This is a statement from the Washington State Catholic Conference in response to the upcoming legislation to re-define the definition of marriage for the State of Washington:
A statement on legislation to redefine marriage
Legislation has been introduced in Washington State to change the current law defining
marriage. The present law states: “marriage is a civil contract between a male and a female…”
This same law also prohibits marriage to close-blood relations, a clear indication that the
definition of marriage is related to bringing children into the world and the continuation of the
human race. The legislation to redefine marriage, therefore, is not in the public interest.
Marriage is certainly about the public recognition of a relationship between a man and a woman
which carries certain rights and responsibilities for the two adults. But, it is much more. Marriage
in faith and societal traditions is acknowledged as the foundation of civilization. It has long been
recognized that the stability of society depends on the stability of family life in which a man and
a woman conceive and nurture new life. In this way, civil recognition of marriage has sought to
bestow on countless generations of children the incomparable benefit of a loving mother and
father committed to one another in a lifelong union.
Additionally, by defining marriage both in terms of the relationship between a man and a woman
and its important role of guaranteeing the succession of generations, the state is recognizing the
irreplaceable contribution that married couples make to society. Married couples who bring
children into the world make particular sacrifices and take on unique risks and obligations for the
good of society. For this reason the state has long understood that it has a compelling interest in
recognizing and supporting these mothers and fathers through a distinct category of laws. Were
the definition of marriage to change, there would be no special laws to support and recognize the
irreplaceable contribution that these married couples make to society and to the common good by
bringing to life the next generation.
Upholding the present definition of marriage does not depend on anyone’s religious beliefs.
Washington State’s present law defining marriage as “a civil contract between a male and a
female” is grounded not in faith, but in reason and the experience of society. It recognizes the
value of marriage as a bond of personal relationships, but also in terms of the unique and
irreplaceable potential of a man and woman to conceive and nurture new life, thus contributing
to the continuation of the human race. A change in legislation would mean that the state would
no longer recognize the unique sacrifices and contributions made by these couples, thereby
adding to the forces already undermining family life today.
For these reasons, we the Catholic Bishops of Washington State call on the citizens of this state
to maintain the legal definition of marriage. We ask all to join in praying with us for married
couples and families and to do everything possible to support them.
We urge you to contact your own state senator and your two state representatives to
request that they defend the current legal definition of marriage as a union between a man
and a woman.
This statement was signed by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, Archdiocese of Seattle; Bishop Blase J. Cupich, Diocese of Spokane; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson, Diocese of Yakima; Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle.