Most people are aware of the memos the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM) had to release that talked about their strategy of targeting African-Americans in a divide-and-conquer plan to beat marriage equality.
From a March HuffPost column by our very own Scottie Thomaston:
The strategic goal ... is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots...http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...
A CNN article which I didn't see at the time, reports that there was also a targeting-the-Hispanics strategy:
The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote, and will be so even more so in the future because of demographic growth," one NOM memo states. "Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We can interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity.http://www.cnn.com/...
I ran directly into that strategy yesterday and apparently it includes the Catholic church.
I live in Maryland and we have a marriage equality referendum question on our ballot (part of a compromise made in order to get the votes we needed in the legislature for our new marriage equality law).
I was parking in the lot back of my grocery store. Across the lot from the grocery store is a large Catholic church and I noticed a lot of Latino churchgoers milling around outside the church. At first I thought it was some kind of festival. I was right -- it was a bigotry festival. People were walking out of the church carrying yard signs and some of these signs were on the church front lawn. In Spanish, they admonished people to vote against Question 6, the ballot item that supports Maryland's new marriage equality law.
Wording of Question 6 on the Maryland ballot:
Question 6I felt myself heating up, feeling angrier and angrier. I called my husband but that didn't calm me down, so I decided to go over and say something.
(Ch. 2 of the 2012 Legislative Session)
Civil Marriage Protection Act
Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.
I approached a cheerful-looking man and woman carrying a huge stack of the "Contra Question 6" signs. I told them: "My daughter is gay. What you're doing would stop her from marrying the person she loves. My lovely daughter who cares about everyone in the world -- and you wouldn't allow her to get married." I was upset, but not yelling. The two people I was talking to looked surprised and serious. Another guy had walked up while I was saying this and he looked at me and said, very politely, "thank you," signaling the end of the discussion. I left hoping that maybe I had reached at least one of them -- maybe one of them has a child or a niece or nephew or the child of a friend who is gay, and maybe what I said could at least make them question what they were doing.
I realized that the anger and hurt I felt was the same I felt when I heard antisemitic remarks as a college student in St. Louis, Missouri. It's a kind of fight/flight response because part of me wants to run away from the pain, but another part, a larger part, wants to do something about it. Today I went to the local Marylanders for Marriage Equality headquarters and volunteered. I'm going again on Wednesday and will volunteer as long as they need me.
I can't help but think that the Catholic Church has truly entered the same hellish ugliness already occupied by the Mormon church and many of the fundamentalist Protestant churches. With all the pain and suffering in the world, with the poverty and hunger in our country, the Catholic church is spending resources on trying to stop people who love each other from getting married. And they're doing this despite the fact that the new law specifically excludes them from having to participate in any same-sex marriage.
If you want to donate to Marylanders for Marriage Equality (which, by the way, is supported by many groups including African-American, Latino and liberal Catholic organizations), here's the link: