The Senate Judiciary Committee has amended Senate Bill 2252, which would have provided protected legal status to sexual acts outside of marriage, to a bill that would declare that the State of North Dakota does not condone discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Additional language in the amendment attempts to limit its effect by stating that the bill does not create any legal rights or protections. Nevertheless, the North Dakota Catholic Conference worries that the language could viewed as permission to – and justification for – state agencies, boards, and state higher education institutions to adopt their own policies without legislative approval and without any guarantee of conscience and religious protections. This has already started to occur.
Contact your senator and ask him or her reject giving or authorizing special legal protection for sexual acts and vote NO on SB 2252 in any form.
Contact by email or phone: 1-888-NDLEGIS (635-3447) or 701-328-3373 (local).
The North Dakota Catholic Conference testified today against Senate Bill 2252.
Christopher Dodson, executive director of the conference, reaffirmed the Church’s teaching against unjust discrimination against any person, including someone with a homosexual inclination. “There is no place for arbitrary discrimination and prejudice against a person because of sexual attraction,” said Dodson.
Nevertheless, Dodson added, “the unique legal status granted by the bill’s definition of sexual orientation appears to encompass not only homosexual inclinations, but also other sexual activities, homosexual or heterosexual, outside of marriage. Civil rights categories should not be used to cover a particular group’s sexual activities.”
Dodson noted that the bill is “replete with infringements upon conscience, religious liberty, and the right to engage in commerce and social service without sacrificing sincerely-held beliefs.” The bill’s religious “exemption,” he said, actually fails to provide an exemption against claims of sexual orientation discrimination.
The bill is being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The North Dakota House of Representatives will soon vote on two bills to allow businesses to open on Sunday mornings. North Dakota’s closing law has worked well to ensure that at least one small part of the week is set aside for family, community, worship, or rest.
Let your representatives know you want to keep it that way and ask them to defeat HB 1367 and HB 1437.
- House Bill 1367 would allow bars to open on Sunday morning.
- House Bill 1437 would allow entire cities and counties to opt-out of the state closing law.
Contact your state representatives today and ask them to vote NO on HB 1367 and HB 1437. The House of Representatives could vote on these bills as early as today.
The North Dakota Catholic Conference testified today against weakening the state’s Sunday Closing Law. HB 1437 would allow political subdivisions to exempt cities and counties from the law.
Christopher Dodson, Executive Director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference defended the existing law stating:
The purpose of the law is to preserve the common good by ensuring that society is not overtaken by work and profit. Humans and communities need periods of rest and free time that allow them to tend to family, cultural, social, and religious life. Only when communities set aside time devoted to these functions can human persons prosper and develop.
Concept that marriage is between one man, one woman grounded in nature
Children deserve to be raised by their biological parents
Public good demands that unique nature of marriage be respected by law
WASHINGTON—In response to a decision on October 18 by a divided federal appeals court panel to strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, issued the following comment expressing disappointment over the ruling.
Archbishop Cordileone Saddened Over DOMA Ruling
The recognition that marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman is grounded in our nature, being clear from the very way our bodies are designed. This recognition obliges our consciences and laws. It is a matter of basic rights—the right of every child to be welcomed and raised, as far as possible, by his or her mother and father together in a stable home. Marriage is the only institution whereby a man and a woman unite for life and are united to any child born from their union. The public good demands that the unique meaning and purpose of marriage be respected in law and society, not rejected as beyond the constitutional pale. Redefining marriage never upholds the equal dignity of individuals because it contradicts basic human rights. The ruling yesterday is unjust and a great disappointment.”
On October 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed, by a 2-1 vote, a U.S. District Court decision striking down section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional. Section 3 defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal law.
DOMA was approved by a broad, bi-partisan majority of Congress in 1996, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. DOMA recognizes for purposes of federal law that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and it also protects the rights of states to uphold this definition of marriage in the face of laws from other states that might be adverse to such definition.
