US Catholic Bishops: Oregon marriage ruling a travesty of justice


USCCB Subcommittee Chairman Calls Decisions in Oregon and Pennsylvania Travesties of Justice

  • Archbishop Cordileone says marriage, democracy, children deserve better
  • Says state attorneys general were derelict in their duties
  • Reiterates that authentic marriage is the union of one man and one woman

WASHINGTON–Responding to the ruling by the federal court in Oregon striking down the state’s voter-approved marriage amendment and the ruling by the federal court in Pennsylvania striking down portions of that state’s domestic relations code, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said, “We stand in solidarity with the Oregon and Pennsylvania Catholic Conferences and all the people of both states. These court decisions are travesties of justice.” 

The federal court decisions in Oregon, May 19, and Pennsylvania, May 20, join a series of federal court decisions since last December striking down state marriage laws recognizing marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“Children deserve a mother and a father, and marriage is the only institution that unites children to their own moms and dads,” the Archbishop said. “We need policies and laws that encourage strong, permanent and faithful marriages, and that help young people marry before having children. The ruling in Oregon is another unfortunate example of a serious step backward, but no one is really surprised. As the Oregon Catholic Conference indicated, the state attorney general was derelict in her duties by refusing to defend a law she swore to uphold. Moreover, she even argued against the marriage amendment. Thus, no one defended the law in court. Is this justice, or just a farce?”

“The Pennsylvania Attorney General was also derelict in her duties by refusing to defend the state’s marriage laws and making public comments against them. Fortunately, other state officials decided to defend the state’s marriage laws in federal court,” said Archbishop Cordileone. “However, the judge concluded his opinion by saying that it is time to take marriage laws like those under attack in Pennsylvania and ‘discard them into the ash heap of history.’ This is a reckless and irresponsible statement. Marriage deserves better, our democracy deserves better, and our children deserve better.”

In the afternoon of May 21, Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania announced that the state would not appeal the federal court’s decision.

The statement by the Oregon Catholic Conference is available here

The statement by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is available here.