Standing on Principle
Earlier this year, VOZ Worker’s Rights Education Project, an immigrant rights organization based in Portland, OR, lost critical funding after it refused to sever ties with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) over NCLR’s support of same-sex marriage. NCLR, which is a partner of Families es Familia, issued a statement in support of Voz and recently recognized Voz at their national convention in Los Angeles.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which in previous years had provided funding to Voz, is requiring that groups they fund dis-affiliate with organizations that support marriage. CCHD is a project of the U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops and is in charge of distributing over $14 million to organizations across the country working on anti-poverty measures. It is very lamentable that the leaders of CCHD and the US Conference on Catholic Bishops have decided to significantly weaken Voz’s immigrants’ rights work in the local community because of its association with another organization that supports LGBT rights.
Voz has an annual budget of $310,000, so the loss of the $75,000 grant by the Catholic Campaign is a substantial hit for this small organization. The leadership at Voz needs to be applauded for taking a principled stand against intolerance even though Voz’s core constituents are the working poor. In a letter to the CCHD, Executive Director of Voz, Romeo Sosa said, “Ultimately, we are an organization that does not discriminate; many of us know people who are gay, lesbian, and transgender. They are our aunts, uncles, nephews, and nieces, friends, co-workers and neighbors.”
It would behoove the CCHD to know its members as well. Latino Catholics are strong supporters of same-sex marriage. In February 2014, the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found that 56 percent of Latino Catholics support same-sex marriage. It’s clear that Latino Catholics are ahead of the Catholic Church on the civil rights of LGBT Latinos, and that CCHD should stop punishing groups that acknowledge that gay and lesbians are Latinos, and Catholics, too.
If you would like to support the important work Voz is doing, please consider making a contribution here.