sábado, abril 30, 2011

Urges Assembly to reject civil unions


Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence urges Assembly to reject civil unions. 01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, April 30, 2011
By Katherine Gregg. Journal State House Bureau (kgregg@projo.com).


PROVIDENCE — After playing a major role in the defeat of same-sex marriage, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence is now urging state lawmakers to reject the compromise that House Speaker Gordon D. Fox is backing: civil unions.

In an unsigned editorial in this week’s Rhode Island Catholic, the Diocese says: “We hope that those members of the Rhode Island General Assembly who have consistently supported traditional marriage will stay steadfast in their opposition to the legal recognition of same-sex relationships as either marriage or civil unions.

“Government sanctioned civil unions cannot be supported by those who truly understand the unique nature and status afforded a man and a woman in marriage. We call upon the members of the Rhode Island House and Senate to cast aside such compromises and rather work to strengthen marriage in our state by passing a Defense of Marriage Bill that clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

“Only then will the attempts by radical activists to redefine marriage and undermine family life in Rhode Island finally be stopped. Civil Unions are not the answer,” the editorial says.

And “far from settling the issue, the passage of civil union legislation only advances the drive to same-sex marriage by framing the perception of same-sex relationships as ‘separate but equal.’ Such a course of events have taken place in recent years in Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and New Hampshire with civil unions ultimately becoming the stepping stone to the legal recognition of same-sex relationships as marriage,” the editorial says.

The editorial followed Fox’s announcement this week that he was abandoning his drive to win passage this year of a bill, which he cosponsored, to legalize “civil marriage” for same-gender couples in Rhode Island. An openly gay man, Fox said it was a difficult and emotional decision for him, but he believed he could not deliver the votes necessary for passage in both the House and Senate.

In the days since, his decision has been hailed as a victory by the National Organization for Marriage. But he has been roundly criticized by a phalanx of gay-rights advocacy groups for abandoning the cause and opting for an alternative that, in their eyes, would continue to treat the partners in same-sex couples as “second-class citizens.”

In response, Fox has said, passage of civil-union legislation, expected to be introduced in the Rhode Island legislature next week, would keep the issue alive while granting vital legal rights to same-sex couples.

At this point, however, the Diocese and the advocacy group leading the drive for same-sex marriage are both opposed to civil unions. “So the question becomes, why is the speaker attempting to be the architect of a compromise no one wants?” Marriage Equality Rhode Island spokesman Bill Fischer asked again Friday.

“He made a promise at the beginning of this year that there would be a vote on marriage equality. We are [calling on] him to fulfill his promise,” Fischer said. “At the end of the day, we have full faith people will do the right thing.”

And “because of the manner in which this went down,” without any advance notice to the advocates and sponsors of this year’s same-sex marriage drive, Fischer said, “there is a lack of trust with the leadership at the State House.”

In this atmosphere of distrust, Fischer said, “we do not assume, even though we are opposed to civil unions, that they will pass this year.” In its weekly newspaper, the Diocese said civil unions come no closer to church doctrine than same-sex marriage:

“Marriage has been established by our Creator in harmony with the nature of man and woman and with its own properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman.

“However well-intentioned it is the experiment called ‘Civil Unions’ is not an acceptable alternative to marriage as it too undermines the unique relationship of one man and one woman in holy matrimony by giving equal status, albeit by another name, to same-sex relationships,” the editorial says.

It also suggested this explanation for Fox’s shift to civil unions: “It is clear that many elected officials on Smith Hill are tiring of shouts of homophobia and bigotry from the radical homosexual lobby, but are also unwilling to sacrifice the sacred institution of marriage in the name of so-called “equality.”

“Proponents will undoubtedly argue that civil unions are no threat to the institution of marriage,” but “all one has to do is look to the west to see that’s not the case. Last year a federal judge ruled that California’s attempt to grant civil union-like benefits to same-sex couples created a ‘second-class citizenship’ — and he ordered same-sex marriage as the way to fix the ‘problem’ — despite California’s state marriage amendment which supposedly protected marriage.”

There was no response from Fox or his communications director, Larry Berman.

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