The seven Catholic bishops of New Jersey (including the Byzantine Catholic bishop) have issued a very strong statement in defense of marriage. It begins:
Marriage as a union of a man and a woman has its roots in natural law. Throughout all of human history marriage has been held to be a union of man and woman. Marriage as a union of man and woman existed long before any nation, religion or law was established. Marriage which unites mothers and fathers in the work of childrearing is the foundation of the family, and the family is the basic unit of society.
Sadly, the institution of marriage is being challenged by a society so concerned with individual freedom that some view marriage as a temporary or disposable convenience. Now, there is even an attempt in the New Jersey Legislature to pass a law that would change the very definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
As citizens, we must protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Same-sex unions may represent a new and a different type of institution, but it is not marriage and should not be treated as marriage.
What can you do to help protect marriage? Today, we ask all people of good will to do three simple things. First, pray for all married couples and all families. Second, reflect on this important question, “How can I help my family and the families I touch to grow in hope, love, peace and joy.” Third, we ask everyone to reach out to your neighbors, your legislators and the governor with a simple message: “Preserve the definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.”
Why should citizens care about the state’s definition of marriage?
Citizens must care about the government’s treatment of marriage because civil authorities are charged with protecting children and the common good, and marriage is indispensable to both purposes. Citizens have the right and the responsibility to hold civil authorities accountable for their stewardship of the institution of marriage. Citizens also have the responsibility to oppose laws and policies that unjustly target people as bigots or that subject people to charges of unlawful discrimination simply because they believe and teach that marriage is the union of man and a woman.