From the Office of Communications
A federal appeals court’s ruling that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional is “a fundamental misunderstanding of the intrinsic nature of marriage and is an injustice to Virginia voters,” said Virginia’s two Catholic bishops.
WTOP reported that a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled July 28 that state constitutional and statutory provisions barring gay marriage and denying recognition of such unions performed in other states violate the U.S. Constitution. The Virginia gay marriage case is one of several that could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde and Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo said in a statement released after the ruling they “once again affirm what our 2,000-year-old faith teaches: that all men and women are endowed by our Creator with equal dignity and worth.
“We maintain that those with same-sex attractions must be treated with respect and sensitivity,” they said. “However, by rejecting the state amendment, which affirms marriage as the unique institution between one man and one woman, the Court seeks to redefine an age-old institution, rooted in natural law, and extend a right that does not — and cannot — exist between people of the same sex.”
The bishops said that marriage has survived for countless generations because it uniquely benefits the common good by recognizing the union of two different but complementary individuals – that is a man and a woman – who, by their union, may create a family.
“Indeed, by its very nature this institution is ordered toward the regeneration and survival of the human race. For that reason Virginia’s constitution rightly recognizes the unique contributions marriage – the union of one man and one woman – makes to children and to the common good.”
The bishops said they will continue to affirm the truth about marriage, the lifelong union of one man and one woman, as well as the importance of marriage to the common good.
“As pastors, teachers and faith leaders, we can do nothing less,” they said. “We will continue to fight this unjust ruling.”
Circuit Court Judge Henry F. Floyd said he recognized that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life,” he said.
Floyd was joined in his majority ruling by Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory. Their colleague Paul V. Niemeyer dissented and called the ruling “fundamentally flawed.”
The ruling upholds a decision by District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen. It won’t take effect for 21 days to allow for a request for a rehearing or a stay. It was not immediately clear if or when the state would need to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The Virginia case is unusual because state Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) announced shortly after taking office this year that he agreed with the challengers that the state’s restrictions are unconstitutional.
In 2006, Virginians voted 57 percent to 43 percent to approve the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Virginia laws also prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.
To see the statement in full, visit the Virginia Catholic Conference’s website here.