For Immediate Release
November 7, 2012
Catholic Mainers Voted Their Faith
Defying direction from their bishop, Catholics joined the majority of Mainers who voted Yes on Question 1 to permit same-sex marriage in Maine. Towns with strong Catholic communities this year changed their 2009 anti-marriage equality stance.
Gov. John Baldacci said, "I couldn't be prouder to be part of the Catholic voices that helped make same-sex marriage the law in Maine again. There's no question in my mind that Catholics for Marriage Equality made a decisive difference in Catholic centers like Auburn, Augusta and Biddeford that previously voted against marriage equality."
Anne Underwood, co-founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality, said, “No matter how you do the math, more than half of Maine's Catholics had to have voted yes to get these numbers in the cities, and even in the smaller towns.”
Catholics for Marriage Equality spokesperson Frank O’Hara said, “Large numbers of Catholics examined their consciences and voted their faith. Catholics chose to follow Catholic social justice teaching and Jesus’ example of inclusive love. They rejected the bishop’s position.”
In an October 25 letter, Bishop Richard Malone now based in Buffalo, N.Y. called Catholics for Marriage Equality “a dissident group.” He said, “Any Catholic who supports a redefinition of marriage – or so called ‘same-sex’ marriage is unfaithful to Catholic doctrine.” His letter came the day after he learned that Catholics for Marriage Equality had placed ads in Sunday newspapers with signatures of over one hundred prominent Maine Catholics voting Yes on 1.
Rev. Dr. Marvin Ellison, President of the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination said, "Our colleagues in Catholics for Marriage Equality demonstrated that people of faith are the most effective messengers with other people of faith. Same-sex marriage received markedly higher support among Catholics this election. I believe this is because we counted on Catholics shaping the strategy and delivering the message, especially on voting one's own conscience."
Dr. Sharon Groves, Director of Religion and Faith at the Human Rights Campaign said in Portland after the vote was announced, “I see first-hand the importance of faith organizing in the marriage states this I am so impressed by Catholics for Marriage Equality, who, with few financial resources and an all-volunteer board, created and implemented a Catholic initiated, Pro-Catholic engagement strategy.”
Catholics for Marriage Equality was established during the 2009 referendum to provide hope and healing to people being harmed and hurt by the Catholic hierarchy’s attack on marriage for same-sex couples. Throughout both elections, they have educated and advocated for marriage equality. In addition to their signature ads, they distributed hundreds of bumper stickers and several thousand buttons and book marks with their web site and logo: Catholics for Marriage Equality, God is Love.
MEDIA STATEMENTFor Immediate Release 10/25/12
Statement of Catholics for Marriage Equality
Frank O'Hara, speaking for Catholics for Marriage Equality, responded to Bishop Malone’s statement today on the referendum to approve civil marriage for same sex couples in Maine:
“We agree with Bishop Malone that when we go into the voting booth, we should reflect upon whether our vote will advance human dignity and serve the common good. We will vote yes on Question 1, because we believe that allowing same sex couples to be recognized in civil marriage advances human dignity and serves the common good. In voting yes, we are voting for fidelity, commitment, love, and family, all values we learned as part of our Catholic upbringing.
“We think that Bishop Malone is overreaching his authority as a church official in practically ordering Catholics to vote the way he thinks on the referendum. Church officials do not have the authority to command that Catholics vote one way or the other in a civil election. This has never been part of Catholic teaching. Instead, the Church has always taught that a Catholic must consult his or her conscience to make the best decisions about life and politics. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that ‘man must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience.’ Bishops cannot ask Catholics to vote against their consciences. No Council has ever given them authority to dictate obedience in matters of politics and civil government.
“Finally, the Bishop says that ‘Catholics for Marriage Equality’ does not speak for the Catholic Church. He is correct. We have never claimed to speak for every Catholic. We do, however, speak for an important group of Catholics, all of whom are part of the universal Church. In this perspective, the Bishop does not speak for all Catholics either, at least insofar as politics and government.
“The Bishop asks Catholics to “vote your faith” on November 6, in favor of the family values of love and respect and fidelity and commitment, and we will vote yes on Question 1.”
The Spirit is Not Confused
This past Sunday was confusing and painful in my parish. Neither the Bishop’s pledge not to use Mass to campaign nor our parish tradition of affirmation, respect, and welcome for all stopped the pastor from inserting the politics of civil same-sex marriage into our worship.
A story of a husband making a sandwich for his wife opened the homily. As he had done for thirty years, the man carefully cut and gave the woman the heel of the bread. Breaking decades of silence, the wife asked, “Why do I always get the heel?” Surprised the husband replies, “Because it’s my favorite part, so I give it to you.” With that, the wife reveals, “But I hate the heel.”
Unpracticed in the art of marital communication, some priests persist with stories of “sacrificial marriages” to portray idealized spousal love between a wife and a husband – a man and a woman.
But often these stories they tell don’t support the claims they advance.
Citing the day’s Gospel, Mark 10:2-16, the priest insisted this classic passage denouncing divorce should today be construed as Gospel confirming the hierarchy’s’ political prohibition on civil marriage for same-sex couples.This was a forced stretch since neither the Gospels nor the Church has a theology of civil marriage.
