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How You Can Help Take Back Marriage

By Kate Veik

LINCOLN, NEB. — On March 9, hundreds of same-sex couples will flood Nebraska’s county clerk offices to receive marriage licenses for the first time in the state. At the same time, hundreds of Catholics will be uniting in prayer and fasting for the protection of marriage.

Nebraska’s bishops have reclaimed March 9 as a “Day of Prayer and Fasting for Marriage,” and they’ve invited Catholics both in Nebraska and around the world to join in.

“We ask all Catholics and people of good will to continue to fast and pray that God’s plan for marriage and family life will be affirmed,” Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, and Bishop William Dendinger of Grand Island wrote in a joint statement.

“Marriage was established by God before the state and before the Church, and the vitality of both depends on the fruitful union of husband and wife.”

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon struck down Nebraska’s voter-approved marriage amendment on March 3, but Bataillon’s decision will not take effect until March 9. Nebraska’s Attorney General Doug Peterson immediately appealed the ruling to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. The court could overturn the ruling or delay its implementation.

In his ruling, Bataillon ordered Nebraska county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He also instructed the state of Nebraska to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states.

Nebraska’s bishops said they were disappointed by Bataillon’s March 3 ruling, which “presumes to nullify what God has written on human hearts since the beginning of time – that marriage is between a man and a woman, and has as one of its principal purposes the procreation and rearing of children.”

The bishops have encouraged Catholics to pray for marriage on March 9 through such means as Eucharistic adoration, daily Mass, prayer with Scripture, the Rosary, and time in private prayer.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Lincoln said the March 9 initiative is also an invaluable opportunity for Catholics in Nebraska and around the world to witness to the truth about marriage.

“Many Catholics wonder what they can do to really make a difference,” J.D. Flynn told CNA. “Fasting is a powerful tool.”

“As we offer sacrifices, we can — through the grace of the cross — transform hearts and minds. This is an opportunity to transform hearts and minds on the truth about marriage.”

In a column published in January, Bishop Conley wrote that “The world is very confused about the meaning of marriage, about the importance of families and, ultimately, the world is very confused about happiness, and joy, and peace. The world is a dangerous place for anyone who is seeking real love. Christ’s love — and his plan for each one of us — is the antidote to that danger.”

Tuesday’s district court decision marked the second time Bataillon has struck down Nebraska’s marriage amendment. The first was in 2005 — and the following year, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the amendment.

Bataillon’s March 3 ruling stems from Waters vs. Ricketts, which the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska filed against the state in November on behalf of seven same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced in January that it would take up the question of same-sex marriage. A decision is expected by the summer.