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Bishop McManus, others react to marriage ruling

Posted By June 27, 2013 | 4:49 pm | Featured Article #2
Bishop McManus was among the U.S. Catholic bishops who said the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 rulings on same-sex marriage were “tragic.” The court, in separate 5-4 rulings struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, defining marriage as between one man and one woman and also refused to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, the voter-approved initiative barring same-sex marriage.

Staff and Catholic News Service reports

Bishop McManus was among the U.S. Catholic bishops who said the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 rulings on same-sex marriage were “tragic.”
The court, in separate 5-4 rulings struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, defining marriage as between one man and one woman and also refused to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, the voter-approved initiative barring same-sex marriage.
In the rulings, the court said DOMA was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause and they sent back to lower courts a challenge to Prop 8, saying the individuals who defended the law in court lacked the legal standing to do so.
Bishop McManus said, “Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act is a tragic error in judgment for the American people. As a statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pointed out, ‘The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage.’
“Marriage, as a natural institution, predates both religion and government and is grounded in the nature of the human person. That nature, along with history, common sense and God’s wise design all confirm that the difference between a man and a woman does matter, as is witnessed by the potential to bring new life into the world through their love for one another. The uniqueness of that reality does not disappear with today’s court ruling. I pray that people of faith and those of good will can stand firm in attesting to this truth and continue to find ways to protect and value the traditional definition of marriage for the future of our society,”
A statement by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said the 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,” they continued. “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.”
Allison LeDoux, director of the diocesan Respect Life Office and Office of Marriage and Family, reminds people that the rulings “cannot change the reality of what marriage truly is. It is regrettable that the decisions of the courts do not reflect the principles of natural and Divine law.  Marriage is the life-long union of one man and one woman for the purposes of the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of any children with which the Lord may entrust them.  When we live the truth about marriage society flourishes.  When the truth about marriage is forsaken, brokenness and sorrow result, for families – especially for children who deserve to be brought up in a loving home with their married mother and father – and for society as a whole.”
Mrs. LeDoux urged people to renew their resolve “to pray fervently, and to work with holy zeal to promote, protect, and defend the sanctity of marriage as God created it to be.”
A statement from the Massachusetts Catholic Conference points out that “the Court did not hold that the Constitution requires marriage redefinition in those states that do not recognize same sex marriage.”
“Protecting the traditional definition of marriage affirms the basic rights and dignity of women and men while safeguarding the basic rights of children,” said James F. Driscoll,  executive director of the Catholic Conference, the public policy arms for the state’s bishops.
The U.S. bishops also said it was “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.”
They urged people to “stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life.” They also asked for prayers “as the court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.”
Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said the court’s decisions were the “latest in a troubling trend of decisions by lawmakers, judges, and some voters which ignores the fundamental truth about marriage: It is the most valued, most important social unit in our society and as such is deserving of the protection and special recognition societies have afforded it throughout human history.”
The archbishop, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said the courts’ 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.”
Neither decision will have the effect of requiring states to honor same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, but the DOMA case likely will affect how the federal government must treat same-sex marriages for purposes ranging from Social Security benefits to taxation.
The opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy blasted the law as having “the avowed purpose and practical effect … to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states.
“The act’s demonstrated purpose is to ensure that if any state decides to recognize same-sex marriages, those unions will be treated as second-class marriages for purposes of federal law,” Kennedy wrote. “This raises a most serious question under the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.”
The California case was brought by two couples who were denied marriage licenses after the state’s voters in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. The law was passed after the state Supreme Court ruled earlier that year that statutes banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.
After a federal District Court found that Prop 8 served no legitimate purpose and violates due process and the equal protection rights of same-sex couples to marry, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 ruling upheld that conclusion, although on a narrower legal finding. While litigation proceeded however, Prop 8’s ban on same-sex marriages was allowed to stand.
The state of California declined to defend Prop 8 when two couples sued to block it, so individuals who supported the law took up its defense.
In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court ruled that those individuals lacked the legal standing to defend the law in federal court. The effect of the decision appears to be that the California trial court’s ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional will stand, at least initially. That would allow same-sex marriages to resume in California.
The New York case over DOMA arose when Edith Windsor inherited the estate of Thea Spyer, her partner of more than 40 years. The two had married in Canada in 2007. Windsor was held liable for $363,000 in federal estate and income taxes, which would not have applied to her had her spouse been a man.
Under the 1996 DOMA, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman for federal government purposes such as Social Security benefits, federal programs, immigration and federal estate and income taxes. It also said no political jurisdiction is required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another jurisdiction.
Lower courts had upheld Windsor’s argument that the law is unconstitutional. DOMA had the support of the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and at first of President Barack Obama. But in 2011, the Justice Department announced that the attorney general had determined that Section 3 is unconstitutional as applied to legally married same-sex spouses. The administration said federal agencies should continue to enforce the law, but that the government would no longer defend it in court.
The case to uphold DOMA was taken up by a group of members of Congress, known as the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Archbishop Timothy M. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services said that although the Supreme Court “avoided a firm declaration about same sex-marriage, it signaled that attempts by the federal government to limit rights available under state law could be unconstitutional.”
He said the court shifted the debate to the states, which “raises questions about the scope of the federal government’s authority to administer its own programs.”
In light of the court’s decisions, the archbishop said it “seems imperative to remind the faithful of the Archdiocese for the Military Services that they must never forget that all, regardless of their sexual inclination, must be treated with the respect worthy of their human dignity.”
He said that while the court’s decision “voids federal law it opens the doors to others: It allows the citizens of each state the opportunity to uphold the true definition of marriage by voting for representatives and legislation that defend the true definition of marriage.”
The bishop urged Catholics to “make their voices heard through the democratic process by upholding marriage in their home states,” saying he remains confident that Americans will “continue to promote and defend the good and the 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,” he added.

– Patricia Zapor and Carol Zimmermann of the Catholic News Service contributed to this report