Monday, July 1, 2013

Celebrating Marriage Equality at Gay Pride

A big 'thank you' to everyone who joined C4ME-MN at Twin Cities Gay Pride this past weekend – whether it was by stopping by or helping staff our booth in Loring Park, marching with us in Sunday's parade, or cheering us on from the packed-sidewalks of downtown Minneapolis as, with a myriad of other groups and organizations, we paraded down Hennepin Ave.

Giving the recent advances in marriage equality at both the state and federal levels, our theme this year was "Catholics Celebrating Marriage Equality!" We altered our banner to reflect this theme and gave out hundreds of stickers bearing this message (left). These stickers were very popular.

Above and below: As well as giving out our "Catholics Celebrating Marriage Equality" stickers, we also invited visitors to our booth to complete a questionnaire so as to help us discern our future direction and focus as an organization. Questions included:

• What do you think is the most pressing area of concern for LGBT people in the Roman Catholic Church?

• How would you describe your relationship to the Church?

• Where do you currently find affirmation and spiritual nourishment?

We'll report on the findings of our questionnaire in the next few weeks.

Right: C4ME-MN executive coordinator Michael Bayly and C4ME-MN board member Mary Kay Orman – Saturday, June 29, 2013.

Above: The C4ME-MN booth in Loring Park, where the annual Twin Cities Pride festival takes place – Saturday, June 29, 2013.

Related Off-site Links:
Twin Cities Pride: This Year, A Day of Celebration and Gratitude – Beth Hawkins (MinnPost, July 1, 2013).
Historic Pride Weekend in Pictures – Corey Anderson (MinnPost, July 1, 2013).
Twin Cities Pride Festival Has Joyous Tone in 2013 – Leslie Dyste (, July 1, 2013).
At Twin Cities Pride, Relief and Excitement – Pam Louwagie (Star Tribune, June 29, 2013).
The Annual Gay Pride Festival at Loring Park – Photo GalleryStar Tribune (June 29, 2013).
Pride Parade in Minneapolis – Photo GalleryStar Tribune (June 30, 2013).
Justin's Gift: Months After Anoka Rejection, Marchers Are Met with Cheers and Love at Pride Parade – Roxy Orcutt (MinnPost, July 1, 2013).
Court Wins Draw Big Crowds to Gay Pride Parades – Lisa Leff (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, June 30, 2013).
NYC Gay Pride Parade Draws Massive CrowdYahoo! News (July 1, 2013).

Images: Michael Bayly.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Join Us at Twin Cities Pride to Celebrate Marriage Equality!

Catholics for Marriage Equality MN will have a booth
at this year's Twin Cities Pride festival (Saturday, June 29 - Sunday, June 30).
We'll also be participating in Sunday's Pride parade.

Join us in the Parade on Sunday, June 30!

Our parade line-up number is 126. We will be behind Mormon Allies and in front of The Saloon (which should be easy to find as they always have a very big and colorful float!).

The parade begins at 11:00 a.m. sharp! And so we ask you to arrive at the staging area between 10:00-11:00 a.m.

The staging area is along 3rd St. S. in downtown Minneapolis, but it also extends off 3rd St. on 4th Ave. (between 3rd and 4th Sts.). That's where we'll be gathering!

We'll be marching in the parade as Catholics Celebrating Marriage Equality! The parade route is approximately one mile, starting (for us) at 3rd St. and 4th Ave, proceeding down Hennepin Ave., and ending in Loring Park.

For Pride Twin Cities' official Parade Guide (which includes a map and other helpful information), click here.

Visit Our Booth in Loring Park

As in previous years the Pride Twin Cities Festival will be taking place in Loring Park on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, Saturday, June 29 - Sunday, June 30. We invite you to stop by and celebrate with us the role that many Catholics played in defeating last year's 'marriage amendment' and securing in 2013 marriage equality for all!

