Days after being dropped from Utica, N.Y.'s September 11 memorial event because of his advocacy of gay rights, the Reverend Fred Daley on Sunday led Utica's first Mass for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. Local city leaders and clergy were among more than 400 people attending the Mass.
Daley, who wore a rainbow-color stole over white robes, was disinvited as the main speaker at last week's 9/11 memorial for the victims of the terrorist attacks when the assistant fire chief, Russel Brooks, supported by Utica mayor Timothy Julian, threatened to withdraw from participating in the event if Daley didn't step aside. Daley's participation would have brought unwanted controversy to the event, they said.
Sunday's Mass attracted protesters on both sides of the issue, including members of a local antiabortion group. "We oppose evil in every quarter," protester Nicholas Parisi told The [Utica] Observer-Dispatch. Two young men carried signs that read "Catholicism preaches intolerance" and "The Bible is just a book."
Inside the church, rainbow ribbons flanked the altar, which was draped with a rainbow flag. "We can walk out of this building and commit ourselves to speak the truth," Daley said. "If we do that, there will be some day that our public officials will maybe even hang the rainbow flag."