Last week's passage of Arizona's Proposition 102, Proposition 8 in California, and Proposition 2 in Florida amending these states' constitutions to prevent same-gender marriage was profoundly disappointing to all who believe in fairness and equality. However, I firmly believe that this represents a temporary setback in the ongoing work to ensure justice for all families, and want to point to some of the signs of hope which can serve as building blocks for future successes.
Particularly in California, DignityUSA and local Chapter leaders helped to build a coalition of Catholics who support marriage equality that included representatives from a number of organizations, as well as parents and friends of GLBT people. This group help press conferences, circulated a sign-on statement, confronted priests and bishops who distributed anti-equality material, and volunteered their time and money to No On 8 efforts. The Field Survey taken just prior to the election showed that 48% of California Catholics opposed Proposition 8, with only 44% in favor. Our California Chapters celebrated civil marriages for dozens of couples, and established wonderful guidelines for couples considering getting married at Dignity. In Florida, local leaders were very active in No On 2 efforts, as well as in national efforts to mobilize non-gay Catholics who support marriage equality.
I applaud all who were active in this work, and reiterate DignityUSA's ongoing commitment to affirming and celebrating the loving relationships of LGBT people. In the words of a Board motion affirmed by our membership in 2003:
Whereas DignityUSA believes that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have the right to full expression of their sexuality in ways that are consistent with Catholic/Christian values, including the right to enter into committed relationships; AND
Whereas DignityUSA is the only national Catholic organization that sustains a multi-faceted program of support for same-sex couples, including the blessing of their commitments; AND
Whereas the legal and spiritual recognition of same-sex couples is being debated by many legislative bodies and churches; AND
Whereas we know that civil marriage bestows important rights, protections and duties to the partners and their families and that religious affirmation of a couple's commitment honors the sacredness of their covenant;
Therefore be it resolved that DignityUSA declares the following position on same-sex marriage:
As Americans, we remind our fellow citizens of a foundational principle of our form of government: all are created equal. Consistent with the pursuit of liberty and justice for all, same-sex couples should have full and equal access to the rights and responsibilities bestowed by civil marriage.
As Catholics, we remind our Church of a foundational conviction of our faith: God is love and all that abide in love abide in God and God in them. The love that brings and binds two people of the same, or opposite sex, together has a divine source. It is therefore sacramental in nature and should be celebrated as such by our Church.
Finally, as the U.S. Catholic Bishops begin their annual meeting today, a number of Catholic justice organizations have issued a press release on marriage equality. The statement is reprinted here. I congratulate our sister organizations for their integrity and courage in making such a forceful and eloquent statement.