A Lesson In Underestimating The People In The Pews

 

A Lesson to Be Learned from Marriage Equality Victories

by newwaysministryblog

The news is almost too incredible to believe.

Yesterday, marriage equality was made the law of the land in three states–Maine, Maryland, and Washington State–and a proposed constitutional ban against marriage equality in a fourth state–Minnesota–was defeated.

Catholics played a significant role in all four states.  In Maine, Maryland, and Washington State, the original laws that were upheld by the referendum were all signed by Catholic governors.  In those states and Minnesota, active groups of Catholics for Marriage Equality worked tirelessly to get out the vote.

What makes the efforts of these Catholics for Marriage Equality so significant is that they have worked against incredible odds.  In each case, Catholic bishops have worked against marriage equality, and their power and influence is formidable when it comes to election campaigns.

It’s not the moral authority that the bishops have.  Indeed, due to the sexual abuse crisis among other things, their moral authority has seriously decreased in the last decade.  What they do have though is a vast communication infrastructure:  parishes, sermons, letters, mailing lists, bulletin inserts, schools–these are incredibly powerful tools to mobilize voters to vote the way the bishops instruct.  Despite these advantages, the bishop failed.

The lesson of this election for Catholics interested in LGBT equality is that lay organizing is becoming more powerful than the bishops’ organizing.  Despite that lay organizers do not have the access to Catholics that the bishops have, they have found a variety of methods to get their message across:  public vigilsYouTube videoscommunity forums, and newspaper advertisements, to name only a few.

We’ve also seen that having courageous priests and religious who are not afraid to speak out for equality are emerging.  Their witness gives us hope that others will soon step forward to urge people to form and follow their consciences with regard to marriage equality.

May the victories today inspire Catholics to continue to work for justice and equality for LGBT people.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

LGBT People And Catholics Are Already Election Day Winners

From New Ways Ministry Blog:

Today is Election Day in the United States of America.  If you are even just an occasional reader of this blog, you will know that in three states–Maine, Maryland, Washington State–voters will be asked to decide whether or not marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples will be law.  In a fourth state, Minnesota, voters will be deciding whether to enact a constitutional amendment which would ban marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples.

In all four states, Catholics have played a key role in the campaigns to support marriage equality.  As evidence, just enter any one of the state names, in the “Category” filter in the right hand column of this page, and you will find a wealth of blog posts from the past 12 months about how Catholics have been involved in the struggle for marriage equality.

This week, the National Catholic Reporter has editorialized on the potential outcomes of today’s votes, and has declared three groups of winners of the election already, regardless of the results.   As the following quotation from the editorial will demonstrate, those “winners” include LGBT people:

“We do not yet know the fate of the ballot initiatives in the four states voting on measures related to same-sex marriage. Regardless of the outcomes, one thing is for sure: Our LGBT brothers and sisters are taking their rightful place alongside us as full citizens. It will take more time yet for legislation to fully acknowledge this, but few will dispute that this election season, a tide was turned. We don’t yet know the final result, but this community might have helped re-elect a president.

“This year, LGBT Catholics have also claimed — maybe ‘earned’ is the better word — new respect within the church. To listen to our most public leaders, this may be hard to see, but in the pews across America, it is not. Whether it is citizens signing their names to newspaper ads or brave priests risking censure from their bishops, Catholics are telling our homosexual brothers and sisters that we are glad they stand in the assembly among us. We are family. Like civil laws, it will take time for church structures to formally acknowledge this, but we believe that this year will prove an important step toward achieving equality in the Catholic church.”

(The other two groups the editorial mentions are the “Nuns on the Bus” for their work to raise awareness of economic inequality; and Latinos, for becoming a strong enough voting bloc to warrant the attention of both parties.)

We could not agree more with this editorial.  Regardless of whether or not marriage equality becomes an option in these four states,  LGBT people and the goodness of their relationships have been given a level of visibility that was unthinkable 15 years ago.  And Catholic support for LGBT people and issues has not only been increasing, but more and more leaders in government and media are becoming aware that Catholics are overwhelmingly pro-LGBT.  Because of this, Catholics, too, have already emerged as winners from the election.

While we are hopeful that equality, fairness, and justice will soon be the law of the land, we know that if today’s election results do not move that agenda along, it will only be a short wait before these values become a reality for all in the U.S.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Do you Know Where YOUR Envelope Goes? Catholic Church Hierarchy Spending More Than A Million Dollars Against Marriage Equality

From The Human Rights Campaign:
by Dan Rafter, Online Campaigns Manager

click for full story

The Catholic Church is funneling unprecedented dollar amounts into the four states where marriage equality is on the ballot this fall – Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington – and in many cases, parishioners may not even be aware that their dollars are being used to fund discrimination. The new HRC report finds that the Church has spent at least $1.1 million as part of its broader effort to deny loving, committed couples the right to marry. In addition, a close ally of the Church and past co-conspirator, the National Organization for Marriage, has spent nearly $1.4 million on the four ballot measures. In the aggregate, the Church and NOM are the single largest funders of discrimination, responsible for funding nearly 60 percent of all anti-equality efforts in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington.

A significant portion of the Catholic-affiliated funding -more than $640,000 – comes from the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization within the Church. The Knights of Columbus have an established history of using their money to fight marriage equality dating back to 2005. Equally Blessed, a coalition of pro-LGBT Catholic groups, will be releasing an extensive report in partnership with HRC today detailing the Knights’ longstanding financial support for anti-equality measures.

In Minnesota alone, the opposition to marriage equality has received more than $180,000 from dioceses across the nation. Much of this funding likely came without the knowledge of parishioners; and as diocesan schools and important programs like soup kitchens struggle for resources, the Catholic Church has instead chosen to fund hateful, misleading political campaigns targeting loving, committed couples.

Learn more about the work of the Church hierarchy and its allies in fighting marriage equality this election cycle at www.hrc.org/catholicreport.

Will Minnesota’s Bishop Follow Maine In Marriage Equality?

From New Ways Ministry Blog:

Catholics in Minnesota are asking the states’ bishops to follow the example of Maine’s Bishop Malone by taking a less activist approach to the state’s upcoming marriage equality referendum.  In the past week, the Maine prelate released a pastoral letter on traditional heterosexual marriage, and announced that the Diocese of Portland would not be funding or staffing the political campaign to make sure that marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples is defeated.

Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota has instituted a number of new initiatives to make sure that their state’s proposed constitutional amendment against marriage equality will be defeated, including asking their bishops to take a cue from Bishop Malone.  According to a news report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“ ‘We are encouraged by Bishop Malone’s decision to place at the center of the Church’s mission in Maine Jesus’ call to care for the poor and marginalized,’ said Michael Bayly, executive director of Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota. ‘We pray that the bishops here in Minnesota will not only follow the example of Maine but will also be open to the love and commitment embodied in the relationships of committed gay and lesbian couples.’ ”

According to Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota’s blog site, Sensus Fidelium, the group

” . . . has organized a weekly prayer vigil during the season of Lent. Over 100 people attended last Sunday’s vigil, and organizers anticipate the numbers of attendees to continue to increase. Those who gather bear public witness to the fact that they do not see anything of Jesus’ life or message in Archbishop John Nienstedt’s support of the so-called ‘marriage amendment.’

“The group has also started an online petition asking Archbishop Nienstedt to re-focus the energy and resources of the Church away from divisive and unnecessary constitutional amendments back towards the core Catholic teachings of compassion and care for others. The petition can be found at FocusOnSocialJustice.Com

You can learn more about Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota at their website,c4me.org.

For more information about the Maine bishop’s action, you can read yesterday’sBondings 2.0 blog post.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

An Inspirational Man…

Howard Solomon, the uncle of a dear friend, has been profiled in the Portland Press Herald:

Howard Solomon was in his late 20s when he saw police cruisers screaming through Lower Manhattan and later read newspaper accounts of the groundbreaking riots that had erupted outside the Stonewall Inn in June 1969.

Solomon wasn’t at the now-famous nightclub that catered to New York City’s gay community.

“I was on a date with a female colleague,” said Solomon, now 69. “I was terribly closeted back then.”

A little more than a decade later, Solomon came out to his colleagues at Tufts University near Boston and began teaching some of the nation’s first college-level history courses that dealt openly with all aspects of sexuality.

Solomon, now retired and living in Bowdoinham, distinguished himself as a history professor at Tufts from 1971 through 2004 and as a vocal advocate for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

A gentle reminder that we stand on the shoulders of giants…

Give your Monday an inspirational start: Read the full story here.