With all the scary weather out East, Minnesotans have continued going about our business in the landlocked Midwest. Even as we ramp up our get-out-the-vote efforts, folks are still having conversations with people we know about the marriage amendment. The election is now so close you can almost touch it.
So many things are happening every day. I'm still hearing from friends and strangers alike about conversations they're having. One of my absolute heroes is my friend Nia, who is systematically having face-to-face conversations with dozens of friends, former co-workers, former neighbors and relatives. Most of the relatives are Catholic, though some are conservative Protestants.
Here's an article featuring Nia and her mom, Clo Wronski, a fantastic Catholic woman. You can see where Nia got her strength! It helps me to think about Clo, because I am so angry at the Catholic Church. Many folks I know, gay and straight alike, are saying that they do not want to attend weddings at Catholic churches these days, even for people they love. It feels like a celebration of exclusion and privilege rather than love and commitment. Clo reminds us in the article that the church hierarchies come and go, and they're not the center of what a life of faith, Catholic or otherwise, is about.
Full disclosure: I know Clo well and love her. Her daughter Kendrick was my partner for 20 years and is still very close, like family. I made a video about Clo as someone I hold dear to me when I'm discouraged during this campaign:
Recently I went to an interfaith training that was led by a Catholic man -- a layperson, not a priest. He said that the Catholic Church might as well post a note on the door that reads, "Young People: Do Not Come In Here!" what with their anti-marriage-equality activism. I hope he is right. I don't know what it will take for them to change.
Many Catholics are angry at being told how to vote and at being told to keep quiet if they disagree with the hierarchy. They say it is un-American. Some are quitting churches in disgust. Some are giving money to the "vote no" campaign instead of to the church. There are yard signs all over that say "Another Catholic Voting No."
I believe deeply in freedom of religion. To me that means that the Catholic hierarchy has every right to speak up about its beliefs and values and to fight for them to prevail in the law. Churches do this from every direction on virtually every issue, and they have done so since the beginning of our nation. On many issues -- the death penalty, care for the poor, trade agreements -- I have worked closely with Catholics. It is on issues related to sexuality and gender that I find many Catholic clergy to be completely out of touch with current reality. But I still defend their right to stand up for their beliefs. I just hope the public gets it that specific religions shouldn't be dictating what's in our constitution.
My own religion, Unitarian Universalism, has been active on dozens of social issues for hundreds of years. We would never tell people how to vote, or to keep quiet if they disagreed. But we would certainly say that marriage equality reflects our religious values, and our ministers have been incredibly outspoken about it. Many of our churches have "Vote No" banners hanging outside. And check out our YouTube station, Standing on the Side of Love in Minnesota, for a slew of videos and resources from a Unitarian Universalist point of view.
Follow Rev. Meg Riley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MegARiley