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Mass. bishops urge grassroots effort on marriage vote


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BOSTON — The four bishops of Massachusetts are urging Catholics in parishes across the commonwealth to contact their state legislators in advance of the Nov. 9 session of the constitutional convention urging legislators to vote to “let the people vote” on the initiative petition on marriage.

In a joint statement, they “renew our call for legislative approval allowing the people to vote on the Marriage Amendment” and “ask Catholics and other concerned citizens to contact their legislators, urging their state senator and state representative to show up and vote to move the amendment forward” towards the 2008 ballot.

The bishops describe the need for grassroots action as “imperative” in the face of reports of a possible constitutional convention boycott to deny the needed vote.

They write that “the issue is not whether legislators support or oppose same-sex marriage, but whether the people have a say.”

Besides calling on Catholics to contact their legislators, the bishops ask that they come to the Statehouse in Boston on the day of the constitutional convention to “show your support for traditional marriage and the people’s right to vote at the 2008 ballot.”

In support of this effort, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, and Fall River Bishop George Coleman, Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell and Worcester Bishop Robert McManus requested the printing of bulletin inserts, to be delivered to all the Catholic parishes in Massachusetts this week. The initiative was made possible through the support of a generous donor.

The inserts, also translated into Spanish and Portuguese and made available on the Web site of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (www.macathconf.org), include a message from the bishops and an action alert. The alert is individualized according to the legislative districts within which each parish is located. The bishops ask that the inserts be included in all parish bulletins distributed over the next two weekends before the constitutional convention.

Text of joint statement

The Massachusetts State Legislature must vote on H.4617, a proposed amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman by the end of this year. The Senate and House are scheduled to meet in constitutional convention Nov. 9, two days after the General Election, to take up all proposed amendments, including the Marriage Amendment. The help of Catholics and other concerned citizens is critical!

Throughout our nation, and indeed throughout most of the world, marriage is defined as the union of man and woman, and this definition is treated as a matter of common sense, not bigotry. Traditional marriage policy protects the right of children to be raised by both a mother and a father and strengthens the family. The Marriage Amendment furthers these objectives and responds to the 2003 court decision in Massachusetts legalizing same-sex marriage.

Opponents of the Marriage Amendment are urging legislators to boycott the Con-Con to deny the needed vote. If enough members walk out or fail to show up for debate on Nov. Nov. 9, a legislative vote will be prevented. The Marriage Amendment would die, thus thwarting the democratic process. This would deny the people their right to vote in 2008.

We renew our call for legislative approval allowing the people to vote on the Marriage Amendment. We ask Catholics and other concerned citizens to contact their legislators, urging their state senator and state representative to show up and vote to move the amendment forward on Nov. 9 or before the year’s end. Your immediate action is imperative.

The issue is not whether legislators support or oppose same-sex marriage, but whether the people have a say. We believe that in a democracy the people must be heard at the ballot on the fundamental question of marriage.

Immediate action steps requested

— Contact your state senator and state representative before Nov. 9 and urge each to “Let the People Vote” on Marriage:

— Come to the Statehouse in Boston on Nov. 9 and show your support for traditional marriage and the people’s right to vote at the 2008 ballot. Also, please pray for success on this critical vote.

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