Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of the late Robert Kennedy, niece of JFK, and former lieutenant governor of Maryland came out in support of gay marriage Tuesday at a Marylanders for Marriage event in Baltimore. Kennedy cited her Catholic roots as having an important role in making the decision to support marriage equality:
“All people, gay or straight, should have the opportunity to marry the people they love”…
Townsend, the eldest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, invoked her famous family’s long held views that church and state should be separate. She recalled Tuesday that her uncle, John F. Kennedy, once told Texas ministers that he was “not the Catholic candidate for president” but “the Democratic party’s candidate for president who happens to be Catholic.”
“He brought with him the understanding that the church can’t tell you what to do, but the values of the Catholic church, the values of love and faith, can influence what you do,” she said.
Kennedy is not alone as a Catholic supporter of gay marriage in Maryland, as current Governor Martin O’Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch are also Catholic, but have previously spoken out in favor of marriage equality for Maryland citizens. O’Malley signed the Civil Marriage Protection Act in March of this year which would have allowed gay couples to marry beginning in January 2013, but opponents have made a referendum for the November election.
Despite the resistance from the Catholic church in Maryland and the high number of Marylanders who identify as Catholic, having support from such prominent government officials could prove to make the referendum a waste of time for opponents of marriage equality. While I have a difficult time myself identifying those same values of love and faith within the Catholic institution, it is promising to see Catholics breaking away from the tradition of the Church and promoting equality.