The recent Iowa Supreme Court decision striking down Iowa’s marriage law has brought forward a great deal of discussion on the nature of marriage and its relationship to society. Our support of a “defense of marriage” amendment also raises questions about how we can be a church that models God’s love for each and every person, and at the same time support a legislative measure which would limit marriage to the union of only one man and one woman.
We are convinced that the passage of this amendment is important for the following reasons.
First, the institution of marriage as a union between one man and one woman goes back to the beginning of recorded human history. Marriage between a man and a woman is a good from the perspectives of both natural law and our Catholic faith. Same-sex marriage, on the other hand, is a creation of the state (or, just of its judiciary) and will likely open the door to redefining additional relationships as marriage, such as polygamy. A constitutional amendment is the best available legal means to protect the traditional understanding of marriage from a redefinition by the judiciary.
Secondly, we affirm that marriage is a gift from God which is essential to the stability of family and society. Society has chosen to protect and promote marriage because of its unique contribution to the common good. For example, marriage between a man and a woman supports responsible behavior in the care of children. Children who are raised by a married father and mother have more positive outcomes, including behavioral and educational accomplishments.
Thirdly, unfortunately, in recent decades, cohabitation and divorce laws have already contributed to a weakening of marriage. This has tended to harm women and children in particular. Usually, children do better physically, emotionally and financially if they are in a stable family relationship of father/mother (husband/wife).
Fourthly, social engineering by judges or legislatures adds to the confusion about the good that marriage offers to society, and weakens the critical relationship between marriage and parenting.
Therefore, we call on Catholics and other citizens of Iowa to reflect carefully on the real social cost of this judicial imposition, and to support the need for a constitutional amendment. We affirm that this is the best way for Iowans to support the ideal of marriage as the stable union of one man and one woman.
Most Rev. Jerome Hanus, OSB, Archbishop of Dubuque
Most Rev. R. Walker Nickless, Bishop of Sioux City
Most Rev. Martin Amos, Bishop of Davenport
Most Rev. Richard Pates, Bishop of Des Moines