Marriage's Meaning "Given, Not Constructed"

L.A. Prelates Clarify That Redefinition Isn't Possible

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LOS ANGELES, JUNE 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- As California's approval of same-sex marriage was set to go into effect this evening, the bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles reiterated that marriage cannot simply be redefined, since it comes from God.



In a statement today, the prelates noted that "persons with a homosexual orientation 'must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity,'" referring to statements from the national episcopal conference.

"Accordingly," they continued, "the bishops condemn all forms of violence, scorn, and hatred -- whether subtle or overt -- against men and women who are homosexual. All people, regardless of sexual inclination, are called to holiness; and 'should be encouraged to take an active role in the faith community' and to live according to its teachings.'"

But respect, compassion and sensitivity for homosexuals does not mean that marriage can be redefined, the bishops affirmed, since marriage "has a unique place in God's creation, joining a man and a woman in a committed relationship in order to nurture and support the new life for which marriage is intended."

"The meaning of marriage is deeply rooted in history and culture, and has been shaped considerably by Christian tradition," they wrote. "Its meaning is given, not constructed."

The Los Angeles prelates suggested that benefits are already given to same-sex couples, without a need for marital status.

"For example, individuals can agree to own property jointly with another, and they can generally designate anyone they choose to be a beneficiary of their will or to make health care decisions in case they become incompetent," they explained. "Other desired benefits such as sharing in a partner's health insurance could be made available without the drastic step of a cultural or legal redefinition of marriage."

"Let us strengthen our resolve to respect the dignity of each human being and to protect the sanctity of marriage, asking God's guidance in our efforts to promote the common good central to a free and democratic society," the bishops concluded.

Marriage licenses for same-sex couples were set to be issued today at 5 p.m. Unlike Massachusetts, the first state to approve same-sex marriage, California does not have a residency requirement for marriages performed in the state. Thus, it is expected that same-sex couples from across the nation will now seek to marry in California.

However, a proposed constitutional amendment on the California ballot in November would undo the ruling and again ban same-sex marriage.