The U.S. bishops’ leader on defense of marriage issues is calling for prayer and a “renewed culture of marriage” in light of recent votes against preserving the meaning of the institution in four states.
“In a society marked by increasing poverty and family fragmentation, marriage needs to be strengthened, promoted, and defended, not redefined,” said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, who chairs the bishops’ subcommittee on defending marriage.
In a Nov. 7 statement, the archbishop explained that the previous day’s election “was a disappointing day for marriage,” as efforts to preserve marriage’s unique meaning in law lost narrowly after being vastly outspent by opponents.
Voters in four states were faced with ballot measures involving the definition of marriage on Nov. 6. For the first time in U.S. history, “gay marriage” was approved by a vote of the people rather than by legislators or a court decision. Previously, marriage as the union of one man and one woman had been affirmed by voters in 32 states.
In both Maryland and Washington state, lawmakers had recently passed bills to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. However, opponents of both bills gathered enough signatures to put the laws before the people in a referendum before they went into effect.
Maryland voters narrowly approved the law to redefine marriage, and while votes in Washington are still being confirmed, it is projected that the referendum succeeded there as well.
In Minnesota, voters rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have protected the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. This definition of marriage is currently enshrined in state law, but the constitutional amendment would have given it further security.
Maine activists seeking to redefine marriage were able to put forward a referendum to reverse the people’s 2009 vote to protect marriage. That effort succeeded, and the state will soon begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.