.- As the New Jersey legislature considers whether to recognize same-sex âmarriageâ before a sympathetic governor leaves office, the New Jersey Catholic Conference has testified that the âgreat truthâ about marriage as a union of husband and wife is not a religious doctrine but âa fact of human nature.â
The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday was open for an expected six hours of testimony on the proposal.
Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference (NJCC), sent to CNA a copy of the testimony he intended to deliver before the committee.
âThe Catholic Church has always taught for 2000 years that marriage is the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife,â Branniganâs testimony began. âThis great truth about marriage is not some obscure doctrinal fine point but a fact of human nature, recognized from time immemorial by people of virtually every faith and culture.â
Brannigan explained that Catholic teaching holds that man and woman are equal, different from each other but created for each other.
âThis complementarity, including sexual difference, draws them together in a mutually loving union,â he added.
Noting that people with same-sex attractions have fundamental human rights, he said that it is not unjust discrimination to âtreat different things differently.â
âSame-sex unions are not, in fact, the same thing as the union of one man and one woman in marriage,â Brannigan testified.
He pointed out that New Jerseyâs Civil Union Act already provides âpractical rights, benefits and protectionsâ for those in non-marital unions.
The Star-Ledger reports that the measure is expected to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee, though chairman Sen. Paul Sarlo, a Democrat, has said he will vote against it.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans are united in support of or opposition to the proposal, reports say.
The bill could come before the full Senate for a vote as early as Thursday. It is not clear how the Senate will vote.
Senate President Richard Codey, a Democrat from Essex, said supporters and opponents of the bill have been working âfuriously.â
âLegislative offices are extremely busy with phone calls,â he said.
The Star-Ledger reports that advocates of same-sex âmarriageâ see the bill as a last stand. While outgoing Gov. John Corzine, a Democrat, has said he is prepared to sign it, Governor-elect Chris Christie, a Republican, has said he will veto any such legislation that comes to his desk.
In late November the Catholic bishops of New Jersey asked pastors to read to their congregations a letter on marriage.
âAs Catholics, we must not stand by in silence in the face of the many challenges that threaten marriage and, in turn, children and the public good,â the bishops wrote in their letter. âWe must not shirk from our responsibility.â