U.S. Bishops Launch Bulletin Insert Campaign as Marriage Equality Spreads

May 11, 2013

marriage equality 4This week, Delaware became the eleventh state (plus the District of Columbia) to enact marriage equality, and Minnesota seems poised to become the twelfth state next week.  The Supreme Court justices are deliberating two cases on marriage equality, and their decisions should be announced by the end of June.

In response to all of this news, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced a campaign of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice for Catholics, to encourage Catholics to oppose marriage equality.   They have developed a bulletin insert to be used in May and June across the country, offering ideas and actions for Catholics to enact.

The bulletin insert text describes the campaign:

“For the first time in our nation’s history, the Supreme Court is considering two cases about whether or not marriage should be redefined to include two persons of the same sex. These cases involve the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, both of which define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“The Court is expected to rule on both cases by the end of June. A broad negative ruling could redefine marriage in the law throughout the entire country, becoming the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has joined with many other organizations in urging the Supreme Court to uphold both DOMA and Proposition 8 and thereby to recognize the essential, irreplaceable contribution that husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, make to society, and especially to children.” [emphasis theirs]

The announcement of the campaign has inspired commentary from secular writers.  At ThinkProgress.com, Zack Ford thinks that the comparison to Roe v. Wade is inaccurate:

“This comparison to Roe v. Wade has been made several times in regards to these cases, but it remains unclear what exactly the intention beyond that comparison really is. Though the two have often been juxtaposed in the past as key social issues, they don’t actually compare substantively. Public opinion on marriage has consistently trended toward equality, while public opinion on abortion has remained split. Marriage is something that all people already have access to, but it only serves people who are heterosexual — a very different circumstance from the general question of whether a woman has a right to an abortion at all.”

Ford believes that this comparison is designed to promote future action against marriage equality:

“What this comparison does forebode is future attempts to curb back the rights of same-sex couples after marriage equality is achieved. Just as conservatives have resisted Roe by curbing women’s access to abortion as much as possible — like in North DakotaKansas,  andArkansas — they may try to limit same-sex couples’ access to marriage. Certainly, objections about violations of “religious liberty” already speak to this, suggesting future attempts to legalize discrimination against the LGBT community. These efforts seem less likely to succeed, though; so far, California’s Proposition 8 is the only example of a setback for marriage equality after it’s already been in place, and that becomes a moot point should the Court knock it down.”

Paul Constant, on a blog for Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper thinks that Ford is too pessimistic:

“Once the world doesn’t end in states that legalize gay marriage, and once more examples of happily married gay couples are seen in the media, this is going to be a dead issue . . .” [emphasis his]

In a more impatient vein, Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing on Salon.comgives a brief summary of rebuttals against marriage equality opponents:

“It bears repeating that if the idea of two men or two women pledging themselves to each other in a manner that grants them legal protection and societal validation ticks you off, that’s your thing. But for heaven’s sake, stop pretending that marriage isn’t a man-made institution, one that we humans have defined in different ways throughout the course of history. Stop forgetting that if you’re looking for “traditional” marriages, the Bible itself is chock-full of them — defined by incest, rape and bigamy. Stop conveniently ignoring that the church says that matrimony is for the procreation of children but doesn’t restrict the elderly or infertile from enjoying the benefits of religiously sanctioned unions.”

(For a succinct history of how marriage has changed in church and society, see chapter 8 in New Ways Ministry’s Marriage Equality:  A Positive Catholic Approach.)

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 


Pope Francis Has Mixed LGBT Legacy As Archbishop in Argentina

March 15, 2013

Pope Francis

As Pope Francis settles in after initial celebrations, onlookers from all perspectives and places begin to dissect his legacy in Argentina to derive how he may lead from Rome. Bondings 2.0 will provide readers with a variety of commentary and information on Pope Francis as his papacy commences, starting today with an examination of his record on LGBT issues while archbishop.

Most notably, Cardinal Bergoglio presided over the Argentine Church in its failed attempt to stop marriage equality legislation in 2010 when equal rights for marriage were extended to all couples. The then-cardinal spoke of marriage equality in apocalyptic language. He perceived equal rights as a threat to existing families and used the term “war” when referring to the nation’s marriage equality debate.

Katie McDonough at Salon compiled some of Pope Francis’ sharpest critiques of marriage equality, which speak for themselves and include:

“‘Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God’…

“Look at San Jose, Maria, Child and ask them [to] fervently defend Argentina’s family at this time. [Be reminded] what God told his people in a time of great anguish: “This war is not yours but God’s.” May they succor, defend and join God in this war.’”

Pope Francis, as archbishop in Argentina, also spoke strongly against the adoption of children by same-gender couples, which he labeled a form of discrimination and abuse:

“‘At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.’”

On a positive note, Pope Francis is widely revered for his commitment to the marginalized in society. National Catholic Reporter reveals that as Cardinal Bergoglio, he kissed and washed the feet of twelve AIDS patients in 2001 as a show of his “deep compassion for the victims of HIV-AIDS.”

