I Have a Brilliant Idea, Let’s Protest the Protesters

A few weeks back The Marin Foundation was called by a Catholic church in Chicago. They were calling because they got word that a gay activist group was going to be protesting their church on behalf of all the LGBT people who don’t like the Catholic church’s stance on gay marriage. Over the last few weeks we have tried to work as best as we could to help set up a private discussion between the Catholic church and the activist group. That private discussion never happened – and it wasn’t because The Marin Foundation wasn’t willing…

When the day of the protest arrived an interesting thing happened. An anti- same-sex marriage organization from the suburbs showed up and started protesting the protesters. It was a freaking mess. Who does that? What good is coming out of protesting a protest?

It’s like two dumb, blind donkeys walking in circles in the dark threatening each other with nothing other than the smell of their own butts.

There are few things that get me more heated than people on both sides of this topic who, for no greater good at all, stifle peaceful and productive dialogue that produces reconciliation by only wanting to hold nasty signs at each other and yell in their stupid megaphones.

You should have seen the ridiculous scene at that church: People coming in and out of mass met on the church’s steps by hateful LGBT people with signs and megaphones and then looking two feet in the other direction and a group of hateful conservative Christians with signs and megaphones protesting the protest. And not one person in either of those groups had any personal connection to that Catholic church. Amazing. Here’s a quick letter to the protestors:

Dear Protestors Who Believe You Are Doing The Right Thing,

You are not doing the right thing.

Jesus said that wisdom will be proved right by her actions. If Jesus’ words are true, then you all must have not a drop of wisdom in you. Try investing even a quarter of the amount of time and energy you currently use to promote dissent into seeking dialogue and relationships of ‘loving your enemy’ and watch how productive you can actually be. I guarantee it will be a zillion times for productive and you won’t even have to go to all of the trouble to do so much coloring of signs.

And to those conservative Christians there protesting—I have a hard pressed time even believing you are a Christ-One (literal definition of Christian). God says to Isaiah:

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder. The wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”

And to those LGBT people there protesting—you think your signs and megaphones make one ounce of difference to that Catholic church, The Catholic Church or any of the people in it? You don’t. You just look like hateful idiots who are solidifying the Church in thinking they’re doing the right thing.

Next time, instead of picking up your sign pick up your phone and schedule a time to sit down with ‘the other’ and have a conversation focused on trying to understand each other.

Much love.



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  • Why would this group suddenly seek to protest the Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage? Were they protesting the Catholic Church’s strong and public opposition to Illinois’ totally non-religious civil unions bill that recently passed through the legislature and signed by the governor? That’s the only change in Chicago or Illinois within the past few weeks related to gays and our families.

    I see your point, Andrew, but the Church too often likes it both ways. They want to use their resources and their voice in society to publicly lobby against GLBT rights and then cry foul when they are called on it. When is it appropriate for GLBT people to protest when the Catholic Church uses its resources and its voice against our secular rights? The Catholic Church opposes my marriage, but it opposes civil unions and domestic partnerships (definitely not part of any Catholic rite). The Catholic Church opposes my ability to parent my children and uses its resources to villify my famliy and others like it. The Catholic Church uses the muscle of its bishops to expell children from Catholic Schools who are either GLBT or who have GLBT parents. The Catholic Church spoke out against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Catholic Church denies sacriments to members who don’t toe the line. Etc, Etc, Etc.

    So what is the appropriate venue for publically calling out the Church for its actions?

    • Kevin Harris

      Jon – The main three purposes of the protest as outlined by the organization that put it together were:

      1. Oppose the anti-LGBT bigotry of the Catholic hierarchy; support the many pro-equal rights Catholics organizing for change within the denomination
      2. Demand full equal marriage rights in Illinois
      3. Demand that tax dollars no longer go to tax-exempt religious groups that refuse to commit to equal rights for LGBT people

      It seemed that a large part of it was prompted by Cardinal Francis George as he recently spoke out in opposition to marriage for gay and lesbian individuals. For a more detailed account of why the group protested along with a number other articles about the protest, you can check out:


    • olterigo

      I think gays should protest church groups like Catholic church with kiss-ins. Not kiss-ins within the church, but right outside of the services. Show them what the power of love is. You don’t want your kids to be taught about homosexuality and because of that bar marriage equality and equal rights – your kids get a first-hand illustration of a man kissing a man or a woman kissing a woman. Why not?

  • Jake

    Yikes man. It sounds like you’re pretty pissed about this.

    The protest was specifically to point out that the Archdiocese of Chicago and it’s archbishop, Francis George, actively and publicly worked in a failed attempt to defeat the Civil Unions bill that was recently signed by Governor Quinn. Thus, the protest accomplished its intended purpose.

    As much as I understand the importance of dialogue and discussion, the bottom line is that sometimes the church does unacceptable, hurtful, and homophobic things. And sometimes, those things need to be called out in a public way so that the church will have to deal with the opprobrium from the public when they are hateful. This is important because the church often gets a free pass for the hurtful things they do, even from straight evangelicals who say they’re allies (and from the tone of this post, it seems like today the Marin Foundation is an example of that, if I can be so bold).

    This idea that LGBT people need to quietly and endlessly discuss their rights, their existence, and their “lifestyles” with straight evangelicals is one that makes straight, conservative evangelicals feel progressive and intelligent. That’s great for them, but that’s a position that can only be taken out of straight privilege–LGBT people have to be more active, to fight, and to call out the church when they are hurtful, and sometimes it needs to be done in a way that is harsh and shocking to get the point across, because there is no other way they can be heard.

    And of course, when we do get angry (and rightfully so, by the way), then we are shamed and told we’re making things worse by not “seeking dialogue and relationships of ‘loving your enemy’.”

    I think your tone in this post is inappropriate, Andrew. It seems to suggest that LGBT people need to sit around and discuss and be questioned forever (or at least until all the conservatives grow old and die). For most of us that is not an option–we have lives to live. This blog and this organization do good things, but as a straight person speaking authoritatively about LGBT issues, you have to remember that you have privilege and a position that LGBT people don’t have.

    Don’t you dare use those gifts to glibly and angrily try to take away what little voice we have in the name of giving us a voice that some straight evangelicals find to be less threatening and more socially acceptable.

  • This post was less about that one specific Catholic church or The Catholic Church in general; and more about the protesting in and of itself – from both the conservatives and LGBTs, as they were both included very directly in the post. The target of the protest isn’t what I tried to focus on in this post – it is rather the medium of the protest. And in no way did I reference any straight privilege (which I believe is real in our society – just like white privilege), I’m concentrating on the medium of protesting. I think protests are worthless and only cause more problems and hate.

    Can someone give me a tangible example of something productive for both communities that happened recently because of a protest? I literally can’t name one thing. And if you can name one, I’d love to hear it and will listen with open ears.

    When protesting stops being a main medium of engagement, dialogue and relationships with ‘loving your enemy’ won’t look like such a cop-out.

    And Jake, I’m not singling out your voice…I clearly included the anti-marriage group in this as well. It’s not like the voice of the Catholic church or any other religion or denomination only dominates the airwaves or culture. Both ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ gay rhetoric floats around everywhere, each claiming they are the David in a David and Goliath battle. It’s ridiculous and is going in circles only causing more problems. Both use the same argument:

    “We’re just trying to voice our concerns and be heard because _______ (insert either of the words “conservative Christians” or “LGBT”) dominates our culture and their agenda is ruling.”

    Can’t fight an ethical, moral or intellectual battle using the same argument as your enemy. It won’t ever get anywhere. Yet that is what is happening over and over again.

    • Eugene

      It’s much easier to slaughter a silent, passive lamb.

      It’s much easier to vote against marriage equality when you think, “Oh, gay people don’t care about marriage, anyway”. Protests bring the pain closer to its cause. They demonstrate that gay people care about marriage and get hurt by anti-gay beliefs and actions. They remind other people – not necessarily Catholics – of the way the Catholic church fosters homophobia.

      Even if you believe that signs and megaphones make no difference, what will make a difference? You know quite well that the Catholic church is a top-down institution that is notoriously slow when it comes to change. There is nothing – literally nothing – you can do to make this particular church support gay marriage. So how exactly will dialogue be “a zillion times” more productive? I see only two ways:

      1) gay people and allies can convince pro-gay Catholics to leave the church;
      2) Catholics can convince gay people to accept their second class status or even become “ex-gay”.

      If I’m missing something, how exactly will it work with the Catholic church?

      Your point about David and Goliath would be correct if gay people actually tried to impose their “agenda” on other people. Last time I checked, heterosexuality, Christianity and heterosexual marriage were perfectly legal, so please stop this false equivalency.

      • Eugene – You make a great point that I didn’t think about in the terms you put it in: “It’s much easier to slaughter a silent, passive lamb.” Thank you for that reminder.

        Here are some thoughts to what you said:

        1. The conservative world clearly knows the LGBT community wants marriage equality. There is no mistaking that fact. And, without protests, the conservative world would also still clearly know the LGBT community wants marriage equality because there are numerous LGBT marriage equality organizations out there fighting anti-LGBT marriage legislation. Protests need not be involved to get a point across.

        2. I do know this, that neither that Catholic church (even after they called us) nor the protesters wanted to sit down and talk to each other instead of protesting and counter-protesting. So let me put the question back on you – how do you know it won’t be a zillion times more productive when neither side even wants to sit down with the other? All they want to do is protest, not talk to each other, and cause a scene. That might be productive to you, but honestly, that is not productive to me.

        3. This post has nothing to do with the right/wrong of marriage equality. You imposed that on the post. This post was about what I see as the crazy medium of protesting.

        • I’m just curious here but why did that church call you if they weren’t willing or interested in working out the issue?

          • Jon – It seems that they were under the impression we would protest with them. True statement.

        • Eugene

          1. The “conservative world” frames this issue in terms of “sanctity of marriage” – which makes it more palatable. But when you see actual people who love each other and can’t get married, it gets the point across in a totally different way. It demonstrates the connection between abstract words/votes and living, breathing people.

          2. I think you’ll agree that the second-best outcome of an argument is when the sides “agree to disagree”. It’s a safe option that makes people more willing to engage in peaceful and productive dialogue. But this option isn’t available to gay people because of Catholics and other Christians who oppose civil marriage equality. Is it any wonder that gay people don’t want to sit down with them? Catholics can marry who they want, gay people can’t. The discussion would be totally one-sided. And, again, I believe it won’t be productive because I don’t see how exactly it can be productive. The Vatican simply won’t let the church do anything outstanding. At least the protests can make it messy enough for the church to participate in anti-gay initiatives.

