(SNR) - On Monday, March 3, U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon issued a ruling in federal court that undermines Nebraska’s constitutional amendment recognizing marriage as the union of man and woman.
The decision, an injunction in the ongoing Waters v. Ricketts litigation, instructs Nebraska’s county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and instructs the state to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states.
The ruling is scheduled to take effect Monday, March 9. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson filed an appeal at the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. A circuit court judge could overturn the injunction, or delay its implementation until further arguments are heard on the matter. The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on same-sex marriage in June, and the 8th Circuit could delay implementation until there is a ruling at the higher court.
Nebraska’s bishops responded to the ruling with a joint statement summarizing their concerns.
“We are disappointed that Judge Joseph Bataillon granted an injunction today that 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 wrote. “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.”
Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, and Bishop William Dendinger of Grand Island continued: “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.”
The bishops will observe Monday, March 9 as a “Day of Prayer and Fasting for Marriage” across Nebraska. They invite all Catholics to fast, and to offer prayers, for the protection and preservation of marriage.
“I invite Catholics to pray and fast so that the institution of marriage might be legally protected,” commented Bishop Conley. “Let us pray together that faithful Catholic witness to God’s plan for marriage will transform hearts and minds across our state.”
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.”
A day of prayer and fasting on March 9, the bishop said, will help to protect marriage through the love, and mercy, of Jesus Christ. “I hope,” said Bishop Conley, “that all Catholics will join me in fasting for marriage next Monday.”