We're also looking for folks to help staff our booth for an hour or two on either Saturday or Sunday. If you're interested in doing this, call Michael at 612-201-4534.

Our booth in Loring Park is #P-032, which means we're in the purple section of the festival map. Our booth is located between the horseshoe court and the lake, in the Lyndale/Hennepin and W. 15th St. corner of the park.

To view Pride Twin Cities' official festival map, click here. For other general information, click here.

We look forward to seeing you at Pride 2013
and celebrating marriage equality with you!

Recommended Off-site Links:
Marriage Equality Comes to Minnesota – Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed, May 13, 2013).
Rediscovering What Has Been Written on Our Hearts from the Very Beginning – Michael Bayly (The Wild Reed, May 28, 2013).
The Catholics, Other Faith Groups Behind Minnesota Marriage Victory – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, May 9, 2013).

Images: Michael Bayly (from his Wild Reed post "A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride – 2012").

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"It'll Be Legal August 1st"

By Michael Bayly

Four years ago MN State Sen. John Marty addressed the 2009 annual community meeting of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities and told those in attendance that "we can make it happen." He was referring to marriage equality for all Minnesotan citizens, regardless of sexual orientation.

Last Thursday, February 14, was St. Valentine's Day – a perfect day for the annual Freedom to Marry Day rally at the MN State Capitol. This year's rally, organized by Minnesotans United for All Families, saw over 2,000 people gather in the rotunda of the Capitol to show their support for civil marriage rights for same-sex couples. One of the definite highlights of the rally for me was when we unfurled the Catholics for Marriage Equality MN banner from one of the top balconies of the rotunda. I heard a thunderous wave of applause rise up from below, and thought to myself that the first of the rally's speakers must have stepped up to the podium. Looking down I made the wonderful discovery that it wasn't the appearance of a speaker that the crowd was so enthusiastically responding to, but rather the appearance of our banner!

Another highlight was my brief conversation with Sen. John Marty. Upon seeing me, he was quick to tell me that the award CPCSM presented him at our June 2009 annual community meeting (left) was still on his office wall. It clearly meant a lot to him, and, as executive coordinator of CPCSM/Catholics for Marriage Equality MN, I was honored and happy to be reminded of this.

At one point during our conversation last Thursday, John put his hand on my shoulder and said with utter conviction: "It'll be legal August 1st." He was, of course, talking about marriage equality – a justice issue he has been passionate about for as long as I can remember, and which makes him such a worthy recipient of CPCSM's Bishop Gumbleton Peace and Justice Award. And I'm thinking that if anyone knows the inside scoop on the behind-the-scenes political maneuvering and deal-making that is no doubt going on at the State Capitol around this issue, it would be John Marty. Marriage equality legislation is in the works, and, according to Sen. Scott Dibble, another friend and supporter of CPCSM, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage will likely appear this week.

Until then, here's an inspiring commentary that Sen. John Marty recently penned for the newsletter of The Apple Pie Alliance.

The Time for Marriage Equality is Here

by Senator John Marty
February 15, 2013

A massive Valentine's Day rally at the Minnesota State Capitol, which included over a hundred clergy and religious leaders calling for the state to allow same-sex couples to marry, is no longer surprising.

Times have changed. In 1997, when the Minnesota legislature passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), to "defend" marriage against same-sex couples, only a handful of legislators voted against it, and even fewer were willing to speak against it. Back then we received stacks of letters, many filled with hateful comments, condemning us for supporting the right of all people to marry the person they love.

Over time, there has been growing recognition that LGBT families deserve fair treatment. Even the strongest proponents of the constitutional amendment have changed their strategy and rhetoric in response to shifting public opinion. Ten years ago, Michelle Bachmann's legislation would have amended the constitution to ban not only marriages, but also civil unions. Now, less than a decade later, the amendment's authors declined to put a civil union ban in their proposal, knowing how unpopular that would be.

Shortly before the election, a gay TV reporter asked the spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage, the pro-amendment group, "How is my relationship less valid than others?" She responded, "[It is] certainly not less valid. . . . We understand that same-sex couples can love each other and commit to each other." This from the spokeswoman leading the fight against marriage equality! That's a huge change.

Opponents of marriage equality often speak of religious “truths” to make their case. My religious faith teaches that we are to treat others the way we would want to be treated. My church, like many others, promotes making a sacred, lifelong bond between couples who love each other. It is because of our faith, not in spite of it, that we promote marriage and work to strengthen families of same-sex couples just as with heterosexual ones. For us, the countless scripture passages on love and commitment, on honesty and fidelity, on compassion and understanding, and on the importance of parents caring for each other and their children are more compelling than the handful of verses that have been used by others to argue against homosexuality.

The religious leaders who came to the Capitol on Valentine's Day asking for marriage equality aren't asking others to share their religious beliefs; they respect the beliefs of those who disagree. They don't want the state to interfere with the religious beliefs of any of its people. Just as a church or religious denomination that objects to same-sex marriage has the right to refuse to solemnize those marriages, a church or religious denomination that believes in the value of same-sex marriage should have the right to solemnize those marriages.

The current law banning marriage doesn't stop same-sex couples from falling in love, from making commitments to each other, from sharing their lives together, from raising children, or from growing old together. Their love and commitment is a wonderful thing and healthy for society. There is no rational reason for denying their families the same rights and responsibilities that other married people have, including the right to pension and Social Security survivor's benefits, the right to family and medical leave, and numerous other benefits and obligations.

Many of these couples have been partners for more than the three decades that my wife Connie and I have been married, yet they still do not receive the same legal protections and rights that we have. They have been waiting for a long time.

I am confident that we will pass marriage equality legislation this session. Some would rather that we postpone the issue for a few years, but justice requires that we provide equality for LGBT families, and that we do so now.

Human rights for any minority should never be subject to popular opinion. Even so, the legislators who believed it should be determined by a statewide vote, got their way. And they lost.

We will pass legislation allowing all Minnesotans to marry the person they love – not because the majority rejected the amendment last fall – but because it is the right thing to do. The point here is that the opponents can no longer claim to have strong backing from the public.

The conversation about marriage equality that began last year in communities around the state helped build understanding of the value of all families. Passing legislation to allow marriage for all couples will not stop this conversation. Year after year, Minnesotans will continue gaining understanding and respect for those who are different from us.

Now, we can act. This year, we will finally give all Minnesotans the freedom to marry the person they love. And that's a beautiful thing.

Related Off-site Links:
MN Gay Marriage Bill Likely This Week, Politicians Differ on Whether Votes are There – Andy Birkey (, February 18, 2013).
GOP Minnesota Legislator Preparing to Co-sponsor Gay Marriage Bill – Baird Helgeson and Rachel E. Stassen-Berger (Star Tribune, February 19, 2013).
Minnesota Gay Marriage Opponents Weighing New 'Counter' Strategy – Cyndy Brucato (, February 19, 2013).
Same-sex Marriage Debate Moves to the Capitol – Sasha Aslanian (Minnesota Public Radio, January 8, 2013).
When Will Gay Marriage Be Legal in Minnesota? – Andy Mannix (City Pages, January 2, 2013).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Sen. John Marty: "We Can Make It Happen"
Sen. John Marty Recipient of CPCSM's 2009 Bishop Gumbleton Peace and Justice Award
In the Struggle for Marriage Equality, MN Catholics are Making a Difference by Changing Hearts and Minds
The Minneapolis (and Online) Premiere of Catholics for Marriage Equality
Marriage: "Part of What is Best in Human Nature"
A Head and Heart Response to the Catholic Hierarchy's Opposition to Marriage Equality
In Minnesota, Catholics Sing Their Support for Marriage Equality
Lisa Cressman's Concise, Reasonable Answers to Marriage Equality Questions

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Save the Date!

