Tags: Exclusive Interviews | Indiana Religious Freedom | MidPoint | LGBT | Catholic | gay rights | church

Catholic Gay Rights Advocate: Church Divided Over LGBT Issues

By    |   Thursday, 02 April 2015 05:58 PM

While polls show that Catholics as a group are more supportive of LGBT  people and causes than any other Christian denomination, that acceptance is more visible at the local level — among the everyday faithful in their communities — than it is in the church hierarchy, says a Catholic LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights advocate.

"The reality is there are many, many people of faith who support LGBT people," Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Thursday.

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Duddy-Burke was joined on air by Thom Senzee, world news correspondent for the gay news website The Advocate, to discuss the uproar over Indiana's newly enacted religious freedom law.

Duddy-Burke acknowledged that while rank-and-file Catholics might be progressive-minded, the church itself "has a terrible reputation on LGBT issues" and faces a "huge divide" on those issues between the grass-roots and the leadership.

"Our leaders do the church a huge disservice in speaking for all of us on these issues," she said, adding that it's "regular Catholics" who can be counted on to fight the kinds of discrimination that LGBT people fear could be sanctioned by Indiana's religious freedom law.

Senzee said the Indiana controversy also points to a disconnect between the American people generally and some politicians — notably Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who signed the state's religious freedom restoration act (RFRA) into law.

"What has emerged in this whole debate is the fact that the American people have a much more sophisticated, a much more loving, accepting, and frankly, a much more American point of view on this issue," said Senzee, "and the political leadership in Indiana has been caught so off guard."

As condemnations of the law poured in from prominent public figures, and Pence scrambled to both defend and revise it, Indiana's five Roman Catholic bishops weighed in on Wednesday with a statement acknowledging the controversy.

"We urge all people of good will to show mutual respect for one another so that the necessary dialogue and discernment can take place to ensure that no one in Indiana will face discrimination, whether it is for their sexual orientation or for living their religious beliefs," the statement read.

The bishops vouched for the principle of protecting religious freedom, but did not explicitly endorse the disputed law or cite any specific examples of fallout from its passage — such as a Christian-owned pizza parlor closing on Wednesday under an onslaught of Internet rage directed at the proprietors.

The pizzeria's owners told a local television station they supported the law and would serve gay customers, but would not cater a gay wedding because of a religious objection to same-sex marriage.

"Religious freedom is one of the most cherished rights in the U.S. Constitution," the bishops' statement read. "The rights of a person should never be used inappropriately in order to deny the rights of another. We are called to justice and mercy. We believe that it is crucial that religious freedom be protected."

Duddy-Burke said the way for the church to reconcile doctrine that regards homosexual practices as sinful with acceptance of LGBT people is to "go back to the core values of faith — and all faiths — that it's about love, inclusion, equality, and human dignity. Those values are very consistent."

"We're well on the way to knowing that loving someone of the same gender, having questions about your gender — that's not sinful, that's morality," she said. "We can hear the sacredness of God speaking to us about truth in our hearts. These ideas that there's something wrong with being gay, that's very 1950s and '60s right now, and it's so great to know that most faiths are catching up and are out in front."

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While polls show that Catholics as a group are more supportive of LGBT people and causes than any other Christian denomination, that acceptance is more visible at the local level than it is in the church hierarchy, says a Catholic LGBT rights advocate.
LGBT, Catholic, gay rights, church, divided, Marianne Duddy-Burke, Midpoint, Dignity USA, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender
Thursday, 02 April 2015 05:58 PM
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