New Jersey Initiates Marriage Equality, But Battle for Permanence Begins

October 7, 2013

New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage leaders at a press conference

Anti-marriage equality organizations have formed the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage as LGBT advocates seek to legalize equal marriage rights. Once again, Catholics are on center stage as the debate over marriage equality intensifies in that state from both judicial and legislative angles.

The Coalition includes a handful of conservative organizations, as well as the Knights of Columbus State Council, the New Jersey Catholic Conference, and the National Organization for Marriage which has close Catholic ties. On Top Magazine reports Coalition members are already unleashing anti-gay remarks, with a Knights leader comparing marriage equality to polygamy and incest, as others have done in the past. As for alternatives, the Coalition echoes Governor Chris Christie in calling for a state referendum on the issue.

The anti-marriage equality effort is in response to a  judge’s September 27th court order that New Jersey issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples beginning October 21. Judge Mary Jacobson claimed same-gender couples would be denied equal protection under the law if the state continued with merely civil unions, as they would be unable to receive federal benefits in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decisions in June.

Governor Chris Christie, a Catholic, has appealed the ruling to the state’s Supreme Court. With 2016 presidential aspirations, Christie has attempted to welcome LGBT rights in a broader sense and continue opposing marriage that would appeal to both moderates and Republicans respectively.

Judge Jacobson’s court order comes as the legislative side heats up as well. NJ.com reports on reactions from pro-equality leaders who continue working on passing a marriage law, even as legal battles remain:

“Advocacy groups and Democratic state officials reacted quickly, cheering Jacobson’s decision and urging Christie to let it stand unchallenged. And vowing to fight it if Christie did appeal…

“We have been saying it for months and it stands true today: through litigation or legislation, we will win the dignity of marriage this year,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality. “We just won the first round through litigation and we will continue to fight until we guarantee marriage for all New Jersey couples.”

“Udi Ofer, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said a coalition of groups pushing for gay marriage would also keep pressing state lawmakers for an override of Christie’s gay-marriage veto last year. The Democratic-controlled Legislature is nearly a dozen votes shy of being able to overturn the veto.”

Nearly 40% of New Jersey’s population identifies as Catholic, meaning the voice of Catholics will matter in speaking out to legislators and voting in a referendum, if one emerges. New Jersey also offers a prime moment for the Catholic hierarchy, Knights of Columbus, and those anti-equality lay people to heed Pope Francis’ new words and stop obsessing over marriage when true injustices abound.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Just Say “No” to NOM

April 5, 2012

Equally Blessed, a coalition of four Catholic justice organizations, has called on the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, to publicly disassociate themselves and their organizations from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

The group wrote to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson after documents unsealed in a court case in Maine revealed that in opposing marriage equality NOM sought to “drive a wedge” between the black and LGBT communities and the Latino and LGBT communities.

“Fostering hostility and hatred is something that violates the very fundamentals of our faith,” the group wrote to Dolan. “Our Church stands for unity among all, regardless of race or ethnicity. We should be promoting understanding, love and the inherent dignity of all people.”

The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has worked closely with NOM in opposing marriage equality in a number of states, including the current campaign to reverse same-gender marriage legislation in the state of Washington. The Knights of Columbus donated more than $1.9 million to NOM between 2008 and 2009 alone, according to the group’s annual reports. You can read the entire text of the letter to Dolan here.

In their letter to Anderson, the group said: “We believe that if all of the faithful Knights around the country knew that their leaders have spent millions of dollars fighting marriage equality, rather than spending it on the social programs that the faithful Knights expect, they would be outraged.”  You can read the entire text of the letter to Anderson here.

The strategy memo was among a number of documents unsealed last week by a federal judge. It revealed that in addition to turning ethnic communities against he LGBT community, NOM also sought to find children willing to speak out against their LGBT parents.

Equally Blessed is also asking supporters to use the “CatholicNoToNOM” graphic (above) as their profile picture on Facebook pages and to use the “#CatholicNoToNOM” hashtag on Twitter.

“A strategy that deliberately tries to divide families is shameful,” said Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogués, president of Dignity USA. “Being a lesbian makes me no less Cuban that I was before I came out, no less Catholic, no less a part of my family. Latino families want what is best for each of their members and know that anything that oppresses one of us oppresses all of us.”

In addition to calling upon Dolan and Anderson to publicly disassociate themselves and their organizations from NOM, Equally Blessed is also launching a social media campaign: #CatholicNoToNOM to raise awareness of the NOM’s tactics.

“We hear frequently that marriage equality would be detrimental to the family,” said Casey Lopata, co-founder of Fortunate Families. “But it is the National Organization for Marriage that is seeking to tear families apart.”

Equally Blessed includes four organizations that have spent a combined 115 years working on behalf of LGBT people and their families: Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry.


Equally Blessed to Bishops and K of C: Sever Ties With NOM

March 31, 2012

The news this week that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) had been intentionally trying to drive a political wedge between the LGBT and African-American communities has prompted a national Catholic coalition to call on the U.S. bishops and the Knights of Columbus to sever all ties with the anti-marriage equality organization.

Equally Blessed, a coalition of four national Catholic groups that work for justice and equality for LGBT people, has launched a social media campaign to alert people of the connections between these two powerful Catholic organizations and NOM, and to petition these groups to stop their alliance with NOM, including ending all financial support.

The Equally Blessed coalition (made up of Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, New Ways Ministry) has set up a Twitter hashtag for the campaign: #CatholicNoToNOM. ReligionDispatches.org has already begun reporting on the campaign.

For more on the NOM strategies that were revealed this week, HuffingtonPost.com has an analysis of the information.  You can also read the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) original revelation of the NOM documents here.

HRC’s “NOM Exposed” website has a page devoted to “Religious Ties,” in which Catholic support features prominently:

“NOM is comparatively unguarded about its ties to the Catholic Church, acknowledging that its early funds in California came from ‘well-off Catholic individuals,’ and NOM openly aligned with the Catholic Archdiocese in Maine. The largest known donation to NOM is $1.4 million from the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus in 2009; that comes on top of the Knights’ $500,000 donation in 2008.”

Bondings 2.0 will report more information on Equally Blessed’s campaign as it becomes available.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


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