Archbishop Myers speaks out on New Jersey marriage ruling

.- Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, New Jersey has issued a letter in response to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision on homosexual marriages.  Myers called the court’s ruling, which declared that the state’s legislature must pass laws granting all the rights and privileges of marriage to homosexual couples, “a terrible blow to the institution of marriage and the family, to the principles of democratic self-government and religious freedom, and to child well-being in our state.”

The decision in the case of Lewis v. Harris, Archbishop Myers said, “seeks to force the state to treat as marriages or the equivalent of marriages forms of sexual association that are inherently non-marital.”

The court’s 4-3 decision went against two lower courts and sided with seven homosexual couples who were refused marriage licenses and alleged that this violated the New Jersey state constitution.  The decision stated that, “there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage,” but that, "the Legislature must either amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or create a parallel statutory structure, which will provide for, on equal terms, the rights and benefits enjoyed and burdens and obligations borne by married couples."

“In seeking to abolish the historic conjugal conception of marriage as the union of one man and one woman—leaving to the legislature the possibility of reserving the word ‘marriage’ to male-female unions, but prohibiting it from preserving the substance of marriage as a conjugal union—the justices have dealt a terrible blow to the institution of marriage and the family, to the principles of democratic self-government and religious freedom, and to child well-being in our state,” the archbishop said.

Myers pointed out that New Jersey, like all states, has recognized, honored, and sought to support and protect marriage from the start.  But, he said, “marriage is not the creation of any state.”   Nor is it, “the creation of any religious community—including the Catholic Church…This is why believers (from many diverse communities) and non-believers alike can understand and affirm the nature of the marital good and its centrality in a well ordered society,” the archbishop offered.

“Even if marriage was a type of institution that could be redefined,” the Myers continued, “it would not be up to a court to decide whether to redefine it. It is up to the people, working through the constitutionally established institutions of democratic deliberation, to settle such matters.”

The New Jersey prelate noted that once marriage is redefined, those who stand for their beliefs will continue to be discounted and even persecuted.  “Anyone who teaches - or preaches - that marriage is an exclusive union of one man and one woman will be labeled a bigot.  Anyone who teaches - or preaches - that sexual relations outside of marriage are sinful will be accused of intolerance.  Anyone who teaches - or preaches - that sexual relations between a man and a man or a woman and a woman are morally wrong will be charged with prejudice.  Anyone who teaches - or preaches - that children need a mom and a dad, and that two moms or two dads are not the same will be marginalized as an enemy of equality.”

“And everyone knows what will soon follow:  Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other religious communities will come under intense political pressure and legal attack.  By standing by their principled beliefs regarding marriage and sexual morality, they will be rendered vulnerable to laws prohibiting what advocates of sexual liberation and same-sex ‘marriage’ will insist is ‘discrimination.’…As one legal scholar who advocates same-sex ‘marriage’ bluntly put it, religious liberty and sexual freedom will clash, and religious liberty will usually have to lose,” Archbishop Myers said.

“Lastly - and most importantly,” the archbishop noted, “the decision by the State Supreme Court is a blow to the interests of children, especially those already the least well off…a Child Trends research brief put the matter in plain English: ‘Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps the most is a family headed by two-biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes... There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.’”

Archbishop Myers said he fully supports a federal amendment to protect marriage and called on all people of New Jersey to vote for an amendment to the state constitution.  “For the common good of our state, I ask Catholics to join hands with Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christians, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and people of other traditions of faith to work together to amend our state constitution to reverse this damaging decision.”

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