HRC Blog

Marriage ‘Toolkit’ Offers Another Glimpse into Roman Catholic Hierarchy’s Anti-LGBT Agenda

Church; Catholic ChurchPost submitted by Dan Rafter, former HRC Associate Director of Communications

The Catholic Conference of Illinois (CCI) has released a new “toolkit” for explaining why exactly the Roman Catholic hierarchy feels so strongly about discriminating against LGBT people. The document, “Understanding & Promoting the Catholic Church’s Teaching on Marriage,” comes from CCI’s Defense of Marriage Department. We’ve previously reported that the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy spent nearly $2 million in the failed attempts to write discrimination into the Minnesota constitution and stem marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, and Washington.

Buried deep in the CCI document is language that very clearly reflects the beliefs of some within the Roman Catholic hierarchy on the dignity that should – or shouldn’t – be afforded to LGBT people:

…in a culture which has become increasingly open to diverse sexual relationships, there is a growing movement in the name of tolerance to accept the claim that homosexual actions and relationships are in essence the same as that of heterosexuals and therefore should be treated as such in society and law. However, these relationships are not the same and should not be viewed as equivalent by our society.

What’s insidious throughout this document, as well as many of the writings of Roman Catholic bishops, is the implication that the Church still respects the human dignity of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation (or, as the Roman Catholic Church refers to us, people who suffer from “same-sex attraction.) From another portion of the document:

Private relationships of many other kinds are tolerated in society, but marriage is essentially and legally unique because of its social purpose of contributing to the common good.

Language like this is a not-so-subtle repudiation of the idea that the Church hierarchy actually believes it’s worth respecting the human dignity of LGBT people. The CCI document repeatedly makes it clear that same-sex couples are less-than and somehow inferior to families headed by one mother and one father. The document also continues to ignore scientific evidence that same-sex couples make good parents who provide loving, nurturing upbringings for children.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy continues to do a disservice to those who sit in the pews – nearly 60 percent of whom support marriage equality. By and large, Catholics are fair-minded folks who support the rights of their LGBT sisters and brothers because they recognize that treating others as you wish to be treated is a core tenet of the Catholic faith. And a recent HRC poll found that nearly 90 percent of Christians specifically cite the teachings of their faith as the primary reason they rejected discrimination against LGBT people.

Anne Underwood, co-founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality, recently summed up the disconnect between the hierarchy and the laity in a guest post for HRC:

Vatican II confirmed Jesus’ teaching -- it is the people of God, not their rulers, who represent the Kindom of God. We Catholics in the pews, the voting booths, at our lesbian and gay family and friends’ weddings – we are the Church. We are speaking proudly and increasingly loudly as Church.

Read the full document from the Catholic Conference of Illinois, and learn more about HRC’s Religion & Faith work. Read up on all of the Roman Catholic Church’s recent anti-LGBT activity at

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