By Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director
DignityUSA’s 22nd Biennial Convention is now a series of wonderful memories! It was an amazing experience to come together as the Supreme Court’s affirmation of nationwide marriage equality still reverberated. Anyone who was able to be part of our recent gathering in Seattle can share stories of inspiring speakers, deeply prayerful worship, moving video celebrations of our community, top-notch entertainment, congenial social times, and sight-seeing in one of the most glorious settings we’ve ever visited. One of the moments that made an impression on me was hearing one of the Eastside Catholic students who had led efforts to try to restore “Mr. Z,” a popular administrator and coach who was fired because he married his male partner, speak to us of his conviction that the Catholic Church needed to embrace everyone, and that LGBT people were graced and holy. (see photo on this page) It was just one of many, many transformative moments that weekend. It is impossible to adequately thank everyone from Seattle and across the country who worked so hard and so well to make this one of our finest conventions ever. Visit the DignityUSA website or Facebook to view some convention memories, and look for a full report in the next Quarterly Voice. And be sure to reserve your Place at the Table for our 2017 national gathering in Boston by pre-registering now!
During the membership meeting at the Convention, two major directions for DignityUSA’s uture work were affirmed. First, those present unanimously affirmed the resolution calling for equal access to our Church’s sacraments, regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or relational status. In the coming months, we will be developing programs and statements to operationalize this goal, which many wrote in to say is vital to our being full, equal members of the Church. We also heard support for increasing our international work, and especially for advocating for LGBT people in largely Catholic countries, or where Catholic officials are leading work to construct or maintain discriminatory structures. Over $2,500 was raised during the convention to send two representatives to the foundational meeting of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, which will be held in Rome in early October 2015. If you support this work, you can still contribute.The Board was urged to make international advocacy a priority.
It is clear that the Supreme Court’s ruling is just another step, albeit a big and exciting one, on the road to justice for the LGBT Catholic community. The firing of Margie Winters, a married lesbian who had taught at a Catholic high school for eight years, and who said the administration was well aware of her marriage, is just the latest of dozens of such terminations at Catholic institutions. While students’ parents and large numbers of Catholics rallied around Margie and her spouse, the leader of the Philadelphia Archdiocese praised the school for showing “character” in firing this beloved teacher. In a story that unfolded just days later, a married gay man from Indiana was denied Communion at his mother’s funeral in Louisiana. Although the diocese apologized, the priest’s action is all too common. We hear continued stories of religiously justified attacks against LGBT and gendervariant people in El Salvador, Uganda, India, Russia, the Philippines, and many other nations.
Our work goes on!