Two Catholic bishops of the Archdiocese of Seattle have written a letter asking parishioners to take part in a campaign to repeal Washington state’s recently enacted marriage equality law. Calling the effort “critically important,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo argue that denying same-sex couples the rights of marriage does not constitute discrimination since gays and lesbians are inherently “different” from straight relationships:
“Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination,” the bishops claim. “Marriage can only be between a man and a woman because of its unique ends, purpose and place in society. The word ‘marriage’ isn’t simply a label that can be attached to different types of relationships.
“Instead ‘marriage’ reflects a deep reality — the reality of the unique, fruitful, lifelong union that is only possible between a man and a woman. There is nothing else like it, and it can’t be defined or made into something that it isn’t.”
Opponents have until June 6 to collect over 120,000 valid voter signatures to force a referendum on marriage equality. The campaign is being spearheaded by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which has recently come under fire after internal memos revealed its strategy of driving “a wedge between gays and blacks” and manipulating Hispanic voters by making the exclusion of gay people from marriage “a key badge of Latino identity.”
State Sen. Ed Murray (D), a gay Catholic and a sponsor of the law, described the bishop’s call to gather signatures as “fairly reprehensible.” “Here in Olympia, I am watching Republicans press for a budget that takes money from the Disability Lifeline and the emergency food assistance program, yet there is no letter from Catholic bishops or the Catholic Conference stressing the importance of these programs,” he said. “As I read the Gospels, there is a great deal of talk about the poor, and none about homosexuality.”