LGBT Students at The Catholic University of America

Here’s my letter to John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America, in support of CUAllies and their request for official recognition as a gay-straight student organization at CUA.

John Hugh Garvey, JD
The Catholic University of America
Washington, DC

April 17, 2012

Dear President Garvey,

Last evening, I had the privilege of gathering with a group of CUA students and their friends in front of Gibbons Hall. We remembered the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (Gaudium et Spes) that the griefs and anxieties of the people of every age are indeed the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. We recalled the teaching of the US Bishops (Always Our Children) that even those whom God created with a homosexual orientation are worthy of dignity, respect and the right to participate actively in their communities. We lit candles, walked to the Przbyla Center, and prayed.

As an alumnus of The Catholic University of America (National Catholic School of Social Service, MSW, 1998), I am writing to add my voice to the chorus of others expressing strong support for the request from CUAllies that this be an officially recognized student organization at CUA.

One of the most fundamental tenets of our Catholic faith is that each and every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. Every human person is to be treated with dignity, respect, charity, and love.  The Catholic understanding of the human person, informed by what we know from so many fields of inquiry, recognizes that one’s sexual orientation is essentially a given and relatively stable reality: it is not a choice or a “lifestyle” or a something that one can change.

You have the great privilege of leading a Catholic university, an institution which seeks not only to explore and impart the truths gleaned from so many fields of scientific and academic inquiry, but also the truths gleaned from the best of our Catholic Christian tradition. Truth, which cannot be incompatible with itself, challenges us to see the full human dignity even in God’s sons and daughters whom He created with a sexual orientation that differs from most of their brothers and sisters.  Some of these sons and daughters are members of the CUA community – they are faculty, staff and alumni. Most especially, however, they are students – students who deserve to learn and grow in an environment that not only tolerates their full humanity, but that also encourages them to grow in understanding themselves so that they are better able to understand others and the richly diverse world their education will help them to serve.

Please recognize CUAllies as an official student organization of The Catholic University of America.

Wishing you Easter joy,

Timothy MacGeorge, MDiv, MSW

Letter to Bishop Malone of Maine

Richard Malone, the Bishop of Portland (Maine), was on the faculty of St. John’s Seminary College when I was a student there in the early 1980’s. Fr. Malone was not only an instructor in theology, the college’s academic dean, and my own faculty advisor; he was also one of about ten resident priests who shared daily life with the seventy or so seminarians in resident at the college commonly referred to as “St. Clement’s.” Fr. Malone was generally very well-liked and respected, an excellent teacher, and — at the time — considered by most to be open and progressive.

Because Bishop Malone has been in the forefront of efforts to undo the legislative action which expanded the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples, I felt compelled to write to him to express an alternative perspective. Here’s my recent letter:

