Says Catholics are called to oppose
legalization of same-sex marriage
Catholics are called by church teaching to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, although they must treat homosexuals with compassion, love and dignity, according to a statement released by Bishop Matthew H. Clark in the Catholic Courier Weekly editions distributed in parishes the weekend of April 3-4. (Click here to read the full statement.)
In his statement, the bishop points out that Roman Catholics believe marriage is a divinely inspired sacrament celebrated between a man and a woman, and that the sacredness of the marriage bond is based on Scripture. Catholics should stand by these teachings and beliefs, the bishop said in his statement, but at the same time, must not discriminate against homosexuals, who should be treated as brothers and sisters in Christ, as the church teaches.
“Bishop Clark feels that with all the media attention and debate over this issue of late, it is important and timely to restate the teachings of the church and to voice his strong opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage,” said Doug Mandelaro, diocesan spokesman.
On March 3, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer issued his legal analysis of the issues surrounding same-sex marriage. His findings show that the New York State Domestic Relations Law does not authorize the issuance of licenses to same-sex couples in New York, and officials should not solemnize same-sex wedding ceremonies. Even so, he said in a press statement, under a state court precedent, same-sex marriages and civil unions lawfully entered in other jurisdictions should be recognized in New York.
The day after Spitzer released his legal opinion, Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, issued a response.
“We agree with the attorney general’s conclusion that there is no legal validity to the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in New York State, nor to the solemnization of marriages to those who do not possess a valid license,” Barnes said in his response. “We understand that Mr. Spitzer personally favors the legalization of same-sex marriages, and we are grateful that he did not let his personal position intrude upon his responsibilities as attorney general of New York State to uphold the law.”
However, the New York State Catholic Conference disagrees with the conclusion that same-sex unions from other jurisdictions should be recognized in New York, Barnes said.
“Because he cites only the decision of one trial court justice from Nassau County on this issue, we do not agree that New York law requires a presumption supporting that judge’s flawed analysis,” he said.
Barnes also called upon the state legislature to pass a bill stating that a marriage or union of two people of the same sex is void in New York, whether or not it is recognized in other jurisdictions. This bill has been introduced in both the Senate (S.2220) and the Assembly (A.2998). Sen. Serphin Maltese of Queens, who introduced the bill in the Senate, spoke about the bill during the New York State Catholic Conference’s Public Policy Day in Albany March 9, where the issue of same-sex marriage was a late addition to the agenda.
New York is not the only state grappling with the issue of same-sex marriage. In mid-February, San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada wrote to President George W. Bush, asking for a federal constitutional amendment to protect the traditional definition of marriage, and five days later, Bush called for this amendment, according to Catholic News Service reports. According to CNS, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maryland, Wisconsin, Kansas, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia are also dealing with controversy surrounding this issue.Tags: Bishop Matthew H. Clark, Catholic Marriage