Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Catholic Statement of Support for Marriage Equality

Background: Catholics for Marriage Equality MN is a grassroots initiative launched by lay Catholic individuals and groups in response to the clerical hierarchy’s campaign to deny civil marriage rights to lesbian and gay people. The initiative seeks to support, educate and mobilize Catholics in the advancement of freedom and equality for LGBT people at the federal, state, and local levels.

Catholics for Marriage Equality MN was officially launched with the hosting of an educational forum entitled “Why You Can Be Catholic and Support Gay Marriage.” Drawing approximately 400 people, this forum was held October 21, 2010, at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis and featured author and moral theologian Daniel Maguire from Marquette University. Maguire highlighted and discussed the support for same-sex marriage that can be found in all the world religions, including Roman Catholicism.

That same month C4ME-MN issued a statement outlining various reasons for supporting civil marriage equality for same-sex couples. These reasons relate to points of ethics, constitutional law, social justice, and Catholic moral teaching. The statement reflects C4ME-MN's recognition of marriage equality as a social justice issue, as a matter of fairness, and as a contributor to individual flourishing, the stabilization of relationships, and the common good of society.

We invite you to read and reflect upon this statement and, if you feel so moved, to support it by signing your name to it at the C4ME-MN website, here.


As Catholics of the State of Minnesota, we support civil marriage equality for the following reasons:

Point of Social Justice

In their 1997 pastoral statement, Always Our Children, the Catholic bishops of the United States write: "Respect for the God-given dignity of all persons means the recognition of human rights and responsibilities. The teachings of the Catholic Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them.” These are powerful words, rooted in Jesus’ call for social justice. As such they supersede certain teachings of the Church that reflect a medieval and inadequate understanding of human sexuality – teachings that, accordingly, are unresponsive to the presence and movement of the Spirit in the lives of LGBT people. Furthermore, we believe that civil marriage is one of those “fundamental human rights” referred to by the U.S. Catholic bishops.

Of any religious group in the U.S., American Catholics are among the strongest supporters of equality for LGBT people. We recognize that this support is intrinsic to Catholicism as it is a support drawn from the rich tradition of Catholic social justice teachings, grounded in the Gospel message of love.

Point of Constitutional Law

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that a State shall not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The State of Minnesota currently protects heterosexual unions with many legal benefits. There are no good reasons for denying the same protections to homosexual unions. Constitutional democracy is a democracy in which principles of justice are accepted by the people to regulate the vote of a majority in depriving a minority of rights.

Civil marriage should not be denied to anyone based on sexual orientation. Just as civil divorce would not be denied by the state because some churches do not believe in divorce and remarriage, civil marriage also should not be denied based on religious beliefs concerning sexual orientation.

No house of worship should have to perform a marriage ceremony against its will, and never because of the intrusion and/or compulsion of government. Guided by the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, government should not try to define persons suitable for marriage in houses of worship.

Point of Catholic Moral Teaching

The Catholic teaching of Probabilism holds that when there is a debate on a moral issue (in this case homosexuality and same-sex unions), where there are good reasons and good authorities on both sides of the debate, Catholics are free to make up their own minds. The magisterium of the Catholic hierarchy notwithstanding, there is debate among theologians and the faithful, the sensus fidelium, on the issue of homosexual unions. We do not believe that homosexual sex is per se a sin. We believe heterosexism (prejudice against people who are homosexual) is a sin. “It is a serious sin because it violates justice, truth, and love. It also distorts the true meaning of sex and thus also harms everyone, including heterosexuals.” (Maguire, Daniel. "A Catholic Defense of Same-Sex Marriage.")

Point of Ethics

When a significant number of U.S. citizens do not hold with Catholic ethical teaching on a specific issue, it is a violation of justice for a voting majority of Catholics to enact laws based on their own ethics. Catholics would suffer if a voting majority of other religious bodies enacted laws requiring behavior or denying benefits based on their religious ethics. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the common ethic of people in a religiously pluralistic society.”

You can now show your support for marriage equality by signing your name to C4ME-MN's Statement of Support. To do so, click here.

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