As Lent began this week, Catholic marriage equality supporters in Oregon took the opportunity to offer their fasting and prayers for the success of a November referendum to decide whether the state should rescind its 2004 ban on same-gender marriage.
On Ash Wednesday, Catholic Oregonians for Marriage Equality met outside Portland’s St. Mary’s Cathedral to demonstrate that their faith compels them to work for equality for lesbian and gay couples. About twenty members went to the Cathedral’s prayer service wearing badges which indicated their support for marriage equality.
KATU-TV quoted Jackie Yerby, the group’s spokesperson, explaining why they were there:
“Treating people differently because of who they are and who they love is discrimination. . . .
“I am here today because I love God and I want to do all I can so that all Oregonians can live in a state free from discrimination of any kind.”
The Los Angeles Times, in an extensive article on how people of faith are divided on the marriage question, noted that the archbishop of Portland has stated that he will be encouraging Catholics to uphold the ban on same-gender marriage:
“Just three weeks ago, Portland Archbishop Andrew K. Sample told his staff via email that the Roman Catholic Church in the state would be joining a coalition called Protect Marriage Oregon to fight the effort to legalize same-sex marriage here.”
KATU-TV quoted the archbishop’s words:
“ ‘As the chief shepherd of this local flock it is my intention to commit the energies of the Church to help defeat this initiative,’ the archbishop wrote.
“He also asked staff to make defeating the measure a ‘top pastoral priority.’ ”
But, as polls continue to show, the majority of Catholics support marriage equality, and many recent efforts by bishops to oppose measures that would extend marriage to lesbian and gay couples have failed.
Ms. Yerby, who was a board member of Catholic Charities Portland for six years, explained that the position of Catholic Oregonians for Marriage Equality is not just a political one, but a faith decision. The Los Angeles Times quotes her:
“The newly formed group wants to show that ‘just because we’re Catholic doesn’t mean we don’t support same-sex marriage,’ said Yerby. . . .’We support same-sex marriage because we are Catholic.’ “
For more information on Catholic Oregonians for Marriage Equality, check out their Facebook page.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry