Originally published on Advocate.com September 11 2003 12:00 AM ET
The leaders of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops announced their "general support" Wednesday for a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage strictly as a union of a man and a woman. The 50-member administrative committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting privately in Washington, D.C., acted after the Vatican issued a call to defend traditional marriage and the Canadian government decided to legalize same-sex marriage.
The bishops said "the church's teaching about the dignity of homosexual persons is clear. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity," but that does not mean changing marriage laws. The statement maintained that protection of marriage requires, among other things, advocacy of legislation and public policies that "define and support marriage as a unique, essential relationship and institution."
"At a time when family life is under significant stress, the principled defense of marriage is an urgent necessity to ensure the flourishing of persons, the well-being of children, and the common good of society," the bishops said.
The Vatican denounced same-sex marriage in a July decree from its doctrinal office. President Bush has not endorsed the proposed constitutional amendment but has said marriage should be between a man and a woman and that "we ought to codify that one way or the other."