Majority of Catholics in Maryland Stand by Governor O'Malley!
Statewide Catholic Group Calls Archbishop O'Brien's Political Pressure Inappropriate and a Bad Use of Time
ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Catholics for Equality, a state-wide political group of Catholics in Maryland who support civil equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens is weighing in on the recent exchange between Governor Martin O'Malley and Archbishop Edwin O'Brien over the Governor's support for our state's marriage equality bill. The group applauds Gov. O'Malley for his support for equal rights for all Maryland citizens and believes Archbishop O'Brien's political criticism is both inappropriate and a bad use of his time, while churches and schools are closing due to lack of funding. The group also states that Archbishop O'Brien is also out of step with the majority of Catholics in Maryland who support civil marriage for loving and committed same-gender couples.
"Archbishop O'Brien, on this political issue, clearly doesn't speak for Maryland Catholics," says Manley Calhoun, Maryland Catholics for Equality State Chair. "A Grove Insight poll conducted in February 2011, showed that 55% of Catholics in Maryland support civil marriage. This is several points higher than the state at large, so the idea that our Archbishop has the backing of Catholics in the pews is ridiculous."
The group praised Governor O'Malley for his heightened leadership on this issue and believes this leadership will deliver the few extra votes necessary to pass the marriage equality bill in next year's legislative session. The marriage equality bill passed the Maryland State Senate in this year's session, but fell short of reaching the necessary support in the House of Delegates. Leading the effort to stop the legislation was the Maryland Catholic Conference, who worked vigorously behind the scenes in Annapolis.
"We're proud to have a Catholic governor who understands that as a public official, he serves the people of Maryland, not the will of any one religious institution, especially his own," stated Calhoun, "Governor O'Malley is standing on the shoulders of great American Catholic leaders like President John F. Kennedy, who proved to the country that you could trust Catholics in elected office not to be controlled by Rome."
The national Catholics for Equality group went on to criticize Archbishop O'Brien for not recognizing the important difference between civil marriage, the kind you get from the justice of the peace, and religious marriage, which all religious groups is free to decide for themselves, weather they wish to perform.
"It is as inappropriate for a bishop to give orders to a governor on what legal contracts the state should honor as it would be for a governor to tell a bishop what children he's allowed to baptize," said Phil Attey, Catholics for Equality Executive. "Archbishop O'Brien is way out of line here."
Calhoun went further in his criticism of Archbishop O'Brien.
"While Archbishop O'Brien is closing parishes and schools because of lack of funding, we Catholics would like to see him spending his time raising money to keep our churches and schools alive - not spending the money we give to the collection plate on political agendas we don't agree with."
Maryland Catholics for Equality empowers pro-equality Catholics in Maryland to put our faith into ethical and effective political action on behalf of the LGBT community and their families.
Maryland Catholics for Equality was founded in 2011 to support, educate, and mobilize Catholics throughout our state 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.