          3. Do you really believe that protests are crazy regardless of rights and wrongs? If the church was covering up pedophiles, would you engage in “peaceful and productive dialogue” with it? Would you kindly ask them to rape fewer kiddies? I don’t think so.

          Oh, and I have one more reason why protests aren’t so bad. LGBT protesters probably weren’t “dumb” and “hateful”. They were angry and hurt. And protests can help them get it out of their system. It would be difficult for them to engage in peaceful dialogue if they were angry.

          • Eugene – Thanks for the follow up! Here are my responses:

            1. I fully agree with you on this point.

            2. For me, it seems that ‘agree to disagree’ is some what of a cop-out to not putting the hard work into relationship. At the end of the day, there can still be that thought of ‘agree to disagree’ but I like the understanding of Ela Joseph which says: “Diversity or disagreement is not about how we differ; it’s about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” Also, I don’t blame all gay people for not wanting to sit down with, for instance, Catholics. At some level (and sorry for the intense example) it’s like someone who got rapped being asked to sit down and talk to their rapist. But at some point, there has to be some gay people who are willing to bear that burden and shoulder the pain of starting the reconciliation process. It’s not necessarily fair or right, but it’s worth it. I read a book my Miraslov Volf about his wrongful time in captivity by his country’s oppressive regime and the process he went through to forgive and reconcile with his enemy. Just the same, there are a number of books/articles/etc about people reconciling with others who murdered their loved-ones etc. Powerful stuff.

            3. Covering up any wrong needs to be brought to light – especially such horrible one’s as the pediphile stuff! As I mentioned to Barbara below:

            I see peaceful insider residence as much more of a powerful statement than protesting, and that is what you are doing. If LGBT people and people like you show up to mass every week and go to communion with a rainbow shash, and force them to deny you in front of everyone inside their own church, that makes a clear point that there are Catholics out there who love and support LGBTs. Protesting on the front steps is easy for the people inside the church to write off as crazy activists who shouldn’t be listened to in the first place.

            4. Thank you for that clarificaiton…I take it to heart. You are right. They probably weren’t dumb and hateful but angry and hurt. I’m sorry for using that language.

            • Eugene

              I really appreciate your responses, Andrew.

              “Also, I don’t blame all gay people for not wanting to sit down with, for instance, Catholics. At some level (and sorry for the intense example) it’s like someone who got rapped being asked to sit down and talk to their rapist.”

              You shouldn’t be sorry for this example. Believe it or not, I strongly considered using it when I wrote my response.

              “But at some point, there has to be some gay people who are willing to bear that burden and shoulder the pain of starting the reconciliation process.”

              Why gay people, though? Why can’t it be you? And I mean it. Your foundation can make a difference if you start the reconciliation process on behalf of the gay community. It will be much less painful and probably just as effective. Plus gay people will see you helping them in a big way.

              • Eugene – Hopefully that is what we are doing. I feel that we do stand up in a lot of religious places and defend the gay community in ways that many church circles don’t want to hear (hence, the constant flow of hate mail we recieve telling us we’re leading ourselves and others to hell), but at least will listen to because of our straight (and white) privledge.

                If there are other ways that you see would be impactful, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I always want to be a person who humbly listens and learns. That’s not a nice slogan, it’s a reality.

            • Jack Harris

              I can think of many notable cases where protesting was effective.

              1. The Montgomery Bus Boycott
              2. The lunch counter sit ins in Greensboro
              3. Drag Queens protesting at Stonewall.

              • Jack – As I said to Jon below, I know there are a lot of people who are alive today who clearly remember the 60s, but that was a different era where protests were acceptable and efficiant. I’m looking for something in America/the western world that has worked over the last 15 or so years. I can’t name one.

            • olterigo

              Hi, again, Andrew,

              I have no issue sitting down with any Catholic. I have not been brought up in the Catholic Church. I’m not even Christian. And so I don’t really have the hang-ups on that front. On the other hand, I studied law in a Catholic law school, I had many Catholic professors, whom I deeply respect. But if I do sit down with the representatives of the church (I don’t actually think they’ll sit down with a nobody) – what will that specifically accomplish?

              Does that mean the Catholic Church will tone down their rhetoric? Does it mean they will stay away from the next LGBT-friendly bill – let’s say ENDA (federal version to not discriminate based on sexual orientation)? Does it mean they will stop fighting against UAFA bill in Congress? Will the Roman Catholic Church stop blaming the gays for their pedophile problems? Or at the very least will the local church stop being involved in all of this? Or either nationally, regionally, or locally will they stop supporting NOM?

              I know what it will do for them – 1. get rid of the loud protestors and 2. show the Church is not unreasonable and is prepared to sit down and listen (of course, they probably won’t change anything). But what will I have to show for it?

              I think that’s the bottom line in this conversation – will there be some actual benefit from sitting down, besides providing a nice photo, which will be used to prove their not homophobes?

    • “Can someone give me a tangible example of something productive for both communities that happened recently because of a protest? I literally can’t name one thing. And if you can name one, I’d love to hear it and will listen with open ears.”

      How about the Woolworth sit-ins in Greensboro, NC, in 1960? Woolworth lunch counters were segregated and black customers were refused service when they tried sitting in the wrong seats. They stayed and were eventually joined by more and more people who protested this act of commercial segregation. These protests spread to other Woolworth stores. Eventually, nearby college students got involved and began protesting and boycotting Woolworth. Within five months, Woolworth desegregated their lunch counters.

      There were also the anti-Briggs Initiative protests in California. The Briggs Initiative would have prevented gay people from teaching in that state. Gay people and our allies marched and protested against this voter initiative and it was (barely) defeated.

      • Jon – I don’t see the 1960’s as recent. I know there are a lot of people still living who were well aware of everything going on in the 60s, but that was a different era with a different generation instilling a different mindset. There were quite a few protests that worked 50 years ago – the most famous being MLK’s I have a dream speech which there was a direct correlation to a change in national policy. I’m talking about anything within the last 15 years (post Pedro on Real World which brought, for the first time, mainstream awareness to a ton of issues) – when did The Briggs Initiative happen?

        • Then how about the Tea Party Movement, which is little more than a series of populist protests?

          • The Tea Party movement is a recent phenomenon, but what has it changed? It seems to have only deepened the divide that was already there. A tiny handful of Tea Party candidates won in the 2010 election, but others notably lost. And the shift toward a conservative Republican Congress came because of a more general disgust with fiscal irresponsibility.

            • How many stipulations are going to be placed on me about what is or isn’t a protest?

              • Jon, it was Andrew who put the qualifier on the protest of it having a positive impact for both sides (see above).

    • Phillip Reed

      “Can someone give me a tangible example of something productive for both communities that happened recently because of a protest? I literally can’t name one thing. And if you can name one, I’d love to hear it and will listen with open ears.”

      Where doe Egypt fall in your analysis?

  • I have been involved with PFLAG for over 11 years now. Because of my involvement I have become an advocate for the LGBT community. I know from personal experience that there is no effective dialog with the Catholic church regarding homosexuality. Instead the Church classifies homosexuality as morally disordered, objectively disordered. As a result the Church extends its hateful message to all its members. However, the Church has no right to interfere with the rights of the LGBT community to benefit from basic civil and human privileges. Organized religion is the biggest contributor to the intolerance of the LGBT community. I think it is correct that the LGBT community continue to protest anytime the Church takes deliberate action to deprive them of their basic civil rights. I thought the clergy was present to love ALL its children and God was in charge of judging his children. Protestestors need not be violent. They need to be peaceful while at the same time presenting their message strongly and clearly. Try going to the Holy Name Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday. If you in anyway identify with Rainbow Sash colors, you will be denied the right to receive the Host. The Church, and Cardinal George, and Bishop Doran regard the Rainbow Sash movement as a political statement. A true Christian would understand that the Rainbow Sash Movement is a plea for acceptance. To the clergy, remember this…you too will be judged.

    • Barbara – Your words “The Church, and Cardinal George, and Bishop Doran regard the Rainbow Sash movement as a political statement” bring to light the clear and direct hypocrosy of them because their financial and pastoral involvement in trying to make sure LGBT marriage never happens is exactly political on their part.

      I see peaceful insider residence as much more of a powerful statement than protesting, and that is what you are doing. If LGBT people and people like you show up to mass every week and go to communion with a rainbow shash, and force them to deny you in front of everyone inside their own church, that makes a clear point that there are Catholics out there who love and support LGBTs. Protesting on the front steps is easy for the people inside the church to write off as crazy activists who shouldn’t be listened to in the first place. I hope I’m making that distinction between the two understandable?

  • Eugene

    I am disappointed, Andrew.

    I probably shouldn’t be, but it’s still a let-down. It’s one thing to question how productive protests are. It’s another thing to equate the two sides. This thing you keep doing – gays are bad, Christians are bad, the Marin Foundation is good – is getting tiresome. Let me remind you of something. The Catholic church is pushing the belief that homosexuality is a “moral evil”. More importantly, the church is using its power to impose this belief on everyone. This is what’s happening now – and it isn’t “peaceful and productive dialogue”. You can’t stifle something that isn’t happening.

    Gay people have to fight for something as basic as legal equality. That’s why the words like “dumb, blind donkeys” and “hateful LGBT people” sound a little weird coming from a man who tried to immerse himself “as much as a straight male could, into the large GLBT population in Chicago” – yet somehow managed to get married.

    So here’s a question: Catholics and other conservative Christians routinely vilify gay people and withhold their marriage rights – and it’s much worse than a protest. So why do you never call their actions hateful? Your narrative starts with “hateful LGBT people” – and it’s quite disturbing.

    • Eugene – I’m sorry you are dissapointed. Here are some of my thoughs to what you said:

      1. I feel that you are looking at this one post and generalizing that I think gay = bad, Christian = bad and The Marin Foundation = good. I don’t see that. If you look at any of the other posts within the last few weeks (on the home page right now), there is nothing there that suggests that any of us feel everyone is bad except us. In fact, we just got done highlighting moving interviews with a lesbian daughter and her mom.

      2. I know peaceful and productive dialogue isn’t happening. That is what we are trying to get to happen on a lot broader of a level than just here in Boystown in Chicago. You know when we first started working here in Boystown protests were a regular thing. LGBT would protest the conservative churches around the neighborhood and conservatives would protest the LGBT churches around the neighborhood. I stared meeting with every single leader from both sides about the inherent problems with protesting, and then I started to bring all of those leaders together (for years) from both sides and here we are, years later, and not only are there no more protests but those leaders from both sides consider ‘the other’ their friend now. They use each other as collegues and resources and their churches do things together. That is Unity! That is bridge building. And that experience shows me the power of intentionally bringing opposite people together for an extended period of time. That is why I don’t like protests and rather peaceful and productive dialogue.

