It's no secret that the institutional Catholic Church has some serious issues with gay marriage. Organizations within the church have stopped granting benefits to employees so that they don't have to potentially recognize a staffer's same-sex spouse. They've ceased adoption and foster care programs, in order to avoid placing children in well-qualified gay or lesbian households. And just this past weekend, an Archbishop in Colorado expelled a pre-school child from Catholic school, because the child's parents were two women.
It might be easy to view the Church with a world record amount of cynicism. But one group of Catholics is hoping to change that. Call them progressives, or better yet, call them by their new name -- Catholics for Marriage Equality. And they're out with a new declaration that's not only hoping to transform the Church, but also transform the way LGBT people and allies view Catholics.
In other words, though the Church as an institution continues to fight hard against many a gay right, there are people in the pews who recognize hook, line and sinker that at its core, the Church should very much be supportive of the social justice principles that lie at the heart of marriage equality and LGBT rights.
As Catholics for Marriage Equality writes, they get that the Catholic Church isn't going to be in the business of recognizing same-sex unions anytime soon. But, for them, there's not just a fine line but a 10-mile spread between civil marriage and religious marriage. While the Catholic Church (and other religious bodies) shouldn't be forced to recognize same-sex unions, there's no reason to prevent the state from doing so.
"We know that God is a most gracious and wonderful Creator. Many of us have gay and lesbian relatives and friends. We value the love and commitment we witness in their relationships; their devotion to each other and their children," the organization writes. "Civil marriage bestows the dignity and equality called for in our nation’s highest ideals, 'the inherent natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'"
Sound like something you can support? Head on over and sign their declaration. Sure, it's just an online signature. But it's also a first step toward transforming a Catholic Church that attracts headlines for booting pre-schoolers out of school because of lesbian parents, into a Church that lets the government act in its own best interest to protect the dignity and civil rights of its population.