ROCKFORD -- The issue of same-sex marriage is pitting Illinois Democrats against the state's Catholic diocese. In letters sent out today, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin urged state legislators to pass same-sex marriage legislation, while Rockford Diocese BishopReverend David J. Malloy wrote local Catholics urging them to tell their state represenatives to oppose it.
Durbin wrote in an open letter to General Assembly members, "I believe those whom God has brought to this Earth with a different sexual orientation and who seek a loving relationship in the eyes of the law should be given that opportunity. I urge you to vote for Marriage Equality in Illinois ..."
Rev. Malloy counters that while Catholics "respect the human dignity of every person as created in the image and likeness of God ...," he sees the bill as an attack on religious freedom. "If such a bill is passed," he writes, "individuals and our own religious institutions will face pressures to treat both same-sex marriage and traditional marriage as equally legitimate options, in violation of our deeply held beliefs and convictions. In short, this will be another step toward the curtailment of religious freedom."
You can read the full text of each letter below.
I don't often write to express my position on issues before the General Assembly. But as a citizen of this Land of Lincoln I want to be clearly on record in regard to an issue of historic importance.
I believe those whom God has brought to this Earth with a different sexual orientation and who seek a loving relationship in the eyes of the law should be given that opportunity.
I urge you to vote for Marriage Equality in Illinois so that our state can be part of the emerging national consensus on this issue of justice.
In America every religion has a right to establish standards for its members and to express its position on moral issues for consideration by its faithful and others. This law would not change that and no religion, including my own Catholic faith, would be mandated to bless same-sex marriages.
Two years ago at the ceremony when President Obama signed the law repealing "Don't ask, don't tell", a Jewish Rabbi gave a memorable invocation. He said when you look into the eyes of another if you don't see the face of God at least see the face of another human being.
Every generation is given a chance to put an end to some form of discrimination in America. As you consider this historic vote, I hope you will reflect on those you will meet after it is cast. An affirmative vote will give you a chance to look into the eyes of those who have faced discrimination throughout their lives and tell them that you voted to affirm their rights under the law.
My own views on this issue have evolved over the years and as I reflect on my support for marriage equality, I have concluded that ending this discrimination is consistent with the evolution of civil rights in our democracy - a process served so nobly by a former member of the Illinois General Assembly, Abraham Lincoln.
Thank you for your service to our state.
- United States Senator Dick Durbin
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
I am taking the exceptional step of addressing you at all of the parish Masses this weekend. I do so because there is a danger before us that is exceptional. According to press reports, the Illinois State Legislature is taking up a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in our state under the misleading title, The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. At issue here is not a political or a policy question, but a fundamental statement about society itself. We need to be alerted to this danger.
Our Catholic faith is rooted in the words of Christ and the Sacred Scriptures. It reminds us that marriage itself is a life-long covenant that can take place only between a man and a woman. This is because it provides the context for the physical and personal complementarity that we all recognize between male and female. In addition, it is the natural basis for the conception and raising of children who have a right to recognize their parents whose unity is their source and origin. Same-sex unions will not and cannot accomplish that. Traditional marriage concepts are not restricted to Catholicism or even to religious faith. They have been understood and embraced throughout history as the basis of human interaction.
The current effort to redefine marriage in the State of Illinois, whether it is intended to do so or not, undermines marriage as a fundamental element of society. It cannot be simply understood as a different way of looking at things that is part of the normal societal diversity to which we have become accustomed.
The redefinition of marriage would have other profound consequences as well. For example, the equation of same-sex marriage to traditional marriage opens the door to the imposition on consciences concerning our ability to teach and to live fully our Catholic faith. If such a bill is passed, individuals and our own religious institutions will face pressures to treat both same-sex marriage and traditional marriage as equally legitimate options, in violation of our deeply held beliefs and convictions. In short, this will be another step toward the curtailment of religious freedom.
Defense of the nature of marriage is not some form of long standing discrimination or bigotry. Our Catholic faith teaches us to love our brother and sisters; all of them. We respect the human dignity of every person as created in the image and likeness of God. But we must, at the same time, respect and support the protection of the fundamental human relationship that confirms the complementary nature that we bear. That is, marriage as an exclusive commitment between a man and a woman.
I urge you to visit the Illinois Catholic Conference website at www.ilcatholic.org to learn how to contact your state legislators and let them know of your opposition to this proposed legislation.
With gratitude to you and the promise of my prayers, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend David J. Malloy