October 18, 2009
Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, Th.D.
Bishop of Portland
510 Ocean Avenue
P.O. 11559
Portland, ME  04104
Dear Bishop Malone,
You may not remember me, but I was one of your students when you were on the faculty of St. John’s Seminary College.  In fact, for one year at least, you were my faculty advisor and helped me to make the most of the educational opportunities provided at St. Clement’s.  When you were appointed Bishop of Portland, I was pleased that a man I had known to be intellectually gifted, theologically balanced, personally affable, fair, reasonable and pastoral would be receiving the miter and crosier and would be in a position not only to shepherd the good people of Maine, but might also have an impact on the wider Church, perhaps counterbalancing the actions of some of your more reactionary brothers in the episcopate.
Earlier this year, however, I was saddened to see a story in The Pilot that highlighted your homily of November 16, 2008.  In that homily, you took issue with Protestant leaders of Maine who publicly support the right of God’s gay and lesbian children to enter into unions that are legally recognized and that guarantee the rights that married heterosexual couples receive.  While I was pleased to read your reiteration of the position that homosexual persons should be respected in their full human dignity, and that homosexual couples should be allowed hospital visitation rights and the right to share health insurance benefits, I’m sure you’re well aware that same-sex couples do not currently have such rights and no mechanism exists to ensure them.  Insurance companies, hospitals, state and federal governments, and even family members who “disapprove” of their relative’s same-sex relationship are all huge obstacles to ensuring that the rights you recognize are respected and honored.
By most estimates, there are approximately 1,400 specific rights that are automatically accorded to married couples in the U.S. All of these accrue automatically the moment any 18-year old opposites-sex couple says “I do” in a Las Vegas wedding chapel and their marriage is civilly and universally recognized.  Unfortunately, the 80 year old gay or lesbian couple who has lived in a committed and faithful relationship for more than half a century has no such rights. Because they have been denied the rights that come with civil marriage, millions of gay and lesbian couples have been forced to consult expensive attorneys to craft legal documents stipulating their legal wishes in very detailed contracts. Sadly, the bigotry against God’s gay and lesbian children that you claim to disavow has also given rise to attempts in some states to make even such contracts as these illegal.
I am writing to you now because the vote to reconsider the legislation in Maine allowing same-sex couples to marry is coming close. While I harbor no illusions that you will change your mind and come to realize that there is no conflict between your understanding of the official Church’s position on “homosexuality” and the civil law at hand, I nonetheless feel compelled in conscience to ask that you consider doing just that. There is nothing in the legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry that undermines families, that infringes on religious rights, or that hurts society in the way claimed by so many who trade in fear, hatred, and ignorance.
I urge you as the good man I know you to be to consider the grave harm that would be done to God’s gay and lesbian children under your pastoral care if the voters of Maine rescind the legislation that has been a beacon of light for the rest of the nation.  At the core of his ministry, Jesus never sought to exclude, but rather included all those whom society or religion had otherwise discarded.  Please follow His example by not being an obstacle for God’s gay and lesbian children to participate fully in the fundamental human right to form relationships and establish families as they believe God is calling them to do.
In Christ’s Peace,

Fighting Bigots in DC

Submitted the following in response to the article in today’s Washington Post on possible referendum re: same-sex marriage in D.C.

Dr. Lenora Cole and Mr. Charles Lowery, Jr.
Members, Board of Elections and Ethics, Government of the District of Columbia
One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street NW
Suite 250 North
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Dr. Cole and Mr. Lowery,

My name is Tim MacGeorge, and I am a resident of and registered voter in the District of Columbia. I have lived in Washington, DC for almost sixteen years.

I am writing to ask you not to allow a referendum to be placed on the ballot asking voters to decide whether the District of Columbia should recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions or whether same-sex couples should be allowed to be legally married in the District.

While I recognize that on one level, this request goes against one of the principles of a democratic society, namely that “the people” rule and that “the majority” usually prevail. However, allowing such a referendum could possibly lead — as it did in California — to the violation of another principle of a democratic society that requires limitations to be placed on the “tyranny of the majority,” lest the rights of the minority be trampled underfoot. This second principle must always supersede the first, and our history as nation bears this out. While there have been bleak chapters of our national story in which the rights of some were denied due to the color of their skin, the religion they professed, the gender/sex with which they were created, or other characteristics that define them as persons, we have come a long way as a society in ensuring that people are judged for what they do, and not who they are. Those who seek this referendum fail to recognize the truths about gay men and women, notably that sexual orientation is a given, not a choice; that gay men and women are good, productive members of society; and that gay men and women deserve the same rights to their committed relationships currently afforded married heterosexual couples. Allowing this referendum will afford these individuals, many of whom do not even reside in the District of Columbia and should have no standing whatsoever to bring such a request, to begin a campaign of fear and misinformation that perpetuates so many lies that minorities have always been subjected to.

I make this request as a Christian, as a man who was ordained as a Catholic priest…. I have heard all my life the so-called “Christian” or “biblical” arguments against homosexuality. In fact, I cannot recall ever hearing an “argument against homosexuality” that was not at its root religiously based. These arguments are frail, flimsy, and are easily discarded within the context of a legitimate and honest theological discussion.

Your task, however, is not based on theology. It is based on the law and whether or not such a referendum will advance the cause of justice within the District of Columbia. As citizens of the District of Columbia, we know all too well what it is like not to have full rights within a democracy. Such a referendum will more likely advance the cause of hatred and bigotry and injustice, and continue to keep a segment of our society “less free” than others. I urge you not to allow this referendum to move forward.