It Started After Mass: “Dignity” Catholics Behind the DOMA Defeat

A detail about today’s SCOTUS story you may not know. HuffPo has the details:

As millions celebrate today the Supreme Court’s striking down of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), many will be giving thanks to Edie Windsor, the 83-year-old plaintiff in the case, and her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan.

What most people will not know, however, is the instrumental role that a few members of the New York City chapter of DignityUSA played in this historic moment.

DignityUSA is an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics that was formally expelled by the Roman Catholic church in 1986 by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Among the NYC chapter’s many members is Brendan Fay, an Irish-born activist and filmmaker who lives in Queens with his husband, Tom Moulton.

After DOMA was signed into law in 1996, Fay and his friend and fellow activist Jesus Lebron began working for marriage equality, organizing a rally on the steps of Manhattan’s City Hall in February 1998. They continued to organize and participate in rallies, discussions, and sit-ins at the NYC Marriage Bureau, and in Albany and Washington, DC, in the years following..

…After Mass one evening, he enlisted the help of fellow Dignity members Edward DeBonis and Vincent Maniscalco, who have been married since 2002. (Theirs was the first Catholic same-sex wedding announced in the New York Times.) DeBonis, an attorney, immediately thought of Kaplan, whom they had watched argue the 2004 marriage suit filed by 13 couples before the New York State Court of Appeals.

“Robbie was compelling,” DeBonis recalls, “and she and her wife, Rachel Lavine, have been passionate about the marriage equality issue for many years.”

He called Edie that night, and soon after called Robbie, who met with Edie the next day. “And the rest is gay history, we hope.”

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