Yesterday, Chicago Cardinal Francis George celebrated a Mass where over 400 couples celebrating their golden (50-year) anniversaries renewed their vows. Never one to mince words about his disdain for the LGBT community, the prelate couldn’t resist using his homily to take a swipe at marriage equality and trivialize the relationships and marriages of loving, committed same-sex couples.
CBS Chicago reports that George first commended the couples for pledging their lives to one another and raising loving families together. Soon afterwards, though, his focus changed from affirming the marriages of his straight congregants to attacking the marriages of LGBT people:
Without mentioning gay marriage [sic] specifically, George also spoke briefly about the Catholic Church’s opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage, saying the institution of marriage is something that “comes to us from God,” not from the church or from the government.
Quoting from the Bible, George said marriage has always been a union between one man and one woman, and should not change.
“Marriage is what it is, what Jesus said from the beginning: Two in one flesh, for which man leaves his family and joins himself to his wife; and wife leaves her family, and joins herself to her husband,” he said.
George, leader of the nation’s third largest Catholic Archdiocese, said there must be a way to honor the rights of gays and lesbians, without legalizing same-sex marriages.
Clearly, in George’s view, even a simple, joyful celebration of lifelong love is an acceptable excuse to spiritually bash LGBT people. What a slap in the face to married same-sex couples, couples living in states like Illinois that forbid them from marrying, and even the married straight couples in attendance at that Mass, many of whom surely felt that the cardinal hijacked their happy moment by delivering these divisive remarks.
According to the CBS report, George continued:
“There must surely be ways in our civil society, where we can honor friendships, where we can respect other people, without destroying the nature of marriage. It is very important, for your whole lives, give witness to what marriage truly means. And while civil laws might change – if they do – then society will be the worse for it.” (emphasis mine)
That’s right: as far as Cardinal George is concerned, the marriages between my husband Michael and me, Wayne and his husband Jamie, and tens of thousands of others around the country aren’t real marriages at all. — they’re just friendships. Is it just me, or do George’s words evoke a troubling time in our history when LGBT people were so invisible that couples living together were referred to as “roommates” and “friends” so as not to make the straight majority squeamish?
I have the same message for Cardinal Francis George that I had in April for Washington pastor Kurt Nagel, who said that marriage equality was “not possible” and “can’t happen:”
Check the ring, dude. You’re talking to a world that no longer exists — marriage equality is a fact of life. You can try to deny it or pray it away until you’re blue in the face, but no amount of denial, wishing, or praying will be able to erase my marriage (six years and counting, baby) or the hundreds of thousands of other loving marriages between same-sex couples around the world. You’ve even lost your fellow Catholics — 71% of them support marriage equality, and that number is growing. So by all means, continue your divisive, mean-spirited, misguided spiritual bullying campaign against LGBT people. Just know that by choosing to do so, you’re hastening your own irrelevance.