The March for Marriage yesterday in Washington, D.C. was successful for numerous reasons. Among them was the turnout: over 10,000 people. This is especially impressive given the date change (the march had been planned for June but was moved to April when the Supreme Court’s schedule for the marriage cases was announced).
Second, the march manifested a diversity that shows that the concerns for traditional marriage are not coming only from older white Catholics and Pentecostals. You can see some pictures from the march here: March for Marriage 2015. Indeed if anything, the march had a distinctly black and brown hue. Though this should not matter, it does matter (at least politically) that a diverse and hard-to-categorize plurality can hold together.
Among the Catholic leaders and speakers present were the Archbishop of Baltimore and Chairman of the U.S. Bishop’s committee on religious freedom, William Lori; the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Joseph Kurtz of Louisville; and the Pope’s Ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.
It is encouraging that such prominent Catholic bishops were present and we need to pray for them. Let us pray that they can courageously endure the difficulties that increasingly beset Catholic clergy who stand up publicly for what the Scriptures and the Catechism teach on matters of sexuality and marriage.
Oral arguments take place in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. A decision is expected to be handed down in June, and it may decide the status of marriage nationally in a way no less sweeping than did the Roe v. Wade decision in the matter of abortion.
With that in mind, I’d like to present highlights from an amicus curiae brief submitted by the USCCB, which defends traditional marriage. Many Catholics have expressed concerns that our clergy are too silent on these matters. But here is a document that clearly states Catholic opposition to redefining marriage, presenting it to the highest court in the land. Here is clarity and firm articulation of our opposition. Please read this, pray, and be willing to defend Church teaching. It is an uphill journey and court-watchers say that the Court is like to find against us. So read, and pray as you read, and read as you pray. And pray. And did I mention that you should pray? Pray!
The following are my highlights from the amicus brief. The full document can be read here: Amicus Curiae – Obergefell v. Hodges. The numeration and the red and blue summary bullets are mine; the rest (in italics) is taken directly from the brief.
I. We are not bigots and cannot be categorized politically into any facile category. The USCCB advocates and promotes the pastoral teaching of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in such diverse areas of the nation’s life as the free expression of ideas, fair employment and equal opportunity for the underprivileged, protection of the rights of parents and children, the sanctity of life, and the nature of marriage.
II. Traditional marriage is quite distinct from other unions and deserves a distinct status in civil law. The State laws at issue here encourage and support the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife, as distinct from other interpersonal relationships, by conferring upon such unions a unique set of benefits. There are at least two reasons for doing so.
A. Heterosexual unions can produce children, others cannot. First, as a matter of simple biology, the sexual union of one man and one woman is the only union capable of creating new life. A home with a mother and a father is the optimal environment for raising children, an ideal that State law encourages and promotes. Given both the unique capacity for reproduction and the unique value of homes with a mother and father, it is reasonable and just 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. … Every child has a mother and a father, and only marriage, understood as the union of one man and one woman, assures that children will have the opportunity to be raised by both a mother and a father. A mother and father each bring something unique and irreplaceable to child-rearing that the other cannot.
Put another way, it is reasonable for the government to view the union of one man and one woman united in marriage as the preferred environment for the bearing and upbringing of children, even if, as it happens, some children are born and raised in non-marital contexts as well.
B. Traditional marriage is also better for the adults involved. Second … Government support for a marital bond between mothers and fathers serves the interest of reducing, or preventing further increases in, the incidence of single parenthood and the consequent burdens it places upon the custodial parent (usually the mother) … The government’s support and encouragement is particularly helpful in countering the negative personal and societal consequences specific to fatherlessness.
To be sure, marriage serves to connect children to both their mother and their father, but it plays an especially important role in joining men with their children and with the mother of their children in the shared task of parenting. The physical presence and identity of the mother of a child is assured at birth without the assistance of the law; but the assistance of the law is helpful, if not indispensable, in assuring the presence and identity of the father.
III. We are not bigots. The legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is not based on hatred, bigotry, or animus against any class of persons. … While the law may not draw classifications based upon mere thoughts, beliefs, or inclination, it can and routinely does distinguish between types of conduct. Here as elsewhere, the mere fact that a law declines to support certain conduct does not imply hatred of the person who might engage in that conduct.
A. Different things can be treated differently. Because sexual acts between a man and a woman have different practical consequences, the government can reasonably distinguish them in law from same-sex sexual acts. … Because sexual conduct between persons of the same sex never results in children, legal reinforcement of a permanent bond between them does not serve the same interests. … There is no bigotry in treating genuinely different things differently.
B. Immutable traits are different from behaviors. When the government treats persons differently because of their race, sex, or national origin, it discriminates on the basis of an immutable trait identifiable from conception or birth. In contrast, a decision to participate in a same-sex relationship is not a trait, but a species of conduct.
C. Forsaking discrimination is not the same as active support. This Court has held that laws forbidding private, consensual, homosexual conduct between adults lack a rational basis; but it does not follow that States have a constitutional duty to support such conduct, which is precisely what would occur if the definition of marriage were expanded to encompass such conduct.