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New Series: Promoting and Defending Marriage – What We Can Learn from the Supreme Court Decisions

Posted Aug. 23, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 3 comments

Note: this series of posts is based on a talk given by staff of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage at a conference for Catholic marriage and family life ministers in July 2013. It is broken into two parts, with seven posts total.

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PART ONE: What we can learn from the Supreme Court

Post #1: Background: June 2013 Supreme Court decisions on marriage

Two major Supreme Court decisions on marriage were handed down at the end of June 2013: one on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA (United States v. Windsor), and the other on California’s Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry). While the decisions were not the “Roe v. Wade moment” for marriage as they could have been – marriage was not redefined throughout the entire country – they were very damaging, to say the least.

Proposition 8

The decision regarding Proposition 8 was that the defenders of Prop 8 had no standing in Court, meaning that the Court could not rule on the merits of the case – whether or not Prop 8 was unconstitutional – because the party defending Prop 8 didn’t have the legal ability (or right) to do so.

On the one hand, this was a relief. The Court could have said that Proposition 8 – which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the California state constitution – was unconstitutional, which would have called into question the over 30 state constitutional amendments and statutes saying the same thing.

But the Court in effect gave that question a “pass,” and legal experts are currently parsing out what exactly the ruling means for California. [Update: To date, the net effect of the ‘no standing’ decision has been the State of California applying statewide the August 2010 ruling by the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.  That ruling found Prop 8 unconstitutional, and applying it statewide means that same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses can be issued throughout the state.  We await whether a state official with ‘standing’ will challenge the statewide application of this earlier U.S. District Court decision.]

DOMA

The ruling in the DOMA case was more substantial and thus more problematic. The Court ruled that section 3 of DOMA, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal law, is unconstitutional. In effect, this means that any marriage recognized by a state – including a “marriage” between two persons of the same sex – will also be recognized by the federal government, such that the 1,000 or so federal laws which use the word marriage – affecting things like estate taxes, immigration, military benefits, and so on – will now define marriage not as the union of one man and one woman but as a state-recognized relationship of any two persons.

For our purposes here, we won’t get into the potential legal ramifications of the Prop 8 or DOMA decision – we’ll leave that to the lawyers and policy experts. Instead, we’re going to use four key themes from the Court’s DOMA decision as a window of sorts into what we’re up against in terms of the current marriage debate. After all, only when we accurately diagnose our culture’s malaise and distortions can we offer an appropriate antidote. For each of the challenges, we’ll offer a tip or tool as a suggestion of how to best promote and defend marriage in your sphere of influence.

(As an explanatory note, when we say “the Court,” we mean the majority opinion of the DOMA decision, delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by four other Justices. We’ll also share some counterpoints from Justice Alito and Justice Scalia, both of whom dissented to the Court’s majority opinion.)

Next: Post #2: Unspoken assumptions & reframing the debate

 

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Friday Fast: Pray for the courage to witness to marriage

Posted Jun. 28, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

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Intention: For the courage to keep witnessing to the truth and beauty of marriage, the lifelong, fruitful union of one man and one woman.

Reflection: St. John the Baptist, whose birth we celebrated on Monday June 24, was a martyr for truth and justice, particularly the truth about marriage. He was put in jail, and ultimately executed, because he rebuked Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias (see Mt 14:3-12 and Mk 6:17-29). St. John the Baptist’s defense of marriage cost him his head.

In his Angelus address on Sunday, June 23, Pope Francis said of the saint, “He died for the sake of the truth, when he denounced the adultery of King Herod and Herodias. How many people pay dearly for their commitment to truth!”

Today, standing up for the counter-cultural truth of marriage as the lifelong, fruitful union of a man and a woman can be difficult and lonely. But Christ is always with us and asks us to be witnesses of His loving truth, which is worth defending, no matter what the cost. As our Holy Father exhorted the crowd, “Forward, be brave and go against the tide! And be proud of doing so.”

