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Washington bishop emphasizes: same-sex marriage will threaten religious liberty

Catholic World News - October 09, 2012

As voters in the State of Washington prepare for a referendum on same-sex marriage, Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima has written a pastoral letter urging Catholics to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“Marriage is the permanent, faithful and fruitful union of one man and one woman,” he said. “In other words, from time immemorial, marriage has been recognized, privileged, and protected in societies because it is the only institution that unites a man and a woman together with any child born from their union. There is something uniquely special about a man and a woman coming together in wedlock, and this union has an essential public significance. The most obvious is the fact that every child has a mother and a father, and marriage is the only institution that meets a child’s right, as far as possible, to know, love and be raised by his or her mother and father together, in an intact home.”

Bishop Tyson, whom Pope Benedict appointed bishop of Yakima in 2011, also warned of same-sex marriage’s threat to religious liberty:

R-74 jeopardizes freedom rather than expands it. It endangers our religious liberty and the right of conscience. Once marriage is redefined as a genderless contract, it will become legally discriminatory for public and private institutions such as schools to promote the unique meaning of marriage, and to teach about the right of a child to be known, loved and raised by his or her own mother and father in a stable home. This law will challenge our right to educate about the unique value of children being raised by their own mothers and fathers. No institution or individual could propose that married mothers and fathers provide a singular benefit to children without being accused of discrimination.

This is not an idle concern. Recent attacks on churches, businesses and nonprofit organizations that express their conscientious objection to the redefinition of marriage underscore this danger. Those who uphold families based on the permanent, faithful relationship between a married man and woman as the best environment for raising children already have been accused of hate speech, and the right of religious institutions to freely practice their faith has been abridged.

“I opened this letter with a wedding picture of my parents,” Bishop Tyson said. “I close by asking you to consider what kind of picture of marriage you desire to give the next generation. If you and I don’t uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman, who will? If we are intimidated by those supporting marriage redefinition who picket and threaten donation boycotts of our charity and our ministry, then who will proclaim the true meaning of marriage?”

“This is the Church’s mission given to us by Christ,” he concluded. As bishop, I intend to clearly, fearlessly and boldly proclaim this message – not only for your consideration – but the consideration of everyone.”

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