September 15, 2012

Diocese scales back role in latest effort against gay nuptials

After helping finance and organize the 2009 drive to overturn gay marriage, the diocese this year is focusing on education.

By SUSAN M. COVER MaineToday Media

(Continued from page 2)

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Bob Emrich, chairman of Protect Marriage Maine, says opponents of the same-sex marriage referendum will miss the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland’s “built-in organizational structure.”

Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

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Portland Mayor Michael Brennan says the Catholic church’s diminished role in the same-sex marriage question this time around “increases the likelihood the referendum will pass.”

The Associated Press

Marvin Druker, a political science professor from the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn campus, said the church will lose some of its effectiveness because it has limited its messaging.

Campaigns often make repeated phone calls, send several direct mailers and contact people more than once by email to encourage them to vote. Without that multi-pronged approach, it will be more difficult for the church to communicate its opposition to voters.

"If it's not reinforced by other kinds of things, it's going to be less of an effect," Druker said.

Emrich, the Protect Marriage Maine chairman, worked closely with Mutty and Malone on the campaign three years ago. He described the church's role this year as different, but not better or worse. The campaign will attempt to reach Catholics, but it won't have the help of the hierarchy, he said.

As a lifelong Catholic, and one who's regularly attended Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hallowell for 20 years, O'Hara said he's comfortable disagreeing with the church over gay marriage, while remaining faithful to other church teachings. The church is there to teach values and principles that guide everyday decisions, he said.

"The tradition is popes and bishops speak with authority on things of faith," he said. "They don't tell people how to act in day-to-day life. They don't replace your conscience."

During the Camden presentation, the Frankses, who have five children, talked about sex -- heterosexual and homosexual -- and the state's role in recognizing marriage as a way to legally tie men to their offspring. They urged fellow Catholics to be sensitive -- yet resolute -- when talking to their friends and neighbors about why they oppose gay marriage.

During a question-and-answer period, one man asked how he should react to gay-marriage supporters who point to recent television ads that depict parents supporting gay marriage because they want their adult children to be happy.

He got two pieces of advice from the Franks.

"You can't back off the truth," David Franks said. "We have to do it gently. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words."

Angela Franks said that while gay activists want to talk about love, the conversation should be about marriage.

"You have to redirect the conversation back to what is marriage," she said. "Don't get stuck in a conversation about love. Talk about marriage." 

MaineToday Media Staff Writer Susan M. Cover can be contacted at 621-5643 or at:


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