The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ marriage defense efforts has offered his support to a suggested constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
“An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the only remedy in law against this judicial activism that may ultimately end with federal judges declaring that the U.S. Constitution requires states, and consequently the federal government, to redefine marriage,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco.
The archbishop, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, voiced his support for such an amendment in a Feb. 19 letter to Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.).
Last July, Huelskamp introduced a Marriage Protection Amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Amending the U.S. Constitution is a difficult process; only 27 amendments have been ratified in the nation’s history. To be formally proposed, an amendment must first have the support of either two-thirds of both houses of Congress or a national convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures. It must then be ratified by either three-quarters of state legislatures or three-quarters of special state ratifying conventions.
In his letter, Archbishop Cordileone pointed to a variety of federal challenges to “the constitutionality of state marriage laws that honor the reality of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Just this month, he said, “a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled Virginia’s marriage amendment unconstitutional,” following a similar ruling for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
“Both of these decisions are part of a trend that began last December when a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah declared Utah’s marriage amendment unconstitutional,” the archbishop explained.
Rulings in Kentucky and Ohio also show that states may face increasing pressure for “recognition of out-of-state same-sex ‘marriages,’” he said.
“Given the litigation pending in federal courts around the country,” Archbishop Cordileone warned, “more bad decisions using the U.S. Constitution to strike down state marriage laws may be on the horizon.”
In its proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution, the Marriage Protection Act provides “a needed remedy” to the court attempts to change the definition of marriage, he said.
Such an amendment “would secure in law throughout the country the basic truth known to reason that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” the archbishop explained. “Preserving this elemental truth is necessary for the good of society at large and for the good of children who deserve the love of both a mother and a father, neither of whom is expendable.”
Marriage is unique in that it “unites a man and a woman to each other and to any child conceived of their union,” he emphasized, adding that court opinions that “essentially redefine marriage to be merely a state recognized arrangement of intimate adult relationships ignore the truth about marriage, which deserves the highest protection in law.”