Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Little Rock Diocese filed an amicus brief September 15 with the Arkansas Supreme Court urging the court to uphold the state’s 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
“The Diocese’s support for the established meaning of marriage arises from an affirmative view of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy state of matrimony,” Bishop Taylor’s brief said. “And not from animosity toward anyone.”
“The brief argues that an affirmation of marriage between a man and a woman (the traditional definition) is not based on hatred, bigotry, or fear of people with homosexual inclinations,” Father Jason Tyler, spokesman for the Diocese of Little Rock, told LifeSiteNews.
A county judge had declared the amendment on marriage, which passed with the approval of 75-percent of Arkansas voters, as unconstitutional in May of this year.
In a statement in response at the time, Bishop Taylor identified the ruling as an opportunity to “offer the insights of the Catholic Church to each side of this contentious issue, as well as a way forward consistent with the teaching of Jesus Christ.”
He said in the May statement that the Diocese of Little Rock was preparing the friend of the court brief “to counter the flawed reasoning and conclusions in civil law contained” in the ruling striking down the marriage-affirming amendment.
“Our defense of traditional marriage is rooted in natural law and in values held in common through the ages independent of religious conviction, including but not limited to the complementarity of the sexes, the need for procreation, and the stable family as a building block of society,” Bishop Taylor said. “In other words, far from being an attempt to impose religiously-inspired morality on the rest of society, the defense of traditional marriage is a defense of the fundamental morality on which society is based.”
This is not a civil rights issue as some would construe it, the bishop said. Rather, it is a matter of the fundamental building blocks of our society. He also confirmed that defense of marriage should not be taken as a lack of concern for the genuine well-being of all people including homosexuals.
Continuing in this vein with the September amicus filing, Bishop Taylor reconfirmed Church teaching and revisited its defense.
“In the eyes of the Diocese and the entire Catholic Church, each and every human person, regardless of sexual orientation, has dignity and worth that derives from his or her Creator,” he said. “As such, the assertion that that opposition to same-sex marriage is simply animus against persons who experience same-sex attraction is erroneous and inconsistent with the core beliefs of the Diocese and the Catholic Church.”
“Furthermore,” said Bishop Taylor, “casting such aspersions on those who oppose the redefinition of marriage only serves to suppress rational dialogue and democratic conversation.”
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The bishop dismissed the assertion by the trial court and others that Arkansas’s marriage laws equate to state recognition of a particular religious faith.
“That religious considerations may have informed legislators’ and voters’ viewpoints does not render Arkansas’s marriage laws invalid,” he said. “Any more than laws related to poverty, healthcare, or the death penalty would be rendered invalid when informed in part by religious considerations.”
In urging the court to defer to the definition of marriage duly enacted by the Arkansas legislature and approved by the state’s voters, the brief stated that Arkansas marriage laws easily survive rational-base scrutiny and detailed the unique nature of opposite-sex unions, including the capacity to procreate and the value of children being raised by their biological mother and father together.
“Bishop Taylor's amicus brief argues that marriage is a unique bond of a man and a woman because the man-woman union is uniquely capable of producing children naturally, and those children are best raised in a home with a loving mother and father,” Father Tyler told LifeSiteNews. “Furthermore, the man-woman relationship is unique precisely because of the complementarity of the sexes.”
The Arkansas attorney general asked the state’s high court to uphold the state’s definition of marriage the same day Bishop Taylor’s amicus brief was filed, arguing that it was written into the state constitution in 2004 when voters approved the amendment affirming the definition of marriage, thus meaning the amendment cannot violate the state constitution.
Controversy followed the May overturning of Arkansas’s marriage amendment, with hundreds of same-gender couples filing for marriage licenses and county clerks throughout the state refusing to provide them until the Supreme Court affirmed the ruling.