U.S. Bishops Urge Senate Support for Marriage Amendment

Conference Urges Rejection of Any Attempted Filibusters

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Saying that marriage is «under serious attack,» the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference strongly urged the Senate to vote for the Federal Marriage Amendment.

«Recent actions in various state courts and courthouses have placed the institution of marriage under serious attack and in grave danger,» said Bishop Wilton Gregory in a letter to the Senate.

«The Catholic Bishops of the United States strongly believe that marriage is a basic human institution and that, though it is regulated by civil laws and church laws, it did not originate from either the church or state, but from God,» he wrote. «Accordingly, the Bishops believe that neither church nor the state can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage.»

The amendment would prompt the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as consisting only of the union of a man and a woman. The Senate majority leader has announced his intention to bring it before the Senate in mid-July. Bishop Gregory noted, however, that opponents may mount a filibuster that could prevent consideration of the measure.

«The Catholic Bishops of the United States strongly urge you to vote against any effort that would prevent the Senate from voting on this important measure, as well as to vote for the measure once the Senate takes it up,» said Bishop Gregory in the July 6 letter.

«Our concern for preserving marriage as the union of a man and a woman is not simply a Catholic concern,» he added. «We share it with believers and non-believers, Christians and non-Christians alike, simply because this understanding is part of the common moral heritage of humanity.»

The bishops’ conference has supported efforts at the state level to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Last September, its Administrative Committee called for efforts at all levels of government, including support for a federal constitutional amendment.

Since then, the bishops’ conference has been engaged in educational activities across the country, and has submitted testimony to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

On June 24, Bishop Gregory wrote to all Catholic Bishops asking them to personally urge their Senators to support the Federal Marriage Amendment, as well as to generate additional support through pastors from the larger Catholic community. He also directed conference staff to send out this appeal through their diocesan counterparts.

The conference statement «Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers about Marriage and Same-sex Unions» can be found at www.usccb.org/laity/manandwoman.htm.

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