Dan McGrath is Executive Director of TakeAction Minnesota. Dan was introduced to community organizing at the age of 17 during a cross-country road trip with Sister Kathleen Ries, his aunt. While earning a bachelor’s degree at Hamline University, Dan became a student organizer and leader. After college, he went to work for Progressive Minnesota, where he served as a canvasser, community and political organizer, and Executive Director. He has worked on numerous legislative, issue, and electoral campaigns and has worked inside the labor movement for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). His overseas experience includes work at the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation in the Republic of Ireland, the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA), and as an election observer in El Salvador.
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What My Catholic Faith Has Taught Me
I’m Catholic. My father comes from a working class Irish Catholic family; my mom is from a large Catholic family of German and Lithuanian decent. My brothers, sister, and I all attended Catholic school and growing up we attended Friday fish fries during Lent and church polka fests in the summer. I’m an active member of a Catholic church in St. Paul. And soon, my wife and I will celebrate the baptism of our daughter into the Catholic Church.
I’m also voting no on the anti-marriage and voter restriction amendments.
Some have asked how I can embrace a faith whose leadership has taken such a hard line against gay and lesbian equality, and which is painfully quiet on the threat to limit voting rights. I understand why people ask this question. For me, my decision to vote no is not in spite of my Catholic faith, it’s because of it.
When I was 10 my parents divorced. A couple years later my mom came out to my family as lesbian. By then she no longer felt welcome at church and stopped going to mass, though she has remained a deeply spiritual person. This one case of social exclusion is deeply meaningful to me, but is nothing compared to political decision by church leadership to spend millions of dollars to limit the freedom to marry in Minnesota. By doing so church leaders seek to permanently exclude gays and lesbians from the civil rights and benefits straight couples enjoy.
But here’s the thing: I’m still getting my daughter baptized. And I’m still Catholic. And I’m still voting no on both amendments in November.