June 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay Catholics protest ‘Fortnight for Freedom’ rally
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Catholics

Gay Catholics protest "Fortnight for Freedom" rally at George Washington University. (Blade photo by Blake Bergen)

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.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • You’ve got the Fortnight for Liberty all wrong. The Catholic Church (people) is the largest charity in our country after the Federal government. If the church cannot maintain the right to serve whoever they want to, and to provide services in accordance with their Faith; all of these wonderful institutions, Catholic Hospitals, Catholic Charities etc., will have to fold. Guess who will have to pick up the slack? Yes, you and me!
    Please pray for religious freedom.

    • Well then if the Catholics want to get into political debates then they should loose there 501c3 status. If you think for one minute the Catholics are not getting taxpayer dollars for these hospitals then you are about as bright as the church. US has separation of church and state and it’s time we shut down their political agenda. Stuck to preaching the good ward and stay the hell out of civil laws!

    • um……how is providing health care coverage that has contraception coverage going to cause Catholic Charities from helping the poor? or Notre Dame from educating our young adults? or any number of Catholic hospitals from healing the sick? It’s not, unless they make the choice to take their ball and go home.

      The very reasonable HHS compromise is that religious affiliated groups don’t have to pay for it, that their insurance providers would have to pick up that portion and absorb the cost. Which in the eyes of the insurance companies isn’t that big of a deal, since the cost of contraceptive coverage is much less than full term prenatal, birthing, and post natal care for an unwanted/unplanned pregnancy. Even if they don’t provide it, their money will still be used to buy contraception, as an out of pocket expense from their employees that choose to use it, especially if they have medical flex spending accounts available to them.

      Are there provisions in the ACA for employers to give employees a tax-free/tax deductible medical stipend that they could use to buy insurance on the soon to be set up open exchanges in lieu of actually providing health insurance? that could be another work around.

      as far as the controversy of gay marriage, it’s unfortunate that a legal contract between two consenting adults (civil marriage) has the same name as a sacred covenant between a man and a woman (or a man and many women depending on your religion and how much you approve of some of the Old Testament texts) and God. If a woman and I go to the courthouse, get a marriage license, and have it signed by witnesses, in the eyes of the government we’re married. in the eyes of the Church, we’re not. Likewise, go through the ritual of Holy Matrimony in a Catholic Church, without said marriage license, we are married in an unbreakable covenant in the eyes of the Church, but still single in the eyes of the government. The Church is protected under the First Amendment from the government forcing them to officiate gay marriage. the citizens of the United States should also be protected by the First Amendment from the Church forcing it’s views on who can be legally married in a civil/secular marriage to gain certain spousal rights and benefits.

      It’s ironic that the Right passed a number of anti-Sharia laws since 2008 at the state level, and what the Evangelical Right and the USCCB would like to see is basically imposing the christian version of Sharia law on the USA. As an aside, I am an active, practicing, and very disappointed cradle Catholic.

  • Bravo for your stand against the politicization of your religion. The Catholic bishops protest is misplaced and unwarranted. They would better serve their followers by standing up for equality and love, rather than divisive political posturing.

© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.