From a passage devoted to divorce, he deduced that only opposite gender couples are chosen by God for marriage. They alone are God’s perfected.
Here is what I know from the Gospels and Church teaching: I know that God doesn’t make mistakes. God is Love, and all who love, live in God. Steadfastly, Jesus welcomed to His table those whom religious authorities rejected.
We are People of Hope, Faith and Love. After the service, parishioners holding a Catholics for Marriage Equality (C4ME) banner in an impromptu demonstration assured a shocked gay man “from away” that, like his family, most in our parish respect and support him.
We listened to a former Jesuit volunteer who cried about the “inappropriateness of that hate-filled sermon.” And, we passed out C4ME buttons and pamphlets to people with newly heightened concern in freedom and fairness under civil law for all God’s children.
The Spirit is moving to change minds and console hearts. Please pray for those hurt by our hierarchy’s politics and stand with us as Catholics for Marriage Equality. For more information visit us at www.catholicsformarriageequality.net and like us on Facebook.
Co-founder, Catholics for Marriage Equality
PS: Governor John E. Baldacci invites YOU to join us for a spaghetti supper in support of civil same-sex marriage! Learn more here.
Baldacci to Ladle Up Sauce Again in Support of Same-sex Marriage
Former Gov. John Baldacci will be ladling out the sauce again next week in Bangor and Portland at events sponsored by Catholics for Marriage Equality and the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination. The money raised at the events will be donated to organizations that support the homeless in Bangor and Portland rather than to Mainers United for Marriage, the campaign to allow same-sex marriage in Maine. The events are designed, however, to raise awareness about Question 1, which is on the Nov. 6 ballot. It will ask voters to allow marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples. Read more.
Respectful Disagreement of Catholic Representative at “Civil Discourse on Same Sex Marriage”
Representatives of Catholics for Marriage Equality (C4ME) demonstrated respectful disagreement at the “Civil Discourse on Same Sex Marriage,” on Thursday, September 20 on the USM campus. The forum’s inclusion of only the priest gives the impression that all Catholics share the political opinion of the bishops about same-sex marriage. The priest is representing the Bishop – he is not representing the majority of Catholic laity. Representatives from Catholics for Marriage Equality (C4ME) quietly stood behind a Catholics for Marriage Equality banner outside of the event to demonstrate respectful disagreement with the Bishop’s representative. It is vital that the public know that most Catholics disagree with the political opinion he will express.
Anne Underwood, co-founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality, speaking at the press conference.
A Message from C4ME:
In 2009, Catholics for Marriage Equality were visible and vocal. We rejected the Bishop's hijacking of worship time for politics. We rejected the Church hierarchy using money on politics instead of helping the poor and needy. We were victorious. In 2012, the victory will be welcoming same-sex couples into marriage in Maine. Please join our work and share in the social justice glow!
QUOTE TO NOTE: The Cardinal and Colbert Cardinal Timothy Dolan and television personality Stephen Colbert engaged in a widely-publicized conversation at Fordham University last week, moderated by Jesuit Fr. James Martin. The New York Times reports on the question and answer period, where one person asked:“ ‘So many Christian leaders spread hatred, especially of homosexuals. How can you maintain your joy?’” “Cardinal Dolan responded with two meandering anecdotes — one about having met this week with Muslim leaders, and another about encountering demonstrators outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.” “But Mr. Colbert’s response was quick and unequivocal. ‘If someone spreads hate,’ he said, ‘then they’re not your religious leader.’ ” -Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry
Minnesota Priest Donates $1,000 to Support Marriage Equality
We recently reported on a priest in Connecticut who was reprimanded by his archbishop for assisting at his cousin’s same-gender marriage ceremony. Today we have a story of a Minnesota priest’s action for marriage equality, which has created a bit of a stir in that state. Rev. Peter Lambert, pastor of St. Louis parish, Floodwood (45 miles west of Duluth), recently made a $1,000 donation to the campaign to defeat Minnesota’s upcoming ballot initiative to adopt a constitutional amendment to ban same-gender marriage.
Plan to consolidate parishes, very public opposition to same-sex marriage define bishop’s time in Maine
PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s Catholic shepherd for eight years will receive his new flock Friday when he is installed as the bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y. Bishop Richard J. Malone, 66, most likely will be remembered by Maine Catholics for his New Evangelization plan, which consolidated 137 parishes into 57. For non-Catholics, Malone’s legacy may be his leadership role in opposing same-sex marriage in 2009 and again this year. Read More.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend–and Other Maryland Catholics–Speak Out for Marriage Equality
At the press conference: Jenny and Pat Nugent, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Karin Quimby (of Marylanders for Marriage Equality), Erma Durkin, and William Cole IV (Baltimore City Councilperson). Catholics took center stage in the debate on marriage equality in Maryland yesterday. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the state’s former lieutenant governor and the eldest child of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was the featured speaker at a press conference on Catholic support for marriage equality. Read More.
Last week, a new poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life confirmed what other polls have been showing lately: the majority of Catholics support marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples, as well as supporting adoption by lesbian and gay couples. The report also shows that support among the general American population continues to grow. Read More.