Colorado bishops responded today to unfolding legal chaos over same-sex “marriage” after a district court judge declared the state’s marriage amendment unconstitutional.
The three Catholic bishops said that the ruling delivered Wednesday by Adams County District Judge C. Scott Crabtree advances a false view of the institution as a “sheer emotional arrangement” able to be redefined to “accommodate the impulses of culture.”
“Marriage and the family are cornerstones of every culture. Marriage has long been recognized as the lifelong relationship between one man and one woman that allows for the procreation of children; this is consistent with human biology and the natural law,” stated Denver’s Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Colorado Spring’s Bishop Michael Sheridan and Pueblo’s Bishop Stephen Berg. “Upholding the truth about marriage advances the dignity of all people, and it promotes a culture that acknowledges, values and respects the unique and complementary gifts of both a mother and a father in the lives of children.”
Judge Crabtree stayed his decision pending appeal from embattled Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who has been fighting since June to hold back the tide of activists pushing for the issuance of same-sex “marriage” licenses. In 2006, Colorado voters approved–with a 53 percent majority–to add to the state constitution the definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
Boulder clerk Hillary Hall began to issue “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples June 25 after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Utah’s marriage amendment. The ruling was stayed pending appeal, which the Utah attorney general announced Wednesday that he would file with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Suthers sought to halt the issuing of licenses, warning that they’re invalid. He said the clerks are jumping the gun by issuing the licenses before court appeals are filed and ruled on.
Today, Boulder County Judge Andrew Hartman ruled that the Boulder county clerk could ignore the federal stay. That ruling led Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson to also begin issuing “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples, which was praised in a press statement released by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
Jenny Kraska, attorney and director of the Church’s state public policy arm the Colorado Catholic Conference, explained that the courts’ decisions against the marriage amendment are not final.
Neither the Adams County district court nor the 10th Circuit Court’s decision allows for licenses given to same-sex couples because “both courts stayed their decisions pending further action by higher courts, which basically means that the rulings from these courts will not go into effect until all parties have exhausted their appeals to higher courts.”
Suthers said the clerks are only perpetuating confusion as the issue is bound for the U.S. Supreme Court.
As the legal battle continues, the Colorado bishops said they will continue to protect marriage while also treating same-sex attracted men and women “with dignity and love, as we would all God’s children.”
“We are called to make this stand because redefining marriage will only further erode the family structure of our society,” they stated. “We strongly urge all Catholics in Colorado to pray for the preservation of marriage and to pray for our elected officials and judges who are tasked with defending and upholding the laws and constitution of Colorado.”