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Archbishop Aquila of Denver Denounces Colorado Civil Unions Bill

Yesterday March 12, the Colorado legislature approved a bill that establishes civil unions for two persons of the same sex, a situation we covered earlier here. The bill awaits the signature of Governor John Hickenlooper, who has said that he plans to sign the bill into law.  The Archbishop of Denver, Samuel J. Aquila, released a strong statement about the passage of the civil unions bill.

Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila

The Archbishop writes, “Regrettably, the Colorado Legislature has approved a civil unions bill today which harms families, civil liberties, and the natural rights of all Colorado’s children.”

He makes clear that, as he has said before, the civil unions bill is about redefining marriage and the family:

Senate Bill 11 is the beginning of an effort to redefine the family in Colorado and to undermine the right of all children to have a mother and a father. Civil unions are not about equality, tolerance or fairness. They create an alternate reality in which all institutions can be self-defined. Make no mistake: Civil unions are the first step to redefining marriage and to radically redefining the concept of civil rights.

Indeed, Colorado Senator Pat Steadman, a supporter of the bill, has expressed dissatisfaction with civil unions, calling them “separate, and distinct, and lesser, and unequal.” Implying that civil unions are but a temporary settlement, Steadman said, “We passed this bill because this is the best we can do.” As the Illinois Catholic Conference argued in a 2009 statement, civil union laws are consistently used as a stepping stone to advance full marriage redefinition legislation.

Regarding the argument that civil rights demand civil unions, Archbishop Aquila writes,

Civil rights are about protecting individuals and institutions from tyranny or oppression, not providing legal endorsement to all conceivable social arrangements and constructs. The Church recognizes and affirms the dignity of every human person—but she does not see all relationships as equal. Marriage is a unique social relationship between a man and a woman which exists for the good of children and as the foundation of all human communities. Marriage has been uniquely protected in law for millennia in order to preserve and promote the foundations of all social stability.

The Archbishop also draws attention to the lack of reasonable conscience protections in the new law, particularly for adoption and foster care agencies.

Senate Bill 11 is particularly troubling because the religious liberty of all Coloradans has been discarded under the guise of equality. The ability for religious-based institutions to provide foster care and adoption services for Colorado’s children is now dangerously imperiled.

Indeed, adoption and foster care agencies in several states have shut down because of civil unions or marriage redefinition laws that would force them to place children with two persons of the same sex, a scenario of which Colorado providers of foster care and adoption services were very much aware.

Not only does the approved bill lack conscience protection, but proponents of the bill publicly expressed their disregard for religious persons and institutions, writes Archbishop Aquila.

Faced with the reasonable request for religious liberty and conscience accommodations, state Sen. Pat Steadman offered the following: “So, what to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate? I’ll tell you what I’d say. Get thee to a nunnery and live there then. Go live a monastic life away from modern society, away from the people you can’t see as equal to yourself.” These comments are woefully antagonistic to Catholics, to Christians and to all people of faith and good will.

In the same vein, bill supporter Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, in response to testimony about a Colorado baker who declined to make a cake for two women’s “wedding” ceremony and now faces fine and possible jail time, said, Let them eat cake.”

Archbishop Aquila concludes his statement by saying, “Marriage is a stabilizing institution at the foundation of civil society. Religious liberty is a civil rights issue. Today both have been grievously harmed. Today our state and federal Constitutions have been dealt a troubling blow.”

Read Archbishop Aquila’s entire statement on the Colorado civil unions bill.

25 responses to “Archbishop Aquila of Denver Denounces Colorado Civil Unions Bill”

  1. Bill King says:

    Archbishop Archbishop in his statement should have started with “The Dioceses of Denver hereby gives up all it’s tax exemptions from this day forward. If we are going to comment on political actions we should not have a tax exemptions.

    • meghan says:

      Archbishop Aquila has the duty as do all citizens to speak conscionable in the public square. The Catholic faith carries with it a particular responsibility to safeguard the rights of all people, particularly those who do not have a strong voice, children in this case.

      • Bill King says:

        Children WTF are you talking about what does a same sex couple marriage have to do with children ? Are you suggesting a child adopted by a same sex couple will catch the “gay”

        • meghan says:

          The introduction of civil unions will result in infringing on the child’s right to a mother and a father. Other countries further down this road than the US show the effect on children. After civil unions were recognized by some European countries, they were soon extended to any two people, gay or not. This has resulted in an alternative to marriage with the legal benefits and fewer legal obligations. Before civil unions, 12% of children were born to unmarried couples today 40% of children are born to unmarried couples with the average cohabitation relationship lasting about 5 years. Children have a right to stability within an intact family. Civil unions have proven to undermine this right.

