US: March for Marriage as High Court hears cases

2013-03-27 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The US Supreme Court is this week considering two cases on same-sex marriage. On Tuesday, the justices hear arguments in connection with a California constitutional amendment preserving the traditional definition of marriage, which the people of the state passed by popular referendum after judicial imposition of same-sex marriage in that state. On Wednesday, a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman only, for the purpose of taxes and benefits, is up for review. The so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” was passed by a large majority in both houses of the US federal legislature and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 1996. Listen:

In the US capital, Washington, DC, a “March for Family” is scheduled for Tuesday under the joint sponsorship the National Organization for Marriage, the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, with the participation of families from every state in the union, Catholic priests and Protestant ministers, to defend the understanding of marriage as the life-long union of one man and one woman.

The President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, has sent a Message to organisers and participants, stressing the ecumenical nature of the show of support for traditional marriage. In the Message, Archbishop Paglia also discusses the significance of the March’s taking place during Holy Week, “[B]ecause,” he says, “that time in the life of the Church not only makes us more aware of the great sacrifice that Jesus made in giving His life for us, it also reveals how He did so in the context of relationships that are mirrored in the life of every family: the loving obedience of the Son to his Father, the provident love in the Father’s plan for salvation that would bring the Son out of suffering and into glory, the faithfulness of a mother’s love as Mary stood beneath the cross on which her Son was dying; and the protective love, learned from Saint Joseph, that Jesus showed his mother when, just before dying, he entrusted her to Saint John, and Saint John to her, as mother and son.”

Speaking to a recent conference of the Knights of Columbus in California, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, explained that, although the marriage debate is often couched as a contest between claims to personal rights on the one hand, and people who support “traditional values” on the other, what is really at stake is the notion that government is naturally limited in the scope of its power – that there are some things a government simply cannot do. “[A] government that presumes to redefine marriage is perilously close to considering itself – not God – as the almighty one,” he said.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down opinions in the two cases by the end of term in June.