“We gotta be – we gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people.” These words from NY Cardinal Timothy Dolan sound friendly and encouraging. They sound as if they echo his earlier statements in the same interview with George Stephanopolous recognizing even gay people are created in God’s “image and likeness” and that he (Dolan) loves gay people too. All well and good! But if Dolan and other Catholic leaders claim that their “defense of marriage” is not an “attack on gay people,” then why did we never hear about bishops “defending marriage” until the issue of public recognition of same-sex unions and civil marriage became a viable reality in the US? Why is it that the high divorce rate among heterosexual Catholic couples wasn’t enough to spur the bishops to “defend marriage”? Why is it that the economic pressures on the American family practically demanding that both parents work outside the home — leaving so many children to essentially raise themselves — didn’t cause the bishops to speak out and “defend marriage”?
Dolan’s Irish joviality and good-natured humor make him a darling of the media. We want to believe him and take what he says as true. Facts and history, however, tell a different tale. The truth is that the Church’s “defense of marriage” is a direct response to the recognition by the majority of Americans and people of good will around that world of a truth that the bishops will one day regret not recognizing sooner. That truth is this: all persons, including God’s LGBT sons and daughters, are created in the divine image and likeness; and by this very fact, every human person has the right to live his or her natural and God-given sexuality as he/she understands that gift to be.
Until Cardinal Dolan and other Catholic leaders own the truth that their so-called “defense of marriage” is nothing but an “attack on gay people” and that their words and actions don’t mesh — not until then will LGBT Catholics be truly welcomed in the religious home that is ours and that we refuse to give up.