An Amendment to Protect Traditional Marriage?: Archbishop Cordileone Seeks Constitutional Change

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone

A marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution "would secure in law throughout the country the basic truth known to reason that marriage is the union of one man and one woman," said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone.

In a Feb. 19 letter, he urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Marriage Protection Amendment, a joint resolution sponsored by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., and introduced last August.


The archbishop, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, urged other House members to co-sponsor the measure.

To amend the U.S. Constitution, it must be approved by two-thirds of the House and the U.S. Senate and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

"An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the only remedy in law against this judicial activism that may ultimately end with federal judges declaring that the U.S. Constitution requires states, and consequently the federal government, to redefine marriage," the archbishop wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Huelskamp.

Archbishop Cordileone was referring to recent federal court decisions striking down a number of state marriage laws.

One of the most recent was a Feb. 13 ruling by a federal judge that struck down Virginia's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen stayed her ruling to allow an appeal to be filed, so same-sex marriage licenses will not be granted immediately.

In recent months, decisions similar to Wright Allen's have been handed down by federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma. On Feb. 12, a federal judge ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or other countries; a Kentucky couple sued the state Feb. 14 to force the state to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Similar lawsuits have been filed in Alabama and Louisiana.

Catholic and other opponents of same-sex marriage point to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor that found the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional but also required the federal government to respect the primacy of the states in defining marriage.

Archbishop Cordileone wrote that "just as Roe v. Wade mandated a constitutional right to abortion throughout the country, we now have the possibility of another bad decision mandating a constitutional change in the meaning of marriage in order to promote (at least to begin with) 'marriages' between two people of the same sex throughout the country."

He told Huelskamp the proposed Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is "a needed remedy."

