Washington Catholic Bishop Joseph Tyson: Gay Marriage Will ‘Endanger Religious Liberty’

Bishop Joseph Tyson, the Catholic bishop of Yakima, Washington, published a pastoral letter on Saturday on the Diocese website attacking Referendum 74, the ballot measure which if approved would put the state's legislatively-passed marriage equality law into effect.

WAIn the letter, Tyson pleads, "Consider what kind of picture of marriage you desire to give the next generation.  If you and I don’t uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman, who will?  If we are intimidated by those supporting marriage redefinition who picket and threaten donation boycotts of our charity and our ministry, then who will proclaim the true meaning of marriage?"

TysonHere's part of Tyson's letter:

We must also understand another tragic consequence. R-74
jeopardizes freedom rather than expands it. It endangers our
religious liberty and the right of conscience. Once marriage is
redefined as a genderless contract, it will become legally
discriminatory for public and private institutions such as schools
to promote the unique meaning of marriage, and to teach about
the right of a child to be known, loved and raised by his or her
own mother and father in a stable home. This law will challenge
our right to educate about the unique value of children being
raised by their own mothers and fathers. No institution or
individual could propose that married mothers and fathers
provide a singular benefit to children without being accused of

This is not an idle concern. Recent attacks on churches,
businesses and nonprofit organizations that express their
conscientious objection to the redefinition of marriage underscore
this danger. Those who uphold families based on the permanent,
faithful relationship between a married man and woman as the
best environment for raising children already have been accused
of hate speech, and the right of religious institutions to freely
practice their faith has been abridged. The acceptance of R-74
means that so-called same-sex “marriage” will replace real
marriage – the union of a man and a woman – as the legal frame
of reference for all public discourse. The terms “husband and
wife” and “father and mother” will continue to recede as so-called
gender-neutral terms overwhelm our public lexicon.

Let us not allow ourselves or others to be fooled by false
reasoning. Protecting the definition of marriage as the union of
“discriminatory.” It recognizes marriage between one man and
one woman to be unique – unique among all other kinds of
human relationships. Although our surrounding popular culture
may define human identity by the terms “gay” and “straight,” our
Church has a deeper and more accurate understanding of human
identity based on male and female – sexual difference. It is within
this identity that each one of us is called as a son or daughter of
God. It is also within this identity of the human person as male
and female that the meaning of marriage is discovered. Marriage
is founded on sexual difference and ordered toward the good of
husband and wife and the procreation and rearing of children.

Read Tyson's full letter HERE.

The SeattlePI reports:

A pro-Referendum 74 group, Catholics for Marriage Equality, delivered a sharp rejoinder to Tyson and his fellow bishops in the Archdiocese of Seattle and the Diocese of Spokane, who have issued letters and videos opposing marriage equality.

“We are shocked when we read the language and examples used by our bishops to incite fear in our Catholic brothers and sisters if Referendum 74 passes:  The message of Jesus is love and compassion, not fear,” said Kirby Brown with Catholics for Marriage Equality Washington.