When Maryland’s Catholic Governor Martin O’Malley signs the state’s marriage equality bill into law on Thursday, March 1st, 2012, one of the people standing nearby him will be another Catholic who has worked tirelessly for most of her adult life to secure equality and justice for lesbian and gay people: Sister Jeannine Gramick, New Ways Ministry’s Co-Founder.
Sister Jeannine will join with many other civic and religious leaders to witness the bill’s signing in the Maryland State House in Annapolis. Attending the signing ceremony will cap months of efforts by Sister Jeannine, New Ways Ministry, and our Equally Blessed partners to help demonstrate Catholic support for the bill.
For several years, both Sister Jeannine and New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo have testified on behalf of marriage equality in the state legislature. Last year New Ways Ministry, hosted an educational conference day in Baltimore to explain theologically why Catholics are so supportive of marriage equality laws. At that conference New Ways Ministry launched its publication, Marriage Equality: A Positive Catholic Approach, which has been distributed in Maryland and across the nation. (After Sister Jeannine presented Governor O’Malley a copy of the book, the next day his secretary called New Ways Ministry to order 100 more!)
In 2012, Sister Jeannine made several trips to Annapolis on behalf of the bill: to support the governor when he announced the bill’s strengthened religious protections, to speak at a prayer breakfast with other religious leaders to demonstrate support from the faith community, and to testify in front of a legislative committee. From these experiences, she developed a personal connection with Governor O’Malley.
In their roles as partners in the Equally Blessed Coalition, she co-authored, with DeBernardo, “A Catholic Case for Same-sex Marriage” which appeared in The Washington Post. Equally Blessed partners also sent personal emails in support of the bill to all the members of the Maryland House of Delegates before their critical vote to pass the legislation.
While tomorrow Sister Jeannine will be going to visit Governor O’Malley in Annapolis to witness the signing, later next month, Governor O’Malley will be paying a visit to Sister Jeannine and hundreds of Catholics who will be attending New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium in Baltimore. To read details about Governor O’Malley’s participation in the Symposium, click here. For more information on the Symposium, click here.
For a Reuters news report on the bill signing, click here.
So, say a prayer for Sister Jeannine as she goes to Annapolis to witness–and be a part of –history!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry