07/03/2013 04:16 pm ET

St. Bernadette, Massachusetts Church, Won't Fund Art Museum Because It Supports Gay Marriage


As many across the country spent June 26 celebrating the Supreme Court's decision to strike down key parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, one Massachusetts art museum found itself in hot water with a local parish after publicly supporting marriage equality on its Facebook page.

The Worcester Art Museum posted this simple message of support via Facebook on Wednesday: "Congrats LGBTQ Nation! The Worcester Art Museum is proud and happy to host your wedding!"

But the museum's decision to woo the gay and lesbian market did not sit well with the Rev. Stephen M. Gemme, the pastor at St. Bernadette Parish in Northboro, Mass., who told The Telegram & Gazette that his parish would no longer provide financial support to WAM.

"We're simply not going to support them institutionally as in the past," Gemme told the outlet. "We're just following the lead of the diocese on that."

After the Supreme Court decision was announced, Bishop Robert McManus of the Diocese Worcester released a statement calling the ruling a "tragic error of judgement for the American people," according to MassLive. However, the diocese denied issuing any instructions to individual parishes regarding gay marriage supporters.

“I would suspect that someone at the parish is making a broad interpretation of some other statement by the Bishop which stated the Catholic Church does not support gay marriage," Raymond Delisle, the diocese's director of communications, told news blog GoLocalWorcester. "If the parish felt that their membership was in part supporting the promotion of gay marriage I would think that they are within their rights to not continue that membership, but it is their decision."

St. Bernadette Parish did not immediately return a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

WAM spokeswoman Monica Elefterion told HuffPost that no one from St. Bernadette's had contacted the museum about funding, adding that the only known record of support from St. Bernadette Parish was a 2012 contribution of $100.

GoLocalWorcester notes that WAM has welcomed same-sex couples since gay marriage was legalized in the state in 2004, an assertion confirmed to HuffPost by Elefterion.

"We pride ourselves on being a welcoming institution: both online and at the museum," Elefterion said in an email. "We’ve been fortunate to celebrate with the many couples who have been married at the museum in the past. We look forward to celebrating with those who plan on marrying here in the future."

(h/t Raw Story)