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January 11, 2013
The General Assembly should reject same-sex 'marriage'
By Bishop Thomas J. Tobin *

By Bishop Thomas J. Tobin *

The proposal to legalize “same-sex marriage” in the State of Rhode Island is immoral and unnecessary. Despite enormous political pressure, the General Assembly should stand firm, resist the current fashionable trend, and continue to uphold its longstanding commitment to marriage as traditionally defined.
The multiple problems associated with “homosexual marriage” have been explained in this space on many occasions in the past.

The proposal to legalize same-sex marriage is an attempt to redefine the institution of marriage as it has existed in every culture from the very beginning of human history. Marriage between a man and a woman was designed by God for two specific purposes: to affirm the complementary roles of males and females in a loving relationship, and to provide a stable foundation for the procreation and raising of children. Homosexual relationships can achieve neither of those goals.

Secondly, homosexual marriage enshrines into civil law immoral activity. The natural law, the Holy Scriptures, and long-standing religious tradition are very consistent in affirming that homosexual activity is sinful, contrary to God’s plan. It should never be encouraged, ratified or “blessed” by the state. It’s important to emphasize once again, however, that while rejecting homosexual activity, the Catholic Church has consistently promoted respect and pastoral care for individuals with same-sex attraction. They are children of God and our brothers and sisters. They are invited to be members of our churches. It is our very concern for their spiritual welfare, however, that motivates our rejection of the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage.

Next, the concept of same-sex marriage is an untested social experiment with unpredictable long-term outcomes. The marriage of man and woman is, and always has been, the fundamental building block of the human family and human culture. One cannot tinker with this societal DNAwithout risking unknown changes to the structure of our society, especially as it relates to the proper upbringing of children.

Another real problem to consider is that the establishment of same-sex marriage would pose yet another threat to religious freedom. Proponents of same-sex marriage have frequently proclaimed that no religious institution will be obliged to officiate at marriages that are contrary to their beliefs. That may or may not prove to be true. But what is of equal concern, however, is that religious bodies will be obliged to extend their resources, facilities and benefits to individuals who are living in immoral relationships – contrary to sincerely held religious beliefs. This is not a hypothetical situation; it’s already happening throughout our nation.

An additional recent development that argues very strongly against the ratification of same-sex marriage in Rhode Island is that the U.S. Supreme Court has now agreed to hear two cases that will profoundly affect the legal status of marriage in our country. As early as this summer the Supreme Court might rule that the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” is constitutional and enforceable; or that states must recognize homosexual unions; or that each state has the right to make its own decision in this matter. In any event, why is Rhode Island spending time and energy on this issue right now when the Supreme Court might make the decision for us? Let’s wait and see what the Supreme Court determines before we engage in this emotionally-charged and divisive battle once again.

A final point. If we are in fact forced to discuss the nature of matrimony in our state, it should be placed before the general public in a referendum. The proposal to redefine marriage as afundamental structure in our culture is a very serious issue with profound consequences. I suspect that people on both sides of the issue agree with that. On a question of this magnitude, then, the people of the state should decide as they have in many other states.  Let us vote!

Some have argued that the “civil rights” of the minority should not be determined by the vote of the majority. I challenge that premise though. What is the source of this so-called “civil right?” Where is the moral or legal “right” to marry a person of the same gender found? It certainly has not been part of the human experience, of human history. Is it simply the personal happiness or fulfillment of individuals, the “right to do whatever I want to do?” If that’s the argument, it opens up all sorts of other social experiments for us, doesn’t it?
It has been said that “the world is changing” and that we need to get with the times. Well, it’s certainly true that the world is changing, but the truth is that not all change is good. It’s never good to accept and promote immoral activity; it’s never good to experiment dangerously with the long-term well-being of the community; it’s never good to impose a politically-correct, socially-fashionable agenda item on the entire community, especially if it challenges the conscience and religious liberty of many, many citizens.

As the General Assembly takes up the question of permitting same sex marriage once again, I urge members of the Diocese of Providence and other concerned citizens to contact their state representatives and senators immediately to encourage them to stand firm; to protect the traditional values of marriage and family and reject same-sex marriage. Dear friends, now is the time to practice your faith and let your voice be heard!

And I urge members of the General Assembly who have in the past defended the institution of marriage – as designed by God and traditionally defined in our society – to do so once again. Be strong in your convictions; don’t be intimidated by the politically correct winds of change.

May you have the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it!

 

Posted with permission from Rhode Island Catholic, official publication of the Diocese of Providence, R.I.

Bishop Thomas J Tobin is the Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island.
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