On Thursday, Adams County District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree ruled that Colorado’s marriage amendment was unconstitutional, claiming it “bears no rational relationship to any conceivable government interest.”
The bishops said the July 10 ruling “advances a misinterpretation of the institution of marriage in modern society, reducing marriage to a sheer emotional arrangement that can simply be redefined to accommodate the impulses of culture.”
“Upholding the truth about marriage advances the dignity of all people, and it promotes a culture that acknowledges, values and respects the unique and complementary gifts of both a mother and a father in the lives of children,” they said July 10 through the Colorado Catholic Conference.
Though Crabtree immediately stayed his own ruling, it has already affected the issuing of marriage licenses in the state.
On Friday, Boulder County District Court Judge Andrew Hartman rejected Colorado Attorney General John Suthers’ request to halt the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder from distributing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Suthers has said the licenses are invalid under state law.
The Denver Clerk and Recorder has also begun to distribute “gay marriage” licenses. Pueblo Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz said that his office would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday, the Denver Post reports.
The bishops voiced support for the marriage amendment, saying that “as Catholics we have a duty to protect and preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman in our laws and policies. We are called to make this stand because redefining marriage will only further erode the family structure of our society.”
They stressed their sensitivity to the pastoral care of homosexual persons “in our communities, families and churches.”
“At the same time, our role as Catholic bishops requires that we speak the truth with charity. We affirm what our Church teaches – namely that we must treat our homosexual sisters and brothers with dignity and love, as we would all God’s children.”
The Colorado marriage amendment passed in 2006 with 56 percent of the vote.
While media depicted the amendment as a “ban” on same-sex unions, the amendment simply defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman for the purpose of state law. It does not ban private ceremonies.
The Colorado legislature passed a civil unions law in 2013 that gave unmarried heterosexual couples and same-sex couples in registered civil unions the same rights and duties as married couples. The bill drew additional concern because it dropped religious freedom protections for adoption agencies.
Even before the latest controversy, significant legal pressure has targeted those who do not support “gay marriage” in the state.
A Colorado baker was recently the subject of legal action because he declined to bake a same-sex “wedding” cake, citing his Christian beliefs. He was ordered by the state’s Civil Rights Commission to train himself and his employees to conform to state anti-discrimination law. The baker decided to stop baking wedding cakes altogether rather than risk further legal action.
A court decision advancing “gay marriage” in Colorado undercuts truth and helps erode the family in society, the state’s bishops have said.