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Roberto Blum
4 years 11 months ago
This bishop's proposal goes squarely against Francis' suggestion to stop focusing on public policy subjects like homosexuality or gay marriage. Let Catholics decide whether they'll follow Church teachings or not. San Francisco's archbishop Cordileone should state clearly to his congregation Church doctrine but not meddle in matters that many others, Catholics included, don't agree.
Edward Burton
4 years 11 months ago
Underlying many of these disputes is a factual question: is sexual orientation genetically controlled, child abuse generated, or voluntary? If all three of these potential sources of orientation are valid, should we treat these folks differently accordingly? if two are valid, should we treat these folks differently accordingly? If we assume orientation to be genetic or otherwise involuntary, is there any reason on earth we should not let two such people find comfort and companionship for life? and if not, is there any reason we should not extend to them legal protection as offense and defense, i.e. any reason that they should not have the same opportunities and rights as any heterosexual couple? It's about time we put to an end conflicting assumptions of why people are gay/lesbian, and satisfy ourselves through the scientific method what the truth(s) of the matter is (are).
Marie Rehbein
4 years 10 months ago
What a way to waste his time and, probably, diocesan funds than to try to amend the Constitution. It's as if he has no understanding of how much more difficult amending the Constitution is than making local laws is. And, yes, this does go against the pope's advice to not overemphasize these types of divisive issues.
Vince Killoran
4 years 10 months ago
I thought this was a spoof a la THE ONION. An archbishop initiating legislation?! I agree with the previous comment, i.e., this is a waste of time and resources (and it will never pass).
4 years 10 months ago
Without malice or ill-intent, the inescapable fact is that Archbishop Cordileone is a grandstanding moron. The, also inescapable, fact that more than 1/4 of the states have already amended their constitutions to permit some variant of same-sex marriage or civil unions makes this effort a fools errand--funded by the poor people of, ironically, San Francisco. This is nothing more than a PR campaign by, yet another, egomaniacal "prelate."
Anne Chapman
4 years 10 months ago
The archbishop also ignores the fact that it is not just "judicial activism" that is leading to changes in state laws. In many states the question has been put to the voters and the voters have approved legal changes to permit same-sex marriage. This occurred in Maryland a year ago. The legislation was proposed by the Catholic governor, brought to the state legislature by a Catholic where it was approved, against heavy lobbying by the bishops who applied extra heavy pressure on the Governor and Catholic members of the legislature. After the law was approved, those who opposed legalization mounted a petition drive to get enough signatures to bring it to a vote in the general election. The voters of Maryland also supported changing the law.
James Lawton
4 years 10 months ago
Playing politics with tax exempt donations is a good way to lose the exemption. It's also why I can no longer donate to my local parish.
German Otalora
4 years 10 months ago
Much better, charitable and understanding all the comments than archbishop Cordileone proposal. Maybe it is only the picture, but the attire of Monsignor, his cuff links and French cuffs... all of this does not speak of a poor Church committed to the poor... and there are plenty of in San Francisco.
George Mayorga
4 years 10 months ago
"Salvatore...Build bridges, not walls within the Body of Christ...Travel to the periphery of your flock and smell like them...Listen to their hurt, offer healing for their pain...Go particularly to the LGBT Catholic community and ask for forgiveness...Put your hands into their wounds and feel their pain from your divisive words--only then will you learn to love them...Stop feeding your ego pursuing a political agenda which divides those whom you are called to serve... Become a servant to all of your people (ALL---that includes LGBT)....They need you to speak of God's unique and individual love for them...We pray for you, with love and forgiveness."
Jim Brunner
4 years 10 months ago
George, I am overwhelmed by your comment. If I were given a thousand years I couldn't do my feelings justice, better than your statement. Thank you very much. To add another amendment to our Constitution "protecting traditional marriage" is counter productive. We will always have traditional marriage. We will also have same sex marriages. Both types of marriage don't necessarily have to be within the Church. One can be religious, where the Church can make up any rules they choose for qualification for marriage. The other, can be a civil ceremony, where civil law can make up the rules. That seems to me to be the most logical solution to this problem. The situation people within the Church, along with the Mormon church, caused within the State of California recently, was dispicable, bringing much animosity towards both of these religious bodies. Let's use this opportunity to update the Church and bring it into the twentyfirst century. We have many.......too many, fish to fry without getting ourselves involved in a useless exercise that will not add to the Church, but take away from it. For instance, the Mormon church has now embarked on a "War against masturbation," which will bring much mockery and laughter towards them, but that is their problem. To work on a fight to create a Constitutional amendment, would be, to most people of the world, a sinful waste of time!
4 years 10 months ago
Quite frankly, I'm more concerned with the judicial activism that gave corporations more freedom of speech than "We The People." As for the archbishop, he sounds more like a shill for Koch Industries than a priest of the Catholic Church.
chuck thomas
4 years 10 months ago
I agree with your assessment. The church hierarchy seems to be using every opportunistic means to advance a political agenda to force Catholic doctrine into our public policy mainstream. JFK promised in 1960 that he would not allow any prelate or ecclesiastical office to dictate public policy--and that he was personally committed to the separation of church and state. There was never any censure or criticism from any of the church hierarchy. Are his beliefs any less valid or relevant now that a non-Catholic president professes them? The bishops have to release their death grip on the notion that they have to punish Barack Obama for embracing gay marriage. That's what it is all about.
John Campbell
4 years 10 months ago
This just adds another brick in the irrelevance wall - trying to use heavy handed western style law and courts rather than provide (including adequate funding) for the human needs of all. Like firing pregnant unmarried teachers and denying labor fair wages and benefits, it makes the church an active instrument of suffering.
John Campbell
4 years 10 months ago
This just adds another brick in the irrelevance wall - trying to use heavy handed western style law and courts rather than provide (including adequate funding) for the human needs of all. Like firing pregnant unmarried teachers and denying labor fair wages and benefits, it makes the church an active instrument of suffering of people with whom we should be building the reign of God. We must continue to pray for our bishops..
Frank Bergen
4 years 10 months ago
Has the good archbishop been on Saturday Night Live lately? Has he yet met with my Jesuit brother Francis, Bishop of Rome? Was he promoted by the self-nominated Pope Emeritus? Isn't it too bad such appointments don't, like those of US cabinet members, expire with the term of the appointing president? Wouldn't an American hierarch wanting to contribute to the constitutional life of these United States do far, far better to espouse the cause of the 28th Amendment proposed in America's February 25, 2013 issue? More immediately and practically, why doesn't Cordileone direct his clergy to refrain from acting for the State of California by signing marriage licenses and let them just provide the blessing of the church to those couples whose marital intentions the church wishes to sanction?


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