Sacrament of Matrimony

Question from Anonymous on 4/4/2008:

I was born with a rare medical condition and would like to know if I'm allowed to marry in the eyes of the Church. I was advised by a friend to consult a canon lawyer regarding my issue.

My medical condition is called Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.

I sincerely would like to find out how my condition affects me in terms of my eligibility for the Sacrament of Matrimony. I identify myself as a female, and all documents and identifications of myself say so as well. I am attracted to males and have dated a couple of men. I strongly long for a marriage life, too. However, I feel that, out of fairness, I need to make sure that I'm allowed to marry in the Church before I enter into any serious relationship with anyone.

One issue, a result of the medical condition, particularly concerns me. I may be incorrect, but as I understand it, ability to have sex intercourse is a requirement for a valid marriage in the Church.

With my concerns above, I wonder if a marriage to me can be valid in the eyes of the Church.

I understand that my question is unusual and may be complicated, so I really appreciate your time and effort in reading and answering my question, which has been weighing on me.

Thank you very much in advance and God bless.

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 4/4/2008:
I have read your entire question but omitted some of the details from the posting on line.

The bottom line answer to whether or not you can get married is probably better answered for you by a medical doctor than a canonist.

Since you have a sexual orientation toward men, this means that you would be able to form the interpersonal relationship that is at the heart of a marital bond. So in terms of non-physical questions, I see no canonical problem.

In terms of being capable of sexual intercourse, both you and an intended spouse should consult with a doctor to see if you are capable of sexual intercourse relative to each other. If you are capable of sexual intercourse relative to a particular man, then this suffices. It doesn't mean that you need to be capable of sexual intercourse with any man.

If you are capable of sexual intercourse relative to each other, then I see no problem with you being able to marry. Your physical condition may be likened to any other physical condition that prevents a person from having children but still being able to marry.

I think that you would need to tell an intended husband that you will not be able to have children before the dating relationship got too serious. Once marriage is being considered (at least before the engagement), then you could go more specifically into your actual condition. If you withheld this information, there could be issues affecting validity (e.g., concerning error of a quality of a person).

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