1-February-2013 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Religious groups ask Supreme Court to uphold marriage

Religious groups have filed legal briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, arguing that "gay marriage" could negatively impact on children, society and religious liberty.

"Catholics have successfully defended marriage against racial and eugenic restrictions since the Middle Ages," Catholic University of America law professor Destro said in a Jan. 29 statement.

"We thought it important that the Court know that much of its own case law is rooted in that history."

Destro submitted a legal brief on behalf of Catholics for the Common Good, a California-based organization that supported Proposition 8. The brief asks the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court decision that ruled unconstitutional the successful 2008 ballot measure that defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

William B. May, President of Catholics for the Common Good, said that redefining marriage "has the unintended consequence of removing from the law the only institution that unites children with their moms and dads."

"Given the tragic social and human consequences of the breakdown of marriage, this institution must be promoted, not eliminated," he said Jan. 29.

A federal judge in August 2010 declared the measure unconstitutional, citing a "fundamental right to marry." The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his decision in February 2012, saying that marriage is simply "a committed lifelong relationship."

Destro said the Prop. 8 trial "featured a sustained attack on religion." Federal judges condemned as irrational Catholic teaching "rooted in centuries of reflection on the dignity of the human person and the reality of the human condition."

He said the constitution guarantees political equality of citizens, but the lower courts "demonized" citizens who "refuse to affirm a series of hotly-disputed political and cultural ideas about the nature of marriage, gender identity and human sexuality that have enormous cultural and civic consequences."

John Mauck, a Chicago attorney with the firm Mauck & Baker, submitted a brief on behalf of the religious liberty organization The Manhattan Declaration in support of the Defense of Marriage Act.

He said Jan. 29 there is "ample reason to preserve marriage as it has always been understood" in light of "natural law, the nature of the human person and common sense."

The brief said that marriage is a "foundational institution" that is "universally known" as a male-female relationship. Almost every culture throughout history gives it formal or legal recognition because "it encourages and supports responsible procreation and childbearing" and "redounds to the health and well-being of societies in general."

The Defense of Marriage Act helps preserve marriage "without alteration," the brief said.

The federal legislation defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal law. It was passed in 1996 with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The Manhattan Declaration brief said that redefining marriage "imperils religious liberty" and sacrifices freedom of conscience to "the newly regnant orthodoxy."

The brief noted that some religious organizations have been forced out of adoption and foster child placement because they can in good conscience place children only with married opposite-sex couples. New York town clerks who could not in conscience certify same-sex unions as marriages were forced to resign their positions, while parents who object to "gay marriage" have been refused the ability to exempt their children from exposure to public school material about these unions.

The religious freedom litigation, education and policy group Liberty Council has filed briefs in support of both Prop. 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, said the case marks "a pivotal point in history."

"America's very existence is at stake. Marriage is not simply an artifact of law to regulate Social Security benefits, but an institution of God to procreate and nurture perpetual generations," he said.

Staver said that the natural family is "fundamental" and provides "healthy children who grow up into responsible citizens."

"This is all created within the context of natural marriage between one man and one woman," he said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has filed its own legal briefs in support of Prop. 8 and DOMA. They affirmed marriage as a unique union of a man and a woman and warned that its redefinition would create an "engine of conflict" that threatens freedom of religion, speech and other liberties.

In December 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would consider the legal challenges related to questions surrounding "gay marriage." It is expected to issue ruling sometime this summer.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=6943#ixzz2Jgw1Bdyg

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