Community leaders and local Catholic figures in Guam on Monday spoke at a symposium on the implications of allowing same-sex “marriage” as the U.S. territory’s legislature considers a bill which would legally recognize same-sex unions.
The symposium, held at the Archdiocese of Agana’s Chapel of St. Therese, featured eight speakers who discussed the moral, political, social, legal and medical implications of same-sex “marriage.”
According to Pacifica Daily News, youth parishioner John Calvo, Jr. said the symposium was intended to educate the Guam community about the importance of the sacrament of marriage.
"It seems to be that society in general has lost its moral compass and our moral values seem to be determined by what is becoming common practice in society rather than what is common good,” he commented.
Calvo explained that issues regarding same-sex unions are of concern not only to Catholics but to society as a whole. Some of the speakers at the symposium highlighted the negative consequences of same-sex unions, referring both to natural law and legal precedent.
Tim Rohr, owner of John Paul the Great Bookstore, said that supporters of same-sex unions have been characterizing the proposal as a civil rights issue and have stayed away from the word “marriage” in their support for Bill 185, the same-sex union legislation.
Calvo told the Pacifica Daily News he didn’t believe it mattered whether the term used was union or marriage.
“It’s the same wolf in different sheepskin,” he said.
Rev. Roy Burk, a Protestant pastor and the president of the Guam Ministerial Association agreed with Calvo, writing in a letter to the Guam Legislature on July 28. Burk said that he opposes Bill 185 because it claims that the issue is about civil rights, when it is clearly about “demands for lifestyle preferences and should be separated from any notion of a civil right.”
“As a Guam resident of African-American descent I am sickened by such comparisons,” Rev. Burk wrote.
He also pointed the Guam lawmakers to a quote from the former Ambassador to the Holy See Dr. Mary Ann Glendon, who warned that religious freedom is also threatened by the passage of the bill into law.
According to Burk's letter, Glendon said, 'Religious freedom, too is at stake. As much as one may wish to live and let live, the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance, and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination the likes of which we have rarely seen before.'