LGBT Catholics remain hopeful despite Pope Francis 1′s anti-gay record

Pope Francis

Cardinal Bergoglio, who has been appointed Pope Francis I, visited an AIDS hospice in this 2001 photo.

Reaction to the election of Pope Francis I in the LGBT community has been mixed.

In a statement, the LGBT Catholic organization Dignity USA wrote:

“We acknowledge that as archbishop and cardinal the man who is now Pope Francis has made some very harsh and inflammatory statements about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. We call on our new Pope to recognize that he is now head of a Church that includes a huge number of LGBT people, their families and friends around the world. We invite him to take the time to learn about our lives, our faith, and our families before he makes any papal pronouncements about us, and we stand ready to enter into dialogue with him at any time.”

In Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio led the “War of God” against marriage equality. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Argentina since July 2010.

The Federatión Argentina LGBT, the largest LGBT advocacy group in Argentina, issued a statement right away, referencing Bergoglio’s anti-gay statements. “While we have no expectations of change from the Vatican, the choice of someone who promoted a ‘War of God’ against marriage equality is disappointing. His radical position on this issue, on the gender identity law and on safe, legal and free abortion, keeps us from being optimistic.”

New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo wrote, “We request that Pope Francis make one of his top priorities the re-evaluation of the Catholic hierarchy’s approach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.”

New Ways Ministries has worked on equal rights for the gay and lesbian community since the 1977.

DeBernardo points out that as a cardinal in Argentina, he spoke strongly against marriage equality and against the right for gays and lesbians to adopt children.

“Pope Francis has the opportunity to repair much of this hurt and alienation by offering sincere pastoral outreach to LGBT people and their families,” he wrote. “In the past few decades, Catholics in the United States and all over the globe have become increasingly welcoming of LGBT people. Catholics have gone to ballot boxes to ensure that LGBT people do not suffer from discrimination and violence, and that they receive equal benefits in society, including civil marriage.”

Father Carl Francis McGowan of Our Lady of Consolation Old Catholc Church, which meets at the Interfaith Peace Chapel, is hopeful the new pope will lead the church in a new direction for LGBT Catholics. Read McGowan’s statement after the jump.

—  David Taffet

Feedback • 03.02.12

Column on gay Catholics misguided

While I am not a member of Dignity, I am a gay Roman Catholic and felt Phyllis Guest’s article titled “Efforts to resurrect local gay Catholic group are misguided” was both unnecessary, and showed a lack of a broader understanding of the diversity of the LGBT community. I take this article as a blatant attempt to promote anti-Catholic bigotry in the name of gay rights. Hate for whatever reason is unacceptable. While I respect Guest’s right to her personal opinion, that opinion in my opinion is misguided and unhelpful.

LGBT people of faith have shown that change is indeed possible. For us Catholics who are LGBT we understand the tension that exists between our Catholic leadership and gay rights/marriage equality. We understand our journey will be a difficult one at times putting our own comfort on the line for moving the envelop of change within the church. Using Guest’s opinion as a guiding example would she say the same of Catholic women should they also throw out the baby with the water in terms of their faith?

I think Guest needs to educate herself about the Catholic faith, and more to the point the history and vision of Dignity. Apparently she seems to think that evolution played no part in those other churches who openly welcome LGBT people. I think Guest does a disservice to our community when she promotes division over unity. GLBT Catholics are as an important part of this community as any other group, and we owe none an apology for practicing our faith.

I would encourage any Catholics who are LGBT in Dallas and want to restart a Dignity chapter there to do so. While I belong to another national Catholic LGBT organization you should know you are not alone and, in my opinion you not only have our support, but the support of gay Catholics in Dallas. Especially during this season of Lent, I encourage you on your faith journey.

Joe Murray

Executive Director 
Rainbow Sash Movement

 

Attacks on Leppert are reprehensible

Not only are the attacks on Tom Leppert reprehensible and repugnant, the whole holier-than-thou attitudes of Cruz, James and Pittenger are disgusting. I could name several sins I’m sure that these men and woman have committed that would disqualifies them from their finger-pointing.

