Bishops of Washington State Speak in Defense of Marriage

SEATTLE, Washington, FEB. 20, 2012 ( Bishops of Washington state are speaking out against a new bill which, barring the success of a referendum, would legalize same-sex marriage in that state this coming June.

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The SB 6239 bill, which was signed into law last week by Washington governor Christine Gregoire, changed the definition of marriage from a «civil contract between a male and a female» to «a civil contract between two persons.» The objective of the bill is to «end discrimination in marriage based on gender and sexual orientation in Washington, to ensure that all persons in this state may enjoy the freedom to marry on equal terms.» 

Shortly after the bill was introduced in January, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, Bishop Plase Cupich of Spokane, and Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima published an official statement opposing the bill’s attempt to redefine marriage, stating that such an attempt is «not in the public interest.» 

«Marriage,» they stated, «is certainly about the public recognition of a relationship between a man and a woman which carries certain rights and responsibilities for the two adults. But, it is much more. Marriage in faith and societal traditions is acknowledged as the foundation of civilization. It has long been recognized that the stability of society depends on the stability of family life in which a man and a woman conceive and nurture new life. In this way, civil recognition of marriage has sought to bestow on countless generations of children the incomparable benefit of a loving mother and father committed to one another in a lifelong union.»

Moreover, the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman is not one founded solely in religion. «Upholding the present definition of marriage does not depend on anyone’s religious beliefs,» said the bishops, but rather «defining marriage as ‘a civil contract between a male and a female’ is grounded not in faith, but in reason and the experience of society. It recognizes the value of marriage as a bond of personal relationships, but also in terms of the unique and irreplaceable potential of a man and woman to conceive and nurture new life, thus contributing to the continuation of the human race. A change in legislation would mean that the state would no longer recognize the unique sacrifices and contributions made by these couples, thereby adding to the forces already undermining family life today.»

The new law which redefines marriage to include same-sex partnerships will come into effect next June, unless enough signatures from supporters of marriage are gathered for a referendum for November’s ballot. 

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