Would US bishops actually try to scuttle immigration reform because it includes a provision to keep same-sex couples together? They wouldn’t really derail an issue that they have championed for decades, right? Surely someone working on PR over at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, their lobbying arm, has told them what a nightmare this will be if they go down this road? And if that’s not enough, there must be a handful of bishops, somewhere in the US, with the pastoral sense to know that opposing this legislation on these grounds is just wrong, right?

(Source: CatholicPhilly.com)

Maybe not. Maybe sacrificing the poor, the marginalized, the undocumented, the separated, maybe tossing all these individuals to the curb who yearn to emerge from the shadows is worth preventing same-sex couples from living lives of dignity with the ones they love. Maybe advocating for a pure society, a pure church, that somehow exists unstained by reality, where lives are clean and crisp, where men and women and children know their roles, where life is simple, maybe this imaginary reality is worth giving up this golden opportunity for immigration reform.

Have those politicians, including presidential wannabe Sen. Marco Rubio, who say that while it’s time for immigration reform, that including this provision for same-sex couples is wrongheaded and divisive, have they considered how callous they sound? Do they realize that excluding some from justice truly compromises the dignity of all?

Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe Catholics, and other Christians, who consistently rail against the rights of LGBT people will recognize that opposing immigration reform because of a provision keeping a different kind of family intact will marginalize them, will demonstrate that they are no longer to be considered mainstream, will bring to light their inability to work for the common good. If they aren’t motivated to lobby for those with no one else to speak up on their behalf, maybe trying to maintain some kind of public image will compel church leaders to do what is right.

The window to widen the circle of justice and opportunity for the nearly 12 million among us will not be open for long. Church leaders still wield some moral authority on this issue. How they choose to use it could make or break the cause. As a Catholic myself, I have marveled in the past at the church’s advocacy for the immigrant. Let’s hope they’re on the right side of history this time.

Below: a video documenting the challenges faced by young people who lack proper documentation.

Categories: Beliefs, Institutions, Politics


Michael J. O'Loughlin

Michael J. O'Loughlin

Michael J. O’Loughlin writes about religion and politics from Washington, D.C., paying close attention to the role of the Catholic Church in public life. His writing has appeared in Religion & Politics, the Jesuit magazine America, on BustedHalo.com, and in Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership.

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