WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Supreme Court put same-sex marriages in Virginia on hold Aug. 20, one day before the ban was scheduled to be lifted.

On Aug. 21, a federal judge in Tallahassee, Florida, struck down a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in that state, saying it violated the guarantees of equal protection and due process provided in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“We are sadly disappointed by the court’s decision to reject marriage as the union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife,” said an Aug. 21 statement from Florida’s Catholic bishops. “The decision fails to adequately consider that marriage unites a man and a woman with any children born from their union and protects a child’s right to both a mother and a father.”


The bishops added, “Our affirmation of marriage between a man and a woman is not motivated by unjust discrimination or animosity toward anyone. Human dignity is manifested in all persons; and all have the capacity for and are deserving of love. This is especially true of children, who should be given the opportunity, to the greatest extent possible, to be raised and loved by the mother and father who conceived them.”

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle had made his ruling in consolidating two suits filed against Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The Florida bishops had filed a friend-of-the court brief in one of the suits. Voters had approved a gay-marriage ban in 2008.

Hinkle issued a stay of his order pending likely appeals. No marriage licenses for same-sex couples will be issued in Florida under the stay.

The Florida attorney general had appealed a previous ruling striking down same-sex-marriage bans in four Florida counties.

In the Virginia case, the Supreme Court gave no statement in issuing its stay. It acted after a county clerk in northern Virginia asked the justices to block the issuance of marriage license while the case is being appealed to the high court.

On July 28, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, ruled 2-1 that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

Virginia’s Catholic bishops in statement on that ruling said that “those with same-sex attractions must be treated with respect and sensitivity,” but they reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s teaching that marriage should be between one man and one woman.