WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops are praising Maine's voters for speaking out in favor of the truth of marriage and repealing a state law that would have allowed same-sex "marriage."
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said this in a statement released today on behalf of the U.S. episcopal conference. The archbishop is also the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage.
In a statewide vote held Tuesday, 53% of voters rejected a state law that would have allowed for same-sex "marriage."
The law had been passed by Maine's legislature and signed by Democratic Governor John Baldacci, but opponents successfully petitioned to put the issue to a popular vote.
Maine is the 31st state to oppose gay "marriage" at the polls. Five states now allow the unions.
"The people of Maine voted to uphold the true nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman," noted Archbishop Kurtz. "Marriage is an institution which precedes all others, whether political or religious. It deserves the state’s reinforcement and protection."
While the archbishop acknowledged that the Church's opposition to gay "marriage" is hard for some to accept, he urged "all to respect it."
The Church "stands for the basic rights of all people," he continued, and noted that it speaks out against discrimination or unjust treatment of any group of people.
But the issue of marriage, the archbishop explained, "has nothing to do with denying basic rights to anyone, though it is often framed in such terms."
Mom and dad
"In fact, protecting marriage is safeguarding the rights of our most dependent and vulnerable among us -- our children, who deserve to be welcomed as a gift of spousal love and not to be intentionally deprived of a mother and a father," Archbishop Kurtz said.
"Protecting marriage affirms the unique and indispensable roles of mothers and fathers, and recognizes the particular responsibilities that husbands and wives bear in society," he continued. "Protecting marriage affirms the permanent and exclusive love between a husband and a wife as a wonderful and incomparable good in itself which also is of great social and practical consequence."
"Their sexual difference, man to woman and woman to man, is real and valuable -- not a social construct, and not an aspect of the human person that may be disregarded at will and without cost," the archbishop added.
He called the "difference" of man and woman as not only "essential" for marriage, but also called it "the relational context for the formation of the human person."
"Sadly, the attempts to redefine marriage today ignore or reject the unique identity and gifts of man and woman," said Archbishop Kurtz. "Such a dismissal only fosters confusion about what it means to be human.
"Protecting marriage between one man and one woman is a matter of justice. It is a matter of truth. Law should be at the service of truth and justice. Laws based on untruths are unjust.
"Working for justice presumes that we work to preserve the true meaning of marriage."
Archbishop Kurtz invited all to work toward making marriages stronger, and to not attempt to redefine it: "Marriage must be protected and promoted today for what it is and what it is meant to be: the lifelong, exclusive union between husband and wife."
"There are many ways to uphold the basic human rights of all people," he added, "but sacrificing marriage can never be one of them."