Catholic hierarchy’s support of fringe group out of step with fair-minded lay Catholics
WASHINGTON – Today, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, sent a letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, calling on the Catholic Church hierarchy and affiliated groups such as the Knights of Columbus to end their financial support and collaboration with the shell-group known as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). HRC recently uncovered NOM documents soliciting funds for its plans to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks,” and to manipulate Hispanic communities by “making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity” and “to make opposition to gay marriage an identity marker, a badge of youth rebellion to conformist assimilation to the bad side of ‘Anglo’ culture.” It is believed the Catholic Church hierarchy has poured millions of dollars into NOM. The Knights of Columbus alone have funneled over one million dollars to NOM.
“We are asking the Catholic Bishops to spread the message that all people are loved,” said Joe Solmonese. “Cardinal Dolan has the opportunity to denounce race-baiting and attempts at ethnic division, and in doing so would be representing the views of fair-minded lay Catholics across the country, who overwhelmingly support LGBT equality.”
“The Catholic Church hierarchy is way out of step with the majority of Catholics, who, like the majority of Americans, support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry. “We call on the Bishops to stop funneling funds through NOM and to repent and renounce the toxic tactics they have supported in anti-gay campaigns that pit Americans against Americans, minorities against minorities, and family members against family members.”
Civil rights leaders, including the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the National Council of La Raza, have publicly condemned NOM in the recent weeks. NOM’s divisive and anti-LGBT strategies come at a time when public support for civil marriage for LGBT people is on the rise, particularly among Catholics. The Public Religion Research Institute recently confirmed that 71 percent of American Catholics support civil marriage for same-sex couples.
A copy of the letter to Cardinal Dolan is below.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.
April 10, 2012
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, Northeast
Washington, DC 20017-1194
Dear Cardinal Dolan:
On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry, the two largest organizations working to secure marriage equality in America, we are writing to ask that you and affiliated organizations such as the Knights of Columbus end your financial support and collaboration with the fringe group known as the National Organization for Marriage or NOM. Last week, HRC uncovered a series of documents that shed light on the racially and ethnically divisive strategies and tactics used by NOM.
The documents reveal that NOM’s key goals are to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks,” and to manipulate Hispanic communities by “making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity” and “to make opposition to gay marriage an identity marker, a badge of youth rebellion to conformist assimilation to the bad side of ‘Anglo’ culture.” Perhaps most shocking, NOM planned “to identify the children of gay parents willing to speak on camera,” essentially tricking minors into publicly criticizing their families.
Sadly, the evidence shows that the funding provided to NOM has been used to exploit people of color and the children of gay parents in this country as pawns in a political chess game. NOM’s attempt to manipulate these communities and “fan… hostility” has outraged fair-minded Americans and civil rights leaders all across the country. The NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the National Council of La Raza are just a few of the many national organizations condemning NOM and these poisonous strategies.
It is hard to believe that the Catholic Church hierarchy, which professes to “promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind,” would continue to funnel funds into, and align itself with, an organization that explicitly uses such toxic tactics to pit American against American, minority against minority, family member against family member. The Knights of Columbus, to give just one example, has acknowledged pouring at least one million dollars into NOM.
The truth is the great majority of Catholics support the freedom to marry. The Public Religion Research Institute recently found that 71 percent of American Catholics support civil marriage for same-sex couples. Increasingly, church-going Catholics question why hospitals, soup kitchens, and even parish churches are being closed for lack of funds at the same time their Church leadership is spending millions of dollars to divide families.
Freedom to Marry and HRC implore you to stop collaborating with, and to immediately stop funding, the National Organization for Marriage and such tactics. By doing so you would send a resounding message that race-baiting, ethnic exploitation, division, and anti-gay campaigns have no place in the Church, or in America.
President, Human Rights Campaign
President, Freedom to Marry