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Washington, DC - October 1, 1998 - DignityUSA is disappointed that the Catholic bishops of Alaska have chosen to publicly and aggressively support a state constitutional amendment that legalizes discrimination of same-sex couples in civil marriage.

On November 3, the people of Alaska are being asked to amend the state constitution's Declaration of Rights section and limit marriage to one man and one woman. Proposition 2 states, "To be valid or recognized in the State, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman." In support of this amendment, the Catholic bishops released the pastoral letter, Marriage: One Man and One Woman. They claim the civil recognition of same-sex couples will undermine the institution of marriage and that of the family. Though they claim the document does not tell people how to vote, the pastoral letter was mailed to parishioners throughout Alaska.

Commenting on the bishop's actions, DignityUSA President Robert F. Miailovich said, "The bishops' decision to oppose legal recognition of same-sex couples is not surprising. However, their decision to release a pastoral letter supporting the amendment is very disappointing. Claiming that our gay families are a threat to the institution of marriage and will undermine the meaning and role of the family is an exaggeration. Dignity believes that our gay families, like non-gay families, are an expression of humanity's social nature. It is in our families and through our families that we express our love and the virtues of mutual respect and integrity."

Echoing Miailovich's comments, DignityUSA Executive Director Charles L. Cox went on to say, "By seeking to deny us civil recognition of our committed relationships, the State of Alaska and now Bishops Hurley, Kaniecki, and Warfel are placing an unfair burden on same-sex couples. Recognition of same sex unions would provide committed couples, regardless of sexual orientation, with reasonable and appropriate legal protections that would otherwise be unavailable. Speaking for Dignity, we hope that the Alaska Catholic bishops will one day come to understand that non-traditional families, like other families, are committed to building a stable and just society. There is no justification for the belief that civil recognition of same-sex unions will in any way negatively impact the condition of or the respect for church sanctioned marriages."

DignityUSA, founded in 1969, is the nation's largest organization of Catholic lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons, and their loved ones, families and friends.