      3. I do, all of the time, call the vilifying of gay people as wrong. All the time I do that Eugene. Watch any recent video I’ve posted.

      4. My narrative doesn’t even come close to starting with ‘hateful LGBT people.’ I wrote 11 sentences before I said anything about “hateful LGBT people” and if you notice exactly after I said that I wrote “hateful conservative Christians” who I then went on to question the actualization of their belief. If it would help, I can switch the order of what is written. I know it’s difficult because folks tend to focus in on the words pertinent to their group, rather than the broader message of what I’m trying to communicate to the entire disconnect.

      • Eugene

        I think you misunderstood me, which is probably my fault. So I’ll rephrase what I wanted to say.

        a) It’s a little too easy for you to call for “peaceful and productive dialogue” when your marriage, identity and social status aren’t on the line. You don’t feel gay people’s pain. I guess that’s why LGBT protesters seemed “hateful” – not angry or hurt – to you.

        b) The point about your narrative is that you use the term “hateful” to describe the protesters. But you don’t use it to describe the reason LGBT people were there in the first place – “the Catholic church’s stance on gay marriage”. It’s as if “hateful LGBT people” are the source of hate in your narrative. Why?

        Why is a peaceful, temporary, easily avoidable protest more “hateful” that the Catholic church’s stance on gay marriage? Or do you believe that it’s hateful too?

        • Thanks for clarifying it…let me get to your questions:

          1. I just wrote this to you above, so let me write it again in this thread as well: “Thank you for that clarificaiton…I take it to heart. You are right. They probably weren’t dumb and hateful but angry and hurt. I’m sorry for using that language.” And I do agree that it is a whole lot easier for those in the power position or the top of the heirarchy to demand peace and productivity.

          2. I don’t think, generally speaking, that a conservative theological belief is inherently hateful beause everyone is entitled to the right to belief what they want – no matter how progressive or conservative or nothing at all. HOWEVER, what people believe most definitely can be used and promoted in hateful ways through hateful mediums – such that both sets of conservative and gay protesters demonstrated. I don’t believe either the LGBT people’s beliefs are hateful, nor do I believe a conservative belief is hateful…it’s how both parties in this situation went about demonstrating their belief.

          I guess the sticking point question in my head when it comes to this topic is: Do you think one group is more likely to listen to the other group through protesting or through listening them talk in private face to face?

          3. I can assure you that the protest and the counterprotest that morning was not peaceful or in any way productive. Lots of nasty signs. Lots of loud yelling and anger and name calling and megaphoning. I would call what was there that day with both groups of people hateful. If you think this was a peaceful sit-in demonstration or something like that, it was not.

          • Eugene

            1. I appreciate the apology.

            2. I’m sorry, Andrew, but it sounds like a cop-out. I surely have a right to say, “I hate Christians”, but if I actually said (or believed) that, it would obviously be hateful. More importantly, hate, by definition, is a feeling, not a medium. And when they say that your love is evil – not weird, not disgusting, but evil – there is no medium that can turn this into love. I mean, if a conservative told you that black people are apes and we should love them like we love apes, how would you react?

            “…it’s how both parties in this situation went about demonstrating their belief.”

            Well, yes, and the crucial difference between the parties is that Catholics have been using their power to force their belief on everyone. The lack of civil marriage equality is a big deal: there’s nowhere you can go to get married. How hateful does it seem to you, in comparison to “nasty signs”?

            “Do you think one group is more likely to listen to the other group through protesting or through listening them talk in private face to face?”

            You don’t have to choose. Protests are good for the angry stuff. They demonstrate that you’re a force to be reckoned with (or at least a major nuisance). Private talks are good for the complicated stuff. But they aren’t a solution to everything. In my opinion, gays and Catholics already understand each other well enough.

            • Eugene – I like your last statement that protests are for the angry stuff and private talks are good for the complicated stuff. How would I go about helping the angry people move towards the private stuff? And interesting enough, I agree that Catholics and gay understand each other well, which is why people feel like they need to protest in the first place. Hence, in a circular fashion, why I believe the private meetings are so important.

              • Eugene

                “How would I go about helping the angry people move towards the private stuff?”

                If I haven’t made this clear enough, I believe the only way for you to do this is to support civil equality, including civil marriage equality (or at least civil unions). Clearly and forcefully. It will make angry gays less angry. More importantly, it will break the connection between Christian beliefs and civil discrimination, making anti-gay beliefs less objectionable. It would be much easier for gay people to discuss what the Bible says about homosexuality if their civil rights didn’t depend on it.

            • “the crucial difference between the parties is that Catholics have been using their power to force their belief on everyone. The lack of civil marriage equality is a big deal: there’s nowhere you can go to get married.”

              Eugene, first, how does one actually force a belief on another? This hyperbolic imagery is used all the time, incorrectly, in this debate. A person or group can be powerfully persuasive. But the hearer of a message still must make up his mind for himself. Ugly protests often have the opposite effect of what they intend.

              Also, there are places where gays can go and get married — those few states that have granted gay marriage. It seems to me that by now, gays would have figured out their most effective means of protest is to take their fight to the courts. That’s where they tend to win. The dominoes topple, state-to-state. Many conservatives have figured this out, and thus they have dug their heels in opposing gay marraige. That makes it a political battle also, with conservatives and liberals racing to appoint judges they believe will uphold their values.

              • Eugene

                “Eugene, first, how does one actually force a belief on another?”

                People who vote against civil marriage equality legally prevent gay couples from getting married. If you think that “the hearer of a message still must make up his mind for himself”, why shouldn’t gay marriage be legal? Let everyone – gay and straight – make up their minds for themselves. Or do Christians worry that gay people’s truth is “powerfully persuasive”? 🙂

                And, yes, aside from the lack of federal recognition (DOMA), there are places where gays can get married, and lawsuits really seem to be the most effective “means of protest”. But it doesn’t mean that any other kind of protest is worthless. Heck, we’re having this conversation because of the protest! 🙂

                And besides, is that really how you want this conflict to end? In court? I’d prefer a more peaceful, consensual solution. Protests may be “ugly”, but even they are closer to peaceful face-to-face conversations than court battles.

              • No, enacting laws only seeks to conform behavior, not control beliefs. If we were all entitled to have laws based on our individual beliefs, we’d have quite a mess on our hands — anarchy, in fact.

                Gays are entitled to their beliefs, and they are entitled to couple as they wish. The State is not compelled to enshrine their unions as marriages since it serves as the arbiter of what is most beneficial for all of society. Conjugal marriage between a man and a woman is still the best model for families and families are still the bedrock of civilization. If gay marriage is so beneficial for society, why wasn’t this obvious truth enshrined into law centuries ago? Wouldn’t anthropology have shown it to be the way to go?

                Look at what the Prop. 8 federal court case did for gays in California. Why would you not want to replicate that around the country? Far more effective than waving signs and shouting.

              • walkamungus

                @Debbie —

                “Gays are entitled to their beliefs, and they are entitled to couple as they wish.”
                –> Gay marriage isn’t about sex. Marriage in this country is a civil institution. Married couples derive legal, financial, and social rights & responsibilities from that little piece of paper that says they’re married. Many churches keep trying to paint gay marriage as a moral issue, but in the context of civil society, it is not.

                “The State is not compelled to enshrine their unions as marriages since it serves as the arbiter of what is most beneficial for all of society. Conjugal marriage between a man and a woman is still the best model for families and families are still the bedrock of civilization.”

                Since the divorce rate has been around 50% for decades now, by this measure the bedrock is crumbling. No, *people* are the bedrock of civilization, and *people* deserve a uniform set of rights & responsibilities.

              • Monogamous marriage is still the best model, whether or not everyone is getting it right.

                Uniform rights and responsibilities. I agree. It is placing all definitions of marriage on an equal plane and insisting that the parenting roles of men and women are not unique and necessary for the best outcomes in child-rearing I disagree with.

              • Joel Wheeler

                “The State is not compelled to enshrine their unions as marriages since it serves as the arbiter of what is most beneficial for all of society.”


                The state serves as the arbiter of what is most beneficial for EVERY INDIVIDUAL, so long as said benefit does not infringe upon the rights of other INDIVIDUALS.

                A necessary distinction and correction.

              • Children have a right to be brought up in the best environment for them. That has long been deemed a home headed by a mom and a dad. Sadly, children are being thought of more and more as little trophies to possess. Single moms who want live dolls to play with, straight couples whose main interest is in keeping up appearances and gay couples who pretend they can reproduce are all looking for self-fulfillment at a child’s expense.

              • Yeah, I pulled out D’Angelo this morning and polished him up spick and span before putting him back in the trophy case. I’ll polish Les later on this evening.

                Seriously, Debbie, I don’t know what to say to you. You complained yesterday on Warren T’s blog about how disrespectful people were being to you regarding a statement about your faith in God. You have been consistently disrespectful for several days here and there about how you refer to gay families and our kids. And yet you want me to read your book. I jokingly said “no thanks” before. I’m defintely saying “no thanks” now.

  • I don’t see either side in this battle as moving toward giving in an inch. They are bound by GroupSpeak. This gap many are trying to bridge is very deep and wide. But enterprising individuals can find ways to get across. And one by one, brother can reach out to brother and sister to sister. That is the only way anything of substance will happen to bring reconciliation.

    While this group is yelling at that group, others can quietly get out of the trenches and move toward each other. One day then, perhaps those lobbing “truth bombs” (or hate bombs) at each other will notice that No Man’s Land is beginning to fill up with people shaking hands and listening to one another. Is that not what The Marin Foundation has been seeking to do?

    It’s easy to hate your supposed enemy as long as you can refuse to know him. Put a face on him and give him a heart and that all changes.

    • Definitely Debbie. That is our understanding of the who bridge building process.

  • I’ll admit I’m torn, Andrew. I don’t always find protests (especially unsustained protests) to be very effective. That said, I often don’t find it productive to call up and complain about disagreements, especially when it comes to larger instititutions.

    I mean, why was the Archdiocese of the Catholic Church actively campaigning against the civil union bill? And would the archbishop change his mind if somebody from that group called him up and scheduled a meeting? And once again, I ask why the Church feels it can campaign against a purely secular bill and yet be exempt from any reaction (especially negative)?

    • I totally agree with you about the anger of the Archdiocese of the Catholic Church actively campaigning against the civil union bill. I mean, according to the federal law, any 501c3 or church that involves themselves in political matters has the right to get their non-profit status stripped away. I don’t understand why some entities just keep getting away with it – from both sides.

      And the archbishop would probably never change his mind if someone scheduled a meeting with him. But if you could read what I just wrote before this response in response to Barbara and point #2 to Eugene’s second post about being dissapointed, I think it’s along the same lines of what I would say to what you just said.

      What do you think?

  • Andrew,
    Thanks for this post. I’m finding this comment thread very interesting. I’m not familiar with the particulars of the protest you are referring to, but I’d like to pose this question. Do the protests and the dialogue have to be mutually exclusive?
    For example, I don’t know what the protestors you are referring to put on their signs, what they might have said, or how they might have treated the church members going in and out of the building, but what if the protest were peaceful and respectful, but served the purpose of continuing to keep the dialogue at the center of public attention. It sounds like the Archdiocese was engaged in a very public attack on the LGBTQ community, so it seems that the LGBTQ community ought to be able to peacefully continue to present their viewpoint. So, in answer to your question, I would think that a peaceful, respectful protest could continue to stir the pot of public discourse. BTW, I’m all for the groups sitting down together, but especially if one side is not willing to sit down, I see no problem in the protest.

    • Tony – Great points! Love it…

      The problem I had with what happened in this situation is that both parties clearly said no to wanting to get together. They only wanted to fight. To me, that is unacceptable and show’s people’s true intentions.

  • While I believe there are a few exceptions to protests I generally equate it to street preaching, door-to-door witnessing and telemarketing… an ineffective turn off. While the MESSAGE in the protest can be valid and even necessary, most listeners ears will fall deaf on the METHOD.

    Honestly examine when was the last time a group of protestors with opposing views changed your mind? If you want change, LIVE IT.

    “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

  • jJoniJJ

    Hey, if gay people want to yell and scream at a catholic church, I say good on you. We have been silent for way too long!! We should be out there with signs every Sunday, scaring the heck out of those straight people trampling on my civil rights every Sunday!

    • Eugene

      We were too nice
      And it was wrong
      ‘Cause if you’re too nice
      You can’t be strong

    • I don’t think being screaming at anyone solves anything… yet I don’t think you should have to be silent or hide who you really are. Trust me, the church won’t change that easily. When they see real people they know struggle with their sexuality and civil rights it’ll hit home.

      Let me say this, if a church or organization or even the LGBT community has their mind made up about another opposing group… screaming won’t change a thing, it’ll only drive a deeper wedge and uphold the stereotypes.

      I UNDERSTAND being hurt by the church and not being treated like the rest of society. I UNDERSTAND being judged, being frowned upon, and being thrown away by friends. I am a Christian… I am gay… I am a misfit. BUT please know, I’ve seen both sides of the coin and when you have two opposing sides yelling, anger and frustration doesn’t solve anything. (Again, I’ve done yelling on both sides and have seen no change, only more anger in return.)

      The Berlin wall took 28 years to come down… this may take awhile friends. But don’t give up hope and please know that not everyone is against you, certainly not God. Hang in there… hope is on it’s way.

      • So balanced Angie. Thanks.

        • Maybe your new book should be Grace is An Orientation: Tearing Down Walls. 🙂

  • jJoniJJ

    You don’t just stand silently and let the catholic church get away with all this nonsense. You go after them for violating 501 c 3 status, you protest outside their churches, you protest inside their santuaries the way ACT-UP did at a cathedral in NYC in the 80s. You need people in the streets yelling, and you need moderates. All groups of gays and lesbians are needed in this fight, and we would not be where we are today if it hadn’t been for the radical in your face tactics of gay men and lesbians– all the take back the night marches, the protests outside the national council of churches, the ACT-UP actions nationwide– I don’t think many people under the age of say 32 actually know what it took to get civil right across the board, and I would be very suspicious of anyone straight telling gays NOT to go out in the streets or outside the churches. You don’t gain civil rights by being silent and polite. As Malcolm X, or Harvey Milk or Susan B. Anthony or Robin Morgan…. Dialogue doesn’t work and never will work, you have to pour on the pressure in the streets, with economic power, at the ballot box… all kinds of ways. As many tactics and protests as you can dream up. And it’s good for gay people to scream loud, to shout down the oppressors, to get good and angry at people who do everything in their power to destroy us spiritually, to spit in the faces of our partners and families, to support the death of women in childbirth… you’re talking about the same catholic church that burned people at the stake, who raped children and endorced it worldwide with their code of secrecy. Lesbians should be good and angry at any institution that believes only men can become priests… I could rant on, but gay and lesbian brutal verbal aggressive anger is both good and noble, and that is what has pushed the conservatives to the wall so far. You can’t be nice to these people, they’re demented bigots, they think nothing of trying to erase gay and lesbian people, to destroy our families, to take our children away. How dare any straight person to tell us to be silent or to not yell outside churches, how dare they!

    • “You can’t be nice to these people, they’re demented bigots, they think nothing of trying to erase gay and lesbian people, to destroy our families, to take our children away. How dare any straight person to tell us to be silent or to not yell outside churches, how dare they!”

      When “they” hear this sort of speech, “they” feel entirely justified in their words and actions. They only dig their heels in more. They see the gay rights movement as “the gates of hell” pushing against the Church, and they feel justified in defending her. You ought to see this.

      • olterigo

        Hi, Debbie,

        Sure, the Catholic Church congregants hear this and they dig in their heels. But where are you, Debbie? You are hearing polite arguments. At least, looking at this page, people are being polite to you here. So, supposedly you should be hearing more. But where are you? You, still, despite people talking to you politely. Despite decades of research on LGBT parenting. Despite, despite, despite… all that, you pretty much espouse the same point of view as the Catholic Church. Except that you do it a bit more quietly. (I, for one, had no idea who you were until I found this: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/tag/debbie-thurman ). Quite telling.

  • Weemaryanne

    “Can someone give me a tangible example of something productive for both communities that happened recently because of a protest?”


    • The jury is still out on where that is going. It may be toward disaster.

    • Egypt, yes, protests did work there. But Egypt is not a democratic western society. Like it or not, such a protest in America wouldn’t work. Obama, or any other President, wouldn’t step out of power because some people in America don’t like him. There have been many protests in America over the years, and none have worked nor influenced national policy in about 50 years.

  • Erp

    Perhaps some should read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. I note Andrew underplayed the significance of the church involved. It wasn’t just any Catholic church in the diocese but rather the cathedral, the official seat of a bishop, a bishop who has been very vocal against civil rights for many and the protest was on the eve of Valentine’s day (very appropriate in that an issue was marriage). The Catholic church has had internal groups such as Dignity for over 30 years but how much has the hierarchy been willing to listen to them as opposed to denying them places to meet?

    Public protests have three main audiences. The first and least are those vehemently opposed; they are unlikely to change their minds by the protest but they are at least made publicly aware that opposition exists. The second and next in importance is reassuring supporters that support exists and is willing to be public. The third and most important are the lukewarm (on both sides) and the truly undecided. It makes them aware that there is a grievance and that people have been harmed and they may decide to get educated. It may move them from lukewarm opposed to undecided to lukewarm support to strong support. The reaction of the party being protested may also affect opinion.

  • In democratic countries (and elsewhere), protests are the leading edge of any civil rights push: for women’s suffrage, for racial equality, for gay rights, for disabled access, and now, as society changes, for the rights of other groups such as transgendered people.

    I think that, without loud and obnoxious groups making themselves visible — and regardless of whether they’re interested in talking directly to the institution they’re protesting — it’s too easy for the rest of us who are unaffected by discrimination to pretend that those groups aren’t there, or aren’t important. How many mainstream people would even know anything about transgender issues without protests that bring initial attention to them?

    Yes, as progress happens we move on from protests to discussion, and eventually to the behind-the-scenes grunt work of crafting fairer legislation. But too often those later stages would never happen at all without the established order being discomfited by protest.

    You want examples: Was it not protest that fomented the collapse of totalitarian regimes across Europe and Latin America in the 1990s? That prevented a Russia on the brink of a Communist coup to avoid it in 1991? That is the reason Chile and Argentina and Brazil are freer places than they were two or three decades ago? That we are suddenly aware and paying attention to the status of ordinary citizens in the Arab Middle East this year?

    You ask for “a tangible example of something productive for both communities that happened recently because of a protest.” Why need it be productive for both communities? If gay-marriage rights are to become real, then the Catholic Church (and the counter-protesters in your example) will lose. As I believe it should. The U.S. civil rights marches of the 1960s didn’t work out so well for the KKK. General Pinochet had to flee when his subjects turned against him. It is becoming less and less acceptable for bigots to denigrate homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, and others in the public sphere. In part that is because members of those communities choose not to be silent, or to work exclusively behind the scenes.

    There’s a reason that representative states enshrine freedom of assembly and protest into their constitutions, and that repressive regimes clamp down on assembly and protest at the first opportunity: because the technique works. In this case, the LGBT protesters hope that it will work for them and shame the Catholic Church, or at least shame society more generally into listening less to the Church’s position on this matter. The counter-protesters hope the Church will stay strong and retain its influence over policy.

    We’ll see who wins.

    • Derek – How can protests be the leading edge of anything when in America, protests haven’t directly changed or influenced national policy in over 50 years?

      To me, this back and forth isn’t about winning it’s about how we can all create a culture of ‘on earth as in heaven.’ A part of that is policy change, yes, but the way to get that done needs to differ. See my follow-up comment to Barbara earlier for some more thoughts.

  • jJoniJJ

    Egypt, love that one word statement. That’s what it would take nationwide in America in front of all the catholic cathedrals day in and day out. I’ve done my share of protesting, I’ve also done my share of dialoging. But I don’t think any straight person has any idea the level of daily oppression and insults and humiliation gays and lesbian are subjected to. Go to any mainstream store the day before Valentine’s Day, and see if you can find one card celebrating the love of two women–and that’s a “little” thing.
    So more protests are needed not less, and the catholic church and conservative protestant churches are huge contributors to the anti-civil rights climate. You never want to ease up on these people, never, until they finally stop funding anti-lesbian and gay legislation with their tax exempt dollars. In the cause of freedom, it is always considered a radical act to do this, and the comfortable straight people want to say this isn’t right, noble and well within the greatest traditions of this country. There’s always the “dialoguers” and that’s a liberal tactic to shut down real change.
    You don’t really dialogue you stand your ground as a gay and lesbian movement, a liberation movement that will not settle. This is profound, and I would never listen to any straight person tell me to “dialogue” which I find a complete waste of time. We found allies because they saw us in the streets, they woke up, they realized the institutionalized evil that is the god limiting conservative idea of human life and value. The goal is not dialogue, the goal is liberation. You dialogue after you win the revolution, not before.
    Perhaps after gay and lesbian civil rights are enshrined into national law, we’ll have some time to dialogue. I personally have seen no gain in it as a human being.

