Father Geoffrey Farrow, a Catholic priest of over 20 years service to the Church, defies the instructions of the Bishops and urges his congregation to vote against Proposition 8, the initiative that would take the right to marry away from same-sex couples in the state.
In his homily, Farrow points out that "what most Catholics hear about being gay or lesbian in their parish Church is silence" and goes on to clearly defy the position of his elders, who are urging parishoners to vote for Proposition 8. "I know that thesewords will cost me dearly. But to not to speak them would rob gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights, but of their human dignity as well."
He's also started a blog where he tells his story and gives updates on his situation. You can also find the full text of his homily, which is well worth reading.
One button this story hits is outrage. How dare a high-ranking official in the Catholic church give orders to their priests and their parishioners as to how they should vote in a civil election? This wasn't subtle, either -- according to Fr. Farrow, the bishop sent a fax that said, in so many words, that all Catholic should vote Yes on Proposition 8. Bad enough that they've donated a ton of money to the effort (as has the Mormon church). Isn't electioneering from the pulpit grounds for taking away a religious group's tax exempt status? If nothing else, I hope this election prompts an examination of how many, many churches abuse the system, although not until after November because I'd be afraid to provoke a backlash among the faithful.
Which leads me to this aside: the claim by Prop 8's supporters that churches will lose tax exempt status if they won't perform same-sex marriages. This is a flat-out lie. A church can refuse a religious ceremony to any couple, for any reason; it's a clear case of separation of church and state. No government entity ever forced any church to marry interracial couples, or Orthodox rabbis to marry non-Jews, or the Catholic church to marry non-Catholics or people who've been divorced. Religions are free to draw that line wherever they want. They can even perform marriages outside the law (some liberal churches and denominations have been blessing same-sex unions for decades); the state just won't recognize them. Civil marriage has always been separate from religious marriage, and the legalization of same-sex marriage hasn't changed that, at all. Prop 8 doesn't protect anyone from religious discrimination, and the claims that it will are bald-faced lies.
Of course, there's the other side to this story: the one that gives me faith in people. To see such an act of courage makes me want to cheer, and the words of his many supporters gives me great hope. My heart goes out to Father Geoff, who risked his career and his vocation for his truth.