WH Dodges Response to NY Archbishop's Warning of Enormous ‘Conflict Between Church and State’

By Fred Lucas | October 3, 2011 | 5:38 PM EDT

President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) – White House Press Secretary Jay Carney did not directly answer a question today about a letter that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent to President Barack Obama late last month warning the president that the Justice Department’s argument that federal courts should hold that opposing same-sex marriage is the legal equivalent of racial discrimination will precipitate an enormous nationwide conflict between church and state

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage, for federal purposes, as the legal union between one man and one woman, and says that no state is required to recognize a same-sex “marriage” from another state.

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At the White House on Monday, CNSNews.com asked Press Secretary Jay Carney: “Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently wrote a letter, Sept. 20, to the president in which he said that for the administration and the Justice Department to equate support for DOMA with unconstitutional discrimination would -- quoting from the letter – ‘precipitate a national conflict between church and state.’ Does the president support fully the DOJ and HHS policies that some Catholic leaders take issues with?”

Without addressing the letter from Dolan directly, Carney repeated the president’s support for not defending DOMA, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Carney said that Obama “supports the policies of his administration. He supports the position we’ve taken on not defending DOMA. So I’m not sure what positions--.”

CNSNews.com then followed up by referencing the case of Golinski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in which the Justice Department has filed a brief arguing that DOMA should be struck down as a form of sexual orientation discrimination.

Carney said, “I’m not familiar with that. I would refer you to Justice.”

New York's Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan. (AP Photo)

According to the USCCB’s analysis of the Justice Department’s argument in the Golinski case--which Archbishop Dolan attached to his letter to the president--the administration's argument compares DOMA “in effect to racially discriminatory laws.”

Further, “[i]n particular, the Administration’s efforts to change the law—in all three branches of the federal government—so that support for authentic marriage is treated as an instance of ‘sexual orientation discrimination,’ will threaten to spawn a wide range of legal sanctions against individuals and institutions within the Catholic community, and in many others as well,” says the USCCB analysis.

Archbishop Dolan wrote: “The administration’s failure to change course on this matter will, as the attached analysis indicates, precipitate a national conflict between Church and State, harming both institutions, as well as our Nation as a whole.”

On Saturday, Oct. 1, Obama spoke to the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual lobby organization, and expressed his opposition to DOMA.

“I vowed to keep up the fight against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act,” Obama said. “There’s a bill to repeal this discriminatory law in Congress, and I want to see that passed. But until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts. I believe the law runs counter to the Constitution, and it’s time for it to end once and for all. It should join ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in the history books.”

Later in the speech, Obama said progress is happening around the country, and added, “It happens when a father realizes he doesn’t just love his daughter, but also her wife.” However, the president has yet to officially support same-sex marriage, only saying that he supports civil unions.

In explaining the consequences of the Administration’s policies, Dolan wrote in his Sept. 20 letter to Obama, “That is why it is particularly upsetting, Mr. President, when your Administration, through the various court documents, pronouncements and policies identified in the attached analysis, attributes to those who support DOMA a motivation rooted in prejudice and bias. It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your Administration insists on doing.” (See earlier story.)

Navy Lt. Gary Ross, right, and Dan Swezy celebrate after exchanging wedding vows on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 in Duxbury, Vt. The two men recited their vows at the first possible moment after the formal repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The partners of 11 years married at the stroke of midnight, just as the ban ended. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

In its analysis, the USCCB further stated that there are three other areas where the administration is seeking to advance same-sex marriage by regulation. These include a White House spokesperson’s statement that Obama wants a federal mandate to ensure “adopotion rights” for same-sex couples; an Agriculture Department “sensitivity training” program on “heterosexism,” and a directive issued and then rescinded by the Office of Navy Chaplains that required Navy chapels to allow same-sex wedding ceremonies.

On the latter point, the Pentagon announced last week that government-funded military chaplains could perform homosexual “marriage” ceremonies on or off military bases.

CNSNews.com made two separate inquiries last week of the White House press staff specificaly seeking a response to Archbishop Dolan’s letter. The White House did not respond to the inquiries.

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