The annual General Assembly session of the Maryland Legislature begins this January. The Catholic Bishops of Maryland in anticipation of a Gay Marriage Bill being introduced during this session have sent a 16 page document signed by retired Archbishop O’Brien of Baltimore, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, and Bishop Francis Malooly, bishop of Wilmington, Del to the Catholics of Maryland. The statement is part of a larger war on marriage equality being waged by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Religious liberty and the right of conscience will be further eroded unless the Catholic community stays informed about the challenges these rights face and the reasons why they are integral to a just society,” said the statement, entitled “The Most Sacred of All Property: Religious Freedom and the People of Maryland.”
Maryland’s Governor’s full backing could insure passage of a Gay Marriage Bill. A same-sex marriage bill cleared the state Senate this year, but was pulled from the floor of the House of Delegates after vote-counters determined they were a few delegates shy of a majority.
The Bishop’s statement claims that “Religious business owners like florists, bakers, musicians, or photographers would not have been able to decline to participate in a same-sex marriage ceremony,” responding to this claim Joe Murray, Executive Director of the Rainbow Sash Movement said such statements are unreasonable and lack any credibility. No religious leader would be forced to participate in same sex marriages against their deeply held religious views. However, holding business owners accountable for their violation of such legislation would be one of the purposes of the legislation.
Murray further said that if anything is threatening religious freedom in this country it is the Bishops view that the secular political apparatus should be used to impose religious discipline on members of the Catholic faith, and the broader secular society.
The Bishops statement bleaches the truth when it comes to the separation of Church and State, and is a further example of Church leaders trying to impose their religious views of marriage not only on Catholics, the majority of which disagree with them, but also on non-Catholics who also find themselves in opposition to such religious views.
Rainbow Sash Movement