The message that American Catholics support marriage equality is one that cannot be emphasized or repeated enough. Since the Catholic bishops oppose marriage equality so vocally and vociferously, it is important to keep reminding people that the hierarchy’s position is not reflective of the Catholic population. Some recent news stories highlight this fact.
The Washington Post’s blog “Under God” recently ran a quote from Nancy Pelosi, the House of Representatives minority leader who is Catholic, that she made at a press conference in response to a question about religion and marriage equality. Pelosi responded:
“My religion compels me–and I love it for it–to be against discrimination of any kind in our country, and I consider [the ban on gay marriage] a form of discrimination. I think it’s unconstitutional on top of that. So I think that yesterday was a great day for America because the president in a very personal, as well as presidential way, made history, and hopefully this will bring people together on the issue.”
She joins other prominent Catholic politicians–Washington State’s Governor Christine Gregoire, Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley, Vice President Joe Biden–who this past year have publicly voiced support for marriage equality.
Politicians are not the only prominent Catholics who are speaking out for marriage rights for lesbian and gay couples. A DailyBeast.com headline recently asked, “Do Most Catholic Theologians Support Same-Sex Marriage?,” and the article answers a resounding “Yes!”
One of the scholars cited is Paul Lakeland, professor of religion and director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, who, in reference to the bishops’ position on marriage equality, states:
“That’s not really an argument that has a theological justification. . . .It’s an argument that’s based more on fear or repugnance.”
Also quoted is Daniel Maguire, professor of theology at Marquette University:
“Archbishop Dolan and the United States Catholic Conference are misrepresenting ‘Catholic teaching,’ and are trying to present their idiosyncratic minority view as the ‘Catholic position,’ and it is not. . . .The bishops will stand with Dolan and the U.S. Catholic Conference, but on this issue, they are in moral schism since most in the Church have moved on [to] a more humane view on the rights of those whom God has made gay.
“Most Catholic theologians approve of same-sex marriage and Catholics generally do not differ much from the overall population on this issue.”
Frederick Parrella, professor of theology at Santa Clara University, notes that there is “nothing in the Gospels” to support opposition to marriage equality.
A new Gallup poll which shows that about 50% of Americans support marriage equality, 51% of Catholics express the same support, compared to 47% of Catholics who oppose such measures.
In his latest post, Michael O’Loughlin at America magazine’s “In All Things” blog offers some analysis of why Catholics are so supportive of marriage equality:
“As with the public as a whole, the more visible gay and lesbian people are in families, schools, and the workplace, the more likely Catholics are to support laws that they see as extending civil rights to a group of historically marginalized people. But is there something about Catholicism in particular that would lead to acceptance of same-sex marriage, even as some church leaders rail against it? I think the sacramental nature of our faith, the belief that the world is good and infused with God’s grace, and the understanding of family and community as pivotal to living out the Gospel might compel Catholics to reject the call to take up a fight against same-sex marriage. Perhaps some of the laity have taken to heart the church’s emphasis on social justice, its call to protect the marginalized, and its preached message of inclusivity for all, and are now applying these themes to a specific, modern situation. Some bishops may lament this break between shepherd and flock, but in some ways perhaps it is not so troubling? If Catholics are following what they believe to be well-formed consciences and standing up for those they see as victimized and marginalized, the Gospel message lives.”
From all quarters of the church, except the hierarchy, Catholics support marriage equality.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry