U.S. Bishops Make Final Push to Stop Respect for Marriage Act Ahead of Senate Vote

Bishop Robert Barron and Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Leaders 0f the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have made a last ditch appeal for U.S. senators to vote against the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), which is expected to come up for a vote on Monday and would codify marriage equality.

In a letter to legislators, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester said the proposed law would be a “rejection of timeless truths about marriage” and threaten religious liberty. The bishops, writing in their respective roles as chairs of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, stated:

“Our opposition to RMA by no means condones any hostility toward anyone who experiences same-sex attraction. Catholic teaching on marriage is inseparable from Catholic teaching on the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. To attack one is to attack the other. Congress must have the courage to defend both. . .

“This bill is needless and harmful and must be voted down. At the same time, Congress, and our nation as a whole, must resolve to foster a culture where every individual, as a child of God, is treated with respect and compassion.”

Dolan previously wrote a USCCB blog post against the Respect for Marriage Act with the false claim that codifying equal marriage rights would threaten the rights of religious people. That argument appeared again in the joint letter from Dolan and Barron, which stated:

“Unfortunately, a number of religious groups and senators are asserting that the amended text of RMA sufficiently protects religious freedom. From the perspective of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose bishops’ ministries comprise the largest non-governmental provider of social services in the United States, the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient. If passed, the amended Act will put the ministries of the Catholic Church, people of faith, and other Americans who uphold a traditional meaning of marriage at greater risk of government discrimination.”

The religious groups to which the bishops refer include the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which recently endorsed the legislation after aggressively opposing marriage equality for over a decade.  Other groups which had been non-affirming, such as the National Association of Evangelicals, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, found the Respect for Marriage Act acceptable when amended to ensure religious liberty protections are explicit.

As Bondings 2.0 reported previously, the U.S. bishops signaled through elections at their assembly earlier this month that opposing LGBTQ+ equality and fixating on other right wing causes would remain a priority. This stance was especially clear when the strongly anti-LGBTQ+ Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese of Military Services was elected president.

Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Barron’s last-ditch appeal to stop the Respect for Marriage Act is perhaps not surprising, and yet it remains disappointing. It is especially troubling coming just days after five people were killed and many more injured in the mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs—about which U.S. bishops remained largely quiet. There are real injustices, including the uptick in anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, to which the bishops’ conference should be attending.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, November 26, 2022

12 replies
  1. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    The Cardinals Dolan and Barron aren’t worried about the religious freedom of anyone as much as they are their own inflexible stands. In the Archdiocese of New York, the good cardinal authorized approximately $5 million to pay lobbyists to derail marriage equality. I am sure that the poor and homeless of that diocese would have given full throated support to that endeavor. Running through the list of Corporal Works of Mercy, I cannot for the life of me find a suggestion that it is good to harass others for harassment’s sake. The cardinals ,we hope, will someday face a judgement from an even higher authority.

  2. K J George
    K J George says:

    Marriage is a holy sacrament. Same sex marriage or man and woman, marriage must get public approval along with the approval of the Church. What is needed is that we must remember that we are in the doorstep of 2023. Our traditional beliefs, many are urgently needed to be amend ed or altogether cancelled. The US bishops resistance to the Act is not right or the best policy we can think of. Need further students and discussions between the Church amend eminent persons.
    K J George

  3. Mary Dodson Brown
    Mary Dodson Brown says:

    I find this so disheartening. It is so discouraging that Bishops of the church have lowered themselves to the level of lobbying for legal exclusion of human rights. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? This position is nothing like the loving example of Jesus. Because this issue is strictly a legal one, the church has no business taking a position against it.

  4. Glenn Slocum
    Glenn Slocum says:

    The US hierarchy is making itself less and less relevant. The size of the audience listening to them is becoming smaller and smaller. And the choice of the new heard of the US Bishops Conference is on record as saying the clerical child-abuse scandal is due to “homosexual priests”. These guys are hopeless!

    DON E SIEGAL says:

    U. S. Bishops Make Final Push to Stop Respect for Marriage Act Ahead of Senate Vote

    It is unfortunate that the U. S. Bishops could not take a position like that ot the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In a document released by the LDS Church they said, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said on Tuesday [15-November-2022] it supports proposed federal legislation intended to protect gay-marriage rights, as long as it also protects the right of religious groups to believe such unions are against God’s word.”

    It also said, “As we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals, much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding.”

    While not exactly an afiriming document, it at least recognized that the LGBTQ community has civil rights and those rights should also be protected.


  6. Elizabeth Cavaluzzo
    Elizabeth Cavaluzzo says:

    This is so disappointing. When Bishop Barres was first appointed Bishop of Rockville Centre he spoke at the church where I was the cantor. After his speech he walked over to greet me on the altar. The first words out of my mouth were, “Please remember the LGBTQ+ community in your prayers.” He had no idea what I was referring and asked me to repeat what I said.” It seemed to me that until that moment he was oblivious to the term.

    • Michaelangelo Allocca
      Michaelangelo Allocca says:

      Your bishop sounds like no great shakes either, but for the record, this article is about a different person (Bishop Robert BarrON, not Bishop John BarrES).

  7. Ann Connolly
    Ann Connolly says:

    Such a disheartening article!!! Dolan and Barron are well respected leaders( albeit on the right wing side). Their vocal objection to marriage equality is discriminatory — empowering some to react with violence toward LGBTQ people in our society! Shame on them!!!


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