St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

Did you know? On Wednesday of this week, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and refused to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8. In a statement, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone called Wednesday “a tragic day for marriage and our nation.” They said, “Now is the time to redouble our efforts” in witnessing to the truth of marriage.

Learn more about Proposition 8 and DOMA from this backgrounder.

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Supreme Court Decisions: Bishops, Church Leaders React

Posted Jun. 26, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 62 comments

Here’s a partial round-up of Bishops’ reactions to the June 26 Supreme Court decisions re: DOMA and Proposition 8. If you know of others that should be included, please email them to us via the Contact button on the home page.

USCCB: A “tragic day for marriage and our nation”

 

MIDWEST

Kansas Bishops (Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Bishop John Brungardt of Dodge City, Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Salina, and Msgr. Robert Hemberger, Diocesan Administrator of Witchita)

“We are committed to being prophetic in speaking the truth about life, religious freedom, and the sanctity of marriage. We are likewise committed to working toward the restoration of a culture that respects marriage, nurtures children, and recognizes the family as the core social unit of our society.”

Archdiocese of St. Louis

“The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and to dismiss the California Proposition 8 appeal does not change the reality of marriage, nor does it change the Archdiocese of St. Louis’s responsibility to defend marriage as being between one man and one woman.”

Catholic Conference of Illinois

“The Catholic Conference of Illinois regrets the U.S. Supreme Court’s wrong decision to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act.  Marriage comes to us through God’s nature as the union of one man and one woman.

“The ruling, however, does not mandate a redefinition of marriage across the nation, so the citizens of Illinois can still preserve marriage by telling their state lawmakers to honor the natural truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley (Oklahoma City)

“By declaring the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, the Supreme Court signaled its unwillingness to uphold the truth about marriage. Yet, the common good depends upon the willingness of societal leaders to uphold basic truths about our humanity, including the truth that we are not merely embodied, but engendered.”

Bishop Bernard A. Hebda (Gaylord, MI)

“It’s disappointing that the Supreme Court passed up an opportunity to recognize and uphold marriage’s unique meaning and its importance for the stability of our society. … It’s regrettable that the Court’s decisions in effect negated the voices of millions of Californians who voted to protect marriage’s unique meaning and the legislative process that led to the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki (Diocese of Springfield in Illinois)

“It is becoming increasingly and abundantly clear that what secular law now calls ‘marriage’ has no semblance to the sacred institution of Holy Matrimony. People of faith are called to reject the redefinition of marriage and bear witness to the truth of Holy Matrimony as a lasting, loving and life-giving union between one man and one woman.”

Bishop David L. Ricken (Diocese of Green Bay)

“We view these decisions by our Supreme Court as an opportunity to reaffirm our Catholic faith, identity and deepest held beliefs. We renew our commitment to Jesus’ words, ‘Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate’ (Mt. 19:6).”

 

NORTHEAST

Archdiocese of Washington

“Marriage is not a creation of the state. While a number of states and the District of Columbia have changed the legal definition of marriage, government is ultimately powerless to redefine human nature and what describes the exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman with the possibility of generating and nurturing children.”

Archbishop Timothy Brogilo (Archdiocese for the Military Services)

“I remain confident that people of this great country, no matter the consequences, will continue to promote and defend the good and truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife for life. Marriage remains what it has always been, regardless of what any government might say.”

Archbishop William E. Lori (Archdiocese of Baltimore)

“Today’s decisions will also undoubtedly contribute to concerted efforts not just to redefine marriage but to dismantle it, efforts which represent a serious threat to religious liberty and conscience rights for countless people of faith.”

Bishop Richard J. Malone (Buffalo)

“Today’s Supreme Court decision on the unconstitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) goes against everything human reason teaches us about marriage — it is the union of one man and one woman open to the birth and rearing of children. Marriage between one man and one woman is not the same as same-sex relationships. Therefore treating them differently is not unjust discrimination and should not be ruled as such.”

