Chicago Cardinal who compared gays to the Klan issues apology

Cardinal Francis George

Several weeks ago, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago made comments comparing gays to members of the Ku Klux Klan. He later revised that statement to comparing gay marches to Klan marches in neighborhoods where they were unwelcome.

Really? Gays are unwelcome in Boystown in Chicago or Oak Lawn in Dallas?

Our friends at New Ways Ministries, a Catholic organization working for gay and lesbian equality within the Catholic Church, sent us an update with an apology by the Cardinal.

During a recent TV interview, speaking about this year’s Gay Pride Parade, I used an analogy that is inflammatory.

I am personally distressed that what I said has been taken to mean that I believe all gays and lesbians are like members of the Klan. I do not believe that; it is obviously not true. Many people have friends and family members who are gay or lesbian, as have I. We love them; they are part of our lives, part of who we are. I am deeply sorry for the hurt that my remarks have brought to the hearts of gays and lesbians and their families.

I can only say that my remarks were motivated by fear for the Church’s liberty. This is a larger topic that cannot be explored in this expression of personal sorrow and sympathy for those who were wounded by what I said.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministries, wrote, “The significance of this action is immense.  For the first time that I can remember, a prelate has acknowledged that words and ideas he has used in regard to the LGBT community were harmful, and he has apologized for the hurt they caused.”

He went on to suggest that if the cardinal is truly sorry, he could meet “parade-goers in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel church on the day of the parade, and pass out water to them.”

In an update to the apology, DeBernardo published a comment the cardinal made to the local press.

“George said although church teaching does not judge same-sex relationships as morally acceptable, it does encourage the faithful to ‘respect everyone,’” DeBernardo wrote.

He wrote that he hoped the apology was “the first step toward greater reconciliation between the LGBT community and the Catholic hierarchy.”

—  David Taffet

Great Spaces: Not-so-secret gardens

Partners Tom Lloyd-Boyd and Patrick Boyd-Lloyd, below, are putting Dallas on the map for impressive gardens like this green masterpiece at the Oak Cliff home of Ken Row and Sergio Remirez.

Three gay gardens make elite 5 highlighted in this year’s Garden Conservancy Tour

By Jef Tingley

Some people travel the U.S. looking for historic landmarks or quirky tourist traps like “the world’s biggest ball of twine,” but for Patrick Boyd-Lloyd, along with husband Tom Lloyd-Boyd, it’s the pursuit of the perfect petunia that fuels their vacations. To be more specific: the perfect garden. And as a result of their love of landscape, Dallas is now on the national garden circuit radar.

“We’ve been to [garden] tours in Upstate New York (seeing a couple of gardens owned by people who worked for Martha Stewart Living was a huge highlight), California, and, of course several, in Texas,” says Boyd-Lloyd. “This year, we’re going to Portland, Oregon and Brentwood/Santa Monica, California for a [tour] that features the garden of Julie Newmar of Catwoman fame.”

Mike Munsterman’s oasis, above, also includes a custom-built chicken coop. Row and Ramirez also included architectural details such as this fountain.

Through this green-thumb obsession, the Garden Conservancy was made aware to add Dallas to its list of Open Days Program. As Boyd-Lloyd tells it, “after returning from a Sonoma, California tour [in 2008], I contacted the Garden Conservancy to ask why Dallas wasn’t represented and walked right into being chairperson — open mouth and insert garden boot.”

This year marks his third time chairing the event.

In his role, Boyd-Lloyd helps to select the gardens that will be featured on the tour which, according to the organization’s website has, “unlocked the gates to hundreds of America’s very best private gardens.” It also raises awareness and finances to protect and maintain some of America’s best-loved historic properties. Boyd-Lloyd credits his passion for gardening and his 15-year history in the landscape design industry in helping him to find some of North Texas’ best-hidden treasures for Open Days.

“I look for gardens that are not ego-statements, but ones that the homeowners are actually a part of [and who] really get their own hands digging in the dirt. The point of the tour, to me, is to show the average homeowner that there are really interesting ideas and plants out there,” he says. “With our dramatic climate changes and alkaline, rocky and gumbo soils, this part of Texas is not an easy place to garden, but with a bit of knowledge and patience one can have a really special garden for their home.”

