Thursday, June 14, 2007

Catholic Bishops Weigh in on Gay Marriage Vote

Catholic Bishops Weigh In on Gay Marriage Vote
by Kilian Melloy
EDGE Boston Contributor
Wednesday Jun 13, 2007

Three Massachusetts Bishops and a Cardinal have weighed in with state lawmakers regarding tomorrow’s expected vote on whether to allow a ballot initiative to go forward that could strip marriage rights from select residents of the Commonwealth.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley and Bishops George W. Coleman, Timothy A, McDonnell, and Robert J. McManus sent a letter Tuesday to state lawmakers, urging them to vote in favor of the ballot initiative during tomorrow’s constitutional convention, according to a story in today’s Boston Globe.

Tomorrow’s anticipated vote would be the second of two consecutive votes needed to put the initiative, a proposed amendment to the Massachusetts constitution to limit marriage specifically to heterosexual couples, on the ballot in 2008.

In their letter, Cardinal O’Malley and the bishops profess a concern for the rights of children who would be reared in home headed by parents of the same gender, and warn against "redefining marriage in a way that is indifferent to the absence of mother or father."

The Globe article did not specify whether the letter from Cardinal O’Malley and the bishops addressed the issue of fatherless families headed by single heterosexual mothers or families in which the mother is absent and a single heterosexual father is rearing children alone.

Other excerpts from the letter published by the Globe included the often-repeated claim that "Marriage is a fundamental social institution," and a declaration that "[Marriage’s] definition and meaning are critical concerns for all in society."

"Because it involves issues of utmost social importance, extending far beyond questions strictly legal, the marriage debate should not be reserved only to lawyers and lawmakers," the letter said, continuing with, "Every citizen has a stake in the outcome, because every citizen has a stake in the well-being of the family." The Globe article did not specify whether any justification other than a purported concern for children was provided in the letter for special legal exclusions designed to lock gay and lesbian families out of fully equal legal recognition despite "every citizen [having] a stake" in the issue of their family’s "well being."

Reputable studies suggest that children reared by same-sex parents are as healthy and well-adjusted as children raised by mixed-gender parents.

Current Massachusetts law recognizes marriage between couples of the same gender. It also recognizes members of the GLBT community as citizens of the Commonwealth.

Cardinal O’Malley and the bishops had sent letters of this sort prior to other constitutional conventions, according to the Globe story.

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