The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has warned of “national conflict” over same-sex marriage with the US presidential election only a year away.

“The administration’s failure to change course on this matter will … precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions,” New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan wrote in a letter to the Obama Administration.

Dolan also complained that supporters of marriage equality were casting the issue as one of civil rights, which he said equated “opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or wilfully ignorant racial discrimination”.

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