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US bishops lament court’s rejection of Defense of Marriage Act

Catholic World News - July 13, 2010

Speaking on behalf of his brother bishops, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said that a recent US district court ruling rejecting parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was “dangerous and disappointing” and “offends true justice.”

In a July 12 statement, Archbishop Kurtz said:

Marriage – the union of one man and one woman – is a unique, irreplaceable institution. The very fabric of our society depends upon it. Nothing compares to the exclusive and permanent union of husband and wife. The state has a duty to employ the civil law to reinforce – and, indeed, to privilege uniquely – this vital institution of civil society. The reasons to support marriage by law are countless, not least to protect the unique place of husbands and wives, the indispensible role of fathers and mothers, and the rights of children, who are often the most vulnerable among us. And yet, a judge has decided that a marriage-reinforcing law like DOMA fails to serve even a single, minimally rational government interest. On behalf of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, I express grave concern over these dangerous and disappointing rulings which ignore even the most apparent purposes of marriage and thus offend true justice.

“To claim that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is somehow irrational, prejudiced, or even bigoted, is a great disservice not only to truth but to the good of our nation,” the archbishop added, commenting on the judge’s remark that “irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest.” Archbishop Kurtz continued:

Marriage exists prior to the state and is not open to redefinition by the state. The role of the state, instead, is to respect and reinforce marriage. Thursday’s decision, by contrast, uses the power of the state to attack the perennial definition of marriage, reducing it merely to the union of any two consenting adults. But only a man and a woman are capable of entering into the unique, life-giving bond of marriage, with all of its specific responsibilities. Protecting marriage as only the union of one man and one woman is not merely a legitimate, but a vital government interest.

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