NEWS NOTES: November 20, 2013, Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2013

NewsHere are some items you may find of interest:

1) Today is the National Transgender Day of Rememberance, which commemorates those transgender people who have died from transphobic violence. The official website for this day features some of the hundreds of transgender people murdered world wide in 2013, with more than one dozen having died in the U.S.

2) Archbishop Jozef Michalik, president of Poland’s bishops’ conference, blamed the scourge of child abuse on societal acceptance of same-gender couples, reports The Telegraph.   His statement to this effect came only a week after he also identified pornography as the main cause of child abuse.

3) In an op-ed essay in Portland’s Press Herald Mike Michaud, a Catholic gubernatorial candidate in Maine, came out as a gay man.

4) A  student at a Catholic high in Bronx, N.Y., has filed suit against the school, claiming she was expelled because she is a lesbian, reports The New York Post.

5) The heavily Roman Catholic Mexican state of Jalisco has legalized civil unions for lesbian and gay couples,  according to NECN.com.

6) Following up on the controversy of distributing tickets to a Macklemore concert at Jesuit-run Creighton University, Omaha.com reports on how Catholics in that Nebraska city are open and welcoming of gay and lesbian people.

7)  Lesbian and gay couples who are getting legally married have a variety of ways of planning and structuring their rituals, according to a Religion News Service article on the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog.  Catholics are among those making intentional and creative decisions about their ceremonies, notes DigntyUSA’s Marianne Duddy-Burke.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Majorities of US & Canadian Catholics Support Marriage Equality

March 10, 2013

A new Quinnipiac University poll finds American support for marriage equality growing, especially among Catholics, just as Supreme Court oral arguments around the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 are about to be heard in late March. A separate Canadian survey shows similar results for Catholics in that nation.

Quinnipiac’s survey results indicate that Catholic support is driving the expansion of marriage rights nationwide. 54% of Catholics polled are in support of marriage equality and only 38% in oppose, improved from a 49%-43% split in December 2012. Researcher Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said:

“‘Catholic voters are leading American voters toward support for same-sex marriage…Among all voters, there is almost no gender gap, but a big age gap. Voters 18 to 34 years old support same sex marriage 62 – 30 percent; voters 35 to 54 years old are divided 48 – 45 percent and voters over 55 are opposed 50 – 39 percent.’”

This gap among Catholics mirrors the emerging demographic trends around marriage equality reported on during an analysis of 2012 election exit polling recently released. Three states, Maryland, Washington, and Maine approved marriage equality ballot measures, while Minnesotans defeated a constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man and one woman during the 2012 elections. The Washington Post reports that exit polling showed:

“…resistance to same-sex marriage is shrinking and mainly concentrated among certain segments of the population: older people, white evangelical Christians and non-college-educated whites…

“‘Significant opposition to the freedom to marry is increasingly isolated within narrow demographic groups while a much broader and more diverse majority are ready to let same-sex couples marry,’ wrote Joel Benenson, who led President Obama’s polling operation in 2008 and 2012, and Jan van Lohuizen, who did the same job for former president George W. Bush…

“White evangelical Christians opposed same-sex marriage by nearly 3 to 1. But every non-evangelical group — other white Protestants, white Catholics, Hispanic Catholics, African American non-evangelicals and Jewish voters — expressed support for such unions by double-digit margins.”

Similar polling reveals that Canadian Catholics support marriage equality as well.  The Vancouver Sun reports on a recent University of Lethbridge poll:

“What about homosexuality? The Vatican continues to teach that homosexuality is a sinful ‘disorder.’

“But Canadian Catholics are increasingly accepting. Half approve of ‘same-sex couples marrying.’ An additional one in four Catholics acknowledge they disapprove of homosexual relationships, but “accept” them anyway…

“What of Europe, that other bastion of so-called ‘Western’ values? The rights of women and gays and individual freedom remain paramount throughout most of Europe, including in Italy, Spain and France, where the strong majority continue to say they are Catholic.”

Most interesting in much of the polling for Westernized Catholics is the strong religious identity expressed by those who overwhelmingly support LGBT equality. Previous distinctions on marriage equality between those considered ‘culturally’ Catholic who do not routinely attend Mass and those who attend Mass weekly are disappearing. The Quinnipiac University polling of US Catholics reported 90% of those surveyed consider their Catholic faith either fairly important, or for 57% very important, in their lives.

