N.C. bishops criticize Obama stand against marriage amendment

Bishops Michael F. Burbidge and Peter J. Jugis.
Bishops Michael F. Burbidge and Peter J. Jugis.

.- President Barack Obama’s reported opposition to a North Carolina marriage amendment is a “grave disappointment” that further escalates the “increasing confusion” about the nature of marriage, the Catholic bishops of the state have said.

“In his comments on the upcoming referendum in our state, the president regrettably characterized the marriage amendment as a matter of discrimination,” Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte said March 21. “While we are respectful of the office of the president, we strongly disagree with this assessment.”

The bishops said President Obama’s involvement is reported to be the first time he has entered into the issue on the state level.

On May 8 North Carolina voters will decide on Amendment 1, which would recognize marriage between one man and one woman as “the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in the state.”

Early voting on the proposal will start in just over a month.

Cameron French, the spokesman for the president’s North Carolina campaign, said on March 16 that the president does not support the measure.

“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples,” French said.

French charged that the measure would “single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples,” adding “and that’s why the president does not support it.”

President Obama stated his support for marriage as the union of a man and a woman in his 2008 campaign. However, he has claimed his position is “evolving” and his administration has backed many homosexual political causes.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has refused to defend the constitutionality of federal laws like the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex couples.

Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Amendment 1 backer Vote FOR Marriage NC, criticized the president’s involvement.

“I believe President Obama has no business inserting himself into the people's business here in North Carolina,” Fitzgerald said, according to the Charlotte Observer.

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, praised the president’s statement on Twitter. She charged that the Amendment was “poorly written” and would take away rights.

The Democratic Party will hold its presidential election in Charlotte in September. President Obama narrowly won the state in 2008.

The North Carolina bishops’ response to the Obama campaign was posted on both dioceses’ websites. It was also sent to nearly 6,000 registered participants of Catholic Voice North Carolina, the bishops’ public policy voice in the state, WECT News reports.

Bishops Burbidge and Jugis said that marriage is a vocation from God and a “fruitful union in a mutual self-giving bond of love.”

“Children have the right to the indispensible place of fatherhood and motherhood in their lives,” the bishops added.

Citing Pope Benedict XVI, they said that children have the “fundamental right to grow up with the understanding of the proper place of sexuality in human relationships.”

The bishops also cited Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the U.S. bishops’ conference president, who said the Catholic Church recognizes the “immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction.”

“(W)e reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person,” the cardinal continued, saying that Catholics’ “profound regard” for marriage does not negate concern for the well-being of all people.

“While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides,” he said.

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