A Gay Protester Responds to Cardinal George's Criticism

02/15/2011 11:39 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Andy Thayer Anti-war activist and co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network in Chicago

Chicago's Cardinal Francis George recently took pro-gay activists to task for our protest Sunday morning in front of Holy Name Cathedral against his anti-gay policies. Cardinal George issued the following statement:

Some members of the Gay Liberation Network [GLN] demonstrated in front of Holy Name Cathedral on Sunday, February 13, protesting against Catholic Church teaching on the immorality of homosexual genital relations and opposition to so called 'gay marriage.'

These are deeply felt issues, because they speak to the personal identity of some and to the religious beliefs of others.

No matter the issue, Catholics should be able to worship in peace, without fear of harassment. An open display of prejudice against the Catholic Church because of resentment of Church teachings prejudices civil discourse in our society.

Well, Cardinal, I beg to differ, and here's why:

1) That you feel that our protest yesterday -- a peaceful expression of 1st Amendment rights -- constitutes "harassment," shows your contempt for the free expression of opinion, which is a necessary component of democracy. The fact that you and the rest of the Catholic leadership are at odds with the overwhelming majority of Catholic lay opinion on issues such as equal marriage rights for gays, equal rights for women, contraceptive use, and many other issues, also demonstrates your contempt for democracy within the Church.

2) You lie, err "bear false witness," by saying that our protest was "against the Catholic Church." As repeated several times in written GLN statements prior to the protest, a handbill distributed at the protest, and in our public comments during the course of the protest, our protest was against the leadership of the Catholic church and not the Catholic laity, a majority of whom support equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Cardinal George, while opposing our legal equality, you attempt to "play the victim" by falsely claiming that we oppose the Catholic Church in general, rather than its anti-equal rights leadership.

3) As head of a tax-exempt organization, you apparently believe that you should have the right to lobby against gay rights in Springfield and give anti-gay statements from your church pulpit, but that pro-gay taxpayers should be prohibited from protesting on a public sidewalk outside of your church. Apparently your ideas carry so little intellectual weight that they cannot withstand public debate.

and finally,

4) I am intrigued that you feel that you have a particular expertise to comment regarding "homosexual genital relations," particularly since you and your colleagues ostensibly lack first-hand knowledge of same. Please correct me if I am mistaken regarding your qualifications to comment on this issue, or any "genital relations" for that matter.