CHICAGO (CNS) — The head of the Catholic Conference of Illinois decried a Feb. 14 Illinois Senate vote to permit same-sex marriage in the state, calling it “redefinition of marriage legislation.”
“Marriage joins a man and a woman in love to meet one another’s needs, to procreate and to raise children. This is the lifeblood of any human society,” said a Feb. 14 statement from Robert Gilligan, executive director of the state Catholic conference. “This legislation tears at that definition with unknown consequences.”
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The Senate’s vote was 34-21 on the bill, which changes the definition of marriage in state law from “between a man and a woman” to “between two persons.”
“This legislation callously redefines a bedrock institution of our society and deteriorates the free exercise of religion in our state,” Gilligan said.
The bill has yet to be considered by the state House. If it passes, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Catholic, has said he will sign it.
If the bill becomes law, Illinois would become the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to permit same-sex marriage, joining Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington state.
Gilligan’s statement criticized the limited nature of religious freedom protections found in the bill, including limited conscience protections for religious organizations and the lack of any such protections for individuals.
“The sexual difference and complementarity of husband and wife is not something that is added to a pre-existing thing called ‘marriage,’ like you might add sprinkles to a sundae. Instead, male-female complementarity is at the very heart of marriage and part of its authentic definition,” says the U.S. Bishops website for marriage.
“We remain wary of government interference in the church’s ministry and structure,” Gilligan said. “We heard promises two years ago when civil unions were passed, and now Catholic Charities has been kicked out of its mission of serving children in foster care.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are 29 states with constitutional provisions barring same-sex marriage.
Since January 2011, Illinois has recognized civil unions for same-sex couples giving them the rights of marriage under state law. Other states with civil union laws are Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
However, Rhode Island’s House has passed a same-sex marriage bill, which now resides in the Senate. Hawaii has a bill to allow same-sex marriage, which has not been voted on, and Delaware was expected to have a similar bill introduced.
Also, California, Oregon, Nevada and Wisconsin have some type of domestic-partnership recognition, and Colorado recognizes same-sex unions within the framework of designated beneficiary agreements.
A message on the homepage of the U.S. bishops’ website marriageuniqueforareason.org explains why it does not use the terms “same-sex marriage” and “gay marriage.”
“Using the terms ‘same-sex marriage’ and ‘gay marriage’ already presupposes — wrongly — that marriage comes in a variety of forms: ‘same-sex,’ ‘opposite-sex,’ ‘homosexual,’ ‘heterosexual’ and so forth,” it says.
“Put another way, the sexual difference and complementarity of husband and wife is not something that is added to a pre-existing thing called ‘marriage,’ like you might add sprinkles to a sundae. Instead, male-female complementarity is at the very heart of marriage and part of its authentic definition,” it adds.
“Marriage wouldn’t be marriage without a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. This is why adding alternative adjectives to the word ‘marriage’ — ‘same-sex,’ ‘gay’ and so on — produces not another ‘variety’ of marriage, but a different thing entirely,” it says. “It radically alters what marriage is in its very essence.”