News Release: Michigan Bishops, National Religious Organizations File Legal Briefs Supporting Michigan Marriage Amendment

Catholics, Mormons, Baptists, Evangelicals and Lutherans Join Effort

May 15, 2014

Editor's Note: Click here to read the MCC legal brief. Click here to read the USCCB legal brief.

(Lansing)—On behalf of the diocesan Catholic bishops in the state, Michigan Catholic Conference late yesterday filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to defend a 2004 voter-approved amendment to the Michigan constitution that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Michigan Marriage Amendment, which nearly 2.7 million voters supported in 2004, was strongly endorsed by the Michigan bishops. The Michigan Catholic Conference brief was filed in support of the state’s effort to appeal a lower court’s ruling that found the Michigan Marriage Amendment unconstitutional.

Also late in the day yesterday, an amicus brief in support of the state’s case was filed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), joined by the National Association of Evangelicals; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

According to Michigan Catholic Conference President and CEO Paul A. Long, “We have made this legal contribution to preserve and promote the time-honored institution of marriage that brings man and woman together in a unique way for children and for the common good. The Catholic Church holds strongly to her teachings that those with same-sex attraction should be treated with respect and sensitivity, and that marriage can only be recognized as the union of one man and one woman. The legal briefs make clear that support for natural marriage does not impugn the dignity that must be afforded to all human persons, regardless of their orientation.”

Below are key points made in the Michigan Catholic Conference brief:

“…Michigan’s citizens did not vote to ban same-sex marriage. They voted to not permit the redefinition of marriage. They voted that marriage will retain its biological requirement of a male-female union rooted not just in tradition but in nature.” (page 2)

“Here, through the power of constitutional initiative reserved to the People of Michigan to directly influence the state’s preeminent government document, Michigan voters reaffirmed the traditional view of marriage. Even assuming the People’s choice reflected only a policy choice that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman, that policy choice cannot, in this action, be cast aside in favor of the ascendant views of a currently popular minority.” (pages 20-21)

“To attribute the People’s rational choice in protecting and promoting this institution, which by its nature is ordered towards our survival, to the mere disapproval or animus toward homosexuality is to disregard the People’s collective wisdom that marriage is for the public good.” (pages 23-24)

Below are key points made by USCCB and national religious organizations in their brief:

“The contention that religious support for husband-wife marriage is rooted in anti-homosexual animus rests on a false portrayal of our beliefs.” (page 11)

“History shows that religion has powerfully contributed to the most formative political movements in our Nation’s development – from the founding of our Nation to the abolition of slavery, the fight for women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement. That religious organizations and people of faith support laws protecting traditional marriage is wholly consistent with this familiar understanding of the place of religion in American public life.” (page 32)

“A common theme has arisen that those who oppose redefining marriage to include same-sex couples are motivated by “anti-gay animus,” whether in the form of unthinking ignorance or actual hostility. Such aspersions, which take carious forms, are often cast at people and institutions of faith. The accusation is false and offensive. It is intended to suppress rational dialogue and democratic conversation, to win by insult and intimidation rather than by persuasion based on reason, experience, and fact. In truth, we support the husband-wife definition of marriage because we believe it is right and good for children, families and society.” (pages 2-3)

On May 7th the Office of Attorney General filed its legal brief in defense of the Michigan Marriage Amendment. Plaintiffs in the case (DeBoer v. Snyder) are expected to file their legal brief in early June. Once briefing has concluded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is expected to set a date for oral arguments.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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