Personally I believe Thomas Purdy is a little late in his thinking that the Log Cabin Republicans will “…ensure the Party of Abraham Lincoln remains so and does not become the Party of Anita Bryant. …” The Republican Party is already worse than Anita Bryant’s “Party” ever thought of being. Also, Rob Schlein’s statement that he’s changing support from Cruz to Tom Leppert because of the attack on Leppert is assinine. Leppert has demonstrated he’s as big a hypocrite as the others. How any gay person truly interested in preserving the rights of “the community” can support a Republican candidate for anything is definitely open to question.  I seriously doubt there would be any candidate of the Republican Party at this point who would be willing to step up for LGBT causes. Frankly, gay Republicans have their heads in the sand and I don’t understand it.

Daniel Prado

 

Guest article borders on hate speech

It’s disturbing to find that the Dallas Voice would publish something like Phyllis Guest’s attack on Jim Davis’ attempt to rebuild Dignity Dallas, and the Roman Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality.

All Mr. Davis seems to be doing is trying to build a community for like-minded people to be a part of.

As to the church, why single them out? It would be one thing if its views were unique among mainline Christian denominations. Unfortunately for the most part they are all the same. And though there are movements to make positive changes toward homosexuality in some, to the best of my knowledge no major church has been able to totally accomplish this goal.

She says she has nothing against the Roman Catholic Church. I’d suggest you couldn’t prove that from reading her column.

Attack speech like this boarders on hate speech, and I hope this is the last time I see anything like this appearing in the Voice.

Frank M. Stich
Dallas

—  David Taffet

SPIRITUALITY: Restoring some Dignity to Dallas

Mirroring a national trend, local LGBT Catholic group finds itself in a rebuilding stage

Jim Davis

Jim Davis

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

Dignity Dallas, the LGBT Catholic organization, is in a re-forming stage, according to leader Jim Davis.

Davis said he’s been out “beating the bushes to let people know who we are.”

Dignity is not formally recognized by the Catholic Church.

Jon Garinn, Dignity Dallas’ former spiritual leader, said the group once attracted 25 to 35 people to weekly Sunday mass.

But Davis said the group, on the verge of folding, now meets just once a month as it tries to rebuild. One problem, Davis said, has been finding local leaders willing to identify themselves openly and actively promote the group.

“The bishop already doesn’t like us,” Davis said. “What do we care what he says? I want my name out there.”

DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke said the role of the organization has changed, and the Dallas chapter’s situation isn’t uncommon. She said at one time, Dignity was the first connection a gay Catholic made to the LGBT community.

The organization was often a place of sanctuary — a safe place for LGBT Catholics who were verbally attacked in their parishes. That’s not true anymore.

“The LGBT community has blossomed,” she said. “As Dignity re-forms across the country, it’s taking many shapes and forms.”

But she said that Dignity is still a place for LGBT Catholics to take refuge from the mounting attacks by bishops and the pope that have hurt so many.

“We’re the group who will affirm who you are,” she said. “We’ll marry the couples. We’ll baptize their kids. Dignity is there to support the majority of Catholics who support LGBT rights.”

Duddy-Burke said a study last year indicated that Catholics are less likely to hear anti-LGBT messages from the pulpit than mainstream Protestants or Evangelicals.

A New York Times/CBS News poll released this week showed that more than two-thirds of Catholics believe same-sex couples deserve some sort of relationship recognition, while 44 percent support marriage equality.

But the message from the upper hierarchy is still negative and even getting worse.

“Dignity is the anti-hierarchy,” she said.

The national organization helps local chapters with quarterly leadership calls, a chapter-relations support team, leadership training programs and general exchanges of ideas.

Duddy-Burke said some chapters continue to offer weekly mass while others perform their own service monthly. Some attend a parish together and then go out to brunch as a group. Others maintain activities such as a book-discussion group or supper club.

Davis said the Dallas Dignity group has maintained its monthly supper club at Revlon House, one of the housing units of AIDS Services Dallas.

Duddy-Burke called that “more Catholic than the liturgy” in living the values that the church teaches.

Davis said that many Dignity members attend mass at Holy Trinity Church on Oak Lawn Avenue, where a large portion of the congregation is gay and lesbian. To explain what Dignity means to him, Davis coined the chapter’s motto — “The traditions you love. The acceptance you deserve.”