What do you think? Do an increasing number of Catholics support marriage equality in full harmony with their Catholic faith, not in spite of it, because of a growing understanding that LGBT rights are matters of justice and dignity? Or is it shifting demographics in age and ethnicity of the Church that merely mirror societal trends towards LGBT equality? Perhaps both? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


The Best of 2012 in Catholic LGBT News

December 31, 2012

Thumbs_upYesterday, we posted our list of the worst of 2012 in Catholic LGBT news.  Today, as promised, we end the year on a positive note by presenting our list of the BEST of the previous year.  Much good has happened in 2012, with Catholics at all levels of the church speaking out for justice and equality for LGBT people.

Thanks to the 286 of you who voted in our poll to determine the selection and ranking of these best news stories.  The percentage following each story is the percentage of people who chose this item as one of their top five.

The Top Ten

1. Catholic lay support aids marriage equality victories in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State. 23.08%

2. Priests in Minnesota and Maryland publicly counter the local hierarchy’s opposition to marriage equality. 14.69%  

3. Berlin’s Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki suggests that the church should treat gay and straight couples similarly9.09%  

4 & 5.  TIE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Bishop Richard Malone in Maine announces that the diocese will not take an active political role against the state’s marriage equality referendum. 8.39%                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Surveys show increase in support for LGBT issues among Hispanics, especially Catholics. 8.39%

6. At New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium, Australia’s Bishop Geoffrey Robinson calls for the church hierarchy to re-think its sexual ethics teachings8.04% 

7 & 8. TIE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The University of Notre Dame gives official recognition to a gay-straight alliance after years of student activism. 5.24%                           Austrian Cardinal overturns a pastor’s decision to bar a gay man from serving on a parish council. 5.24%

9. Catholics in Media Associates gives its top award to TV’s Modern Family, a show featuring a gay family. 3.85%  

10. Maryland priest who denied communion to a lesbian woman at her mother’s funeral is removed from pastoral ministry. 3.5%  

Editor’s Note:  One item which we neglected to add to the list for voting was that Vice President Joe Biden, a  Catholic, endorsed marriage equality, paving the way for President Barack Obama to do the same.  Biden also referred to transgender equality as “the civil rights issue of our time.”  We feel these should deserve some mention on the list of the best Catholic news of 2012.  We regret that we didn’t include them for voting.  Mea maxima culpa.

Other items

Cardinal Francis George apologizes for comparing the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan. 2.45%  

Ontario requires all schools, including state-supported Catholic schools, to institute gay-straight alliances. 2.1%  

Jesuit author James Martin endorses Spirit Day, a national program to end bullying of LGBT youth. 2.1% 

Pastor at Most Holy Redeemer parish in San Francisco reverses his earlier decision to ban drag queens from parish events. 1.75%

Students at Stonehill College, a Catholic campus in Massachusetts, win a new and improved non-discrimination policy. 1.4%  

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Maryland Governor Hosts Marriage Equality Victory Celebration

December 15, 2012
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (center) poses with New Ways Ministry's Sister Jeannine Gramick (right) and Francis DeBernardo (left).

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (center) poses with New Ways Ministry’s Sister Jeannine Gramick (right) and Francis DeBernardo (left).

Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley hosted a buffet dinner reception at the governor’s mansion in Annapolis to celebrate the state’s recent marriage equality referendum victory and to thank those who worked on the ballot campaign.

Among the invitees were New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, Sister Jeannine Gramick, and Executive Director, Francis DeBernardo, pictured here with Governor O’Malley.

Also attending was Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who was outspoken in his support for marriage equality in the state, despite criticism from some fans and other football players.  Below, DeBernardo poses with Ayanbadejo at the reception.

Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo (right) poses with Francis DeBernardo of New Ways MInistry at Governor O' Malley's marriage equality victory celebration.

Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo (right) poses with Francis DeBernardo of New Ways MInistry at Governor O’ Malley’s marriage equality victory celebration.

Maryland was one of three states this fall to pass marriage equality at the polls.  Washington State and Maine also were successful in their quests for equality.  Both Maryland and Washington State have Catholic governors who signed the marriage equality legislation.  When Maine’s legislature passed marriage equality in 2008, a Catholic governor signed the bill into law.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Update on Catholic Financing of Marriage Equality Opposition

November 19, 2012

Church financing to oppose marriage equality is in the news once again as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) updated its report on Catholic funding to reveal that Catholic institutions provided $2 million this year to try to forestall marriage for lesbian and gay couples in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State.

An earlier version of this report was released before the election. The full, updated report is available on the HRC website.

