Please Pray This Week for Traditional Marriage – The Supreme Court Is in Session

042615The 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.

19 Replies to “Please Pray This Week for Traditional Marriage – The Supreme Court Is in Session”

  1. Thank you Monsignor for this important apologetic post. May the Lord have Mercy on Our Nation!

  2. I thank you also for this post, Msgr. But, where is the morality? This brief could have been filed by any secular humanist group in the country. There is not one argument from Sacred Scripture, Apostolic Tradition, or the Church’s Magisterium. The brief is more concerned with shielding itself from the cries of bigotry than espousing Catholic teaching. You ask that I be willing to defend Church teaching when the bishops aren’t. God created marriage long before any state existed. Why can’t the bishops say so? Homosexual acts are wrong. Why can’t the bishops say so? They are scared of the “storm” that will develop. The number one job of the bishops is to teach the Catholic Faith. How has this document done so? I will pray. The Bible states in John 6 that Jesus created quite a “storm” and lost most of his following. Upon asking the Apostles if they too would leave, they said no. It looks like today the answer would be different. I will pray. I will pray that when SCOTUS rules, either way, there are at least 5 bishops and many priests who are willing to create a “storm” by teaching the Catholic Faith.

    Msgr., you are busy. No response is OK. May God continue to bless you.

    1. Recall the audience they are addressing. They based their arguments therefore on natural law. I have often mentioned to the few bishops I know that I wish that the bishops would also write to the people of God and do as you say, appeal more to scripture, to God, revealed Church teaching etc, in addition to natural law arguments. But in writing to the court, legal principles and natural law are going to have to be the go-to theme.

    2. A secular court looks to man-made law, not biblical law, as its governing authority.

  3. Has the Supreme Court done anything in recent years to uphold God’s and natural law? I would be stunned if they did in this case. Their power has gone to their heads and they no longer judge but legislate. Don’t look to our government any longer to promote anything that is holy, good or true.

  4. I am not a lawyer but do follow politics. I think the 4 liberal members, Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor, of the U.S. Supreme Court will vote in favor of marriage equality. All they need to do is get one more vote for them to win the day. My guess they will accomplish this in either having Kennedy or Roberts or both side with them. The remaining 3, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas, will vote against it.

    1. I did read Robert Bork’s, book “Tempting of America,” much of which I didn’t understand. By the way, he was a vociferous opponent of the Roe V. Wade which legalized abortion. He said their was nothing constitutional about the decision. On the topic at hand, he stressed that the liberals on the Court use the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment in order to buttress their opinions; hence, this one.

      1. It happens more often than you know. Chief Justice burger used to switch his vote when 5-4 would become apparent in case conference so that he could write the majority opinion to limit the scope of the decision. Chief Justice Warren had a 5-4 majority to overturn segregation in Brown vs the Board of Education,BUT because his realized just how controversial the decision he lobbied the other justice’s to produce a unanimous decision. While Chief Justice Burger votes in favor of Roe v Wade, he assigned Justice Blackmon to write the opinion to keep his finger prints off the decision. There was an indication of the way the court is likely to rule earlier this year when the court ruled 6-3 against a stay in a similiar case with Justice Thomas saying that that pointed to where the court is going on this issue. IF Chief Justice Roberts votes in the majority HE will write the majority opinion. . Also don’t forget that Gideo vs Wainwright(requiring a lawyer for criminal defendants) and Miranda(reading you rights when arrested) were 5-4 decisions. In the end, my bet is that it comes down to Justice Kennedy and who’s amicus briefs sway him more. Right now, the conventional wisdom is that the weight of the argument seems to be on the side of the pro gay marriage side. BUT, nobody really knows and we won’t until the court rules and the opinion written. Even then, we won’t know the full story because what goes on in case conference etc rarely becomes fully public.

  5. Yes, Monsignor, I will pray for the acknowledgment by the Supreme Court of the Traditional Marriage. Pray we must although we are now on the slippery slope of disordered relationships abounding all over the world. Relativism is now the mode of every society and absolute morals have already been discarded everywhere. Though this may be the case, I believe that GOD is in control. HE is allowing this mistake maybe, just maybe that we will learn in our hardness of heart the destructive effect of this unnatural, irreverent and obtuse relationships. YHWH SHEKINAH

  6. It is sad that it has come to this. Does anyone else see the similarities to our Biblical past where in God allowed the Israelites to be ruled by oppressors when they stopped worshipping Him and turned to the Baals? We call our false gods something else (money, power, sex), but we have clearly followed a similar path as our ancestors. Sadly, if we read the rest of the story, we know what our almost immediate future holds.

    I pray our leaders and policy makers are open to reason and make prudent choices. If they do not I fear the end of our democracy will be close at hand.

    Lord Jesus, Son of the Living God, have Mercy on us.

  7. There is no need to protest that we are not bigots, or homophobes or racists or facists. For relativists these words are deployed solely for emotional impact and not because there is any rational basis under them. It is noise and not signal, and we should only respond to signal (granted, rare these days) and not even acknowledge the noise.

    1. Well, in court of law it is sometimes necessary to demonstrate that one does not act simply from an “animus” Hence, in the context here, what you say is not true. Perhaps in the court of public opinion your “no need” notion has some truth.

  8. It’s encouraging to read the replies. It reminds me that I am not alone as LGBT activists would have me believe. Indeed most Americans oppose same-sex marriage (redefining marriage). As demonstrated by the number of states whose residents voted to ban it— hence the current Supreme Court case. However, it is frustrating and disappointing to encounter so many Christians whom seem to have given up. We serve a mighty God. Nothing is impossible with Him. I agree with the previous post. Pray for a miracle.

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