The May 21 Open Days Tour is a self-led experience through five gardens throughout DFW. This year, three of the gardens belong to members of the LGBT community.

The leadoff garden is located in Kessler Park and owned by Ken Row and Sergio Ramirez. It features terraced areas with views of the surrounding hills and trees, stone staircases, ponds and outdoor living spaces. According to Boyd-Lloyd, it’s especially known for its glorious display of hydrangeas and roses. Also in Oak Cliff does horticulturist Mike Munsterman own an impressive garden. In addition to the stunning flora, the “must-see” of this stop is a custom chicken coup built by Munsterman and his partner.

The Blue Lotus Gardens in East Dallas, owned by a husband and wife team in the landscape business, is a balance of arid plants like yuccas and agaves in one space countered by a water garden filled with Lotus flowers in another. The grounds also include honeybee hives and a turtle sanctuary.

Near Knox-Henderson, Alan Rister and partner Greg Armstrong have created an English-inspired garden mixed with Texas-native and adapted plants that play a large role in the landscape. The owners do all the planting and organic maintenance themselves.

The final stop on the tour is in Preston Hollow at the garden of Sharolyn and Stan Herndon. Here, the couple has transformed an unused backyard pool into a koi pond with multiple rills and streams.

But whether attending Open Days or just browsing at your favorite nursery, Boyd-Lloyd says it’s easy for anyone to get involved in gardening in North Texas. “Join a local garden club, hire a professional for a consultation, read books…[or] just start digging!”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

Dignity Dallas calls results of study encouraging

Research shows Catholics are more accepting of the LGBT community than the general population

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

In March, the Public Religion Research Institute released a comprehensive study on the attitude of Catholics on rights for gays and lesbians, and the results were clear: American Catholics are more supportive of civil rights for the LGBT community than the general population.

Nearly three quarters favor employment non-discrimination. Two-thirds believe gays and lesbians should serve openly in the military. Six in 10 think gays should be able to adopt.

Possibly the most surprising statistic was that 63 percent of U.S. Catholics support same-sex marriage. That’s 10 percent higher than the population in general.

Joseph Bordelon, president of the LGBT Catholic group Dignity Dallas, called those results very encouraging.

“Often we only hear what the bishops say,” he said, noting that the Catholic Church’s official stance is much more anti-gay.

Bordelon said that the survey should have a very positive effect on his group.

“We can incorporate our religion and sexuality,” and find acceptance among other Catholics, he said.

There is a disconnect, Bordelon said, between the hierarchy and the laity. He cited the example of Chicago Cardinal Francis George who recently said that God doesn’t love gays and lesbians.

Before Vatican 2, Bordelon said that Catholics were expected to “pray, pay, obey.”

Now Catholics study more.

“Catholics got to know the tenets of our faith and the why behind those tenets,” he said. “You can’t corral us back anymore.”

Dallas Dignity has been around at least 35 years. The group, whose slogan is “The traditions you love and the acceptance you deserve,” is not welcome to worship in a Catholic Church by order of the Vatican. So they meet at Cathedral of Hope on Sundays at 6 p.m.

But Bordelon said individual members retain ties to their local parishes.

The study result that Bordelon said surprised him the most was that a majority of Catholics do not believe that sexual relations between two men or two women is a sin.

“That one surprised me because the church teaches that sex should be for one thing — procreation,” he said.

But the study found that most heterosexual Catholics don’t believe or practice that in their own lives and possibly translate that to mean the church is wrong in its teachings on homosexuality as well.

Jon Garinn is a former pastor of Dignity Dallas and he agreed that the results of the survey are good. But while he thought this was very positive for LGBT Catholics, he said Dignity might not be the beneficiary.

“Catholics in the United States have always been very independent,” he said.

He said that’s why the church may be against reproductive rights but they can’t expect Nancy Pelosi, who is Catholic, to change laws regarding abortion.

“We’re a lot more tolerant of other viewpoints,” he said.

But Dignity was intended to be a means to an end, Garinn said. The goal was always to fully incorporate LGBT Catholics into the life of the church. As the Catholic Church grows more comfortable with their LGBT members, Garinn believes they will be incorporated into parish life.

“Then all Catholics will be the beneficiary,” he said.

—  John Wright