Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton Testifies at Trial of Gay Catholics Refused Communion

Soulforce Press Release: January 29, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592

(Washington, DC) – The trial for three gay Catholics who were arrested in November at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) began today. Lead witness for the defense was Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton from the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Kara Speltz, Ken Einhaus, and Mike Perez, the defendants in the case, had been denied the Eucharist (Communion) during the Bishops’ Mass on November 11, 2002 at the National Shrine for no apparent reason. They entered the lobby of the hotel the next day to ask any bishop present to serve them the Eucharist. No bishops came forward.

Bishop Gumbleton testified that he was at the Hyatt for the USCCB, and was leaving the meeting during lunch recess when he saw the police arresting the defendants in the lobby of the hotel and was unable to approach them because of the police.

"I was saddened that I was unable to comfort Kara, Ken, and Mike," stated Bishop Gumbleton after his testimony. "This experience reinforces my opinion about how important it is that the Catholic Church reach out to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people."

Because they allegedly refused to obey the order by the District of Columbia police to leave the hotel, Kara, Ken, and Mike were charged with "unlawful entry," a criminal misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail and a $350 fine.

Kara, Ken, and Mike were all in Washington D.C in November with Soulforce, a national movement committed to ending spiritual violence committed by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce was at the Conference of Catholic Bishops for the third year in a row to protest of the churches anti-gay policies and teachings, and exercise their Constitutional rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.

The defendants waived their rights to a jury trial and are appearing before Judge Mildred Edwards, at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, (Moultrie Courthouse), at 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W. The trial continues Thursday at 10am in Courtroom 217, on the second floor.

MEDIA: Media are welcome in the courtroom, and pictures can be taken outside after the proceedings. Press packets containing pictures, additional information, and interviews are available by calling 717-278-0592.

Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.

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