63 Former Catholic Priests Endorse Same-Sex Marriage In WA

Referendum 74, the upcoming ballot measure ensuring marriage equality remains legal in Washington State, has gotten a surprising endorsement from 63 ex-Roman Catholic priests.

The group is expected to make an official announcement on Thursday, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports, but members wanted to underscore that not all men of the cloth are lockstep with Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain:

“We are uneasy with the aggressive efforts of Catholic bishops to oppose R-74 and want to support the 71% of Catholics (Public Religion Research Institute) who support civil marriage for gays as a valid Catholic position,” they said in a statement.

Former priest Pat Callahan, who organized the statement, added:  “This is the first public action we’ve taken.”  Callahan was in the Catholic priesthood for 15 years.

Other prominent Catholics who have supported marriage equality in the state include State Sen. Ed Murray, (D-Seattle), who sponsored the initial legislation, and Gov. Christine Gregoire who signed it into law. Seattle’s St. James Cathedral denied the Archbishop’s request to serve as collection center for petitions attempting to bring the issue of gay marriage to a public vote