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Father Bob Pierson.
On June 10, 2012, Father Bob Pierson told a crowd of 200 Catholics that they could in good conscience vote against the Minnesota constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. In doing so, he defied the state's bishops who are campaigning openly and vigorously in favor of the discriminatory measure.
As John Becker of Truth Wins Out reports, Father Pierson made headlines in 2005 when he resigned his position as Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota after the Vatican issued a statement saying that openly gay men should be barred from the priesthood.
At that time, Pierson outed himself as a celibate gay man in an email to students and faculty at St. John's and its partner university, the College of St. Benedict, and wrote: "Because I can no longer honestly represent, explain and defend the church's teaching on homosexuality, I feel I must resign. . . . I am not an infallible person, but I cannot remain silent about my disagreement in conscience with this document, or the church's teaching on homosexuality."
Becker, who was a student at St. John's University, remembers the priest as "a wonderful ally" who helped him accept his homosexuality, and adds, "I couldn't be prouder of the way he courageously speaks out for justice, equality, and the human dignity of LGBT people--even in the face of bullying bishops--and I know that his example will embolden many everyday Catholics to follow their consciences and vote against Minnesota's marriage discrimination amendment."
The speech on June 10 was delivered at a gathering of Catholics in Edina, Minnesota. In addition to pointing out the passages in the Catechism that forbid discrimination against homosexual persons, and citing other reasons to oppose the amendment, Pierson quotes then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger--now Pope Benedict XVI--who wrote in 1967 that "we must obey our own conscience, even if it puts us at odds with the Pope."
He adds, laconically, "I doubt that he knew that he was going to be Pope when he said that."
Father Bob Pierson's video is a refreshingly sane and humane contribution to the religious debate about same-sex marriage.