A handful of gay Catholics gathered at George Washington University in D.C. on Sunday to protest a rally in support of a campaign that challenges the White House’s policies on same-sex marriage and other issues.
Members of Catholics for Equality and Dignity USA sang hymns and held a large banner that read “Bishops: We Need Pastors, Not Politicians, Your Antics are Hurting the Church” outside the Charles E. Smith Center on 22nd Street, N.W. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington was among those who spoke to the estimated 4,000 people who attended the gathering.
“We’re here to provide an opposite viewpoint to the U.S. bishops’ ‘Fortnight for Freedom campaign,’ said Joseph Palacios, director of the Catholics for Equality Foundation. He noted to the Blade that 67 percent — or $4 billion — of Catholic Charities’ annual funding comes from state and federal government sources. “They claim that they are being victims of religious liberty, when in fact the Catholic Church has probably more liberties than any organization in our country.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops officially kicked off the “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign last Thursday with a Mass at Baltimore’s Basilica of the Assumption. Forty dioceses around the country have signed onto the campaign that will end with a nationally televised Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. on July 4. The organization did not return the Blade’s requests for comment.
“This is all about election year politicking,” argued Palacios. “This is a cover for the Catholic Church’s issues on gay rights, on women’s reproductive issues, on so-called religious infringement.”
A Public Religion Research Institute poll in May 2011 found that 56 percent of white Catholics and 53 percent of Latino Catholics support nuptials for gays and lesbians. Catholic Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in March signed his state’s same-sex marriage law.
“Catholics are very divided in terms of their support for this conservative political agenda,” said Arlington resident Bob Miailovich as he stood outside the GWU rally. “We have already met here though today some people who are into the more conservative agenda and they take offense at any public program that does not comport foursquare with what the bishops are teaching. As Catholics, it’s a big church and it has a lot of divided opinion. We’re not monolithic on these social issues.”