In two decisions today the U.S. Supreme Court avoided a firm declaration about same-sex marriage but signaled that attempts by the federal government to limit rights available under state law could be unconstitutional. As it sidesteps the issue of marriage per se, the court shifts the debate to the states where it is now but raises questions about the scope of the federal government’s authority to administer its own programs.
In ruling DOMA out of bounds, the court confirmed Congress’ basic authority to establish rules for federal programs including rules about marriage but has called into question the reach of that authority. While marriage traditionally has been defined by the states, the states have no basis to press the variety of those views on the federal government.
Until today. It is unseemly that the uniformity of the federal system can now be upset by state policies in this area of life and law.
In light of today’s Supreme Court opinion, it seems imperative to remind everyone that they must never forget that all, regardless of their sexual inclination, must be treated with the respect worthy of their human dignity. As is well known, the Catholic faith teaches clearly the biblical principle that all persons, regardless of their sexual inclination, are called to chastity regardless of their state of life. While today’s decision voids federal law it opens the doors to others: it allows the citizens of each state the opportunity to uphold the true definition of marriage by voting for representatives and legislation that defend the true definition of marriage. I call on all people of good will to make their voices heard through the democratic process by upholding marriage in their home states.
I remain confident that people of this great country, no matter the consequences, will continue to promote and defend the good and the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife for life. Marriage remains what it has always been, regardless of what any government might say.
I likewise remain confident that the First Amendment constitutional guarantee of the “free exercise of religion” will forever ensure that no restrictions or limitations on the teaching of the Catholic faith will be placed on any Catholic priest or deacon in the armed forces. Furthermore, the Constitution guarantees that no endorsed minister will ever be compelled to perform a religious ceremony contrary to the dictates of his/her faith nor will today’s decision have any effect on the role and teaching ability of a priest or deacon in the pulpit, the classroom, the barracks or in the office.
This archdiocese remains resolved in the belief that no Catholic priest will ever be compelled to condone- even silently same-sex “marriages.”
The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D. is archbishop for the Military Services, USA.