San Francisco’s punchy new archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, thinks Catholics should use the term “same-sex marriage” only “sparingly,” and added this analogy by way of explanation, as per Josh McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter:

Speaking to the London-based Catholic Herald, Cordileone compares the term to male lactation.

“Legislating for the right for people of the same sex to marry is like legalising male breastfeeding,” states Cordileone in the interview.

The good archbishop might be interested to know that in certain, rare circumstances, males can, in fact, lactate. Those familiar with podcasts might be interested in this from the “Stuff You Should Know” folks. Fair warning: The podcast uses descriptions of male and female anatomy.

There’s an old saying that every analogy limps, but this one lactates.

More important, the Archbishop may have provided further evidence of the limits of the Natural Law that is often invoked by Catholics and opponents of same-sex marriage (or male lactation) — limits that my colleague Mark Silk has explored here and here.


  1. That is really painfully stupid. Male lactation is physically not possible barring some kind of medical issue, whereas two people of the same gender could have a civil marriage given the correct legislation. Religions do not have a monopoly on marriage currently…atheist heterosexuals can wed…in a civil marriage…but homosexuals cannot…??? There is no sense at all to the argument against gay marriage…it will not affect religions in the slightest, it has nothing to do with religion at all.

    • Breastfed newborn boys actually can lactate due to the prenatal and breastfeeding transfer of hormones from mother to son. The readers of RNS will also be interested to know that this is sometimes referred to as “Witch’s Milk,” from the belief that witches stole breast milk from sleeping newborns to feed their familiars.

  2. The logic of the bishop’s argument is lost on me – is this an SAT question? The two situations have absolutely no connection, except that the bishops are against both, I suppose.

  3. Now I appreciate that any number of Christian people will object at this point with words like ‘abomination’ and ‘unnatural’ – claiming that the Bible teaches clearly that all homosexual activity (including that between consenting adults) is an obscenity before God. My contention at this point is simply that even if this were true it wouldn’t detract from the value of gay marriage. For the issue here is not whether homosexual activity is desirable or undesirable or morally offensive or anything of the sort.’`

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