The second sentence in the amendment [2 pp. pdf] talks about legal status similar to marriage being outlawed. Some believe that statement went much farther than just defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, WISC-TV reported.
In his homily [wma], Morlino talks about such arguments.
"I am tired of reading that in the local newspapers. The nicest thing I can say about that in church is that it's bologna," said Morlino.
In the letter [2 pp. pdf], he told priests that any of them who express a disagreement with the church's teachings will be engaging in an act of disobedience, which could have serious consequences.
Update: Doug Erickson reports in the Wisconsin State Journal Bishop Morlino defends his vocal views on marriages, death penalty, stem cells
Morlino's warning to dissenting priests differs from the approach of his counterpart in Milwaukee, Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
Dolan, publisher of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's newspaper, the Catholic Herald, ran a guest column last month by the Rev. Bryan Massingale that urged Catholics to reject a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
Massingale, a Catholic priest and an associate professor of moral theology at Marquette University, could not be reached for comment Monday. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday that he has suffered no repercussions from Dolan.
Milwaukee Archdiocese spokeswoman Kathleen Hohl said she was not aware of any contact Dolan has had with priests regarding what they can or cannot say about ballot issues.
Update 2: Pat Schneider reports in the Capital Times Morlino: Amendment stance universal truth
But those positions are not "Catholic" positions, Morlino said in a letter [2 pp. pdf] distributed to area media today. "These are not tenets of our 'faith' we are defending. They are universal truths, based on reason alone."
Reaction was swift.
Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said the bishops letter left him "speechless."
"We were defending the public's right to know who is trying to influence the election," McCabe said.
"Now he's saying these are not Catholic positions at all -- he's done a complete 180 on these issues," he said.
If "Catholic positions" means like whether or not to eat meat on Fridays in Lent.