David Catania on how minorities, people of faith moved same-sex marriage forward

When D.C. Councilmember and alum David Catania (I-At Large, SFS ’90, LAW ’94) gave a speech at Georgetown in March of last year, he talked about same-sex marriage as an “undying civil rights” issue that he hoped to make progress on. What a difference a year makes: Yesterday, Catania was back on campus, discussing the successful same-sex marriage legalization bill he sponsored and the role race and religion played in the fight for marriage equality in the District.

The panel discussion—which also featured Cathy Renna, a media relations expert who specializes on LGBT topics, Richard Sincere (SFS ’81), the president of Gays and Lesbians for Liberty, Michael Crawford, the communications director of Freedom to Marry, and Joseph Palacios, a Georgetown professor and priest who has been vocally supportive of same-sex marriage—focused on how D.C.’s marriage equality movement found success by actively engaging minorities and people of faith.

Catania opened the discussion by emphasizing how D.C.’s civil rights legacy and the high amount of attention local religious groups pay to equality issues made the city well-suited to support same-sex marriage legalization.  Over 200 religious leaders joined the D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality alliance and, according to Catania, more clergy members testified for the same-sex marriage bill than against it.

“We’re just not a fertile ground for intolerance,” Catania said.

For Renna, involving religious people in the District’s same-sex marriage movement was particularly important because it challenges the perception that marriage equality is a “God versus Gay” issue.

“What happened in D.C. was incredible,” Renna said. “This community proved that that’s a false dichotomy.”

Renna also said that the very visible racial diversity of the D.C. movement—all of the first three same-sex couples to marry in D.C. were African American—was extremely significant and will challenge the idea prevalent in African American and Latino communities that marriage equality is a white issue.

Many of the panelists said they believed same-sex marriage advocates in other states had a learn a lot from the District’s example.  Catania said he recently visited Annapolis to lobby for same-sex marriage legalization in Maryland and was disappointed to find that “all of the people lobbying for equality looked alike.”

He had even harsher words for D.C.’s southern neighbor, though. Catania inveighed against Virginia’s highly restrictive same-sex marriage and civil union ban, calling it a “disgrace to James Madison’s Constitution.”

“Virginia is devolving,” Catania said. “They are sowing the seeds of their own retreat.”

When asked whether he feared his high profile support of same-sex marriage could impact his re-election prospects, Catania said that while he knew he had “caught the attention of the National Organization for Marriage,” he has faith that D.C. residents support him.

“I have complete trust in the residents of the city,” Catania said. “I sleep like a baby.”

5 Comments on “David Catania on how minorities, people of faith moved same-sex marriage forward

  1.  by  Matt

    “Professor” Joseph Palacios is a scum-bag who, if you recall, publicly accused the writers of the Heckler, en masse, of “deeply rooted racism, anger and sarcasm, and anti-Christian attitudes,” without making any attempt to research the facts first.

    So you’ll have to excuse me when he makes a plea for tolerance on someone else’s behalf.

  2.  by  DCBob

    I believe that the Asian women (one might be Hispanic, I’m not sure), were the third couple to get their license. The Second couple were Black men.

    In terms of who got married first, not got their licenses, there were a couple of young men from GW who got to a Judge first.

  3.  by  Anne

    Has Joseph Palacios read Genesis, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6… Does he know that the Sacrament of Marriage was instituted by Christ? It is not people of faith who support same-sex marriage, it is people who deny God’s intention for Marriage and the complementary nature of Sexual Love. Which bishop has allowed this man who is clearly not in communion with the Catholic Church to remain a priest or has Mr.Palacios been defrocked?

  4. Pingback: Where's the Cuts?: Loose Lips Daily | Learning to Flirt

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