Last week, I invited the pope to join my family for dinner. It was largely a symbolic gesture, although I had a housecleaning action plan and menu picked out in case he accepted.
It wasn’t that I wanted him to meet my family specifically. I wanted him to simply sit face to face with a family like mine. My two sons were adopted out of foster care and were both in situations that were life-threatening and dire. Our family in the world of LGBT parents is not unique. A great number have stories about kids who’ve gone from lives of potential abuse and neglect to homes where their parents love and honor them.
My point to the pope was simply: Before you judge us, you can at the very least sit with us and see what we are about.
The pope covered a lot of ground during his visit to America. But one thing he didn’t do is meet with any LGBT families. To his credit, while he was here, he didn’t overtly bash of us either.
At least, not until he was on his way out.
Like a kid who’s been an absolute angel all afternoon, only to totally prank out at the end, the Pope shot a spit-wad to the LGBT community as his parting gift:
He secretly met with Kim Davis and put his seal of approval on her behavior.
Dear Pope Francis,
We sat staring at the empty chair at our dinner table. We had hoped it would be filled by you. True, the chance that you’d accept our invitation was a long shot.
It turns out it was an even longer shot than we thought while in America, you gave plenty of moving speeches. You talked of family and how you wished young people would be inspired to start one. You talked of love and bonds and principles that I agree with.
As you were leaving, we could have walked away with the feeling that some common ground had been met. Instead, you disappointed and betrayed us.
The issue isn’t simply that you met with Kim Davis. It’s that you embraced her behavior and encouraged it. Following your “secret” meeting, you said, “Conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right.”
What you neglected to say is that you can’t expect to conscientiously object without consequences. As with the right to free speech, you have the right to speak freely without fear of imprisonment or jail, but it doesn’t preclude others from speaking back or reacting harshly to what you said.
Anyone who believes the Bible legitimizes racism and/or slavery can state their conscientious objections to anti-discrimination protections, but it doesn’t give them the right to discriminate. A firefighter who believes flames are “the will of God” doesn't have the right to let houses burn down. Your right to object doesn’t give you the right to demean others.
The most honorable objections are done with willing sacrifices.
Kim Davis reports that you thanked her for her “courage.” It makes me sad that your idea of “courageous” is someone who humiliates loving families.
If you want to understand conscientious objection and bravery, I ask you to look instead to LGBT activist Corporal Evelyn Thomas:
“I served in the Army National Guard and The U.S. Marine Corps prior to the enactment of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; during a time when “homosexuality was prohibited” under the Uniform Code of military Justice (UCMJ).
I survived my military career with damages. I survived a corrective rape. I was raped by four Marines; in which a pregnancy was the result. I carried the child of my rapists. I reported the crimes. Although it was traumatic and terrifying time, I survived the physical, mental, and emotional abuse… Too many innocent lives have been lost in this war against inequality and injustice…
Many people have viewed the iconic photo. It feels strange to think of that moment in the LGBT Movement. My comrades and I stood along the White House fence with our hands handcuffed to the metal bars, as a drastic and imperative plea for President Barrack Obama to end the oppressive, barbaric, and archaic practices of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. This is our Civil Rights Movement. Each time I look at that photo, I see 6 heroes — humans that risked their professional careers and some cases personal relationships to perform a brave act. We did not perform this act for fame or money. We did it so that the women and men serving in our military know and understand they are of value, and “their lives do matter.” We will not allow any man, woman, or government determine our worth.”
Evelyn Thomas and her comrades were brave. They made a statement for their beliefs and they understood the consequences. They didn’t want to be made comfortable. They wanted to be heard.
Kim Davis is not Evelyn Thomas. She’s asking for the world around her to conform to her narrow-minded point of view. The fact that you apparently share her worldview still doesn’t make it right for her to impose those beliefs on other people.
The afterglow of your trip is gone. Long gone. The tears Bernie Sander shed over your seemingly forward-thinking principles have dried. It wasn’t that you snubbed LGBT families and didn’t speak out for our rights. It’s who you decided to see and support instead of us. Salt, meet wound.
We look at your empty chair at our dinner table and realize it’s small compared to the emptiness you left in our hearts. When you were told that you had been a “star” on this trip, you replied, “How many stars have we seen go out and fall?”Point taken.
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