Catholic church gets into NJ gay marriage conflict
On the heels of their attack on gay marriage in the District of Columbia - which included threats of withdrawing the Catholic network of social services there - the Catholic Church is now jumping into the fray of the New Jersey gay marriage debate.
Now, the Church is instructing their priests in New Jersey to read aloud to their congregations an anit-gay marriage treaty, and/or to distribute it as a mailed letter or email or as a leaflet.
Earlier this month, the archdiocese of Washington, D.C. issued a threat to pull its support for services to the city’s poor and homeless if a measure approving marriage equality in the District were to pass, creating a separate buzz of bad press. However, undeterred by the controversy spurred by its actions in Maine and Washington, D.C., the church has instructed New Jersey priests to read an anti-equality letter aloud to their parishes, or else to distribute copies of the letter to their congregants.
The heavy involvement of the Catholic Church in Maine’s marriage equality struggle brought criticism and questions about the Catholic clergy crossing the line between church and state. The church there created a PAC to funnel money--more than half a million dollars--to the anti-gay Stand for Marriage Maine; voters in Maine narrowly approved a measure that rescinded marriage rights for gay and lesbian families there, in a ballot-box rights drama that echoed the repeal a year ago of marriage rights for gay and lesbian Californians.Calls for the church to lose its tax-exempt status for its role in the vote have been voiced, but are not expected to lead to action. Meantime, GLBT equality advocates note that gay and lesbian people of faith experienced alienation at their own churches when fund-raising efforts were carried out to benefit the anti-marriage campaign. Dignity USA’s executive director, Marianne Duddy-Burke, told EDGE, "Obviously, it is distressing, disturbing and very painful to see the leadership of our church using funds that should be used for ministry into institutionalizing state-sponsored discrimination."
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States