A Catholic vice presidential candidate in Taiwan’s upcoming elections this week offered a general endorsement of LGBT rights, though hesitated on the question of marriage equality. Below are three recent instances where Catholic politicians have advanced equality.
Taiwanese Candidate Expresses LGBT Support
Philip Chen Chien-jen is the Democratic Progressive Party’s vice presidential nominee in Taiwan’s general elections scheduled for January 16. Chen, who is Catholic and holds knighthoods in the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the Order of St. Gregory the Great, was asked about marriage equality at a press event. According to UCA News, he replied:
” ‘God loves everyone and so he also loves gay people. . .Therefore, I also believe that gays have the right to pursue happiness and we should respect that right. . .But since same-sex marriage involves a change in society’s system, it needs more in-depth discussion before a decision is made.’ “
Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, alongside whom Chen is running, favors marriage equality which is widely supported by the public. They are favored to win and, if they do, Chen will likely be involved in efforts to equalize marriage rights.
Chen considers his candidacy a calling from God and consulted with Taipei’s Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan before announcing. The archbishop said Chen’s participation “would be a model for the 270,000 Catholics in Taiwan,” commenting to UCA News that Vatican II called Catholics into political participation. It is worth noting, too, that Chen’s candidacy is seen as a possible step toward better developments in Vatican-China relations. Unlike Catholic politicians elsewhere, whose relationship with the hierarchy is strained due to their LGBT support, Chen’s seems positive.
Governor-Elect Promises Non-discrimination Order
Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, who is Catholic, has promised LGBT employment non-discrimination protections, reported The Times-Picayune. Edwards will announce an executive order barring firing, discrimination, and harrassment against LGBT state employees and contractors when he takes office. Though limited in scope, it would be the first statewide non-discrimination protections in Louisiana.
Edwards is replacing short-lived presidential candidate and fellow Catholic, Governor Bobby Jindal, whose record is quite negative on LGBT issues.
Marriage Equality Plaintiff Elected Mayor
Patrick Wojahn was elected the first openly gay mayor of College Park, Maryland, reported The Diamondback.
Wojahn and his husband, Dave Kolesar, were plaintiffs in a lawsuit which was an important step in the struggle for marriage equality in the state. He continued to have a leadership role in the marriage equality movement when it passed on to legislative and referendum debates.
The couple were married in a non-legal religious ceremony at Dignity/Washington, an LGBT Catholic group, where they are members, and then later in a civil ceremony after marriage equality passed in the state in 2012.
In eight years on the City Council, Wojahn also helped pass nondiscrimination protections based on religious, gender, and sexual identities among other categories.
In increasing numbers, Catholic politicians are supporting full legal equality for LGBT constituents. This blog frequently features the good works towards LGBT inclusion being done by Catholics in the church, but Catholics’ work inspired by their faith in civil society should not be forgotten.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry