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April 19, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Church parishioner speaks out on same-sex marriage petitions

Discriminatory petitions

As a Catholic layperson, I believe it is within the church’s rights to advocate for the historic definition of marriage. [“Catholic Church right to give voters a say in defining marriage,” Opinion, April 18.]

I’m also proud of the church for the same reasons that Richard Bray lists in his guest column, and I am embarrassed and ashamed for the church’s many sins, which he conveniently omits. What I take issue with is the church promoting political petitions in parish churches.

In my lifelong associate with the Catholic Church, this is the first (and, hopefully, the last) time petitions have been allowed in our place of worship. The very church my children were baptized in, where I’ve come to grieve the passing of dear friends, where I have come to listen to, and try to emulate, the word of God for the last 25 years, is promoting a petition that propagates discrimination.

Unfortunately, when Bray writes, “so, let’s discuss the merits of redefining marriage forever,” he doesn’t. He’s says it’s “huge.” He says it’s a “monumental issue.” But he doesn’t discuss the merits: equality for everyone. The chance to stand up in front of family and friends and say this is the person I love, the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.

This is a secular country, a secular state and a secular law, granting equality to everyone. The majority should never be in a position of determining the rights of minorities.

— Steven G. Haynes, Arlington

Respect differences

I disagree in so many ways with Richard Bray. I too am a Catholic layperson; I have no intention of leaving my church but I so hope we can make changes that include all people and accord all the same rights that are God given.

I am a divorced, remarried Catholic and I believe God knew and knows what is in my heart. Why can’t the Brays of our religion leave judgment of others up to the Lord and respect the differences in us?

Bray was lucky enough to have a lot of the newspaper page and yet the biggest problem our church has faced is the pedophilia of some priests and he seems to gloss over it by saying “when the church has sinned (and who among us hasn’t).”

Why can’t we love (not judge) one another. I absolutely would never sign Referendum 74. Why would I or anyone sign something that only will hurt others?

— Carolyn Finney, Seattle

Countering Bray’s points

I am writing in response to the guest column “Catholic Church right to give voters a say in defining marriage” by Richard Bray.

Bray describes the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman as “historical.” The vast majority of human history is unknown; only the arrogant presuppose that the only history applicable is the history that we know — or choose to know.

Bray states, “Saying that marriage is between one man and one woman isn’t discrimination.” Discrimination is exactly what it is. Writing a sentence stating something that is isn’t, doesn’t make it so.

Bray notes that “every voter should have a voice — not just a few legislators!” Here in the U.S., we are governed by a representative democracy. The men and women in Olympia are not “a few legislators.” They are our selected and elected representatives — they are our voice.

Bray lists numerous good deeds performed by the Catholic Church. Is he saying that a lengthy list of rights justify the occasional wrong?

Unlike Bray I will state my position clearly: I support homosexual marriage. I’m a big supporter of marriage, I’ve been at it for 21 years now, and if two men or two women want to join the club, I say welcome.

— Michael McGuffin, Mercer Island

Church can’t speak on civil-rights issues

I differ with Richard Bray. As good as the Catholic Church is, it continues to discriminate against persons. It is a known fact that the Catholic Community Services will not hire openly gay persons living in partnership nor does CCS allow gay families to adopt children in need of loving families.

Yet the Catholic Church receives money from the government and is tax-exempt. The Catholic Church has no right to have it both ways. Government support and discrimination do not go together.

My right to marry the person I love is a civil right. The work of the Catholic Church is to provide all the spiritual rites the members of its flock need and desire. It is not to step into the civil-rights arena.

— Mary Dispenza, Bellevue

Separate church and state

I am a 76-year-old woman who was a devout Catholic for 70 years of my life. I could not restrain myself from responding to Richard Bray’s list of Catholic accomplishments as an excuse to support legislation that would deny many of our sons and daughters full citizenship because of how they were created. All of us must live with who we are because we had no choice.

My greatest fear is the Catholic lobby will achieve its goal to make the United States into a country controlled by Christian dictates. The church can choose to handle marriage as it wishes for its own believers. The government should support all citizens.

Bray, you have the freedom to love your church. I am no longer a Catholic because the leaders of the Church apparently has so little understanding of humanity that they do not, to this day, fully understand the horror they created by fostering a culture that created the sexual-abuse scandal. It is my hope that my fellow citizens will use their votes to be sure all citizens have full rights — even after they emerge from the womb.

— Joan Rupp, Seattle

Bray avoids real question

Richard Bray’s op-ed does not explore why “the church is right” to oppose same-sex marriage. Instead, he uses the entire column, save for the opening and closing paragraphs, to relay how proud he is of the Catholic Church for aspects completely unrelated to Referendum 74.

Bray’s numerous examples of good deeds done by the church, while noble in and of themselves, do not provide an effective argument as to why voters should support placing Referendum 74 on the ballot. Due to the author’s avoidance of the issue at hand, the op-ed reads not as defending the church’s position on same-sex marriage, but instead as concealing the issue with declarations of the positive components of the institution.

Bray’s piece may have been stronger had he included how proud he is that the Catholic Church supports the denial of basic rights to a much-discriminated-against minority group.

— Stephanie Villiers, Bothell

Discrimination against LGBT community

I agree with Richard Bray in that the Catholic Church has a lot to be proud of. However, as been evident in recent years, it also has a lot to be ashamed of. Its stand on same-sex marriage is a shining example. Bray feels that preventing same-sex couples from marrying isn’t discrimination. I wonder how he’d feel if the situation were reversed — if he couldn’t marry the person he loved, or receive the same (federal) tax, Social Security, health benefits, etc. as everyone else, because of some innate trait he had no control over.

It is myopic to claim that the church “consistently fosters the dignity of the human person,” while at the same time discriminating against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. We are all, in Bray’s words, made in the image of God. The Catholic parishes to be proud of are the ones that have abstained from encouraging its members to sign Referendum 74.

— Kevin Housen, Tacoma

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