On November 3rd, the people of Maine voted to uphold the true nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The voice of the people in this country has spoken once again on the side of justice, in favor of the truth about marriage.
Marriage is an institution which precedes all others, whether political or religious. It deserves the state's reinforcement and protection. The Catholic Church recognizes that this truth is contentious and difficult for some to accept. Yet it is a truth both accessible to human reason and confirmed by revelation, and the Church reasonably and compassionately urges all to respect it. The nature of marriage is written in the truth of who we are as human persons, as man and woman. One can say it is written not merely on our hearts, but in our very bodies.
The Church stands for the basic rights of all people, including homosexual persons. She decries any unjust discrimination against persons who experience same-sex attraction. Protecting marriage between a man and a woman has nothing to do with denying basic rights to anyone, though it is often framed in such terms. In fact, protecting marriage is safeguarding the rights of our most dependent and vulnerable among us--our children, who deserve to be welcomed as a gift of spousal love and not to be intentionally deprived of a mother and a father. Protecting marriage affirms the unique and indispensable roles of mothers and fathers, and recognizes the particular responsibilities that husbands and wives bear in society. Protecting marriage affirms the permanent and exclusive love between a husband and a wife as a wonderful and incomparable good in itself which also is of great social and practical consequence. Their sexual difference, man to woman and woman to man, is real and valuable--not a social construct, and not an aspect of the human person that may be disregarded at will and without cost. This difference is essential for marriage and is the relational context for the formation of the human person. Sadly, the attempts to redefine marriage today ignore or reject the unique identity and gifts of man and woman. Such a dismissal only fosters confusion about what it means to be human.
Protecting marriage between one man and one woman is a matter of justice. It is a matter of truth. Law should be at the service of truth and justice. Laws based on untruths are unjust. Working for justice presumes that we work to preserve the true meaning of marriage. Especially in our society where we see so many marriages fail, we should work to strengthen marriage rather than redefine it. Marriage must be protected and promoted today for what it is and what it is meant to be: the lifelong, exclusive union between husband and wife. There are many ways to uphold the basic human rights of all people, but sacrificing marriage can never be one of them.
On behalf of the bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, I express my deep gratitude to Bishop Malone and to all those organizations, individuals and voters who worked to support the truth of marriage in Maine. The Ad Hoc Committee urges all people of good will to pray that our leaders and all people of this great country will promote and protect the truth and beauty of marriage and its fundamental place in service to the dignity of every person and to the common good.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage