Catholics for Equality to USCCB: DOMA Affects Legal Discrimination, Not Religious Liberty
DOMA Affects Legal Discrimination, Not Religious Liberty
An Open Letter to Archbishop Timothy Dolan
February 25, 2011
Archbishop Timothy Dolan
Dear Archbishop Dolan:
It was with great disappointment that Catholics for Equality received the February 23, 2011 statement by Anthony R. Picarello, General Counsel for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In this USCCB statement, Mr. Picarello makes attempts to mislead not only public policy makers, but our American Catholic community.
The USCCB statement asserts that President Obama's decision to no longer defend a law that is unconstitutional is "a grave affront to the millions of Americans who both reject unjust discrimination and affirm the unique and inestimable value of marriage as between one man and one woman." While we agree with Mr. Picarello that the majority of Americans reject unjust discrimination, it is misleading to suggest that American Catholics and the public at large holds a monolithic opinion on the morality of same-sex relationships. Most opinions polls show the nation divided on this issue with rising support for marriage equality.
According to the 2010 Knights of Columbus/ Marist Poll, 52% of U.S. Catholics support marriage equality including 63% of young adult Catholics. The shift among young Catholics will continue as more people accept their gay and lesbians siblings, friends, and co-workers as fully equal citizens and fellow Catholics. These polls also show that on this issue, American Catholics support marriage equality more than any other national Christian faith group.
Even more troubling is the assertion that the President's decision not to defend DOMA, due to its unconstitutionality, is "a serious threat to the religious liberty of marriage supporters nationwide." Mr. Picarello, as a lawyer, knows that neither the repeal of DOMA, nor the passage of state marriage equality laws, in any way makes requirements on religious institutions or privately funded church organizations.
To testify otherwise in plain terms, Archbishop Dolan, is to bear false witness.
This is becoming an increasingly troubling pattern with our bishops when it comes to honesty around public policy on LGBT civil rights. Last year, Archbishop of the U.S. Military Services Timothy Broglio made similar falsehoods regarding the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, asserting that the repeal would require military chaplains to perform religious ceremonies contrary to their religious beliefs. This was blatantly untrue and Archbishop Broglio's statements were of great embarrassment to Catholics across the country when ruled to be unfounded by the Pentagon.
Catholics for Equality reached out to Archbishop Broglio, offering assistance in providing accurate information regarding the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and to answer any questions he might have. As faithful Catholics, we would like to extend that same offer to you and the USCCB regarding the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.
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.