“I started attending Dignity when I began hearing edicts from Rome,” he said. “My church [parish] wasn’t welcoming either. At the time, I was ready to walk away from the [Catholic] Church.”

He agreed with Duddy-Burke that Dignity speaks for the values of the majority of Catholics who believe in equality for the LGBT community.

“We think it’s important as gay Catholics to hold a mirror up to the Catholic Church and say, ‘There’s no conflict there,’” he said.

Because the local bishop doesn’t support Dignity, Davis said the group has had trouble finding clergy to lead mass. Currently, a monk who lives in the area but is still affiliated with an order in another state and a priest from the Polish National Catholic Church with a parish in Oak Cliff act as its spiritual leaders.

“If the chapter is going to have any effect,” he said, “we have to be in your face.”

Davis wants new members who will let the group’s leaders know what the new Dallas Dignity should do.

Duddy-Burke said that the increasingly hostile rhetoric from the church hierarchy isn’t playing in the pews. DignityUSA is receiving stronger and stronger support from Catholics across the country.

“I’m giving 25 bucks to Dignity,” she said people write her after hearing anti-gay messages from the church, “because I’m not giving it to my parish.”

Dignity Dallas meets the first Sunday of the month at Cathedral of Hope at 5 p.m. For more info, visit DignityDallas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Houston’s State Rep. Garnet Coleman applauds Prop. 8 decision

State Rep. Garnet Coleman

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, took to his blog today to applaud yesterday’s decision by the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring Proposition 8  unconstitutional (Prop. 8, passed in 2008, prohibited marriage equality in California):

“Yesterday’s 9th Circuit decision, just like the decision in Lawrence v. Texas, is a stepping stone on the path to marriage equality for all. As Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the opinion, ‘Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gay men and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.’ The same holds true for the marriage equality ban in Texas. That is why I continue to fight for marriage equality and continue to file the repeal of the ban of same sex marriage. Denying gay couples the right to marry is unconstitutional and a blatant denial of human rights. “

Coleman has a long history of filing pro-LGBT legislation in the Texas House. Last year he introduced historic legislation that, had it passed, would have called for a state-wide vote to repeal the section of Texas’ constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage, so he’s no stranger to the battle for marriage equality.

Coleman is seeking re-election to his District 147 seat. He will face long-time local LGBT activist Ray Hill in the Democratic Primary. No republican candidate has filed for the seat.

Read Coleman’s full statement on his blog.

—  admin

Clinton makes history with speech to the U.N.

Secretary of State calls on all nations to make sure LGBTs are treated with respect, dignity; president directs agencies to protect LGBT rights

GREETING THE CROWD  |  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, shakes hands after her speech on human rights issues at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva on Tuesday, Dec 6. (Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press)

GREETING THE CROWD | U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, shakes hands after her speech on human rights issues at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva on Tuesday, Dec 6. (Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press)

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service
lisakeen@me.com

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in an historic speech on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in Geneva, called on the governments of all nations to ensure that their LGBT citizens are treated with respect and dignity.

Her speech came shortly after the White House Press Office released a statement announcing that President Barack Obama had issued a memorandum directing the State Department to lead an interagency group to provide a “swift and meaningful response” by the U.S. government to “serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBT persons abroad.”

The memorandum and speech represent a dramatic escalation in the Obama administration’s support for the human rights and respectful treatment of LGBT people worldwide.

President Obama’s memorandum directs federal agencies involved with dispensing aid and assistance to foreign countries to “enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure regular federal government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society and the private sector in order to build respect for the human rights of LGBT persons.”

It also directs federal agencies to ensure that LGBT people seeking asylum or status as refugees have “equal access” to protections. And it calls on agencies engaged in activities in other countries to “strengthen existing efforts to effectively combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBT status or conduct and to expand efforts to combat discrimination, homophobia and intolerance on the basis of LGBT status or conduct.”

A senior State Department official, who on the condition that he or she not be identified, told a group of reporters en route to Geneva Tuesday that the administration had “instructed ambassadors to challenge laws that criminalize LGBT status or conduct.”

“We’re putting some money into it,” said the official, of the memorandum’s aim. “We’re setting up a global equality fund, $3 million, to support [non-governmental organizational] activists working on this subject.”

The State Department released a transcript of the press briefing, including a question from a reporter who asked, “How does the administration reconcile the fact that the president won’t explicitly endorse marriage for gay couples at home, but here you are touting human rights, of which marriage is one?”

The official responded that Clinton’s speech in Geneva and the administration’s global policy on civil rights for LGBT people are “dealing with the first iteration of questions.”

“You don’t attack, you don’t commit a violent act, against somebody because of their sexual orientation. You don’t criminalize conduct,” said the official. “And so, we’re here, trying to, again, broadly speaking, identify a human right, a global human right, which starts with those fundamental principles and which is consistent with everything we’re doing across the board.”

The State Department official characterized the president’s memorandum and Clinton’s speech as “the most expansive articulation of what has … been a policy of the administration from the get-go.”

Clinton’s speech was delivered at the Palais at United Nations headquarters in Geneva to an audience of invited members. She spoke in recognition of the 63rd anniversary of Human Rights Day, coming up on Dec. 10, the date when the United Nations adopted a “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in 1948. The speech, webstreamed live, took place before an audience of about 500 people that gave Clinton and her speech a prolonged and warm reception. But Clinton made clear she knew she was speaking to a tougher audience.

“Raising this issue, I know, is sensitive for many people,” said Clinton, “and that the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held person, political, cultural and religious beliefs. So, I come here before you with respect, understanding and humility.”

Clinton acknowledged that “my own country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect,” noting that, “until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country.”

She even seemed to make an elliptical reference to President Obama’s famous statement that his opinion about same-sex marriages is “evolving.”But she said she is hopeful that “opinion will converge once again with the inevitable truth — all persons are created equal.”

She said that the “perhaps most challenging” argument against treating LGBT people with respect “arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate, or not to protect, the human rights of LGBT citizens.”

She likened such justifications to ones used against women and other minorities, adding that slavery, once justified as “sanctioned by God, is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights.”

She closed her speech by telling LGBT people, “You are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers that you face. … You have an ally in the United States of America.”

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

HISD trustee distributes anti-gay flier

Rodriquez Flier (excerpt)

Excerpt from the Rodriquez flier attacking Fonseco for his advocacy for LGBT people and his endorsement by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus (click to view full flier)

Houston Independent School District Trustee Manuel Rodriquez Jr. is under fire for an anti-gay flyer attacking his opponent, Ramiro Fonseca. Both seek the HISD District III seat held by Rodriquez. Rodriquez’s flyer attacks Fonseca for his history of advocating for LGBT people, and his endorsement by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. The flyer also suggests that Fonseca being 52 and unmarried is a reason that Houstonians should not trust him to make decisions affecting children, and points out that he has a “male partner.”

The GLBT Political Caucus was quick to denounce the flyer, issuing a statement on Saturday. “Manuel Rodriguez is assuming the voters of District III share the same bigoted, hateful views he holds,” said Caucus president Noel Freeman. “Houstonians have proven time and time again that such views are not welcome in our City, and have consistently rejected candidates who espouse such hateful views. We urge the voters of District III to reject Manuel Rodriguez on election day.”

Other HISD Trustees have joined in the chorus of people speaking out against the mailer. “I denounce the reprehensible, mean-spirited, bigoted mailer that was sent out in the HISD, District III race,” Trustee Juliet Katherine Stipeche said via her Facebook wall. “I ask my colleagues to maintain and uphold HISD’s total non-discrimination policy and treat every person, including other candidates, with dignity and respect. Let us embrace diversity and equality and treat every person as we would like ourselves to be treated ” Stipeche is seeking re-election to her district VIII seat.

HISD District I member Anna Eastman echoed Stipeche’s comments. “My fifteen year old son could not comprehend why someone would think that distinction would change a vote for school board and would be used as such by a candidate.”

The GLBT caucus is urging people to contact the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle to encourage them to rescind their endorsement of Rodriquez in light of his campaign tactics.

HISD elections are part of the general elections taking place this Tuesday, Nov 8. Visit HarrisVotes.org to find your voting location and view a sample ballot.

—  admin

WATCH: David Kunkle at Stonewall Democrats

Former Dallas police chief and current mayoral candidate David Kunkle spoke briefly during a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting at Ojeda’s on Tuesday night.

