Chicago's Cardinal Francis George is getting much media attention for a letter to parishioners in which he condemns civil marriage equality for same-gender couples in the state of Illinois. But there's another element to this story that deserves the same amount of media attention—an element that shows, yet again, how much beyond the matter of marriage itself the other side's activism can and does go.
After talking about the damage civil marriage equality will supposedly bring to the Land of Lincoln, Cardinal George concludes his letter with the suggestion for supporters to visit ILCatholic.org. On that site, the local Catholic Conference is pushing a so-called "marriage toolkit." And in that toolkit, one will find this advice for "those who experience same-sex attraction":
You might be aware of Courage, an organization that GLAAD has touched on several times in the recent past. This is a Catholic organzation that has one and only goal: to tell LGBT people that our lives are built toward celibacy. Rather than take the more evangelical approach that says gays can be prayed or therapized into "change," this Courage outfit simply tells LGBT people that chastity is our godly calling. They don't really deny that we are geared a certain way—they simply tell us to stifle it.
This, a goal that instructs millions of men and women to shut off their biologial attractions, goes well beyond the matter of civil marriage. It's one thing to debate civil rights, which the Illinois legislature will begin doing any day now. Sure, it offends many of us to watch LGBT people's deserved civil rights go up before a public back-and-forth. However, if the opposition movement takes it all a step further and insists on debating whether or not we LGBT people should even be living as LGBT people in the first place? Well that is much deeper. That is much worse. And sadly, that is what the Illinois Catholic conference and media-friendly champions like Cardinal George are positing.
It is important to send a reminder that the opposition from the Roman Catholic hierarchy does not represent Catholic people. Over 70% of everyday Catholic people support LGBT equality, including marriage equality. Numerous LGBT Catholic Organizations like the Equally Blessed Coalition have been working consistently to send a voice of Catholic inclusion. And there are Catholic denominations who do not agree with the Roman Catholic hiearchy on LGBT equality. Voices like Cardinal George may garner media attention, but they do not tell the whole story of LGBT people and Catholicism.
With Illinois opening up the marriage debate, it is the perfect time for local media outlets to look a little more closely at what the opposition movement is saying about us. We have Laurie Higgins and David Smith operating out of their Illinois Family Institute offices with bodies of rhetoric that condemn every fiber of LGBT people's beings. We have Cardinal George, a public figure who has gone so far as to liken the LGBT rights movement's potentiality to that of the KKK, a gross and inflamatory statement for which he has had to issue an apology. And now we have Cardinal George's promoted Catholic conference pushing an admitted endgame that casts LGBT people into loveless lives where innate atttractions are not to extend beyond friendships.
We are not making this up—they are saying it! It's time to hold these spokespeople and groups accountable for the clearly-stated suggestions that they themselves are putting on the table.