In a statement announcing the report update, HRC noted:

“The historic results of last week’s elections only highlight the growing disconnect between the fair-minded Romany Catholic laity and the anti-LGBT Church hierarchy. A 2012 Public Religion Research Institute poll found that nearly 60 percent of Catholics support marriage equality. In fact, polling indicates marriage equality is one of the least important issues Catholics are currently concerned with. That same poll, from Belden Russonello, found that 83 percent of Catholics feel their bishops should not influence their vote.”

The report breaks down the funding by state.  It complements a report by Equally Blessed released before the election which details funding to oppose marriage equality by the Knights of Columbus.

Chad Griffin, HRC President commented on the report:

“The American people went to the polls and affirmed one of the core values of the Roman Catholic Church: the belief that all humans are worthy of dignity, respect, and love. The Church and NOM [National Organization for Marriage] can continue pouring money into discriminating against LGBT people, but the writing is on the wall for their anti-equality agenda. The Roman Catholic hierarchy should be focusing on taking actions that actually improve people’s lives, not spending precious resources on spreading malicious lies aimed at tearing down an entire community of people.”

(As an aside, in a HuffingtonPost blog entry, Griffin cited one of ten reasons that marriage equality was so successful this election cycle was because “Faith coalitions were on our side:”

“In 2008, our opponents talked like they had a monopoly on faith. This year, the prominent voices of pro-equality faith leaders like Reverend Delman Coates and organizations like Catholics for Marriage Equality made a huge difference.”)

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, where the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis spent $650,000 in a campaign to support a state constitutional ban against marriage equality, a group of concerned Catholics is calling for greater transparency and accountability.

Minnesota Public Radio reported on a meeting of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform, where one leader, Martha Turner, asked participants to share their concerns about archdiocesan spending so that the group can start a conversation with the archdiocese:

” ‘We would like to hear your stories,’ Turner said. ‘We want to hear from you, we want to hear your experiences and your concerns about how the money is used that you donate to your parishes and that some of which ends up in the archdiocese.’ “

As Catholics begin to ask for more transparency and accountability, church leaders are going to find that they will have to be honest or that Catholics will vote with their pocketbooks by refusing donations.  What would be interesting to know is how much Catholic money was raised FOR marriage equality efforts.  As the number of Catholics who support marriage equality continues to grow, the total of their individual donations to marriage equality campaigns will is sure to grow.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


QUOTE TO NOTE: Thank You, Catholic Voters

November 7, 2012

National Catholic Reporter columnist Kate Childs Graham posted a piece today thanking Catholic voters for their tremendous positive impact in the four states that voted on marriage equality yesterday, while reminding us amid the euphoric victories that the struggle continues:

“As we celebrate these victories, these conversions, we must prepare for the next step on our journey towards fairness. Not only must we begin to organize and proselytize in those states that have not yet heeded the call of progress, we must bring that call to the pews…

Kate Childs Graham

“I look forward to a day when fairness for my family isn’t seen as a threat to freedom for my religion, when all communities of faith — including our Catholic community — affirm same-sex unions.

“That day can’t happen without some hard conversations and some hard work. So after the dust has settled and the celebrations have finished, let us band together like we did in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. Let us do as scripture says. Let us “learn to do right, seek justice, encourage the oppressed,” both in our communities and our church.

“Catholic voters, again I say simply: Thanks.”

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


A Lesson to Be Learned from Marriage Equality Victories

November 7, 2012

The news is almost too incredible to believe.

Yesterday, marriage equality was made the law of the land in three states–Maine, Maryland, and Washington State–and a proposed constitutional ban against marriage equality in a fourth state–Minnesota–was defeated.

Catholics played a significant role in all four states.  In Maine, Maryland, and Washington State, the original laws that were upheld by the referendum were all signed by Catholic governors.  In those states and Minnesota, active groups of Catholics for Marriage Equality worked tirelessly to get out the vote.

What makes the efforts of these Catholics for Marriage Equality so significant is that they have worked against incredible odds.  In each case, Catholic bishops have worked against marriage equality, and their power and influence is formidable when it comes to election campaigns.

It’s not the moral authority that the bishops have.  Indeed, due to the sexual abuse crisis among other things, their moral authority has seriously decreased in the last decade.  What they do have though is a vast communication infrastructure:  parishes, sermons, letters, mailing lists, bulletin inserts, schools–these are incredibly powerful tools to mobilize voters to vote the way the bishops instruct.  Despite these advantages, the bishop failed.

