Archbishop Chaput praises defeat of Colorado civil unions bill

Archbishop Charles Chaput CNA US Catholic News Archbishop Charles Chaput

Colorado legislators who killed a civil unions bill “did the right thing” and deserve voters’ thanks, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver said. He warned that the proposal would increase pressure for “gay marriage” and will likely return “whether Coloradans like it or not.”
Opponents of the bill acted in the face of “unfriendly media coverage and heavy political pressure,” the archbishop wrote in his weekly column for the Denver Catholic Register. Tabling the bill “took courage, especially in an environment of bitter criticism.”

The proposal, S.B. 172, would have created civil unions for homosexual and unmarried heterosexual couples. It failed in the Republican-controlled Colorado House Judiciary Committee by a party line vote of 6-5.

Archbishop Chaput criticized civil unions, saying the basic rights of homosexual persons are already guaranteed. The civil unions debate, he said, is not about love or personal equality, which civil unions ensure no better than marriage.

“The civil unions debate is finally about securing legitimacy for social arrangements and personal behaviors that most societies and religious traditions have found problematic from long experience,” he wrote.

People see the unions as morally troubling not because they are hateful, fearful, bigoted or uneducated, but because “they’ve carefully thought through the implications for society at large,” the Denver archbishop said.

“Same-sex unions, whatever legal form they take, cannot create new life. They cannot duplicate the love of a man and woman. But they do copy marriage and family, and in the process, they compete with and diminish the uniquely important status of both.”

Civil unions do not lessen the political pressure for “gay marriage” but increase it, he warned.

He added that Colorado voters rejected a ballot proposal for domestic partnerships in 2006.

“One of the lessons we need to learn from California’s continuing Proposition 8 battle is that when it comes to the cultural struggle over marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, the ‘will of the people’ is rarely sovereign,” Archbishop Chaput said. “The mass media, the courts and aggressive special interests treat an annoying popular vote as not much more than modeling clay that needs to be reworked.”

The state’s Republicans have a bare majority of 33-32 in the House of Representatives. Civil unions advocates have pledged to work to elect a Democratic legislature in 2012.

Archbishop Chaput’s column also included contact information for the House Judiciary Committee members who voted to kill the bill: Reps. Bob Gardner, Mark Barker, Brian DelGrosso, B.J. Nikkel, Jerry Sonnenberg and Mark Waller.

He asked readers to contact the legislators, thank them and “encourage them with your support.” He also asked readers to contact their own state senator and representative to express support for marriage and opposition to civil unions.

“This is the kind of issue that can influence the future for decades. What you think, what you say and what you do today matters,” he said.

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