Archbishop Henry J. Mansell (Hartford, CT)

“Marriage between a man and woman is one of the greatest gifts that God has given humanity. It predates both religion and government and is grounded in the nature of a human person. By striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Supreme Court is corroding this most sacred union, and sending the wrong message to society by saying that sexual difference doesn’t matter. It does. Marriage is an institution that needs to be strengthened and nourished—not devalued.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl (Washington)

“Some have framed this debate in terms of “equality.” That rings with a certain American appeal. Everyone wants to be treated equally, with the love and respect due all people. But focusing on “marriage equality” gets the question wrong. Equality requires treating like cases alike. We need to determine whether we have “like cases” at all. If we want to address the principle of equality correctly, we need to get to the truth of marriage first.”

 

SOUTH

Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

“While the overall decision is disappointing, it is fortunate the Court did not hold that our country’s Constitution requires a redefinition of marriage.”

Diocese of Venice, FL

“The Diocese of Venice, along with many other institutions and organizations, will continue to uphold marriage as being between one man and one woman. After all, no court ruling changes the fact that only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother. No child should be deliberately or intentionally deprived of a mother and father.”

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge (Diocese of Raleigh)

“The decision of the Court will contribute to the unraveling of what has been a vital cornerstone of our society, the protection of the rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives to one another and to the children they bring into the world.”

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory (Archdiocese of Atlanta)

“Today’s unfortunate decision by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act is extremely disappointing. The Catholic Church promotes and defends marriage by teaching about marriage’s authentic meaning as a lifelong, exclusive, and fruitful communion of one man and one woman. Today’s decision is part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.”

Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. (Diocese of Savannah)

“The Church maintains that man and woman were made for each other – that God created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be “helpmate” to the other, for they are equal persons and complementary as masculine and feminine.”

Bishop Robert N. Lynch (St. Petersburg, FL)

“The 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) comes as no surprise and has been anticipated by the bishops of the United States. Most likely not unlike the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion of 1973, this action of the Court will be debated for a long time also.”

 

WEST

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone (San Fransisco)

“The effect of the Court’s decision is to undermine in the law the principle that children have a right to a mother and a father.”

 

 

 

 

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USCCB News Release: Supreme Court Decisions on Marriage: "Tragic Day for Marriage and Our Nation," State U.S. Bishops

Posted Jun. 26, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 3 comments

The U.S. Supreme Court decisions June 26 striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and refusing to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 mark a “tragic day for marriage and our nation,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

The statement follows.

“Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act.  The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.

“Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father.

“Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it.

“When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife – he pointed back to “the beginning” of God’s creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.

“Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.”

Editors: Background information can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/backgrounder-on-proposition-8-and-doma.cfm

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5 Helpful Resources to Prepare for the Supreme Court Decisions

Posted Jun. 21, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

Next week, the Supreme Court is expected to release its decisions on the two marriage law cases before it: Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California’s Proposition 8, and United States v. Windsor, about the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. While no one can predict exactly when the decisions will be announced, Monday June 24 and Thursday June 27 are good bets.

Anticipating these decisions, which should feature prominently in national news and spark multiple conversations about marriage, here is a list of helpful resources to prepare yourself to talk with friends, family, and coworkers about marriage. Shortly after the decisions are released, the USCCB will offer a statement and provide analysis of the decisions. Stay tuned for that!

5 Helpful resources to prepare for the Supreme Court decisions

1. Nationwide bulletin insert: “Marriage and the Supreme Court” (intended for distribution during May and June). In Spanish: “El Matrimonio Y La Corte Suprema.”

“A broad negative ruling could redefine marriage in the law throughout the entire country, becoming the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage.”

2. Lead Messages on marriage redefinition: “One Man, One Woman, For Life.” In Spanish: “Un Hombre, una Mujer…para toda la vida.”