The lesson of this election for Catholics interested in LGBT equality is that lay organizing is becoming more powerful than the bishops’ organizing.  Despite that lay organizers do not have the access to Catholics that the bishops have, they have found a variety of methods to get their message across:  public vigils, YouTube videos, community forums, and newspaper advertisements, to name only a few.

We’ve also seen that having courageous priests and religious who are not afraid to speak out for equality are emerging.  Their witness gives us hope that others will soon step forward to urge people to form and follow their consciences with regard to marriage equality.

May the victories today inspire Catholics to continue to work for justice and equality for LGBT people.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


LGBT People and Catholics Are Already Election Day Winners

November 6, 2012

Today is Election Day in the United States of America.  If you are even just an occasional reader of this blog, you will know that in three states–Maine, Maryland, Washington State–voters will be asked to decide whether or not marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples will be law.  In a fourth state, Minnesota, voters will be deciding whether to enact a constitutional amendment which would ban marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples.

In all four states, Catholics have played a key role in the campaigns to support marriage equality.  As evidence, just enter any one of the state names, in the “Category” filter in the right hand column of this page, and you will find a wealth of blog posts from the past 12 months about how Catholics have been involved in the struggle for marriage equality.

This week, the National Catholic Reporter has editorialized on the potential outcomes of today’s votes, and has declared three groups of winners of the election already, regardless of the results.   As the following quotation from the editorial will demonstrate, those “winners” include LGBT people:

“We do not yet know the fate of the ballot initiatives in the four states voting on measures related to same-sex marriage. Regardless of the outcomes, one thing is for sure: Our LGBT brothers and sisters are taking their rightful place alongside us as full citizens. It will take more time yet for legislation to fully acknowledge this, but few will dispute that this election season, a tide was turned. We don’t yet know the final result, but this community might have helped re-elect a president.

“This year, LGBT Catholics have also claimed — maybe ‘earned’ is the better word — new respect within the church. To listen to our most public leaders, this may be hard to see, but in the pews across America, it is not. Whether it is citizens signing their names to newspaper ads or brave priests risking censure from their bishops, Catholics are telling our homosexual brothers and sisters that we are glad they stand in the assembly among us. We are family. Like civil laws, it will take time for church structures to formally acknowledge this, but we believe that this year will prove an important step toward achieving equality in the Catholic church.”

(The other two groups the editorial mentions are the “Nuns on the Bus” for their work to raise awareness of economic inequality; and Latinos, for becoming a strong enough voting bloc to warrant the attention of both parties.)

We could not agree more with this editorial.  Regardless of whether or not marriage equality becomes an option in these four states,  LGBT people and the goodness of their relationships have been given a level of visibility that was unthinkable 15 years ago.  And Catholic support for LGBT people and issues has not only been increasing, but more and more leaders in government and media are becoming aware that Catholics are overwhelmingly pro-LGBT.  Because of this, Catholics, too, have already emerged as winners from the election.

While we are hopeful that equality, fairness, and justice will soon be the law of the land, we know that if today’s election results do not move that agenda along, it will only be a short wait before these values become a reality for all in the U.S.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Maine Catholics Urge Others to Vote Their Consciences on Marriage Equality Referendum

October 30, 2012

As we come into the final week before Election Day, Catholics in Maine are becoming more public about their support for the state’s referendum to legalize marriage equality, while the Catholic bishop there is becoming more vocal about his opposition.

Catholics for Marriage Equality, the state’s organization of Catholic in favor of the referendum, took out quarter-page ads in three Maine newspapers this past Sunday urging people to vote for marriage equality.  100 Catholics across the state put their names to the ad to show their support.

In a Boston Globe news story, Anne Underwood, the lead organizer of Catholics for Marriage Equality, explained the background for the ad statement:

Anne Underwood

‘‘ ‘The premise is we support marriage for same-sex couples because it’s a matter of conscience,’’ said Underwood, an attorney from Topsham. ‘’And Catholics have an obligation to form their own consciences, especially on political issues and issues of morality.’ ’’

(You can view a video clip of an interview with Underwood by clicking here.)

The same news story quotes former governor of Maine, John Baldacci, a Catholic who is a strong supporter of marriage equality:

‘‘While we’re tremendously respectful, we also recognize that God gave us the ability of free choice and to be able to follow our hearts. When we see people who want to make a lifelong commitment to each other, that’s something we should be praising and supporting.’’

Baldacci recently hosted two spaghetti dinners to raise awareness for the marriage equality referendum.

