Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, urged President Obama and his administration to end their attack on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the religious freedom of those who support it.
Archbishop Dolan warned in his Sept. 20 letter that by continuing its current course of action, the administration would “precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions.”
In an accompanying analysis, the bishops’ conference said it is concerned that if the administration continued its fight to redefine marriage, Catholic individuals and institutions would face lawsuits for supposed “sexual orientation discrimination” in their efforts to serve the common good in areas including employment, education and adoption services.
“Society will suffer when religious entities are compelled to remove themselves from the social service network due to their duty to maintain their institutional integrity and not compromise on basic moral principles,” it said.
The archbishop reaffirmed “the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction” and rejected “all hatred and unjust treatment against any person.”
At the same time, he wrote, the Church’s “profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it.”
“While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides,” Archbishop Dolan said. “The law should reflect this reality.”
“I urge yet again that your Administration end its campaign against DOMA, the institution of marriage it protects, and religious freedom,” he said.
With his letter, the archbishop sent the president a bishops’ conference analysis of recent federal threats to marriage. The analysis expressed alarm at several actions taken by the administration to attack traditional marriage in recent months.
Last spring, the Department of Justice announced that it would not defend the marriage act in court. Now, the analysis noted, the department has taken a “more aggressive position” against the law. The conference’s report referenced a brief filed by the Department of Justice in July arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act should be rejected as a form of “sexual orientation discrimination.”
In addition, the analysis expressed concern over reports of efforts to institute a sexual orientation “sensitivity training” program for all federal agencies. This program, it said, tells employees that support for the marriage act is to be treated as “an actionable form of ‘heterosexism,’ which is explained as being “an ‘ism’ like sexism or racism.”
“According to the government’s view, support for a definition of marriage that recognizes that sexual difference as a defining and valuable feature of marriage now constitutes a forbidden intent to harm a vulnerable class of people,” said the analysis.
The bishops’ conference further rejected the claim “that animus is at work” when people promote marriage as “the union of man and woman as husband and wife” and support the complementary differences between the sexes.
The Obama administration was also criticized for disregarding the will of the American people.
“In every state where citizens have been allowed to vote on state constitutional versions of DOMA, twenty-nine states in all, voters by sizable majorities have affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman,” it stated.
Additionally, 41 states now have “statutory or constitutional DOMAs on the books.”
The bishops also contended that the administration’s approval of same-sex adoptions contradicts President Obama’s own acknowledgment of the importance of both mothers and fathers in his Mother’s Day and Father’s Day proclamations this year.
In those proclamations, President Obama recognized “the extraordinary importance of mothers in our lives,” and observed that a “father’s absence is felt by children, families, and communities in countless ways, leaving a hole that can have lasting effects.”