Three Catholic Leaders Offer Responses to Maryland’s Marriage Equality Law

WJZ-TV, Baltimore, reported yesterday on Catholic response to Maryland enacting a marriage equality law.  The report’s headline, “Catholic Church Strongly Opposed To Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage In Md.,” is not quite accurate as the report itself demonstrates. Three Catholics are interviewed in the report:  Cardinal Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore, Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, and Governor Martin O’Malley.  Only Cardinal O’Brien expresses opposition, while the other two express support.

The term “Catholic Church in the headline should more accurately be rendered “Catholic Hierarch” or “Catholic Cardinal,” because the “Catholic Church” is more properly defined as the entire People of God, not just the hierarchy.  And as readers of this blog will know from many previous posts, the majority of Catholic lay people in the church are supportive of marriage equality for lesbian and gay people.You can read the enitre news report and watch a video of the interviews with these three people by clicking here.

Cardinal O’Brien responded to the new law:

““The fact that people of faith were just over-run on this whole thing so quickly is what really concerns me. . . .My basic concern is that faith and religion is being seen more and more as a permissible but private eccentricity,”

Francis DeBernardo observed that

“We are basically speaking about human beings, and about their inherent dignity and about the fact that their rights and families have to be protected,. . Laypeople and theologians see the issue as one of social justice and the bishops view it as one of sexuality,”


Governor O’Malley offered:

“My faith teaches me that human dignity is an important thing and that each of us is a gift from God, . . .And that’s the faith that I follow.” carries the full text of O’Malley’s statement reflecting on why he supported the marriage equality law.  He begins his statement by telling the touching story of one little boy:

“During the debate in Maryland’s House, I joined same-sex marriage supporters outside of the chambers who were anxiously awaiting the vote. I met two moms and their 4-year-old son Will. After standing for hours, Will was tired and seemed a bit uninterested. I could only imagine how hard it would be to understand the complex discussions as a 4-year-old.


“But the next day I saw a photo of Will and his family taken right after the House voted in support of marriage equality. His little face was lit up with joy, and he was cheering as his moms hugged him with the love that only a mother can provide. Will may not have understood the debates, but his smile after the vote proved one very important thing: even a 4-year-old knows the value of human dignity.”

As observed in yesterday’s blog post, O’Malley’s reflections on the law have strongly echoed Catholic social teaching.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Way Ministry


Sister Jeannine Goes to Annapolis for Marriage Equality Law Signing Ceremony

Governor Martin O'Malley
Sister Jeannine Gramick

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

Maryland House Passes Marriage Equality Bill

For information on the vote, click here.

Statement of  Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry

New Ways Ministry thanks and congratulates Maryland’s House of Delegates for passing marriage equality legislation today, insuring that human dignity is honored, discrimination is eradicated, and ALL Maryland families are protected.

“Throughout the years of debate on this bill, New Ways Ministry has maintained, along with the majority of Catholics, that marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples is the proper Catholic thing to do.  It is a simple matter of social justice, which is one of the highest values that our faith professes.  We were proud to publicly testify for this bill in legislative hearings.

“The bill in Maryland still has to be voted on by the state Senate, where it was passed last year.  No senator has said that he or she will be changing a vote from last year.

“Martin O’Malley, the state’s Catholic governor, has vowed to sign the bill.  Mr. O’Malley has worked ardently for the bill’s passage. We are proud that this man of faith has stood up to do the right thing for our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters. We hope that his witness emboldens other Catholic lawmakers to follow his path of courage.

“Please keep Maryland in your prayers, as the bill takes its final steps to becoming a law, which will make Maryland the eighth state (plus the District of Columbia) to enact marriage equality.”

New Ways Ministry is a 35-year old national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for lesbian/gay Catholics and the wider church and civil communities.  For more information, visit: