The Catholic Thing
Races and Initiatives Catholics Should Watch Print E-mail
By George J. Marlin   
Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Editor’s Note: Today, Mr. Marlin points out some bellwether contests around the country important to American Catholics. He also offers his final installment on the Catholic vote in key swing states at our other site, Complete Catholicism, with an analysis of Pennsylvania. – Robert Royal  

On Election Day, November 6, there are local races and state ballot measures that should be on the radar screens of Catholics. Here’s the rundown on the high profile ones:

New York Senate Races:  In 2011 Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos of Long Island broke his pledge and permitted a floor vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. 

Four Republicans (three of whom were baptized Catholics), who had enjoyed the support of the N.Y. Conservative Party in past elections, broke ranks and provided the votes needed to pass the legislation. 

At the time, Conservative Party Chairman, Mike Long, warned legislators that when it comes to getting his Party’s endorsement, one of the real breakers is traditional marriage:  “You say ‘I’m not for traditional marriage’ you’re not going to get an endorsement.  It’s as simple as that.” 

True to his word, Long made sure that the four senators did not get the nomination in their races for re-election this year.

As a result, Senator Jim Alesi of Rochester, realizing he could not win without Conservative support, declined to run for another term.

Senator Roy McDonald of Troy lost the September Republican Primary to a candidate who received the nod from Conservatives. 

Buffalo Senator Mark Grisanti whose 519 vote margin of victory in 2010 was due to the 4,368 votes he received on the Conservative line is running for his political life in a district that is 83 percent Democratic. 

Thirty-two year incumbent Senator Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie did manage to win his GOP primary but by only 107 votes out of 10,469 cast.  His defeated opponent is running on the Conservative line and could draw enough support to provide Saland’s margin of defeat.

If the three Senators are tossed out of office over their gay marriage vote, the Republicans will most likely lose their majority status and the GOP Senate Conference may dump Skelos as their leader.

Maryland:  Governor Martin O’Malley, a baptized Catholic, signed into law on March 1, 2012 the Civil Marriage Protection Act that will permit same-sex marriages as of January 1, 2013.

The legislation, which was vigorously opposed by then-Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien was, however, supported by dissenters who call themselves “Catholics for Equality.”  This misguided group proclaimed that the bill “not only betters the lives of lesbian and gay couples and their children, but the lives of Catholic families throughout the state.”

On the November 6 ballot, voters will have an opportunity to decide whether the law will be upheld.  A vote for Question 6, also known as the Same-Sex Marriage Referendum, is in favor of keeping the new law in place and unaltered.

While the law protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs and “affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith,” the Maryland Catholic conference is urging a “no” vote, warning voters that they “should not be fooled into thinking we can redefine marriage and still protect religious liberty.”

While there are also ballot measures on same sex-marriage in Maine, Minnesota and Washington, proponents are focusing on Maryland, which is the home of America’s first Catholic See. They hope it will be the first state below the Mason-Dixon Line to embrace gay marriage at the ballot box.

National figures have invaded the state to stump for passage, including the Rev. Al Sharpton. 

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who threw around bags of money to recalcitrant Republicans who put his state’s gay marriage law over the top, is now sinking money into Maryland. He made the largest individual contribution ($250,000) to a same-sex marriage PAC.

                         The County Election by George Caleb Bingham, 1852

Massachusetts: The “Death with Dignity Initiative” (Question 2) will appear on the general election ballot.  If approved, it would permit a patient, whose physicians have determined has less than six months to live, be given lethal drugs.

The patient would have to be ruled competent to make the decision “and would have to make the request orally twice and witnessed in writing.” The initial verbal request must be fifteen days prior to the written request and second oral request. 

The Initiative would also permit blood relatives to be involved in the suicide process.  They could assist in preparing the paperwork “providing that one of the required witnesses on the lethal dose request form not be a patient’s relative by blood, marriage, or adoption.”

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference has condemned the act insisting it would stigmatize an “entire class as not worthy of the state’s, or their loved ones’ full protection and care.” 

Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley has said, “When we grow old or sick and we are tempted to lose heart, we should be surrounded by people who ask ‘How can I help you?’  We deserve to grow old in a society that views our cares and needs with a compassion grounded in respect, offering genuine support in our final days.”

Florida: Two of the eleven legislatively referred constitutional amendments that appear on Florida’s 2012 ballot should be of interest to Catholics.

Amendment 6 prohibits the use of public funds for abortion “except as required by federal law and to save the mother’s life.” 

It also states that Florida’s constitution “cannot be interpreted to include broader rights to abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution.”

Amendment 8, if approved, would repeal Florida’s “Blaine Amendment,” which forbids state revenue from being used to aid directly or indirectly any church or religious institution. 

If approved, the new language would read, “No individual or entity may be discriminated against or barred from receiving funding on the basis of religious indentify or belief.”

Florida’s Catholic Conference supports the passage of both these amendments.

The legislative races and referendums I’ve described deserve the attention of every Catholic who resides within those states.  Every vote will count in what could be tightly contested elections that will help shape America’s moral landscape.

