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A Catholic's case for marriage equality

As an 83-year-old practicing Catholic, I'm voting for Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, in November. I urge my fellow Catholics to do the same.

We should be acknowledging in everyone — including my gay son — the inherent dignity and fairness due them as human beings. As a cradle Catholic, my parents and my church taught me to treat everyone as I wanted to be treated. I have tried to live according to this teaching.

The Catholic education and spiritual formation of my young adult life was carried over into volunteer work in our parish church once I was married. Having interacted with our church members for 44 years as a Catechist, a Minister to the Home Bound, a Scripture Study Leader, an Extraordinary Minister at Mass, etc., I am convinced they strive to live the Golden Rule also.

Richard, my husband of 34 years, and I raised our three children Catholic. We wouldn't have it any other way. Family was always paramount to us. Our children knew they were loved, and as they reached adulthood, they each were happily married.

It was only my middle son, and his partner of 17 years, Mario, who could not legally marry. Both of the families however became very close, having gone through a stroke and long sickness, and the death of Mario's mother and father in the same year.

Both my head and my heart tell me that each child in our family should enjoy the same opportunity to be married. It is only right to treat everyone fairly and equally in the public square. I cannot understand how my gay son getting married to the person he loves can do harm to anyone else's marriage.

I do understand that, for many people, to come to a point where they can say they support marriage for gay couples will be a journey. And there are many lay Catholics on this journey now. In fact, a majority of Catholics in pews across the country support marriage equality. But we all come to this issue at our own pace, and that's fine.

What we're debating here in Maryland is whether committed gay and lesbian couples can get a civil marriage license at the courthouse. What churches decide to do — which marriages they decide to perform or not — is up to them. And that's how it should be. Just as the Catholic Church can refuse to marry a Protestant or Jewish couple, the law makes it clear they can refuse to marry a gay couple, too.

I can assure you, my late husband and I would not have wanted anyone tell us we could not get married. It's the Golden Rule again: We should treat others as we wish to be treated. I hope Catholics in this great state vote their conscience on election day and support Question 6.

Erma Durkin, Glen Arm

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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