Same-Sex Marriage and the Catholic Church: Voices from Law, Religion, and the Pews

Yale Divinity School Event:  October 22, 2011

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Click here to view webcasts of conference sessions.

Click here to listen to an Oct. 21 interview with Diana Swancutt and Paul Lakeland on WNPR’s “Where We Live” show.

This full day of presentations and discussions at the Yale Divinity School will reflect the existence of diverse Catholic points of view on same-sex marriage.  To stimulate much needed and expanded consideration of this topic, we will draw upon the law, ethics, theology and the lived experience of ordinary Catholics.  Participants will examine the intersection of individual rights, sexual ethics, pastoral needs in campus ministries and parish life, scripture, and the role of the laity in ‘living fraternally and cooperating with others’ as directed by Vatican II.

In describing the “Same-Sex Marriage and the Catholic Church“ event, Dianna M. Swancutt, Associate Professor of New Testament at Yale Divinity School stated:

When the Connecticut Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the fall of 2008, the Connecticut Bishops responded first with a public statement offered on behalf of all the Catholic faithful in the state (without their deliberation or consent) condemning the decision and arguing that marriage was not a civil right to be exercised by gay and lesbian people.  The Bishops then paid for an expensive television ad campaign seeking a Constitutional Convention, in an effort to define marriage constitutionally so as to exclude same-sex marriage.  In neither their public statement nor their ads did the Bishops represent the voices of all the Catholic faithful.  Other Catholic points of view—from expertise in ethics, theology, law and the special tasks of the laity in the world—can and must be heard for a more robust discussion. Same-Sex Marriage and the Catholic Church: Voices from Law, Religion and the Pews aims to provide that forum.”

Speakers and Panelists (in order of appearance)


Michael John Perry, Professor of Law, Emory Law School and Emory Center for the Study of Law and Religion, author of Religion in Politics:  Constitutional and Moral Perspectives (1997); Toward a Theory of Human Rights:  Religion, Law, Courts (2007); and Constitutional Rights, Moral Controversy, and the Supreme Court (2009); among many others

Pamela S.  Karlan, Professor of Public Interest Law and Co-Director, Supreme Court litigation Clinic, Stanford Law School, co-author of leading casebooks on constitutional law and litigation, author of “The Gay and the Angry: The Supreme Court and the Battles Surrounding Same-Sex Marriage” in Supreme Court Review (2011)

Joette Katz, former Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court that rendered the decision in Connecticut’s same-sex marriage case (Kerrigan vs. Commissioner of Public Health et al, 2008), currently commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, instructor at Yale Law School and the Quinnipiac University School of Law.

Michael Norko, Associate Professor of Psychology, Yale School of Medicine; Director of Forensic Services, Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services; Deputy Editor, American Journal of Psychiatry and the Law.

Carol Conklin & Janet Peck, plaintiffs in the CT Supreme Court same-sex marriage case (Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health et al., 2008).

Lisa Sowle Cahill, Professor of Theology, Boston College, author of Sex, Gender, and Christian Ethics (1996); and Sexuality and the U.S. Catholic Church:  Crisis and Renewal (The Church in the 21st Century) [with John Garvey and T. Frank Kennedy] (2006)

Patricia Beattie Jung, Professor of Christian Ethics and Professor of Health and Welfare, Saint Paul School of Theology, author of “Catholic Sexual Ethics in the Twenty-First Century” (2009); and editor of Sexual Diversity and Catholicism: Toward the Development of Moral Theology (2001); and God, Science, Sex and Gender: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Christian Sexual Ethics (2010)

Rev. Joan S. Martin, Episcopal Divinity School, Associate Professor of Christian Social Ethics, author of “Re-imagining the Church as Spiritual Institution: Affirming Diversity and Life-Sustaining Relationships” (1994)

Rev. Walter Cuenin, Brandeis University, is the Catholic chaplain and coordinator of the Interfaith Chaplaincy at Brandeis. He has served in many parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston where he has had considerable experience in pastoral care to LGBT people.

Rev. Robert Beloin, Catholic Chaplain at Yale University since 1994. Retreat director for the Ministry to Priests program.

Paul Lakeland, Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Catholic Studies, Fairfield University, author of The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church (2003) and Catholicism at the Crossroads: How the Laity Can Save the Church (2007).

Diana Swancutt, Associate Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School, author of several articles on gender and sexuality in New Testament interpretation, including “Sexy Stoics and the Rereading of Romans 1:18-2:16,” “Sexing the Pauline Body of Christ,” and “‘The Disease of Effemination’ and the Verdict of God” and a forthcoming work on gender ideology and the Body of Christ.


Conference Timetable

8 a.m. – Registration
9:15 – 10:45 a.m. – Morning Keynote
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Plenary Panel
1:30 – 3 p.m. – Afternoon Keynote
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. – Breakouts
4:45 – 5:30 p.m. – Closing Plenary
5:30 p.m. – Reception

Travel Directions to the Divinity School

409 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06518

By Air

Tweed–New Haven Airport is served by US Airways. To reach the Divinity School from the airport, use Metro Cab (203.777.7777), or take a Connecticut Transit bus ( to downtown New Haven, then transfer to a bus that stops near the Divinity School.

By Train

Take Amtrak or Metro-North to New Haven. From the New Haven train station take a taxi to 409 Prospect Street. Or you may take a Connecticut Transit bus to downtown New Haven and transfer to a bus that stops near the Divinity School.

By Car

Interstate 95 (from east or west)

At New Haven take I-91 North to Exit 3, Trumbull Street. At the end of the exit ramp, go straight and follow to the end, which is Prospect Street. Turn right on Prospect Street and proceed one mile up the hill. The entrance to the Divinity School is on the right.

Interstate 91 (from north)

Take exit 3, Trumbull Street, and follow the directions above.

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