    • In Egypt as of right now, the protests did work there. But Egypt is not a democratic western society. Like it or not, such a protest in America wouldn’t work. Obama, or any other President, wouldn’t step out of power because some people in America don’t like him. There have been many protests in America over the years, and none have worked nor influenced national policy in about 50 years.

  • jJoniJJ

    Recent studies have shown that lesbian couples are the best parents statistically. Remember, gay families are chosen families, and lesbians don’t get “accidentally” pregnant– they are very much planned families, ready to take on the responsibility of good child rearing. Hetero families are not all that well thought out — women get pregnant and are forced to marry, you have underage girls getting pregnant. I know of no lesbian teens who got pregnant, unless they were raped, but I know loads of hetero girls who had sex (some of it coerced by older boys) and got pregnant.
    So the hetero family unit as it exists today is in no position to comment on the quality of lesbian and gay partnerships, marriages, or civil unions, and certainly have no right to comment on the quality of our lives with our kids.
    And in a democratic society, we make laws for the benefit of individuals, and our civil contracts are about equal access– the marriage contract is simple a contract–in enables heteros engaging in this contract to get joint social security benefits, file joint tax returns, inherit property without huge tax consequences etc. In other words, “marriage” as we know it privileges heteros and penilizes financially gay and lesbian couples. that the conservative churches are blocking access to federal benefits and tax benefits is criminal in my opinion. It means gay and lesbian people don’t have equal access to this tax status under the law, and I have a huge problem with this. We have no verifiable evidense that lesbian couples make worse parents than hetero married couples. But we do have preliminary data showing 0% child abuse in lesbian and gay couples, and you can’t say this about hetero families. Look at the stats on incest, abuse, child rape etc.– I think it might come as a rude awakening to a lot of hetero couples that their institution is in one big cultural mess, and that they alone did this to this institution for a variety of socially complex reasons… some them being women’s financial freedom from male control… always a good thing, because then women aren’t owned or kept or terrorized into staying married to abusive men for decades… remember the bad old days?
    The hetero shock at just what damage it did to children, just how fake the whole system is is a wake up call for them. I think we see no significant difference in marriage stats/divorces between conservative christian hetero couples and non-christian hetero couples. Gay and lesbian liberation simply opened up the world to perhaps a threatening truth— no, hetero isn’t the only human situation, sexuality is not under the control of men, and that women don’t have to have sex with men. That conservative men keep harping on this exclusive sexual access to women under the rubrick of “sacred” marriage is very telling I think. That they fear gay male sexuality also is another issue.
    So both protest and dialogue is in the air. The conservative right wing bigots have now backed down— we started talking marriage, they started back pedeling and saying “ok we’ll give you civil unions.” Interesting hugh… push hard on the use of the word “marriage” and things change. We need as many allies and gays in the streets as possible, and social change does come out of street activism. I think the oppressed can decide what it wants to do, while the hetero privileged should not be dictating on political tactics in lesbian and gay liberation struggles. It’s a pretty basic concept in all freedom movements worldwide; the oppressed can speak for themselves in ways they feel the most powerful, the most heard. Yelling at bigots is very theraputic–we’ve had generations of gays shamed into silence in church–NO MORE.

  • jJoniJJ

    “And I do agree that it is a whole lot easier for those in the power position or the top of the heirarchy to demand peace and productivity.” Yes, you are beginning to get a clue Andrew. If you have social power and you are at the top of the hierarchy, then of course all protestors are going to seem hateful to you. A protest against that system–white straight male supremacy, and male supremacy, which is the heart and soul of the catholic church, then you would have no idea really what lesbians felt, and maybe a little idea of male solidarity.

    I had a straight friend who did not get married in solidarity with lesbian and gay people. She thought it unconscionable to participate in a system that excluded her gay and lesbian friends. I was stunned when she canceled her wedding to a man. It brought tears to my eyes, I’ve never forgotten that incredible act of courage and solidarity. So I think since you are in that marriage system, you should be awfully careful of what you say works or is “productive”–I’m always suspicious of men who use that word by the way.
    “Productive’ for whom? Who does it serve when gays and lesbians are silent, or when they just stay home and not confront brutal authority?

    Keep us silent and out of the streets, because that is productive, but it is the very pressure of the radicals that pushes the moderates. Without radical in your face tactics, you’d still have gay people in mental asylums. Incidently, a very good lesbian friend of ours was put in a mental hospital when she was a teenager. We found her recently, the very week the hospital was torn down. Striking.

    And the 1960s were not long ago Andrew, they are very much a part of our society today and yesterday, and this disconnect with history is what straight people want to “manage” so that they can come in and help us be “productive.” And I deeply resent the whole concept of “productive” because it is the kind of language I hear all the time in corporate America–and it means “shut up” when I hear it, “go along to get along.” It means when women are angry in meetings that is not “productive.” In fact, anything the oppressors don’t want to hear isn’t “productive.” That one word alone is an alarm bell to me.

    Social change is coming despite conservatives, and conservatives haven’t changed all that much. They are just as racist and sexist as ever, only they attempt to mask it. I think you need to really rethink your position here, because the protestors at that cathedral are onto something, and we know that the catholic church considers women breeding machines with no rights over their own bodies, they consider gay people intrinsic moral evil–direct quote from the current pope, and they think that women are inferior, and completely outside of the truly patriarchal institution. The catholic church offends on all levels, and we need to be protesting constantly–and not just on the gay issues guys, you guys need to be protesting their woman hating excluding policies too. Wouldn’t hurt for you to make a few signs and show up now and then.

    Who is a protest for? Well it’s for the protestors as well as the protested? (Is there such a word?) It is for lesbians and gays to yell out their anger, and to show it, and be good and angry with hundreds and thousands of others. It is the fuel of anger that drives change…men do it all the time (they call it the American Revolution)– they revere wars for freedom, that’s what men do to change things. Gay men, on the other hand, are incredibly peaceful. You never see gay men starting fights in our bars and clubs, but on a given Friday night in Chicago, just check the police reports for straight male bars. No to compare this to protest, but I think you have to take a good hard look at who really is causing damage, who really is the threat. And to be in denial of this is telling. No, gay and lesbian protestors aren’t hateful, they are standing up for their rights. It’s not “productive” to you Andrew, because you are married legally, you went along with that institution, you took the privilege and you live with it. You’ve got yours, so let us run our protests and our community the way we see fit.

    • I’m not fighting against gay marriage and I do not tolerate people or institutions who don’t treat people with dignity – from both sides. And yes, the 60s were a long time ago for people my age (30); the people who will be leading our country this next generation. That was 20 years before we were born. Protests haven’t worked in a democratic western society in 50 years. So why do people think they will work now?

  • jJoniJJ

    P.S. Egypt, Sudan, Tunesia–go tell the thousands of people in the streets that their protests are not productive. The irony of this entire post should not be lost on anyone. Wisconsin, the entire labor movement, and what happens to working people when they stop organizing and leave it up to corporate power. Think of the catholic church as an ancient dictatorship, the top down, the male supremacy, the monarchical trappings–how would one deal with such a closed institution? How would women deal with a male dictatorship? What can gay male allies do to help? Because if the catholic church thinks you are an intrinsic moral evil, it is because gay men dare to reject patriarchy in the home. The gay male in partnership with another man lives as an equal, and he rejects straight male perrogatives of oppressing women in the home, his walks away from that. The catholic church with its legions of self-hating closeted gay male clergy is really going to have a hard time of out proud gay men, it never gave a damn about women to begin with.
    Egypt— guess those folks are still stuck in the 1960s using tactics that aren’t “productive.”

    • As I said to you earlier, in Egypt, protests did work there. But Egypt is not a democratic western society. Like it or not, such a protest in America wouldn’t work. Obama, or any other President, wouldn’t step out of power because some people in America don’t like him. There have been many protests in America over the years, and none have worked nor influenced national policy in about 50 years.

  • Jon, it is not my intention, in discussing principles related to marriage, to be disrespectful to any individual family, gay or straight. Actually, in what I said I am being much harder on straight parents and single women who choose to become mothers. I am sure you and Mark are stellar parents to the boys you adopted. They are probably quite fortunate.

    Here’s my problem. Say I am a Congressman or government official involved in policy-making. I have gay families lobbying me for the a federal law entitling them to marry. I want to know in what ways children will be better off if such a law is enacted. I already know adults want marriage equality. But what will you say to me to convince me that children need gay marriage? How will they be better off in your family than they will be in a family with a mom and a dad? What problem for children are you solving with gay marriage? I am sitting here believing that it’s all about the adults who want benefits and entitlements. Is a child a benefit, too?

    • You know what? “Kids” in general might not need gay marriage. But my kids and other kids raised by families like mine do need gay marriage. My kids need and deserve a set of parents who are legally responsible and united together. My kids need and deserve a set of parents who have publicly committed themselves to our friends, family, and to God.

      You heterosexuals are so good about harping about gays and our desire for “special rights”. Meanwhile, you set up a legal system devoted to the promotion of marriage and family and exclude families like mine that don’t fit the mold. And when we speak out about it, you minimize our needs or the worth of our families or even our devotion to each other or our kids.

      So yes Debbie, my kids are “probably quite fortunate” to not be raised by their heterosexual birth parents anymore (you don’t need to know where they came from or what their heterosexual birth parents were up to which led to their removal from their care). Heck, they are “probably quite fortunate” to be raised by us. Period.

  • “You know what? “Kids” in general might not need gay marriage. But my kids and other kids raised by families like mine do need gay marriage. My kids need and deserve a set of parents who are legally responsible and united together. My kids need and deserve a set of parents who have publicly committed themselves to our friends, family, and to God.”

    But, Jon, you haven’t addressed the question. Why are those kids better off with gay parents than with straight ones? Are there not enough straight parents to go around? Are gay parents automatically more “responsible and united” than straight parents?

    You claim we heterosexuals have set up a legal system that has excluded gay families. Good grief! Who, when this country was established, could possibly have thought that one day we’d face legal challenges from homosexuals wanting to marry each other? No, we didn’t exclude you. You just decided you wanted to add yourselves into the system for self-centered reasons.

