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Daily Message

When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife – he pointed back to 'the beginning' of God's creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.

– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
News Release, June 26, 2013

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Religious Freedom and Marriage

 

Redefining Marriage and the Threat to Religious Liberty

The Catholic Church teaches: "Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself" (Sacramentum Caritatis, 29). As the following examples illustrate, efforts to redefine marriage are harming our religious liberties:

New Mexico (2013) – The owners of a photography studio would not take the pictures of a same-sex "commitment ceremony" because they did  not want to participate in behavior contrary to their religious beliefs. In 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied the owners' appeal, affirming the lower court opinion that the studio violated the state Human Rights Act. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Colorado (2013) – Two men "married" in Massachusetts requested a Denver bakery make a "wedding" cake for their wedding reception in Denver. For religious reasons, the owners of the bakery declined to make the cake. The two men filed a complaint with the Colorado Division of Civil Rights, which found that the bakery violated that law. After this finding, the Colorado Attorney General's office filed a complaint against the bakery, resulting in an administrative law judge and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission deciding against the bakery. The bakery is appealing.

Washington (2013) – A florist who declined to provide flowers for a same-sex "wedding" was sued by the state Attorney General.

Maine (2012) – The State of Maine has informed all notaries public (approximately 25,000) that regardless of religious objections, they must "wed" same-sex "couples," if they wed opposite-sex couples. Otherwise, these notaries could be subject to a claim of discrimination. In the words of one notary: "I'm a Catholic and under no circumstances would I do a same-sex marriage." He added, "I'm concerned that if I refused to perform a same-sex marriage, I could be challenged legally."

Vermont (2012) – For allegedly not hosting a "wedding" reception for a same-sex "couple," Catholic owners of a bed and breakfast settled a discrimination lawsuit, requiring them to (1) pay a $10,000 civil penalty, (2) pay $20,000 to a charitable trust, and (3) not host wedding receptions of any kind. Upon settling the lawsuit, the owners of the bed and breakfast said, "But no one can force us to abandon our deeply held beliefs about marriage."

New Jersey (2012) – The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights found that a Methodist organization violated a public accommodations law by not allowing a same-sex civil union ceremony at its boardwalk pavilion.

Catholic Charities – Catholic Charities of Boston (2006), Catholic Charities San Francisco (2006), Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., (2010), and Catholic Charities affiliates in Illinois (2011) had to cease adoption services or face civil liability for not placing children in the homes of same-sex couples.



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