Despite several narrow defeats at the ballot box on Nov. 6, marriage defenders say they remain dedicated to promoting and protecting the most fundamental social institution as the union of one man and one woman.
“Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.
“Marriage is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback,” he explained in a Nov. 7 statement. “There is much work to do, and we begin that process now.”
Voters in three states – Maine, Maryland and Washington – were faced with Nov. 6 ballot measures on the legal recognition of “gay marriage.” In Minnesota, voters were asked whether or not the state constitution should say marriage is only between a man and a woman.
In each case, the people appear to have voted against marriage as it has traditionally been understood.
This election marked the first time that voters in any state approved a redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. Previously, voters had affirmed marriage as the union of one man and one woman in each of the 32 instances in which the issue was put before the people.
Brown argued that “(t)he election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.”
He reported that despite gathering record-breaking contributions, the National Organization for Marriage was still heavily outspent by opponents and attacked by both sitting governors and the media.
The fact that marriage defenders were able to come within a close margin of winning the liberal states attests to the truth that “Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” he said.
In Maine, voters passed Question 1, a ballot measure to redefine marriage to include homosexual couples, reversing a similar 2009 referendum that was narrowly defeated.
With 90 percent of precincts reporting, support for redefining marriage held a 53-47 percent lead.
Bishop Richard J. Malone, apostolic administrator of Portland, Maine, said that he was “deeply disappointed” by the vote but thanked Catholics “who did not abandon Catholic teachings on the nature of marriage.”
“I trust that those who voted for such a radical change did so out of concern for our brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attraction,” the bishop said in a Nov. 7 statement.
“Respect and acceptance of all people regardless of sexual orientation is not a point of controversy,” he noted. “It is a teaching of the Church, but so is the authentic meaning and definition of marriage.”
The Church remains committed to both respect for basic human rights and the preservation of marriage, Bishop Malone stressed.
A “same-sex marriage” referendum was narrowly approved by Maryland voters, passing by a 52-48 percent margin, with 99 percent of precincts tallied.
State legislators had already passed a bill to legalize “same-sex marriage” in March 2012. However, an amendment added to the law to make it successful in the legislature delayed it from taking effect until Jan. 2013, allowing time for marriage defenders to put the issue up for a vote on the November ballot.
Among the referendum’s strongest critics were African American leaders, who rallied their communities in opposition to the measure in recent weeks, narrowing the gap of support in the polls.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore has warned that a redefinition of marriage threatens the religious freedom of Catholic individuals and organizations who disagree with changing the meaning of the fundamental social institution.
“Regrettably, Marylanders decided by the narrowest of margins not to repeal the law that redefines marriage,” a Nov. 7statement from the Maryland Catholic Conference said.
“The ballot language they encountered masked the fact that this law does not simply assign civil benefits to gay and lesbian couples, but drastically dismantles in our state law the fundamental family unit of mother, father and child,” the group noted.
Its members said that they will work vigilantly to ensure that the freedom of religious institutions is upheld as the law goes into effect on Jan. 1.
In Minnesota, voters rejected a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to the union of one man and one woman. This definition of marriage is currently reflected in state law, but the proposed amendment would have reaffirmed it in the state’s constitution.
The amendment was narrowly defeated by a 51-48 margin, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
Jim Accurso, manager of media and public relations for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, explained that while the amendment’s defeat is “a very serious concern,” it will not prevent the Church from pursuing the common good and serving the community.
In a Nov. 7 statement, Accurso explained that the Church’s defense of marriage is motivated by an understanding that “the good of society is best served by maintaining the traditional understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”
It is this same common good that is pursued when the Church seeks “economic justice, healthcare and immigration reform, and the defense of human life and dignity from conception to natural death,” he said, reaffirming the archdiocese’s commitment to support these principles and strengthen marriage in the future.
Voters in Washington state appear to have approved a referendum affirming a law to redefine marriage in the state.
A bill to legalize “same-sex marriage” was passed by state legislators in February and was scheduled to go into effect in June. However, opponents of the bill gathered enough signatures to suspend the law until a statewide voter referendum had been conducted.
As the votes continued to be tallied into the evening of Nov. 7, it appeared that the citizens of the state had passed Referendum 74 to uphold the law by a 52-48 margin, allowing it to take effect on Dec. 6.
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle expressed disappointment, saying, “This change in civil law is not in the best interest of children or society.”
However, he continued, the debate over the law offered “an opportunity for the Church to reaffirm its consistent teaching on marriage” and is “a starting point for a long-term effort to educate Catholics about its meaning and purpose.”
“The Church offers a vision of marriage and family life that enriches our communities and society,” the archbishop said, “and we remain committed to that vision while respecting the dignity of all persons.”