all destined to hell), so what? I won’t invite you to a barbecue. If you put a sign on your lawn bearing the words: “Beware of the Kikes Next Door” I might take further exception. Bradley has written the equivalent of beware of the kikes. He hasn’t called us “faggots” but he doesn’t have to. Mr. Bradley is a well educated adult who is capable of making choices. Religion does not excuse his abject bigotry.

But Bradley sees proforma discrimination:

The everyday challenge of Obergefell is whether those of us who hold the “decent and honorable religious” conviction that it is impossible for two persons of the same sex to marry will be accorded the legal and social space we need in order to live in accord with our convictions. The question at hand is whether we will instead be forced to contradict our convictions in word and deed, day in and day out.

Bradly wants more than what he states. He doesn’t want to live in the same building as a gay couple. Regardless of qualifications, he doesn’t want a gay person on the PTA of his child’s school. He clearly does not want us to be part of the same society that he lives in. What’s worse is that he seems to believe that his desires are perfectly reasonable!

Mr. Bradley is highly angered by the plight of Catholic Social Services vs. the City of Philadelphia. I recently wrote about this.

Last week (on May 16), Catholic Social Services and several foster care parents sued the city of Philadelphia to settle one of those “hard questions.” CSS was recently ranked by the city as the second best of the twenty-eight agencies with which it contracts for foster care placement and support. Its record of finding homes for difficult-to-place children is unsurpassed. On March 15 of this year the city announced that it was nonetheless suspending referrals to CSS. Because the city monopolizes these referrals, its decision was tantamount to closing down CSS’s foster care operation.

The hanging offense? Even though CSS avers in its complaint (prepared by lawyers from the Becket Fund, the great religious liberty firm) that it has never received a complaint from a same-sex couple, it does adhere to Church teaching about marriage.

Mr. Bradley omits some important facts:

  1. The City of Philadelphia prohibits discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  2. Catholic Social Services is doing the work of the state.
  3. Catholic Social Service receives taxpayer funds for doing the work of the state.

Denigrating this as a “hanging offense” is disingenuous. The archdiocese discriminates against LGBT people in defiance of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Religious dogma is not a permission slip. The absence of a complaint from a gay couple is just an idiotic talking point and intellectually dishonest. I am sure that numerous people in and out of government expressed concern about the fact that an agency like Catholic Social Services was discriminating. I am equally confident that the city’s attorney thoroughly reviewed these concerns. The city did not collectively have coffee one morning and then gratuitously terminate Catholic Social Services’ contract.

Philadelphia is trying to drive these “decent and honorable” people from the field. The mayor is quoted in the CSS complaint as declaring that “we cannot use taxpayer dollars to fund organizations that discriminate against” people in same-sex marriages. “It’s just not right.” The city council professed to be shocked—shocked!—to discover that some contracting agencies have policies, rooted in religious beliefs, that prohibit placement of children with “LGBTQ people.” But the Catholic Church’s position on marriage is no secret. The CSS complaint even points out that the “City has been aware of Catholic Social Services’ religious beliefs for years.” For example, the city waived repeatedly for CSS the obligation of city contractors to provide benefits to same-sex spouses of employees.

Bradley has assumed that the motivation is to persecute Catholics. The city’s waiver that Bradley refers to was inappropriate and was not intended to be in effect forever. According to Pennsylvania adoption laws, any unmarried adult, unmarried minor parent of adoptee, or married couple may adopt. Additionally, the adoption of Pennsylvania children age 12 and older requires the child’s consent to the adoption.

Hence this has nothing to do with Obergefell since marital status is irrelevant to adoption qualifications. CSS would not place a child with an unmarried gay couple because the Vatican has claimed, in spite of significant evidence to the contrary, that placing children with gay couples does violence to those children.

Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development.

The above is not social science. It is superstition.

The rights of gay people or the perceived rights of the Church are far less importance than the best interests of children. If CSS cannot do this work without violating the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance there are other agencies that can. That, too, is less important than the size of the adoption pool. CSS has arbitrarily reduced the size of the pool by excluding gay people (single and married).

Suppose CSS would not place children with Jews or Muslims? Actually, if adoptions are supposed to conform to religious beliefs they should refuse to place children with Jews or Muslims. We would not tolerate it. Not for a second. Gays are different. Suddenly Church teachings are applicable and, because gays are special, we are supposed to just go along with the discrimination.

Justice Alito worried in Obergefell that the legal redefinition of marriage would be “used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.”

Alito expressed similar sentiments in United States v. Windsor two years earlier. He claimed that those who did not recognize same-sex marriages would be deemed “bigots or superstitious fools.” Alito was projecting and seems terribly concerned with the approval of others.

This is not about approval. We do not care what people think. We are only concerned when we are discriminated against. These religious folks are obsessed with the notion that their approval is critically important. They desperately want us to seek or require their approval and take exception to the fact that we are indifferent them and their likes or dislikes.

I suspect that Bradley has no clue just how bigoted he is:

The Becket Complaint in CSS does not go into the reasons why no Catholic agency—in fact, no individual Catholic or other person of good sense—should place a child in foster care or for adoption with a “married” same-sex couple. Those grounds include the obvious prospect that doing so would mean ratifying that the couple is indeed married.

Anyone of good sense should object to placing a child with a gay couple? Really? Would that include a pediatrician married to a stay-at-home mom or dad? Is that based on evidence? Bradley is incapable of seeing past sexual orientation. Nothing else matters. I get a defense of the faith but that should not be without some critical thinking. Father John I. Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame University (Bradley’s employer), has questioned the teachings of the Church.

In 2014, Notre Dame extended same-sex benefits to gay couples (as did most Catholic universities). I wrote:

However, Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, added that beyond the legal obligations “we recognize an urgent call to welcome, support and cherish gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, who have been too often marginalized and even ostracized, and many of whom bear the scars of such treatment.” He doesn’t seem to be screaming something about religious liberty being trampled upon (which is all the rage these days).

That’s not just questioning. That is a rebuke. Where is the questioning from Mr. Bradley who is not a priest? He just accepts the dogma no matter how idiotic it is at times. No matter that some things made sense in the first century that do not make sense today. Consider how he concludes this diatribe:

So far considered, then, placement with a same-sex “married” couple is a grave moral hazard to the child. If and when the child finally is exposed to the truth about marriage and sexual morality, he is much more likely to reject it, for accepting it would involve repudiating the relationship of those who have cared for him and loved him for years, if not decades. The child is then placed in the awful position of having to choose between filial devotion and adherence to the truth. It is a cruel choice—one that no child should be forced to make.

Hopefully that kid will be more capable of critical thinking than is Mr. Bradley. If a child is brought up by loving and caring parents he or she would not even consider placing religious dogma over parental love. Bradley is consumed by religious literalism.

The words that I quoted above, about doing violence to kids when placing them in the home of a gay couple, were written 15 years ago. The author was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (FKA The Inquisition). Ratzinger would become Pope Benedict. The evidence is in and Ratzinger was wrong. But evidence does not matter. In fact evidence is the enemy of irrational devotion to dogma. Bradley is probably a smart guy but he is squandering his intellect. At the same time he is smearing LGBT people. Religion does not justify bigotry.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.