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Rhode Islanders United for Marriage Launches Catholics for Marriage Equality

Answering Christ’s call to love their neighbors, and seeking to follow His ministry of love and inclusion, Catholics from across Rhode Island today announced the formation of Rhode Island Catholics for Marriage Equality, and urged the Senate to pass legislation giving all loving, committed couples the freedom to marry.  

“It is my faith that brings me to this campaign for marriage equality. When I look at my son, Stephen, and his partner, I see the same love that my husband and I had for 31 years,” said Cathy Gaskin, a mother from Johnston. “Though my husband passed away before he was able to see our son married, I hope - as do all mothers - to one day see his wedding day here in Rhode Island. Giving all loving, committed couples  access to the unique protection and recognition of civil marriage is an act of justice, and justice has a long and important tradition within the Catholic Church”

The group, made up of Catholics from parishes and communities across the state, has more than 100 members. Those joining the group are invited to sign a pledge, which reads in part: ‘I am a Catholic, and I support marriage for same-sex couples. As a Catholic, I am called to actively love and support my neighbors, including the gay and lesbian families in my community. Only marriage conveys the respect and dignity afforded to two people in a loving, committed, lifelong relationship.’

The group launched a website, www.riunited.org/catholics, featuring video testimony of Catholic Rhode Islanders from all walks of life discussing their own stories of how their faith leads them to support marriage equality.

“I was raised a traditional Catholic and faith has been an integral part of our family life. I want my daughter, Luisa, to be able to get married in our state and experience the same security and loving commitment that my wife and I have had these past 53 years,” said Tony De Luca, a retired high school teacher and former member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, who lives in North Kingstown with his wife, Sylvia. “Like any father, I just want to walk my little girl down the aisle in the state I have served my whole life.”

“When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, he replied that we should ‘love the Lord with all our hearts,’ and that we should ‘love our neighbor as ourselves.’ As a Catholic, I believe marriage is an expression of the intrinsic dignity of all persons – and my support for marriage equality is a response to Jesus’ challenge,” said Representative Jay Edwards, who represents District 70 (Tiverton and Portsmouth). “My faith, my marriage of 30 years to my wife, Donna, and the public trust placed in me as an elected official all lead me to the same conclusion: we should allow same-sex partners to affirm their love through marriage.”

“Same-sex couples should be welcomed to share in God's love and grace in the same way that I do as a Catholic – through civil marriage,” said Andrea Heineman, a leader in her Parish from South Kingstown. “I'm not comfortable being in a position of passing judgment on any loving, committed couple who simply seeks the freedom to marry the person they love.”

“As a practicing Catholic who has attended Catholic schools my whole life - from St. Pius V School, La Salle Academy and, now, Providence College -- I learned that we should love people until it hurts, just as Christ loves us,” said Providence native Matt Smith. “I have seen my parents, who have been married for 29 years, support each other through thick and thin. I support the same protection for all families.”

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