USCCB Chairman Responds to Recent Federal Court Decisions on Marriage

July 24, 2014 By Public Affairs Office
WASHINGTON–Yesterday’s order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado enjoining the state from enforcing its laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman follows recent decisions on marriage by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver. The U.S. District Court temporarily stayed its order. The U.S. Bishops’ Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, said, “Recent court decisions on marriage in no way deter our efforts to promote the truth about marriage – a truth that no court decision can ever undo.”  

On Friday, July 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in a split decision (2-1) ruled that the portion of Oklahoma’s marriage amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional. The same three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals ruled (2-1) in late June that Utah’s marriage amendment is unconstitutional. To date, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is the highest court in the country to rule on a state’s definition of marriage.

“As the dissenting judge stated in the Utah marriage amendment case, judges should ‘resist the temptation to become philosopher-kings, imposing’ their ‘views under the guise of constitutional interpretation,’” said Archbishop Cordileone. “Furthermore, as the same judge stated in his dissent in the Oklahoma marriage amendment case, the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman ‘is derived from the fundamental elements of marriage,’ which has never been ‘defined as only an emotional union among willing adults.’”

Archbishop Cordileone also noted, “Indeed, marriage is the one institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers and thereby unites the present generation with past generations.” He also cited Pope Francis, who recently said, “We must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.” Archbishop Cordileone added, “Every child has a father and a mother. No law can change that. Well-ordered societies organize themselves around this natural truth for their own well-being and flourishing; when the institutions of a society turn away from this truth, disorder enters in with consequential serious social costs—already evident in our own society, marked as it is by the devastating effects of family fragmentation.”

Archbishop Cordileone concluded by saying, “I encourage all who are working to promote and defend authentic marriage to continue their efforts, knowing that ultimately the truth shall prevail.”

Utah has indicated that it will request the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the state’s marriage amendment. Oklahoma is expected to do the same.
Keywords: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, marriage amendment, Pope Francis, Oklahoma marriage amendment

Sister Mary Ann Walsh
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