A committee of bishops on Tuesday proposed that the nation's Roman Catholic leaders issue a statement condemning same-sex unions and reinforcing church teaching that gay sex is a sin. Catholic opposition to gay marriage is well-known. However, the committee that drafted the document said it felt a need to restate the church's position because gay unions are gaining recognition in society. "Already one state in our nation has established the category of civil union and, for the purpose of rights and benefits, has recognized it as the equivalent of marriage for homosexual persons," said Bishop J. Kevin Boland of the diocese of Savannah, Ga., who introduced the measure. The bishops will debate the statement and decide whether to approve it later in their meeting, which runs through Thursday.
The marriage document, called "Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions," defines marriage as a "lifelong union of a man and a woman." It states that approving a union of a same-gender couple "contradicts the nature of marriage.... It is not based on the natural complementarity of male and female. It cannot cooperate with God to create new life." The document also states that authorizing same-sex marriage "would grant official public approval to homosexual activity and would treat it as if it were morally neutral." The authors of the statement said the church's position is not unfair to gay men and lesbians because Christians have an obligation to "give witness to the whole moral truth." And, the committee said, gay men and lesbians can obtain benefits, such as designating each other as beneficiaries of their wills, without granting their unions the same status as marriage.