By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Cardinal Francis George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, decried the August 4 decision of a federal judge to overturn a California voters’ 2008 initiative known as Proposition 8 that protected marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of any society. The misuse of law to change the nature of marriage undermines the common good,” Cardinal George said. “It is tragic that a federal judge would overturn the clear and expressed will of the people in their support for the institution of marriage. No court of civil law has the authority to reach into areas of human experience that nature itself has defined.”
Joining Cardinal George in his criticism of the court decision was Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage. Archbishop Kurtz noted that “Citizens of this nation have uniformly voted to uphold the understanding of marriage as a union of one man and one woman in every jurisdiction where the issue has been on the ballot. This understanding is neither irrational nor unlawful,” he said. “Marriage is more fundamental and essential to the well being of society than perhaps any other institution. It is simply unimaginable that the court could now claim a conflict between marriage and the Constitution.”
In his 136 page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who is openly homosexual, ruled that “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”
He added: “Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”
The California Catholic Conference called Walker’s decision a disappointment.
“That the judge should find marriage – civilization’s long-standing public policy – irrational and discriminatory does a great injustice to the institution itself and ultimately will further encourage the disintegration of mother-father families,” said Edward E. Dolejsi, the conference’s executive director. “Homosexuals certainly have every right to the love, companionship and support of another person, but the courts do not have a right to distort the meaning of marriage.”
Opponents of same-sex marriage have vowed to continue the fight to protect traditional marriage in California.
“(T)his is not the end of our fight to uphold the will of the people for traditional marriage, as we now begin an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,” attorney Andy Pugno of ProtectMarriage.com said in a statement.
“It is disturbing that the trial court, in order to strike down Proposition 8, has literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill and discriminatory intent when casting their votes for Prop 8,” he said. “But the reality is that Prop 8 was simply about restoring and strengthening the traditional definition of marriage as the unique relationship of a man and a woman, for the benefit of children, families and society.”
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