WHEN: February 14, 3:00 p.m.
WHERE: State Capitol Rotunda, St. Paul, MN

Organized by Minnesotans United for All Families, the Freedom to Marry Day Rally will be a key first step in working with state legislators to ensure that in 2013, Minnesota state law is changed to reflect our shared belief that loving and committed same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry.

This will be the first time this year that marriage proponents gather at the Capitol.

Will you join with hundreds of others in showing legislators that a broad and diverse coalition of Minnesotans support marriage for same-sex couples?

For more information or to RSVP for the rally, click here.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Coalition of Nuns, Evangelical Catholic Group Back Illinois Gay Marriage Bill

By Tony Merevick

Note: This article was first published January 4, 2012 by the Chicago Phoenix.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Sister Donna Quinn, a Chicago native who has been a Catholic nun for over 50 years, said it’s about time for Illinois to approve legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage.

“We believe in this, this has to be done,” she said. “We can do nothing less.”

Quinn, the coordinator of the National Coalition of American Nuns, which comprises over 2,000 nuns from across the country, said giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry is about fairness and respecting the love of people in committed relationships.

This breaks away from messages from the Chicago Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church, which is advocating against the bill.

“It’s more of a belief in people, in all people, gay and lesbian and — it doesn’t matter,” said Quinn. “Their choice to marry is important and the benefits are crucial for their living, their livelihood, and the children they raise.”

Quinn and other members of the local faith community have thrown their support behind the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, a bill that could potentially see a vote in the Illinois Senate as early as Thursday and in the Illinois House as early as Sunday or Monday.

“I think the support from the religious community is heartwarming,” said Rick Garcia, longtime LGBT rights activist and director of the Equal Marriage Project at The Civil Rights Agenda. “It’s critical. It’s critical to counter the anti-gay fundamentalists and Catholic bishops.”

Quinn and several religious leaders are condemning recent comments by Chicago Cardinal Francis George of the Roman Catholic Church, in which he said same-sex marriage violates natural law because gay and lesbian couples cannot produce children. George sent a pastoral letter to local Catholic priests, urging them to lobby against the bill.

“Civil laws that establish ‘same sex marriage’ create a legal fiction,” George wrote, “The State has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible.”

But a recent poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University released in late September that shows a majority of Illinois Catholics approve of legally recognized same-sex unions.

Eighty-one percent of Catholics surveyed support either full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples or the right to a civil union. Specifically, 39.9 percent said they support marriage rights and 40.1 percent said their position is for same-sex couples to have civil unions. Only 15.7 percent said there should be no legal recognition of same-sex relationships, according to the poll.

The numbers suggest that Catholics, too, are part of the growing wave of support for the bill, and others in the faith community won’t let George’s calls against it go unchallenged.

Bishop Alan Wilkowski of the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest issued his own letter Wednesday to lawmakers and made direct phone calls to some, urging them to support the bill and debunk “the myths advocated in the Cardinal’s letter,” he said.

“Based on our baptismal promise, I think that as men an women of faith, we have a right and obligation to enhance and protect the civil and human rights of all people,” Wilkowski said. “When religious communities — when they recognize their obligation as stewards of God’s creating — we have to do everything possible to improve the lives of all people. We cannot sit by silently and let people get relegated to less than equal status than other people.

Wilkowski argues that George is overstepping Catholic teachings, as well as the concept of an individual’s internal forum, by demanding government policy match the rules of his church, he said.

“We don’t live in a theocracy,” the Bishop said. “For the Cardinal to state that because of Roman Catholic ecclesiology, civil law must mirror that — that is voicing their beliefs on every man and woman in this state.”

However, Wilkowski believes the Cardinal and the Roman Catholic Church have the right to their own beliefs.

“If Rome wishes to limit marriage to just heterosexual couples, they can do that,” he said.

