DignityUSA Executive Director Charles Cox Speaks on C-SPAN
On Wednesday, August 12, 1998, the Family Research Council (FRC) held a press conference in Washington, in which they claimed that homosexuality and religion were incompatible. The FRC brought out a number of individuals from mainstream denominations (Christian and non-Christain), all of whom declared homosexuality to be a sin.
HRC organized a rebuttal press conference for noon that day. Charles Cox was one of the participants along with other members of faith communities. The press conference was shown live on C-SPAN.
Below is his statement.
Good afternoon, I am Charles L. Cox, Executive Director of DignityUSA, the nation's oldest and largest organization of Catholic lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons, their families and friends.
Earlier today the Family Research Council, and their supporters, claimed that homosexuality is incompatible with religion. As a gay man of faith who represents gay Catholics, I respectfully disagree. The Christian Right has portrayed the gay community as anti-God and anti-religion. They are mistaken. Many of us when we first started to question our sexual orientation turned to God and the institutions we knew best, second only to our families, our faith communities. For the lucky few, these communities served to answer questions honestly, provide spiritual guidance, and offered unqualified acceptance. In most instances, however, our faith communities turned their backs on us upon learning we were lesbian or gay. We were shown the door. We were left to fend for ourselves. Many of us moved on to more accepting or affirming communities. Many of us stayed within our respective faith traditions, despite the obstacles.
Being abandoned by the faith community into which one is born is devastating. Yes, abandonment does lead to anger. Being angry at an institution, however, does not mean that lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgender persons are anti-God or anti-religion. If our faith meant nothing to us, we would have just walked away and thought nothing more about God. For many of us, our spiritual heritage cannot be simply left behind. Like our sexual orientation, our spiritual heritage is an integral part of our lives.
I was born and raised a Catholic, and will always remain a Catholic. It was in my Catholic upbringing that I first encountered God. As a teenager coming to terms with my sexual orientation, I felt scared and alone. There were times when I prayed, bargained, and pleaded with God not to let me be gay. Those years were hard. Many of them were spent in fear, denial, and anger. As an adult, my faith helped me to understand that God valued my life, and that my sexual orientation was not the sole basis by which God will judge me. My faith taught me that God looked at the whole person, not just one segment or aspect. My faith also taught me that God knew I was gay long before I did.
Unfortunately, the Family Research Council and the sponsors of the "pro- change" advertising campaign are unable to understand or accept this reality. According to them, the lives of gay men and lesbians are spiritually empty, devoid of hope, and certain to lead to an early death. They are mistaken. Millions of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons, representing every spiritual tradition, are people of faith. It is our faith that fills our lives. It is our faith that gives us hope. It is our faith that brings us to new life as loving, productive, and self respecting people, certain that we are honoring God most fully by being who we truly are.