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Townsend, Catholic supporters of same-sex marriage speak out

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former Maryland lieutenant governor and member of one of the nation’s most well-known Catholic political families, has joined supporters of a Maryland law allowing same-sex marriage.

Townsend, the eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy, noted her famous uncle John F. Kennedy’s emphasis on separation of church and state.

“All people, gay or straight, should have the opportunity to marry the person they love and raise the family that they want to raise,” Townsend said.

Maryland residents will vote in November on the referendum allowing gay marriage. Maine, Minnesota and Washington also have ballot measures on same-sex marriage this year.

Townsend, author of “Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches Are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way,” spoke at an event organized by Marylanders for Marriage Equality. The group recently raised $250,000 for their campaign. The Washington-based Human Rights campaign this week pledged to donate $1 million into the four states where voters will be considering gay marriage ballot measures, $250,000 in each state.

Townsend was joined by three Catholic parents of gay children, who also are expressing support for the law.

“I cannot understand how my gay son getting married to the person that he loves can do harm to anyone else’s marriage,” said Erma Durkin, of Glen Arm.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is Catholic, successfully pushed this year for same-sex marriage legislation, which passed on a close vote in the House of Delegates, which is led by House Speaker Michael Busch, who also is Catholic.

Opponents gathered more than the 55,736 signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot in November. The Maryland Catholic Conference, which advocates church policy before the Maryland General Assembly, opposes the law.

“While prominent politicians, deep-pocket donors and Hollywood starts try to influence Marylanders into believing that they aren’t ‘progressive’ enough, the average citizen of Maryland has enough common sense to know that marriage cannot be redefined; that a child comes from both a mother and a father; that marriage is the building block of society’ and that it is not discriminatory to reserve marriage for one man and one woman,” the group said in a statement last month when the petition was certified.