Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley of Boston issued a document on Saturday expressing "deep sadness" at the impending legal marriages of same-sex couples in Massachusetts, but cautioned Catholics not to react with "anger against or vilification of any group of people, especially our homosexual brothers and sisters."
Archbishop O’Malley’s statement reads as follows: “It is with deep sadness that we will realize this Monday the creation of same-sex marriages here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Catholic Church remains committed to the truth that marriage is a unique bond between a wife and a husband, a bond which is the bedrock and foundation of our families and society. Our stand for the defense of marriage is motivated by a deep conviction concerning the common good of all citizens. Marriage is given special protections and benefits in law because it is the institution which best provides for the procreation and the raising of children. The creation of a right to same-sex marriage in the end will not strengthen the institution of marriage within our society but only weaken it as marriage becomes only one life-style choice among many others. Our hope is that at some point in the very near future, our legislators will enact laws to protect the unique benefit to society that the marital bond creates and the good that this bond produces for children.”
The Archbishop’s statement then exhorted Catholics to an attitude of charity towards homosexually active members of society: “At the same time, I remind all Catholics that our sadness at what has happened should not lead us into anger against or vilification of any group of people, especially our homosexual brothers and sisters. Our task as Christ’s disciples is to build a civilization of love. We must see each person as an irreplaceable gift from God. Each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we begin “Our Father,” reminding us that as God’s children we are brothers and sisters of all. That does not mean that we must endorse everyone’s opinion or accept everyone’s behavior, but it does mean that we must care about each other, to be concerned about each other’s well-being, spiritual as well as material. As in all things, charity must mark us as a people of God and inform our actions.”
Meanwhile, gay and lesbian couples in Cambridge began filling out applications for marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, when Massachussetts became the first state in the country to allow them to marry. The couples were led down a series of wooden staircases at Cambridge City Hall that were decorated with white bridal organza.
The other 350 cities and towns in the state began taking applications for same-sex marriage licenses after the sun came up on Monday.
Marcia Hams, 57, of Cambridge and Susan Shepherd were the first to complete the application. They said they had been asked, because of the length of their relationship, to be the first couple by a local gay rights organization. They were wed this morning by the City of Cambridge and became the first legally married homosexual couple in the United States.
Twelve of the state's 1,200 justices of the peace have resigned rather than perform same-sex marriages.