          • meghan says:

            Civil unions, with it’s weakening effect on marriage (as they are extended to all combinations of individuals) will result in greater poverty. Civil unions promote an overall diversion from marriage as a pillar of society. Traditional marriage is a safeguard against poverty; civil unions weaken this safeguard. Statistically, civil unions have the effect of more children being born to non-intact families as a society, not less. Therefore more children will face a higher risk of poverty throughout childhood. By age six, 68 percent of children in non-married households had experienced at least one year of poverty, compared to 12 percent of children in married households. By age 12, 78 percent of children in non-married households had experienced at least one year of poverty compared to 18 percent of children in married households; and by age 17, 81 percent of children in non-married households had experienced at least one year of poverty compared to 22 percent of children in married households. The study found that “[c]hildren in nonmarried households who are one year old have exceeded the risk of poverty that children in married households experience during their entire 17 years of childhood.”Mark R. Rank and Thomas A. Hirschl, “The Economic Risk of Childhood in America: Estimating the Probability of Poverty Across the Formative Years,” Journal of Marriage and Family 61, No. 4 (November 1999): 1058-1067.

  2. John Williams says:

    Once again, the Catholic leadership puts itself at odds with the majority of its adherents. Indeed the majority of society in general at least agrees on civil unions for same-sex couples. And if the Catholic Church decides that it can’t possibly assist kids in finding parents who love them, then I’m sure other agencies will step up to the plate. Good riddance.

    • meghan says:

      adherent – someone who believes and helps to spread the doctrine of another, sticking fast, A supporter, as of a cause or individual.

      The fact that Church leadership is at odds with its adherents says more about the so-called adherents not being adherent than the merits of the leaders. Either one believes that Christ is divine, that the church was established by Christ and is guided by the Holy Spirit in matters of faith and morals or one doesn’t (and therefore is no longer an adherent of the said faith).

    • Grace says:

      The Catholic Church is not a democracy or any other type of political institution. It is a voluntary belief system and anyone who does not “adhere” (to borrow your term) to those beliefs is not required to stay. There are many religious systems on earth from which to choose, some of which may be more suitable to some individuals’ political beliefs than others. The idea that the Catholic Church, as a voluntary religious belief system, is somehow required to change its fundamental beliefs about the nature of God and man just to be more palatable to current political trends is rather ludicrous. The Church is not intimidated by the prospect of shrinking membership in favor of a more unified one. But it’s both naïve and ignorant to assume that she will change her “policies” on hot-button political topics simply to mollify a subjective and rapidly changing public opinion.

    • Grace says:

      I meant to add to my original comment that the Church, like a truly loving mother, will patiently wait with open arms for the return of her prodigal children. Though she is not afraid of the prospect of shrinking numbers in response to standing firm on matters of faith and morals, her attitude to those who leave cannot be properly characterized as “good riddance”, thankfully for all of us who fall short.

      However, if she were to change at every popular political whim, she would no longer be here to welcome us home. The Church’s consistency and stability is a great gift to humanity.

  3. Lisa says:

    “Once again, the Catholic leadership puts itself at odds with the majority of its adherents.” Really? Do you care to site your source?

    What about adhering to Natural Law?
    Natural Law: an ethical belief or system of beliefs supposed to be inherent in human nature and discoverable by reason rather than revelation.
    A law or body of laws that derives from nature and is believed to be binding upon human actions apart from or in conjunction with laws established by human authority.

    As far as I can tell, marriage between one man and one woman is natural and safe. Go figure, our Creator made it so and reinforced his position with His words.

  4. J Baker says:

    Christ came that we may have life, and have it to the full. Thanks to Archbishop Aquila for supporting children’s right to live life to the full as God intended it. When we reject this truth about marriage we reject Christ, and when we reject Christ we are left with emptiness and darkness. I wish both for the majority and for the minority the fullness of Christ’s life.

  5. Gwen says:

    The evidence is clear and has been for many years that children raised by a mother and father who are married are better educated, wealthier, healthier, & more emotionally stable than their counterparts whose parents aren’t married.

    Whether or not the “majority of adherents” agree with thousands of years of common sense is completely irrelevant. The benefits that innocent children derive from stable marriages of one man/one woman far outweigh any other consideration for “equal rights.”

