Queer Town: The Catholic Power Play to Ban Gay Marriage

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Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 8:00 AM

Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Roman Catholic leader of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, has been keeping somewhat of a low-profile in the battle over same sex marriage in California, but he can't keep his name out of the headlines any longer. One of the most powerful and influential Catholic priests in the United States wants to ban legal gay weddings in the Golden State.

Mahony's firm position came in the form of an August 1 statement released by the California Catholic Conference, which supports the passage of Proposition 8--the November ballot measure that, if passed, would end same sex marriage in the Golden State. According to an LA archdiocese spokesman, Mahony completely backs the statement.

click to enlarge Roger_Mahony_1_.jpg

Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles supports the effort to ban same sex marriage in California.

"The (California Catholic Conference) is comprised of all of the bishops in the state of California, so this statement is from all of them, including Cardinal Mahony, as a group," spokesman Tod Tamberg wrote in an email to LA Weekly.

The Mahony-endorsed position paper makes the usual case against gay marriage--traditionally marriage has only been between a man and woman, marriage should be a sacred institution for procreation, etc.--and it urges Catholics to get heavily involved in the pro-Prop. 8 movement.

"We strongly encourage Catholics to provide both the financial support and the volunteer efforts needed for the passage of Proposition 8," the bishops write. "And—please exercise your citizenship and vote in November."

The California Catholic Conference, a political action group of sorts for the Catholic Church in California, has also published anti-gay marriage "materials" for priests to distribute at their parishes. Mahony may be trying to fly under the radar in gay-friendly Los Angeles, but the words and actions of the conference, which the Cardinal is an important member of, obviously speak for themselves.

At least one prominent Catholic-related organization has apparently taken a cue from Mahony and his fellow clergymen. On August 14, the Connecticut-based Knight of Columbus, a nationwide Catholic service organization whose members are only men, donated $1 million to Prop. 8 supporters. The contribution now gives anti-gay marriage proponents a financial edge over the pro-gay marriage cause, according to the LA Times.

With Mahony and the Knights of Columbus throwing all of their political and financial weight behind Proposition 8, the Catholic Church is now a major player in the effort to ban same sex marriage in California. The gays, in the meantime, are once again on the defensive.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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