Gay marriage does not diminish religious liberty in Maryland

November 17, 2011

In a recent statement by the Maryland Catholic Conference, the Catholic bishops of Maryland extolled the right of religious freedom ("U.S. Catholic bishops to meet in city this week," Nov. 14). I couldn't agree more.

Yet I find it puzzling that these dignitaries argue that making room for others to fully participate in society is viewed as hostility toward Catholicism.

The bishops' statement affirms that religious liberty "enables religious groups to provide a voice for the voiceless." But somehow, according to them, loving gay and lesbian couples should be prevented from entering into civil marriage.

What's tricky about the exercise of religious freedom is that we must have a common faith in liberty and justice for all while navigating a diversity of religious opinions.

People can keep their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage and freely gather and worship in their religious communities. But in the public square of a democratic republic, we converge as one people where no single religion can dictate the lives and livelihood of everyone else.

We need not fear the dignity of all. The Free State of Maryland will only thrive as love and justice abounds.

Lisa Ward

The writer is co-chair of Maryland Faith For Equality.

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