WASHINGTON—The Senate Judiciary Committee should uphold the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage at the federal level as the union of one man and one woman, because of its importance to human rights and the common good, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Promotion and Defense of Marriage efforts. In a November 2 letter, Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, California, asked the Committee to oppose any bill that would repeal DOMA, particularly the Respect for Marriage Act (S. 598).
“All persons have a rightful claim to our utmost respect,” wrote Bishop Cordileone. “There is no corresponding duty, however, for society to disregard the meaning of sexual difference and its practical consequences for the common good; to override fundamental rights, such as religious liberty; and to re-define our most basic social institution. DOMA advances the common good in a manner consistent with the human dignity of all persons.”
Bishop Cordileone noted that DOMA’s definition of marriage reflects a longstanding consensus based in reason that is “accessible to people of all faiths or none at all.”
He added, “Millions of citizens have gone to the ballot in 30 states to ratify similar DOMA proposals by substantial majorities. Forty-one states in all have enacted their own DOMAs. Popularity alone does not determine what is right. But in the face of such broad support in the present day, not to mention a legacy of lived experience and reasoned reflection measured in millennia in every society and civilization throughout all of human history, repealing a measure that merely recognizes the truth of marriage is all the more improvident.”
Bishop Cordileone also wrote that changing the definition of marriage would violate human rights, namely the rights of children to be cared for by both a mother and a father and the right of religious freedom.
“In places where marriage’s core meaning has been altered through legal action, officials are beginning to target for punishment those believers and churches that refuse to adapt,” Bishop Cordileone wrote. “Any non-conforming conduct and even expressions of disagreement, based simply on support for marriage as understood since time immemorial, are wrongly being treated as if they harmed society, and somehow constituted a form of evil equal to racism. DOMA represents an essential protection against such threats to faith and conscience.”
The full text of Bishop Cordileone’s letter can be found at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Cordileone-to-Senate-Judiciary-Committee-DOMA-Nov-2-2011.pdf