Last month — just a week before the president announced his support for marriage equality — I had the privilege of hearing Governors Chris Gregoire of Washington and Martin O’Malley of Maryland speak (at the Human Rights Campaign [HRC] offices in Washington DC) about their hard-fought battles to secure marriage equality in their respective states.
Perhaps the most eloquent explanations of how her Catholic faith played an important role in her decision to defend marriage equality comes from Governor Gregoire who had initially opposed, on religious grounds, civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples. Speaking in a television interview on Seattle’s KING Channel 5 on 4 Jan. 2012, the governor related how she had been hesitant to support marriage equality, in large part, because of her Catholic faith. It was in talking with her own daughters, however, that she began to understand that marriage equality was a civil rights issue similar in some ways to the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s which she had supported passionately as a child. After talking with a priest friend who supported her change of heart on the matter and after entering into respectful dialogue with her local bishop (who did not support marriage equality), Gregoire made the bold and faith-filled decision that she could not in good conscience deny the right of civil marriage to lesbian and gay couples in her state. Moreover, it was as a person of faith, as a Catholic, that she realized that she had a moral obligation to support marriage equality.
While the march to full marriage equality in the United States seems to advance at an agonizingly slow pace, it is important for us to recognize that most American Catholics (who now represent the largest single religious denomination in the country and, with just over 68 million members, make up approximately 22 percent of the American population) support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. Although it is the increasingly conservative bishops of the US church who get the lion’s share of press coverage on the issue, more newsworthy stories are actually those that report that five Catholic governors have worked, often at considerable risk to their political careers, to advance marriage equality. Even better news is that they are working in concert with the beliefs of millions of other American Catholics who understand that the Gospel AND important church teachings support marriage for all.
So, Let’s Hear It For The Millions of American Catholics Who Support Marriage Equality!
Bernard Schlager, Ph.D.
Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry,
Pacific School of Religion
-full report at Huffington Post
- Lay Catholics Stand Up for Gay Marriage (queeringthechurch.com)
- Maine’s Catholic Parishes Won’t Raise Funds for Marriage Equality Opponents (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- Catholic Nun Challenges Church’s Stance on Gay Marriage (queerchurchnews.wordpress.com)
- Straight Mormon Allies at Gay Pride, in Nine US Cities. (queeringthechurch.com)
- Rabbi criticises religious opponents of equal marriage (queeringthechurch.com)
- Maryland Catholics Organize to Support Marriage Equality (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- A Father’s Love for His Gay Son and for the Catholic Church (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- Mormons For Marriage Equality (queeringthechurch.com)