As gay marriage is debated in the Illinois General Assembly, Cardinal Francis George has released a letter attacking the notion of same-sex marriage itself and urging Catholics to voice their objections.
Illinois State Senate members went home on Thursday without voting the bill up or down in the final days of the veto session, although a senate committee did vote in favor of the bill to allow same-sex marraige. Supporters are hoping the bill will be passed after new lawmakers are sworn in on Jan. 9.
The marriage equality bill's failure to go before the senate for a full vote on Thursday was credited to pushback from the Catholic Conference of Illinois and Cardinal Francis George, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Illinois would become the 10th state in the country to allow same-sex marriages.
In his letter, George argued that because same-sex marriages cannot be consummated and are not undertaken for the purpose of conceiving children that government, "has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible."
He qualifies his argument by writing that the Catholic church offers support for the gay community through various ministries. George argues that opposition to the potential law is crucial because of societal acceptance same-sex marriage would gain if it is viewed as legal.
"Human dignity and human rights are then reduced to the whims of political majorities," he writes.
Supporters of same-sex marriage have long argued that legalization is a human rights issue and the restriction of marriage rights to heterosexual couples is its own form of discrimination.
The law would force no religious institutions to perform same-sex marriages.
Gay marriage has been gaining support nationally at a comparatively rapid rate in recent years. Recent polls have consistently indicated that over half of Americans support it. That number spikes to 72 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 years of age, according to a CBS News poll.