Elected officials who are Catholic are stepping up to support marriage equality—often despite heavy-handed tactics by the Catholic hierarchy. Political figures know that Catholics in the electorate continue to grow in their acceptance of marriage equality for LGBT people.
Recent Pew Research shows almost 50% of Catholics, regardless of how often they attend church, support full marriage equality.
In Rhode Island, a Catholic bishop recently lashed out at state officials for introducing a bill for marriage equality to the General Assembly. Governor Lincoln Chafee responded, “Our foundation here in Rhode Island was built on tolerance and acceptance and this is an area I want to move our state forward on, by building on our strengths of centuries ago.” Rhode Island would join Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C., if it passes. Rhode Island already recognizes marriages of same-sex couples from out of state.
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In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo (above) said in his inauguration speech, “We believe in justice for all, then let’s pass marriage equality this year once and for all.” His next action was to go to mass and take communion. When his father, Mario Cuomo, was governor, Cardinal O’Connor threatened him with excommunication because of his stand on abortion. Current New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan is against marriage equality but has not yet pushed back against Cuomo’s plans to move forward toward equality. A recent Siena College poll found that 56% of New Yorkers support marriage equality.
On the other side of the planet, Australian Cardinal George Pell weighed in on national legislation when he told the Sunday Telegraph that it was “incongruous for somebody to be a Captain Catholic one minute, saying they’re as good a Catholic as the Pope, then voting against the established Christian traditions”. Regional Premier, Kristina Keneally, a Catholic, called Peli’s statements “condemnatory and threatening” and defended her colleagues’ faithfulness to their religion and their responsibilities as legislators. Elected official, Tony Stewart said: “I found those comments from Pell bizarre and straight from the 1950s…Trying to get politicians to vote in accordance to the Catholic Church is really to the detriment of what parliamentary representation is all about in Australia.” LGBT advocates have been asking for a meeting with Cardinal Pell about marriage equality for the last month, and despite meeting his requirements, he has yet to meet with them.