PROVIDENCE — The heated discourse surrounding same-sex marriage throughout Rhode Island usually revolves around religious and constitutional issues.
But Paul Gondreau inserts a different perspective to support his argument that marriage is between a man and woman.
The Providence College associate professor of theology takes a natural law approach to marriage and said, “Our freedom is grounded in nature; there is sexual pleasure but procreation is for a traditional marriage.”
“You can’t leave biology out of the equation, you can’t ignore biology and the goods to what nature awards us and it does have an author who is God of course and God gives us authority of marriage and it is a heterosexual institution,” said Gondreau during a panel discussion on same-sex marriage at Rhode Island College held last Friday night.
Meanwhile, another panelist the Rev. Timothy Burger, associate rector at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in East Providence, discredits the biblical view on marriage.
“It’s silly to put definitions on words, which don’t change over time, I don’t only think of the Bible in a fundamentalist view. Theology has nothing to do with Scripture. In Scripture there is a lot more biblical interpretation.”
But the Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual behavior is a violation of divine and natural law.
The rejection of homosexual behavior is stated in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
But Jerilyn Sauyer, who was attending the same-sex marriage panel discussion with her girlfriend Monica Massey said, “People take the Bible too literally. Each person has a compatibility to love someone regardless of gender — and I’m not a second-class citizen.”
Sauyer, 18, of Burrillville, said she is a parishioner of Our Lady of Good Help Church in Mapleville. She said she realized she was attracted to women at age 13 and said, “God wouldn’t want to make me uncomfortable.” Sauyer said she plans to remain Catholic.
Meanwhile, the Church teaches that people have a basic, ethical intuition that certain behaviors are wrong because they are unnatural. We perceive intuitively that the natural sex partner of a human is another human, not an animal. Therefore the natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man.
Panelist Father John Codega, pastor of Christ the King Church, West Warwick, said, “God created male and female to be together, procreate and raise children and marriage is nothing other than one man and one woman. I don’t believe in gay marriage.”
The priest told the audience of about 50 people at RIC that, “St. Paul clearly denounces unions between same-sex couples.”
Meanwhile, Nevin Beighly, 36, of Coventry, said he and his partner would get married if it was legal in Rhode Island.
Beighly, who was holding the couple’s 20-month-old adopted daughter Kai during the panel discussion, said he was raised Catholic but has joined the Episcopal church.
But Susan Kinnane best illustrates the definition of true love between a man and a woman.
Kinnane, 52, of Little Compton, who attended the discussion at RIC, said she and her husband have raised 10 children.
She said, “Marriage is really from what I’ve been taught an extension of a trinity of love between husband and wife. We have a covenant and God made a covenant with his people and so there are so many graces from marriage.”
Kinnane, a parishioner of St. Catherine Church in Little Compton said, “John Paul had written some beautiful pieces about our sexuality and the gift that it is and the gift of a child coming forth. And if it’s not a man and a woman that doesn’t happen.”
Meanwhile Gondreau said, “Marriage is more than one man and one woman. It’s a sacrament from Christ our savior; he knows marriage is difficult; it raises love; makes love divine; and love resembles love of God.”
Legislation that would change the definition of marriage has been introduced in both the Rhode Island House and Senate. Sen. Leo Blais (R-Coventry) has introduced a Defense of Marriage Act which would prohibit the legal recognition of same-sex marriage.