    • I didn’t realize that I was competing with other parents to validate or invalidate my competence as a parent. Are you suggesting that I need to be better as a parent than every single heterosexual parent out there??? News flash: I don’t think that gay and lesbian parents are better or worse as a whole than any other parents. And frankly, research confirms this over and over and over. Some of us are wonderful. Some are terrible and deserve to lose their kids (I’ve worked with a couple over the course of my career). Most of us fall in the middle with everyone else.

      It doesn’t matter how much we successfully argue our worth or need for marriage protections or our worth as parents. It’s all propanda to you. Our success stories are the exception and our worst examples are the rule. Self-centered indeed…

      • Putting words in my mouth doesn’t help you, Jon. You should be better than every straight parent? Nonsense. Your worse example the rule? More nonsense. Gays have created the need for marriage. That’s understandable. I don’t understand the “need” for children that you cannot bear naturally.

        • “Why are those kids better off with gay parents than with straight ones? Are there not enough straight parents to go around? Are gay parents automatically more “responsible and united” than straight parents?”

          I apologize, Debbie. I guess I read these questions and misread what you were communicating here.

          Over the course of today, you have described my parenting instinct as self-centered. You have been continually disrespectful. You have questioned why the kids of gay and lesbians parents aren’t in het homes. You have accused gay people of keeping trophy kids. You have called us self-centered.

          Here’s the deal. There aren’t enough heterosexual families willing to foster or adopt the children of this world. Even with interested and qualified gay and lesbian parents, there are still tens of thousands of kids without families. These kids need families. Gay people, like straight people, need familial bonds. How dare you minimize our need, desire, or legitimacy as parents.

          I have no use for you anymore. You masquerade as this conduit for helping Christians reach out to gay community. Meanwhile, you offer little grace to those who believe differently than you. I’m done with you.

          • Jon, the gay-rights movement has compelled the Church to take a good, long look at itself and what it is here for. As I see it, here is the upshot: (1) Christians stand guilty of condemning the gay community with one broad brush stroke, and of effectively casting many within the body out; (2) Christians, while having to admit they have made a shambles of traditional marriage, also are compelled to stand up for marriage and all it is meant to be. That means opposing false teaching and enduring the slings and arrows of angry gays while doing it.

            We are in the most delicate position of knowing we must reach out and love a much-maligned group of people, while at the same time oppose something they are hard at work to bring about because it dishonors Christ, whom we love more.

            Mixed in with this whole debate are some inconvenient truths both sides must consider. And children are at the heart of it all. Because the government has allowed a welfare entitlement mentality to flourish, we have many out-of-wedlock births. These children have come into the world in very undesirable circumstances and in many cases, merely to gain their mothers more welfare benefits. Fathers have been miserably absent. It is a travesty of monumental proportions.

            Yes, you are right in pointing out that gay parents have stepped up to adopt some of these children. That is highly commendable. But their altruism and their understandable desire to take on a parenting role, compelling as it is, is not justification for same-sex marriage. And it doesn’t fix the real problem. It’s just another band-aid.

            You have real difficulty in trying to figure out what I am about. I have real difficulty with this crazy world we live in. You fail to see how I can have genuine compassion for gay people and yet be opposed to same-sex marriage as a panacea for them. If I love them, I must accept everything about them, you believe. But that’s not true. Love seeks the best for the beloved, even if is not what they want. The good is often the enemy of the best, and The Enemy of our souls knows this and uses it to deceive us.

            Also, it galls most gays that I can understand their emotions because I have experienced same-sex attractions and believed at one point I could have my cake and eat it, too. I’m sorry that is the case, but it is what it is. It is clear from the comments here that there is a great male-female divergence in the gay world. Women and men see life quite differently. They trust differently. They live out homosexuality differently. Some gay men dismiss women because of their supposed sexual fluidity. Others are masking their own brand of male patriarchy. None of you really has the answers.

            Meanwhile, there is a God who created us all and numbered every hair on our heads. We dishonor Him with our continual bickering. He does have the answer.

            • Eugene

              “Christians… are compelled to stand up for marriage and all it is meant to be.”

              Civil marriage equality doesn’t prevent you from doing this. If Christians are compelled to stand up for Christianity, does it mean that Islam and Judaism should be against the law? I don’t think so. Gay marriage is a minor expansion of the concept, not a total overhaul, so it doesn’t affect the so-called “traditional marriage”. And the more resources you spend on fighting gay people, the less is left for, you know, standing up for marriage in a way that would make a difference to straight couples.

              • It’s all of a piece, Eugene. There is no “marriage equality” to give a peaceful nod to. All people are created equal. All marriages are not. Christians have a responsibility to stand up for marriage, and that means doing all they can to make it better, as well as preventing it from becoming a diluted, meaningless concept.

  • LV Anonymous

    Before Andrew got married, I asked him if it would be negative toward his ministry, & he thought it would enhance it(Is that what you said?) or not affect it adversely. It would show that he was hetero, but still a friend of gays.
    I wonder what critics would say if he were single now. Someone else might think, “He can’t get married, so he is sinking his efforts to helps GLBTs to keep his mind off marriage!” or, “He’s a closet gay trying to appease everyone.”
    Well, the fact that he is a hetero married man must be helping him. He still sees where the LGBT person is coming from & still wants to help.

    Don’t think of his wife as some namby-pamby, either! Read her blog; see how she struggles with the stereotypes of women & how she sees herself.
    She is a strong woman that will help TMF. I’m sure she understands what some of the lesbians who write here have gone through. With Brenda, you now have another fierce ally fighting to keep working on bridging that gap!

    Jon & Andrew appear to be the best of friends. They aren’t accusing each other or competing with each other. They are great examples of folks bridging the gap. KUTGW you all!

    As for protests, there are various results, depending on the topic. But in our media-driven society, they get us talking & sometimes get some results. As freedom-loving people, we enjoy this. Sometimes I feel we may lose our freedom, but for now, we still have it. So we will keep protesting.

  • jJoniJJ

    If you think of marriage as protection for children, then how is preventing children from having the legal protection of a family a disadvantage?
    Just what does gay marriage actually do to straight people? Nothing. However, if you are a lesbian or gay male couple, and you have kids, those kids can be taken away from you in many US states.
    Gay marriage has been around for a very long time, going back to the middle ages, to ancient Greece. There are many gay saints who were partnered, and gayness might have been hidden, and same sex partners might have hidden in clever places — think monestaries and nunneries… think non-married priests and nuns as perfect refuges from a heteronormative oppressive world.

    The first modern gay marriage was performed in 1969.

    And there are actual studies that show just how good lesbian parents really are– again, because the children of lesbians are chosen, and not accidents.
    You really do have to have PLANNED parenthood if you are a lesbian couple using adoption or IVF, for example.

    Lesbian and gay couples have been around for a very long time. Think of all the single men and women who raised children as uncles and aunts. I know dozens of lesbians who have rescued runaways, adopted street kids, taken in kids thrown away by fundamentalist parents– that’s right, straight parents throw their kids out of the house for being gay or lesbian, and we have the homeless shelter in our town for gay youth to prove it. It hold 120 beds, count ’em 120– and the place is always full of gay teens who have been discarded by straight parents, who as far as I’m concerned should be thrown in jail for child abuse. The things those parents did to those kids would shock you, so I won’t tell that stuff on this blog. You couldn’t take it.

    Just think of how bad it is for teenage gay kids today with all the overt hate preaching from pulpits, and what effect this would have on a gay kid? I was lucky, when I was a kid no priest or pastor ever said anything at all about gayness. In that case, silence was golden for me.

    And when I’m out and about, gay kids come up to me all the time–homeless kids, kids needing to talk, kids scared to death of homohating fundie parents. One little gay boy even ended up on our front door step in the early 90s. We both got home from work late in the day, and there he was waiting for us. We invited him in, made hot chocolate, kept the door open so all could see we weren’t kidnapping him. Yeah, he was reaching out. We knew he had spotten the lesbian couple in the big apartment building… we knew he was desparate for recognition. We didn’t say anything about ourselves, we just listened to him. He’d show up every now and then– I’d see his parents in the courtyard now and then giving us hatefilled looks. The father shoved me in the elevator, we eventually had to move because of the threats to us.

    Marriage really does support gay parents with kids, and I think it is the most helpful civil right for gay parents. I’m not that big on marriage–it’s a patriarchal institution that two intelligent lesbians don’t need. But we’re a radical minority, most gays and lesbians flourish with that social validation.

    And there was something in the outrage over Prop 8, for example, that brought thousands of young gays and lesbians out in the streets. Even our little community had a big protest, and it was the very first time all these straight people showed up in support of us— carrying signs, handing out welcome leaflets for the local gay supporting liberal church. To tell you the truth, I was shocked to see them. They were outraged on our behalf…OUTRAGED…. in the past, I just thought straight people were ignorant idiots, unfeeling bigots clueless mainstream people unaware of the huge movement for social justice out there. When I saw PFLAG parents, and episcopal straight priests carrying protest signs with us— then I knew we would win. We were no longer a reviled minority that anyone could have a go at, we had straight people sticking their necks out in support of gay marriage. That’s how important street protest is, because it reveals publically who your allies are, and to see that gives me hope. Otherwise, I would never have been able to find those nice straight people.

  • jJoniJJ

    Jon I hear you. Just what is this woman about other than trashing gay existance, and living in endless guilt for having a lesbian affair … and still clinging and hanging around gay people, insulting us with this conservative nonsense. Either stand up and be lesbian or go back to the husband and kids and leave us gay and lesbian people alone. Stop insulting gay parents, and stop insulting our intelligence as a people. Why are you here? Again, I think it is the conflict with being in a false straight relationship, and no bible babble and conservative fussing is going to do away with the gay feelings. Otherwise you would just stay with straight people, because well, there really are more children out there that need to be adopted. There really are not enough hetero parents to adopt the kids.
    Now I think kids are a complete waste of time, and as a lesbian I don’t do child care EVER. However, I do know lots of gay and lesbian parents, I know lots of lesbians who adopted or foster parented handicapped kids, started clinics for kids with AIDS, and adopted and cared for very seriously handicapped kids because guess what — white christian heteros don’t want AIDS kids, they don’t want kids with handicaps, and they most certainly DON’T want non-white handicapped children.
    So just go out and find a girl friend and leave us alone!!

    • Your comment was not appropriate as you generalized way too much about a number of people groups; something I know you don’t like done about you. Please see this link:



      • Travshad

        This is the comment that gets a warning, while the numerous hateful remarks by Debbie Thurman are deemed acceptable under your comment policy? I have been uncertain about the nature of this foundation since the reports from Signorile. I have wondered if your work is actually beneficial to LGBTs. With the questionable attack on gay protestors in the orignal post and your tacit support of many of the comments (especially those by Debbie Thurman), I think I have answer to my concerns.

