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Catholic Newspaper Names Gay Marriage Plaintiffs ‘Persons of the Year’

National Catholic Reporter follows last year’s choice — Pope Francis — with couple from the historic Supreme Court ruling

The National Catholic Reporter on Monday named Michael DeLeon and Gregory Bourke, two of the plaintiffs in the historic Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage, as its “persons of the year.”

The NCR, an independent weekly that covers Catholic issues and which last year chose Pope Francis as its person of the year, made the bold choice just six months after the nation’s highest court defied many Roman Catholic clergy by striking down laws barring civil marriages for gay and lesbian couples.

“For their historic roles as plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges and for their faithful public witness as gay Catholics, we name Greg Bourke and Michael DeLe­on NCR’s persons of the year for 2015,” the paper said in an editorial published Monday.

The NCR noted that the Louisville, Kentucky, residents are “lifelong lifelong prac­ticing Catholics and active members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish for 28 years. Together, they are rais­ing two children. By all accounts, they have become vital to their community.”

Bourke and DeLeon were among dozens of plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case on same-sex marriage that the Supreme Court decided last June by a 5-4 vote.

The paper noted the opposition of many church leaders to the ruling, dubbed a “tragic error” by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz.

But the paper said, “As ordi­nary people — and one hopes Catholic bishops — come to know more people in same-sex marriages, hearts and minds will change. Acceptance will re­place fear.”