New York state's bishops take stand against same-sex marriage - Catholic Courier

New York state’s bishops take stand against same-sex marriage

New York’s eight bishops today urged Catholics and other New Yorkers who believe in the sanctity of marriage to express their opposition to same-sex marriage to Gov. David Paterson.

This morning the bishops released a statement in response to the governor’s recent directive that all state agencies recognize same-sex unions legalized in other states and countries. In the 1,200-word statement, which can be accessed at Web site of the New York Catholic Conference, the bishops explained the theological and practical reasons for their opposition to same-sex marriage, which would be permitted under a measure approved by the state Assembly last year. The state Senate has yet to approve a similar bill.

“Such actions, whether the legal union is called ‘marriage’ or ‘civil union’ represent a destructive development for our state,” the bishops said in the statement.

The bishops emphasized that marriage between a man and a woman is a constant, visible reminder of God’s goodness and the beauty of his plan for mankind, and that all of the world’s great religions view marriage as a holy bond between a man and a woman. Theology aside, they said this view of marriage also is consistent with biology and natural law and allows men and women to grow in love and bring forth children in a stable family structure that allows civil society to flourish.

“Common sense and empirical evidence tell us that children’s welfare is best served in most cases by their being reared in a stable home with their mother and father,” the bishops said.

The state benefits from maintaining the traditional definition of marriage because children raised by both parents are more likely to grow into good citizens, thus creating wealth, stability and security for their society, the bishops said. If same-sex unions are recognized, marriage will be devalued even more than it already has been, they said, and numerous scholars have already written of the negative effects children suffer as a result of such other forms of devaluation as divorce and out-of-wedlock births.

The bishops cautioned, however, that their opposition to same-sex marriage should not be construed as discrimination against homosexuals.

“Our Church teaches, and we affirm, that we must treat our homosexual sisters and brothers with dignity and love, as we would all children,” their statement said.

However, this does not mean there should be a change in the definition of marriage, which has for centuries been defined as a union between “physically and emotionally complementary male and female partners,” they stated.

Proponents of same-sex marriages often argue that these unions would allow them to receive the same benefits to which married heterosexual couples are entitled. However, the bishops noted, all individuals — including homosexuals — in New York state already have access to many of these benefits, such as the right to choose a health-care proxy and bequeath property to survivors in a will.

“The state can review whatever benefits or privileges that it has through the years conferred on married couples and, in cases where true discrimination may be at play, fashion legislative remedies,” the bishops said.

The bishops argued, however, that, in truth, the push for same-sex marriage has less to do with benefits than with societal approval of homosexual relationships.

“But it is not the business of the state to attempt to legislate such approval,” the bishops said. “We call on our state government to reject attempts to alter the sacred institution of marriage.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Click here to use a form on the New York Catholic Conference’s Web site to voice your opposition to Gov. David Paterson’s same-sex marriage directive.

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