Dear Parishioners: If you have been following the news you would see that the RI House of Representatives is poised to pass legislation that will redefine marriage. Testimony for and against the legislation was heard this past week by the House Judiciary Committee. It appears likely that for the first time there are enough votes to pass the bill out of committee and have the entire House of Representatives vote on the measure very soon. Unfortunately, while Rhode Island continues to struggle with high unemployment and rising homelessness, leaders in the State House of Representatives have decided that they will focus their energy on the very divisive issue of redefining marriage and threatening religious freedom.
The Catholic definition of marriage is simple. Marriage is a partnership of one man and one woman who are joined together for their own mutual good and for the procreation and education of children. At a time when family life is under significant stress, the principled defense of marriage is an urgent necessity for the well-being of children and families, and for the common good of society.
Neither two men or two women can possibly form a marriage. Our law would be wrong if it said that they could. The basic structure of marriage as the exclusive and lasting relationship of a man and a woman, committed to a life with the potential of having children, is given to us in human nature, and thus by nature’s God. Some have said that this bill would simply extend marriage to some people who have long been arbitrarily excluded from it. They are wrong. The pending bill would not expand the eligibility roster for marriage. It would radically redefine what marriage is for everybody.
It would enshrine in our law – and thus in public opinion, public policy and practice – three harmful ideas: that marriage is only a romantic-emotional union, children do not need both a mother and a father and the main purpose of marriage is adult satisfactions. This proposed legislation will also have long term consequences because laws teach; they tell us what is socially acceptable and what is not, and most people conform to the dictates of their respective society.
Therefore, those who believe that marriage can only truly exist between one man and one woman would now be treated as bigots. Thus, those who follow the dictates of their conscience and religious faith would be subject to charges of discrimination and intolerance because marriage is redefined to appease a powerful special interest group and accommodate a small percentage of our society.
There is also another important question of religious freedom. The Church engages in various ministries through our institutions and employees, and we serve everyone who comes to us especially the poor and marginalized because that is what Christ showed us to do. However, the law redefining marriage can be used in ways that violate religious liberty.
Some claim that as long as religious ministers are not forced to preside over same sex “marriages” the principle of religious freedom is protected. This is not true. The notion that the exercise of religious freedom is confined to the interior of churches, synagogues, temples or mosques or what one does on Holy Days is incorrect. The freedom of religion also extends to the many ministries of religious organizations and the individual conscience. So if marriage is redefined in civil law, without proper conscience protections, individuals and religious organizations – regardless of deeply held beliefs – will be compelled to treat same sex unions as the equivalent of marriage in their lives, ministries and operations.
I urge you to contact your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to defend marriage not redefine it. Call them today and email them by going to www.faithfulcitizenri.org and clicking the link to defend marriage. The future of marriage can only be protected if we speak up now! God Bless.