Massachusetts's four Roman Catholic bishops will mail a flier to more than a million Catholic households in the state, urging the faithful to support a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The initiative, a partnership between the state's four Catholic dioceses and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the church's political advocacy arm, was announced Friday by Boston archbishop Sean O'Malley.
The state's highest court ruled in November that it is unconstitutional to bar gay couples from civil marriage. Since then, O'Malley has called on priests and other Catholics to defend traditional marriage.
The flier exhorts Catholics to lobby lawmakers to support a proposed amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It gives three options for how to do this: by visiting legislators personally; by calling them on the phone; and by writing them a letter or e-mail.
The Massachusetts Catholic Conference is also urging people to attend three massive rallies planned for January 25 in Fall River, Springfield, and Worcester "to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman," according to the group's Web site.
The supreme judicial court, in its November ruling, gave the legislature six months to rewrite the state's marriage laws to provide benefits for gay couples. Since then, the debate has shifted to the state legislature, where a constitutional amendment that would legally define marriage as a union between one man and one woman is scheduled for debate in February.
If approved by the legislature in two consecutive sessions, the amendment could appear on a ballot for voter consideration, but no sooner than November 2006. In the meantime, the court's ruling is scheduled to take effect in May.