Archbishop Charles Chaput has urged Catholics to contact their senators and encourage them to vote for the federal amendment. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a federal marriage amendment this week.
“State laws protecting the identity of marriage and the family are not enough,” the archbishop of Denver said in his weekly column. “They can be changed by state legislators and overturned by state judges. Even state constitutional amendments, while they offer much stronger protection, may not be entirely safe.
“We urgently need both: a federal marriage amendment, and a state constitutional amendment defining and protecting marriage,” he said.
The archbishop offered as an example what happened recently in Georgia. A judge used a technicality to toss out a state constitutional amendment protecting marriage that had won 76 percent of the vote in 2004.
“On this issue, some judges are determined to make bad social policy, whether voters want it or not. Similar legal struggles are proceeding in other states,” he said.
“As Christians, we understand marriage as a sacramental union; a permanent, biblical covenant between one man and one woman that mirrors God's love for his people,” the archbishop said.
Marriage has two purposes for Christians, he said: to “deepen the joy and holiness of the spouses through their mutual love” and to “provide a loving environment for bearing and raising children.”
He also noted, however, that marriage predates the Christian faith by many centuries. “Women and children are vulnerable during the childbearing years,” he explained. “As a natural human institution, marriage exists to protect women and children, to provide for them, and to help ensure male responsibility for the children they father.”
“This is why marriage always enjoys a special legal status. Marriage and the family are the cornerstones of any culture, Christian or otherwise. They ensure the future through the creation new life. Any attack on the identity of marriage and the family is therefore an attack on society itself.”
The archbishop is encouraging Catholics to sign petition forms about a similar state amendment that is being organized for the ballot this fall. The petitions will be offered at Catholic parishes throughout the state in coming weeks.