LGBT Catholics and their allies protested Tuesday at a conference in Plymouth, Mich., held by a group that promotes celibacy as the only option for Catholics with “same-sex attractions.”
“I don’t want to have to leave the Catholic Church, and I shouldn’t have to choose between my daughter and my God,” protester Jan Reynolds told The Detroit News. Reynolds, the mother of a lesbian and a member of Fortunate Families Detroit, a group for Catholics who support their LGBT family members, carried a sign reading “God Doesn’t Make Mistakes.”
She was among about two dozen people gathered outside the Inn at St. John’s, site of a conference titled Welcoming and Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters With Same-Sex Attraction. The meeting is cosponsored by Courage International, a church-sanctioned group that seeks to “assist men and women with same-sex attractions in living chaste lives in fellowship, truth and love,” according to its website. The conference’s other primary organizer is conservative theologian Janet Smith, who claims the “gay lifestyle” is marked by “promiscuity, anonymous sex, heartbreak, sexually transmitted diseases.”
Reynolds told the News she hopes church leaders “open their minds and hearts and see [LGBT] people are good people.” Her daughter is a “wonderful Christian” and a “loving person,” she said.
“The message we want to convey is that our children and other children who are LGBT want to be part of the Catholic Church,” added Plymouth-Canton PFLAG president George Belvitch, whose 32-year-old son is gay and engaged. “We care about our church and we want our children to be a part of it. That want to participate.”
Joe Kohn, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, which is hosting the conference, defended its aims. “We all want what’s best for people with same-sex attractions, and we all want to treat people with Christian love and respect,” he told the News. “More than anything, we want them and anybody who has a loved one with same-sex attraction to know that the church is here to minister to them and to reach out with Christ’s love and compassion. That’s what we want to convey. That’s what we’re here trying to accomplish.”
The conference, which opened Monday, concludes today.