Colorado’s proposed civil unions bill is “just a stepping stone to the legalization of same-sex marriage,” the head of the Colorado Catholic Conference has warned.
“In every state where legislators or lawmakers have pushed civil unions, there has then been a push for the recognition of same-sex marriage,” conference executive director Jennifer Kraska told CNA on Jan. 17.
If passed, Senate Bill 2 would create legal partnerships for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
“The legal benefits, protections and responsibilities that are granted under the law to spouses apply in like manner to a civil union,” the bill summary says.
The bill creates an “alternate structure to marriage,” Kraska said. “It’s marriage, just under a different name.”
She cited former Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput, who said the difference between civil unions and marriage is “a distinction without a difference.”
Colorado’s Catholic bishops have published a statement saying the civil union structure uses “explicitly spousal language.”
“Nearly every benefit being sought by this legislation is already legally available to Coloradans. The truth is the movement for recognition of ‘same-sex marriage’ and ‘civil unions’ is less about benefits and rights and more about societal acceptance and approval of homosexual relationships,” they said.
“Marriage and the family are cornerstones of every culture,” the bishops stated. “Civil unions may attempt to mirror the marital relationship, but they lack the essential fruits of marriage. The marital relationship ensures the future of society through the creation of new human life.”
Upholding the truth of marriage helps everyone by promoting “a culture where children can profit from the unique and complementary gifts of a mother and a father,” they said.
The Colorado bishops reiterated that they do not want to deny others’ fundamental civil rights and that they are sensitive to the pastoral needs of homosexual people, who must be treated “with dignity and love.”
“As Catholics we have a duty to protect and preserve marriage as the union of one man and woman in our laws and policies. Any attempts to weaken or redefine marriage will serve only to deteriorate the family structure of our society,” the bishops wrote. “We strongly urge all Catholics in Colorado to contact their elected officials and ask them to protect marriage in Colorado.”
The Colorado Catholic Conference has organized a postcard campaign to help Catholics voice their opposition to the bill. Kraska explained that the campaign is still underway and participation statistics are not yet known.
“I hope that our legislators will understand that there are people who are definitely opposed to this,” she said. “We hope that they will respect the will of the voters of Colorado, who already by a fairly big margin rejected Referendum I and supported a constitutional amendment saying that marriage is between one man and one woman in the state of Colorado.”
In 2006, Colorado voters passed a marriage definition amendment with 56 percent of the vote. Referendum I, a domestic partnership measure, failed with 47 percent in support and 53 percent opposed.