By: ANTHONY M. BROWN | According to the Catholic Church, I'm more dangerous than al-Qaeda. My daughter belongs in a madrasa and I commit acts of social terrorism every time I introduce my husband Gary as my “husband Gary.” Pope Benedict XVI believes that gay people are a greater threat to the family than global violence or nuclear proliferation.
In his January 1, 2008 World Peace Day address, the pontiff stated that deviation from the “one man, one woman” family structure was against the moral norm, and prioritized it in his speech as a more dire concern than the conflict in the Middle East or global warming.
I guess that makes me a marriage terrorist.
I never understood why Catholics hate gays. I know that statement is a generalization. My in-laws have loved Gary and me for the last 19 years, Gary much longer, and have been Catholic the whole time. The Spanish Inquisition, a tolerantly permissive attitude toward the Nazis, and the child molestation scandal cover-up aside, the Catholic Church has done a lot of good for the world.
It's ironic, though, that the people in the Church hierarchy who are so critical of our families and who have made it their mission to see that we cannot marry, have all pledged to live outside the “family,” on whose behalf they so loudly protest, and are all “married to God.”
Whatever the reason, the church's message against gay people takes it toll.
Over the holidays we went to western Pennsylvania to visit Gary's family. I stopped going to Catholic Mass with his parents after the church voiced its support for a federal marriage amendment, but Gary continues to go with them when we are at their home.
It is an hour that reminds him of his past. It is an hour that he can spend with his mom and dad while they are still here on this earth.
As he walked into the service on December 29, 2007, he saw the blue brochures everywhere. They said, “The institution of marriage is under attack and the time has come for Pennsylvanians to take action.” They used the words “THREAT” and “DANGER” and asked, “Do you really care about marriage?”
“Do you care enough to really do something?”
Anyone who didn't realize what was really going on would, of course, answer, “Yes!”
Unfortunately, the brochures seek support for an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution making it impossible for any same-sex couples to marry there, as well as barring recognition of any legally performed same-sex marriage, like Gary's and mine from Canada.
The political truth of the matter is that they already tried this in late 2004. It didn't work because some key Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced different versions of the amendment in the House and Senate. A politically-engineered argument over the differences in language was used to delay and essentially kill the initiative.
In Pennsylvania, two successive legislative sessions must pass the amendment before it can go to the people for a vote. In the '06 elections, the state House of Representatives went
Democratic and there is little to no chance that the current majority caucus would allow it to be introduced again.
So, again, why are the Catholics doing this?
If there isn't the political agenda of getting conservative voters to the polls in a swing state for a presidential election, I simply must believe that they “aren't really that into us.”
So, why do I keep caring about what they are up to?
Gary was shaken by the church's blatantly anti-gay message. He walked out of the Mass during the sermon when the priest launched into his hate speech. He wrote an email about his experience and sent it to his database. He has received more than 100 replies from all over the world. Friends forwarded the email to their friends and so on.
Each respondent had their own story of when, why, and how they felt betrayed by their own church and left it.
We are adults. Wounds are processed in a different way. When a 13-year-old sits in that church and hears their words of intolerance and cannot understand why they are “different,” he or she just might believe the church. Last week a 14-year-old British girl hung herself because she could no longer take the schoolyard taunting about her being lesbian. An 11-year-old boy killed himself the year before in Sussex England because of gay-related hate bullying.
And yet the Church maintains that there is no connection to its stance of anti-gay bigotry. When a Church lends its implicit seal of approval to marginalizing and denigrating others, there can be no Christian reason.
Anthony M. Brown s helped prepare the brief for the Lawrence v. Texas sodomy case while interning at Lambda Legal in the summer of 2002. He is the executive director of The Wedding Party and currently heads the Nontraditional Family and Estates Law division of McKenna, Siracusano & Chianese. He can be reached at [email protected].