Washington State Set to Redefine Marriage; Bishops Stand Opposed

A friend passed this along. The legislature in Washington State will have the first hearings on a bill that will call for “marriage equality,” that includes some very deceptive “protections” for religious institutions.

The bill will basically strike all language that specifies marriage as being between one man and one woman and say instead “two persons.”

The other problem is that the lines that purportedly protect religious institutions are even less protection than the HHS mandate. Whereas parishes will be able to avoid the HHS mandate, if your parish rents any facility to any outside group at all, or engages in fundraisers that might sell items to those outside the parish, then they have no legal protection from refusing to make facilities available for use in homosexual “marriage” ceremonies.

From analysis by Joseph Fuiten at CatholicLane.com:

All the hype on this bill says it protects religious freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth. The bill says a church can refuse to marry gays without being subject to “a civil claim or cause of action unless…. When someone says we are not going to have a problem “unless…” we already have a problem. More than that, when they add a section to the marriage laws covering “discrimination” they are telling you how this will eventually go down. They intend to come after churches and clergy using discrimination as their weapon. Section 7 merits a very careful read:

Consistent with the law against discrimination [RCW 49.60], no religious organization is required to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage unless the organization offers admission, occupancy, or use of these accommodations or facilities to the public for a fee, or offers those advantages, privileges, services, or goods to the public for sale.

They want us to tolerate them but they don’t want to tolerate us. They want to use the power of the state and civil rights laws to force the church into accepting homosexuality. They give lip service to religious freedom while at the same time setting up the legal system to empower homosexual coercion of the church. This is not marriage equality. It is the setup for a knockdown. They already have equality but that is not what they actually want. They want to force the church to accept homosexuality.

The bishops of Washington State have co-signed a statement opposing the law. The bishops’ statement:

Legislation has been introduced in Washington State to change the current law defining marriage.  The present law states:  “marriage is a civil contract between a male and a female…” This same law also prohibits marriage to close-blood relations, a clear indication that the definition of marriage is related to bringing children into the world and the continuation of the human race. The legislation to redefine marriage, therefore, is not in the public interest.

Marriage is certainly about the public recognition of a relationship between a man and a woman which carries certain rights and responsibilities for the two adults. But, it is much more. Marriage in faith and societal traditions is acknowledged as the foundation of civilization. It has long been recognized that the stability of society depends on the stability of family life in which a man and a woman conceive and nurture new life. In this way, civil recognition of marriage has sought to bestow on countless generations of children the incomparable benefit of a loving mother and father committed to one another in a lifelong union.

Additionally, by defining marriage both in terms of the relationship between a man and a woman and of its important role of guaranteeing the succession of generations, the state is recognizing the irreplaceable contribution that married couples make to society.  Married couples who bring children into the world make particular sacrifices and take on unique risks and obligations for the good of society.  For this reason the state has long understood that it has a compelling interest in recognizing and supporting these mothers and fathers through a distinct category of laws. Were the definition of marriage to change, there would be no special laws to support and recognize the irreplaceable contribution that these married couples make to society and to the common good by bringing to life the next generation.

Upholding the present definition of marriage does not depend on anyone’s religious beliefs. Washington State’s present law defining marriage as “a civil contract between a male and a female” is grounded not in faith, but in reason and the experience of society.  It recognizes the value of marriage as a bond of personal relationships, but also in terms of the unique and irreplaceable potential of a man and woman to conceive and nurture new life, thus contributing to the continuation of the human race.  A change in legislation would mean that the state would no longer recognize the unique sacrifices and contributions made by these couples, thereby adding to the forces already undermining family life today.

For these reasons, we the Catholic Bishops of Washington State call on the citizens of this state to maintain the legal definition of marriage. We ask all to join in praying with us for married couples and families and to do everything possible to support them.

We urge you to contact your own state senator and your two state representatives to request that they defend the current legal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

(emphasis in orginal)

Hopefully it’s not too late to prevent this.



  • Mal

    If marriage was an American creation the lawmakers would have evry right to redefine marriage. However, marriage, from the beginning our human history, and in every civilisation has been the unique union of two people from the the two genders that exist in our nature. This union has, in keeping with its nature, provided continuity and stability to society. This is the only institution that naturally provides this stability and continuity. All religious people consider marriage to be sacred while secular Chinese and Japanese consider it to be the most important unit in civilised society.

  • Russell

    “…they are telling you how this will eventually go down. They intend to come after churches and clergy using discrimination as their weapon.”
    Just for clarity… who is “they” the author is referring to. Any group in particular, any entity or is is a re-wording of “those people” the generic of anyone who would have a different viewpoint than that of the author?

  • ParrotLover

    Rather than have an honest discussion, this resorts to scare tactics and half truths. Would you accept allowing a gay-friendly church to lease their space to everyone except Catholics? Is it acceptable for a business to sell wedding services to everyone but blacks? Can a wedding chapel sell their services only to baptists? Can they charge everyone one rate, but charge Catholics more? Can they refuse to serve Jews?

  • Flingin

    I wouldn’t call the language deceptive. It provides important religious protections that allow ministers and religious institutions the right to refuse to perform ceremonies that contradict their faith. If a “religious” institution is so crass as to rent out their building to make a quick buck, then they can’t cower behind their “religious” beliefs. They sold those out a long time ago.

  • Bill

    I think this is fair. If a parish decides to rent space to the public in exchange for money, then non-discrimination laws require that the space be made available to all. I wouldn’t want Catholics to be refused access to places that other people are allowed to rent. We are talking about a business transaction here. Most parishes don’t “rent out” their sacred spaces – or at least they shouldn’t, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

    • Julie T.

      Bill, you are mistaken. Every parish I know of uses there facilities for fundraising efforts, such as Christmas craft sales, and some also sponsor community events, all with an eye to raising money for food pantries, soup kitchens, shelter for the homeless, and so on. If this passes with “protections” that are no such thing, faithful Catholics will be forced to curtail their work with those in the community who need it the most. As someone who is a native of Washington state, I am both deeply saddened and deeply disgusted by this blatant exercise of government gone amok. I honestly wish that Washington’s bishops would instruct Governor Gregoire and other Catholycs in the state legislature to NOT present themselves for Holy Communion and stop representing themselves as Catholics in the public sphere.

    • patrick

      Bill: I hear you. It makes me wonder how the word “public” is defined for these purposes. For example, if a Catholic Church has a non-sacred space – a a wedding hall – on its property that it rents out (for a fee) ONLY to that Church’s parishioners for weddings, has that church just rented a space to the “public”? Aren’t parishioners members of the public? Must that church now rent the same space to (A) 2 Jewish people who come along and who want to hold a secular wedding there, or (B) 2 Catholics who are divorced and not anulled who want to hold a secular wedding there or (C) 2 lesbians who want to hold a secular wedding there??

      forand when no Catholic families rent it for weddings the Church instead rents it out to

      • Patrick

        (oops, sorry about the extra words at the end there.)



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