In a documentary that premiered Wednesday in Rome, Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as Pope. This announcement is a pivot from the Vatican's long-established beliefs concerning LGBTQ rights.
There are some people who support the Pope’s decision and others who aren't too sure. Those who are against it say it does not align with the traditional Catholic beliefs, but those in support feel this is a step in the right direction.
“This is at least a step forward. It's certainly something to celebrate. Anything that’s positive, anything that moves us forward to better equality and equity is a good thing,” said Lincoln Crowder with Waco Pride Network.
Though same-sex marriage has been legal in the U.S. since 2015, Crowder says there have still been some hurdles for LBGTQ couples who have attempted to marry with religious affiliations.
“Marriage is, it is defined differently than the government defines it, and to me that's what really needs to happen. The government needs to have to definition of marriage and with it comes everything and if you want to make it a religious marriage, cool, but that’s not how the government really looks at it," he said.
Data collected by the Pew Research Center shows growing support in the U.S. for same-sex marriages, but a civil union is not the same as a marriage. If we look at things on a broader scale, out of 193 countries where there are practicing Catholics, 30 recognize same-sex marriages and 11 acknowledge civil unions.
“Civil unions tend to gain legal rights that are limited to the state, where as marriage grants more broader rights that include that state and the federal government,” said Dr. John Koehler, Professor of Political Science at A&M Central Texas.
Things like access to health care and other legal benefits associated with marriage can vary, according to Dr. Koehler.
“There might be a lot of variation in that and that’s why proponent of same sex marriage want to see marriage with full rights granted they criticize any sort of distinction as essentially being separate but equal and making the second-class citizens,” he said.
Though there are still some people who do not support the union of same-sex couples, Crowder says it just makes his organization fight harder.
“We will continue to move forward and have everyone embrace and celebrate anyone really being able to marry anyone they want,” said Crowder.
25 News reached out to the Diocese of Austin for comment but have not heard back as of publication.