        • I’ve had similar conversations and public warnings with Debbie in the past. Overall, recently her comments have been much more productive than before. All I am looking for is movement towards more peace and productivity…that doesn’t mean it happens all of the time. This is the hope also for jJoniJJ.

          • As I’ve said before, God has moved on my heart and has brought me along in my journey to a place where I can be more gracious than I formerly was. He is still working in me. I have been too harsh in the past and I’ve said things I’ve regretted.

            I don’t think anyone commenting here intends to cause another pain or speak in a condescending tone. But we are dealing with serious matters, and neither sides wants to mince words about what is at stake. To have meaningful dialogue means getting over hurt feelings or initial knee-jerk reactions and getting to the deeper issues. That’s what I’ll continue to hope and pray for.

      • Jack Harris

        Sorry Andrew I have to agree..in many corners what Debbie Thurman says on here could easily be described as a micro aggression. I find what she rights on here very offensive. I don’t mind talking with people who disagree with me but she is way over the top. But hey its your blog.

        • You don’t have to apologize Jack. Just like I let LGBT folks air their frusterations and thoughts, so must I do the same with conservative and/or ex-gay people as well. I try to moderate/warn/correct as best as I can but I have a life I need to live too 🙂 and can’t always keep up with everything as thorough as I would like. I know you don’t mind talking with people who disagree, as you have proven that over and over. And for that I thank you brother.

          • I personally found the earlier conversation extremely upsetting, frustrating, and insulting, Andrew. It’s conversations like that which make me wonder how this bridge will ever get built when our families are belittled and attacked. But whatever…

            • Jon – I haven’t read through that particular string of comments yet as they seemed to happen over the weekend and I wasn’t on my computer at all…I just responded today to the one’s that were direct to me. I’ll go through this weekend’s comments soon.

              On a side note, although you feel that way in that particular thread of posts, I know you see a number of others from across the bridge focused intently on reconciliation in a way that does give you hope. You will never understand how much I appricate you (and Jack and Eugene etc) who continue to put themselves out there and intentionally involve yourselves in this forum. Much love!

            • Jon, is there any way for someone to disagree with you on principle without your casting it as a personal attack on you or your family? Can two people fundamentally disagree on same-sex marriage and yet respect each other in your view?

              • This is seriously going to be the last thing that I will write to you for the foreseeable future. Self-centered. Trophy kids. Seeking self-fulfillment through our kids. Questioning our roles as parents. And you wonder how I shouldn’t see this as a personal attack?

                To you it’s about principle (and, to be frank, your own dysfunctional past, which I’m glad you overcame, but please stop projecting). To me it’s about my family and my kids. I’m surprised that you can’t acknowledge the difference.

              • I care about families and kids. All of them, yours included. I have said you are a compelling example to other parents. All of my comments here have had a larger context. They have not been point-blank indictments of you.

                When someone speaks a hard truth about evangelicals, I do not take it personally. I know we have our problems. If someone, gay or straight, disagrees with some doctrinal or theological point I support, I do not take that personally.

                There is a difference between not supporting a movement (or denomination/doctrine/theological system) and how one views/values the people who do support those things.

                I am for freedom of all people. I am for the dignity of all people. I am for upholding the values that are best for society, especially for its most vulnerable members. I oppose discrimination and I believe in freedom of conscience. You are free to hold the views that you do, as am I.

              • No, I can never respect the view that someone must be unequal under law (Debbie’s view). And I can never respect the view that the second classers must suck up and be polite to the oppressors (Andrew’s view).

                Andrew, your false equivalence has pushed me away from you and TMF. Same reason I had to move beyond the Bridges Across the Divide online initiative that PREDATES your bridge building efforts. Ultimately, you people traveling the middle of the road can never get it. Only ONE side wants to keep THE OTHER side down. And yet you treat both sides equally in terms of heaping blame. Understand: ONE side wants to keep THE OTHER side down. Sorry, if you can’t see that and if you have to slap the gays every time you slap the antigays–for what, parity?–you’re just as bad as the Falwells and Robertsons and Bachmanns. Perhaps even worse.

          • Jack Harris

            I agree you need to have a life. This blog is just an instrument for you to help build bridges–so I know what you are saying. I have been trying to work on my anger and learning to forgive people for those who have hurt me. I was allowing what was being said on this blog to affect me–so I stepped away for awhile. In my REAL life, I am a happy well adjust bear who loves his partner, life and God.

            Ironically, this youtube meditation has helped me deal with some of this anger. I think those of us who post on this blog get angry and need to learn to step away before writing something we probably would not say in person. I humbly submit this link as a small tool to assist us when the words get heated.

            Debbie’s comments will continue to insult and offend me, but I am not going to allow her hurtful words affect me anymore. I will continue to pray that she and I will learn to find common ground when possible.


            Bear Hugs,


  • Jack Harris

    I am sorry but I find it laughable that people on here STILL engage Debbie Thurman. She clearly has her opinions about GLBT folks as do we. This really isn’t dialogue–its more like two rats chasing each other in a maze. Shake hands and move on–nothing to gained from this back and forth.

    • If we all agreed about everything, Jack, what would be the point in dialoguing? You are right in that, when it becomes obvious the two sides are in a stalemate, the conversation is, for all intents and purposes, over.

      • Jack Harris

        @debbie : I think the conversation is over. There really isnt anything further to say.

    • olterigo

      But that’s precisely what Andrew wants. He wants us to sit down with the reps of Roman Catholic Church. Well, so far, I’ve observed this virtual sit-down with a non-Catholic person – Debbie Thurman – who pretty much showed us what a sit-down with the Catholic reps would look and feel like.

      And from my reading of this conversation, it seems completely pointless and so not worth anyone’s time.
      So, Andrew, if this discussion has persuaded me of anything, it’s that there is no point to sit down with the Catholic Church. Thank you for helping make that clear.

  • jJoniJJ

    Hey I don’t believe most of this is true dialogue. And if you are talking about who people are and their actual families, it’s a little bit different.
    Dialogue with conservative straight christians on the internet is a bit of a misnomer anyway. The conservative christians I know IRL just never say any of this stuff, never bring up my gayness, and are too afraid to talk about any of it, because they simply know nothing of gay life. I get the feeling that they think silence isn’t offensive. It is mostly the sin of being clueless deliberately, or not having the background to discuss real issues with me. It’s ok, they stay in superficial, and that’s just how it is IRL.

    It’s why street protests are important, because they make visible the people that the mainstream tries to erase and invisibalize all the time. Nothing new in “disappearing” lesbians or gay men– it’s what makes the oppression of gays and lesbians psychologically different from other minority groups.

  • jJoniJJ

    Yeah Travehad, it’s pretty typical and consistent. There is a very clear difference in how the rules are applied to straight people, gay men, lesbians etc., and certainly I don’t expect straight people to get these fine destinctions or even get that we have to defend ourselves. And Jon, you just are smarter about who to really engage or not… I don’t deal with conservative christians very often at all… they aren’t close friends, they’ve never been to my house, unless they were “closet” conservative straight people 🙂 IRL they tend to say nothing. I do work with many conservative loving people, and don’t object to conservatism in general. I’m a very hard worker, and I respect people who do good in the world. If you are kind to me, I will feel kind in return. Or we can go to work events and it’s fun, that sort of thing.

    I would never go to most churches, I reach out spiritually to wonderful teachers, almost all lesbian feminist christian, or new age. I hang out with progressive people and artists and musicians, I feel the goddess most intensely through music… but I don’t think real dialogue happens here on this blog, because straight men are not very well versed in anything lesbian or even feminist. And they never really are or care. Hey nothing personal, they just don’t get stuff and that’s ok. Words on a piece of paper really “virtual paper” that is 🙂 But real dialogue requires being with people IRL. What I am exposed to is very odd worlds here— Exodus, SSA discussions… I’m a very simple person…. I’m lesbian, I love women, I see no dramatic conflict between passionately sexually intellectually musically artistically loving women and being a child of god/goddess/sophia/music. Goddess/god is music, it is JSBach, or Hildegard of Bingen… Gay people are well, ahem GAY… we celebrate life, we have nuanced and beautiful spiritual selves, and most of us just don’t fit in with a right wing straight or conservative way of life. I know, the guys might be a little more comfortable than lesbians, because they do have male privilege… but most lesbians I know are not comfortable with all of this stuff. And the lesbians who are conservatives are so because they grew up in right wing churches, and were indoctrinated into “lord and savior men rule spirituality” since childhood. We tend to be who we grew up with, no great surprise there

    What I do love is when a straight person every now and then sees me, really sees me. It is a magic moment that I am happy to say is happening more and more IRL, and I want to report and celebrate that here! I feel that all of the gay and lesbian christian activism spiritual activism and power is having a real transformative effect on the world. But as to comments policy, I just don’t see the very weird and hateful comments of SSA straight people or most straight people here fairly policed the way lesbians are policed or even other gay men. And I feel validated in this when Jon and others mention this, and explain this. It’s not just me that feels this double standard, otherwise it feels like real gaslighting Andrew, sorry, but you just aren’t as honest, humble or open as you say you are. It’s all about “productive” as you define it, but I find that the oppressed and our voices are not your voice. We have our own highly evolved community, and we have created amazing christian stuff way before you were born. We have made huge progress in progressive churches, and we know that eventually straight conservatives will get tired of attacking us, and will move on to a new target.
    I’m not as familiar with the Marin Foundation, find it a bit well beyond me… because again, I don’t really hold the bible as my book of choice. My partner loves it and loves traditional stuff and radical stuff, I just don’t connect with that time period. And well, lesbians just are more outside this system of male supremacy and female control that conservative christianity promotes on TV, on the radio… Sorry to be so wandering, I often have difficulty even explaining myself to straight people, because they so don’t get it so much of the time, and it is exhausting trying to get through to them. Just as my black friends get tired of white folks… we often laugh at our mutual exhaustion at the end of the day… 🙂

  • Jack Harris

    I have said this here before–like the famous quote says : “Well behaved women rarely make history”. Protest can and will continue my GLBT folks.

  • jJoniJJ

    Love the quote Jack, well said at the right time! And I think it’s fairly safe to say that protests aren’t going to go away until LGBT people have our full civil rights.

    • Just a side note: Protests will most likely always be around. Doesn’t mean I will ever believe in them or think they’re productive in the least bit. “Wisdom will be proved right by her actions.”

