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

Overjoyed, yet full of consternation

HATE LIVES ON | Like the Ku Klux Klan that vilified all minorities in its terroristic oppression of people and also operated under the guise of Christianity, today’s militant Christian Rights groups target LGBT people for scapegoating.

UN resolution on LGBT equality is a victory, but also a reminder of how far we have left to go toward equality

DAVID WEBB |  The Rare Reporter

The passage of a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council last month declaring that LGBT people around the world should be afforded equal protections with all other human beings left me overjoyed — yet still full of consternation.

The measure’s passage represented a great victory for human rights advocates who pressed for it. But the very need for such an action underscored how dangerous it is to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in many parts of the world, including the United States of America.

Homosexuality remains illegal in 76 of the globe’s countries, and it is punishable by death in five of them.

In the United States, where the Texas sodomy law — and in effect, all sodomy laws in the country — were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, discrimination and violence against LGBT people continues to run rampant. An analysis of 14 years of FBI hate crime data by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project in late 2010 revealed that LGBT people are more than twice as likely to be violently attacked as Jews and blacks, more than four times as likely as Muslims and 14 times as likely as Latinos.

In a press release by the U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the U.N. resolution an “historic moment to highlight the human rights abuses and violations that LGBT people face around the world based solely on whom they are and whom they love.”

She noted that torture, rape, criminal proceedings and killings are sanctioned all over the world by religions that condemn anyone who does not adhere to traditional heterosexual norms regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

The controversial resolution, which was proposed by South Africa, passed narrowly on a vote of 23 to 19. Although the measure was supported by the U.S. and other Western countries, it was opposed by African and Arab countries where the prosecution and persecution of LGBT individuals is the most severe.

Three countries, including China, abstained from voting.

Reaction to the U.N. resolution from opponents of LGBT rights was telling.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, denounced it as a maneuver in an international agenda to restrict the freedom of churches.

Tomasi claimed the church opposes violence against homosexual behavior and punishment based on a person’s “feelings and thoughts,” but he condemned the measure as detrimental to society and likened laws against homosexuality to prohibitions against incest, pedophilia and rape.

In Ghana, the Rev. Joseph Bosoma of the Sunyani Central Ebenezer Presbyterian Church called on President John Evans Atta Mills to crack down on homosexuality in the country, warning that society was on the verge of a punishment similar to what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah in Biblical times.

The president assured the pastor that the government would take action to check homosexual activity.

Similarly, Alex McFarland of the American Family Association, the group that is sponsoring Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s The Response Prayer Rally in Houston on Aug. 6, declared recently that the world is now in “The Latter Days,” in response to the passage of marriage equality in New York.

He argued that LGBT rights are not the equivalent of human rights.

Soulforce, an LGBT group that monitors conservative religious groups, noted that another host of Perry’s rally, Lou Engle, the leader of The Call, is one of three evangelical leaders in the U.S. who supported the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda.

For three decades, the greatest impediment to the LGBT rights movement has been Christian Rights groups and their leaders who have seized on the concept of a “homosexual agenda” bent on destroying American culture and society. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, declared the fight against LGBT rights to be a “second civil war.”

Some of these Christian Rights groups have earned the distinction of being identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center because they have resorted to crude name-calling and spreading false information about LGBT people in an effort to draw support to their cause.

Like the Ku Klux Klan that vilified all minorities in its terroristic oppression of people and also operated under the guise of Christianity, today’s militant Christian Rights groups target LGBT people for scapegoating.

LGBT people comprise the last minority group left that it is politically correct in some quarters to attack, and Christian Rights groups and politicians like Gov. Perry are making the most of it.

The beginning of this summer marked the 16th anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention’s apology to black people for its abominable treatment of that race over the years, and some gay activists, such as Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out, petitioned the church group to issue a similar apology to LGBT people.

That, of course, did not happen, but one day perhaps it will.

Until groups like the Southern Baptist Convention, which urges followers to “go the extra mile when witnessing to gay people,” recognize LGBT people as equal, freedom will continue to be a worldwide challenge.

The U.N. resolution was a milestone in that journey to equality, but the road ahead for LGBT people will continue to be a long and difficult one. The U.S., which admittedly is far behind some countries, will likely see success long before LGBT people in some parts of the world feel free.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright

Over the weekend while I was reading the Klan's website…

KlanFred Phelps is apparently too extreme for the Ku Klux Klan.

Here’s what they say on their website:

News Release

Disclaimer :

NOTE: The Ku Klux Klan, LLC. has not or EVER will have ANY connection with The “Westboro Baptist Church”. We absolutely repudiate their activities.

Actually, that’s really not too surprising. Phelps has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But what surprised me over the weekend, while I was reading the Ku Klux Klan’s website, was that on the issue of same-sex marriage, they’re to the left of the official platform position of the Republican Party.

On same-sex marriage (click here for their full statement), they say:

We define Marriage as: a religious solemnization of vows between one man and one woman. Even those performed by a Justice of the Peace or Judge are not, by our understanding “marriages” but rather civil ceremonies (unions). We see no issue with civil unions for homosexuals or those who choose to avoid Holy Wedlock.

In other words, the Klan believes that “marriages” are performed by churches. “Civil unions” are performed by government. A justice of the peace does not perform a marriage, they claim, just a civil union.The legal rights we have come from the civil union. And it’s OK for gays and lesbians to get the same civil union straight people get when they take out a license at city hall.

And that’s exactly what the gay and lesbian community has been arguing since the marriage debate began. Separate civil marriage from religious marriage.

Now, just in case anyone thinks they’re embracing the LGBT community, they’re not. Their membership requirements state, “Under NO circumstances will we accept for membership: homosexuals, atheists, or those who have been found mentally insane.” I’d get tossed out on several other counts. There’s that Jewish thing. And dating people of other races thing.

I guess my favorite part of the website is where they explain how accepting gays goes against “Judeo-Christian values.” Hmmm … I wonder how they explain Israel recognizing same-sex marriages performed where they are legal? Or isn’t Israel Judeo enough for them?

—  David Taffet