Friday, March 2, 2012

Gay and Lesbian Families Under Assault

GLBT people are often accused of attacking "the family" when we seek equal marriage rights, responsibilities, and protections. And yet, we're not trying to disenfranchise heterosexual marriage when we apply for our own marriage licenses. We're not ridiculing straight weddings when he plan our own weddings. We are not attempting to mock heterosexual parenthood when we nurture our own children.

I have become increasingly agitated this week with example after example of social and religious conservatives who have actually done what they falsely accuse us of doing. They have continued a trend of assaulting GLBT people, our families, and our friends. Let's review this week's offerings. I'm assuming you've heard of a couple, but not all:

*Last Saturday, Father Marcel Guarnizo of Saint John Neumann Catholic Church in Maryland was the officiating priest at Barbara Johnson's mother's funeral. He first denied Johnson the sacrament of communion because she is a lesbian who lives with her girlfriend. He walked off the altar while she gave a eulogy about her mother. He then left after the funeral -- citing illness -- and refused to go to the cemetery to assist with the burying of Johnson's mother. Fortunately, a retired priest raced to the scene and assisted the the rest of the service. In my mind, the refusal of communion was less concerning to me than the refusal to complete the funeral and the burial. Walking off the altar in the middle of the eulogy was awful tacky, too. But that's just me.

*On Wednesday, people began hearing the story of Al Fischer. He was a music teacher at a Saint Ann's Catholic School in St. Louis who was scheduled to get fired on March 9th -- the day he was to marry his partner of nearly 20 years. His fiance complained about it on Facebook and Fischer's firing got fast-tracked. Fischer then got fired from his other job as music director for a local parish. He was accused of creating "negative publicity" for the Catholic school. The school was fine with the two men living together and attending school functions together as a couple, but their legal marriage was enough to give him the boot.

*Then today, I read about Christian Brothers University withdrawing an invitation to host a conference that featured -- among other speakers -- Dr. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz. Isasi-Diaz is known for her support of women's ordination. However, it appears that she upset the university's administration because she spoke at her nephew's gay wedding back in 2009! That's right. She celebrated the wedding of a family member and because of her commitment to her nephew, she is now unfit to speak at a Catholic institution.

*Lastly, I read also this evening about GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's commitment to not only spearhead a federal amendment to the US Constitution banning gay and lesbian couples from legally marrying, but he is also advocating for federal laws that will prevent any state from recognizing any legally married gay couples. It's not enough that states like Massachusetts and Iowa and Maryland and New York allow for marriage equality in our states, while others don't. He is advocating for the wholesale disenfranchisement and destruction of each and every gay and lesbian family in this country.

I am completely sick of people claiming that GLBT people and our advocates are attacking "the family". Have you heard of heterosexuals getting fired for getting married? Have you heard about students being expelled from private schools because their parents are heterosexual? Have you heard ongoing repeated lies and campaigns of defamation against heterosexual families? Have you heard of anyone fired for attending or celebrating the wedding of any heterosexual family member? The answer is a clear and resounding "NO!".

There is indeed an assault on the family occurring daily in this country and the victims of this mass assault? GLBT people and our families. I understand that it is perfectly legal for these institutions to fire gay employees and treat lesbian parishioners like dirt. But it's not right. We need to stand up and promote the inherent dignity of all people in this country.

Gay and lesbian families are as good and stable and noble and fun and fascinating and grounded and healthy as any other family in this country. Some are better than others, but the same can be said about any family out there. We do not deserve to be fired when we create new families through marriage. We do not deserve to have our parenting skills mocked when we have children together. Our parents and our siblings and our aunts and uncles and other extended family members should not be placed in a position of ostracizing us or being ostracized by their church communities. We should not have to defend our marriages at the ballot box every single fricking election cycle.

It's time to stop the assault on GLBT families once and for all. It's not right. It's not just. It's not good for us. It's not good for you. And it's not good for the overall political or social culture.

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