The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court decisions June 26 striking down part of the
Defense of Marriage Act and refusing to rule on the merits of a challenge to California's
Proposition 8 mark a "tragic day for marriage and our nation," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New
York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of
San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of
The statement follows.
"Today is a tragic day for
marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by
striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal
government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even
where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal
and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the
Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California's Proposition 8 but instead decided not to
rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that
strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this
truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and
the well-being of our society hang in the balance.
"Marriage is the only
institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from
their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father.
has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God's wise
design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a
mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this
is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine
"When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive
union of husband and wife – he pointed back to "the beginning" of God's creation of the human person
as male and female (see Matthew 19
). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus
taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will
continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.
"Now that the
Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the
people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique
meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court's decisions
are reviewed and their implications further clarified."