Catholics in Maryland will have two opportunities to learn how to show support for marriage equality as the debate about that state’s upcoming referendum begins to heat up.
Catholics for Marriage Equality Maryland is hosting two community forums to help people learn more about the upcoming ballot initiative and to discuss ways that they can get Catholic supporters to the polls in November. Details about both events can be read below.
Maryland passed a marriage equality bill in February, and it was signed into law on March 1st by Governor Martin O’Malley, a Catholic. Opponents collected enough signatures to put the bill’s future up to a referendum this fall.
Photo of Governor Martin O’Malley by Michael Key, The Washington Blade
O’Malley spoke at a fundraiser for Maryland campaign for marriage equality, where he cited his Catholic heritage to support the issue. His remarks were quoted in The Advocate:
” ‘There is a deep strain in Catholic thought since Thomas Aquinas of Catholic responsibility to contribute to the common good, and the common good is a pluralistic good,’ he said. ‘It is a combination of many, many different faiths and many different people coming together, but the bedrock belief, I believe, of all Catholics who are involved in the civic life of their community is a belief in the dignity of every individual, and so it doesn’t surprise me that Catholic public servants would discern that.’ ”
Maryland’s marriage equality supporters are being encouraged to vote FOR question #6 at the polls in November.
In an interview with WFMD radio, Francis DeBernardo, a coalition member, explained the role of Catholics in this issue:
” ‘There’s a strong majority of Catholics across the country, polls have showing, are in favor of marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples,’ says Francis DeBernardo with the group.
“DeBernardo says these Catholics support it because of their faith, not despite it. ‘They favor it because they favor equality and fairness for people. They favor it because their Catholic social teaching has taught them to respect the dignity of every individual, and work for justice for those individuals,’ he says.”
DeBernardo answered questions concerning civil unions and religious exemptions:
“During the debate over the bill [in the springtime], opponents expressed concerns that it would lead to requirements that all churches and religious institutions, even those which oppose marriage for gays and lesbians, perform weddings for same-sex couples. But DeBernardo says that’s not correct. “‘The law that was passed in the spring, and the referendum question that’s being proposed for November, both protect the rights of religious institutions to decide who they want to marry,’ he says.”
“Instead of marriage, some states have civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. But DeBernardo says they don’t offer the same legal protections for a couple as marriage. ‘We don’t think that we should separate one group of people into a separate category with separate laws,’ says DeBernardo.”
Both forums will feature New Ways Ministry’s Co-Founder, Sister Jeannine Gramick.
The first forum also features Barbara Johnson, the Catholic lesbian woman who this past winter was denied communion at her mother’s funeral Mass in Maryland.
The first event will be held:
Saturday, September 29, 2012
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Greenbelt Community Church
Crescent Road and Hillside Road
Greenbelt, Maryland 20770
The second forum features Delegate Heather Mizeur, a Catholic lesbian woman who is a Maryland State Delegate.
The second event will be held:
Saturday, October 6, 2012
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Montgomery County Executive Office Building
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Participants can pre-register by emailing: info@NewWaysMinistry.org or calling: 301-277-5674. Registrations will also be taken at the door. Both events are free.
Suggested Reading before the events: Marriage Equality: A Positive Catholic Approach, available as a free PDF by clicking here.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry