BOSTON, Massachusetts, JULY 6, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The bishops of Massachusetts have issued a joint statement in support of an amendment to that state’s constitution that will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
The statement anticipates a July 12 legislative session at the State House in Boston where the amendment may be taken up.
The bishops explained that a record number of signatures from registered voters asked that a possible amendment be put on the 2008 ballot.
“The debate over the meaning of marriage should not be limited to government officials since the magnitude of the issue calls for the full participation of the public,” the statement reads. “Neither the judiciary nor the legislature should substitute itself for the sovereignty of the people, especially on such a foundational matter as the meaning of marriage for the common good of society.”
The bishops argue that the amendment “reflects the deeply rooted consensus in society about what marriage is, a consensus rejected by a one-vote majority of our state supreme court without the people’s input.”
The complete statement can be read at www.macathconf.org.
In contrast to the 2003 Massachusetts court ruling which the bishops refer to in their statement, high courts in Georgia and New York both ruled today in defense of marriage between a man and a woman.
The twin rulings, which came less than two hours apart, become part of the debate that has continued to evolve since the Massachusetts court ruling.
High courts in Washington state and New Jersey are deliberating cases in which same-sex couples argue they have the right to marry. Other states have cases moving through lower courts.
Forty-five states have specifically barred same-sex marriage through statutes or constitutional amendments. Massachusetts is the only state that allows “gay marriage,” although Vermont and Connecticut allow same-sex civil unions that confer the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples.