Why We Vigil at the USCCB Meeting November 9-13, 2003

For the last four years, Soulforce has stood outside the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meeting in prayerful vigil only to watch the Roman Catholic Church become more and more virulent in its attacks against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people.

As science and almost every professional association find more and more evidence to support the fact that homosexuality is not a sickness, and not a sin, the Catholic Church’s antigay rhetoric increases. It is a rhetoric of fear, desperation, and superstition, rather than one of God’s love and acceptance.

Last month the USCCB announced that it would support the proposed constitutional amendment that would usurp state’s rights in defining marriage. What isn’t widely known about this proposed amendment is that it would effectively nullify all of the existing state and municipal laws that acknowledge the rights of GLBT Americans. And, excepting the 18th Amendment restricting American’s right to use alcohol (the only amendment ever nullified by a later amendment), it is the only constitutional amendment which would limit rather than expand the rights of Americans.

The Catholic Church and the religious right make statements to the effect that they are "protecting the family." But stop for just a moment and ask yourself… "How does granting the rights of civil marriage to GLBT people have ANY effect on my marriage?" It is a ludicrous lie, and good people have to speak out against that lie. "Protecting traditional families" has become a code-phrase for those who would deny over 1,000 rights and protections that heterosexuals now enjoy when they enter into a "civil contract" called marriage. Is that just? Is that fair?

We are here to proclaim that our families are legitimate, that our relationships are true and loving, and that we are welcomed into the family of God without reservation.

We know we are created in God’s image, just as you are. Our families and relationships are blessed by God, just as yours are. We hold similar jobs. We eat at the same restaurants. We shop at the same stores. We take our children to play at the same parks. We are active members in the community. We pay income tax, property tax, and sales tax. We are your fellow Americans dedicated, just like you, to the proposition that "all are created equal."

We ask you to take a stand against this potentially dangerous proposed constitutional amendment. Let your clergy, your bishop, and your representatives know that as Americans you will not stand by and watch a group of people be treated as second class citizens.

When history repeats itself, we will see the Catholic Church once again apologizing for another misjudgment against society’s outcasts. We are not just trying to protect the victims of society’s scapgoating from injustice, but we are working to save the very soul of the Catholic Church.

We implore the Catholic Church to take seriously it’s role as pastors to ALL God’s children. We ask the leaders of the Catholic church to respond to the Gospel’s call of justice and to remember that it was the oppressed, the downtrodden, and exiles with whom Jesus chose to associate and befriend.

What can I do?

Help Soulforce, by signing our petition against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Go to our website, www.soulforce.org and download the information about this destructive antigay amendment and spread the word. Get involved, NOW, before it’s too late.

"If the church, after victory over apartheid, is looking for a worthy moral crusade, then this is it: the fight against homophobia and heterosexism." Archbishop Desmond Tutu