In blunt let­ter, Catholic bish­ops push for ‘re­set’ on mar­riage

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY CH­ERYL WETZSTEIN

The na­tion’s Catholic bish­ops have urged Pres­i­dent Obama to “push the re­set but­ton” on his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s treat­ment of a fed­eral mar­riage law, or face an enor­mous national con­flict be­tween church and state.

“I wr ite with a grow­ing sense of ur­gency about re­cent ac­tions taken by your Ad­min­is­tra­tion that both es­ca­late the threat to mar­riage and im­peril the re­li­gious free­dom of those who pro­mote and de­fend mar­riage,” New York Arch­bishop Ti­mothy M. Dolan wrote in a di­rect let­ter ad­dressed to Mr. Obama on Sept. 20.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is not only re­fus­ing to de­fend the fed­eral De­fense of Mar­riage Act (DOMA) — which de­fines mar­riage as only the union of one man and one wo­man — it is “ac­tively at­tack­ing” the law’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity, wrote Arch­bishop Dolan, who is also pres­i­dent of the U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops.

An­other “grave” con­cern is that peo­ple of faith who sup­port mar­riage and the rights of chil­dren to be raised by a mother and a fa­ther are be­ing ac­cused of be­ing prej­u­diced and bi­ased.

“While all per­sons merit our full re­spect, no other re­la­tion­ships pro­vide for the com­mon good what mar­riage be­tween hus­band and wife pro­vides. The law should re­flect this re­al­ity,” he wrote.

The prelate added that “mil­lions of cit­i­zens” have voted for state DO­MAs, and “thereby en­dorsed mar­riage as the union of man and wo­man.”

“Mr. Pres­i­dent, I re­spect­fully urge you to push the re­set but­ton on your Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­proach to DOMA,” he wrote. If the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion does not “change course” on these mar­riage and fam­ily mat­ters, it will “pre­cip­i­tate a national con­flict be­tween Church and State of enor­mous pro­por­tions and to the detri­ment of both in­sti­tu­tions.”

A com­ment from the White House was not im­me­di­ately avail­able.

On CatholicVote.org, Thomas Peters wrote: “Wow. This [let­ter] def­i­nitely rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant es­ca­la­tion of tone and in­cludes the threat of con­se­quences.” Over at CatholicOn­line.org, Dea­con Keith Fournier called the let­ter a “mas­ter­ful” de­fense of mar­riage and re­li­gious free­dom, and noted that Pope Bene­dict XVI has “con­nected the moral col­lapse of the West to what he termed a ‘Dic­ta­tor­ship of Rel­a­tivism.’ ”

How­ever, at the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign, which is fea­tur­ing Mr. Obama at its Oct. 1 gala, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Michael Cole-Schwartz said that, “Amer­i­cans — in­clud­ing the ma­jor ity of Amer ican Catholics — want to see the church hi­er­ar­chy push the re­set but­ton on their hos­til­ity to­ward gay and les­bian cou­ples. It’s time for the bish­ops to re­al­ize the peo­ple in the pews don’t sup­port dis­crim­i­na­tion and nei­ther should they.”

Rick Ja­cobs, pres­i­dent of Courage Cam­paign, who at­tended a White House meet­ing Sept. 23 with other Cal­i­for­nia do­mes­tic-pol­icy ad­vo­cates, said ho­mo­sex­u­als who want to get mar­ried are ac­tu­ally “ven­er­at­ing the in­sti­tu­tion,” and oth­ers who sup­port mar­riage should sup­port them as well.

“Thirty U.S. sen­a­tors now sup­port a bill to re­peal DOMA,” added Mr. Ja­cobs. If DOMA can be re­pealed, the coun­try can go back to “the Amer­i­can way,” which is to al­low states to make de­ci­sions about their mar­riage laws, he said.

The na­tion’s es­ti­mated 69 mil­lion Catholics are a volatile vot­ing bloc. In Novem­ber 2008, they voted for Mr. Obama by a mar­gin of 54 per­cent to 45 per­cent. In 2004, they voted in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, giv­ing Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, a Repub­li­can, their sup­port, 52 per­cent to 47 per­cent.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Let­ter to Obama: New York Arch­bishop Ti­mothy M. Dolan

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