HARTFORD – Archbishop Henry J. Mansell said that the U.S. Supreme Court's June 26 ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is "sending the wrong message to society."
The court, in separate 5-4 rulings, struck down DOMA, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and it sent back to lower courts a challenge to California's Proposition 8, the voter-approved initiative barring same-sex marriage.
"Marriage between a man and woman is one of the greatest gifts that God has given humanity. It predates both religion and government and is grounded in the nature of a human person," Archbishop Mansell said.
"By striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Supreme Court is corroding this most sacred union, and sending the wrong message to society by saying that sexual difference doesn’t matter. It does. Marriage is an institution that needs to be strengthened and nourished, not devalued," the archbishop said.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also released the following statement about the two decisions:
"Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.
"Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father.
"Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it.
"When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife – he pointed back to "the beginning" of God’s creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.
"Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified."