Alaska bishops raise religious liberty concerns after high court legalizes same-sex ‘marriage’

Alaska’s Catholic bishops released a joint statement responding to the U.S. Supreme Court decision June 26 in which the judges ruled 5-4 that same sex marriage is a constitutional right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. The ruling effectively nullifies all state laws upholding marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“Today’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to redefine marriage represents a profound legal turning point in the contemporary and cultural understanding of spouses and family,” stated Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz, Juneau Bishop Edward Burns and Fairbanks Bishop Chad Zielinski in a statement issued by the Alaska Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Alaska.

The press release noted that Alaska’s bishops stand united with Catholic bishops across the nation in opposing the high court’s ruling to force the redefinition of legal marriage across the nation.

The Alaska bishops emphasized their agreement with a statement by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who said, “It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.”

Archbishop Kurtz added: “The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female.”

“Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children,” Archbishop Kurtz continued. “The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home. Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.”

The Alaska bishops noted that while marriage can only take place between a man and a woman, “every human person deserves respect and compassion.”

“The experience of same- sex attraction is a reality that calls for attention, sensitivity and pastoral care,” the Alaska bishops emphasized. “While every person is called to love and deserves to be loved, today’s momentous decision will not change the truth of the church’s teaching on marriage.”

But Alaska’s bishops noted that the court decision to redefine marriage will have “a significant ripple effect upon the first amendment right to religious liberty.”

Specifically they note that the court’s decision “sets the church’s teaching about marriage in opposition to the law and will create inestimable conflicts between the state and religious persons and institutions.”

Despite possible consequences in the weeks and months ahead, the Alaska bishops said they “will continue to preach the truth about marriage and will promote, in the public square” because the truth about marriage “is good for society and our world.”

In Alaska, same-sex couples have been able to legally marry since last October after a federal judge ruled that the state’s constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman violated the U.S. Constitution.

According to a report in the Alaska Dispatch News, securing same-sex “marriage” is just the beginning for gay rights advocates in the state.

The president of ACLU of Alaska, Joshua Decker, told the Dispatch that “the battle isn’t over” and that the next step is to implement non-discrimination laws that apply to workplaces, housing and all public accommodations.

Decker told the Dispatch that he hopes political leaders across Alaska would soon craft local nondiscrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

But defenders of marriage between a man and woman have raised concerns about religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chair of the U.S. bishops’ ad hoc Committee on Religious Liberty told EWTN News that the “free exercise of religion means that we have a right not only to debate it openly in the public square, but to operate our ministries and to live our lives in accordance to the truth about marriage without violence, or being penalized, or losing our tax exemption, or losing our ability to serve the common good through our social services and through education.”
“The Church and its religious organizations serve millions of people with love and attention,” the archbishop said, adding that “it would be a shame to see that jeopardized. It would be a shame to see free exercise swallowed up in this decision.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling effectively overturned a November decision by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld traditional marriage laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Alaska was appealing it’s traditional marriage law but has since dropped the case.

Religious liberty advocates have expressed concern that the court’s ruling will affect thousands of marriage laws on local, state and federal levels.

According to EWTN News, Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. bishops conference, expressed concern that the court ruling could create controversy regarding tax exemptions, employee benefits, employment, and school accreditation for institutions that uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“We’ve seen already many of these disputes emerge in states that have already recognized same-sex marriage. We’ve seen them in states that have aggressive sexual orientation, gender identity, and anti-discrimination laws,” he said.

'Alaska bishops raise religious liberty concerns after high court legalizes same-sex ‘marriage’' have 4 comments

  1. July 2015 @ 12:05 am william cavitt

    A church that does not stand on the word of God is not a religious function but merely an organization no different than the Elks, Moose and Lions clubs. Thank God for our bishops. Teach us the way of salvation. — William Cavitt


  2. June 2015 @ 12:56 am Bill Parks

    When a legal system of a nation goes against God’s will for mankind it creates chaos. For example, since Roe vs Wade we have killed 53 million babies with abortions. Now the chaos has escalated even more with the recent same sex marriage decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
    The Supreme Court has put aside the will of our Supreme Being concerning what constitutes natural marriage. The Supreme Being is our creator and we should follow His precepts found at the very beginning of the Bible and implement them in our legal system and not follow the flawed decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. Right from the beginning of the bible, in the book of Genesis, we read that God in the beginning created first a man (Adam) to exercise dominion over his creation and subsequently a woman (Eve) as man’s “suitable helper” (Genesis 2:18, 20). Then, the inspired writer remarks, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 ESV). This verse sets forth the biblical pattern as it was instituted by God at the beginning: one man is united to one woman in matrimony, and the two form one new natural family. In this regard, “become one flesh” not only refers to the establishment of one new family but also to the husband and wife’s sexual union leading to the procreation of offspring. This, in turn, is in keeping with God’s original command to the first human couple to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion” over all of creation (Genesis 1:28).
    God could not make it more clear. The daily indoctrination Americans received over the past several years from the coercive acting elite left wing media (especially MS/NBC and CNN) which has been vilifying traditional Christians beliefs concerning natural marriage and the liberal ministers that manipulated the minds and misled Christians into believing their deceptive teachings has caused more chaos. Same sex marriage is not from God. Five Catholic adoption agencies were closed for their faith beliefs to not let homosexual men adopt babies (Catholic adoption agencies were forced closed by the state governments in CA, IL, MA, NY and DC) and three states (NM, OR and PA) have fined Christians up to $100,000 for their faith beliefs refusing to participate in same sex weddings by video taping the event. The huge fines constitute cruel and unusual punishment — a sign of growing hatred of traditional Christians in a secularized anti-Christian America.
    Judges and gay activists are deliberately targeting Christian businesses. The size of the fines and using legal force against Catholics to abandon adoption agencies calls for intervention from us with God’s help. Forty percent of the U.S. population (128 million people) are against gay marriage. Let’s utilize this huge people force for stopping the spread of religious persecution by judges and the powerful gay-agenda lobby. We need to pray and we need to ask God to stop this before it is too late. We need a Joan of Arc, a Bishop Sheen or a strong leader like Moses. The church should be publicizing these first signs of serious persecution everyday via media ads. We should object to anti-Christian movements in America. I am on the side of the four dissenting justices concerning this issue. Christians should not be punished for their beliefs in traditional marriage.
    The late Cardinal George of Chicago stated that present Christians will die in their beds, but the next generation of Christians will die in prison and the following one will be executed by the American government. We can’t be silent any longer.
    — Bill Parks


  3. June 2015 @ 10:17 pm Rich McClear

    I am a Unitarian Universalist, before that a member of the United Church of Christ. Both denominations preform same sex marriages. The rules denying same sex couples the right to marry denied those two denominations religious liberty. I view this Supreme Court ruling as increasing religious liberty, allowing churches to practice their beliefs, as long as it does not force another denomination to perform a sacrament that is at variance with its belief. We need to have a discussion of religious freedom, divorced from the emotion of the issue of same sex marriage. We should look at it as a question of whether the ruling will increase religious liberty overall. I believe it will. Thank you for letting me comment and for sending me the Anchor.
    — Rich McClear, Sitka.


    • June 2015 @ 5:12 pm Joan Craft

      What would have stopped them from performing any religious ceremony they want. It would just not be recognized as legal.


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