Earth Notes
11:42 pm
Tue February 28, 2006

AZ Bishops support gay marriage ban

Phoenix, AZ – In a pastoral statement to parishioners Tuesday, the
bishops said marriage is -- quote -- a personal
relationship with enormous public significance. They
also said a husband and wife provide the best
conditions for raising children. Bishop Thomas
Olmstead, in an interview with Arizona Public Radio,
said that position is backed by the Bible.

(The very first two chapters of the Bible are about God
creating man and woman, and that were intended for one
another, complementary, between the sexes. And already
you see there God's plan for marriage.)

The initiative would amend the state constitution to
define marriage as solely between one man and one
woman. But much of the fight is over language which
says -- quote -- no legal status for unmarried persons
shall be created or recognized by this state or its
political subdivisions that is similar to that of
marriage. That would ban lawmakers or courts from
permitting civil unions. And it would overturn policies
by some communities where employees are entitled to the
same health insurance for their domestic partners as
married people get for spouses, though private
companies would be unaffected. Olmstead said allowing
unmarried couples the same rights and privileges as
those who are legally wed undermines and dilutes the
whole definition of marriage.

(I think it's one thing for two people to decide to
have relations with one another, which could happen.
But I think for society to sanction that and to make
that seem as if it is equal to the union of a man and a
woman in which children are brought into the world is
to change our thinking about human society.)

But Olmstead's interpretation of the Bible and society
is not shared by everyone -- including pastors from
other Christian denominations. One of them is the Rev.
Lee Milligan of Painted Hills United Church of Christ
in Tucson.

(My understand of our faith calls us to work against
those things in our society from which marriage does
need to be protected.)

He said that includes Arizona's shameful high drop out
rate, the deteriorating buying power of families and
the lack of affordable health care. The measure also is
opposed by the Rev. Gordon McBride, pastor of St.
Paul's Episcopal Church in Tucson. McBride said he's
heard all the arguments about why it's not in society's
interest to have same-sex couples getting married or
having the same rights and why the law needs to be
changed to prevent all that.

(You mean the way it used to be illegal for people of
different races to be married in this country? It seems
like the same thing to me. Looks the same to me. That
was about protecting marriage as well. I gotta tell
you: Prejudice is prejudice. I don't care how you
package it or where you find it.)

One key point in the debate to come will be whether the
initiative will really take away health care coverage
offered by some cities and counties to the domestic
partners of employees. Ron Johnson who lobbies for the
bishops at the capitol, said that isn't necessarily
true. He said communities could still offer what he
called reciprocal benefits, allowing workers to extend
their coverage to any one other person, be it parent,
child -- or even live-in partner. Backers of the
initiative have until early July to get more than
180,000 signatures to put the issue on the November
ballot. In Phoenix, for Arizona Public Radio this is
Howard Fischer.