Catholic bishops in New Jersey have launched a campaign to stop expected legislation this coming November legalizing same-sex marriage.
Their efforts, though admirable, are too late and will most likely fail.
The bishops' Achilles heel is in their statement. In their efforts to defend marriage they make the mistake of distinguishing between same-sex "unions" and same-sex marriage.
In their statement they acknowledge that all the rights of marriage are already available to same-sex couples under the state's current law allowing same-sex civil unions.
They state this without any opposition or challenge to the law which recognizes same-sex couples as "married" in all but the word itself.
Thus, "marriage" is reduced to nothing more than a term. There is no legal distinction and thus it is an easy step to simply co-opt and apply the term since the actual legal effects of marriage have already been co-opted and applied.
Apparently the bishops had no problem with civil unions...."just so long as they don't call it marriage".
This is just one of the traps that same-sex proponents set for the opposition, and sadly in this case, the NJ bishops were easy prey.
By not challenging the legal status of same-sex unions in their statement in defense of marriage, and even granting it official sanction by referencing it in a positive light, the bishops have no grounds for their defense, at least in the public square, and perhaps in the religious realm also.
The document released by the Congregation of the Faith in 2003 addressing the legalization of same-sex unions, is adamant that all Catholics "must oppose" the legalization of same-sex unions regardless of what they are called.
By distinguishing between marriage and "unions", the NJ bishops have officially ignored the CDF directive and opened the door wide to the final destruction of that which they wish to defend.
We on Guam have already made the same mistake as evidenced by a recent poll. While the majority of people on Guam would oppose same-sex marriage, the majority would also support legal recognition of same-sex unions.
As per the law, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. We Catholics MUST OPPOSE the legalization of same-sex unions, not just because we are obliged by our Church to do so, but because if we don't, we will be defending nothing more than a definition and not the institution itself.
There is still time...but not much.