The most interesting thing Kunkle said during his two-and-a-half minute remarks, in my estimation, is that he’d be the city’s first mayor “probably since the ’70s who lives in a real Dallas neighborhood.”

“I live a block and half off Greenville Avenue, right off an entertainment district, in homes that were built in the mid-1920s generally, so I understand city services and some of the problems with them,” Kunkle said.

I’ve posted video of Kunkle’s speech in its entirety above, and as you can see he didn’t specifically address LGBT issues. But I did manage to hit Kunkle up for a few questions both before and after. (He didn’t take questions from the audience after speaking.)

—  John Wright

In 6 months, 1,300 same-sex marriages in Argentina

Casa Rosada, or Red House, is the presidential palace where the Argentine marriage law was signed six months ago

In the first six months since the same-sex marriage law was signed, almost 1,300 couples have registered through the registry office. And the wedding rate is rising, according to the Argentine newspaper Clarin.

Clarin reports that on Jan. 15, the Argentina Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (FALGBT) had recorded 1,283 marriages in all provinces, although the distribution is not proportional, since most occur in large urban centers.

Recording the most marriages was the province of Buenos Aires (490) and the city of Buenos Aires (465). Other regions reporting include Santa Fe with 90, Cordova with 85 and Mendoza with 47. They say “sexual diversity in the more conservative provinces takes more time.”

Of the couples married, 70 percent are males who have been together 12-15 years. Possible explanations from FALGBT are because their lives are already consolidated and for health reasons they need to take care of each other. Younger couples prefer to try living together before marriage.

“Today there is no rush, because it is a right and may be exercised at any time,” says the head of FALGBT.

He said the first to marry were militants who brought the issue to the public. But now that the law has been in effect for awhile, many more are taking advantage and the rate of couples marrying is increasing.

Now, after marrying, a growing number of couples are beginning the process of adoption.

How has life changed for those who have married? One married woman says it is symbolic that the state recognizes her relationship and protects her at work and reassures her that if something happens to her, her wife has the tools to protect her. Another says it has to do with dignity, respect and having a sense of equality as well as the civil rights she can access through the law.

—  David Taffet

New attempt to legalize gay marriage in Chile

Chilean flag

While civil unions in Uruguay and marriage in Argentina were approved by legislatures — and civil unions in Ecuador were approved by voters under a new constitution — the Chilean Supreme Court may approve same-sex marriage in that country.

According to the Santiago newspaper El Mercurio, three couples have filed a lawsuit, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

An attorney for the couples, Jaime Silva, argues that two provisions of the Marriage Act are unconstitutional. The first states that marriage is a solemn contract in which a man and woman come together. The second recognizes that a marriage concluded abroad will be recognized in Chile provided it is between a man and a woman.

Those provisions, Silva argues, violate Article 1 and other provisions in the constitution. Article 1 begins, “Men are born free and equal, in dignity and rights.”

Last summer we reported several South American countries were considering recognizing same-sex relationships.

In Chile, a civil union bill got bogged down in the legislature. Meanwhile, no movement has been reported on the issue in Bolivia, where President Evo Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera live together in the presidential palace.

P.S.: That is a Chilean flag. The blue stripe extends to the bottom on the Texas flag.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Poll results show broad support for gay rights among Texas voters

An overwhelming majority of registered voters in Texas say they support a significant expansion of gay rights, according to the first-ever in-depth statewide poll on LGBT issues.

The scientific poll commissioned by Equality Texas surveyed voters on 12 key issues, from civil unions to workplace discrimination to school bullying. On 10 of the 12 questions, a majority of respondents said they would support an expansion of gay rights. The only two issues on which the LGBT community didn’t receive majority support were same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages from other states.

“Equality Texas envisions a state where all Texans are treated equally, with dignity and respect,” the group said in a press release. “This first-ever statewide poll on these rights clearly shows our vision is already shared by the vast majority of Texans. This concrete data demonstrates a bipartisan shared vision that crosses all demographic lines: political party affiliation, race, age and geographic location.”

Equality Poll 2010, conducted by The Glengariff Group Inc. and released earlier today, surveyed 1,000 registered voters between Aug. 29 and Sept. 2. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Here’s a snapshot of key findings:

To read a summary of the poll, go here. To read the full poll data, go here. We’ll have much more on the poll in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  John Wright