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Originally published April 17, 2012 at 3:35 PM | Page modified April 17, 2012 at 11:26 PM

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Catholic Church right to give voters a say in defining marriage

Changing the definition of marriage is too huge for only legislators to have a voice; that's why it's crucial to sign Referendum 74, writes Catholic parishioner Richard Bray.

Special to The Times

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AS a Catholic lay person, I believe the church is right to advocate for the historic definition of marriage: one man and one woman. Saying that marriage is between one man and one woman isn't discrimination. Changing the definition of marriage forever, however, is huge. Every voter should have a voice — not just a few legislators! Consequently, signing Referendum 74 will give you this right.

I'm proud of our church for many reasons. I'm proud that the church is working to preserve the timeless societal definition of marriage while at the same time condemning any hatred or violence to those with same-sex attraction. For we are all made in the image of God.

I'm also proud of its leading efforts to feed and clothe the poor and give shelter and services to the homeless. I'm proud of groups like St. Vincent de Paul that make home visits every single day to prevent eviction, hunger, utility shut-off and more. Catholic Community Services also brings aid to neighbors in need, regardless of creed, through food programs, maternity homes, foster care, long-term care to elders, low-income housing and in many more ways than I could describe. I am proud that the church speaks forcefully against racism and lack of opportunity for disadvantaged people.

I am proud of the nearly 7,000 Catholic schools that deliver quality education to children throughout the U.S. and award scholarships to many needy families for a future full of possibilities. I'm proud of Catholic groups like the Knights of Columbus that fund efforts such as the Special Olympics for people with disabilities, and prosthetic limbs for children in Haiti.

I'm proud that the church stands up for the rights of innocent babies in the womb and provides help to women in crisis pregnancies, and healing and hope to women who have experienced the pain of abortion.

I'm proud that Catholic groups have sponsored and settled countless refugees fleeing from oppression around the world. I'm proud of the example of Pope John Paul II, who taught the world to overcome hate by forgiving his would-be assassin and to stand firm in facing down communist tyranny. Mother Teresa's selfless love marveled the world and she received the Nobel Peace Prize. Both of them recognized marriage between man and woman as the foundation of society.

I'm proud that church-related organizations provide health care to many across our nation. I'm proud that the church speaks out against the death penalty — seeing the value of every human life, while recognizing society's right to protect itself through incarceration. I'm proud that the church boosts the rights of workers and urges organizations not to exploit them. And I'm proud the church advocates for environmental stewardship.

When the church has sinned (and who among us hasn't), it has worked to bring restitution and healing — not always perfectly — but trying to make right.

In short, I'm proud that the church consistently fosters the dignity of the human person. Regardless of your beliefs, or if you have none, this is a principle for yesterday, today and tomorrow.

So let's discuss the merits of redefining marriage forever. This is a monumental issue and everyone deserves a say. Signing Referendum 74 gives you and all us a voice. I trust voters to do the right thing.

Richard Bray is a parishioner at St. Anthony Catholic Parish in Renton.

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