The Archbishop of Boston supports a legal amendment to protect the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman but discourages a proposal that would introduce same-sex civil unions and same-sex couple benefits into the same measure.
"We support the Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment as it has been presented, without the introduction of civil-unions language," wrote Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley. "A debate about social benefits given to other individuals in our law is a separate issue."
Archbishop P. O’Malley issued the statement March 10, one day before the Massachusetts State Legislature re-convened the constitutional convention. In it, he also renewed his call to Catholics to pray and to work together to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
"The amendment reaffirming marriage as the union between one man and one woman must be approved on its own merits," he said. "Joining this amendment to the issue of civil unions deprives the people an opportunity to express their views on marriage.
"Linking the two coerces people in a way that is unfair," he continued. "Voting on them separately respects the will of the public."
The archbishop said legislators must protect the unique benefit marriage brings to society and "the good that this bond produces for children."
The archbishop said he was also concerned that giving same-sex couples the same benefits and protections as those given to husbands and wives will "pose a grave threat to religious liberty and the freedom of conscience.
"Whether the name used is same-sex marriage or civil unions, an equal treatment requirement in the constitution may be used to coerce private and public entities to adopt practices that would violate their values and understanding of the family and social justice," he said.