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Wednesday, January 16 2013

Catholics for Equality Applauds Gov. Cuomo for Marriage Equality Victory


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo - Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan

Catholics for Equality Applauds Gov. Cuomo for Marriage Equality Victory

Group Calls Our Bishops' Response Mean-spirited and Harmful to Catholic Youth
Group Also Calls on LGBT Groups to Better Understand and Address the Catholic Community


WASHINGTON - Catholics for Equality, a national organization of Catholics who put their faith into ethical and effective political action on behalf of the LGBT community and their families, joined the overwhelming majority of Catholics across the country in applauding fellow Catholics, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Catholic state legislators of New York, for bringing marriage equality to their state. The group also voiced concerns over the mean-spirited response made by the Catholic bishops of New York.

"Governor Cuomo's support for marriage equality represented not only the will of the majority of New Yorkers, but the will of the majority of Catholics throughout the state," said Catholics for Equality Executive Director Phil Attey. "Governor Cuomo follows the legacy of President John F. Kennedy in reaffirming that American Catholics can be trusted in our political system to be faithful Catholics, while being champions of the Constitution and the ideals upon which our nation was founded."

An April 2011 Siena College Research Institute poll found that 59% of Catholics in New York, who make up 40% of the population, support civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples. This statistic follows national polling this year showing supermajorities of American Catholics support for civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples. See: 63 to 71% of American Catholics Support Same-Gender Civil Marriage

Despite this overwhelming support within the Catholic community and wide reaching religious exemptions in the final version, the bishops of New York and the New York Catholic Conference mounted the largest campaign against the marriage equality bill. The immediate response of the bishops to the bill's passage was a hostile letter forbidding any Catholic school in the state to allow pro-equality legislators to participate in school events.

"This not only harms Catholic youth by preventing them access to their elected officials, but more damagingly sends the message to them that there is no room for them to form their consciences on social issues," says Catholics for Equality Foundation Director Joseph Palacios. Palacios, a professor of sociology, went on to say, "Primacy of Conscience has been a cornerstone of Catholicism for generations. To teach our youth to be autobots on any issue betrays that tradition."

The group went on to encourage national and state equality groups to better understand the political opportunities and obstacles the Catholic community presents across the country. While most equality campaigns now include people of faith outreach programs, these programs are based on Protestant models, utilizing supportive clergy as spokespersons and to mobilize their congregations.

"These models don't work within the Catholic institutional and political context,' remarks Attey. "We need to work together with the equality groups, especially in highly Catholic states, to develop a more sophisticated political strategy. This strategy must establish vehicles to tap into the overwhelming support within the Catholic community, while addressing the political power of our bishops, the behind the scenes work of state Catholic conferences and the covert work of Catholic front groups like the National Organization for Marriage. We have many state battles in front of us and in few of these states do we have a prominent leader like Governor Cuomo to provide a Catholic counterforce to the bishops."




Catholics for Equality empowers pro-equality Catholics to put our faith into ethical and effective political action on behalf of the LGBT community and their families.

Catholics for Equality was founded in 2010 to support, educate, and mobilize Catholics in the advancement of freedom and equality at the federal, state, and local levels for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender family, parish and community members.

Catholics for Equality © 2010 • Catholics for Equality Foundation © 2010
PO Box 34765 • Washington, DC • 20043-4765 • tele: 202.657.6097