A list of short, simple paragraphs about various topics related to marriage: challenges facing marriage, sexual difference, the common good, and so forth. Meant for clergy, leaders, and advocates of marriage.

The big picture: Marriage is a great gift to men, women, children, and society. The Church serves and strengthens marriage by providing pastoral care to engaged couples and marriages at all stages, and in any difficulty. The Church promotes and defends marriage by preaching and teaching about marriage’s authentic meaning.”

3. USCCB Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court Case re: the Defense of Marriage Act (United States v. Windsor)

An “amicus brief” is submitted to the Court as a “friend of the court” (amicus=friend) on behalf of one of the parties involved in the case. In this amicus brief, the USCCB urges the Court uphold DOMA.

“There is no fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex.” (p. 2)

4. USCCB Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court Case re: California’s Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry)

In this amicus brief, the USCCB urges the Supreme Court to uphold California’s Proposition 8.

“Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable for a State to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate interpersonal relationships.” (p. 2)

5. All of the resources on the Marriage: Unique for a Reason website.

If you haven’t perused the resources available here on this website, now is the time! These include two videos: Made for Each Other (about sexual difference) and Made for Life (about the gift of children and the need for fathers and mothers); Frequently Asked Questions about marriage, focusing on four themes: sexual difference, children, the common good, and religious liberty; a library of Church teaching on marriage; and, most importantly, a prayer for the defense of marriage.

If you’re not sure what the Church teaches about marriage; if you’re not sure how to defend marriage in the public square; if you’re not confident in the beauty and rationality of the Church’s teaching on marriage; now is the time to think deeply about what marriage is! The resources listed above are a great place to start.

 

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Friday Fast: Pray to uphold Proposition 8

Posted May. 3, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

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Intention: For the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, that they would respect the authentic meaning of marriage by upholding California’s Proposition 8.

Reflection: The following are key quotes from the USCCB amicus brief in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California’s Proposition 8, which is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable for a State to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate interpersonal relationships” (p. 2).

“Redefining marriage…not only threatens principles of federalism and separation of powers, but would have a widespread adverse impact on other constitutional rights, such as the freedoms of religion, conscience, speech, and association” (p. 4).

“If the meaning of marriage is so malleable and indeterminate as to embrace all ‘lifelong and committed’ relationships, then marriage simply collapses as a coherent legal category” (p. 14-15).

“A law is not constitutionally impermissible because it overlaps with a religious teaching” (p. 20).

Did you know? California’s Proposition 8 is the marriage referendum approved by California voters in 2008. It defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the California State constitution. Proposition 8 was challenged as being unconstitutional and is now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, with a ruling expected in June. The USCCB urges the Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8 (see January 2013 amicus brief). A negative ruling could mean that marriage would be redefined nationwide.

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March for Marriage: March 26, 2013

Posted Mar. 1, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 4 comments

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As you probably already know, the Supreme Court is preparing to consider two marriage-related cases this spring: United States v. Windsor, about the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California’s Proposition 8. As the USCCB news release about these cases pointed out, “Depending on the Court’s ruling, there could be ramifications for marriage laws throughout the country.”

To raise awareness of these monumental cases, and to show support for upholding the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the National Organization for Marriage, along with other partner organizations, is organizing a March for Marriage. The March will be held in Washington, DC, on March 26, 2013, the day oral arguments begin in the Supreme Court. Tentative information about the day’s schedule can be found at the March for Marriage website.

Catholic bishops have voiced their support for the March for Marriage. In a letter sent to all U.S. bishops on February 25, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, encouraged participation in the march. They write in the letter, “The march will be a significant opportunity to promote and defend marriage and the good of our nation, to pray for our Supreme Court justices, and to stand in solidarity with people of good will.” Archbishop Cordileone will also be one of the speakers at the rally after the march.

Sign up for updates about the March for Marriage on its website: http://www.marriagemarch.org.

