U.S. Bishops Launch Bulletin Insert Campaign as Marriage Equality Spreads

marriage equality 4This week, Delaware became the eleventh state (plus the District of Columbia) to enact marriage equality, and Minnesota seems poised to become the twelfth state next week.  The Supreme Court justices are deliberating two cases on marriage equality, and their decisions should be announced by the end of June.

In response to all of this news, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced a campaign of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice for Catholics, to encourage Catholics to oppose marriage equality.   They have developed a bulletin insert to be used in May and June across the country, offering ideas and actions for Catholics to enact.

The bulletin insert text describes the campaign:

“For the first time in our nation’s history, the Supreme Court is considering two cases about whether or not marriage should be redefined to include two persons of the same sex. These cases involve the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, both of which define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“The Court is expected to rule on both cases by the end of June. A broad negative ruling could redefine marriage in the law throughout the entire country, becoming the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has joined with many other organizations in urging the Supreme Court to uphold both DOMA and Proposition 8 and thereby to recognize the essential, irreplaceable contribution that husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, make to society, and especially to children.” [emphasis theirs]

The announcement of the campaign has inspired commentary from secular writers.  At ThinkProgress.com, Zack Ford thinks that the comparison to Roe v. Wade is inaccurate:

“This comparison to Roe v. Wade has been made several times in regards to these cases, but it remains unclear what exactly the intention beyond that comparison really is. Though the two have often been juxtaposed in the past as key social issues, they don’t actually compare substantively. Public opinion on marriage has consistently trended toward equality, while public opinion on abortion has remained split. Marriage is something that all people already have access to, but it only serves people who are heterosexual — a very different circumstance from the general question of whether a woman has a right to an abortion at all.”

Ford believes that this comparison is designed to promote future action against marriage equality:

“What this comparison does forebode is future attempts to curb back the rights of same-sex couples after marriage equality is achieved. Just as conservatives have resisted Roe by curbing women’s access to abortion as much as possible — like in North DakotaKansas,  andArkansas — they may try to limit same-sex couples’ access to marriage. Certainly, objections about violations of “religious liberty” already speak to this, suggesting future attempts to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community. These efforts seem less likely to succeed, though; so far, California’s Proposition 8 is the only example of a setback for marriage equality after it’s already been in place, and that becomes a moot point should the Court knock it down.”

Paul Constant, on a blog for Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper thinks that Ford is too pessimistic:

“Once the world doesn’t end in states that legalize gay marriage, and once more examples of happily married gay couples are seen in the media, this is going to be a dead issue . . .” [emphasis his]

In a more impatient vein, Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing on Salon.comgives a brief summary of rebuttals against marriage equality opponents:

“It bears repeating that if the idea of two men or two women pledging themselves to each other in a manner that grants them legal protection and societal validation ticks you off, that’s your thing. But for heaven’s sake, stop pretending that marriage isn’t a man-made institution, one that we humans have defined in different ways throughout the course of history. Stop forgetting that if you’re looking for “traditional” marriages, the Bible itself is chock-full of them — defined by incest, rape and bigamy. Stop conveniently ignoring that the church says that matrimony is for the procreation of children but doesn’t restrict the elderly or infertile from enjoying the benefits of religiously sanctioned unions.”

(For a succinct history of how marriage has changed in church and society, see chapter 8 in New Ways Ministry’s Marriage Equality:  A Positive Catholic Approach.)

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


5 replies
  1. Friends
    Friends says:

    This hateful “Bulletin” had better NOT appear in the weekly information brochure of our generally splendid (and culturally tolerant) Newman Catholic Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, or the chaplains are going to get quite a blast of angry response from me. The American bishops seem to have become as crazed as the doddering old aunt who lives in the attic! We can perhaps humor them, but there is no way to make any moral or rational sense of their mad ravings.

  2. Terri Hemker
    Terri Hemker says:

    I think it’s time for some faux checks with an appropriate message such as “I support marriage equality” written where the money amount would be and placed in the collection basket .Withholding any more money from the Church should be an effective and non violent response. That and wearing rainbow ribbons on our lapels throughout this ‘campaign’ (or for as long as it takes) to Mass and straight up to the Communion line. Donate to charities that actually use your money for what you want. Why should you let the hierarchy ‘tax’ you and then use that money as THEY see fit?

  3. Anton
    Anton says:

    The Catholic church already supports anti-marriage and allows men and women to join organizations of same gender affiliation. But it still seems to be against “particular friendships.” The reasoning behind this is faulted. Actually, it is not well-reasoned at all. It could be construed that by not recognizing same-gender marriages it is actually in support of continued promiscuity.

  4. tazman42
    tazman42 says:

    Once again, They are spending our monies to finance hate and the over through of our constitutional rights as Americans. Let’s get rid of of their tax free status since they are agents of a foreign power!

  5. Lawrence
    Lawrence says:

    Comparison to “Roe v.Wade” may make sense as far as describing the life-changing effects of the issue. But to me, Roe v.Wade deals with termination of a potential life, while Marriage Equality is totally life-affirming, or PRO-LIFE.


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