SANTA FE, N.M. (CNS) — Marriage is “a lifelong bond between one man and one woman,” said the three bishops of New Mexico in a statement issued March 27, the date the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
“If the biblical definition of marriage is changed to include same-sex couples, the effects on our society would be regrettable for many reasons. Jesus teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman,” the bishops said.
Quoting from the Gospel of St. Matthew, the bishops added, “Jesus said, ‘From the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
The bishops issuing the statement were Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe, and Bishops James S. Wall of Gallup and Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces.
“The effort to include same-sex unions within the institution of marriage has been presented as a civil right,” they said. “However, the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples cannot be classified as a civil right as it would infringe upon other important rights such as the right of children to a mother and father as well as the right to religious freedom.
“The millions of persons who believe that marriage must be between one man and one woman will be compelled to accept the redefinition.”
The bishops added, “The change in society to accept the marriage of interracial couples is qualitatively different from the present effort. Racial difference or sameness was never an essential factor for marriage; on the other hand, sexual difference is an essential component of marriage. This is spoken to not only by religion, but by nature — for only does the sexual union of a man and a woman bring forth children.”
They acknowledged in the statement, though, the violations of civil rights that have occurred against gays.
“There have been tragic instances of discrimination, hatred and even violence against people with same-sex attraction. We call for peace, tolerance, and understanding in these cases,” the bishops said.
“We recall the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Homosexual persons ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.’ Indeed, civil rights in these instances are transgressed, namely, the right to live in peace and tranquility, without fearing violence.”