I'm sure you've seen, by now, the story about the lesbians in Colorado who are outraged, just outraged, that the Catholic school the children they are raising have been attending has let them know the kids won't be accepted into the school next year. Archbishop Chaput's wonderfully pastoral letter about the situation is here; I would also add that there is an issue of justice to the other children in the school, who have the right to have their latency period undisturbed by such questions as "How is it possible for my friend Sally to have two mommies and no dad?"
Right there, we see one of the differences between this situation and another one that keeps being raised: that of the divorced and remarried couple who may also have their children enrolled in a Catholic school. It is not possible to tell, at sight, whether a heterosexual couple is validly married or not; it is, however, eminently possible from the Church's perspective to recognize a same-sex couple as not capable of entering a valid Catholic marriage with each other.
But there's another difference, one which I'd like to tell by means of a story--the story of Betty and Bob. Though I've changed their names and blurred or changed some of the details, Betty and Bob were real people, who lived a while ago. Here is their story:
When Betty was only a young teenage girl, she was married to a much older man. Betty was an innocent young girl, and according to the custom of the times, she hadn't really been told much about what marriage involved. She left her husband's home in terror on her wedding night, and didn't look back.
Years later, she met Bob. Betty was a good Catholic; Bob was a good Catholic. Believing Betty to be married in the eyes of the Church, Bob proposed to her anyway. They got married and had some children.
Betty and Bob knew their marriage was sinful. They believed they would likely end up in Hell because of it. Yet they enrolled their children into a Catholic school. They took their children to Mass every Sunday (as was required) and made sure they received all the sacraments. They never contradicted Church teaching regarding marriage, and listened patiently when their own children would come home from school and beg them to repent from their sin of marriage outside the Church, even if that meant parting from each other. One of their children even ended up in religious life, and prayed for her parents there.
At some point later, Betty and Bob somehow approached a priest who recognized in the tale of Betty's first "marriage" much that was wrong, and led to questions of its validity (since one can't truly consent to marriage if one is completely ignorant as to the nature of certain aspects of marriage, so to speak). Betty went through the annulment process, and she and her first "husband" were granted an annulment; Betty then married Bob in the Church. How their children rejoiced! Betty and Bob remained practicing Catholics the rest of their lives, and had good Catholic funerals when they died.
Now, how is this different from the story of the lesbians in Colorado?
Aside from some obvious differences, the biggest one was that Betty and Bob were fully aware of their sin, humble about it, and resigned (though very sadly) to what they believed its consequences would be. They practiced their religion anyway but refrained from the sacraments of the living; they made sure their children were raised in the faith. Though too terrified at the notion of parting from each other to pursue repentance, they were glad to work with the Church when they realized an annulment was a possibility. They weren't contradicting the Church at all--they agreed with their children's teachers that their immortal souls were in peril, and took steps to make sure their children would be better Catholics than they were being!
We don't know the whole story of what went on behind the scenes in Colorado, but we do know some meetings took place. Presumably some discussions were held as to whether the lesbian parenting partners would be willing to agree to do nothing at all to contradict what their children were, eventually, going to be taught--that sex outside of marriage is gravely evil, that marriage isn't a possibility for two people of the same sex. It is not a huge leap of the imagination to suppose that no agreement on the subject was reached.
The breakdown between the school and the lesbian parenting partners, according to both the Archbishop and the pastor of the parish in question, came about because the lesbians were not willing to act as "partners in faith" (as Archbishop Chaput put it) with the Catholic school. Is it possible for people living in a state of serious sin to act as "partners in faith?" The story of Betty and Bob shows that it is--but those living in the state of sin must not try to pretend that there is nothing sinful about their chosen way of life, or to insist that they be treated as if they were, in fact, in a valid marriage relationship. Since the homosexual agenda usually precludes any admission of sin in regard to homosexual sex acts, it is not hard to see how an impasse might have been reached.