Bishop Cordileone Expresses Grave Disappointment over NY Bill Redefining Marriage

June 28, 2011 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—In response to last Friday’s enactment of a law redefining marriage in the State of New York, Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, expressed “grave disappointment with the legislature’s abandonment of the common good.”

“Marriage, the union of a man and a woman, forms the foundation of social well-being by promoting love and respect between the two most fundamental representatives of the human community,” he said. “The institution of marriage also affirms the vital and unique importance to children of receiving care from both their mother and father together.  Making marriage law indifferent to the absence of either sex creates an institutional and cultural crisis with generational ramifications yet to be seen. To eliminate marriage’s very essence – its essence as the union of husband and wife – from its legal definition is to ignore not only basic anthropology and biology but also the purpose of law generally. Law is meant to uphold the common good, not undermine it. Now, New York’s government will be forced to ignore that children have a basic right to be raised by their mother and father together. Also, as demonstrated in other states where marriage redefinition has occurred, officials there will be in a position to retaliate against those who continue to uphold these basic truths. This is a mark of a profoundly unjust law.”

The bill, entitled the Marriage Equality Act, was passed by a margin of 33 to 29 votes in the state senate and signed into law on June 24, four days after the legislative session was supposed to have ended.  It dictates that “a marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid
regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex.” The bill also directs that all other laws dealing with marriage or gender-specific subjects be reinterpreted to include two persons of the same sex who have obtained a marriage license. While the legislature included exemption language to give some protection to religious organizations—language made public only in the last hours before the vote—its actual legal effect will have to be scrutinized. Nonetheless, Bishop Cordileone noted, “Marriage is a fundamental good that must be protected in every circumstance. Exemptions of any kind never justify redefining marriage.”

Thousands of people at the grassroots level contacted key legislators in New York, urging them to oppose redefining marriage. “Those courageous legislators and active citizens in New York who defended marriage should be applauded for their inspiring witness,” Bishop Cordileone said.  His comments follow recent statements by the Bishops of New York (available at: and upon passage of the legislation.
Keywords: Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, same-sex marriage, bishops, New York, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, defense of marriage, religious exemption, redefinition of marriage