As mixed as this record may be, not all view his record Argentina as the final word now that Cardinal Bergoglio is Pope Francis. Writing in Time, Tim Padgett is keeping his hopes up:

“I want to believe that his history as an advocate for the poor will bring him to see that today’s church is spending an inordinate amount of time, energy and ultimately moral credibility persecuting homosexuals, feminists and other “heretics” while it’s de-prioritizing, at least in the public’s eye, its core Christian (and human) mission of compassion and redemption.”

Whether Pope Francis will experience a shift as he assumes the papacy is known to God alone, but many in the LGBT community hold out for positive movement now that the former pope, Benedict XVI, has retired. Bondings 2.0 will report more thoroughly on signs of hope over the weekend, and further reactions from the Catholic LGBT community and organizations.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Catholic Vice President Joe Biden: “Who Do You Love?”

May 7, 2012

Vice President Joe Biden’s statement in support of marriage rights for lesbian and gay couples on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday offered one of the simplest and most practical criteria for defining who a person should be allowed to marry: “Who do you love?”

Not surprising that such support comes from the first Catholic Vice President, since it so precisely reflects the views of at least 74% of American Catholics (according to a PRRI poll) who are in favor of marriage rights for same-gender couples.

A good news summary of Biden’s statements can be read by clicking here, or you can watch a video clip of the interview with Biden:

New Ways Ministry is delighted with Vice President Biden’s remarks.  He reflects the thoughts of millions of American Catholics on marriage equality, and it is great to have such a prominent Catholic lay person be the spokesperson of the laity’s views on this matter, which differ significantly from those of the Catholic hierarchy, whose voice is usually the only Catholic one heard. Biden’s comments may not be the fullest statement of support one could have hoped for from the Obama administration, but they certainly move the discussion one giant leap forward.

The vice president’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, has long been an advocate for LGBT equality, and we are delighted that these two Catholics are helping to spread the message of equality and justice which comes from our faith experience which promotes the dignity of all human beings.

Interestingly, Biden’s question, “Who do you love?” echoes the title of an article written three decades ago by New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, Sister Jeannine Gramick:  “With Whom Have I Fallen In Love?”  The article, published in a Catholic periodical, focused on how people can determine their sexual orientation.

How does the Catholic veep’s views reflect the the views of President Obama?  Opinion is divided.

Political analyst Josh Marshall, editor of TalkingPointsMemo.com, thinks it might be a foretaste of what is to come:

“. . . I’m curious whether today’s remarks by Joe Biden on marriage equality are another example of Biden’s off-the-cuff indiscipline or something more like the White House trying to moon walk the President’s position on the issue, i.e., nudge and ease the president’s position forward while seeming to walk it back, so we’ll wake up one day and it will simply be different without ever being able to point to a day when it changed.

“Needless to say, we all know at this point that President Obama supports gay marriage but thinks the political tides aren’t quite safe enough to come out and say so. Lots of presidents telegraph this kind of equivocation but I have seen few cases where it’s been done so out there in the open.”

Pam Spaulding, writer/editor of Pam’sHouseBlend.com, did not think the remarks were significant because she felt that he was only endorsing support for civil unions, not marriage:

“I guess you could see this as yet another attempt to placate the LGBT community (i.e. open the gAyTM), or a hint that the President is about to tip-toe out of the closet, perhaps after the election. I don’t hold my breath for such things. . . .

“Biden’s comments are interesting in that they represent the President’s exact view – that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same civil rights, save the whole bit about the word ‘marriage.’ Talk about threading the political needle.”

Joan Walsh, editor at large for Salon.com, asked some interesting questions of the situation:

“It seemed an important step for an administration that can’t seem to get the president all the way there. President Obama is going to have to come out for gay marriage one of these days – can anyone honestly believe he’s against it? — but having the Catholic Biden endorse it helps, too. The group Catholic Democrats immediately Tweeted the little known fact that Catholics are the most pro-gay marriage of all Christian groups. Yet the backwards politics of the U.S. Bishops means most people don’t know that, and thus view gay marriage as a no-fly zone during an election season when the  Catholic swing vote is particularly important. So Biden’s comment mattered.

“Then the Vice President’s office issued a clarification:

‘The Vice President was saying what the President has said previously – that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights.  That’s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it.  Beyond that, the Vice President was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country.’

He too is evolving.’ Actually, it seemed as if Biden had finished evolving, and actually supported ‘men marrying men, and women marrying women.’  For a moment, I actually thought having Biden step out ahead of Obama was a deliberate, maybe even slightly cynical campaign move. But apparently the campaign isn’t ready to take that chance. Why would it be a problem to have the grandfatherly Irish Catholic VP a step ahead of the president on this one, anyway? I don’t know, but backtracking seems like a lose-lose to me.”

Let’s hope that the next steps will continue to be steps forward, as Biden’s original statement certainly was.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

 

 


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