George J. Marlin is an editor of The Quotable Fulton Sheen and the author of The American Catholic VoterHis most recent book is Narcissist Nation: Reflections of a Blue-State Conservative.
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (11)Add Comment
written by Jack,CT, October 17, 2012
Mr Marlin,
Written beatifully and 'packed with facts'.
I as a Nurse many years ago was caring for a man who
had a very devoted brother.I was caring for a man dying
of cancer and his face was no more!IT WAS A TUMOR.I will
never forget how he needed a "private room" related to
his "Appearance",and I have to say no matter how seasoned
a nurse it was striking,all that was left was two barely
visible little eyes!So sad.
Every day when i went in to put ointment on the very tumor
that was killing him.I would say "Is your brother coming?,
and he would say "Yes he will be here".
I have seen alot in my years as a nurse but shall never
forget this poor soul.
After a long battle he lost,and passed.
I cryed,I always did this alone in the bathroom.
I always told my students when they asked "Is it ok to
cry when there is a death, "The day you stop crying,get
out of medicine!,as you have lost your compassion."
Suffering has a role in life and it is as much a "Gift"
as tragic.
We do all can to make people comfortable and preserve
there "Dignity and Freedom from pain",but we must
preserve and RESPECT the life as it moves through the
dying proccess.
I say this as his brother I feel was givin this time
by our Lord to prepare.I have tremendous respect for
his daily visits and i listened to wonderful storys
about there youth together.
We face a culture that wants to take all I spoke of
away,for what "I am at a loss', I will say this well
Intentioned people are often not correct!
Kubler Ross MD was a pioneeer of the stages the Dying
and the Griefing go through, Denial,Anger,bargaining,
Depression,and perhaps and only on rare ocassions
Acepptance,Removing all of these "Natural" and God
Givin "Emotional preperations" away can only be called
for what it is ,"TRAGIC"
I say this and share this as a person who has also lost
many family members, as well as a parent.
We do not "Have to have the answers and a answer' for
why we suffer,just recognize our Lord has a plan.
As a person who has seen so much "Death" I can tell
you it all seems to have a role to play,one greater
then we earthly souls can undestand in this Life.
I do not believe we should "Terminate" a process
as natural as "Birth".
God Bless you all and Thanks for allowing me to
exspress my opinion.
written by Ib, October 17, 2012
Thank you for drawing attention to these vital issues for faithful Roman Catholics!
written by kristinajohannes, October 17, 2012
Thanks George, i hope you will do a follow up afterwards; hopefully we will be counting our blessings!
Does everyone know about the Rosary Novena for life and liberty several committees of the bishops are promoting? Today is day four. I'm getting reminders by email but you can go to the usccb website and search for "Rosary Novena for Life and Liberty" to find out about it.
written by Joshua, October 17, 2012
Another relevant ballot issue: California is voting on repealing the death penalty. May all those who respect life pray for an end to this evil.
written by TrueViking, October 17, 2012
Minnesota has a constitutional amendment that should be on your list.

Article XIII, Sec. 13. Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.
written by debby, October 17, 2012
dear jack,
thank you for loving those you serve and not just "doing a job" but for being the "labor nurse" of those being birthed to eternal life, for being the presence of Jesus Christ to those around you who may have never encountered Him in such a tender way before coming under your care.

it seems by your many comments over the past few months and especially here today as if you have discovered the great secret of this life - that we don't have the answers, we may even be asking the wrong questions with our darkened mind and sinful bent since the fall. but we don't need to have an answer as if "we know" apart from this Truth: Jesus IS Life. and He is Mystery. and only Love brings you any Hope and Joy and Expectant Faith that allows you to look up and see beyond the storms, to hear the call of eternity in your soul. and yes, even to suffer and somehow He brings great grace if you only offer it to Him with no strings...

so, i want to thank you, brother, for your life's work in caring for others, for your openness to suffer along with them and allow yourself to feel the pain of loss, and for sharing your deep relationship with the One Who suffered to bring us back Home, all for Love.

i look forward to meeting you one day There. i hope to mirror your example and serve others with such abandon.
Grace & Peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
written by Jack,CT, October 17, 2012
I will pray for the vote.
written by Paul, CA, October 17, 2012
I must say I am a little disappointed, though not entirely surprised, to see that the proposition in California to abolish the death penalty is not included on this list.
written by Marcy W., October 18, 2012
It is so disheartening that our country and society have come so far from the biblical principles. I have been praying and asking the Lord "Why? They rejected you three times now, our precious babies are dying, please don't stand back but act." I think what is happening is that the Lord is using the laity, as he is wont to do, to affect change. Like the lady, Adriana Gonzales, who followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit to do something she never thought she could - affect the election, we need to follow the Holy Spirit. When we do our part God will do the rest. Read about Gonzales at Catholic Mom.
written by Jack,CT, October 18, 2012
@Marcy, I do "Feel the same and pray as well",
Catholics Called to Witness" has done so
much to "effect" the election and the
work of Mr and Mrs Gonzales has been
God Bless them and the work they do.
written by James, October 19, 2012
I noticed that CT was conspicuously absent from your list. Are we that far gone?

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