U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC's "Good Morning America" at the White House May 9. During the interview Obama said he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. CNS photo/Pete Souza, courtesy White House via Reuters

Catholic leaders reject Obama's support for same-sex marriage

By  Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service
  • May 11, 2012

WASHINGTON - Catholic leaders rejected U.S. President Barack Obama's May 9 declaration in a television interview that "personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

"President Obama's words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, in a May 9 statement.

"We cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better."

In December 2010, Obama said his views on same-sex marriage were "evolving" and that he "struggles with this," adding he would continue thinking about the issue. An Associated Press story May 10 quoted Obama as saying he wanted to announce his support for such unions "in my own way, on my own terms," but acknowledged earlier remarks by Vice President Joe Biden prompted his announcement.

On May 6, Biden, a Catholic, said he was "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex couples marrying, adding they should get "the same exact rights" heterosexual married couples receive.

The Catholic Church upholds the sanctity of traditional marriage as being only between one man and one woman, and also teaches that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful.

"I pray for the president every day, and will continue to pray that he and his administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman," Dolan said. "May we all work to promote and protect marriage and by so doing serve the true good of all persons."

In a May 9 statement, the archdiocese of Washington said it "opposes the redefinition of marriage based on the clear understanding that the complementarity of man and woman is intrinsic to the meaning of marriage. The word 'marriage' describes the exclusive and life-long union of one man and one woman open to generating and nurturing children. Other unions exist, but they are not marriage."

In its statement, the archdiocese said it would "continue to strongly advocate for the federal government's existing definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman," adding it supports efforts undertaken by those who uphold the traditional meaning of marriage." One such effort is a petition drive in the state of Maryland to overturn a law passed earlier this year to allow same-sex marriage in the state. The archdiocese covers five Maryland counties in addition to the District of Columbia.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance said May 2 that a petition to put the law to a vote had collected more than 30,000 voter signatures. Nearly 56,000 valid signatures are needed by June 30 to add the referendum to the November ballot, with half due May 31 to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

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