In addition, Wilkowski explains in his letter that marriage has been through several evolutions since the beginning of mankind and that it should no longer be attached to procreating.

“There’s never been a set concept of what marriage is. If we go back to before christianity, marriage was simply for procreation. Men had wives, it was simply for the purpose of procuring male offspring. That was considered the norm for centuries,” he told Chicago Phoenix.

“The Cardinal’s letter insults the intelligence of men and women by reducing natural law to some sort of circus acrobatic act,” he said, referring to sex for procreation. “The vocation of marriage is more than what one does in the bedroom. It is how two people come together, sharing their faith and the holy spirit in their lives. What do they do to build up the kingdom of God on earth.”

Both Quinn and Wilkowski are optimistic about the bill’s chances in the General Assembly but point out that the Catholic Church is pouring a lot of money into the same-sex marriage debate here.

“A lot of money is spent by leaders in the Catholic community against this issue,” Quinn said. “I don’t think that is as well known as other issues. When so much money is spent against women, marriage equality, reproductive justice — these are issues that when Catholic money is thrown to lobby against it, people need to rise up against it in protest.”

They praise people throughout the religious community and elsewhere for supporting the bill.

“I just feel very hopeful for this movement,” Quinn said.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pope Signals Inter-Faith Alliance Against Gay Marriage

By Philip Pullella

Note: This article was first published December 21, 2012 by Reuters.

Pope Benedict on Friday signaled the Vatican was ready to forge alliances with other religions against gay marriage, saying the family was threatened "to its foundations" by attempts to change its "true structure".

The pope's latest denunciation of gay marriage came in a Christmas address to Vatican officials in which he blended religion, philosophy, anthropology and sociology to illustrate the position of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Vatican has gone on the offensive in response to gains for gay marriage in the United States and Europe, using every possible opportunity to denounce it through papal speeches or editorials in its newspaper or on its radio station.

Throwing the full weight of his office behind a study by France's chief rabbi on the effects the legalization of gay marriage would have on children and society, he said:

"There is no denying the crisis that threatens it (the family) to its foundations - especially in the Western world."

The family had to be protected because it was "the authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint of human existence", he added.

Speaking in the frescoed Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, the 85-year-old pope said the family was being threatened by "a false understanding of freedom" and a repudiation of life-long commitment in heterosexual marriage.

"When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child - essential elements of the experience of being human are lost," the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics said.

In the speech, one of the most important the pope gives every year, he said people could not "dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being".

The "pre-ordained duality of man and woman" had to be respected, he said, if families and children were not to lose their place and dignity.

People could not become what he called "abstract human beings" choosing for themselves what their nature would be, added.

Religious Alliance

In some countries, the Catholic Church has already joined forces with Jews, Muslims and members of other religions to oppose the legalization of gay marriage, in some cases presenting arguments based on legal, social and anthropological analyses rather than religious teachings.

Significantly, the pope specifically praised as "profoundly moving" a study by Gilles Bernheim, France's chief rabbi, which has become the subject of heated debate in that country.

Bernheim, also a philosopher, argues that homosexual rights groups "will use gay marriage as a Trojan Horse" in a wider campaign to "deny sexual identity and erase sexual differences" and "undermine the heterosexual fundamentals of our society".

His study, "Gay Marriage, Parenthood and Adoption: What We Often Forget To Say", argues that plans to legalize gay marriage are being made for "the exclusive profit of a tiny minority" and are often supported because of political correctness.

In his own speech on Friday, the pope repeated some of the concepts in the Bernheim study, including an assertion that children raised by gay couples would be more "objects" than individuals.

Franco Grillini, a leader of Italy's gay community, called the pope's words "great foolishness," saying: "Where gay marriage has been approved, there has been no consequence on heterosexual marriage".

Last month, voters in the U.S. states of Maryland, Maine and Washington state approved same-sex marriage, the first time marriage rights have been extended to same-sex couples by popular vote.