Meanwhile, the state’s Bishop Richard Malone, the state’s Catholic ordinary who is governing the diocese from his new diocese in Buffalo, New York, issued a statement that any Catholic who votes for marriage equality is opposing Catholic doctrine.  He stated, in part:

Bishop Richard Malone

‘‘A Catholic whose conscience has been properly formed by scripture and church teachings cannot justify a vote for a candidate or referendum question that opposes the teachings of the church. The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, open to the birth of children, is a matter of established Catholic doctrine.’’

In response to the bishop’s statement, a Catholics for Marriage Equality spokesperson encouraged Catholics to vote as their conscience directs them:

“ ‘Emotionally, I have to say I’m disappointed and embarrassed a little bit that he would put out a statement like this,’ Frank O’Hara of Catholics for Marriage Equality said Thursday in a telephone interview. ‘In some respect, I think the bishop is overstepping the bounds of church teaching by telling Catholics how we should vote on an issue.’ ”

“O’Hara, 62, of Hallowell said he and other Catholics who support same-sex marriage will be voting their consciences on Election Day.

“’The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “man must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience,’” O’Hara said in a statement issued late Thursday afternoon by Catholics for Marriage Equality. ‘Bishops cannot ask Catholics to vote against their consciences. No council has ever given them the authority to dictate obedience in matters of politics and civil government.’

“O’Hara agreed with Malone that Catholics for Marriage Equality does not speak for the Catholic church or every Catholic in Maine.

“ ‘We do, however, speak for an important group of Catholics, all of whom are part of the universal church,’ he said. ‘In this perspective, the bishop does not speak for all Catholics either, at least insofar as politics and government are concerned.’ “

In a related item, the Knights of Columbus have recently donated $100,000 to the campaign in Maine opposed to the marriage equality referendum, according to a news story in the Kennebec Journal. 

--Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Catholic Campaigns for Marriage Equality in Maine and Maryland Intensify

October 20, 2012

Seventeen days remain until voters in four states will cast ballots regarding marriage equality’s future in their respective states. In Maine and Maryland, Catholic leaders on each side of the ballot questions are intensifying their efforts to turn Catholics out.  New Ways Ministry had public roles in the campaigns in both states this week.

In Maine, where a third of the population are Catholic, former Governor John Baldacci hosted a spaghetti dinner fundraiser in conjunction with Catholics for Marriage Equality to urge Mainers to vote Yes on Question One.

Governor John Baldacci (center) with New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick.

Catholics for Marriage Equality, the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, and Catholics United invited New Ways Ministry co-founder, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, and Executive Director, Francis DeBernardo, to speak at the dinner. The dinner also fundraised for a local homeless shelter defunded by the US bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development after the shelter came out in support for equality in 2009.

Sr. Gramick told those gathered:

“It is not just a vote for lesbian and gay couples and their right, because they do have the right to get married. It is a vote to support families. You can be a good Catholic and vote with your conscience and vote for marriage equality.”

You can watch a news video of the event, including interviews with Governor Baldacci and Sister Gramick by clicking here.

One priest in Maine has recently noted how hard it is for Catholics to speak together about marriage equality.  Fr. Seamus Griesbach of Bangor referenced the emotional damage caused by a 2009 Catholic bishops’ campaign against gay marriage that saw significant financial and staff investments. Fr. Griesbach told National Public Radio:

” ‘We have both perspectives in the church, and they’re very inclined to really get pretty nasty,’ says Griesbach. ‘So I think the church said, wait a minute, we cannot allow the Gospel to be limited to some kind of slogan.’ “

Sister Jeannine speaks at the Maryland press conference.

Meanwhile, Maryland Catholics joined with other faith communities in encouraging residents to vote for Question 6 and uphold a pre-existing marriage equality law. Religious leaders,  including Sr. Jeannine Gramick, gathered on Thursday, October 18th at an interfaith press conference to express their support for Question 6.

Sister Jeannine spoke at the conference and was quoted in the Washington Blade :

“As we grow in the moral right, we sometimes have to make conscience decisions that are at odds with the leaders of our religious denomination…I do respect the position of the Catholic bishops on this question, but I disagree with them and I disagree with them because my conscience tells me so. My conscience tells me that social justice teaching in my church… supports equality and dignity for every individual. And so I can apply that social justice teaching of my church to the question of civil marriage for lesbian and gay people. This is not a question of church doctrine. It’s a question of public policy. And in this area of public policy I respectfully disagree with the bishops of my church.’”

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 894 other followers