Pray for wisdom for the Supreme Court Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Apr. 30, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

On April 28, the Supreme Court of the United States began taking up the issue of same-sex marriage.

We’ve been hearing plenty of comments from people on this issue, from those who support the marriage of one man and one woman and states’ rights to define marriage to those who want same-sex marriage approved across the country.

People often react emotionally when talking about marriage, but I think we need to take time to study the issues before the Supreme Court and what they mean.

We also should consider what the Catholic Church teaches and be able to talk about our beliefs calmly in conversations about marriage.

Two questions

So what do the Supreme Court deliberations involve? Officially, the Supreme Court is considering two constitutional questions:

• Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

• Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state?

I looked up what the 14th Amendment says. It has four sections, but obviously the first section is what the Supreme Court will be studying.

Section one says:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The main issue, it seems, is whether marriage between people of the same sex is a “privilege” and that denying it would deprive a person of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Traditional definition

The United States government on the national and state levels has traditionally defined marriage as between one man and one woman. In 2006, more than 59 percent of Wisconsin voters approved a constitutional amendment upholding that definition.

In 2010, by a 7-0 vote, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the marriage amendment, saying the measure was “adopted by the people of Wisconsin using the process prescribed by the constitution, and is properly now part of our constitution.”

In 2014, a federal judge struck down the marriage amendment to Wisconsin’s constitution and now same-sex marriage is legal in our state.

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki called it “disturbing” that a federal judge would overrule “the manifest will of the people.”

Polls now show that a majority of Wisconsin’s registered voters favor allowing same-sex marriage.

Church teaching

However, the Catholic Church has continued to emphasize that whatever the courts do, Catholic teaching remains that marriage is between one man and one woman.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) filed a brief before the Supreme Court arguing that the state laws limiting marriage to heterosexual couples should be upheld.

The USCCB says that “as a matter of simple biology, the sexual union of one man and one woman is the only union capable of creating new life,” and that “homes with a father and a mother are the optimal environment for children.”

The bishops’ brief also said that it is “reasonable and just” for states to treat heterosexual marriages as having more value than other kinds of relationships.

The USCCB argues that laws permitting same-sex marriages redefine the traditional definition of marriage and would “needlessly create church-state conflict for generations to come.”

We should pray for the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court that they will consider the issue of marriage with wisdom. Much like the 1973 abortion decisions, their rulings will have far-reaching consequences for our society for years to come.