Five bishops who lead committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said they could not support the rewritten reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law.

The stumbling blocks for the bishops were the references to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

“These two classifications are unnecessary to establish the just protections due to all persons. They undermine the meaning and importance of sexual difference,” the five bishops said, calling the language “problematic.” “They are unjustly exploited for purposes of marriage redefinition, and marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman with each other and with any children born from their union.”

The USCCB had supported past versions of the Violence Against Women Act, noting that in its pastoral statement “When I Call for Help,” the U.S. bishops had written, “Violence in any form -- ‘physical, sexual, psychological or verbal’ -- is sinful.”

The bishops also expressed their displeasure with the exclusion of conscience protections for faith-based groups helping trafficking victims, as reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was folded into the bill.