A reader writes:
This post is an example of a sort of self-gratifying internal epistemic closure that you maintain with respect to an aspect of your childhood that you cannot move beyond. There are still large segments of the Roman Catholic population in this country who venerate the Pope, obey the Bishop and agree completely with Bill Donohue about LGBT people and their concerns.
Last year, just north of Boston, the state legislature passed and the governor signed a bill instituting marriage equality in the State of Maine. The measure was subjected to a repeal referendum and the Roman Catholic Church, inside the state and across the nation, mounted a fervent campaign against marriage equality. Special collections were taken, statements read from the pulpit and sermons preached on multiple Sundays. Large amounts of money flowed into the anti-equality coffers from Catholic churches and organizations across the country. If we ever learn who funded NOM's contributions, we are likely to find even more RCC money.
A review of the voting demographics indicates that the RCC campaign had a decisive effect on the outcome - substantially greater than the purported impact of the black/protestant vote on Prop 8 in California. Maine has a large and still somewhat insular French-Canadian, Roman Catholic population. The voter turnout in both rural areas and urban neighborhoods with large FC/RC populations substantially exceeded predictions, and overwhelmingly supported repeal of marriage equality. This turned out to be the wild card that the pro-equality groups, who mounted a campaign that was commendable in many respects, did not even realize was in the deck. And it trumped them.
Yes, this is true. And it can count in close votes. But again: we're talking about a narrow vote to deny civil marriage to gay couples, something unimaginable only a decade ago. If Catholics had not shifted dramatically, the issue would not have come up in the first place. Another writes:
I am glad you said what I have always thought. I come from a Northeast Irish Catholic family where my Aunt, my first cousin and a second cousin who is a former priest have come-out in the last ten years and I was overwhelmingly proud of how accepting and understanding my family was.
Although I do not have anything remotely statistical to back this up, I think the reason for this is the same as it always is: experience (exposure is the better word, but I hate the connotation). The uncle who still lives with mom (who often spent some time in the seminary) has been a part of the typical Irish Catholic family as the third generation cop and the tough old grandma. We all knew what was up.