Tim Kaine on the Catholic Church and Gay Rights

Recently, Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine addressed a Human Rights Campaign dinner, and spoke at length on the subject of LGBTQ rights. Kaine, who has not always been an ardent supporter, cited gay and lesbian parents as among those who helped convince him over the years of the need to fight for LGBTQ rights:

"I knew gay couples as friends, in my neighborhood. I knew them to be great neighbors. I knew them to be great parents to beautiful kids. And I saw them struggle with antiquated and even hostile adoption laws," Kaine said.

Kaine, a devout Catholic, then predicted his Church may soon follow suit:

"My full, complete, unconditional support for marriage equality is at odds with the current doctrine of the church that I still attend," Kaine stressed at the dinner. "But I think it's going to change because my church also teaches me about a creator in the first chapter of Genesis who surveys the entire world including mankind and said it is very good, it is very good."

Kaine’s assertion isn’t completely without merit. Pope Francis, the current leader of the Catholic Church, has had an undeniably moderating influence on a religious institution that, like many others, has been openly hostile towards LGBTQ people in previous decades.

Early on in his papacy, the leader of the Catholic Church said LGBTQ people have “gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community.” He called on the church and its leaders to be more accepting of same-sex couples and others in “irregular” living arrangements. He has even gone so far as to assert that the Catholic Church owes the LGBT community an apology for not “comporting itself well many times, many times.”

While these shows of support are still rather tepid, they stand in stark contrast to those of his most recent predecessors:

In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI wrote in a directive that those with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” are “objectively disordered,” and called for a ban on admitting “to the seminary or to holy orders those who…support “the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

Pope John Paul II was more rabid in his disapproval, banning devout Catholics in a 1992 directive from advocating in favor of protections for LGBT people of any sort.

Still, despite Kaine’s enthusiasm, don’t expect to see Pope Francis to be marshalling a gay pride parade any time soon. The Pope has called on church members and leaders to avoid “unjust discrimination” based on sexual orientation, but these protections don’t, in his view, extend to our marriages or families.

Earlier this year, he wrote that “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

And before ascending to the papacy, he wrote that adoption rights by LGBT couples would put “at stake the lives of so many children who will be discriminated against,” by depriving them of “a father and a mother.”

Nonetheless, Kaine sees reason to be optimistic with the church’s current pontiff.

"Pope Francis famously said, 'who am I to judge?' And to that I want to add: Who am I to challenge God for the beautiful diversity of the human family?" Kaine said. "I think we're supposed to celebrate it, not challenge it."

From your mouth to God’s ear, Mr. Future Vice President.

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