The Catholic Church in Guam has submitted a petition to oppose the controversial Bill 185 that would legalize same-sex unions in U.S. territory in Guam. Discussion on the new legislation in Guam's Senate was scheduled for this week but has been delayed until next month, giving those who oppose the bill more time to gather support.
ABC Radio Australia aired a discussion on Jan. 26 between Guam Senator Benjamin Cruz who proposed the legislation last year and Deacon Jeff Barcinas, spokesman for Archbishop Anthony Apuron.
“It's a civil rights issue,” argued Sen. Cruz on Tuesday, who stated that he believed it to be unfair that homosexual citizens in Guam are allegedly denied the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.“You're denying individuals the right to unions that they should be able to get into. But more importantly, you're denying them the equal protection of the law.”
Deacon Barcinas countered Sen. Cruz's statements by saying that though the Church is “sensitive” and “compassionate” concerning homosexual individuals, Church teaching “is consistent and uniform throughout the universal Church and with Guam we have to share the truth in terms of what the Church stands for with regard to civil union(s) and with regard to what this legislation is putting forward as an issue for Guam.”
Deacon Barcinas also expressed concern that conferring legal status on gay relationships could undermine the procreation of children, which is a fundamental aspect of marriage.
Sen. Cruz responded that he believes there is a difference between “marriage” and “matrimony” and that faith communities should not interfere with civil matters. “I'm not addressing the sacrament of matrimony, which is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church,” he said. “They have control over their sacraments. I insist that I have control - or the legislature has control - over marriage.”
Deacon Barcinas replied that the Church, in fact, has a moral obligation to be involved with civil matters. “The church is very clear that this is of a bigger moral issue and because of the moral issue, this sort of makes the Church, Christians, question the very actions of our senators, and this is why we're asking each of our senators to be very responsible and accountable, because there are costs that need to be weighed.”
“And these are not personal costs,” asserted Deacon Barcinas, “these are costs that could be psychological, could be emotional, could be affecting community, affect society, and the overall common good.”
The deacon also asserted that the Catholic Church is not alone in its opposition of Bill 185 and that concern of the legislation is widespread. “There are also other religious denominations and other concerned citizens that are doing their own personal campaigns of calling, emailing and writing with regard to this issue.”