Basilica Block Party boycotted over Church's gay marriage opposition

The block party gets sucked into the marriage debate.
The block party gets sucked into the marriage debate.
Steve Cohen

We've got more than 16 months to go before Minnesotans vote on whether to make gay marriage unconstitutional. But the battle lines are already being drawn, and they're showing up in some surprising places.

Like this year's Basilica Block Party.

Reacting to the Catholic Archdiocese's strong stance against gay marriage, a large and growing Facebook campaign is pledging to boycott the event.

The campaign grew out of the blogging of Nicole Burg, a marriage equality activist who says it's time to push back against the Church's anti-gay-marriage lobbying.

"Please do not attend the Basilica Block Party this year," reads the campaign's statement. "Please do not contribute money to a Catholic Church fundraiser while they are spending millions of dollars to write discrimination into the MN constitution."

It's true that the Archdiocese has taken a leading role in lobbying to make gay marriage unconstitutional. Last year it bombarded local Catholics with mass-mailed DVDs calling for the constitutional ban.

And just last week, Archbishop John Nienstedt suggested that legalized gay marriage could lead to polygamy and marrying family members.

But it's not like your $70 ticket to the block party is going straight into the Church's anti-gay marriage war-chest. Proceeds are used the same way they have been since the festival was founded 16 years ago: Some of the money goes to structural repairs to the Basilica of St. Mary. The rest funds one of the Parish's main charitable programs, helping the poor and out-of-work afford clothing and bus-fare.

Burg thinks it's a bogus distinction: "If the Archdiocese wasn't spending all that money on DVDs (in support of the amendment), it could use the money to renovate the Basilica," she told MinnPost.

What do you think? Is boycotting the Basilica Block Party an appropriate response for gay-marriage supporters?

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