I was raised in an evangelical, Christian, non-denominational, missionary family. Since I can remember, we traveled the world, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have seen parts of the world by the time I was twelve that most people don't get to see in their lifetime, and I wouldn't change my upbringing. Ever.
Though I didn't have the vocabulary to voice it at the time, I knew I was gay by the time I was four. I had crushes on boys, but I thought that was normal and in time would grow up and find my attraction focused on girls.
It didn't happen. And I grew up hating myself because everyday, I read my Bible and heard how 'homosexuals' were deviant people.
My parents are amazing people, and though they had their suspicions about me while I was growing up, they loved me.
Luckily, as I got older, I was able to separate myself from the self-hatred and accepted myself for who I am. Unfortunately, my family is several steps behind. But what my upbringing has given me is insight into those who practice organized religion.
It's hard for me to shout "bigot" or "hater" because I know that a majority of these people are not (though I acknowledge many do act out of animus - growing up, I witnessed that, too). They have good intentions, and they have been forced by zealots to make an unconstitutional decision at the ballot, to choose between their faith and their civil duty to respect equality. That's wrong. And in many cases, they're victims of having to choose as we are victims having to vote on our own rights to save them. This is why the judicial and legislative system exists, but they're failing.
Case in point: Catholics are the most supportive of marriage equality out of all Christian denominations.
So why am I saying this? I'm saying this because I think it's important to separate those who attend church, who practice out of their convictions an organized religion, and the leaders of their church who dove into the social and political arena. Many times, these leaders say they speak for their congregants when in fact, many of these congregants don't agree.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops intend to release this November a powerful statement titled, "Marriage: Love and Live the Divine Plan." (See full statement embedded below.)
Why is this important? Because over 300 bishops will collectively sign this statement that will enact this as the new language that the U.S. Catholic Church will stand behind in regards to marriage.
In the statement, it condemns co-habitation, divorce and contraception as "intrinsically evil", even stating that in vitro fertilization is wrong, but it also clearly attacks marriage equality.
This is a long document - same-sex unions is addressed in lines 423 - 465. An excerpt:
Today, advocacy for the legal recognition of various same-sex relationships is often equated with non-discrimination, fairness, equality, and civil rights. However, it is not unjust to oppose legal recognition of same-sex unions, because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. "The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it." To promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman is itself a matter of justice. In fact, it would be a grave injustice if the state ignored the unique and proper place of husbands and wives, the place of mothers and fathers, and the rights of the child.This statement will be powerful in that it will unite the various parishes throughout the country behind one new, solid language regarding marriage.
The legal recognition of same-sex unions poses a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society, striking at the source from which society and culture come and which they are meant to serve. such recognition affects all people, married and non-married: not only at the fundamental levels of the good of the spouses, the good of children, the intrinsic dignity of every human person, and the common good, but also at the levels of education, cultural imagination and influence, and religious freedom.
I don't think I need to repeat the argument that, though the church has every right to believe what they do and should practice that freedom, civil marriage "intrinsically" is not the same as religious marriage, and therefore renders this statement moot when it comes to the issue of civil justice.
But I'd like to quote a Catholic priest who commented on Unite the Fight about this statement, which obviously was leaked early because of the marriage equality initiative facing Maine now and the power the church wields there.
Fr. Marty Kurylowicz:
Being a priest and psychologist, I know the kind of serious harm that is caused to children who grow up gay by those who oppose Marriage Equality. “Kids are being hurt!!!” There is plenty of research data that makes that [sic] supports this statement. I have been an advocate for children who grow up gay for their protection from antigay statements.Father Tony, a man who was once a Catholic priest, blogs at Bilerico Project. He will be issuing a series of responses to this statement. This is his first:
Benedict XVI's continual ordering the hierarchy in a united effort to oppose Marriage Equality is proof that they have not even considered the harm to children and have ignored the overabundance amount of research data. The harm that is done to children is tremendous. It cuts deeply at the very core of child's ability to bond/attach to another or other human beings for life. However, in the meantime how many millions of innocent children will continue to be abused in this way because of their criminal neglect of their responsibility. Everyone is responsible to thoroughly study and learn the facts and research data about human sexuality for the safety and well-being of children. There is a lot more to learn than the outdated, inaccurate and whimsical ideas of "the birds and the bees," a child's life depends on our being responsible in this regard. In order to be more like this mom was in this ad.
The U.S. Bishops are currently individually reviewing the draft of a pastoral letter -- "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan" --which they will formally consider at their Nov. 16-19 national meeting . With all due respect this pastoral letter will become their most vivid indictment against them and Benedict XVI exposing their irresponsible leadership at the expensive of millions of innocent children, globally.
When this statement is issued in November, we must remember that not all Catholics will agree, and let that truth guide us in how we respond.
Marriage - Love and Life in the Divine Plan