Defending Marriage and the Family, the Cornerstone of Society

By: Therese Bermpohl, Director of the Office for Family Life

The Obama Administration announced yesterday that it will no longer defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act that was enacted by Congress and signed into law in 1996.

This law in particular has implications for the good of society as a whole.  Marriage between one man and one woman, ordained by God, is the primary building block for a healthy society and must be maintained for the culture to flourish.

I cannot help but think that a significant contributor to current attitudes toward marriage began with the acceptance of contraception by many in the Western world.  At the 1930 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Church was the first to break with years of Christian tradition that upheld the dangers of separating the sexual act from its life-giving potential, thereby sanctioning the use of artificial contraceptives.

Other Christian traditions soon followed suit, and although the Catholic Church has always maintained that contraception is a moral evil, many individual Catholics have chosen to break with the Church on this crucial teaching, with devastating consequences for the Church and society.

Since much of our culture no longer considers openness to life to be a constitutive part of the marital act, and since many no longer consider God as the author of marriage, anything goes.  We have seen the societal effects of this in the ravages of divorce, sexual exploitation, abortion and broken lives.  If the family – the cornerstone of every society – is to flourish, we must pray that God will guide our culture back to a proper respect for marriage and human sexuality.

Further, the President has a sworn Constitutional duty to see to it that the laws of the land are faithfully executed. When a President begins to pick and choose which laws should or should not be enforced or upheld, the entire country should not only be concerned, but alarmed.

Here is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ response to the President’s decision:


WASHINGTON – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issues the following from its Office of General Counsel:

“Marriage has been understood for millennia and across cultures as the union of one man and one woman.  Today, the President has instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law reiterating that definition of marriage, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic President just fifteen years ago.  The principal basis for today’s decision is that the President considers the law a form of impermissible sexual orientation discrimination.

“This decision represents an abdication of the responsibility of the Executive Branch to carry out its constitutional obligation to ensure that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed.  It is also a grave affront to the millions of Americans who both reject unjust discrimination and affirm the unique and inestimable value of marriage as between one man and one woman.  Support for actual marriage is not bigotry, but instead an eminently reasonable, common judgment affirming the foundational institution of civil society.  Any suggestion by the government that such a judgment represents “discrimination” is a serious threat to the religious liberty of marriage supporters nationwide.”

February 23, 2011

Anthony R. Picarello, Jr.

General Counsel

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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