Marriage equality took a huge leap forward last week.
Pope Francis said in a documentary there should be a civil union law for same-sex couples in the Catholic Church.
"Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family," said the pope. "They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it."
If you’re a follower of Francis, you’ll know this isn’t the first time he’s endorsed civil unions. He did so when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, among a few other times. But, it’s the first time he’s said it since becoming pope. When I was looking further into the subject, I wasn’t surprised to find he may be the first pope, ever, to speak in favour of this as well.
It was still significant that the head of the Catholic Church said this considering in 2003 the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that "Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity."
But, if you’re like me, Francis’ phrasing confused you a bit. What is a civil union, exactly?
According to dictionary.com, a civil union is “a relationship between a couple that is legally recognized by a government authority or has many of the rights and responsibilities of marriage.” It was created primarily to provide recognition in law for same-sex couples and they grant all or most of the rights of marriage, excluding the actual title of a couple being married.
While I stand by the statement that this is huge for the Catholic Church, there’s still so much that needs to be done for the LGBTQ2+ community. It’s still saying that they’re seen as less than by the church, which would be a big deal for someone raised in it.
A marriage and a civil union are similar but still different.
A same-sex couple gets right up to the line of commitment with their partner and a glass wall gets thrown up and stops them from crossing the finish line. You want a marriage? Well, that’s not okay but here’s a civil union. It’s everything except what you’ve been told to want with the love of your life, since you were old enough to remember.
I can get married and divorced to as many men as I want in my lifetime, but somehow it’s wrong for two men or women to do it even once in the Catholic church’s eyes.
Pope Francis’ words are encouraging, but so much more needs to be done for those who identify as being part of the LGBTQ2+ community and want to be legally married by the Catholic Church.