U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) last month blasted the Vatican for its decree ordering Catholic politicians in America to oppose gay marriage.
Kerry, who is Catholic, said Pope John Paul II went too far with the anti-gay marriage decree.
"It is important not to have the church instructing politicians," Kerry said. "That is an inappropriate crossing of the line in this country. President Kennedy drew that line very clearly in 1960, and I believe we need to stand up for that line today."
Continued Kerry, "Our founding fathers separated church and state in America. It is an important separation. It is part of what makes America different and special, and we need to honor that as we go forward and I'm going to fight to do that."
Kerry added, "I believe in the church and I care about it enormously" but said church leaders should stop instructing Catholic officeholders on how to vote.
The Vatican document, "Consideradtions Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homodsexual Persons," says that Catholic politicians must oppose gay marriage and civil unions.
"When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral," reads the document.
The document, issued by the Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asserts that Catholic politicians must work to repeal any laws already in place recognizing gay unions. It also attacks allowing gays to raise children, insisting, "Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development."
Infuriated by the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down anti-sodomy laws, Religious Right groups have been pressing for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman only. President George W. Bush waded into the debate during a White House press conference July 30 when a reporter asked about his views on homosexuality.
"I am mindful that we're all sinners," said Bush, referring to Christian scripture. "And I caution those who may try to take the speck out of their neighbor's eye when they got a log in their own. I think it's very important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country."
Bush continued, "On the other hand, that does not mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on issues such as marriage.... I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and I believe we ought to codify that one way or the other, and we have lawyers looking at the best way to do that."
President Bill Clinton in 1996 signed a federal law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. Some Religious Right groups insist that the law does not go far enough and want the provision put into the Constitution. They have vowed to keep the pressure on Bush.
"We're going to take him at his word that he supports traditional marriage," Connie Mackey of the Family Research Council told The Washington Times. "We'll be watching."