By Peter J. Smith

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, July 5, 2007 ( – As advocates of traditional marriage continue to reel from the marriage amendment’s narrow defeat in Massachusetts in June, the Knights of Columbus has learned that 16 of its own members cast decisive votes against the measure.

“It is certainly embarrassing to the order and to every Knight out there who is firm in his support of traditional marriage and the right to life to have men take a position like this in such a public and consequential way,” Pat Korten, Vice President for Communications for the Knights of Columbus told “It’s embarrassing.”

On June 14, the Massachusetts Legislature convened in a joint Constitutional Convention to decide the fate of gay “marriage” in Massachusetts and garnered only 45 votes, just 5 votes shy of the 50 required to put the initiative on the ballot in 2008.

Among these were 16 Knights of Columbus, who broke with fidelity to Catholic teaching as well as the Knights principle of “unity.” Among these were Speaker of the House Sal Dimasi, and House Majority Leader John Rogers. State representatives Garrett Bradley, Bob Deleo, Stephen Di Natale, Chris Donelan, Christopher Fallon, Kevin Honan, Charles Murphy, Angelo Puppolo, Bob Spellane, Bob Nyman, and Paul McMurtry voted against the initiative, along with State Senators Tom McGee, Michael Knapik, and Michael Morrissey.

Among these, seven of the Knights are rated “pro-choice” by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts’ Advocacy Fund and a number openly publish their affiliation with the Knights: Speaker Dimasi, Reps. Bradley, Donelan,, Honan, Murphy, Spellane, and Sen. McGee,

The revelation has hit the Knights hard, since the Order – known for its pro-life stance and fidelity to the Church as its “strong right arm” – had led the drive to collect the 170,000 petitions to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“That was a Knights of Columbus effort from top to bottom,” said Korten, who added that 500 KofC delegates at the state convention had unanimously approved a resolution demanding that the Legislature allow the people to finally decide the fate of same-sex “marriage.”

“The important thing is that the Knights of Columbus is, has been, and always will be firmly in favor of traditional marriage and against same-sex marriage,” reaffirmed Korten.

Although the open rejection of Church teaching by its members causes embarrassment to the order, Korten says the Knights can really only employ “fraternal correction” and prayer for these Knights. Membership in the Knights is conditioned on being at least 18 and a “practical Catholic”, which Korten says means a “practicing Catholic who is recognized as such by the local Church where he goes or the ordinary of the diocese.”

“Unless and until the diocese or local parish or someone in the hierarchy decides they are no longer Catholic, that is not our determination to make,” said Korten. “We as laymen do not presume to decide whether other laymen are Catholics or not.”

“We pray for them and we pray that their minds become one with the Church on this and other issues, because these are so fundamental to the right ordering of society and the common good. These are such fundamental matters to the Catholic faith, it is critical for every Catholic to take them seriously.”

However, Korten reaffirmed that “unless or until [the Church] define this individual otherwise, our rules give us no foundation to expel anyone.”

When pressed by what it would take to determine an individual otherwise, Korten responded, “I think it would take excommunication frankly.”