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Originally published October 31, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Page modified October 31, 2012 at 5:29 PM

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Op-ed: We are Catholics and we oppose Referendum 74 to legalize same-sex marriage

No one denies the close and intimate bond experienced by same-sex couples. However, it simply is not the same thing as marriage because by its very nature it cannot produce children, according to guest columnists Tom Matthews, Bob Kelly and Pia de Solenni.

Special to The Times

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WE are lay Catholic leaders in Washington state. We support and love our Catholic Church and her teachings on marriage. We support our bishops, priests and laity who courageously defend her. When they are seriously misrepresented, our consciences compel us to speak up.

This past Sunday, an ad claiming to represent the views of 1,000 Catholics was published in four major newspapers across the state. While they are entitled to their opinions and beliefs, they do not accurately represent Catholic teaching, nor are they representative of the local Catholic population, which numbers about 1 million.

We oppose Referendum 74 to legalize same-sex marriage on the Nov. 6 ballot, and we represent ourselves, as well as the Seattle Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, the Knights of Columbus of Washington State and other leaders.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman. It is a bond that is set apart because it unites the couple in a way that no other bond does. It is also procreative because marital intimacy naturally leads to the birth of children.

The state does not involve itself in marriage in an effort to regulate its citizens’ sexual activities. It does so because marriage generally involves children by the very nature in which the spouses express intimacy and union. As such, the family becomes the basic unit of society and thus deserves special protection.

No one denies the close and intimate bond experienced by same-sex couples. However, it simply is not the same thing as marriage because by its very nature it cannot produce children.

The state of Washington already provides all of the same legal benefits to same-sex couples that are provided to married couples. The only matter in question with Referendum 74 is whether the word “marriage” also applies to couples that are composed of two members of the same sex, rather than only one woman and one man.

At the same time, it should be noted that there are currently 9,863 domestic partnerships in Washington, representing only 0.0029 percent of the entire state population.

Not only would Referendum 74 allow the state legislation changing the legal definition of marriage to go into effect, but it could directly affect the First Amendment rights of the U.S. Constitution: the freedoms of religion, conscience and free speech for those who, like us, have different values. We would be forced to accept a legal definition of marriage that signifies a genderless institution.

Numerous precedents in other states that have accepted the redefinition of marriage confirm this. For example, in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., Catholic organizations can no longer provide charitable adoption services based on the new legal definition of marriage. The current legislation includes no provisions to adequately address these concerns. Thus, the passing of Referendum 74 will also restrict our constitutional freedoms to live according to our beliefs, whether of religion or conscience, and to speak accordingly.

As Catholics, we believe that marriage is the unique bond of love and life between a woman and a man, which is the source of the family. In union with our church and our bishops, we are voting to reject Referendum 74. We urge other Catholics and people of goodwill to join us.

Tom Matthews, Bob Kelly and Pia de Solenni are part of the informal group Catholics For Traditional Marriage – Washington State on Facebook.

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