63 Former Wash. State Catholic Priests Support Marriage Equality

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday October 10, 2012

On Thursday, a group of 63 former Roman Catholic priests will announce their support for marriage equality in Washington State, the Seattle Post- Intelligencer reports.

The priests, who have more than 800 years of service between them, will back Referendum 74, a measure that would legalize same-sex marriage in Washington, making it the seventh state in the country to recognize gay marriage.

"We are uneasy with the aggressive efforts of Catholic bishops to oppose R-74 and want to support the 71 percent of Catholics (Public Religion Research Institute) who support civil marriage for gays as a valid Catholic position," the priests said in the statement.

"This is the first public action we've taken," Pat Callahan, who organized the statement. He had been a priest for 15 years.

The statement comes on the heels of a campaign launched by the Washington's four Catholic bishops who are calling for supports to vote against the referendum.

"Once marriage is redefined as a genderless contract, it will become legally discriminatory for public and private institutions such as schools to promote the unique meaning of marriage," Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of the Diocese of Yakima wrote in a statement. "This law will challenge our right to educate about the unique value of children being raised by his or her own mother and father in a stable home."

Although the campaign against Referendum 74 has been strong, polls show that the majority of voters in the state support marriage equality. According to a poll by Seattle's King-TV, 55 percent of voters said they support the measure, while 40 percent said they were against it and six percent of the voters that were asked said they were unsure where they stood on the issue.

The results of the poll may come to a surprise to some. The anti-gay marriage group Preserve Marriage Washington has reported receiving a $250,000 donation from the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic men's organization. They said they were also given $400,000 from the National Organization for Marriage, a national group bent on outlawing marriage equality throughout the country, the Seattle PI points out.