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November 13, 2012

Bishops stay firm in gay marriage fight

BALTIMORE — A subdued U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledged Monday that voters rejected the stands they took against gay marriage and birth control, but church leaders gave no sign they would change their strategy ahead.

Same-sex marriage supporters made a four-state sweep of ballot measures last week, despite intensive advocacy by Roman Catholic bishops in favor of traditional marriage. Bishops also spoke out sharply against President Barack Obama’s mandate that most employers provide health insurance that covers artificial contraception. Critics accused the bishops of going so far that they appeared to be backing Republican Mitt Romney.

The bishops insist their complaints were not partisan. Still, they now face four more years with an administration many of them characterized as a threat to the church.

“We’ve always maintained our openness to dialogue, and that will continue,” said Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, who leads the bishops’ committee on religious liberty. Regarding the birth-control mandate, Lori said, “As this evolves, as rule-making gets a little more clear, then our range of options will be clearer.”

None of the bishops who spoke Monday directly mentioned Obama. Lori only noted that “the political landscape is the same.” The bishops instead reviewed plans they developed well before Election Day to expand outreach to Latino Catholics on traditional marriage and organize events on the importance of religious freedom.

Obama won the overall Catholic vote, 50 percent to 48 percent, but Catholics split on ethnic lines. White Catholics supported Romney, 59 percent to 40 percent. However, Latino Catholics went for Obama, 75 percent to 21 percent.

Last week, Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first states ever to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. In Minnesota, voters rejected a proposal to place a ban on gay-marriage in the state constitution, a step taken in past elections in 30 other states.

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