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US Bishops Critical of Obama Administration’s Reversal on Marriage Law

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The U.S. bishops’ Office of General Counsel has charged the Obama Administration with abdicating its “constitutional obligation to ensure that laws of the United States are faithfully executed.” The statement released by Mr. Anthony Picarello, Jr., General Counsel for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) came as a result of President Obama’s decision to no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges.

The federal law that upholds marriage as the union of one man and one woman was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. The Act mandates that no state must recognize a same-sex marriage from another state. In his statement, Mr. Picarello said President Obama’s decision is based on the President considering the law a form of discrimination. The General Counsel added, “Any representation by the government that such a ‘judgment’ represents discrimination is a serious threat to the religious liberty of marriage supporters nationwide.”

Statement by USCCB General Counsel:

“Marriage has been understood for millennia and across cultures as the union of one man and one woman. Today, the President has instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law reiterating that definition of marriage, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic President just fifteen years ago. The principal basis for today’s decision is that the President considers the law a form of impermissible sexual orientation discrimination.

“This decision represents an abdication of the responsibility of the Executive Branch to carry out its constitutional obligation to ensure that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed. It is also a grave affront to the millions of Americans who both reject unjust discrimination and affirm the unique and inestimable value of marriage as between one man and one woman. Support for actual marriage is not bigotry, but instead an eminently reasonable, common judgment affirming the foundational institution of civil society. Any suggestion by the government that such a judgment represents “discrimination” is a serious threat to the religious liberty of marriage supporters nationwide.”

February 23, 2011

Anthony R. Picarello, Jr.
General Counsel
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops