The Catholic Church’s rich tradition of social justice, a tradition rooted in the radical hospitality of Jesus, leads me to oppose the MN marriage amendment. Throughout history there are many examples of Catholics – including bishops – powerfully speaking out on social issues such as racism and immigrant rights. Traditionally, such speaking out has sought to reduce discrimination and expand the circle of acceptance and inclusion in our society. Yet this is not the case with the Minnesota bishops’ current activism around marriage equality. In fact, they are advocating the exact opposite: discrimination and exclusion.
For many Catholics this is a blatant and grievous betrayal – not only of Catholicism’s rich social justice tradition, but of the very way of being Catholic in the world. This “way” reflects the way of Jesus and is not about unquestioning obedience to the church hierarchy but about discerning and celebrating God’s presence in the lives and experiences of all. The bishops have forgotten this hallmark of the faith, but the Catholic people have not. It’s not surprising, then, that credible polls show that the majority of Catholics support civil rights for gay people – including civil marriage rights. Such support reflects the Catholic faith’s emphasis on compassion, justice, family, truth-telling and love. Like people of faith from a range of religious traditions, Catholics have witnessed these qualities and values in the lives and relationships of LGBT people. Our challenge now is to go out and share with others what we’ve witnessed. Such sharing will contribute greatly to the defeat of the amendment.
Michael Bayly is the executive coordinator of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN and the author of Creating Safe Environments for LGBT Students: A Catholic Schools Perspective. His blog, The Wild Reed, offers thoughts and reflections from a progressive, gay, Catholic perspective.