Catholic bishops ask parishioners to oppose gay marriage in Massachusetts

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com May 29 2003 11:00 PM ET

The Roman Catholic Church will weigh in on Massachusetts's gay marriage debate this weekend by distributing a statement, signed by the leaders of the state's four dioceses, asking parishioners to support a ban on same-sex unions. With the state's supreme court considering a lawsuit that could lead
to the legalization of gay marriage, the bishops wrote that it is "a critical time" in Massachusetts. "Many experts on both sides of the debate think the odds are high that the plaintiffs will get what they want, a rule redefining marriage," the statement reads. "Such an outcome will have devastating consequences
here and nationally."

The bishops also asked parishioners to support a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The bill, known as the Marriage Affirmation and
Protection Amendment, must be approved by a joint session of the legislature during the 2003-2004 legislative session and again during the next two-year session in order to be placed on a statewide ballot in November 2006. "We ask everyone in the church to write, call, or E-mail your state senator and state representative and to get your friends to do the same," continues the statement, which will be read or distributed at Masses on Saturday and Sunday.

The supreme judicial court heard arguments in March in a case that would determine whether the state's ban on gay marriages violates the state constitution. A decision is expected sometime this summer.