Politics

September 5, 2012

Portland diocese plans lectures on same-sex marriage

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

The statewide meetings, which start Saturday at 5 p.m. at Our Lady of Good Hope in Camden, will feature guest speakers and a question and answer panel discussion, according to the diocese.

Other meetings have been scheduled for:

Sun. Sept. 9: 9:30 a.m. Knights of Columbus Hall in Old Town

Sun. Sept. 9: 5 p.m. Notre Dame in Waterville

Fri. Sept. 14: 6 p.m. Holy Rosary Church in Caribou

Sat. Oct. 20: 5:30 p.m. St. Maximilian Kolbe in Scarborough

Sat. Oct. 21: 5 p.m. St. Martha in Kennebunk

Sat. Oct. 27: 5:30 p.m. Knights of Columbus Hall in Gardiner

Sun. Oct. 28: Noon St. Philip in Auburn

Sun. Oct. 28: 5 p.m. St. Christopher in York

Maryland and Washington voters will be asked whether they want to uphold or reject laws that allow gay marriage. In Minnesota, lawmakers want voters to decide whether to adopt a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, said the Catholic vote is important, but it's not necessarily a unified bloc.

"It's the single biggest religious tradition in the state," he said. "In terms of sheer numbers, it matters."

More than 190,000 Catholics live in Maine, according to the diocese. But not all oppose gay marriage.

Frank O'Hara, a former speech writer for Democratic governors and the spokesman for Catholics for Marriage Equality, said he's glad that the diocese has moved its message "out of the middle of the Mass," an approach that drew complaints in 2009.

Still, O'Hara said, the forums won't provide the kind of discussion that's needed to address the issue.

"It would be better if it was an invitation to Catholics to dialogue about marriage," he said. "All Catholics share the values of fidelity, love, faithfulness. These (forums) are designed to tell us what to believe and how to vote."

Lafreniere said she has lined up theologians from around New England to speak at the events, and clergy members will serve on the question-and-answer panel.

Because the sessions will be open to the public, they could draw supporters of same-sex marriage. Lafreniere said the organizers will be prepared for give and take "so long as people are respectful."

"Even Catholics don't always agree with the church on it," she said.

Staff Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 621-5643 or at:

scover@mainetoday.com

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