 

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Friday Fast for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty (#4)

Posted Mar. 1, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

This week’s intention and reflection:

Intention: For the justices of the Supreme Court, that when they consider two marriage-related cases later this month, they would uphold the authentic meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, a good in itself and for all of society.

Reflection: Catholic Social Teaching is clear that marriage and the family are essential to the common good: “The family, the natural community in which human social nature is experienced, makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the good of society” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 213). The family, “born of the intimate communion of life and love founded on the marriage between one man and one woman,” is indeed “the first and vital cell of society” (no. 211).

The importance of marriage and the family to the common good is why the Church works tirelessly to enact laws that recognize and support marriage’s authentic meaning as the union of one man and one woman. According to the Compendium, society and state institutions are called “to guarantee and foster the genuine identity of family life and to avoid and fight all that alters or wounds it” (no. 252).

Did you know? Beginning this month, the Supreme Court will consider two marriage-related cases: United States v. Windsor, about the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California’s Proposition 8. Depending on how the Court rules, there could be ramifications for marriage laws throughout the country. Oral arguments for the cases begin March 26, the same day as a March for Marriage to show support for upholding the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. A ruling on both cases is expected from the court by June.

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USCCB News Release: USCCB Files Supreme Court Briefs Supporting DOMA, Proposition 8

Posted Jan. 29, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 8 comments

USCCB News Release (Jan. 29, 2013)

  • Marriage is the union of one man and one woman
  • Unique value in children raised by mother and father together
  • Redefining marriage would impose burdens on religious liberty and other rights

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on January 29 filed amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court in support of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, both of which  confirm the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

DOMA was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996 and defines marriage for federal and inter-state recognition purposes. Proposition 8 is a state constitutional amendment approved by the citizens of California in 2008. Both laws are challenged because they define marriage exclusively as the union of one man and one woman.

Urging the Court to uphold DOMA http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/united-states-v-windsor.pdf  the USCCB brief in United States v. Windsor says that “there is no fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex.” The brief also states that “as defined by courts ‘sexual orientation’ is not a classification that should trigger heightened scrutiny,” such as race or ethnicity would.

It added that “civil recognition of same-sex relationships is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition—quite the opposite is true. Nor can the treatment of such relationships as marriages be said to be implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, such that neither liberty nor justice would exist if they were sacrificed.”

USCCB argued that previous Supreme Court decisions “describing marriage as a fundamental right plainly contemplate the union of one man and one woman.”

The USCCB also cautioned that a decision invalidating DOMA “would have adverse consequences in other areas of law.”

In a separate brief filed in Hollingsworth v Perry urging the Court to uphold Proposition 8 http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/hollingsworth-v-perry.pdf, the USCCB states that there are many reasons why the state may reasonably support and encourage marriage, understood as the union of one man and one woman, as distinguished from other relationships. Government support for marriage, so understood, is “recognizing the unique capacity of opposite-sex couples to procreate” and “the unique value to children of being raised by their mother and father together.”

The USCCB brief states that “[T]he People of California could reasonably conclude that a home with a mother and a father is the optimal environment for raising children, an ideal that Proposition 8 encourages and promotes. Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable for a State to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate interpersonal relationships.”

The USCCB brief adds that “While this Court has held that laws forbidding private, consensual, homosexual conduct between adults lack a rational basis, it does not follow that the government has a constitutional duty to encourage or endorse such conduct. Thus, governments may legitimately decide to further the interests of opposite-sex unions only. Similarly, minimum standards of rationality under the Constitution do not require adopting the lower court’s incoherent definition of ‘marriage’ as merely a ‘committed lifelong relationship,’ which is wildly over-inclusive, empties the term of its meaning, and leads to absurd results.”

