In a Deseret News feature profile, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan uses the soapbox opportunity to pontificate on his favorite topic: how marriage equality is bad for the Catholic Church. With little consideration for the experiences of same-sex couples and their families, Dolan’s primary concern is what backlash the Church will face as it continues to discriminate against and demonize the LGBT community:
“One of our arguments has always been that people of principle who feel this violates their deepest-held convictions are going to be forced to the wall,” Archbishop Dolan said. “We were told we were being Chicken Littles and that was ridiculous.”
But “no sooner was the ink dry,” he said, than priests throughout the state started coming to him with stories of couples threatening to sue if they didn’t agree to rent out their parishes for same-sex weddings.
Richard Barnes, executive director of the New York Catholic Conference, also echoed these concerns:
“I could foresee the state determining that we can’t make decisions on a moral or religious basis as we would have in the past regarding the employment of individuals who are actively defying church tenets,” Barnes said. “If that happened, we would be in a position where we were asserting our First Amendment rights in court.”
Dolan and Barnes are trying to suggest not only that they have a right to discriminate against people for being gay, but that they should also be shielded from criticism for doing so. Bishop William Lori testified before the House Judiciary Committee last week that he fears Church leaders will be smeared as “bigots” merely for practicing their “religious liberty.” But that “right” is an effort to demonize the gay community at every turn, which is why these Catholic leaders constantly try to paint themselves as the victims. Evoking sympathy for their beliefs distracts from their efforts to deny equality to the LGBT community.
It’s important to note that Dolan, Barnes, and Lori speak only on behalf of Catholic leadership, not all Catholics. In fact, only 35 percent of American Catholics oppose marriage equality, and most distrust the bishops because of their gross mishandling of the ongoing sexual abuse scandals. But that doesn’t stop individuals like Dolan from suggesting that the entire gay community should be subjugated to his minority beliefs. He claims that he’s the hero, offering “love, acceptance, dignity, and respect” to gay people, despite little understanding of the challenges their families face. Constantly harping about his own beliefs demonstrates what little concern he has for same-sex couples’ welfare.