The U.S. Catholic bishops have joined other American religious leaders in signing an open letter reaffirming their commitment to the protection of marriage as “the permanent and faithful union of one man and one woman.”
“As religious leaders across different faith communities, we join together and affirm our shared commitment to promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” the Dec. 6 letter notes. “We honor the unique love between husbands and wives; the indispensible place of fathers and mothers; and the corresponding rights and dignity of all children.”
The letter, titled “The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment,” notes that marriage is fundamental not just to the well-being of religious communities but to the well-being of “all of society.” Marriage is a “great good” in itself and serves the good of society in “innumerable ways,” the leaders say.
“The preservation of the unique meaning of marriage is not a special or limited interest but serves the good of all. Therefore, we invite and encourage all people, both within and beyond our faith communities, to stand with us in promoting and protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” the letter concludes.
The letter was released on the same day that oral arguments on the Proposition 8 federal lawsuit were set to begin. In August, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled the California ballot measure to be unconstitutional, claiming that the definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman lacked any rational basis and reflected religious-based hostility to homosexuals.
“Today is the moment to stand for marriage and its unchangeable meaning. We hope this letter will encourage just that,” commented Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) and a signatory to the letter.
He said the letter reflects a “broad consensus” across religious divides.
“The law of marriage is not about imposing the religion of anyone, but about protecting the common good of everyone,” he explained. The legal recognition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman reinforces “the foundational cell of human society.”
Other signatories to the letter were Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Nathan Diament, director of the Institute for Public Affairs for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; Presiding Bishop David Burton of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America.
Signatories also included Lutheran, Pentecostal, and Methodist leaders as well as the secretary general of the World Sikh Council’s America Region, Manmohan Singh.
Downloadable copies of the letter are available at the USCCB website at www.usccb.org/defenseofmarriage/shared-commitment.