“Marriage, understood as the union of one man and one woman, is not an historical relic, but a vital and foundational institution of civil society today,” the USCCB brief states. “The government interests in continuing to encourage and support it are not merely legitimate, but compelling. No other institution joins together persons with the natural ability to have children, to assure that those children are properly cared for. No other institution ensures that children will at least have the opportunity of being raised by their mother and father together. Societal ills that flow from the dissolution of marriage and family would not be addressed—indeed, they would only be aggravated—were the government to fail to reinforce the union of one man and one woman with the unique encouragement and support it deserves.”

The USCCB brief also notes that “Proposition 8 is not rendered invalid because some of its supporters were informed by religious or moral considerations. Many, if not most, of the significant social and political movements in our Nation’s history were based on precisely such considerations.  Moreover, the argument to redefine marriage to include the union of persons of the same sex is similarly based on a combination of religious and moral considerations (albeit ones that are, in our view, flawed).  As is well established in this Court’s precedent, the coincidence of law and morality, or law and religious teaching, does not detract from the rationality of a law.”

USCCB notes that a judicial decision invalidating Proposition 8’s definition of marriage would have adverse consequences in other areas of law.

“[R]edefining marriage—particularly as a matter of constitutional law, rather than legislative process—not only threatens principles of federalism and separation of powers, but would have a widespread adverse impact on other constitutional rights, such as the freedoms of religion, conscience, speech, and association.  Affirmance of the judgment below would create an engine of conflict in this area, embroiling this Court and lower courts in a series of otherwise avoidable disputes—pitting constitutional right squarely against constitutional right—for years to come.”

 

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Press Release: Archbishop Cordileone on the Supreme Court's Decision to Hear Prop 8 and DOMA Cases

Posted Dec. 10, 2012 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 4 comments

From the USCCB:

Archbishop Cordileone Calls Supreme Court Decision to Hear Marriage Cases Significant Moment for Nation

  • Marriage is union of one man and one woman
  • Supreme Court’s decision to hear these cases is significant moment for nation
  • Need prayers that Court upholds marriage’s true meaning and purpose

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, responded to today’s U. S. Supreme Court decision to hear the case challenging California’s Proposition 8 and a case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear these cases is a significant moment for our nation,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “I pray the Court will affirm the fact that the institution of marriage, which is as old as humanity and written in our very nature, is the union of one man and one woman. Marriage is the foundation of a just society, as it protects the most vulnerable among us, children.  It is the only institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers together. We pray for the Court, that its deliberations may be guided by truth and justice so as to uphold marriage’s true meaning and purpose,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 8, which defines marriage in California’s State Constitution as the union of one man and one woman. DOMA, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal law. A decision by the Supreme Court is expected by next June.  Depending on the Court’s ruling, there could be ramifications for marriage laws throughout the country.

Earlier this week the bishops issued a Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty as part of a pastoral response for the protection of life, marriage and liberty. Information is available at www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty.

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Archbishop Cordileone's Presentation on Marriage at the Bishops' General Assembly

Posted Nov. 15, 2012 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

The U.S. bishops met at their bi-annual plenary assembly in Baltimore this week, November 12-14. On Monday, November 12, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage and Archbishop of San Francisco, gave an oral report to the bishops on the work of the Subcommittee. His address touched on both catechetical initiatives and public policy advocacy work.

Marriage and the New Evangelization

The Archbishop began by referencing Pope Benedict XVI’s homily on October 7, where the Holy Father linked marriage and the New Evangelization. “Matrimony is a gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today,” the Pope said. “Marriage is linked to faith, but not in a general way…There is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage…Marriage is called to be not only an object but a subject of the new evangelization.” Archbishop Cordileone commented that Pope Benedict’s words are “sobering but also encouraging.” He added, “To forget the truth of marriage is to forget the truth of the human person and the very truth of God Himself. To rediscover marriage, on the other hand, and to faithfully live it out, hold a key to advancing the New Evangelization and the renewal of our culture.”