Catholic Bishops Denounce As ‘Grave Injustice’ Appeals Court Ruling Striking Down California Marriage Law
Cardinal-designate Dolan and Bishop Cordileone decry court decision “Marriage deserves better,” Cardinal-designate Dolan says Marriage protection critical to the flourishing of society, says Bishop Cordileone
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, joins the bishops of California in denouncing the February 7 decision of a federal court rejecting the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a voter-approved initiative in California that recognizes marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“Today’s court ruling is a grave injustice, ignoring the reality that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said. “The Constitution of the United States most assuredly does not forbid the protection of the perennial meaning of marriage, one of the cornerstones of society. The people of California deserve better. Our nation deserves better. Marriage deserves better.”
The decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the August 4, 2010 decision of a federal district judge who had ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
“Our society does not operate in an amoral or value-less vacuum,” said Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. “To flourish, it must be infused with moral direction that is grounded in the truth. Of course, the true meaning of marriage, like the gift of human life, is ultimately not subject to a vote or court ruling. But in California, as in every other state where marriage has been put to a vote, the people justly upheld the truth of marriage. How tragic for California, for the nation, and especially for children, that this correctly-informed judgment has now been set aside.”
Open letter highlights connection between protecting marriage, religious freedom
Letter is a “sign of hope” and “compelling argument,” Cardinal-designate Dolan says
Elected officials need to defend marriage, religious liberty
WASHINGTON—Leaders of some of the largest religious communities in the United States have joined together in an open letter to all Americans to voice their shared concern for marriage and religious freedom.
The letter, titled “Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together,” was released January 12. It can be found at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/ecumenical-and-interreligious-activities.cfm. Signatories include leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, and Pentecostal communities in the United States.
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, was one of the four signing Catholic bishops.
“Marriage and religious liberty are at a crisis point in the United States,” he said. “This letter is a sign of hope. Not only are tens of millions of believing citizens represented in the letter’s signatories, but the letter itself testifies to the growing and shared awareness of just how important marriage and religious freedom are to the well being of our country. The letter makes a compelling argument that needs to be heard by all of us, especially those in positions of authority: anyone truly concerned with religious freedom must also be a defender of marriage’s perennial definition.”
In the letter, the leaders counter a common claim that the principal threat to religious freedom is the possibility of ministers being forced to officiate same-sex “weddings.”
The leaders wrote: “We believe the most urgent peril is this: forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations—throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies—to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct. There is no doubt that the many people and groups whose moral and religious convictions forbid same-sex sexual conduct will resist the compulsion of the law, and church-state conflicts will result.”
They added that “these conflicts bear serious consequences.”
“They will arise in a broad range of legal contexts, because altering the civil definition of ‘marriage’ does not change one law, but hundreds, even thousands, at once. By a single stroke, every law where rights depend on marital status—such as employment discrimination, employment benefits, adoption, education, healthcare, elder care, housing, property, and taxation—will change so that same-sex sexual relationships must be treated as if they were marriage. That requirement, in turn, will apply to religious people and groups in the ordinary course of their many private or public occupations and ministries—including running schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other housing facilities, providing adoption and counseling services, and many others,” they said.
The leaders warned that redefining marriage has consequences for the religious freedom of all Americans and urged civic leaders to defend marriage so as also to defend religious liberty.
“We especially urge those entrusted with the public good to support laws that uphold the time-honored definition of marriage, and so avoid threatening the religious freedom of countless institutions and citizens in this country,” the religious leaders said. “Marriage and religious freedom are both deeply woven into the fabric of this nation.”
The release of the letter comes days before the presidential proclamation for Religious Freedom Day (January 16) and a few weeks before World Marriage Day (February 12) and National Marriage Week USA (February 7-14). The letter follows a letter of shared commitment released December 6, 2010 (also available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/ecumenical-and-interreligious-activities.cfm).