  • Samantha

    The Catholic Church supports traditional marriage between a man and a woman because it promotes chastity. Sex is meant to to procreative and unitive and saved for the sanctity of marriage. When a homosexual couple engages in “sex”, it is not procreative because it is physically impossible and unnatural for two man to have a child (or two woman). The exception to this is a man and woman who are “barren”. The Church believes it is chaste for this couple to have sex because it is natural and they are still open to life. Of course, a man and man could never be open to life because they are missing an essential piece.

    The Church is not “homophobic”. In fact, the Catechism states that “Men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies . . . must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” However, these men and women (like all men and women) need to be chaste according to their state.

    The Church’s stance on chastity is the reason that it so strongly opposes the civil unions bill. Even those bill applies to those who are not homosexual, I believe that this is seen as supporting homosexual relations, which is unchaste. All are called to live chaste lives, and homosexual couples engaging in “sex” are not living out their call to chastity. It is disordered, just like sex outside of marriage and sodomy.

    Why does the Church care so much about your sex life? Because sex is beautiful and powerful!!

    Also, my understanding is that there is supposed to be a meeting with the Marin Foundation TONIGHT! I just received a facebook message about it- WOW that’s short notice! Could you perhaps postpone it and give people more of a heads up? THANKS! 🙂

    • Samantha (and I’m only being slightly faceteous here): Please don’t assume that gay couples aren’t open to life. God created death from life and kept oil lamps running well past their overdue dates and fed thousands with very few provisions and healed lepers by touch and rained manna from Heaven every day for decades. Who is to say that miracles cannot happen with gay couples?

      Also, I think we are sometimes too literal when we’re told to remain open to life? Couples like Mark and I remained steadfast and open to creating a family. It happened through foster care and adoption. How amazing that we connected with our particular children when we did! They were a answer to our prayers. Who is to say that we weren’t an answer to their prayer? I know that my eldest son’s bio-grandparents (who happen to be smalltown Iowa Catholics) have stated more than once that we answered their prayers for Les tenfold.

      I do wonder why the Catholic church needs to protest against a bill that doesn’t affect it church, its rites, or its membership, but that’s me.

  • jJoniJJ

    There are many miracles out there. I think gay and lesbian life and culture is a miracle. Imagine god calling Troy Perry in 1968 to found MCC– that was a miracle in my opinion.
    Kids finding parents is a miracle, and perhaps gay and lesbian couples have stepped up here to fill the deep void that a world loaded with unwanted children can’t fill. There aren’t enough straight people who will adopt kids.

    That I found an incredible partner is a miracle, and that we survived the most horrifying discrimination and hatred of straight society only to flourish.
    Now my straight friends come to me for marriage advice… the irony of things sometimes. 🙂
    And a word on protests— what straight people often refuse to know is that it is hard for lesbians to find each other. I know I know boys town, men’s town, men’s bars, men’s everything… But lesbians are rarer out in public.
    So when there is a big protest of any kind, we find each other. I met a whole bunch of older women at a protest awhile back, and a huge friendship network opened up as a result. Now there’s the Internet, but most of our organizations and friendship groups came out of activism. To see out and proud in the streets in a time when there are still thousands of closeted gay people is still important. And anger at a cruel system to the heteronormative is always cause for protest. A protest in a gay or lesbian context is quite different from the straight variety. So if you have a narrow idea of what a mass movement should be or look like, you’ll miss out on the connections that lesbians everywhere in a given city are making. This lesbian connectivity goes beneath the raydar of male life, because the gay male is considered “gay” in the word “gay.” But that has nothing to do with lesbian life culture and struggles. A protest is the town hall meeting of lesbian nation, it is a leadership institute, a training program, it is about sisterhood and the power of women. When gay men on Wall Street were dying of AIDS, rich gay men had no clue as to how to organize in the streets. They turned to lesbian nation for this help… this history was erased naturally as a whole generation of gay men who actually were grateful to lesbian nation died. So don’t be so narrow in seeing what the true nature of a protest is. It’s not always about straight people at all, it is about finding ourselves and our voice. And as long as there is toxic hatred of lesbians, toxic erasure of our life and culture, there will be a need for women to be part of this, to refine this…

  • olterigo

    Protests of Mormon church after Prop 8. They’ve been in damage control since. And I don’t remember them speaking loudly about any other states besides Utah since 2008. So, I’d say the protests work. Karger’s article outlines it quite well.

  • Kevin Harris

    Hmmm………Lady Gaga’s recent engagement with Target may be telling of one thing that brings about change (in policy but not in hearts) today…….money.


    I still think there is a place for positive engagement and that things change in a more comprehensive sense (policies and a change of heart) primarily through personal relationships, but at the same time money obviously plays a factor today.

    • olterigo

      Precisely, like when the Mormon Church needs to spend money on commercials to make themselves look better after their massive and disproportionate involvement in taking away other people’s rights in Prop 8. Thanks for agreeing. :0)

      • Kevin Harris

        My comment above wasn’t related to the comment about the Mormon church although that is definitely something that I think is worth taking into consideration when large institutions are thinking about campaigning against rights for particular people groups related to what it can do to their image and ability to reach others afterwards.

        • olterigo

          Kevin, I apologize for my mistake.

  • Br. Michael

    As an LGBT(IQA) activist and grateful recovering “protester,” may I get an Amen?!. Thank you Br. Andrew for reminding us ALL about Matthew 25…. Bible or not, respect is free and Birthright given.

  • Br. Michael

    A birthright is our “being” given to us at birth from God, Mother Nature, Science, or etc.

  • jJoniJJ

    If you don’t address honestly and opening the huge monied interests of the catholic church and the mormon church that have been actively marshalled to destroy lesbian and gay civil rights, you won’t get what the struggle is all about.

    If lesbians and gays don’t have millions of dollars to buy TV commericals or control radio stations, our place is in the streets outside their churchs and temples, to make visible in a very large way their complete violation of tax exempt status, and their abuse of power. I think the mormon church and the catholic simply underestimated the anger of gay and lesbian nation, and now they have some idea that their positions are becoming more and more untenable.

    The movie “The Mormon Proposition” covers the money aspect of the anti-gay campaign very well.

  • jJoniJJ

    I’ve often wondered where the lesbian minister advisors are on this blog, or where the lesbian staff is writing articles on lesbian experiences of christianity and faith. It seems like a giant gaping silence to me. Why aren’t their videos and commentary on here?

  • Stephen

    “All are called to live chaste lives, and homosexual couples engaging in “sex” are not living out their call to chastity. It is disordered, just like sex outside of marriage and sodomy.”

    No. You’re wrong. Gay couples who have sex are just as chaste as heterosexual couples. The only disorder here is in your attitude. “Heteronarcissism” as I like to call it: a profound belief that so many straights have of their own perfection and a rejection of anything that isn’t 100% like them as broken or wrong. That’s the true psychological disorder here and one that the APA actually recognizes. Narcissism is on their list of treatable conditions, after all.

    So when I see comments like yours, they don’t make me want to protest so much as recommend a good therapist to you. Narcissism can be successfully treated nowadays with the right combination of therapy and drugs. You should give it a go. Maybe your entire church should have a go. I’m sure you’d get a pretty good group discount.



    • Suzanne

      Hi Stephen,

      I agree with your statement (presuming you are talking about gay couples who have made some sort of life-long commitment to each other). However, I am prepared to believe that some of the content of St. Paul’s letters represents human teaching rooted in the social values of biblical times, not God’s teaching.

      But you have to remember that, for many Christians, they just cannot ignore what St. Paul explicitly wrote. For them, to do so would amount to putting in doubt the validity of all the teaching in the bible.

      I do not see any way out of the impasse. If someone believes that everything St. Paul wrote represents God’s teaching then they have to consider sex between gay people to be a sin, irrespective of how faithful/holy the partners may be.

      I’ve only just discovered this blog (and the Marin Foundation). I sincerely hope that improved dialogue between communities having different views will help us all to see that “the other side” is not being willfully sinful/bigotted, they just truly believe something different.

      • Steve

        Hi Suzanne

        I know the point you’re trying to make, but I think the general rebuttal to that is that there is so much in the Bible which is written down and yet completely ignored.

        For example, its endorsement of slavery, the oppression and submission of women, killing people who cheat on their partners, and so on.

        Nobody follows the Bible to the letter, so you have to choose how you’re going to interpret it within the law of your country. If we were still living in the early 1900s would you have been quite happy to be denied the vote, as a woman, because the Bible didn’t consider you equal?

        Or do you think it’s more progressive to take those bits of the Bible with a pinch of salt and just be glad you live in a country that’s progressive enough to promote female equality?

        Some people seem to treat the Bible as a book of rules, when actually everyone takes from it what they want. There are positive teachings and negative teachings. It’s up to the reader to use their intellect to decide what’s hateful and what’s not.

        • Suzanne

          Hi Steve,

          You’re quite right – as well as being sceptical about the divine nature of St Paul’s condemnation of homosexual sex I am sceptical of the divine nature of his teaching about the role of women.

          Those who do consider the bible to be an infallible rule book would probably be very critical of those like me (and you ?) who believe that some discernment is needed in working out how to interpret God’s teaching from the words fallible humans have written down. They probably would say that we are choosing the parts we like/find convenient and ignoring the parts that don’t suit us.

          But it truly isn’t about picking and choosing the bits that suit me personally: I just do not see any coherence between these teachings and Jesus’s teachings on love and right living.

          However, I really do believe that there are sincere christians who take everything in the bible as “gospel” – including the parts about smiting folk. I don’t think they’re picking out the teaching about homosexuality out of bigotry, they genuinely think that, as a matter of conscience, they should speak out against somehing “God says” is wrong.

          I guess the point I was trying to make in my earllier post is that there are some people who will never be persuaded that homosexual sex can ever be chaste., and I believe this “inability to be persuaded” is not because of bigotry but because of a particular view of the divine nature of teaching in the bible.

          Best wishes

  • Sam

    I say let’s let the gay and lesbian community get married. After all, they should be able to suffer just as much as the straight people who decided to get married in an age where divorce laws completely break the man. It will be interesting to see who the divorce court discriminates against as the easy target (the man) is no longer evident.

    • Divorce is an unfortunate reality of marriage. When couples break up, it’s needed to help divide up the property and monetary resources that accumulated during the marriage. Plus, it helps with establishing child custody and support.

      Divorce shouldn’t be painless. Marriage is ideally supposed to be for life. Married couples should have to balance the pain of remaining married & working things out vs. the pain of seeking a divorce. IMHO.