The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

89° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Campus clergy support stance on gay marriage

    A pastor at the Catholic center on campus said although local Catholic bishops have given public support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, he hasn’t heard any complaints.

    Father Burt Hutcherson, a pastor at the St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center at the University of Arizona, said he offered about 1,500 blessings during Ash Wednesday services to students and the local community, and no one said anything about the endorsement by the region’s three Catholic bishops.

    Bishops Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix and Donald E. Pelotte of Gallup, N.M., announced in a pastoral statement their support for a ballot measure called Protect Marriage Arizona. The initiative would let Arizonans decide whether to ban gay marriages in the state.

    The statement cited the Catholic Church Catechism and the Bible to explain why the church favors a ban on homosexual marriage, but favors the protection of gay people’s civil liberties.

    The pastoral statement makes several references to the book of Genesis to affirm the position that marriage can exist only between a man and woman. The pastoral statement references Genesis 2:23, in which a man “”leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.””

    The statement also includes quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, stating the church does not believe in discrimination against homosexuals – “”(e)very sign of unjust discrimination in this regard should be avoided.””

    There were two guiding values going into the decision to support the ballot initiative, Bishop Kicanas said.

    He said the bill must protect the dignity of all men and women while protecting the importance of marriage. He said the initiative, which calls for what the Catholic Church terms “”reciprocal benefits,”” is a combination of the two values.

    The benefits would allow someone in a household to give benefits to one other person, regardless of their relationship, Kicanas said. With reciprocal benefits, the need for civil unions would be eliminated, and marriage would also be preserved as a union between a man and woman.

    While there are some who would support the bill solely to deny rights to homosexuals, he said, the Catholic Church has “”no allegiance”” to bigots.

    He said the church believes marriage “”has a unique role in society”” that would be undermined if homosexuals were allowed to marry.

    “”It’s the foundation of family life,”” Kicanas said.

    Offering reciprocal benefits is a new idea in the discussions surrounding the civil unions.

    Hutcherson, who said he was assigned to a church in San Francisco when civil unions were first being discussed, said he doesn’t remember reciprocal benefits being mentioned as an alternative to the unions.

    Hutcherson said some parishioners might leave the Catholic Church because of the church’s support of a ban on gay marriages, but the church has a long-standing position on the role of marriages consisting solely between a man and woman.

    Nathan Sproul, a political consultant for the Protect Marriage Arizona, said he was appreciative of “”their support to defend the sanctity of marriage.””

    The effort to put the measure on the November ballot was “”right on schedule,”” he said. Organizers will need at least 183,000 valid signatures by July to get the measure to the voters.

    Despite a state statute that defines a marriage in Arizona as between one man and one woman and a state law passed in the 1990s not recognizing gay marriages, the Arizona State Constitution does not specifically ban gay marriages.

    Proponents of Protect Marriage Arizona say a constitutional amendment is necessary so activist judges cannot overturn existing state laws on gay marriage.

    The campaign manager for Arizona Together, Ruben Gallego, said the term “”reciprocal benefits”” doesn’t really exist and is being used to misinform the public. He said the term is being thrown around to explain to the public why the ban would allow homosexuals to include their partners in benefits packages without getting married.

    “”It’s a false alternative (to getting benefits to gay partners),”” Gallego said. “”It’s a snow job.””

    Gallego said Ohio considered a similar ban on same-sex marriage, but after the measure passed, those benefits were not introduced.

    He said the ban in Ohio also had unintended consequences: It weakened domestic violence laws. He gave an example of where a man in a relationship, but not married, fought a domestic violence charge citing the law now only applied to married couples.

    He said the constitutional ban here could do the same, stripping benefits not only from unmarried gay couples but also from unmarried heterosexual couples.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search