“Thoughtfulness is in order”

The discussion about equal tax treatment for homosexual couples has been going on for weeks. For Joachim Cardinal Meisner, marriage between a man and a woman is "the nucleus of the state". our site documents its debate contribution for the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" of Friday in full length.

"It is considered modern to cut off old braids and to decisively adapt supposedly stuffy ideas of bygone times. More or less consciously, this is also the widespread attitude in the discussion about the equality of homosexual partnerships with marriage. But here more thoughtfulness is very appropriate.

It is in the state's own interest that marriage exists between a man and a woman, because marriage is the birthplace of the family and its nucleus and guarantor of its existence. Every person and citizen has exactly one mother and one father. This is why our Constitution places marriage between a man and a woman under special protection, because marriage is thus much more than the mutual amption of responsibility for each other. This should actually be a truism.

But the result is: if the state no longer promotes and protects marriage in particular as a community of a man and a woman, but same-sex partnerships as well, then it is actually only promoting one form of sexual cohabitation. But this is something completely different from the protection of the marital form of life as a generative nucleus, and the state should even be forbidden to intervene here in a regulatory way: For the criteria according to which its citizens organize their private cohabitation belong legally solely to their personal sphere of decision-making.

After all, sexual orientation is only one of many possible reasons for forming a cohabitation relationship – economic or political considerations are just as conceivable as purely pragmatic ones. From an environmental point of view, for example, the state could then also make carpooling legally equivalent to marriage. What fundamentally distinguishes all these criteria of possible cohabitation from marriage is the generative aspect: it is inseparable and uniquely connected with marriage because it is inherent in it, even if it is not realized in every case. The sexual orientation is only constitutive for marriage because it is a prerequisite for the transmission of life.

Now one can object: procreation can be organized in a different way than marriage; the techniques are available. Apart from the question, which own and value a child then still has: also this does not change anything about the fact that every human being has exactly one mother and one father – and he has moreover a human right to know who his biological parents are. Father and mother are not mere functions, but fundamental modes of human existence.

But the existentially significant terms "mother", "father", "family" are more and more often defined in a purely functional way, filled with the term "responsibility", as it were, in a new socio-technical way, superficially seen, but at a closer look they are robbed of their essential content at the same time. By believing that family can be redefined in merely functional terms, the bodily component of the concepts of mother and father is suppressed. Corporeality is being replaced by a strange form of "corporeality". As essential and also worthy of recognition as responsibility for each other is: it can never replace the substance of the modes of being "mother" and "father". Looking at it more closely, one could say: In the midst of the self-indulgent exhibitionism of our society, a subtle form of new hostility towards the body is surprisingly revealed. The natural conditions no longer apply. Everything is possible! Cost what it may! And be it their own identity! Or more precisely: that of the children. Because the bodily parent-child-relationship as well as vice versa the child-parent-relationship is constitutive for the identity of every human being. Who is my mother, who is my biological father?? As we can prove scientifically today, these questions, like most questions about children, are anything but trivial.

So whether or not procreation is realized in every marriage and the marital partnership thus becomes a family: Marriage preserves in a natural way the knowledge of and respect for the origin and transmission of life from man and woman. As a form of life and model, it is therefore unique, out of competition and the point of orientation that stands out from all other possible forms of mere partnering.

And something else becomes clear: if a same-sex partnership is only a form of sexual cohabitation, but marriage is an indispensable nucleus of the state, then the legislator treats unequal things the same. This contradicts ironclad principles of law and therefore cannot go well. I am therefore glad that among the politicians, especially in the CDU, there are also those who have recognized this and are emphatically calling attention to it."

Joachim Cardinal Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" of Friday (31).08.2012).

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