Washington State is one of four states with marriage referendums on the ballot in November. Specifically, Referendum 74 offers voters a chance to repeal the marriage redefinition law signed by Governor Gregoire in February 2012. Bishop Blase J. Cupich wrote an August 3 letter to his parishioners about Referendum 74, including reflections on why the Church urges voter to reject the marriage redefinition law.
In his letter, Bishop Cupich acknowledges the strong emotions and convictions present on both sides of the debate. He writes, “My genuine hope is that we all can value the coming vote on Referendum 74 as an opportunity to have a substantial public debate regarding this critical issue, carried on with respect, honesty and conviction.” He affirms the Church’s teaching on the human dignity of all persons and reminds parishioners that no one may “misuse…this moment” to incite hostility towards persons with same-sex attraction.
As an attachment to his letter, Bishop Cupich offers six points of consideration “based on the light of reason” why voting “no” to the marriage redefinition law is the best choice, in the hopes that readers can calmly and reasonably discuss with their friends and family the potential societal consequences of redefining marriage.
Bishop Cupich’s points include:
- The new marriage law does not expand marriage but redefines it “in terms of a relationship between two people” without reference to union of man and woman or to that union’s potential to create new life.
- Redefining marriage leads to redefining parenthood, as has been seen in places like Canada and Spain, where words like “father” and “mother” have been replaced by terms like “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” or “Progenitor A” and “Progenitor B.” As the Bishop puts it, “words matter, especially words like mother and father, which have real depth and meaning.”
- If marriage is redefined so that sexual difference is not essential, why, logically, would marriage not be open for further redefinition, such as allowing more than two persons to be married, allowing close kin to be married, and so on?
- Marriage is not a product of either the church or the state, but “is written in our human nature.”
In conclusion, Bishop Cupich promised that in the weeks to come he would provide more reflections about marriage “based on what we believe God has revealed to us about creation, the meaning and value of marriage and family, and the way we are called to live as Christ’s disciples.” These reflections will be accessible at the Inland Register, the website of the Spokane diocese, and the website of the Washington State Catholic Conference.
- Bishop Blase J. Cupich, A Letter to Parishioners: Referendum 74
- Bishop Blase J. Cupich, Some Reflections on Referendum 74