The good, bad and ugly of the Catholic anti-gay marriage campaign


Minnesota’s Catholic bishops are undertaking a campaign to urge Catholics to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The bishops have generated considerable criticism for the timing of the campaign just weeks before the November elections. Here’s a sample of what people are saying:

The editorial board of the Winona Daily News blasted the bishops’ campaign. The opening sentence? “Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to pick on gay people than it is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and give shelter to the homeless. It’s probably cheaper, too.”

A reader of the Winona Daily News is upset of the editorial board’s criticism. Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz says gay marriage will lead to incest.

The editors’ bias is all too easy to see. As long as the bishops stroke their heads and keep them purring, they’re fine with bishops calling for political action. But pet the editors the wrong way and they hiss and spit, “Too far!” Oh, but the editors will protest that this is a matter of “discrimination” and making a segment of the population into “second-class citizenry.” If this is true, then does the state discriminate when it says first cousins can’t marry? Or brothers and sisters? Or aunts and nephews or uncles and nieces? Where, oh where is the editors’ outcry of, “Relatives, unite!” This is a red herring, and a two-headed mutant one at that. First, there is no constitutional right to marriage, period.

It should come as no surprise that the author, Szyszkiewicz, who is alleging bias, “has been a writer and editor in the Catholic press for 25 years.”

The Rainbow Sash Movement, a group GLBTers that are seeking positive change in the Catholic church, took issue with the bishops’ campaign. Joe Murray, the group’s executive director wrote:

Reasonable and educated people are not taken in so easily by the Catholic Bishops reliance on exaggeration and distortion to promote their position. They can no longer control the conversation about Gay Marriage, the message is getting through to the Catholic in pew from the secular media.

Contrary to what these Bishops are saying they are promoting prejudice, and are using all the old tools of that trade to attempt to get their point across. Indeed the Catholic Bishops of Minnesota and Iowa have no idea what is coming their way when it comes to human rights for LGBT people.

Jeremy Hooper of Good As You asks a good question, “Seriously – How can this man sit here and act like this, a push for a referendum in a largely partisan fight that attempts to misguide citizens on the proper role of the legislature and/or judiciary and that always relies on political consultants and strategists for its fear-mongery ‘success’ at the polls, is not a political action!?”

And Father Tony at Bilerico has some pointed questions as well.

But what is the core message? What do these bishops really fear? It’s not that sanctity will be bridged, it’s that they will ultimately be coerced to perform gay marriages or lose their tax exempt status. That is the nutshell. As usual, the Catholic bishops’ main source of agita is the purse. I am so deeply ashamed of these guys, many of whom have been my friends.

In the Star Tribune letters to the editor, many people expressed their displeasure with the bishops’ campaign, and some defending the church.

Sarah Fink of Columbia Heights says, “Let go of your mindset for a moment so that you can understand how others view their own actions. Let’s not indulge in rash judgment. Important issues must be discussed, but please stop picking on the Catholic Church. Many people love being Catholic and don’t enjoy constantly seeing others imputing the worst motives to our church’s every action.”

Mark Hanlon of Eagan took issue with Christians claiming to be victims: “This is not the first time so-called Christians have attempted to turn themselves into victims, and like all the other occasions, it’s a laughable inversion of reality.”

Republican apologist and blogger Mitch Berg calls the gay marriage issue and the bishops’ campaign a “game changer.”

And that’s why Nienstedt, his DVD, and his un-named mysterious donor are all public enemies-number-one for the regional left. For my purposes, this election is about the economy, jobs and the role of government. But same sex marriage is a sleeping giant of an issue throughout this state.

And here are some related articles from my other gig at the Minnesota Independent.

Video: Archbishop Neinstedt says people should vote on gay marriage

Catholics say anti-gay marriage campaign not political, gay groups disagree

Evangelicals talk same-sex intercourse at Family Council press conference

Artist loses basilica job after criticising Catholic anti-gay marriage campaign