(Photo: REUTERS/Tami Chappell)
A group of Washington State Catholics have opted to go against the positions of their bishops and profess their support for a referendum question that would legalize same-sex marriage.
The organization Catholics for Marriage Equality held a prayer vigil on Sunday outside of Seattle's Saint James Cathedral in support of Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
In an interview with local media, one of the demonstrators explained that he felt God's love went beyond any statement of opposition to same-sex marriage from the Roman Catholic Church.
"Catholics believe Christ's primary message is one of love, and Catholic social teaching teaches us that God loves everybody. We are standing up for centuries of Catholic social teaching," said the vigil attendee to seattlepi.com.
While many gathered at Saint James Sunday in support of gay marriage, the Archdiocese of Seattle itself has openly declared opposition to Referendum 74.
The Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) released a statement reaffirming the church's position that marriage can only be between one man and one woman.
The statement was agreed upon by the Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain; Bishop Blase J. Cupich of the Diocese of Spokane; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of the Diocese of Yakima; and Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle.
"As pastors and the bishops of Washington State, we are sensitive to this suffering and reaffirm our commitment to protect and defend the dignity of every human person. We also affirm the Church's consistent teaching that marriage can only be the union of one man and one woman," read the statement.
"We therefore urge Catholic people to uphold our consistent teaching on marriage for the good of the Church, society, spouses and their children."
Despite the statements from leadership, in Washington State as well as elsewhere in the United States Catholics themselves often support more socially liberal views.
In addition to the vigil attendees, according to Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com, "more than 60 resigned Catholic priests [in Washington State] have endorsed Referendum 74."
Earlier this month, Belden Russonello Strategists, LLC released a poll of some 1,000 self-identified Catholics, which found that among likely Catholic voters 83 percent of those surveyed "feel no obligation to vote the way bishops recommend."
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Washington State voters will put the recently passed same-sex marriage legalization legislation to vote via the Referendum 74 ballot question. Opponents of same-sex marriage were able to gather over 242,000 signatures to get the issue onto the ballot.
A recent Elway Research poll found that 45 percent of Wash. State voters oppose legalizing same-sex marriage, while 49 percent support it. With a margin of error of 4.5 percent, this makes Referendum 74's fate a statistical uncertainty.