Catholics for Marriage Equality Kicks Off 2012 Activities at Maine Pride
July 5, 2012 by Sharon Groves, Director, Religion and Faith Program
We are noticing a growth in the number of congregations and people of faith taking part in pride events this year. They are saying loud and clear, “We support LGBT equality because of our faith.” The religious participation at pride in Maine – a state that will be voting on the issue of marriage equality this November – had extraordinary participation, particularly by Catholics.
Anne Underwood, co-founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality and member of HRC's Religion Council, writes more:
Cheering, singing, and dancing to their jazz combo’s “When The Saints Go Marching In,” more than 130 Catholics for Marriage Equality (C4ME) and their families launched the group’s 2012 activities by participating in the 26th annual Southern Maine Pride Parade on June 16 in Portland. Eucharistic ministers, lectors, and choir and Pax Christi members joined a former governor, former state speaker of the House, former mayor of Lewiston, and Portland’s mayor in demonstrating strong Catholic support of civil marriage for same-sex couples.
“People were so receptive to this opportunity to put their faith into action,” said Kathy Tosney, C4ME parade organizer and former nun. “I think this is a big shift from the 2009 referendum. More Catholics are willing now to step forward to show publicly their support. The spirit of marchers felt so positive, so hopeful, so proud to be identified as pro-same-sex marriage and part of the universal Catholic family.”
Former Governor John Baldacci is one of many Catholics who has stepped forward.
“Early in my career, I was opposed to marriage equality for same-sex couples,” Baldacci said. “As I've learned more and reflected on the issue, I have come to support it. This issue represents a journey for many Catholics. As evidenced by all those who marched in the parade today, many have arrived at the same place that I have.”
This year, Catholics for Marriage Equality was the largest of the parade’s fifty-five contingents. A year ago, just six Catholics marched with C4ME. Among them was Portland Mayor Michael Brennan.
“The Catholic Church has been on the wrong side of this issue,” said Brennan, a parade grand marshal who led with a C4ME banner. The cheers they received prompted them to expand C4ME efforts for more marchers in 2012.
As C4ME wound its way along the 1.5-mile route, loud cheers of support rang out.
“Thank you, Catholics!” they shouted.
“Thanks for coming out,” others said. “We love your courage.”
The parade was attended by 10,000 people, some of whom would join C4ME along the route to briefly dance with sign-waving marchers, exchange hugs and share quick stories. One person gave his bracelet of saints’ pictures to a C4ME grandmother.
“You all are saints for being here,” he said.
At the end of the parade, marchers were handed purple bookmarks with the C4ME logo, a prayer especially for the day, and St. Catherine of Siena’s admonition,“Preach the Truth as if you had a million voices. It is silence that kills the world.”