No matter how one looks at it, May 19, 2014 was a day of monumental significance for Oregonians. On that day a federal judge ruled that the language voted into our State Constitution by Oregonians 10 years ago, recognizing marriage as being between one man and one woman, was unconstitutional according to the U.S. Constitution.  This ruling and the consequences of it will have a profound effect on all of us.  Marriages between persons of the same sex are now possible and recognized in our state.

From the beginning, our efforts to prevent this from happening were never about demeaning or attacking the dignity of persons who happen to be homosexual.  Their dignity as human persons must never be called into question or denied.  This has always been about upholding and and protecting the unique institution in our society that we call marriage.

Let us be clear.  We all know people who identify themselves as gay or lesbian.  They are our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, and members of our own families.  We love and cherish them.

On the specific issue of same-sex marriage, we are deeply aware that this is a complex and very sensitive issue.  In no way do we wish to add to any existing discrimination against those who identify as gay or lesbian.  The Catholic Church fully teaches that all human persons, including those who are gay, are sacred, valued, have an innate dignity, and are loved by God.  We believe that all people should be treated with love, dignity and respect, regardless of what they think, how they act, or who they are.  We welcome those who are attracted to people of the same sex into our churches and into our hearts.

Our teaching about the true nature of marriage is no castigation of people who are gay.  We simply believe that two people of the same sex are unable to marry.  That is not to say that gay people cannot experience deep friendships, commitment, loyalty, generosity, and love just like anyone else.  It is to say that men and women were made for each other by God in a unique and complementary way.  Their union in marriage is something we believe cannot occur between two people of the same gender.

The future of humanity passes through the union between one man and one woman.  The complementarity of men and women, and the capacity of a man and woman to procreate, gives their union special and unique significance. This complementarity and the capacity that exists for the creation of a new person are essential to marriage, even when this potentiality is not fully realized, as in the case with couples who divorce or couples who do not have children. 
As Pope Francis stated recently in his weekly general audience, “As ‘one flesh’, [man and woman] become living icons of God’s love in our world, building up the Church in unity and fidelity.  The image of God is the married couple — not just the man, not just the woman, but both.”

Two people of the same gender cannot reproduce this unique union between a man and a woman who can become one flesh and have their own children.  The special and natural bond that results from having a child together is something altogether unique.  A child is the fullest expression of the love that is shared in marriage between a man and a woman.  We believe every child has the right, in the ideal, to grow up knowing and being loved by his or her mother and father.

Our teachings are not meant to engender attitudes of disrespect or hostility, and perhaps we don’t always do the best job of stating them.  The Catholic Church is not interested in numbers in the pews or money in the collection basket, but only in bringing people to Jesus, serving the poor, reaching out to the lost and the broken, and in helping lead all to eternal salvation in Christ.  Where we are failing in these areas, we need to change, but we cannot change Christ’s call to be faithful to the truth of the Gospel.

Further dialogue is needed to ensure that each individual’s civil rights are being upheld.  

As this dialogue and discussion continues, we wish to extend a full welcome to every person who wishes to be a part of our faith community, knowing some of these tensions will not be easily resolved.  

It is through prayer and mutual charity that together we honor God and move forward towards cooperating with Him in building his Kingdom on earth.