Leading Advocacy Groups Ask Catholic Bishops to Stop Supporting NOM
BY Julie Bolcer
April 10 2012 12:20 PM ET
The leaders of the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry, the two largest organizations working to win marriage equality nationwide, sent a letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops asking the Church to cease its support of the National Organization for Marriage in the wake of revelations that the group employed divisive racial tactics.
The letter from HRC president Joe Solmonese and Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson is dated April 10 and addressed to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the church’s public policy arm. Their letter follows revelations last month that NOM methodically pursued a strategy that sought to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” and make “support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity,” as described in previously secret documents unsealed in a court case in Maine.
According to a news release from HRC accompanying the letter, the Catholic Church hierarchy and affiliated groups such as the Knights of Columbus have driven millions of dollars toward NOM and collaborated with the group against marriage equality in the states. NOM leadership including Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher identify as Catholics.
In the letter, Solmonese and Wolfson call on the Catholic Church to send a message against “race-baiting, ethnic exploitation, division, and anti-gay campaigns.” Recent polls show that majorities of lay American Catholics support civil marriage for same-sex couples. Civil rights groups including the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza have also denounced NOM’s tactics in recent weeks.
“It is hard to believe that the Catholic Church hierarchy, which professes to ‘promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind,’ would continue to funnel funds into, and align itself with, an organization that explicitly uses such toxic tactics to pit American against American, minority against minority, family member against family member,” wrote Solmonese and Wolfson. “The Knights of Columbus, to give just one example, has acknowledged pouring at least one million dollars into NOM,” they added.
Cardinal Dolan was also the subject of a letter addressed to church officials last week from a junior board executive committee of New York Catholic Charities. Joseph Amodeo, a gay Catholic and teacher of religious education in the New York archdiocese, resigned his position and criticized Cardinal Dolan for comments against same-sex couples and inaction toward pleas to assist homeless LGBT youth.
Read the full letter from Solmonese and Wolfson after the jump.