Tobin warns General Assembly against same-sex marriage, calling it "immoral and unnecessary"

Jan 7, 2013

In a sign of the intensifying battle to come, Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin is calling on the General Assembly to not pass a same-sex marriage bill.

Calling same-sex marriage immoral and unnecessary, while also expressing concern for the spiritual welfare of those with same-sex attraction, in a column that will appear in this week’s Rhode Island Catholic, The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, shares why the General Assembly should protect marriage as a sacred union of one man and one woman.

“The Catholic Church has consistently promoted respect and pastoral care for individuals with same-sex attraction,” the Bishop writes. “They are children of God and our brothers and sisters. They are invited to be members of our churches. It is our very concern for their spiritual welfare, however, that motivates our rejection of the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage.”

The news release from the church comes after the Providence Journal editorialized over the weekend in favor of the legislature passing a same-sex marriage bill. In related news, the membership of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- a key hurdle for the legislation -- may be named as soon as tomorrow.

Back to Tobin:

The Bishop shares the following points, among others, relative to why the General Assembly should not pass legislation approving gay marriage in Rhode Island:

 Poses yet another threat to religious freedom;
 U.S. Supreme Court will hear two cases that will profoundly affect the legal status of marriage in our country and will make a decision this summer; and
 If we are in fact forced to discuss the nature of matrimony in our state, it should be placed before the general public in a referendum.

“As early as this summer the Supreme Court might rule that the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” is constitutional and enforceable; or that states must recognize homosexual unions; or that each state has the right to make its own decision in this matter,” the Bishop writes. “In any event, why is Rhode Island spending time and energy on this issue right now when the Supreme Court might make the decision for us? Let’s wait and see what the Supreme Court determines before we engage in this emotionally-charged and divisive battle once again.”

UPDATE: Marriage Equality RI responds

The advocacy group Marriage Equality RI has responded to Tobin with a news release citing support from a range of religious officials:

"The Bible teaches us that we are all God's children - created in His image - with an obligation to love and serve one another in this world. It is in that spirit of faith and tolerance that I'm proud to announce that a coalition of more than 100 clergy, representing 13 different denominations, is being engaged to help lead the fight to win marriage equality," said Rev. Gene Dyszlewski, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and chair of the Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality.

Dyszlewski said his group will focus on "building an an active grassroots network of Rhode Islanders who believe that all loving, committed couples should be recognized, respected and treated equally under the law."

"No one church or leader represents all persons of faith, and it's important to recognize that the legislation currently before the General Assembly speaks specifically to civil marriage. Faith organizations that do not affirm same-sex relationships will in no way be required to do so when this bill becomes law. However, for those of us who do lead welcoming and affirming faiths, it will finally remove a long-standing obstacle to our pastoral care - and allow us to minister equally to all families in our community," said Dyszlewski.