The Catholic Church’s influence on same-sex marriage debates

In the United States, there are 38 states which have banned same-sex marriage and 6 states that allow civil unions, but not marriage. This means that there are merely 12 states that recognize same-sex marriage in the United States. It is evident that a great majority of citizens of the United States are invested in creating a homophobic atmosphere within the United States. 

While the issue of same-sex marriage remains extremely controversial in modern politics, there are many factors that can influence an individual’s public opinion of certain proposed laws and policies. Such factors include the religion and the culture of the individual, as these aspects help to construct one’s identity in his or her own community. From the very beginning of the same-sex marriage proposals, religious groups, such as the Catholic Church, have persistently opposed these same-sex marriage bills on the basis of their religious beliefs.

The Catholic Church is one such example of a kind of religious institution which maintains a great sphere of influence. The Catholic Church has gained immense political power to influence its members in their political issues, as well as their personal beliefs. The Catholic Church has been notorious for its political stance against homosexuality, using quotes from the Bible as the source of reason behind this opposition. According to Leviticus 20:13, “If a man also shall lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them”. This clearly homophobic quote is used by modern Catholics to condemn homosexuals and to refuse the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Furthermore, surveys offer a source of statistics that can help to define the cause for this unwillingness to support same-sex marriage in the United States. A survey conducted in 2003 by the Pew Research Center indicates that while approximately “59% of Americans oppose and 32% favor same-sex marriage…that ratio jumps to more than six-to-one (80% to 12%)” for individuals with “high levels of religious commitment” (Schuman, 2108). This study suggests that individuals with a more religious background tend to oppose same-sex marriage proposals. This statistic indicates that the Catholic Church does in fact possess a political influence on its members.

In 2001, it was estimated that approximately 76.5% of Americans identified as “Christian, including over 50 million Catholics and over 33 million Baptists”. With their sphere of influence reaching more than 50 million Americans, the Catholic Church retains a large portion of the voting population.

Similarly to the dehumanization of the natives by the Europeans, the Catholic Church has condemned homosexuals as extremely sinful individuals who blatantly rebel against the word of God. In Leviticus 20:13, the Bible illustrates homosexuality as sinful and claims that “[homosexuals] shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them”. This blatantly violent image suggests the right of Christians to put a man “to death” if the individual engages in homosexual acts.

Ultimately the Catholic Church, along with other religious groups, retains the power that allows them to impose a sphere of influence on the political beliefs of their congregation members. Although the United States has twelve states that have legalized same-sex marriage, there are thirty-eight more states that do not recognize the legality of same-sex marriage.  With a transnational perspective, it’s obvious that despite the strong religious presence and the Catholic Church’s stance on same-sex marriage, Argentina has been able to adapt to modern issues and allow the passage of same-sex marriage. While the United States could learn from Argentina’s example, it encompasses an entirely different religious and cultural setting which makes simply copying Argentina unlikely.