Today Gay Pride celebrations reach a climax in New York City with the Pride Parade. June is also a traditional month for weddings. This combination makes the legislative victory for gay marriage in New York so wonderful for the Pride Parade there today.
Friday evening I listened for a long while to a live feed from the Senate debate in Albany regarding gay marriage. One of the best speeches of the evening was the one by Senator Mark Grisanti, a Catholic and a republican. Grisanti talked about his Catholic upbringing and how he struggled with the concept of marriage being between a man and a woman. He added that he was also an attorney and that the more he struggled with this issue and thought about it; he had to conclude that gay and lesbian people had these same rights to marriage that he and his wife had. In an earlier interview with a Buffalo newspaper Grisanti said: "If I take the Catholic out of me, which is hard to do, then absolutely they should have these rights," In the end, reason won out. Here is a link to his speech. Senator Mark Grisanti's Speech for Gay Marriage
I admire the struggle and soul searching of someone like Senator Mark Grisanti. That effort is not something new for gay and lesbian people. We have been doing it for a long time. My hope is that more and more people will embrace that struggle in the honest and respectful way in which Senator Grisanti did. I am confident they will come to a similar conclusion.
Yesterday I attended a wedding in the garden of gay couple. The wedding was between a man and a woman. One of the persons getting married was a staffer for a member of Congress.That member of Congress was there. This congress person has taken strong stands on behalf of gay and lesbian people. The congress person was comfortable in the garden and environment of the gay hosts. So were the two people getting married. This is the second straight wedding that has taken place in that gay garden. I wonder how long it will be before my two gay friends will be able to be married in their own back yard.
While at the reception I was sitting with one of my gay neighbors and he held out his wedding ring. It appears to be just like the one his partner wears. The design is the same except for the diamond. Then he told the story of the diamond. It first belonged to his partner’s grandmother. When his partner was preparing to marry a woman he was dating, he gave her an engagement ring with that diamond. Two weeks before the wedding my friend said his partner realized he could not go through with this wedding. Everything was called off. The engagement ring with the diamond was returned. Now my gay friend wears a ring with that diamond. These two men have been together for almost twenty years.
June is Gay Pride month and a month for weddings. I want to celebrate the victory for gay marriage in New York, not only for the equality it brings but also for the honesty that it allows. The honesty that this new law allows means a person does not need to pretend to be someone he or she is not. Now, at least in New York and several other states, it is possible for two people who really love each other who are gay or lesbian to get married.
Bishop Joseph Sullivan a retired auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, New York wrote an op ed yesterday for the Buffalo News. In that opinion piece the retired bishop strikes a tone that is so much more pastoral than the bellicose hectoring of New York’s archbishop.
Here are two paragraphs from Bishop Sullivan’s piece in the Buffalo News.
“What you would probably be surprised to learn is that Catholics are among those who increasingly are reaching out pastorally to the LGBT community. A recent study released by the Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of Catholics believe that job discrimination against gay and lesbian people should be outlawed. By almost 2 to 1, Catholics believe that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt children.”
“More than a decade ago, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a graceful message, “Always Our Children,” which reminded us, “For St. Paul love is the greatest of spiritual gifts. St. John considers love to be the most certain sign of God’s presence.” For most Catholics, there can be no statement that better summarizes an attitude of welcoming of our LGBT brothers and sisters than those of Jesus, “love one another as I have loved you.”
The article in America includes these words from Bishop Sullivan.
"Catholics and other religious people who support LGBT rights do so because of their experience of engagement with members of the LGBT community. They are not rebels in their churches, but people who have taken spiritual messages of inclusiveness and welcoming to heart. They are taking the church’s teaching on social justice and applying it to pastoral practice in engaging the LGBT community."
"We see these teachings play out as Catholics across the country engage in prayerful and meaningful dialogues about understanding and embracing the LGBT community. This dialogue is happening amongst faithful families, in student groups on the campuses of Catholic universities, and within church congregations. This dialogue is admittedly difficult, at times, but important."
Back on May 13th. the archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolin, went on a rant condemning the movement toward the recognition of gay marriage in his blog titled "Marriage: The Core of Every Civilization". In his blog the archbishop always uses the word “homosexual” which is offensive and distancing even as he talks of welcome.
When a reporter asked me[Dolin]for a comment, I replied, “They’re right: we do love and respect homosexual people."
There are a few comments that repeat the standard theme of church teaching. Many other comments talk about how marriage has been defined differently over the centuries as well as the fact that marriage was a civil institution before the church got involved.
One commentator even challengs the archbishop to meet with him. He suggests that the archbishop is a coward. I agree.
Over the years the bishops have never tried to engage in a meaningful discussion with the GLBT community. So the bishops, the so called shepherds, remain in their ignorance and can rightfully be called bigots, which seems to offend the archbishop.
That is why I want to call attention to words of Bishop Sullivan. He speaks like a shepherd. He speaks in a way that invites a response and dialogue.