Catechetical Initiatives

Archbishop Cordileone then updated the bishops on the ongoing catechetical work of the Subcommittee. He explained that two video resources have already been released: “Made for Each Other,” about sexual difference and complementarity, and “Made for Life,” about the gift of children and the need for fathers and mothers. He made special mention of the next video to be released, a Spanish-language video called “El Matrimonio: Hecho para el amor y la vida.” (Marriage: Made for Love and Life). This video will be in a “telenovela” dramatic style and, as the Archbishop explained, will include all four themes of the Subcommittee’s messaging: sexual difference, the gift of children, the common good, and religious liberty. The plot is based on a 50th anniversary party and the gentle witness of the long-married grandparents to their grandson and his girlfriend.

The Archbishop also made note that two more English videos are in development, one about marriage and the common good, and one about marriage and religious liberty. Regarding the Marriage: Unique for a Reason website, he thanked those bishops whose archdiocesan or diocesan websites include a Marriage: Unique for a Reason web banner.

Legal and Policy Issues

Remarking on the current legal and policy landscape, Archbishop Cordileone noted that “the urgency around the protection of marriage has grown and is reaching what could be called a critical mass.” He highlighted the referendums held on Election Day, saying that while voters have affirmed the authentic meaning of marriage 32 times in the past, unfortunately on November 6, three states (MD, WA, and ME) voted to redefine marriage in the law, while a fourth (MN) rejected a constitutional amendment that would have added an extra layer of protection to marriage. The Archbishop pointed out that in all four states, “heroic efforts were made in the face of being vastly outspent by those seeking to redefine marriage. . . . We were narrowing the gap and lost by just a small margin in all four states.”

The Archbishop thanked the pertinent bishops in referendum states, saying, “I know how hard you worked. We are in your debt and in debt to all the people who devoted great time, energy, sacrifice, and love in witnessing to the unique meaning of marriage and seeking its protection in your states. . . . This work is not in vain.” He added, “This is not a time to give up, but rather a time to re-double our efforts.”

Moving to the federal level, Archbishop Cordileone said that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, faces “sustained attack” in federal courts. He told the bishops that it is likely that the Supreme Court will choose at least one DOMA case to consider, with a decision by June 2013.

A second marriage-related case that could end up in the Supreme Court is California’s Proposition 8 case. (Background: Proposition 8, which defines marriage in the California state constitution as the union of one man and one woman, was approved by voters in 2008 but has been challenged in federal court and found unconstitutional.) The Archbishop pointed out that a negative decision by the Supreme Court in either the DOMA case or the Prop 8 case “would bring serious negative consequences to the institution of marriage, ultimately leading in all likelihood to marriage redefinition nationwide. In other words,” he added, “the ‘Roe‘ decision for marriage,” referencing the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion throughout the country.

Finally, Archbishop Cordileone highlighted the fact that the executive branch has pursued “considerable erosive activity” regarding the definition of marriage, “and it sadly has shown no signs of letting up.” He concluded by saying, “This is a situation of grave concern that requires our vigilant attention as well as our prayers.”

Spanish-language video trailer

Archbishop Cordileone ended his presentation by sharing with the bishops an extended trailer of the forthcoming Spanish-language video “El Matrimonio: Hecho para el amor y la vida” (Marriage: Made for Love and Life) that is currently in post-production. He explained that the storyline focuses on Hector and Rosa, a husband and wife celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and their grandson Miguel, who is cohabiting with his girlfriend Maria. Miguel and Maria spend the night before the anniversary celebration at Hector and Rosa’s house, and their loving and faithful witness to the meaning of marriage challenges the two young people to re-examine their assumptions about marriage. Currently, the trailer can be viewed via the USCCB footage of Archbishop Cordileone’s presentation (fast forward to 1 hour 43 minutes).

Closing

In closing, Archbishop Cordileone thanked each of the bishops for their stewardship of the gift of marriage and family. He assured them of the Subcommittee’s assistance and invited their ongoing guidance and feedback.