The Catholic bishops of Maryland and political leaders have taken “strong exception” to the state attorney general’s decision to recognize same-sex “marriages” contracted in other jurisdictions. They charged the ruling shows “a fundamental disregard for the nature and purpose of marriage.”
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler on Wednesday declared that Maryland will recognize the unions and that state agencies should immediately grant them the same rights as marriages between men and women.
Gansler, the Washington Post says, is a Democrat who supports same-sex “marriage.” He used his authority as state agencies’ top legal adviser to issue the opinion, which came in response to a legislator’s request.
He based his ruling on the principle that a marriage that is valid in the place of celebration remains valid in Maryland.
Gansler is believed to be preparing for an expected run for governor in 2014, the Washington Post reports.
His decision has been criticized by Republicans, socially conservative Democrats, and African-American lawmakers. One Republican has pledged to bring articles of impeachment against Gansler for trying to usurp Maryland law, which defines marriage.
In a Wednesday statement Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin F. O’Brien, Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl and Bishop of Wilmington W. Francis Malooly said they took “strong exception” to the attorney general’s opinion.
“The General Assembly has repeatedly and explicitly upheld Maryland’s definition of marriage “between a man and a woman” even as certain limited benefits have been extended to same-sex couples,” they commented.
Noting that the opinion itself reported that federal law does not require Maryland to recognize such marriages, the bishops said there is a “strong possibility” the decision would open legal avenues to circumvent the legislative process and the will of Marylanders.
“Most importantly, the opinion chips away at our society’s foundational institution. The equality of men and women and the dignity of their coming together as husband and wife is not merely a fact of religious faith or an institution established by civil authorities, but a fundamental reality rooted in our human nature and experience.”
Marriage is reserved to a union of man and woman “because of their unique ability to bring children into the world, thus forming a stable and secure foundation for our society,” they noted.
The bishops added that they rejected all unjust discrimination against homosexual persons.
“The attorney general’s opinion demonstrates a fundamental disregard for the nature and purpose of marriage and its impact on society,” their statement concluded, urging lawmakers, the governor and the courts to “uphold the definition of marriage.”