US Bishops: Marriage Came Before State

Laws Cannot Redefine «Irreplaceable Institution»

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 13, 2010 ( A U.S. bishops’ official is denouncing two Massachusetts court rulings against the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, responded to two July 8 rulings that claim Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. That section provides for a federal definition of marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.

The archbishop said the rulings use «the power of the state to attack the perennial definition of marriage, reducing it merely to the union of any two consenting adults.»

Instead, he clarified, «Marriage — the union of one man and one woman — is a unique, irreplaceable institution. The very fabric of our society depends upon it. […] The state has a duty to employ the civil law to reinforce — and, indeed, to privilege uniquely — this vital institution of civil society.»

Archbishop Kurtz said that protecting marriage is not only a legitimate, but a «vital government interest.»

«The reasons to support marriage by law are countless,» he added, «not least to protect the unique place of husbands and wives, the indispensable role of fathers and mothers, and the rights of children, who are often the most vulnerable among us.»

«To claim that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is somehow irrational, prejudiced, or even bigoted, is a great disservice not only to truth but to the good of our nation,» Archbishop Kurtz said.

The rulings were handed down in two separate lawsuits, both filed in Massachusetts: Gill vs. Office of Personnel Management and Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The rulings will most likely be appealed and the Supreme Court could ultimately make the final judgment.

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