In a powerful op-ed in Kentucky’s The Courier Journal, courageous Supreme Court marriage equality plaintiff Greg Bourke urged the Catholic Church to extend equality and acceptance to the LGBT community as part of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“There could be no better time than this Extraordinary Jubilee Year — only the third in Catholic history — for Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz to join in a show of mercy and compassion for LGBT Kentuckians, who continue to be marginalized and face legal discrimination in our commonwealth,” he wrote. “Currently, only eight Kentucky cities protect LGBT people from discrimination on the job and in housing. Archbishop Kurtz’s support could help our state become the first in the South to update its Civil Rights Act to include LGBT people.”
Bourke and his husband, Michael De Leon, are two of the many remarkable marriage equality plaintiffs whose fight for equality and justice led to the Supreme Court’s historic ruling last June.
“Unfortunately, my husband and I are best known for the discrimination we have faced for being openly gay — both in our church and in Kentucky. We are one of the many LGBT couples who were denied marriage rights,” he continued. “We are also both lifelong Catholics and have given generously of our time, talent and treasures to the church. For more than two decades, we have been involved in many church ministries.”
While the Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination in the world, the actual experience of LGBT parishioners can vary widely across dioceses and parishes. Sadly, just like Bourke and his family, many Catholics are rejected from their churches simply because of who they are or whom they love.
“Time and again, we have been made to feel shame and exclusion by the very church that teaches love, compassion, and mercy—our church,” he concluded. “It is a travesty of God’s true love for LGBT people and there is no better time for it to cease than this Jubilee Year of Mercy.”
To learn more about HRC's Catholic initiatives, visit hrc.org/Catholic. HRC Foundation's guide "Coming Home: To Catholicism and to Self" is aimed at LGBT American Catholics who hope to lead their faith communities toward a more welcoming stance, and those seeking a path back to their beloved tradition.