Cardinal DiNardo calls on Catholics to respect, promote and teach
the ‘transcendent nature of the human person’
Catholics must not shrink from obligation to defend right to life, conscience rights
Respect Life Program marks 40th year
Theme for 2011-12: ”I came so all might have life and have it to the full” (cf. John 10:10)
CARDINAL DINARDO ISSUES RESPECT LIFE MONTH STATEMENT
WASHINGTON-In a statement to mark Respect Life Month, October 2011, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston addressed multiple direct threats to human life as well as threats to religious liberty and conscience rights. Echoing Pope Benedict XVI, he invited Catholics to “pray and reflect on how each of us might renew our commitment and witness to ‘respecting, promoting and teaching the transcendent nature of the human person.’”
Cardinal DiNardo chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
In his statement, Cardinal DiNardo reflected on the Respect Life Program’s theme for 2011-12: “I came that all might have life and have it to the full.” “Jesus’ promise of ‘life to the full’ is especially poignant today,” he wrote, “when our culture and sometimes our government promote values inimical to the happiness and true good of individuals and society.”
“The unborn child, the aging parent who some call a ‘burden’ on our medical system, the allegedly ‘excess’ embryo in the fertility clinic, the person with a disability, the cognitively impaired accident victim who needs assistance in receiving food and water to live-each today is at risk of being dismissed as a ‘life unworthy of life’,” Cardinal DiNardo said.
Cardinal DiNardo highlighted factors that undermine efforts to build a culture of life: “We face increasing attempts to expunge God and religious discourse from public life. . Some now even seek to eliminate religiously motivated people and organizations from public programs, by forcing them to violate their moral and religious convictions or stop serving the needy,” he said.
Cardinal DiNardo objected to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requirement to cover all forms of contraception and sterilization as “preventive services for women.” “The decision [by HHS] is wrong on many levels. Preventive services are aimed at preventing diseases (e.g., by vaccinations) or detecting them early to aid prompt treatment (e.g., screening for diabetes or cancer). But pregnancy is not a disease.. Mandating such coverage shows neither respect for women’s health or freedom, nor respect for the consciences of those who do not want to take part in such problematic initiatives,” he said.
Cardinal DiNardo specifically countered claims that contraception is necessary for women’s health, and that it reduces the abortion rate. “Far from preventing disease, contraceptives can have serious health consequences of their own, for example, increasing the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease, such as AIDS.,” he said. “Studies report that most women seeking abortions were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Again and again, studies show that increasing access to contraception fails to reduce rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.”
The HHS’s “religious employer exemption” is “so extremely narrow that it protects almost no one,” he said. “Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify as ‘religious enough’ for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people who did not share their view of God.”
“Catholics must not shrink from the obligation to assert the values and principles we hold essential to the common good, beginning with the right to life of every human being and the right of every woman and man to express and live by his or her religious beliefs and well-formed conscience.”
Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. The full statement follows and may be found online in English and Spanish at www.usccb.org/respectlife.
Statement for Respect Life Month
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 26, 2011
This October the Catholic Church throughout the United States will observe Respect Life Month, an annual tradition now in its fortieth year.
Beginning on October 2, 2011-Respect Life Sunday-Catholics across the nation will join together to witness to the inherent equality and transcendent value of every human being.
In countless liturgies and events we will give thanks to God for the gift of human life, and pray for his guidance and blessings on our efforts to defend the most vulnerable members of the human family.
We will voice our opposition to the injustice and cruelty of abortion on behalf of those victims whose voices have been silenced. At the same time, we will remind the living victims of abortion-the mothers and fathers who grieve the loss of an irreplaceable child-that God’s mercy is greater than any human sin, and that healing and peace can be theirs through the sacrament of reconciliation and the Church’s Project Rachel Ministry.
The theme chosen for this year’s Respect Life Program is I came so that all might have life and have it to the full. In this brief explanation of his mission (cf. John 10:10), Jesus refers both to our hope of eternal life, to be restored through his death and resurrection, and to our life in this world.
