GLN permalink 1-4-2011
During the recent move to win civil unions in Illinois, the Catholic hierarchy, led by Cardinal Francis George, was the foremost opponent of even this half-step towards legal equality. George played a rare public role in opposing LGBT equality - he normally works behind the scenes to get his way.
"Everyone has a right to marry," George chirped, "but no one has the right to change the nature of marriage."
Uh, duh. Everyone has a right to marry, so long as Cardinal George approves of the gender of the person you're marrying-- even if it's a civil contract not even called marriage. George is trying to impose a medieval "natural law" marriage definition on the whole of society, while at the same time choosing to ignore the new law's provision that religious organizations are exempt from having to perform rites for same-sex couples. "Natural law" categorizes some people and acts as "natural" and "normal" and therefore "healthy" and others as "abnormal" and "unhealthy" and even "demonic."
"The public understanding of marriage will be negatively affected by passage of a bill that ignores the natural fact that sexual complementarity is at the core of marriage."
For leaders of an institution as officially sex-negative, as well as unofficially sex-abusive, as the Catholic Church to be opining on "sexual complementarity" makes as much sense as Illinois politicians holding forth on the topic of fiscal responsibility.
And if George's appeals to "logic" on marriage and sexual relations weren't enough, he threw in an implied threat to axe the social services the Church provides under contract to the State of Illinois and other government bodies:
"The impact of this legislation on the Church's social service ministries remains an important and thus far unanswered concern."
For too long, anti-LGBT organizations like the Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army have been taking in millions of tax dollars from taxpayers, gay and non-gay alike, with no legally binding commitments to equality in employment and service provision.
As one expert noted, "Generally speaking, Catholic Charities gets 65 percent of its funds from government, including the states." (LINK)
The recent passage of civil unions in Illinois, while a gain, is still far short of the full legal equality that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people need. And as we've seen with the experience of other civil rights struggles, formal legal equality is far short of real equality, whether in the law or society at large.
Two of the important next steps for LGBT rights in Illinois are the achievement of full legal equality - including the right for consenting adults to marry whom they wish - and to decouple the provision of social services from Illinois's own version of "faith-based funding."
Please mark your calendars to join us on Freedom to Marry Day 2011 - Sunday, February 13 - to challenge the anti-LGBT bigotry of the Catholic hierarchy, to push for equal marriage rights in Illinois, and demand an end to public tax dollars going to religious institutions which refuse to respect equal rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.