Same-sex unions have been legalized in six states and the District of Columbia by lawmakers or courts.

In November, Spain's highest court also upheld a gay marriage law, and in France the socialist government has unveiled a draft law that would allow gay marriage.

For Fortunate Families co-founders Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata's response to the pope's remarks, click here.

For Catholic theologian William D. Lindsey's thoughts and analysis, click here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Co-Founders of Fortunate Families Respond to Pope's Recent Anti-Gay Remarks

Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata, co-founders of Fortunate Families, an organization that ministers with Catholic families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children, recently wrote the following op-ed for the Guest Voices blog of The Washington Post.


Peace Begins in the Gay-Friendly Home

By Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata

The Washington Post
January 1, 2013

As the new year begins, our list of threats to world peace includes the usual suspects: poverty, hunger, disease, environmental degradation, the availability of devastating weaponry and sectarian violence. To this list, Pope Benedict XVI would like to add our neighbor Bob.

In his message for the World Day of Peace, which takes place January 1, the pope said that allowing gay and lesbian people to marry “constitutes an offense against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.” That the pope holds these notions is not news. He has previously said that gay marriage threatens the “future of humanity itself.”

We are fortunate enough to be able to contrast the pope’s rhetoric with the reality of Bob’s life, and those of many other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people whom we know. They don’t seem like threats to world peace or the future of humanity. They are men and women trying to earn a living, love their spouses, raise their children and contribute a little something to their churches and their communities.

The pope is losing the fight against marriage equality because Catholics weigh his abstract definitions of what it means to be human, what it means to be male and what it means to be female, against the evidence of their own experience. They understand instinctively that human beings are too complex to be captured in such arid taxonomies, that categories devised by celibate philosophers no longer make much sense in a world in which traditional gender roles were abandoned long ago. Rather, what they know, what they believe, is the evidence of their own experience. Like John the Evangelist, they testify to what they have seen and heard.

It is difficult to think of the pediatrician who cares for your children, or the Sunday school teacher who is introducing your children to their faith, or the couple who open their home for a community fundraiser, as threats to world peace. It is hard to believe that the pope and his advisors understand our neighbor Bob’s “nature” better than he knows it himself. At some point you come to realize that it is not same-sex couples who pose a threat to our shared future; it is the people who work so hard and spend so much money to deny these couples the love and support they need to live generous and productive lives.

An ever-lengthening stream of public opinion polls confirm that a majority of U.S. Catholics support marriage equality and want to get rid of laws that discriminate against LGBT people. According to Pew research this year, “among [American] Catholics as a whole, supporters of same-sex marriage now outnumber opponents (52 percent vs. 37 percent).” Whether because of the great value that Catholic voters place on the family—all kinds of families—or the commitment rooted in church social justice teachings to treat all people equally, the U. S. Catholic electorate has crossed a bridge on this issue and shows no sign of going back.

History gives us every reason to believe that the church will one day follow suit, but that journey will be long and tortured. The pope presents his arguments against equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as immutable truth, just as the church once asserted that it was right when it argued against women’s suffrage, supported slavery, and banned new understandings of astronomy. On each of these issues, the church finally caught up with its people, but only after decades—and in the case of Galileo, centuries—of argument, exclusion and persecution. Catholics know that their leaders will eventually change their views on human sexuality.

In the meantime, most Catholics hear the pope’s increasingly strident rhetoric, think of our neighbor Bob and others like him, and scratch their heads. Then they go about their business of voting for marriage equality, opposing discrimination, and rejoicing at the unions of their gay and lesbian family and friends. We hope it doesn’t take several more popes and many more World Peace Day missteps before the Catholic hierarchy finally reforms its ways. Thankfully, ordinary, faithful Catholics are not waiting.

Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata are co-founders of Fortunate Families, which ministers with Catholic families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children, and is a member of the Equally Blessed coalition.