DENVER, March 14, 2013 ( – The archbishop of Denver has warned the passage of a civil unions bill recognizing homosexual partnerships in similar terms to marriage threatens he conscience rights of Coloradans, imperils Catholic charitable efforts, and harms the right of Colorado's children to have a mother and a father.

Yesterday the Colorado House of Representatives voted 39-26 to approve a bill recognizing homosexual civil unions. The legislation, which provides all the rights of marriage, had previously passed the Democrat-dominated Senate in February. It will now go to the desk of Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, who is expected to sign it.

In a statement following its passage, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila said that the legislation “harms families, civil liberties, and the natural rights of all Colorado’s children.”


The bishop said that the legislation has “discarded” the religious liberty of Coloradans, and that it has “dangerously imperiled” the ability of Colorado Catholic charities to provide foster care and adoption services.

Catholic charities in other states that have passed gay “marriage” or civil unions have been forced to shutter their adoption services after being ordered to consider gay couples as adoptive parents.

“Senate Bill 11 is the beginning of an effort to redefine the family in Colorado and to undermine the right of all children to have a mother and a father,” said Archbishop Aquila. “Make no mistake: Civil unions are the first step to redefining marriage and to radically redefining the concept of civil rights.”

The Obama administration cited California's civil unions law in an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn state laws against redefining marriage. The unions, the Justice Department argued, are legally indistinguishable from marriage, a point not lost on the archbishop.

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According to His Grace, civil rights are about protecting individuals from “tyranny or oppression,” not “providing legal endorsement to all conceivable social arrangements and constructs.” 

While the Church “recognizes and affirms the dignity of every human person…she does not see all relationships as equal,” he added. “Marriage is a unique social relationship between a man and a woman which exists for the good of children and as the foundation of all human communities.”

Civil union legislation introduced last year had been blocked by Republicans. However, both the House and the Senate changed hands during the November election.

Leading the effort to pass the legislation in the House was Mark Ferrandino, the Speaker of the House, who is openly homosexual.

Critics of the legislation said that it fails to provide significant conscience protections beyond the minimum of not requiring clergy to preside over the unions. Republicans reportedly attempted to amend the legislation four times, including to exempt religious institutions, but were rebuffed.

“History tells us that societies that do not respect the freedom of conscience will not long endure,” said Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs. 

In scathing remarks during the debate in the Senate last month, Democrat Sen. Pat Steadman dismissed calls for conscience protections, saying: “So, what to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate? I’ll tell you what I’d say. Get thee to a nunnery and live there then. Go live a monastic life away from modern society, away from the people you can’t see as equal to yourself.”  

With the passage of the legislation Colorado becomes the eighteenth state — plus Washington, D.C. — to offer rights to same-sex couples similar to those offered to natural marriages. Nine of those states recognize gay “marriage.”