July 6, 2004
WASHINGTON (July 6, 2004) -— Saying the institution of marriage is
"under serious attack," the President of the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops (USCCB) strongly urged the Senate to vote in favor of
the Federal Marriage Amendment after turning back any attempt to prevent
consideration of the measure.
"Recent actions in various state courts and courthouses have placed the
institution of marriage under serious attack and in grave danger," said
Bishop Wilton D. Gregory in a letter to the Senate urging support for
S.J. Res. 30, the Federal Marriage Amendment. "The Catholic Bishops of
the United States strongly believe that marriage is a basic human
institution and that, though it is regulated by civil laws and church
laws, it did not originate from either the church or state, but from
God. Accordingly, the Bishops believe that neither church nor the state
can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage."
S.J. Res. 30 would amend the United States Constitution to define
marriage as consisting only of the union of a man and a woman. The
Senate Majority leader has announced his intention to bring it before
the Senate in mid-July. Bishop Gregory noted, however, that opponents
may mount a filibuster that could prevent consideration of the measure.
"The Catholic Bishops of the United States strongly urge you to vote
against any effort that would prevent the Senate from voting on this
important measure, as well as to vote for the measure once the Senate
takes it up," said Bishop Gregory in the July 6 letter.
"Our concern for preserving marriage as the union of a man and a woman
is not simply a Catholic concern," the Bishop said. "We share it with
believers and non-believers, Christians and non-Christians alike, simply
because this understanding is part of the common moral heritage of
"It is precisely this moral heritage that must be protected today from a
small but vocal minority that would alter the definition of marriage by
making same-sex unions the legal equivalent of marriage," Bishop
Gregory stated. "A same-sex union is not equivalent to marriage. It is
not based on the natural complementarity of male and female; it cannot
cooperate with God to create new life; it cannot be a true conjugal
"Marriage, as properly understood, is more than a lifestyle choice,"
Bishop Gregory said. "It is an interpersonal relationship with public
significance," he continued. "It makes a unique and irreplaceable
contribution to the common good of society when it fulfills its natural,
God-given purposes, namely, to bring children into the world and care
for them and to provide a way for a man and a woman to seek each other's
good in a committed, lifetime relationship."
"The institution of marriage has been weakened and eroded by many
forces," Bishop Gregory told the Senate. "The social cost is already
too high. The Catholic Bishops of the United States urge your support
for amending the United States Constitution to preserve and protect this
vital institution that undergirds the well-being of spouses, children,
families, communities and society itself."
The USCCB has longed worked on the marriage issue, supporting efforts
at the state level to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a
woman. Last September, its Administrative Committee called for efforts
at all levels of government, including support for a federal
constitutional amendment. Since then, the Bishops' Conference has been
engaged in educational activities across the country, and has submitted
testimony to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
On June 24, Bishop Gregory wrote to all Catholic Bishops asking them to
personally urge their Senators to support the Federal Marriage
Amendment, as well as to generate additional support through pastors
from the larger Catholic community. He also directed Conference staff
to send out this appeal through their diocesan counterparts.
The Conference statement Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers
about Marriage and Same-sex Unions can be found on the Conference Web
site at www.usccb.org/laity/marriage/samesexunions.shtml.
Full Text of Bishop Gregory's Statement.