    The movement to crush the rights of those who would help protect these proven benefits to children and families is based on emotionalism and bigotry. The Church has every reason and duty to comment and act upon threats to the weak and innocent.

    Unfortunately the Legislature and Governor value phony rights and emotional appeals more than civil liberties.
    The state of Colorado has really let down its most charitable institutions and future taxpayers.

  6. Tania says:

    Fortunately, the Catholic faith doesn’t decide dogma based on popular opinion. The prevailing popular thought of the day is irrelevant to Truth. Truth doesn’t need your approval to continue to be true. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Without a man and woman, society would be extinct in one generation. God, in His infinite wisdom, designed the family to have one father and one mother. Each child has a right to be born and raised by one father and one mother. Study after study has shown this is the most stable and healthy environment for not only the children, but the women. Same-sex couples don’t love, but use each other. Love is shown on the cross to be a self-gift that is based on knowledge, freely chosen, life-giving, and permanent. Truly loving parents, a man and a woman, are the best place for children. Thanks be to God that we have an Archbishop who is not afraid to speak the Truth. May we all in our obedience to Christ’s Church follow his lead.

  7. Jennifer Hunter says:

    Thank you Archbishop!!!!! I hope more bishops will take a stand against this societal destruction. People who profess that the “Catholic leadership puts itself at odds with the majority of its adherents” are contradicting themselves. If you are an adherent to the Catholic faith, you would profess ALL that the Catholic Church teaches regarding doctrine to be true. Most people who say they are Catholic do not adhere to Church teaching but want the Church to change to whatever whims they espouse. The Catholic Church has endured for over 2000 years because it has stood by the TRUTH of Jesus Christ. It will not change a teaching that would go against natural law and the dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God. “Male and female He created them.”

  8. Denise says:

    Marriage should not be redefined and civil unions should not be legalized. Marriage is between a woman and a man. One of the fruits of marriage is children. Having them naturally! Civil union is a step towards inequality for traditional families. It also limits religious freedom on individuals (whether or not to hold ceremony for same sex couples, bake the cake, sell flowers, take the photographs, hold the reception…etc)
    Children adopted by same sex couples will be deprived the right to have a father AND a mother. There is evidence that children perform much better with married parents in their upbringing.

    • Bill King says:

      Children of same sex couples is no different than children of a Man-Woman Marriage. And if you are going to deny a Gay – Lesbian couple the right to marry based on your religious belief you have a problem. Suggest you begin using this mantra

      “Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is Right”

      • Grace says:

        And yet you would deny children the right to a mother and a father based on your belief system.

        • Denise says:

          Should you then NOT deny the right of a mother marrying her son, a man marrying his dog, a woman having 7 husbands… and so on?
          Immorality is often a result of doing what you think/want is right and not listen to what you are told is REALLY right.

          • Bill King says:

            Incest and Bestiality is not two Loving Parents weather Father-Mother, Father-Father, Mother -Mother. Your comment is out and out ridiculous why do you want to deny equal civil rights to gay people ?

          • Denise says:

            To Bill –
            Based on what can you say “Incest and Bestiality is not two Loving Parents whether Father-Mother, Father-Father, Mother -Mother.”?
            Are you sure there aren’t people out there who would say they are in incest/bestiality relationship and say they can adopt children and raise them well as loving parents? Would you be able to convince them they have no right?

            There is natural law. Only a man and woman can model a truthful, healthy male-female relationship.

      • Jennifer says:

        “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” — G. K. Chesterton
        Natural law can not be denied. Two men or two women cannot create a new person naturally for a reason. Men and women are unique, different and complimentary. They bring two different perspectives and different qualities to the upbringing of children. Children need the love that the different sexes provide. They need the balance of the 2 sexes. Gay and lesbians do not have “a right” to a child, just as a single person should not have a right to a child. Children are not possessions to be owned. They are unique individuals who deserve the love and care that only a mother AND father can give together.

      • samwise says:

        “Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is Right”
        Morality is doing what is right based on what your informed conscience tells you. Religion is doing what is right based on what your informed conscience tells you

    • Denise says:

      Is this what you want me to read:
      “The research on same-sex marriage has limitations, experts note, including the relatively small sample sizes of gay or lesbian parents even in long-term studies. Many studies have relied on parental assessments of their children’s well-being, and there is relatively little data about the well-being of children raised by gay men compared with lesbians.”

      Sample size is small and the observations are from parents – based on what the parents think, but not the peers, teachers or the children themselves.

      I’d have many more research like this to support traditional marriage! Google it.

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