Catholic World News

USCCB, in Supreme Court briefs, defends marriage as union of man and woman

January 30, 2013

As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has filed briefs in their defense.

Arguing in defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the USCCB brief noted that

there is no fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex. Such a claim must be rejected because it does not satisfy the test to which this Court adheres in determining whether an asserted right is fundamental. Specifically, civil recognition of same-sex relationships is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition—quite the opposite is true. Nor can the treatment of such relationships as marriages be said to be implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, such that neither liberty nor justice would exist if they were sacrificed … This Court’s decisions describing marriage as a fundamental right plainly contemplate the union of one man and one woman.

The USCCB brief also argued that “‘sexual orientation’ is not a classification that should trigger heightened scrutiny,” as discrimination on the basis of sex or race would. Homosexual behavior “is not a trait attributable from conception or birth,” the brief states, adding:

Elevation of sexual orientation to a quasi-suspect class would immerse federal courts into a quagmire of family law issues reserved to the states, issues for which the Judicial Branch is not institutionally suited … Application of heightened scrutiny would hinder the ability of legislatures to create accommodations for those with religious or moral objections to homosexual conduct.

“The claim that homosexual persons today have ‘no ability to attract the attention of the lawmakers’ is frivolous,” the brief added.

The brief concluded:

If this Court were to conclude that the Constitution requires a redefinition of marriage to include persons in same-sex relationships—a requirement that we believe cannot reasonably be inferred from the Constitution—it is unclear where the logical stopping point would be. This Court will ultimately be asked why other interpersonal relationships are not entitled to similar inclusion, and why other “barriers” to marriage (such as those posed by youth, kinship, or multiplicity of parties) should not also have to be struck down as inconsistent with this redefinition.

In its defense of Proposition 8 – the 2008 California ballot initiative defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman – the USCCB argued that

first, as a matter of simple biology, the union of one man and one woman is the only union capable of creating new life. Second, the People of California could reasonably conclude that a home with a mother and a father is the optimal environment for raising children, an ideal that Proposition 8 encourages and promotes. Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable for a State to treat the union of one man and one woman as having a public value that is absent from other intimate interpersonal relationships.

“Proposition 8 is not rendered invalid because some of its supporters were informed by religious or moral considerations,” the brief continued. “Many, if not most, of the significant social and political movements in our Nation’s history were based on precisely such considerations.”

“The current debate specifically concerns the meaning of marriage and the proposal to redefine marriage, not the phenomenon of same-sex attraction and the persons who experience such attraction,” the brief added. “For this reason, the suggestion that opposition to the redefinition of marriage is equivalent to an animus against people who experience same-sex attraction is particularly offensive and plainly wrong … The further suggestion that opposition to homosexual conduct is simply animus against persons who engage in such conduct is also erroneous and offensive.”


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  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jan. 31, 2013 7:18 AM ET USA

    Since marriage is widely seen as a matter betweeen two people (or, maybe, three or four or more), rather than as a public good worth protecting as such, we can expect at least four and maybe as many as six SCJ's to reject DOMA and then some of us clergy will have to go to jail. That's where the secularists want us, anyway.