The clergy who helped marriage equality pass

by Jamie Manson

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In case you missed it earlier this week, Samuel G. Freedman of The New York Times offered a long-overdue profile of the clergy who helped same-sex marriage to pass in New York last month.

Many politicians still rely on the clergy to lend themselves moral authority when debating social issues. But, as Julian E. Zelizer observes in the article:

"If religious support is fractured, and supporters of the legislation can point to clergy who are on their side, then it’s easier to counteract the claim of religious conservatives who say there is only one answer to this question....We know more about how the right has done it, but liberals can do the same."

It was the Empire State Pride Agenda’s Pride in the Pulpit program that began recruiting clergy who support marriage equality. The initiative began in 2004 with a few dozen ministers and rabbis. By the time the marriage bill went to a vote last month, more than 700 clergypersons were signed on to support the cause.

This group, of course, is pretty low on Catholic clergy. And, yet, we know that the key players in passing marriage equality were, in fact, Catholic. Are we entering an age when Catholic politicians will draw on the authority of the sensus fidelium (the 72 percent of baptized Catholics support same-sex marriage), rather than the clergy, when contemplating their stances on social issues?

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