Monday, October 17, 2011

The Minneapolis (and Online) Premiere of Catholics for Marriage Equality

Three weeks ago at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis, Catholics for Marriage Equality MN premiered its video series featuring LGBT Catholics and their loved ones sharing stories of faith, family and marriage.

Simply entitled Catholics for Marriage Equality, the series serves as a loving and truth-telling response to the homo-negative and anti-marriage equality activism of Archbishop John Nienstedt and the Minnesota Catholic Conference of Bishops. Perhaps due, in part, to our series and the media attention its premiere received, the bishops have ratcheted their activism to a disturbing new level in recent weeks.

I don't, however, want to focus on such negativity in this particular Wild Reed post. Rather, I want to celebrate the launch of our video series (for which I had the honor of serving as executive producer), share images from its premiere at the Riverview Theater, and (best of all) share the five actual video vignettes that comprise Catholics for Marriage Equality (and which were uploaded today to YouTube and embedded in the Catholics for Marriage Equality MN website).

I start with the vignette featuring MN State Senator Scott Dibble and his husband Richard.

Right: Director Mary Kay Orman welcomes the approximately 200 people who gathered at the Riverview Theater for the September 29 premiere of Catholics for Marriage Equality.

Following are excerpts from Mary Kay's welcoming remarks:

The idea of creating this video series came about after my husband and I received a disturbing DVD sent to us by Archbishop Nienstedt. I felt both stunned and saddened by the negative messages and intolerant attitude towards LBGT Catholics contained in this DVD, as well as the push towards a “marriage amendment” to ban marriage rights for same-sex couples. As a member of the Catholic community, I could no longer stay silent.

I soon learned that I was not alone in my conviction. I met many other Catholics who felt the same way, and together we created a different kind of DVD - one that would help us see the face of God in the lives and relationships of LBGT couples, families, and supportive family members. I can’t think of anything more powerful than the sharing of personal stories.

Our hope is that those who view our video series will prayerfully reflect upon the negative impact of the proposed “marriage amendment” and commit to voting against it in November 2012.

Above: The series participants answer questions after the September 29 premiere of Catholics for Marriage Equality. From left: Tom and Darlene White (parents of a lesbian daughter); Richard Leyva and Scott Dibble; Bob DeNardo (straight ally); Janet and Grace Fischer-Schneider; and Lisa and Brent Vanderlinden (parents of a gay son).

Pictured with me above are members of the core team of folks I had the pleasure of working with to make Catholics for Marriage Equality a reality. From left: Me, Tom White, director Mary Kay Orman, Richard Leyva, filmmaker Aleshia Mueller, Scott Dibble, Grace Fischer-Schneider, Darlene White, Janet Fischer-Schneider, Brent and Lisa Vanderlinden, and Bob DeNardo.

Left: We had DVD copies of Catholics for Marriage Equality available at the Riverview Theater on September 29 – along with a discussion guide. We are currently establishing parish contacts who will work with us in sharing our DVD so as to facilitate discussions on faith, family and marriage with Catholics throughout the state. We have a limited number of DVDs still available (with more to be produced soon). If you're interested in obtaining one, e-mail me (Michael Bayly) at

Above: Catholics for Marriage Equality MN board member Paul Fleege (left) with premiere attendees Brian, Jack and Ron.

Right: Cheryl Mahoney and Catholic feminist theologian Mary Hunt at the September 29 premiere of Catholics for Marriage Equality.

Mary is co-founder and director of the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), which, in turn, is part of Women-Church Convergence, a coalition of more than 30 autonomous Catholic-rooted organizations and groups raising a feminist voice and committed to models of church that are participative, egalitarian, and self-governing.

In the days after the premiere of Catholics for Marriage Equality, the Women-Church Convergence issued a media release that, in part, reads:

The Women-Church Convergence meeting in Minneapolis, MN, on October 1, 2011, applauds and supports the work of Catholics for Marriage Equality in Minnesota. We are grateful for C4ME-MN's work to defeat the proposed state referendum that would limit marriage to a man and a woman. As Catholics, we affirm committed adult relationships, including marriage for all who choose it. Our faith invites no less and glories in the many forms of committed love we enjoy.

Left: With my good friends Joan and George – September 29, 2011.

Above: Friends Paula, Brian, John, Brigid, Kathleen and Bob – September 29, 2011.

Above: Catholics for Marriage Equality participant Darlene White with series videographer and editor Aleshia Mueller of Reel Nomad Productions.

Right: Tom and Gretchen Murr, co-founders of Catholic Rainbow Parents, being interviewed at the Riverview Theater by Bob McNaney of KSTP 5's Eyewitness News – September 29, 2011. For KSTP 5's coverage of the premiere of Catholics for Marriage Equality, click here.

Left: Standing at right with (from left) Catholics for Marriage Equality director Mary Kay Orman and MN State Senator Patricia Torres Ray – September 29, 2011.

Above: Friends John, Bob and Phil.

Above: Denny Smith of Winning Marriage Equality, Darlene White, Myrna Ohmann and Judy DeNardo – September 29, 2011.

Above: Javen Swanson of OutFront MN talks with attendees of the Catholics for Marriage Equality premiere – September 29, 2011.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Catholics for Marriage Equality MN
MN Catholic Bishops Critical of Video Vignettes Supporting Gay Marriage – Rose French (Star Tribune, September 29, 2011).
New Video Adds to Gay Marriage Debate Among Catholics – Lauren Radomski (KSTP, September 29, 2011).
Archdiocese Says Marriage Equality Group That "Seeks to Confuse Catholics" Must Be Avoided – Andy Birkey (Minnesota Independent, September 30, 2011).
Twin Cities Archdiocese Decries Catholic Gay Rights Group – Doug Belden (Pioneer Press, September 30, 2011).
MN Archdiocese: Catholics for Marriage Equality Are "Not in Good Standing with the Church" – Zack Ford (, September 30, 2011).
Archdiocese Renounces Catholics for Marriage Equality Group – Joe Kimbell (, September 30, 2011).
What is "Marriage Itself"? – Paula Ruddy (The Progressive Catholic Voice, September 30, 2011).
Catholics Promoting Marriage Equality: Minnesota Group Produces Powerful Video – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, October 1, 2011).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Local Catholics Premier Video Series on Faith, Family and Marriage
In the Struggle for Marriage Equality, MN Catholics are Making a Difference by Changing Hearts and Minds
Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues: An Overview
A Catholic Statement of Support for Same-Sex Marriage
Tips on Speaking as a Catholic in Support of Marriage Equality
Responding to Bishop Tobin's Remarks on Gay Marriage
Catholic Theologian: "Heterosexism, Not Homosexuality, is the Problem"
Responding to Whiny Catholic Bishops Who Cry Victim
A Gay Catholic Man's Testimony of Courage and Grace: "God Made Me and Loves Me Just As I Am"
Another Testimony of Courage and Grace: "In Finding Myself, I Found God and My Voice"

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Joni said...

I just watched the videos and all I can say is: "BRAVO and HERE, HERE!!!" They were direct, concise, warm and loving, and if that can't get the message across, I don't know what can!

Great job to everyone involved!

I especially related to Bob, who talked about Leviticus and the "rules" that some people no longer follow as they are out of date. As a Jewish woman who doesn't keep kosher (well, I do since I'm a vegetarian, but not for the kosher law reasons) I agree wholeheartedly that some of what is in the bible (or Torah) is outmoded -- we've learned things since.

So, in short, I wish everyone could just be loving and accepting and not be so bogged down in "what the Bible says."

Mary said...

These videos are beautiful. The point is made in so many ways.