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Same Sex Marriage: A Tale of Three (Catholic) Governors

Two Catholic governors oversaw the passage of same-sex marriage laws by legislative fiat in their states this week, and another is on the verge of seeing a similar bill pass, but the way the three responded could not have been more dissimilar.

According to The New York Times, Catholic Gov. Christine Gregoire signed legislation on Monday to make Washington the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill was passed by partisan vote in the majority Democratic state legislature.

Gregoire signed the bill on Monday, saying it was "a day historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights, a day when we did what was right, we did what was just, and we did what was fair."

The law, which goes into effect June 7, is already being challenged by traditional marriage supporters who immediately filed a referendum that would give the public the opportunity to vote on the matter.

A group called Preserve Marriage Washington filed Referendum 73 on Monday afternoon which could put the bill on hold until after a November vote if 120,577 valid voter signatures are collected by June 6. 

On the other side of the country, another same-sex marriage bill passed in New Jersey via the same legislative maneuvering, but Catholic governor Chris Christie has already said he intends to veto it. The governor has gone on record saying, "I believe marriage is between one man and one woman, and I believe marriage is special and unique to society."

However, New Jersey Senate president Steven Sweeney told the Wall Street Journal that "we can override, and we will override."

But the override is not as sure as it sounds. According to the New Jersey Star Ledger, the legislature is actually three votes short of the 27 votes needed to override Christie's veto.

An added complication is a recent suggestion by the governor to put same-sex marriage on the ballot for voters to decide. Even though polls found that a majority of New Jerseyans favor same-sex marriage (54 vs. 35), a nearly identical number are in favor of letting the people have their say.

Maryland is the next state that could pass a same-sex marriage bill as early as this week. Not only did the state's Catholic Governor Martin O'Malley say he'll sign the bill should it pass, but he actually spearheaded the drive to push through the law.

"Marylanders of all walks of life want their children to live in a loving, stable, committed home protected under the law," O'Malley said, and claims his reason for pushing the bill is to protect children.

At the present time, the legislature is just shy of the votes needed to pass the law, but should it garner the votes necessary, the governor has promised to sign it.

The disparate behavior of Catholic politicians in America these days is what led Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois to recently warn politicians who consider themselves Catholic but collaborate in “the assault against their faith” that they will one day have to give account for their acts before God.

“There is a last judgment. There is a particular judgment. May they change their minds and may God have mercy on them,” he told CNA during a recent visit to Rome.

When asked specifically about recent actions of Democratic Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius Kathleen Sebelius and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Bishop Jenky replied “I am utterly scandalized.”

“The Lord once said ‘if you deny me at the end, I will deny you,’ this from our most merciful, good Savior. And so if it is a choice between Jesus Christ and political power or getting favorable editorials in leftist papers, well, that’s simply not a choice.”

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