Bishops urge federal protections for supporters of traditional marriage

The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington Sept. 26. The chairmen of two U.S. bishops' committees Sept. 27 urged Congress to pass disaster relief bill that would ensure fair treatment of houses of worship damaged in natural disasters by allowing them to apply for federal relief. -CNS photo | Tyler Orsburne

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chairmen of two U.S. bishops’ committees March 14 called the First Amendment Defense Act “a modest and important measure” because it protects those who believe marriage is “the union of one man and one woman.”

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, recently reintroduced the measure in the Senate.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “has been vocal in support of the legislation since its inception,” said a joint statement by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

In welcoming its reintroduction, they said the First Amendment Defense Act “is a modest and important measure that protects the rights of faith-based organizations and people of all faiths and of no faith who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

People who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman, they said, “are increasingly having their religious freedoms jeopardized and even forfeited.”

“In a pluralistic society,” they continued, “faith-based charitable agencies and schools should not be excluded from participation in public life by loss of licenses, accreditation or tax-exempt status because they hold reasonable views on marriage that differ from the federal government’s view.”

In a 5-4 decision in June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states.

The Catholic Church’s leadership will continue “to promote and protect the natural truth of marriage as foundational to the common good,” they said. “The church will also continue to stand for the ability of all to exercise their religious beliefs and moral convictions in public life without fear of government discrimination.”

“In a climate of increasing intolerance, these protections are urgently needed,” Archbishop Kurtz and Bishop Conley said.

“The teaching of the Catholic Church about marriage is based on both faith and reason. Using right reason, one can know that given the nature of the human person, created as male and female, marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” they said.