Seventeen days remain until voters in four states will cast ballots regarding marriage equality’s future in their respective states. In Maine and Maryland, Catholic leaders on each side of the ballot questions are intensifying their efforts to turn Catholics out. New Ways Ministry had public roles in the campaigns in both states this week.
In Maine, where a third of the population are Catholic, former Governor John Baldacci hosted a spaghetti dinner fundraiser in conjunction with Catholics for Marriage Equality to urge Mainers to vote Yes on Question One.
Catholics for Marriage Equality, the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination, and Catholics United invited New Ways Ministry co-founder, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, and Executive Director, Francis DeBernardo, to speak at the dinner. The dinner also fundraised for a local homeless shelter defunded by the US bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development after the shelter came out in support for equality in 2009.
Sr. Gramick told those gathered:
“It is not just a vote for lesbian and gay couples and their right, because they do have the right to get married. It is a vote to support families. You can be a good Catholic and vote with your conscience and vote for marriage equality.”
You can watch a news video of the event, including interviews with Governor Baldacci and Sister Gramick by clicking here.
One priest in Maine has recently noted how hard it is for Catholics to speak together about marriage equality. Fr. Seamus Griesbach of Bangor referenced the emotional damage caused by a 2009 Catholic bishops’ campaign against gay marriage that saw significant financial and staff investments. Fr. Griesbach told National Public Radio:
” ‘We have both perspectives in the church, and they’re very inclined to really get pretty nasty,’ says Griesbach. ‘So I think the church said, wait a minute, we cannot allow the Gospel to be limited to some kind of slogan.’ “
Meanwhile, Maryland Catholics joined with other faith communities in encouraging residents to vote for Question 6 and uphold a pre-existing marriage equality law. Religious leaders, including Sr. Jeannine Gramick, gathered on Thursday, October 18th at an interfaith press conference to express their support for Question 6.
Sister Jeannine spoke at the conference and was quoted in the Washington Blade :
“As we grow in the moral right, we sometimes have to make conscience decisions that are at odds with the leaders of our religious denomination…I do respect the position of the Catholic bishops on this question, but I disagree with them and I disagree with them because my conscience tells me so. My conscience tells me that social justice teaching in my church… supports equality and dignity for every individual. And so I can apply that social justice teaching of my church to the question of civil marriage for lesbian and gay people. This is not a question of church doctrine. It’s a question of public policy. And in this area of public policy I respectfully disagree with the bishops of my church.’”
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry