Catholic bishops preparing anti-gay marriage campaign in Minnesota

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Some of Minnesota’s Catholic bishops are preparing a push against the legalization of same-sex marriage in the final two months of the 2010 campaign season. So far, most Minnesota bishops are not making their plans public, but Bishop John Quinn of the Winona Diocese gave parishioners a glimpse in a recent newsletter (PDF). “The bishops of Minnesota are alarmed by the continuing attacks on the institution of marriage, and we are taking action,” he wrote.

Quinn reports that the diocese is sending parishes a DVD that provides “more detail about the Church’s teaching on marriage and about the possible effects that a same sex marriage policy would have in our state.”

Traditional marriage is suffering attacks, he wrote, and “the most threatening now are efforts to legalize ‘same sex’ or ‘gay’ marriage, that is, marriage between two men or between two women.”

He adds, “I hope that you will become one of the thousands of Catholics who have contacted legislators and told them that marriage is a lifetime relationship between one man and one woman.”

The effort is part of a larger campaign by Minnesota’s Roman Catholic bishops. While the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis hasn’t yet responded to the Minnesota Independent’s query about its plans for the campaign, it did offer some hints to Divinity and Beyond, a Minnesota blog about religion.

Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Diocese said, “The details are yet to be firmed up. I don’t want to talk about it just yet. This is still kind of taking shape.”

Michael Bayly of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities, a group working to reform the Roman Catholic Church so that it is more inclusive of LGBT Catholics, said the campaign isn’t a shock.

“I’m not surprised that the Minnesota Roman Catholic bishops are planning an anti-marriage equality campaign,” he said. “The good news is that unlike five years ago, they’re now on the defensive, not the offensive.”

He said the bishops are reacting to marriage equality legislation in the last legislative session and the possibility of Minnesotans electing a governor who supports same-sex marriage. DFLer Mark Dayton and Independence party candidate Tom Horner support it, while GOPer Tom Emmer is opposed.

“Marriage equality is coming to Minensota, and they’re clearly not happy about it,” added Bayly. “In many ways I see what they’re doing as a last ditch effort to try and get Catholic voters to turn the election away from a win for the Democrats and thus marriage equality.”

He said his group is already working on an event that will run counter to those efforts. CPCSM is bringing in Daniel Maguire, author of “Catholic Defense of Same-Sex Marriage,” to the Twin Cities on Oct. 21. The event aims to “get the word out that one can be Catholic and support marriage equality, and not all Catholics are going along with the anti-gay and anti-marriage equality rhetoric and actions of the bishops,” he said.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis brought in Maggie Gallagher earlier this year to discuss strategies for opposing gay marriage. Gallagher is a founder of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that has targeted Minnesota extensively in 2010.

And last week, Archbishop John Neinstedt renewed his call for an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution banning same-sex marriage.

“As a citizen, it is important to understand how marriage, as a union between one man and one woman, has been and continues to be an essential good for our society,” he wrote.