New Mexico court, federal judge in Utah recognize same-sex marriage

Categories: Nation/World

Jan. 3, 2014, edition
By Catholic News Service

A federal judge Dec. 20 struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, arguing it violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

A day earlier the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from marrying violates the equal protection clause of that state’s constitution.

In a Dec. 23 statement issued in Washington, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage said both the court and judge “imposed a wrong decision about the meaning of marriage onto the people of their respective states.”

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone quoted Blessed John Paul II, who said: “Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong, and are at the mercy of those with the power to ‘create’ opinion and impose it on others.”

In Utah, Bishop John C. Wester of the statewide Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City said while some see U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby’s decision “as a joyful moment” in the debate on “the definition of marriage in our society,” others “see it as an affront to an institution that is at once sacred and natural.” “As Catholics, we seek to defend the traditional, well-established and divinely revealed reality of the marriage covenant between one man and one woman, a permanent and exclusive bond meant to provide a nurturing environment for children and the fundamental building block to a just society,” he said in a statement.

In response to the Dec. 19 court ruling in New Mexico, the state’s Catholic bishops said they “recognize the New Mexico Supreme Court as the interpreter of the state constitution.”

“The Catholic Church respects and loves the gay and lesbian members of our community. We will continue to promote Catholic teaching of the biblical definition of marriage to be that of one man and one woman,” they said.

New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward L. Chavez wrote: “We hold that the state of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.”

Under the New Mexico court ruling, there is a provision allowing clergy who disagree with same-sex marriage to decline to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.