Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Minnesota always has been home and always will be home. We’re damn proud of our lakes, high school hockey, Prince, and Paul Wellstone. We were the first state to answer Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers at the start of the Civil War and we have one of the best social safety nets in the country. But in one week we could also become the 31st state to rewrite its constitution to ban same-sex marriage.*

*This is civil marriage – a legal contract recognized by the state that privileges two parties to state-recognized benefits – not the sacramental union in the Church (which also happens to be recognized by the state). This is an important distinction.

We’re also proud to call ourselves Catholics. It is a beautiful Faith and the Church does some wonderful work from advocacy on Capitol Hill to feeding the homeless at the Dorothy Day Center. Nevertheless, the Minnesota Catholic Church and its exceptional support of the amendment to ban gay marriage are major reasons that the vote Tuesday remains too close to call. It would be a tragedy if Minnesota votes yes – not just for the LGBT community, but for our state, and for our Church. 

In Faithful Citizenship, the U.S Catholic Bishops write, “Because we are people of both faith and reason, it is appropriate and necessary for us to bring this essential truth about human life and dignity to the public square.” We could not agree more – it is important for Catholics to express our faith, one that seeks to replicate the life of Jesus, and work toward establishing the Kingdom on Earth. Despite this, Faithful Citizenship only tells us how to vote, not what to vote for.

However, the deep body of Catholic Doctrine does provide guidance for how to live our lives – and vote. On of the point of homosexuality, the Catechism specifically tells us that our gay brothers and sisters “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching also compel Catholics to love, to stamp out discrimination without distinction, and to lift up every person but especially those at the margins of society. Therefore, it is not only OK for Catholics to vote against the marriage amendment, but rather it is necessary to vote no.  Jesuit priest James Martin wrote an eloquent piece that, framed by the marriage amendment on the ballot in Minnesota and other states, concludes by invoking Jesus’ commandment with a poignant alteration: “For you shall love your LGBT neighbor as yourself.” This concisely summarizes the broad thrust of what it means to live out the Gospel.  It is clear to us that marginalizing the already-marginalized through the marriage amendment is contrary to our Catholic faith.   

Rather than the Archdiocese investing over $650,000 in hopes of passing an amendment that is antithetical to the Gospel message, the Church should be using those resources to advocate for public policies that more accurately reflect Catholic teaching.  By expending capital – financial and political – on the marriage amendment, the Church is inhibiting its ability to make a difference on other policy issues that are directly reflective of the Gospel.  There is no doubt that the Minnesota Catholic Conference and the Archdiocese do tremendous amounts of positive policy and advocacy work in the state. In many ways these organizations bring the “essential truth about human life and dignity to the public square.” Which is exactly why it is so disappointing to see these Church-sponsored advocacy groups using resources to solidify disenfranchisement when they could be providing food, drink, and clothing to the hungry, thirsty, and naked.

Our Church in the Modern World “has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.” Setting the tone for the Church across the US, the Archbishop of Philadelphia has declared gay marriage “the issue of our time.” He is wrong. The signs of our time do not point to gay marriage but rather to people living undignified lives, the degradation of creation, and global presence of violence. The signs of our time point to over 566,000 Minnesotans living in poverty and 465,000 adults who did not graduate from high school. The signs of our time point the unequal distribution of health across the metro area, the fact that blacks make up over 35 percent of Minnesota’s prisoners but less than 6 percent of its population, and that Twin Cites’ blacks have an unemployment rate (18%) that is three times higher than whites. The signs of our time point to over 545,000 Minnesotans who had difficulty finding food sometime in the last year. They don’t point to Adam and Steve.

To prioritize gay marriage above poverty, hunger, and unemployment is incongruent and deeply flawed. The Church’s efforts supporting the marriage amendment are leeching attention and resources from other ministries more fundamental to the Church’s mission. It pains us to see our Church – one rooted in caring for the poor and marginalized – ignoring massive areas of its mission in order to focus on one narrow branch.  

On Tuesday, Catholics should vote no.


  1. yowza! Nice work, Patrick and Joey. Must be from your Confirmation Sponsor's presence in your life, eh?! Nice job of linking in Faithful Citizenship and Vat. II documents. I am worried that Catholics might vote YES, because they don't want it in the church - when it won't even happen in the church even if the vote is shot down. I have been thinking about writing a letter to the editor in the St.Cloud Times - you might just have inspired me to do it! Thanks. Blessings - Molly

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Keep it civil.