Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, as President of the USCCB, issued a joint letter today with religious leaders of other faith traditions to fight for marriage and religious liberty.
Signatories included leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, and Pentecostal communities in the United States. Dolan was one of the four signing Catholic bishops. “Marriage and religious liberty are at a crisis point in the United States,” said Archbishop Dolan.
Supporters of same-sex marriage have often claimed that religious communities try to alleviate concerns over religious liberty by stating that churches and ministers will not be forced to perform same-sex ceremonies.
Dolan and the other signatories actually agree on this point, citing the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty. But that’s not the major threat to religious liberty that comes as a consequence of the states redefining marriage in law, they said. From their letter today:
[W]e believe the most urgent peril is this: forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations—throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies—to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct. There is no doubt that the many people and groups whose moral and religious convictions forbid same-sex sexual conduct will resist the compulsion of the law, and church-state conflicts will result.
These conflicts bear serious consequences. They will arise in a broad range of legal contexts, because altering the civil definition of “marriage” does not change one law, but hundreds, even thousands, at once. [Emphasis mine.] By a single stroke, every law where rights depend on marital status—such as employment discrimination, employment benefits, adoption, education, healthcare, elder care, housing, property, and taxation—will change so that same-sex sexual relationships must be treated as if they were marriage. That requirement, in turn, will apply to religious people and groups in the ordinary course of their many private or public occupations and ministries—including running schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other housing facilities, providing adoption and counseling services, and many others.
So, for example, religious adoption services that place children exclusively with married couples would be required by law to place children with persons of the same sex who are civilly “married.” [Emphasis mine.] Religious marriage counselors would be denied their professional accreditation for refusing to provide counseling in support of same-sex “married” relationships. Religious employers who provide special health benefits to married employees would be required by law to extend those benefits to same-sex “spouses.” Religious employers would also face lawsuits for taking any adverse employment action—no matter how modest—against an employee for the public act of obtaining a civil “marriage” with a member of the same sex. This is not idle speculation, as these sorts of situations have already come to pass.
You can read the rest of the letter at the USCCB website.