Prof speaks against same-sex marriage

by Regis Ahern | 11/23/99 6:00am

In a stand against same-sex marriages, University of Notre Dame Professor of Law Gerald Bradley defined marriage as "the communion of persons consummated by actions reproductive in type, whether it results in children" in a talk yesterday at the Rockefeller Center.

The talk, entitled "How People Come To Be: The Case of Same Sex Marriage," is the second part of a series on same-sex marriages. The first discussion was in support of same-sex marriages.

Bradley focused on the perception of marriage in society, saying that society had committed a lot of resources to sustaining, maintaining, protecting and nurturing marriage.

Describing children as "the fruit of a marriage," Bradley said children "embody the relationship that requires a commitment to marriage before having them."

"To sever the concept of marriage from reproduction, this is a question that we are debating," Bradley said. "Marriage is not conclusively separated from reproduction."

While Bradley recognized that it is important for the government to try harder to incorporate the "soundest" definition of marriage, he called any attempts at neutrality self-defeating.

He stressed the importance of a solid definition of marriage so that it "may be fully participated in by those who fully understand it."

"If the law does not support marriage, marriage disappears as a real choice -- monogamous, exclusive, open to children will disappear," he said.

After presenting statements from the Supreme Court pertaining to same-sex marriages, Bradley offered one of his own thoughts.

"I have a hunch that fewer homosexual couples engage in relationships which aspire to complete sexual exclusivity," Bradley said.

Bradley also said that, on average, a same-sex relationship is shorter than a heterosexual relationship.

Bradley raised the issue of the legality of the marriages of sterile couples, who also cannot conceive children, saying "The sterility of spouses, so long as they are capable of intercourse, has not been treated as an impediment to marriage."

During the 30-minute question and answer period, audience members asked Bradley to more clearly define marriage, as well as explain why sexual behavior must be part of the definition of marriage. To this , Bradley responded that beyond the interlocking and spiritual bonds of marriage, "Sex becomes an illustration of life together."

Another audience member asked Bradley about the theory that lesbian relationships may last longer than heterosexual relationships. Bradley said he was not sure about whether or not that was true.

This discussion comes at a time when Vermont will decide in the next few weeks whether to legalize same-sex marriages. If Vermont decides to legalize same-sex marriages, it would be the first state to do so.

Bradley, who graduated first in his class at the Cornell Law School, has also taught at the University of Illinois, and was also a prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. He is the father of eight children.

The talk was sponsored by the Dartmouth Ethics Institute, the Dartmouth Lawyers Association, the Intercollegiate Studies Group and Aquinas House.