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The ever more defenceless value of traditional marriage

· A new ruling in California in favour of same-sex unions ·

“The people of California deserve better. Our nation deserves better. Marriage deserves better”. This is the clear assessment of the United States Bishops’ Conference, published on 7 February, which concerns the ruling of the federal appeals court in San Francisco establishing the ban on same-sex “marriage” in the State of California unconstitutional. A path that continues to be marked by legal complexities.

This ruling overturns the California voter-approved referendum of 2008, which introduced in the State’s Constitution a ban on same-sex marriage, confirming marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman. In 2010, after the appeal of associations for the protection of the rights of homosexuals, Federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker declared the ban was illegal, prompting the reaction of the communities that defend the referendum.

It was these associations which subsequently presented a counter-appeal in the appeals court. The court of appeals recently ruled in favour of same-sex unions, specifying that “marriage” between same-sex persons will not be able to be celebrated until all other further appeals have been presented: a road that could find opponents until it reaches the Supreme Court.

A note from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops', of which Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of New York is President, states the disappointment due to the new ruling which rejects “the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a voter-approved initiative in California that recognizes marriage as the union of one man and one woman”. The President of the Bishops’ Conference, together with the Bishops of California, stated that the “court ruling is a grave injustice, ignoring the reality that marriage is the union of one man and one woman”. The United States Constitution, stressed the Archbishop “does not forbid the protection of the perennial meaning of marriage, one of the cornerstones of society. The people of California deserve better. Our nation deserves better. Marriage deserves better”.

Along with the President, the Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Bishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone of Oakland affirmed: “Our society does not operate in an amoral or value-less vacuum. To flourish, it must be infused with moral direction that is grounded in the truth. Of course, the true meaning of marriage, like the gift of human life, is ultimately not subject to a vote or court ruling. But in California, as in every other state where marriage has been put to a vote, the people justly upheld the truth of marriage. How tragic for California, for the nation, and especially for children, that this correctly-informed judgement has now been set aside”.

Before the 2008 referendum was approved in California, marriage between people of the same sex had already been celebrated for a few months. Currently about 40 of the 50 States consider same-sex marriage illegal, but this number continues to decrease. Last June the ban was revoked in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. Following on this same path is New Jersey and Washington. In fact the State of Washington’s Senate has already approved a law which is predicted to be definitively accepted with the Governor’s signature. Meanwhile the ruling in California could eventually move on to the Supreme Court.

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