Minnesota Catholics For, Against Gay Marriage

The Minnesota Independent is reporting that “Catholic bishops preparing anti-gay marriage campaign in Minnesota”. The opposition of Catholic bishops to same-sex marriage is well-known and will surprise no-one. What is interesting here is that they see the need for a campaign, that there is a real prospect of marriage equality coming to Minnesota that they believe is a credible threat they need to guard against. They will not have it all their own way.
“Minnesota Catholics Supporting Equality – Twin Cities Pride, 2009”

The newspaper quotes Michael Bayly of the Minnesota Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities:

“I’m not surprised that the Minnesota Roman Catholic bishops are planning an anti-marriage equality campaign,” he said. “The good news is that unlike five years ago, they’re now on the defensive, not the offensive.”
He said the bishops are reacting to marriage equality legislation in the last legislative session and the possibility of Minnesotans electing a governor who supports same-sex marriage. DFLer Mark Dayton and Independence party candidate Tom Horner support it, while GOPer Tom Emmer is opposed.
“Marriage equality is coming to Minensota, and they’re clearly not happy about it,” added Bayly. “In many ways I see what they’re doing as a last ditch effort to try and get Catholic voters to turn the election away from a win for the Democrats and thus marriage equality.”
He said his group is already working on an event that will run counter to those efforts. CPCSM is bringing in Daniel Maguire, author of “Catholic Defense of Same-Sex Marriage,” to the Twin Cities on Oct. 21. The event aims to “get the word out that one can be Catholic and support marriage equality, and not all Catholics are going along with the anti-gay and anti-marriage equality rhetoric and actions of the bishops,” he said.

Bishop John Quinn of the Winona Diocese has written to the Catholics of his diocese:

Traditional marriage is suffering attacks, he wrote, and “the most threatening now are efforts to legalize ‘same sex’ or ‘gay’ marriage, that is, marriage between two men or between two women.”
He adds, “I hope that you will become one of the thousands of Catholics who have contacted legislators and told them that marriage is a lifetime relationship between one man and one woman.”

The problem he has is that research has constantly shown that Catholics in general are more supportive of equality than other Americans. Some of the leading advocates of gay marriage, in the state legislature, and among ordinary voters, are themselves Catholics. Appeals to Catholics to “write their legislators” could inspire some to do exactly that – requesting support for marriage. To take sides on a contentious issue in a church which is already divided, could simply end up entrenching those divisions. Besides, even if they should succeed in shoring up opposition this time around, their success can be only temporary. Gay civil marriage, as Bayley observes, is coming to Minnesota whether the bishops like it or not.  Far more constructive than fighting off the inevitable, would be for the bishops to plan on how to respond once the day finally arrives. Same-sex marriage preparation classes, anyone? (In his own post on the article at his blog, “The Wild Reed“, Bayly makes some useful points about the bishops’ actions:

As I note in the article, I believe that in many ways what the bishops are doing can be seen as a last ditch effort to try and get Catholics to vote against the pro-gay marriage candidates (including for governor) in the upcoming November elections. Interestingly, according to Dictionary.com, the expression “last ditch effort” means a “desperate final attempt.” It alludes to the military sense of last ditch, “the last line of defense,” and its figurative use dates from the early 1800s. Given that those Catholics who oppose marriage equality see themselves as waging a war against evil in their defense of so-called “traditional marriage,” I guess my use of this term is appropriate!)
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