Gay marriage and the Catholic Church's selective concern for Constitutional rights

November 10, 2011

Edwin F. O'Brien, the former archbishop of Baltimore, and his colleagues from Washington and Delaware sent a 16-page statement to parishes arguing that allowing same-sex marriage would violate religious freedom. The call for Catholics to oppose gay marriage comes as Maryland supporters of same-sex unions prepare to push the issue again in the General Assembly.

Although the legislation considered in Maryland last year would not have forced priests (or any other religious officials) to perform same-sex marriages, the church officials worried that it would nonetheless erode the religious liberties of others -- bakers, musicians, florists, etc. -- who might not want to participate in gay marriage ceremonies.

"Religious liberty and the right of conscience will be further eroded unless the Catholic community stays informed about the challenges these rights face and the reasions why they are integral to a just society," the statement says.

Backers of gay marriage in Maryland and elsewhere have taken great pains to write legislation in such a way as to protect the religious rights of those who oppose gay unions. The Catholic Church, however, is showing little such regard to the rights of gay men and women to equal protection under the law.

--Andrew A. Green

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