"Religious institutions and individuals will face real threats to their ability to witness to their faith," she said. "Those who continue to live by the belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman may lose access to government contracts and benefits, among many other challenges that could unfold."
However, Daniels noted that the public debate and discussion on the institution of marriage was not ended prematurely by the court's decisions.
Rather, she said, the rulings "will reenergize the public conversation about marriage, and Catholics will continue to be an important part of that conversation."
"In season and out, we'll witness to the importance of marriage as the lifelong union of a man and a woman that serves the common good of our country."
Hendershott echoed Daniels' comments the importance of continued dialogue. She said that the court's decision "is really mixed" because the court "refused to create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage."
Under the June 26 rulings, states are not required to recognize "gay marriages," she observed. The court simply said that the federal government must accept same-sex unions as marriages in states that choose to accept them. Currently, only 12 states and the District of Columbia have redefine marriage to include gay couples.
The momentum from the Supreme Court's decision will likely bring additional challenges for those who wish to defend marriage, Hendershott acknowledged, but "momentum isn't everything," and a redefinition of marriage "isn't inevitable."
Because the court did not try to establish same-sex "marriage" as a right, she stressed, "we can still be part of a debate."
The fight will be difficult, the sociologist cautioned, because the court's majority decision "said that the supporters of marriage acted with malice to discriminate."
"We're already looked at as not wanting people to be in love, and not wanting to grant people their rights," she observed, voicing concern that those who try to explain the Church's teaching in a reasoned and compassionate manner will be increasingly accused of malice and discrimination.
The same holds true for members of other religions – such as Evangelicals and Mormons – who defend marriage, she said, explaining that "they're not acting out of malice: they're trying to defend marriage because that's what they think is best for the state, what's best for the people."
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