Why can marriage
exist only between a man and a woman? The natural structure of human sexuality
makes man and woman complementary partners for the transmission of human life.
Only a union of male and female can express the sexual complementarity willed
by God for marriage. The permanent and exclusive commitment of marriage is the
necessary context for the expression of sexual love intended by God both to serve
the transmission of human life and to build up the bond between husband and wife.
In marriage, husband and wife give themselves
totally to each other in their masculinity and femininity. They are equal as human
beings but different as man and woman, fulfilling each other through this natural
difference. This unique complementarity makes possible the conjugal bond that
is the core of marriage.
Why is a
same-sex union not equivalent to a marriage? For several reasons, a same-sex
union contradicts the nature of marriage: It is not based on the natural complementarity
of male and female; it cannot cooperate with God to create new life; and the natural
purpose of sexual union cannot be achieved by a same-sex union. Persons in same-sex
unions cannot enter into a true conjugal union. Therefore, it is wrong to equate
their relationship to a marriage.
is it so important to society that marriage be preserved as the exclusive union
of a man and a woman? Across times, cultures, and very different religious
beliefs, marriage is the foundation of the family. The family, in turn, is the
basic unit of society. Thus, marriage is a personal relationship with public significance.
Marriage is the fundamental pattern for
male-female relationships. It contributes to society because it models the way
in which women and men live interdependently and commit, for the whole of life,
to seek the good of each other.
union also provides the best conditions for raising children: namely, the stable,
loving relationship of a mother and father present only in marriage. The state
rightly recognizes this relationship as a public institution in its laws because
the relationship makes a unique and essential contribution to the common good.
Laws play an educational role insofar
as they shape patterns of thought and behavior, particularly about what is socially
permissible and acceptable. In effect, giving same-sex unions the legal status
of marriage would grant official public approval to homosexual activity and would
treat it as if it were morally neutral.
marriage is redefined so as to make other relationships equivalent to it, the
institution of marriage is devalued and further weakened. The weakening of this
basic institution at all levels and by various forces has already exacted too
high a social cost.
Does denying marriage
to homosexual persons demonstrate unjust discrimination and a lack of respect
for them as persons? It is not unjust to deny legal status to same-sex unions
because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. In fact,
justice requires society to do so.
uphold God's intent for marriage, in which sexual relations have their proper
and exclusive place, is not to offend the dignity of homosexual persons. Christians
must give witness to the whole moral truth and oppose as immoral both homosexual
acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons.
Catechism of the Catholic Church urges that homosexual persons "be accepted with
respect, compassion, and sensitivity." It also encourages chaste friendships.
"Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one's neighbor. Whether
it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents
a great good for all."
who live in same-sex relationships be entitled to some of the same social and
economic benefits given to married couples? The state has an obligation to
promote the family, which is rooted in marriage. Therefore, it can justly give
married couples rights and benefits it does not extend to others. Ultimately,
the stability and flourishing of society is dependent on the stability and flourishing
of healthy family life.
The legal recognition
of marriage, including the benefits associated with it, is not only about personal
commitment, but also about the social commitment that husband and wife make to
the well-being of society. It would be wrong to redefine marriage for the sake
of providing benefits to those who cannot rightfully enter into marriage.
benefits currently sought by persons in homosexual unions can already be obtained
without regard to marital status. For example, individuals can agree to own property
jointly with another, and they can generally designate anyone they choose to be
a beneficiary of their will or to make health care decisions in case they become