By following Jesus’ new Commandment of unselfish love, our lives can be richly fulfilling, and marked by joy and peace. In contrast, treating others as either means or obstacles to one’s self-serving goals, while never learning to love generously, is an impoverished way to live.
Viewing life as a “zero sum” game, in which advancing one’s interests requires putting aside the needs of others, can lead to callous unconcern for anyone who is especially weak, defenseless, and in need of our help. The unborn child, the aging parent who some call a “burden” on our medical system, the allegedly “excess” embryo in the fertility clinic, the person with a disability, the cognitively impaired accident victim who needs assistance in receiving food and water to live-each today is at risk of being dismissed as a “life unworthy of life.”
Jesus’ promise of “life to the full” is especially poignant today, when our culture and sometimes our government promote values inimical to the happiness and true good of individuals and society. We face increasing attempts to expunge God and religious discourse from public life. This promotes the dangerous proposition that human beings enjoy no special status by virtue of their God-given humanity. Some now even seek to eliminate religiously motivated people and organizations from public programs, by forcing them to violate their moral and religious convictions or stop serving the needy.
The same forces, aided by advertising and entertainment media, promote a selfish and demeaning view of human sexuality, by extolling the alleged good of sexual activity without love or commitment. This view of sex as “free” of commitment or consequences has no place for openness to new life. Hence contraceptives are promoted even to young teens as though they were essential to women’s well-being, and abortion defended as the “necessary” back-up plan when contraceptives fail. And fail they do. Studies report that most women seeking abortions were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Again and again, studies show that increasing access to contraception fails to reduce rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.
Both these trends-a distorted view of sexuality and a disdain for the role of religion-are exhibited by the Department of Health and Human Services’ recent decision on the “preventive services” to be mandated in virtually all private health plans under the new health care law. The Department ruled that such mandated services will include surgical sterilization and all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices-including the abortifacient drug “Ella,” a close analogue to the abortion pill RU-486.
The decision is wrong on many levels. Preventive services are aimed at preventing diseases (e.g., by vaccinations) or detecting them early to aid prompt treatment (e.g., screening for diabetes or cancer). But pregnancy is not a disease. It is the normal, healthy state by which each of us came into the world. Far from preventing disease, contraceptives can have serious health consequences of their own, for example, increasing the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease, such as AIDS, increasing the risk of breast cancer from excess estrogen, and of blood clots that can lead to stroke from synthetic progestin. Mandating such coverage shows neither respect for women’s health or freedom, nor respect for the consciences of those who do not want to take part in such problematic initiatives.
The “religious employer” exemption offered by the Department is so extremely narrow that it protects almost no one. Catholic institutions providing health care and other services to the needy could be forced to fire their non-Catholic employees and cease serving the poor and vulnerable of other faiths-or stop providing health coverage at all. It has been said that Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify as “religious enough” for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people who did not share their view of God.
All these misguided efforts to foster false values among our youth, to silence the voice of moral truth in the public domain, and to deprive believers of their constitutionally-protected right to live according to their religious convictions, must be resisted by education, public advocacy, and above all by prayer.
The founders of our nation understood that religion and morality are essential to the survival of a freedom-loving society. John Adams expressed this conviction, stating: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”
Catholics must not shrink from the obligation to assert the values and principles we hold essential to the common good, beginning with the right to life of every human being and the right of every woman and man to express and live by his or her religious beliefs and well-formed conscience.
As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us last year in one of his Ad Limina addresses to visiting bishops, “a society can be built only by tirelessly respecting, promoting and teaching the transcendent nature of the human person.” That common nature transcends all accidental differences of age, race, strength, or conditions of dependency, preparing us to be one human family under God.
During this Respect Life Month, as we celebrate God’s great gift of life, let us pray and reflect on how each of us might renew our commitment and witness to “respecting, promoting and teaching the transcendent nature of the human person,” thereby shoring up the foundations of a society sorely in need of this guidance.